Inglewood City Administrator Tim Wanamaker Resigns

imageFor two months, Inglewood has been without an official mayor. Now the city is also without its lead manager. Inglewood City Administrator Tim Wanamaker abruptly resigned Wednesday, about a month before hitting his two-year mark in office, and ended his service to the city and its residents the following day. The reason for Wanamaker’s departure is still unclear.

At the city council meeting March 9, Councilwoman Judy Dunlap fired off a list of demands at Wanamaker. Less than two weeks later, he was through taking orders.

Wanamaker admitted that his biggest challenge in his role as Inglewood’s city administrator was reporting to the mayor and council members.

“They are my bosses,” he said in an earlier interview. “They set the policy and it’s my job to carry it out.”

However, Wanamaker left office after nearly two years in the position without completing all the policy requests from the council. He failed to negotiate a new contract with the production company behind Inglewood Community Television, the local public access cable channel run by the South Bay Performing Arts Initiative, according to Dunlap.

He negotiated the $2 billion deal to redevelop Inglewood’s Hollywood Park into restaurants, retail and residential property during his tenure.

“I have enjoyed the tremendous challenge of working with the wonderful team of dedicated public servants and staff to improve the City’s infrastructure as well as its business and family environment for the wonderful people who live and work here,” Wanamaker said in his statement of resignation.

“While I am proud of the progress the City has made during my nearly two years in this demanding role, many challenges remain ahead for the elected leaders as well as my future successor,” Wanamaker continued. “I offer my best wishes to everyone who accepts the responsibility of continuing to provide critically needed services to this great community in the years ahead, and offer my sincere thanks for the great opportunity I have had in my role as City Administrator.”

The city council accepted Wanamaker’s resignation and Sheldon Curry, assistant city administrator for development, will take over his duties in the meantime. Along with a special election to fill the empty mayoral seat, a new city administrator must be chosen to replace Wanamaker.

“We are confident that the city will continue to move forward with projects and initiatives that are important to our community without interruption while we seek his replacement,” Mayor Pro Tempore Eloy Morales said in a statement on behalf of the council.

The council will hold a special meeting Monday morning where they will likely confirm an interim city administrator, according to Deputy City Administrator and Chief Information Officer Michael Falkow, since the last scheduled open session meeting was canceled due to a bomb threat that lead to the evacuation of city hall.

“It’ll be a challenge, but we’ve gotten through it before and I’m sure we’ll get through it again,” said Falkow, who served as acting city administrator just before Wanamaker took office and helped prepare him for the transition to Inglewood. “He’ll be missed. He was young and vibrant and he pushed a lot of folks to do their best work. That’s the mark of a good city manager and a good leader.”

It took the council more than a year to appoint Wanamaker to serve as city administrator, Falkow said. Until the council makes its new appointment, Curry and Falkow will work alongside Jeff Muir, the assistant city administrator and chief financial officer, to handle city requests and continue operating its administration.

“From an administrative perspective, it’s a challenge because it’s like a ship. You need somebody to be the captain,” Fakow said. “The council needs a point person. They need someone they can go to as a singular entity for all of their requests and to make sure things funnel up.”

Wanamaker’s sudden resignation came as a surprise, he said.

“He was very upbeat, very pleasant,” Falkow said about Wanamaker’s departure. “He wished us all success in the future and did reiterate that we definitely have some challenges in the organization and that he was proud of what he had accomplished and what we had all accomplished as a team over the last nearly two years.”

The city’s affairs are not at a standstill despite the lack of an official mayor or city administrator.

“The real challenge at the city is obviously moving forward and tackling those big problems like the budget,” Falkow said regarding the city’s structural deficit. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

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