City Manager Marilyn Leuck suddenly resigns

In a shocking and unanticipated development, Marilyn Leuck, the newly-appointed Malibu city manager, who only took office a couple of months ago, resigned as of this week.

Although rumors of tensions between the council and the new city manager had been circulating around City Hall the last week or so, the swiftness of the resolution surprised most observers.

In an even more surprising development, Mayor Tom Hasse and Mayor Pro Tem Joan House indicated to city staff, at a hastily-called city staff meeting Tuesday in the city conference room, that they will nominate former City Attorney Christi Hogin to return to Malibu and serve as the interim city manager for a period of six months while the city seeks a new manager. A special emergency meeting of the Malibu City Council was called for Wednesday on the subject of an interim city manager, which was an indication that votes were probably there to approve Hogin’s immediate appointment.

At the city staff meeting, at which Leuck was not present, Hasse read a public statement, authored and released jointly by the City of Malibu and Leuck, that stated: “Marilyn E. Leuck, Malibu city manager, has decided to tender her resignation to the City of Malibu and the City Council has decided to accept her resignation. Both the city and Leuck reached this decision after discussion and review. Both parties have come to the conclusion that the expectation of each party at the time Ms. Leuck assumed the post of city manager were not likely to be met.”(The full text of the statement is printed in the letters to the editor section.)

Although Leuck brought along a few new hires, who worked with her before in Ventura, and hired an interim city administrator. All other city department heads were in place before she arrived.

City Attorney Steven Amerikaner, of the Santa Barbara law firm Hatch and Parent, and Planning Director Barry Hogan were hired shortly before Leuck came aboard.

Other department heads include Vic Peterson at the Environmental and Building Safety Department, a longtime city employee, Parks & Recreation Director Paul Adams, who has come up through the system, and Public Works Director Chuck Bergson, who was a Harry Peacock hire a couple of years ago, as was the City Clerk Virginia Bloom.

Although no one around City Hall would speak on the record, other than the official statement made by Hasse and House to the city staff, for now, it is apparent from what was said, there is no “smoking gun,” no question of any large specific event, or any hint of any type of malfeasance.

In what was relatively unusual, both the official statement and the unofficial statements appear to be about the same — the parting was mutual and it was more a difference of management styles than any particular incident.

Apparently, Leuck and the Malibu City Council were of the same mind; they simply were not a good fit with each other, the differences were basic and not correctable, and that opinion appeared to be shared universally by both the departing city manager and pretty much the entire City Council.

Whether or not this means the council had failed to properly investigate before they hired Leuck, or whether, in fact, the council really is not of one mind about what they want and need, it is still too early to tell.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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