Council selects interim city manager

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With the Chili Cook-Off purchase taking place, Mayor Pro Tem Ken Kearsley said he wants to find a permanent replacement as soon as possible.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

While it searches to find a replacement for outgoing City Manager Katie Lichtig, the City Council has selected former Santa Monica City Manager John Jalili to head the city staff on an interim basis.

Jalili served as Santa Monica’s city manager from 1984 until his retirement in 1999. Since his retirement he has worked as an interim staff member in several Southern California cities.

“His reputation is sterling, the gold standard,” Mayor Pro Tem Ken Kearsley said. “We couldn’t have gotten a more qualified person.”

The council instructed City Attorney Christi Hogin during the closed session portion of last week’s council meeting to draw up a contract for Jalili. His job will begin on Jan. 10, the day after Lichtig’s final day with the city.

Hogin said this week that Jalili is a good person for the job. She said she worked with him when he served as an interim community development director for West Hollywood (Hogin’s law firm represents West Hollywood) and also when she did some work for Santa Monica during the early part of her career.

Jalili is a native of Iran. He moved to the United States in 1957 and attended Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. He received a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Oklahoma.

Jalili’s first job was with the city of Norman, Okla. He eventually became the assistant planning director there. Jalili later became the planning director in Ames, Iowa. After that, he moved to California to become the planning director for the city of Inglewood. Then, in the mid-’70s, Jalili took a planning job with Santa Monica, and worked his way up the employment ladder until reaching the city manager position.

This month, Kearsley and Mayor Andy Stern are interviewing Los Angeles area candidates for the city manager position. Kearsley said if they do not find somebody through that process, a nationwide search would begin. But he said he would like to hire a permanent city manager as soon as possible.

“We have a lot on our plate,” Kearsley said. “We have phase two of the Chili Cook-Off project coming up and we don’t want to lag behind.”

The City Council must vote on the hiring of the permanent city manager.

Lichtig announced earlier this month that she would be stepping down so she could take a job with the city of Beverly Hills as assistant city manager. Lichtig has been with Malibu since 2001, when she was hired as the assistant city manager. She then took on the role of city manager the following year.

Malibu is also looking to fill a few other positions on its staff. Parks and Recreation Director Paul Adams and Public Works Director Yugal Lall left last month. Their department head positions are temporarily filled until permanent replacements can be found. Malibu has been without a city treasurer, whose job is to review the budget for the City Council independent of the rest of the city staff, since Pete Lippman left last year.

Information for this article was obtained from the Santa Monica Mirror newspaper.