The Burbank City Council named a new city manager Tuesday night after City Atty. William B. Rudell and City Manager Andrew Lazzaretto, political targets of Mayor Mary Lou Howard since she took control of the City Council last month, resigned earlier in the day.
Rudell, 45, and Lazzaretto, 42, submitted their resignations to council members during a morning executive session.
Tuesday evening, the council voted unanimously to appoint the current city manager of Downey, Robert Ovrom, 39, to be Lazzaretto’s replacement.
At the earlier executive session, Howard, along with her three allies on the council, agreed to accept the resignations of Rudell and Lazzaretto. But Councilman Bob Bowne said he opposed accepting the resignations, and was visibly upset by the council’s action.
Will Become Paid Consultants
Under an agreement made final Tuesday, the two officials will leave office today, but will serve as paid consultants to the city for four months. They also will remain in the city’s health insurance program and receive car allowances during that time.
Lazzaretto’s annual salary was $69,996, $5,833 a month, while Rudell earned $63,924 a year, $5,327 a month. As consultants, Lazzaretto will continue to earn $5,833 a month, while Rudell’s salary will be lowered to $5,237 a month for the first two months and $100 for the last two months.
After weeks of unrelenting attacks by Howard, who questioned the attitude and performance of the two men, statements by city officials were relatively polite following the resignations.
Assistant City Atty. Doug Holland, who will serve as acting city attorney, said the two resigned for “personal and professional reasons.” He said, “They did a credible job for the city, and the city wishes to express their appreciation for their services.”
No Unkind Words
Howard had no unkind words for the departing officials, but said, “This is a new beginning. The people have spoken, and they wanted some changes.”
Before leaving city hall an hour before the conclusion of the executive session, Lazzaretto joked briefly with reporters about the recent “death watch” as the resignations--or possible dismissals--were awaited. But the outgoing city manager would not discuss the morning’s action.
Rudell also declined to comment on their resignations. A receptionist in his office described him as “being very upset.”
Howard said that Assistant City Manager George Nony would serve as acting city manager until Ovrom assumes the post on June 10.
Ovrom almost became Burbank’s city manager two years ago instead of Lazzaretto. Lazzaretto was appointed after the Burbank council voted 3 to 2 to give the job to Ovrom, but he refused to take the job because of the split vote.
Political Climate Better
Ovrom said Tuesday that he felt the political climate in the city was more favorable for him this time. “This is the most united and cohesive council that has ever been in Burbank,” he said.
Ovrom, whose yearly salary will be just above $70,000, is a former assistant city manager of Simi Valley. He said his major skill as a city administrator is overseeing redevelopment.
Howard would not discuss candidates for the city attorney’s job. But Holland said Tuesday he “more than likely” would apply for the position.
Bowne, the one council member not aligned with Howard’s ruling faction, said the resignations “were the inevitable result of the majority feeling of this new council. I feel that both individuals were valuable assets to Burbank government, and I do not support accepting their resignations.”
Changes Not Anticipated
Bowne said, however, that he does not expect Lazzaretto’s resignation to mean a new approach to redevelopment in Burbank. “This council is dedicated to redevelopment, and I don’t think there will be any changes in that direction as a result of these resignations,” he said.
Howard had complained that Lazzaretto, like her former enemies on the council, E. Daniel Remy and Larry Stamper, was an advocate of rapid redevelopment without concern for its consequences to residents.
Howard has made no secret of her intention to oust Rudell and Lazzaretto since the April 9 general election, when the three candidates she backed--Mary Kelsey, Michael Hastings and Al Dossin--scored decisive victories over Remy and Stamper. The third seat was made available by the retirement of Councilman Leland Ayers.
During the campaign, Remy had charged that a council dominated by Howard would attempt to halt redevelopment in Burbank and would get rid of Rudell, Lazzaretto “and anyone else who gets in its way.”
The battle between Rudell and Howard was underscored during the campaign when Rudell forwarded to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office an allegation that Howard and her husband violated state law prohibiting conflicts of interest by public officials. The district attorney’s office ruled there was no evidence to support the allegations.
After the election, Howard and the three new council members all said Rudell should resign before being fired. Three votes on the five-member council would have been sufficient to remove the officials from office.
A fixture of Burbank city government since 1970, when he served on the board of directors for the Burbank Planning Board, Rudell has often clashed with residents, especially when he served as a commissioner on the board of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority.
Rudell joined the commission in 1977 and became its president the next year, remaining in that office until stepping down last year.
Howard said Rudell, who previously was a corporate attorney, had no experience as a city attorney, and wasted money by using many legal consultants. She also accused him of rudeness to council gadflies who denounced his policies.
“Anybody in that position has to be able to deal with people, and Mr. Rudell can’t,” Howard said. “He also has an inability to deal with the press.”
Not a ‘People Person’
Although Howard did not criticize Lazzaretto as heavily as she did Rudell, she said she was “very unhappy” with Lazzaretto because he was not a “people person.”
Howard said the city manager unnecessarily intimidated city employees and kept them on edge. “Everyone is so afraid that they can’t do a good job,” she said.
Lazzaretto left his post as city manager of Alhambra in January, 1983, after a squabble between that community’s mayor and two newly elected council members.
Speculating on the reaction of Burbank residents to the circumstances surrounding the resignations, Howard said, “There will be a few people who will be upset and worried, but I think the majority of the community will trust us.”