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Alvord takes full charge of Burbank

Laura Sturza

Newly appointed City Manager Mary Alvord swears by her hometown --

she officially took the oath of office at Tuesday’s City Council

meeting before a council chamber packed with city, civic and business


leaders who gave her a standing ovation.

She replaces former City Manager Bud Ovrom, who began work March 1

as the head of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency.

Since her appointment as interim city manager, Alvord already has


noticed a difference in how she thinks.

“If the wind is blowing, I’m thinking about power and trees,”

Alvord said. “When I heard war was breaking out, I started to think,

‘What are we doing?’”

Managing the city means “you’ve got to stay in the game all the

time,” she said, and requires that she tap into intuitive and

analytic skills. The role is one Alvord is finding she enjoys.

Her appointment to the $12,650-per-month post was unanimously


approved by the council Tuesday.

A great deal of consideration was given to the prospect of

conducting an outside search to replace Ovrom versus filling the

position internally, but council members said they decided Alvord was

the best choice.

“She has a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge about our

city ... and the executive team is filled with people that balance

her own skills set,” Councilwoman Marsha Ramos said. “I’ve watched


her firsthand to see how she works with people, she has got such

strong people skills.”

Answering critics who suggest an outsider might have brought fresh

insights to the city, Ramos said that might be something for Alvord

to consider when it comes time to choose an assistant city manager.

Former police chief Dave Newsham was appointed interim assistant city

manager March 12 for a period not to exceed six months.

Council members took Alvord’s qualificiations into consideration

in reaching their decision.

“She doesn’t have a strong background in finance, and we are going

into a severe budget crisis,” Vice Mayor Stacey Murphy said.

But Ramos disagreed, citing Alvord’s experience running the Parks

and Recreation Department, the department with the third largest

budget in the city, according to department director Mike Flad, where

“she certainly had to manage budgets.”

Even with doubts, Murphy approved the appointment because of

Alvord’s familiarity with the unique nature of the city, which has

its own airport and municipal utility, Murphy said.

When asked if the fact Alvord has the full support of the

executive team meant department heads were picking the city manager

rather than the council, Ramos and Murphy said the executives’

opinions were a factor, but the council was responsible for the


Along with delivering a balanced budget to the council, Alvord’s

goals include working to secure grant funds to build a new central

library as soon as 2006, and completing the South San Fernando Park

Project, she said.