two-step process expected to wrap up next week. Both approvals are
widely perceived as mere protocol.
Ovrom was formally offered the job roughly a week ago, and in the
interim negotiated the final terms of his contract. By the tentative
timeline, Ovrom is expected to assume his new office the first Monday
in March. But he's already scurrying around town on some missions
related to the new job, including meetings to get acquainted with
community leaders in Los Angeles. In Ovrom's occasional absences, as
has always been the case when he's been unavailable for more
pedestrian reasons, Assistant City Manager Mary Alvord acts as the
top city official.
In a rushed chat just after the official announcement, Ovrom and I
talked about the likely process for replacing him, the names of
candidates already being bandied about, and a few related topics. As
part of that, we discussed one of any city manager's greatest
challenges: dealing with difficult, hostile and sometimes wholly
dysfunctional city councils.
In his 17 years in Burbank, Ovrom has had his share of friendly
panels, and some council members who seemed to be in absolute
lockstep with his visions and tactics. But there have also been
clashes, some uglier than any car wreck. Those have run the gamut
from belligerent ideological foes to the mentally unstable and
drug-addled. Some have been merely antagonistic toward his views, and
others have publicly announced they wanted to fire him.
"I outlived all the bastards," Ovrom told me with a laugh. I took
some offense to that, because I'm still here. But perhaps he was only
referring to the bastards in office.
Ovrom prefers to talk about the councils that went well, or even
the officials who disagreed with him but who did so with facts,
figures and a modicum of respect. He also notes repeatedly that, no
matter how scandalous or troublesome councils might have seemed over
the years, it has never been hard to find other cities where things
were worse. Pasadena once had a council member bringing his gun to
the dais, and South Gate has been rife with arrests and internecine