September 14, 2010

Getting out while the getting is good... Howard Chambers finally calls it quits

You have to hand it to Howard for great timing. 34 years as city manager must be a state or national record. He has stress? Well no doubt that has increased since the City of Bell debacle, not to mention being "outed" here, here, and here. Oh well he can join his other retired Lakewood Calpers pals and live carefree with lifetime medical and pension benefits that will no doubt cost us taxpayers millions. (the "Lakewood Six" currently costing us taxpayers $771,322.56 Annually) Much like our other noblemen in the state legislature. And for what you ask? Oh I am sure every blade of grass in Lakewood will be dedicated to Howard tonight. I expect some sort of freeway or building to be named after him shortly. Perhaps a new "self promotion shrine" we can pay for. lol indeed.

All we can hope is that the city council resets the clock on these outlandish City Manager salaries and they are more in line with (or have a rational relationship to) other cities with similar populations and total employee counts. But knowing the city council I doubt that. Again the hiring situation works much the same as it did in Bell and on corporate boards. "You pay me well and I will reward you later...some how.." So the game goes on and no one is watching the till. Oh and as for potential candidates to fill Howard's spot I hear there are some dudes from Bell looking for a sweet job....

So LAAG says "c'est la vie! Howard". And I am sure you will keep us residents posted on what you're up to just like you have for the last 38 years. Yeah right. Oh and we have to take Howard at his word that he is in fact retiring for good and will not change his mind, like Donald Waldie did last year, and not going to "run" some other city (for a "bigger" salary increase and nifty "pension spike") and then do a "double dip" on his pension. Time will tell.
City Manager Howard Chambers will end 38-year Lakewood career
By Phillip Zonkel, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/13/2010 08:57:06 PM PDT

LAKEWOOD - The man who has been a fixture at Lakewood City Hall for 38 years - helping balance budgets and maintain parks - is leaving.

Howard Chambers, city manager for 34 of those years, will publicly announce his retirement at tonight's City Council meeting.

Chambers said his doctor has told him for the past year to manage his stress better. The primary stress culprit is his job, Chambers said.

"Life in the public sector is extremely stressful," [LAAG: "you betcha, ever since Bell corruption story broke]
said Chambers, 65, from his Brea residence. "My body used to metabolize stress like a protein shake. Now it kicks my butt. I wish I could turn back the clock 20 years."

The council will soon begin the process of selecting Chambers' successor, said city spokesman Bill Grady.

The two-hour round trip commute between Brea and Lakewood also was a deciding factor in his retirement, Chambers said. [LAAG: I guess living in the city was out of the question in a city you manage]

Chambers is widely considered the California city manager with the longest tenure in the same city. Before becoming city manager, Chambers, from 1972 to 1976, was the executive assistant to the city manager.

Between 1969 and 1972, Chambers was Rosemead's assistant city manager.

"Howard's entire career reflects an abiding commitment to all of us who live and work here," said Lakewood Mayor Joseph Esquivel. "He truly loves Lakewood and the results can be seen in every neighborhood." [LAAG: please be specific]

Donald Waldie, the assistant to the city manager, was hired by Chambers in December 1977, and said Chambers' management style was supportive and collaborative.

"Howard offered a vision for Lakewood, one where everyone worked together to make a safe, family-orientated city, and shared it with senior managers and city work forces," Waldie said. "That vision made it easy to see the way."

Chambers' ties to Lakewood are lifelong. He grew up near Mayfair Park and worked at the YMCA.

A park director encouraged him to become a recreation leader, a path that led him to become a park director and a fixture at city hall.

After befriending the city administrator at the time, Chambers showed an interest in public administration and began taking classes at Cal State Long Beach.

After earning his degree, Chambers interned at Lakewood for two years, handling youth services. He then went to work with Rosemead as an assistant city manager.

In 1972, Chambers returned to Lakewood, securing the post of executive assistant.

Under Chambers' leadership, Lakewood developed the Civic Center, the Weingart Senior Center, the renovations of the John Sanford Todd Community Center and Mayfair Park, The Centre at Sycamore Plaza, Rynerson Park and the expansion and modernization of the Lakewood Sheriff's Station. [LAAG: thats it?]

Chambers said he takes pride in presenting balanced budgets, managing to keep park programs going and maintaining streets and other infrastructure in times of recession.

Chambers' pride and enthusiasm for the work makes it more difficult to retire.

"You don't know how much I'm going to miss it," he said., 562-499-1258
Want to go?

What: Lakewood City Council meeting.

Where: City Council chambers at The Centre at Sycamore Plaza, 5000 Clark Ave.

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Watch: Broadcast live on CityTV 31 and at

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