City Attorney Lane Dilg has been chosen as an interim replacement for City Manager Rick Cole, who announced his resignation Friday.
At a special meeting on Saturday, City Council voted unanimously to accept the resignation and place Cole on immediate paid administrative leave as part of a negotiated settlement.
Cole announced Friday that he would step down as city manager, citing the challenges of attempting to balance the city’s budget amid a steep drop in revenue caused by the coronavirus shutdown, which has evaporated the tax dollars the city collects from retailers, restaurants, hotels and parking. The city predicts a $226 million budget gap through fiscal year 2020-2021 and is offering buyouts to employees who leave their jobs.
The council praised Cole for his five years of service to the city before announcing their choice.
Several council members said Cole’s resignation will help preserve jobs for other employees while allowing new ideas to come forward as the city faces an impending budget crisis.
“His actions will allow us to make room for other folks to keep their jobs, and to lead going forward so we are in a great position as a city to tackle this challenge and that is in part due to the work he has done over these five years,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Terry O’Day.
Councilwoman Gleam Davis said Cole helped her during her stint as mayor and said the decision would aid in the council’s upcoming debate over restructuring the city.
“I think this has been remarkably gracious of Rick to make this offer, and I want to make this clear that we are accepting it because of his recommendation, as well as our recommendation, that the city is about to embark on some difficult choices,” she said.
City Attorney Lane Dilg will step into the role as the city faces a pending financial crisis brought on by the ongoing fight against coronavirus.
“Our city of Santa Monica is fortunate indeed to have as interim city manager someone as qualified and prepared to lead as Lane Dilg,” said Mayor Kevin McKeown.
Lane said her work would not be easy given the gaping hole in the budget but she said the city’s staff were prepared to handle the problem.
“Like you, I believe we have a very bright future and we are going to get to that future as fast as we possibly can,” she said.
Dilg, a graduate of Yale Law School, has served as City Attorney since 2017, leading an office of attorneys and staff who advise City Council on legal matters, represent the city in civil litigation and code enforcement matters, prosecute misdemeanor criminal violations and litigate on behalf of consumers and tenants.
Prior to coming to Santa Monica, Dilg served as senior counsel to UCLA and prosecuted federal criminal offenses as an assistant United States attorney in the Public Corruption & Civil Rights Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
Dilg also served as Counsel to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where she was a trusted legal adviser to Senator Dianne Feinstein in confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.