Berkeley Yet to Fill Four Department Head Vacancies

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Wednesday April 08, 2009 - 06:59:00 PM

The City of Berkeley currently has four department head vacancies, all of which are to be filled by the city manager “effective upon affirmative vote of five members of the [City] Council,” according to the Berkeley City Charter. 

This week, the Daily Planet sat down with City Manager Phil Kamlarz to get an update on the status of the vacancies. 


Police Chief 

Current Status of Position: Still being filled by Chief of Police Douglas Hambleton, who announced his retirement in mid-March effective this summer. 

Period of Vacancy: None. 

Current Status of New Hiring: A national search is being conducted by the CPS Human Resource Services of Sacramento and Washington, D.C. In the final process, the city will operate a community panel to review the final candidates, which will include members of the community, the affected unions, and the Berkeley Police Review Commission. That was the same process used by the city when it hired Hambleton as chief in March 2005. Kamlarz hopes to have a recommendation to the council by July 14, the last day before the council’s summer break. 

Notes: Kamlarz says that police chief hiring is currently “very competitive” in the Bay Area, with seven vacancies. San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Palo Alto, South San Francisco, San Leandro, and the University of California are all currently looking to replace their police chiefs. 


City Attorney 

Current Status of Position: Manuela Albuquerque, the longest-serving city attorney in Berkeley history, retired effective Nov. 30, 2007. Albuquerque had served in that position 26 years. The position is currently being filled by Zach Cowan as acting city attorney. Cowan has been a member of the city attorney’s office since 1993 and was appointed assistant city attorney in 1994. 

Period of Vacancy: 17 months. 

Current Status of New Hiring: A national search is being conducted by CPS Human Resource Services. There will be no community review process involved. Kamlarz hopes to have a recommendation to the council by July 14. 

Notes: In 2007, Cowan told the Daily Cal that he would be interested in the permanent position, and Kamlarz told the Daily Cal, “He’s a very capable attorney (and) I have a lot of confidence in his abilities.” Kamlarz added, “Of course he’ll be considered (for the permanent position).” In 2008, Mayor Tom Bates was exploring the possibility of moving to a council-selected city attorney so that the city attorney “would be directly accountable to the council.” That would require a ballot measure to change the City Charter. Bates also said in 2008 that he was asking Kamlarz to allow the council to pick between Kamlarz’ top two choices. No word yet if that process will be followed. 


Housing Director 

Current Status of Position: Berkeley Housing Director Stephen Barton resigned in June 2007. Deputy City Manager Lisa Caronna managed the Housing Department in the immediate aftermath. Jane Micallef was named acting housing director by Kamlarz in March of 2008. 

Period of Vacancy: 23 months. 

Current Status of New Hiring: The city manager says the Berkeley Housing Department is currently being reorganized. The Berkeley Housing Authority is no longer a part of the Housing Department. The city manager’s office has proposed changing the emphasis of the department to half housing and half community services and social programs relating to housing, which are not currently part of the Housing Department’s mandate. Some of the housing-related social services are proposed to be moved over from the City of Berkeley Health Department, which would then concentrate primarily on health and mental services. The reorganization proposals will be part of Kamlarz’s budget proposal for the coming fiscal year. If the council agrees to these proposals, the hiring of the new housing director under the new department guidelines would then proceed.  


City Clerk 

Current Status of Position: After a medical-related leave, City Clerk Pamyla Means resigned in May 2008. Kamlarz then named former Deputy City Clerk Deanna Despain as acting city clerk. 

Period of Vacancy: 9 months. 

Current Status of New Hiring: Kamlarz has no timetable for hiring a permanent city clerk. He says that he “hopes to bring some recommendations to the council soon.