|The Lookout Letter to the editor|
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By Mayor Sue Himmelrich and Mayor Pro Tem Kristin McCowan
This week, we say goodbye to Lane Dilg, who for the last four years has served the Santa Monica community with keen intellect, clear foresight, and a resolute heart first as City Attorney and for the last 14 months as our Interim City Manager.
The work of a City Attorney is one of the most exhaustive roles in the legal profession due to the multifarious nature of the work and one Lane held with absolute distinction beginning in 2017. She took on tech giants in the name of preserving Santa Monica’s housing for residents, and did so in-house -- a testament to her confidence in the talented attorneys in the City Attorney’s Office.
Then, in the early and most uncertain days of the pandemic the City Council had a critical decision to make: who will lead us through the darkest days in modern history?
We needed a leader who was ready to go, poised to take on the challenges of a global pandemic and excruciating revenue losses. We knew Lane possessed the knowledge and fortitude to see us through. This was a giant ask that came at great personal cost, yet, miraculously because of her love of Santa Monica and commitment to public service, Lane agreed to take the job.
She hit the ground running with the complex and painful task of restructuring the City organization in the face of $224 million in projected revenue losses. The actual losses ended up being within $2 million of the original projection, so we are extremely grateful for the early action.
Through her leadership, our fiscal health is strong -- the FY 2021-23 Biennial Budget reflects no deficit now or in the five-year forecast. We have retained our AAA bond rating -- which means we are poised for a steady and solid economic and community recovery.
With our finances stabilized, Lane and City leadership focused on providing a clean and safe Santa Monica, emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and economic recovery. Through the We Are Santa Monica Fund, $1.1 million was raised to sustain the Virginia Avenue Park Emergency Food Pantry and to support small businesses with small grants that will open soon as well as the Black Agenda for Santa Monica.
Our public spaces were transformed into safe and creative spaces for dining and services with splashes of art through the Art of Recovery program. The Santa Monica Pier reopened and people came back to the beach for respite, a place Lane will undoubtedly miss most when she relocates to Washington, D.C.
Another area where the City made measurable strides under Lane’s leadership is the City’s tangible commitment to racial justice efforts both inside the City organization and in the community. Equity and Inclusion Officers are working to change policies and practices for more equitable operations and Santa Monica’s first civilian public safety oversight commission’s work is underway.
Lane has shared on multiple occasions that the strength of our organization is our city staff and that what she is most proud of is having served alongside such a talented team of people in public service together, rising up to meet each moment in order to save lives and safeguard Santa Monica’s future.
The challenges were many, but because of her measured approach to problem-solving, skillful diplomacy, and a little grit, Lane leaves us on a path towards a bright and verdant future. We –- along with our fellow Council colleagues past and present –- are grateful Lane came to us in 2017 because we couldn’t have gotten through 2020 without her.
As Lane always reminds us, Santa Monica is a special place. That is what she's worked so hard to preserve. Thank you for your service to Santa Monica, Lane, we are deeply grateful.
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