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City Finds New Voice

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

August 1 -- Whether good or bad, when something newsworthy came out of City Hall it was Judy Rambeau Franz’s job to talk about it. Now after nearly a decade as the spokesperson for Santa Monica, a new voice will speak for the City.

Franz announced Friday that she will step down in September, clearing the way for acting Human Services Manager Mona Miyasato to take her place.

“I’ve been really privileged to work for three City managers now,” Franz said. “Had I not promised my new husband I would retire, I would be thrilled to be working with (City Manager) Lamont Ewell for years to come.”

Since 1997, Franz has been the voice for the City in good times -- including the announcement of numerous environmental awards and the groundbreaking for major capital improvement projects -- as well as the bad -- such as the widely covered Farmers’ Market crash that killed ten and injured more than 60 three years ago.

A proactive spokesperson, she has helped launch a leadership series to help ordinary citizens become more active in their community and took it upon herself to establish a “council wrap-up,” which concisely sums up what happened at City Council meetings. The wrap-up was first launched to fill a news gap when The Outlook folded in 1998.

Through it all, her civic-minded vision has anchored a complex job she says has “touched on just about everything” the City does.

“My goal in all aspects of my job has been to encourage public participation in City government, and provide accurate, responsive info, to be open and inclusive and do my best to maintain customer service in City Hall,” she said.

While she will remain in her post until September 11, Franz is already preparing to pass the baton to Miyasato. “Santa Monica media relations will be in good hands,” Franz said.

Like Franz, Miyasato will oversee CableTV programming, City publications, media relations, customer service and community outreach. She also will serve as a liaison to neighborhood organizations and handle communications during crisis.

“Her broad knowledge of city operations and policy, municipal finance, housing and redevelopment, grants management, and social services will serve her well in working with the media and community on a broad range of issues,” Franz wrote in a departure letter.

“Her early journalistic training is reflected in her writing, speaking and presentation skills,” she said.

Miyasato -- who has worked in the City manager’s office -- has a dual degree in Political Science and Economics from the University of California at Berkeley

Originally interested in a career in journalism, she was a staff writer for the Daily Californian (the Cal student newspaper) and held internships at the San Francisco Chronicle and at the Washington, D.C. bureau of NBC News.

She later received a masters degree in public policy, with an emphasis on community development from Harvard and went into environmental planning with a Los Angeles-based consulting firm. She also worked at the housing and redevelopment division with the cities of Los Angeles and West Covina.

In 1998, she came to Santa Monica, where she worked in Resource Management Division as a Senior Administrative Analyst until joining the City Manager’s office in 2000 in Management Operations.

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