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Lamont Ewell to Take the Reins as Compton City Manager  

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By Lookout Staff

October 3, 2011 -- Former Santa Monica City Manager Lamont Ewell is coming out of retirement to take over Compton's city government, after the firing of the troubled city's third city manager in five years.

Ewell, who began his career as a Compton firefighter, told the Los Angeles Times last week that stepping in is “the least I could do” for the city that gave him his start in public service.

Compton's most recent city manager, Willie Norfleet, was terminated by a three-to-two vote by the city council last Tuesday because of his handling of the city's finances, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

On top of a $25 million deficit which came to light earlier in the year, some Compton councilmembers found fault with what they said was Norfleet's lack of clear communication with them and his attempted use of disputed union concessions to balance the budget, according to the Times.

Ewell's contract with Compton is up for approval this week, but his tenure is expected to be temporary. He can only work full time for a year before he has to give up his pension benefits. The Compton City Manager's pay is around $185,000 a year.

Widely credited with putting Santa Monica on a strong financial footing during tough economic times Ewell retired from his post as city manager at the end of 2009.

Ewell restructured city operations to better deliver services and appointed new department heads, while maintaining a healthy general fund budget during a turbulent economy that saw cities across the nation lay off workers and slash services.

He also oversaw the allocation of $300 million worth of redevelopment projects and moved forward the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), the document that will shape the face of the city for the next quarter century.

Before taking the Santa Monica post, Ewell served as the City Manger for the City of San Diego. He began his career as a firefighter in Compton and worked his way up the ranks to become Oakland's fire chief.

Credited with helping to rebuild the fire-ravaged area, he was later named Oakland's assistant city manager, going from there to become the city manager of Durham, North Carolina, before moving on to San Diego.

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