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City Attorney Lane Dilg Tapped to Run Santa Monica During Historic Crisis

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By Jorge Casuso

April 18, 2020 -- The City Council on Saturday tapped City Attorney Lane Dilg to steer Santa Monica through the biggest crisis in its 145-year history after a coronavirus shutdown paralyzed its economic and social life.

Dilg -- who will replace Rick Cole as City Manager on an interim basis after his abrupt resignation Friday -- has had a varied career, but has no experience running a City government.

She will face the immediate challenge of digging out of what her predecessor warned will be a $226 million economic hole by July 2021 that will require slashing hundreds of municipal jobs as well as programs and services residents have come to rely on.

Dilg -- who assumes her new post on Monday -- also will need to lead a recovery that includes reopening businesses that have been shuttered for more than one month and City facilities that have sat vacant as staff works from home.

“I appreciate the Council’s faith in me,” Dilg said after her appointment. “We have an extraordinarily challenging road ahead.

"COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we work, the needs of the people we serve, and has left a devastating hole in the City budget," Dilg said.

"But our City team is strong, and we will get through this crisis with tenacity and heart.

"Santa Monica has a bright future. I look forward to working with the City Council to bring that future in as quickly as we possibly can,” Dilg said.

Dilg has helped lead Santa Monica’s Emergency Operations Center since the City declared a local state of emergency on March 13, City officials said.

She has played a key role in "implementing public health directives, keeping essential services functioning throughout the City, and helping plan for the recovery."

Dilg will serve as Director of Emergency Services during the duration of the local emergency.

As Interim City Manager, she will be responsible for running the city of some 93,000 residents, implementing City Council ordinances and policies and overseeing 14 departments and the City’s operational budget.

It is a job, said Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown, "that might be impossible for someone not so outstandingly qualified and prepared.”

“In a sudden local challenge embedded in an ongoing global pandemic, Santa Monica is fortunate indeed to have as Interim City Manager someone as qualified and prepared to lead as Lane Dilg,” McKeown said.

“Councilmembers, City staff, and community members who have worked with Lane during her time as City Attorney know her to be knowledgeable, wise, committed, trustworthy, and motivated by deep heartfelt love for this City where she lives with her family."

Before being hired as City Attorney in June 2017 -- a post she had never held -- Dilg led a wide array of jobs during her extensive history of public service.

She has been senior counsel to UCLA, an appellate representative to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District and a member of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris’ transition team in 2016.

Former Mayor Pam O'Connor, one of the Council members who hired Dilg as City Attorney, has confidence she can do the job.

"Although never serving as a City Attorney before, Lane brought her analytic and management abilities and varied experience to that role where she has established herself as a skilled and compassionate leader," O'Connor said.

"Now she will bring those abilities to the challenge of leading the City’s administration as the City faces unprecedented financial losses and uncertain times while at the same time planning for recovery and growth."

At the special meeting on Saturday, the Council accepted Cole’s resignation as City Manager ("Cole Resigns as Santa Monica City Manager," April 17, 2020)..

Dilg's contract as is being negotiated.

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