Travis-Miller, who has been acting city manager since May, accepted a job as executive director of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments starting Feb. 19.
That will require cutting short the nationwide, multi-finalist recruitment process the city has used to fill other top spots, but Travis-Miller leaving without an assistant city manager in place necessitates it, said Morris, who has responsibility under the city's charter to appoint a candidate who must then be approved by the City Council.
"That was a time-honored process, in my view," he said, referring to the exhaustive search for a police chief and others brought to the city during his tenure. "But in this instance, we haven't got the time to go through that kind of nationwide process and a culling process."
Despite the time pressure, Morris said he's already reached out to many groups - from the League of California Cities to consultants and the San Bernardino City Council - and is confident an effective city manager will be found soon.
"This is a wonderful opportunity," he said.
Morris ticked off some of the grueling tasks that will be on the city manager's plate - moving the city through bankruptcy court, preparing a permanent budget plan that satisfies the court, dealing with the complicated aftermath of the governor disbanding the city Redevelopment Agency - and laughed that the challenge could be a selling point.
"Whoever comes to this city as our next talented city manager will not be bored," he said.
Councilman John Valdivia, who has criticized Travis-Miller, saying she's been slow to respond to council members, said there's no need to rush.
"I don't know if it is the time to contemplate that," Valdivia said. "I think we (the City Council) could manage our own departments. Outside of a city manager having the title, I don't really know what a city manager does."
Valdivia's description of the ideal city manager, who is in charge of managing the city on a day-to-day basis, largely matched the qualities others listed - responsive, strong budget experience, good temperament - but he got the impression most city managers just attended meetings.
"I just don't want to box ourselves in with a longterm person if we can manage it for the short term and kind of manage things," he said.
Other council members said finding a good city manager soon was critical - either on an interim basis or more permanently - although some said related policy goals should be tied in.
"Whoever the new city manager is, interim or otherwise, this city must and shall adopt an economic strategic plan and we must and we shall adopt some goals and develop a work program similar to the city of Highland," said Councilman Chas Kelley, referring to a roadmap developed by the council and citizens showing the city's top priorities.
Every council member will have a few things that are particularly important to them and should communicate those to the mayor, said Councilwoman Virginia Marquez.
"Each council member will have their own wish list," she said, "and I really would prefer a city manager candidate who resides in our city in order to understand our residents and business owners, and just as importantly, I'd like that city manager candidate to have strong leadership skills."
All of that is being considered, Morris said.
"We're working day and night," he said.
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