* Bankrupt California city replaces departing city manager
* Key role for newcomer at crucial time in bankruptcy
By Tim Reid
LOS ANGELES, Feb 15 Crisis-hit San Bernardino,
California, picked a new city manager on Friday at a critical
time in its quest to get bankruptcy protection from a federal
San Bernardino was forced to look for a new city manager
after its acting city manager, Andrea Travis-Miller, quit.
Her resignation coincides with the departure of the city's
finance chief. Both had been the key officials overseeing the
city's bankruptcy application and their departures threaten the
city's ability to achieve it. They had more knowledge than
anybody else of the city's finances and the experience to answer
questions from the court and creditors.
The city council voted to hire Allen Parker to replace
Travis Miller. According to his resume provided to the city,
Parker has been an economic development consultant since 2006.
From June 2001 until December 2006, according to his resume,
Parker was chief administrative officer of the Morongo Band of
Mission Indians, a federally recognized tribe in California.
Before that he was village manager of Maywood, Illinois.
The federal judge overseeing San Bernardino's bankruptcy
application said in a court hearing on Tuesday that the new city
manager would be confronted with a steep learning curve.
Various creditors are demanding a wealth of financial
documents from the city. The city must also produce a detailed
bankruptcy blueprint to explain how it intends to deal with its
creditors, a key part of proving its eligibility for bankruptcy.
The city council considered two applicants for the job, and
voted unanimously to hire Parker.
"Allen Parker brings a wealth of city management experience
to San Bernardino," the mayor, Pat Morris said. "I have great
confidence in his ability...to guide San Bernardino through the
difficult decisions we must make in bankruptcy."
San Bernardino, a city of 210,000 about 60 miles (100 km)
east of Los Angeles, filed for bankruptcy protection on Aug. 1,
citing a $46 million deficit for the current fiscal year and
little scope to meet its day-to-day expenses. It was the third
California city to file for bankruptcy last year, following
Stockton and Mammoth Lakes.
The city's biggest creditor, the California Public Employee
Pension Fund (Calpers), has opposed San Bernardino's quest to
seek bankruptcy protection. Without it, the struggling city will
likely face multiple lawsuits in state court for unpaid bills,
at a time when its officials say it can barely make payroll.
The city pegs its debt to America's biggest public pension
fund at $143 million.
San Bernardino has not made its $1.2 million, twice monthly
payment to Calpers since its bankruptcy declaration last August.
No city has ever unilaterally suspended payments to Calpers,
which manages pension plans for state government employees and
many municipalities and local government agencies around
The bankruptcy could be a test case as to whether the
pensions of government workers take precedence over other
payments in a municipal bankruptcy - a high-stakes issue for
pension plans and their beneficiaries, and for the Wall Street
bondholders who lend money to governments.
In a statement, Calpers said: "We are very pleased to have
Mr. Parker stepping into his new role as city manager of San
Bernardino and our executives have already reached out to him
personally to welcome him and begin a dialogue with Calpers."