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Wednesday, November 30, 2005 | Mayor-elect Jerry Sanders named two members of his new management team Tuesday, adding former Mayor Susan Golding’s ex-chief of staff and creating the new position of ethics and integrity director.
Sanders, who will be sworn in on Monday, said the creation of a new Ethics and Integrity Department would be distinct from the Ethics Commission created by his predecessor, former Mayor Dick Murphy – who resigned earlier this year with the city under investigation on many fronts.
The mayor-elect said the new department director would be responsible for assessing the city’s current ethical guidelines, formulating and enforcing new ethical standards for all departments, and training the city’s 12,000 workers on the new standards.
However, Sanders didn’t have any specific ideas of how the ethical standards for city employees and elected officials could change under his watch. He said any changes governing the City Council’s interaction with lobbyists or campaign contributors would be a citywide issue under the purview of the Ethics Commission.
The new director, local attorney Jo Anne SawyerKnoll, will conduct a “bottom-up review” of the current ethical standards and prepare an annual “ethics audit.”
“The document will pull no punches because it will identify weaknesses that we all need to address,” Sanders said.
Murphy created the Ethics Commission to follow up on a campaign promise after he was first elected in 2000. However, under his watch the city became the subject of local and federal fraud and corruption investigations.
Sanders acknowledged that ethics can’t be forced upon such a large organization, but said a new structure will be in place to restore the public’s trust in City Hall.
“We’re going to start working on a program where we talk with every single city employee to talk about what the ethical standards for the city of San Diego are,” he said.
SawyerKnoll’s new position is one of six top management positions under Sanders’ new management structure, which will go into effect when the city switches to a strong-mayor form of government Jan. 3.
In November 2004, voters approved a measure that temporarily moves the city manager’s powers over the day-to-day operations to the Mayor’s Office in the New Year. The mayor will be removed as a voting member of the City Council and take the role of the executive branch. It is a five-year test program.
SawyerKnoll is currently an attorney with Miller Brown and Dannis, a San Diego firm, and formerly served as general counsel for the San Diego Unified School District. Ronne Froman, Sanders’ chief operating officer, worked as chief business officer with SawyerKnoll at the school district.
The attorney also served as trial counsel for the State Bar of California from 1989 to 1991 prosecuting attorneys for professional misconduct.
The mayor-elect campaigned on a promise to restore ethics to city government and streamline and downsize the city’s structure to deal with a deepening fiscal crisis. The two new positions come with annual salaries of $150,000.
Sanders also named Kris Michell to fill the spot of director of community and legislative services. It is a position, Sanders said, that will serve as a liaison between the council and work on communications with the community.
Michell worked in the Golding administration as chief of staff and for the Padres. Most recently she worked in land development for The Sickels Group. Michell also worked on Sanders’ campaign.
Working under her as press secretary will be Fred Sainz, formerly the vice president of public affairs for the San Diego Convention Center Corporation. Like Michell, he also worked for Golding. He worked on the 1998 proposition that created what is now Petco Park, the Padres’ home.
The two positions named Tuesday comprise one-third of the six top management positions Sanders will employ in his first year. The other managers will oversee the following departments: financial management, public works, neighborhood services, and land use and economic development.
Sanders said he hopes in the future to add similar positions in public safety and customer service.
He said he will name new members of his team in the coming weeks and hopes to have his top managers in place by Jan. 3.
Also on Tuesday, Sanders endorsed Kevin Faulconer for City Council in District 2. He had previously stated his support for the public relations executive, a Republican, during the primary. Faulconer faces Democrat Lorena Gonzalez on Jan. 10.
Froman was also named the acting city manager by the City Council on Tuesday to fill the void left by P. Lamont Ewell’s abrupt departure.
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