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Lamont Ewell Honored by Chamber:

>With a truly chamber-of-commerce morning view of Santa Monica Bay shining behind the plate glass windows of The Lobster restaurant, Iao Katagiri, who chairs the Santa Monica Chamber board this year, thanked outgoing City Manager Lamont Ewell for bringing “a new tone of cooperation with the business community” to town.

The gathering on Thursday, December 17, was the Chamber’s regular monthly breakfast meeting, but between the Christmas season and Ewell’s impending January 22 departure from his post, it was a festive occasion.

Ewell thanked everyone for “the opportunity to be a part of this community,” and he said that even though he is stepping down as City Manager next month, his wife wants to stay on in Santa Monica for another year and he himself looks forward to enjoying the town without the responsibilities of the office.  Over breakfast, he told the Mirror that he is “toying with a number of different things” in his future, including volunteer work.

Although the man who has managed city government since January 2006 said that he will wait to “say goodbyes” until the State of the City program on January 21, the Chamber of Commerce nevertheless took the December 17 occasion to present him with a memento of his service – something to symbolize Santa Monica and one of the topics of municipal concern during his tenure here – a hand-crafted statue of a ficus tree.

On the subject of current business reports, Katagiri, RAND Corporation’s Deputy Vice President in its Office of External Affairs, said that while the news she was reading about the economy turning around was certainly welcome, “down on the ground it’s going to take a lot of individual and collective effort” to make real economic improvement.  Ewell reported that he had been working with the Broad Foundations to bring that proposed museum of contemporary art to Santa Monica [Santa Monica Mirror, November 19-25, 2009].  “We’re 99 percent there” despite a major push by Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa, he said, and he urged anyone with a contact at the Broad organizations to lobby for the Santa Monica location.

Meanwhile back at the breakfast table, City Councilmember Bob Holbrook told the Mirror that incoming City Manager Rod Gould was excited to be coming to Santa Monica.  Gould had been highly recommended to Holbrook, he said, four years ago when the City conducted the search that resulted in hiring Ewell; but Gould had then only recently started work as city manager of Poway, a city of 50,500 in northeast San Diego County, and was not in a position to gracefully move again.  This time around, Gould has been making trips to Santa Monica over the last three months or so to get the feel of the place and meet people both officially and unofficially.

At the December 8 Santa Monica City Council meeting when he was introduced, Gould called Santa Monica “the most exciting city in California today” and said, “The more I learn about Santa Monica, the more I am impressed with the quality, breadth, and depth of the services it provides its residents.”  If he had been sitting in The Lobster last Thursday morning, he would have been pretty impressed with the view too.

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