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UPDATED City Manager Kurita resigns

Submitted by on 1, February 27, 2009 – 7:45 am6 Comments

Updated 2:15 p.m.

In case you missed it yesterday, City Manager Debra Kurita has resigned.

Kurita, who came to the job in August 2005, handed in her resignation Thursday afternoon after a series of closed-door sessions on her performance that ended with a four-hour meeting Tuesday night.

“The City Council members and I have met to discuss my role as City Manager and the direction of the City organization. Although we share many goals for the future of this City, we do differ in the manner in which to achieve these goals. Therefore, I have tendered my resignation,” Kurita said in an e-mail to city staff.

Kurita did not respond to a call seeking comment. Assistant City Manager David Brandt will step in as acting city manager until an interim is found. Johnson said the city will discuss that issue at its meeting on Tuesday.

“It’s always regrettable to lose someone on your senior management team,” Mayor Beverly Johnson said. “I wish her the best. She has a lot to be proud of here in Alameda.”

Councilman Frank Matarrese said he agrees with Kurita’s statement and that he wishes her well.

“We’ve got critical time in front of us. We need to move forward,” Matarrese said.

He declined to specify what the differences between the council and Kurita were.

“What’s best for the city is moving forward,” he said.

Others offered Kurita good wishes.

“The Alameda firefighters wish Debbie and her family all the best in their future endeavors,” said Domenick Weaver, president of the local firefighters union. “In these difficult times and in an effort to move forward, we hope to be able to work with the City through the current challenges and be part of a collaborative solution.”

Rob Platt, government relations chair for the Alameda Association of Realtors, said his group worked hard over the past year to develop a good relationship with Kurita.

“We found Ms. Kurita to be receptive to our concerns and a pleasure to work with, even when our positions differed,” Platt said. “We look forward to developing the same working relationship with her successor, David Brandt.”

But Mike Richina, a board member for the union that represents park maintenance workers, said he is hopeful that Kurita’s departure could help the city turn a corner. The city’s decision to turn the Chuck Corica Golf Complex over to private management meant pink slips for a number of parks workers.

“Hopefully we can get someone in there who will do things the right way, (who will) stop laying people off,” Richina said, adding that this is his personal opinion. He said he thinks the city’s management has been a huge factor in the problems it has faced in recent years.

Kurita leaves the city at a time when it faces serious fiscal challeges, protracted negotiations with its public safety unions and a battle over the future of the former Alameda Naval Air Station.

Kurita had served as assistant city manager in Santa Ana for more than 15 years and worked in the Southern California cities of Torrance and Lawndale before that. She was Alameda’s first female city manager.

“Debra Kurita has exactly the right mix of professional accomplishments and personal achievements to lead the Alameda city staff. She brings a deep knowledge of municipal finance and human resource issues to our community, as well as a reputation as a caring, competent manager,” Johnson said when Kurita was hired.

Her original, three-year contract came with a salary of $180,000.


  • AD says:

    I believe her salary was over 200K. It was more then the city manager of San Jose, I remember.

    What about her house? The city helped buy it, and the price has now surely dropped. Who will take the loss?

    Finally, what ARE the goals of this city, and what ARE the little differences they had about achieving them? Curious minds want to know.

  • Sharon says:

    At least this changing of the guard allows the city to renegotiate the terms of our next city manager.

    The days of the highly compensated government posts are no longer viable. There are many talented and qualified people who are out of work and could step in. Hopefully the city will take this an opportunity rather than falling into the old-fashioned traps of "we've got to pay high salaries in order to attract the qualified." It's bull.

  • AD says:

    Are you asking me about my goals for the city? I was more curious about what Debra Kurita thought they were, and what exactly she disagreed with in terms of manners of achieving them. I'm assuming there was some substance behind that statement, something that would tell us mortals what exactly goes on behind these closed doors when people disagree.

    As far as my goals, I'd start with a humble one—a performance review for every single city employee, from David Brandt down to the guy at the park shack. Like Dennis Green said in a letter today—what are their job duties, how well they do them, how much they get paid. We are entitled to know. The two big ills of this city, in my opinion, are incompetence and cronyism. Start rooting these out, and things will start to fall back into place.

  • Jon Spangler says:

    Michelle and all,

    Debra Kurita did a very good job for the City of Alameda, and, IMHO, earned her keep and then some. I, too, am curious about what the policy differences were between the City Manager and the Council, but personnel policies may keep much of that off the public record.

    As to Ani's "humble" request, every City employee already gets reviews every 6-12 months, and I have never met a City employee who was not worth at least what s/he was being paid. (It is much harder to be a public servant than it is to be a critic.) Where have you seen "incompetence" or "cronyism," Ani? I have almost never seen it, and the people who exhibited what I personally considered questionable judgment are no longer with the City. (These employees do NOT include the recent City Manager, BTW.)

    I personally wish Debra Kurita all the best. She did very well by us while she was here.

  • David Kirwin says:


    It seems you lack the ability for critical evaluation! I also think being critical of government is one of the highest forms of public service, a service we should all learn to do better at,(in some cases learning to do it in a more beneficial, positive way). That does not mean giving positive evaluations when they are clearly not deserved.

    How can you possibly feel our city manager was doing her job correctly as the city lost over $90M on the AP&T fiasco?

    How can you feel the city was properly managed with embarrassing spending plans. (Like the 'Stimulus' options), or like the wasted $ on park turf replacement – Godfrey Park had most of it's trees removed – healthy mature trees – and has only 3 remaining mature non-eucalyptus trees! the new turf – about a year old is mostly dead, the turf uneven, the new sprinkler lines leaking – you can see where they are by looking at the field! The city could not manage Mif?

    Gimme a break – if management can't manage their duties they must be replaced! If the city manager could not get responsible performance from her departments and could not find managers who could do the job we need then it is time to find someone who can. The city wastes way too much $ on plans for projects we can't afford to do instead of doing the things we need to do.

    I too am very curious about what the differences are between Kurita and our elected officials. Don't we have a right to know?

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