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Longtime City Administrator Simpson Abruptly Resigns : City Hall: He gives no official reason for leaving after 13 years, but there are indications he was asked by council members to step aside.

April 15, 1993|KIRSTEN LEE SWARTZ | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

BELLFLOWER — Jack A. Simpson, the city administrator of Bellflower and a veteran of local government, resigned unexpectedly from the city's top post this week amid a report that the City Council asked him to step aside.

Simpson cleared out his desk Tuesday and turned in his keys, offering his staff no immediate reason for leaving a position he held for 13 years.

However, one council member said Simpson's resignation followed pressure from elected officials. The board met in closed session Monday and voted 4 to 1 to ask Simpson to quit, Councilman Bill Pendleton said.

Pendleton, who voted against the majority, said some board members believed Simpson wielded too much power in the city. He said his colleagues did not provide specifics but he believed their decisions were based on personality conflicts.

"Jack Simpson is a very capable, qualified manager," Pendleton said, adding that Simpson never received a job evaluation. "He did not get fired for performance."

Mayor Bob Stone, who was selected for the rotating position Monday night, said he was surprised at Simpson's resignation.

Other members of the council could not be reached for comment or would only confirm that Simpson's position was discussed.

"It's a personnel matter," Councilwoman Ruth Gilson said. "It's really a confidential thing."

Simpson, 50, headed the Bellflower staff since 1980. He previously spent two years as city manager in Paramount and two years as city administrator in Hawaiian Gardens.

"It now seems an appropriate time to step aside and allow the new community leadership under the direction of newly selected Mayor Bob Stone to forge the future," Simpson stated in a letter released to the press. "It is now time for the dreamer in Jack Simpson to devote some time to his family."

He declined further comment.

Assistant City Administrator Linda Lowry will serve as temporary administrator until a new one is hired, Stone said.

Lowry said Simpson, who hired more than 85% of the 74-member staff, did not announce his resignation first to his employees. Staff members learned of the resignation by word of mouth Tuesday afternoon, she said.

"Mr. Simpson was here when City Hall was put together," Lowry said, referring to the building's construction in the early 1980s. "Most of us feel that he's left his home. This has been his home that we've been brought into."

Some of his backers point out that Simpson, who was born and educated in Long Beach and has worked in the area since he was 26, has connections with a myriad of local officials. They credited him also with having professionalism.

However, his critics in Bellflower are not the first to complain. In 1980, Simpson resigned from his post in Paramount following a feud with then-councilwoman Esther Caldwell. Simpson's critics on the council said at the time that he tried to wield too much power.

In his letter to the council, Simpson said he had a lead role in designing, financing and building Bellflower City Hall and the city's community auditorium. He also worked to improve city parks and public work projects, such as the Bellflower Aquatic Center at Thompson Park and hundreds of housing units for senior citizens, he said.

Stone said he was unaware of Simpson's plans before Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm tired. It's been a long day," a slightly irritated Stone said Tuesday afternoon. "He presented me with a letter of resignation about an hour and a half ago."

Later, Stone said Simpson's sudden resignation should not be considered odd.

"Sometimes, I think when people make a decision in their mind, what do they want to hang around for?" Stone said. "It's not productive. That's the way most people approach it."

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