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Ex-Santa Monica Official Resigns in Compton

P. Lamont Ewell was serving as Compton's city manager when the mayor there has cast allegations of fraud, the Los Angeles Times reports.

A onetime Santa Monica city manager has resigned from the same post in Compton, where the mayor is alleging fraud in the city's accounting system.

The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that P. Lamont Ewell—who was hired to fix to help fix the city's financial woes—resigned Wednesday after he suspended the city's attempts to get a line of credit to pay back millions of dollars in debt.

He told the Times that there's not much more he can do for the city while it waits for the results of an independent financial audit. [Read more about Compton's budget problems and Ewell's hiring here.]

"I don't think it's appropriate for me to sit on the city's payroll knowing that they are still struggling, when this can take its course for weeks if not months," Ewell told the Times of the audit.

Ewell was the city manager in Santa Monica from January 2006 to December 2009.

He was hired in Compton to help with the city's financial turnaround, as it owes millions of dollars to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the Times reported.

In Santa Monica, city officials credited Ewell with strengthening the city's financial position. Under his oversight, nearly $300 million worth of projects were launched.

To read more about Ewell's resignation from the city of Compton, read the Times story here.

Kevin McKeown January 15, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Having read the L.A. Times article, and, further, having some personal knowledge of Lamont Ewell's character, I think your Patch story (and particularly the headline!) do a good man a grave disservice. One could -- almost would have to -- read your headline as suggesting Lamont left Compton under a cloud of allegations that HE was involved in fraud. On the contrary, Lamont, who got his start in Compton as a firefighter many years before becoming Santa Monica's City Manager, agreed to return to Compton to help that community out of financial straits some claim were caused by fraud BEFORE he got there. When Compton's Mayor disagreed with Lamont on how to resolve that city's issues, the Mayor made statements and took actions that made Lamont's efforts impossible. It may be some time before we know what past actions the Compton Mayor's comments refer to, but there was no accusation that Lamont was involved in fraud. If The Patch has information not contained in the L.A. TImes story, which somehow indicates that Lamont left under a cloud of "fraud allegations" against him, as your headline strongly suggests, I am always open to learning more. If you do not have such information, I think in would be in the interest of fairness and the credibility of The Patch for you to reconsider and perhaps rewrite your story and especially your headline. Thanks. Kevin McKeown Santa Monica Councilmember
Jenna Chandler (Editor) January 15, 2012 at 05:20 AM
I never reported or insinuated that Lamont was involved in the alleged fraud, we posted information that the Times reported, sufficiently crediting the newspaper. What headline do you suggest?
Kevin McKeown January 15, 2012 at 05:34 AM
"Leaves... Amid Fraud Allegations" is a misleading headline, in that the average reader who didn't know Lamont would likely infer that he was the target of the allegations. On the contrary, Lamont, who was retired and offered his services to Compton out of gratitude for that city's having given him a start in public service many years ago, is the good guy in this story. "Ex-SM official stymied in effort to rescue Compton," perhaps. Kevin
Beth Leder-Pack January 15, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I agree that the headline is very misleading.
B Chap January 15, 2012 at 04:13 PM
The headline & first sentence are VERY MISLEADING.
Helena Ruffin January 15, 2012 at 05:24 PM
I read the headline and thought..here we go another city manager. So glad to read the first comment. I agree, the headline is misleading.
Jenna Chandler (Editor) January 15, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Thanks for the suggestion. I've changed it to "Ex-Santa Monica Official Resigns in Compton." Another reader sent me this link, which you all might find interesting. I've added it to the story for some extra context http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/29/local/la-me-0929-compton-manager-20110929
Zina Josephs January 15, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Actual L.A. Times headline: "Allegations of fraud deepen Compton's financial troubles -- Compton's interim city manager, who had been critical of the city's lack of controls and overspending, submits his resignation." Continuing: "Mayor Eric Perrodin had sent a letter to State Controller John Chiang in December, asking him to do a forensic audit of the city and suggesting that the general fund deficit was caused by 'possible fraud, waste and abuse.....' " "Interim City Manager Lamont Ewell, who submitted his resignation this week, had been brought in to help with the city's financial turnaround. After Perrodin demanded the audit, Ewell suspended the city's attempts to get a line of credit. "Ewell said discussions with the banks could be held up for months while the city's independent audit firm, which is preparing its annual report on the city's finances, looks into allegations of fraud. "He submitted his resignation to the council Wednesday, saying that there is not much more he can do for the city in the meantime." 9/29/11 - L.A. Times: "Compton fires third city manager in five years" Mr. Ewell was hired in October 2011 for a period of 5 months as an interim city manager. 11/1/11- L.A. Times: [Compton] has already laid off about 15% of its workforce. Most disconcerting is its looming deficit of $39 million." Summary: Compton is in a financial mess. Mr. Ewell tried to help out his hometown. The Mayor of Compton made his job impossible.
Eddie Greenberg January 15, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Hello Jenna, There is nothing to fret about here, because you correctly stated that you did not insinuate anything and that is true. With all due respect to Council Member McKeown's noble intentions here, and he is a person of whom I both respect and admire, but in this case with whom I also beg to differ. There are no insinuations on my part either, when I have observed before this incident that Mr. P. Lamont Ewell has been in the midst of several controversies and in several cities, that were under his apparently less than stellar stewardship. When Dan Diego council members were said to have been polled following Mr. Ewell's departure there in another tempest, if they had anything "good" to say about him ; it seems only one reply came forward and the sentiment was "good riddance"! May I suggest to you Jenna that you look up online The Daily Press of March 11-12 of 2006 on the front page for furthur information and clarification. Jenna thank you for the good, bold, and inspiring job that you are doing!

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