Council Hopes Travis-Miller’s Second Tour Of Duty Will Last

In her second go-round as part of the management echelon in the City of San Bernardino, Andrea Travis-Miller has locked in what is represented as being a long term arrangement that would likely keep her in place as city manager until she retires, which would be five years or more down the road. An attorney, Travis-Miller seemingly abandoned the realm of municipal and government management at a point midway in her career to concentrate on practicing law. But she returned to government service six years ago and now seems purposed to dedicate herself to municipal management in San Bernardino, where the most dramatic and eventful chapter of her well-traveled experience in the last half dozen years played out.
Travis-Miller was in her mid-30s when she acceded to the position of La Mirada city manager in 2001. She remained in that position until 2008, at which point she went to work with a law firm. In 2011, she agreed to become San Bernardino deputy city manager under then-city manager Charles McNeeley.
McNeeley, city department heads, senior staff and line employees were struggling with sharply dwindling revenues that forced the city to cut services. With no economic turnaround in sight, McNeely was faced with the uncomfortable task of asking the city council to declare a state of fiscal emergency. Given the divisiveness on the city council and the politically charged atmosphere in which the mayor was at odds with the elected city attorney,
in an untenable position, in April 2012 resigned. At that point, Travis-Miller was elevated to the position of acting city manager. In tandem with then-finance director Jason Simpson, Travis-Miller made a review of the city’s financial books, the conclusions of which were so startling that the city council in July 2012 resolved to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection on the basis of a 45-page report from Travis-Miller recommending the city do just that. The city did so the following month. Travis-Miller gamely soldiered on as acting city manager, but in 2013 left to become the executive director of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments. In March 2015, she accepted the position of city manager in Covina.
After she resigned as Covina city manager in May 2016, Travis-Miller made her way back to San Bernardino, where she was again installed as deputy city manager. She was in place when the city made its historic exit, after five years, from bankruptcy.
Earlier this year, in February, she was very nearly elevated to the city manager’s position when city manager Mark Scott interviewed for the position as city manager in Reno. At that time, Travis-Miller advised the council to be patient with Scott’s flirtation with the Reno job. At the last minute, Scott pulled out as a candidate for the Reno job and returned to San Bernardino. His tenure in the county seat lasted only six months more, however, and he has now taken an interim management assignment in Indio, which puts him much closer to his home in Rancho Mirage, where his wife is employed.
An important issue for the council is consistency and stability in its managerial approach. In ten years, the city has employed five city managers – Fred Wilson, McNeeley, Travis-Miller, Alan Parker and Mark Scott. For a short time when the city was between city managers, police chief Jarrod Burguan filled that role on a temporary basis.
Overriding the objections of several citizens who objected to the $253,080 annual salary and $93,000 in total benefits Travis-Miller is to receive, the city council Wednesday night voted unanimously to hire her as city manager. That vote came after councilman John Valdivia, who noted Travis-Miller “has already deserted our community once before,” wrung from her a commitment to remain as city manager for five years and not surrender to the temptation to move on to a more lucrative or prestigious management position elsewhere.
“I would remind the council that I was here as your interim city manager previously and I did not accept the permanent appointment because I felt like I could not make that commitment given some of the dynamics,” Travis-Miller responded, indicating those dynamics had changed and the “council and this community have implemented a new [municipal] charter.” She said the city has moved beyond seemingly rolling with the financial punches it was continuously sustaining, and is proactively taking control of its destiny. She said the council has “committed to some regular discussion about what your expectations are. You committed to strategic planning. With all those things and a strategic plan that involves all of us in a stronger, better San Bernardino, I can make that commitment.”    -Mark Gutglueck

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