LOS ANGELES -- San Bernardino, Calif. will head into a status conference on its bankruptcy Tuesday missing two key players.
Interim city manager Andrea Travis-Miller and finance director Jason Simpson both resigned over the past several weeks.
Travis-Miller and Simpson have been credited with bringing to light the extent of the city’s fiscal distress, which resulted in the city seeking bankruptcy protection on Aug. 1.
San Bernardino City Attorney James Penman said it is not much of a problem, because the city has known for several months that Travis-Miller and Simpson were planning to leave.
“We have been interviewing some time for a new city manager and finance director,” Penman said.
Travis-Miller is expected to begin a new position as the executive director for San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments on Feb. 19. Simpson submitted his resignation on Jan. 29 without announcing what his next position will be.
Travis-Miller, who served as assistant city manager since June 2011, had turned down the permanent city manager position when the previous city manager, Charles McNeely, left in April 2012.
The City Council has a special meeting scheduled for Friday during which it will interview the finalists for the city manager position, Penman said.
Penman says San Bernardino has been able to attract high-caliber people to the position despite the city’s financial woes.
“There are some people who don’t want to go to a bankrupt city,” Penman said. “There are others who see it as challenge.”
He added that they have applicants with more than 30 years’ experience.
Tuesday’s hearing, postponed from Jan. 17, is being held in response to a motion filed by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System claiming that the city has failed to provide financial information.
Judge Meredith Jury ordered the city to provide more financial disclosure to its creditors at a Dec. 21 status hearing. The city’s attorneys had argued during that hearing that the city planned to hire additional staff to help with the process. Since then, several financial analysts were hired on a contract basis to help the city gather the information needed by creditors, Penman said.
The city also voted in January to retain financial advisor Urban Futures to continue work on the city’s financial matters.
The retention of Urban Futures means “there isn’t a break in continuity in terms of what we are doing” regarding the bankruptcy proceedings, Penman said.
In a Friday filing, CalPERS gave San Bernardino credit for making headway in providing creditors with necessary financial document, but expressed concern that the “city does not seem to be allocating resources to the finance department that are necessary to an effective bankruptcy case.”
“There is a significant amount of information that the city has yet to produce, including the backup for the pendency plan the city adopted last November,” CalPERS spokesman Robert Udall Glazier said in a statement.
CalPERS attorneys said in the filing that if they find the city’s progress on producing financial documents acceptable at Tuesday’s hearing, the pension fund would be amenable to scheduling another hearing two weeks from now on discovery rather than proceeding to trial on the city’s eligibility to be in bankruptcy.
Jury in December postponed scheduling a hearing on the city’s bankruptcy eligibility pending a resolution to creditor’s complaints about the lack of financial documents provided them.
The San Bernardino Public Employees Association, which represents the city’s mid-level managers, also filed papers on Friday arguing that the city has refused to negotiate in violation of state law governing city workers.
The union argued in the court documents that the city has failed to negotiate in good faith engaging in “surface bargaining.”
The union joins CalPERS and several others in asking the judge for a stay from the bankruptcy proceedings that would enable it to sue the city in state court.
The matter is scheduled for a hearing on March 6.
The union is not requesting a cash settlement, it merely wants a declaration of rights and for the city to produce financial information, according to the documents.
The city halted payments to CalPERS last summer and is currently behind on $9 million worth of payments, according to the pension fund’s filing.