Wednesday, October 17, 2007

City Manager O'Rourke Honored Abundantly

City Manager O'Rourke Honored Abundantly
By Ben Antonius

City Manager Kevin OÕRourke talks with Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, at a City Council meeting Tuesday. (Photo by Mike McCoy)

FAIRFIELD - An hour into Tuesday's City Council meeting, presenters were running out of superlatives and Kevin O'Rourke was running out of wall space.

A ceremony for the retiring city manager drew 21 speakers from every nook and cranny of O'Rourke's lengthy career and probably represented a record week for local award shops, as nearly all the speakers brought plaques and commendations.

Even O'Rourke acknowledged the grandeur of the ceremony, jokingly apologizing to television viewers who might have tuned in for items on the actual council agenda.

"It's not easy to sit through so many presentations," O'Rourke said. "It's beginning to feel like the Neverending Story."

O'Rourke's retirement as city manager, first announced in early July, went into effect Saturday. Concurrently, so did his contract to stick around Fairfield for up to five or six months as interim city manager.

Many of the presenters, who ranged from current councilmembers to O'Rourke's subordinates at previous jobs, noted that his tenure in Fairfield - 10 years - is long for a city manager.

"I only made it to nine years," said Solano County Supervisor John Silva, with a laugh. Silva was city manager of Benicia from 1978 to 1987.

Michael Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, said having stability at the top helps cities take on large projects, the largest of which can stretch far beyond a decade.

"Consistency of leadership brings results," Ammann said.

The four members of the City Council in attendance offered their congratulations and Councilman Frank Kardos suggested O'Rourke consider a career in Hollywood based on his mastery "of dealing with five prima donnas."

Kardos also read a congratulatory letter from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Davis, presented O'Rourke with a resolution from the state Assembly and a representative for Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, presented him with one from the House of Representatives.

Also highlighted was O'Rourke's extensive work with groups that focus on city manager training and development.

Among the speakers were representatives from the Solano County Area Managers Group, the International City/County Management Association, the Municipal Management Association of Northern California - Councilwoman Marilyn Farley also read a letter from the Municipal Management Association of Southern California - and the California City Management Foundation.

Rick Warsinski, city manager of Buena Park, spoke Tuesday to thank his former boss for his guidance. Warsinski was the planning director during the 11 years O'Rourke was manager of the Southern California city.

"He has a vision and he knows how to get there," Warsinski said.

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or

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