- Associated Press - Thursday, April 3, 2014

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Oakland’s top non-elected city official has resigned to take a high-profile philanthropic position in San Francisco, becoming the second person to announce they are leaving the city post in as many months.

Oakland City Administrator Fred Blackwell said Wednesday he will become CEO of the nonprofit San Francisco Foundation, which grants tens of millions of dollars annually to community organizations across the San Francisco Bay Area.

His departure, however, comes at a time of instability in Oakland. The previous city administrator abruptly resigned last month, and the city is looking for a permanent police chief after three people occupied the post in the past year.

The move also could pose a political challenge to Mayor Jean Quan, who is in a tough battle for re-election in November, University of San Francisco political scientist Corey Cook said Thursday.

“It reinforces that she doesn’t seem to have steady leadership and that there is lack of consistency in her administration,” Cook said.

Quan said she will replace Blackwell on an interim basis with Henry Gardner, who was Oakland city manager from 1981 to 1993.

Blackwell will continue in his current job in Oakland through mid-June to help with the transition. He said that includes helping Quan complete the search for a permanent police chief and working with the City Council to pass a mid-cycle revision to the city’s budget.

An Oakland native, Blackwell, 44, replaced embattled city administrator Deanna Santana, who was a finalist for similar posts in Dallas and Phoenix and resigned last month after three years on the job in Oakland.

Blackwell joined city staff in October 2011 as assistant city administrator and has been instrumental in luring developers to the city as well as trying to keep its three pro sports teams in town as they explore the possibility of more lucrative deals elsewhere.

Blackwell said Thursday that Quan has provided strong vision and leadership for Oakland, and he is proud of what they accomplished together.

“I love Oakland deeply, and while this decision was incredibly difficult, I am confident the city is in great hands with Mayor Quan and Mr. Gardner,” Blackwell said. “As I take on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I also hope to continue serving Oakland as part of the San Francisco Foundation’s important mission.”

While announcing Blackwell’s promotion to city administrator last month, Quan described him as a “brilliant, dedicated, get-it-done leader.” On Wednesday, she said she was happy for Blackwell and called his new job across the Bay Bridge a great opportunity.

In San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee said Blackwell’s new role will be an asset to the entire region.

“I’m looking forward to working with him, especially on the critical issues that face San Francisco, like affordability, income inequality and housing,” Lee said in a statement.

Blackwell is a former San Francisco redevelopment director.

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