Dan Lindheim gave a candid interview where he delved into how Oakland ended up in such a financial mess. I was surprised when Lindheim told me that he originally did not want to be Oakland’s city administrator.

“I didn’t want the job in the first place,” he said. “The mayor wanted me to do this from day one, and I said, ‘No way, I have a 13-year old kid, thank you very much. I can give you 60 hours a week, I’m not going to give you 24-7.”

But after the Deborah Edgerly debacle, Lindheim was told he needed to “suit up.”

Lindheim, who was the Community and Economic Development Agency interim director before he became city administrator, is responsible for implementing city policies, including financing. And, once in place as city administrator, Lindheim said he discovered the city’s $50 million budget shortfall in 2008.

“After three weeks of digging, we determined that the city had just lost $50 million that no one was talking about and was in route to losing another $50 million,” Lindheim said. “And we didn’t have the reserves to cover that and so we were in route to immediate bankruptcy.”

Despite “substantial” cuts, including layoffs, moving money around and finding one-time revenue to “stop the bleeding,” Lindheim said Oakland’s financial picture continued to be bleak.

Working at least “60 to 70 hours a week,” Lindheim said he’s now gotten used to the long hours and tough decisions. However, the city’s new mayor-elect – Jean Quan – has said she will conduct a national search for a new city administrator. Lindheim will serve on the transition team.