The Oaklanders  who were thrilled when native son Fred Blackwell was named Oakland City Administrator one month ago are going to be sad when they learn that Blackwell announced today that he was leaving the city, after just one month on the job, to return to The San Francisco Foundation, this time as its CEO. Blackwell told a reporter he didn’t tell the Mayor he’d applied for the top job at his former employer because “he didn’t think he’d get it.”

An email from Blackwell circulated  internally today entitled “tough news” that was time-stamped 4:08 PM and announced his departure.  It read:

“All:  It is with a heavy heart that am writing to tell you that I have decided to leave the city.  I have been offered the position of CEO of the San Francisco Foundation and I do not feel that from a career point of view that I can turn it down.  I will continue to work for the City through mid-June and in May I will be joined by Henry Gardner who will assume the reins after I leave and through the end of the year. More details will come but I want you to know that this has nothing to do with the City and is the toughest career decision that I have ever had to make. I would like to thank Mayor Quan for providing me with the opportunity to lead the City as its Administrator and wish the timing of this was better.  I would also like to thank all of you for all of your support and words of encouragement over the last few weeks .  The City is headed in the right direction and I am confident that it will do just fine without me. — Fred”

Henry Gardner, a retired Executive Director of the Association of Bay Area Governments and a former Oakland City Manager, who assisted Quan in 2011 on her transition advisory committee, apparently will come aboard as Acting City Administrator and serve Mayor Quan once again. He will be on the job for at least seven months, if Blackwell’s note is accurate.

About The Author

Susan Mernit is editor & publisher of Oakland Local ( a news & community hub for Oakland, CA. A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; was a 2012 Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and is a board adviser to The Center for Health Reporting at USC, Annenberg School of Journalism. She has consulted with many non-profit organizations on strategy, product development and social media/engagement, including, TechSoup Global, Public Radio International and the Institute for Policy Studies/Economic Hardship Reporting Project, led by Barbara Ehrenreich.

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