By Erik Luna
Brookings, Oregon city manager, Gary Milliman, sits in his car on his way to his grandsons 10th birthday. He chuckles as he remembers his time at East Los Angeles College.
Milliman once served as the editor in chief of Campus News.
He is now receiving an award for Career Excellence in Honor of Mark E. Keane from the International City/County Management Association.
“I was surprised. I was aware of the award and some of the other people who have received it,” Milliman said.
“I went into the ICMA system and saw the other nominees and they are all amazing people, that’s why I was so surprised,” he said.
Modesty is one of Milliman’s many traits. He took over as city manager of South Gate in 2003 once it became apparent that former councilmember Albert Robles was embezzling millions from South Gate.
Robles was finally ousted in a recall election when his nefarious extracurricular activities were exposed.
“He took a very bad situation in South Gate and turned it around. He’s a very good administrator,” Steven Droessler, San Diego Union Tribune news editor and former Campus News editor in chief said.
After having received his masters degree from the University of Southern California, Milliman said he was well prepared for his future in city government.
Although, Milliman said that he was well prepared when he left ELAC.
“When I started working in Bell Gardens, doing public information, other employees were writing reports and people would say, ‘hey there’s this guy down the hall that knows how to write. Take it to him so they can be more understandable,” Milliman said with a chuckle.
Both Milliman and Droessler, who have been friends since their stint on Campus News, paid homage to their mentors and advisers Ed Newman and Russell Paine.
According to Milliman, the objective of the two teachers was to have their students ready so that when they graduated from ELAC they could go out and get a job on a newspaper.
Milliman thought they did an excellent job and truly felt like he was ready.
“What I was able to use from the journalism education I received at ELAC was the research aspect.
“I still use the five w’s and h when I have to do news articles on city projects and programs,” Milliman said.
“Also, I was a pretty shy guy, but Campus News taught me to get over that. You can’t be a reporter and be shy,” he said.
In 1968 Milliman and Droessler found that someone had thrown a Molotov cocktail in the newsroom.
“We had swat cars come in the campus, we had police chases. It was crazy times, because of the Vietnam War,” Droessler said with a chuckle.
Milliman, who has been city manager for cities such as Bell Gardens, South Gate, Maywood and Brookings is planning to continue as city manager for as long as he can.
He will be accepting the ICMA Award for Career Excellence in Phoenix, Arizona on October 10.