Philadelphia Managing Director Camille Cates Barnett said this morning that she will resign effective June 30, telling members of the press and city workers that she "needs some time and space" to work through the deep grief she feels for the death of her husband two years ago.
Rumors of Barnett's departure had been swirling for many months, but she said this morning that she was leaving solely for personal reasons, not because she disagreed with the direction Mayor Nutter has set for the city. Barnett said she did not know where she would work or live when she leaves city government.
"It's a personal decision. I hope that's evident. I really do need to get to a place to rebuild my life and I need to get out of the public life to do that," an emotional Barnett said after the morning press conference.
Barnett lost her husband, James M. Barnett, in January 2008, the very week she was slated to begin her job as the city's managing director. He was killed in a car crash on his way from a suburb of Washington, where the couple lived, to Philadelphia.
The tragedy set Barnett back from the beginning.
She led the creation of the city's new 3-1-1 call center, advocated for new technology investments and created a new system for monitoring the performance of city departments called PhillyStat.
But for all that Barnett seemed to lack the authority of some past managing directors, due in part to the way Mayor Nutter has structured his administration, giving authority that some mayors left in the managing director's office to his four deputy mayors.
Barnett, though, said she was comfortable with the structure of Nutter's government, and she praised the mayor throughout the emotional press conference.
"I'm really getting old, and I have seen a lot of mayors. I've worked with a lot of mayors, I've consulted with a lot of mayors. I know mayors, and this is a good mayor, and I'm expecting great things from this mayor and this fine city," said Barnett, who mixed tears with her trademark brand of humor throughout the emotional press conference.
Nutter said he had no plans yet to replace Barnett.
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