Since his 66th birthday when Ken Frank announced his retirement as city manager, he has been the talk of the town. Who would replace him? Who could replace him? How would he be replaced? His contributions to the city were lauded. His flaws — he was known to lose his temper occasionally, and he was sometimes abrupt with staff — were dissected; his skills applauded.
An intensely private man, Frank spent almost half of his life in a very visible job. For 31 years, he maneuvered the city — and some said the City Council — through good times and bad.
And there were some really bad times: the county bankruptcy, landslides, fire, the dreadful loss of lives to AIDS, state raids on local revenue to balance its own budget, and near mutinies in the police, fire and marine safety departments.
"We were lucky to have Ken Frank," former Councilman Paul Freeman said. "We haven't always agreed, but he is the best politician this city has ever had."