Heart surgery for Lando
City manager to have defective valve replaced; could be out four months
Tom Lando, Chico’s city manager, who for the past decade has deftly run city affairs, handing out advice to staff, providing direction to the City Council and often taking the wrath of unhappy and suspicious citizens, is scheduled for surgery to replace a defective heart valve.
Downplaying the seriousness of his condition, Lando, who is often seen jogging through Bidwell Park, said the exact date for the surgery had not yet been set.
“I have a defective heart valve, and it turns out the thing was going to fail.” Lando said the surgery is set for Oct. 6 or 7.
“I’m actually fine until then,” he said. “I’ll probably be in and out of the office, but mostly on vacation, just relaxing and getting mentally ready [for the surgery].”
The weak valve is a congenital problem, he said, joking that it is “only one of many defective body parts I have.”
Lando said he would remain in the hospital for about a week following the surgery and that recovery could take between six weeks and four months.
The City Council had learned of Lando’s pending surgery during a closed-session meeting a few months ago, but councilmembers said they did not expect it to come so soon.
Lando said he’d recently experienced a shortness of breath, and last week his doctor, following an exam of Lando’s heart with a catheter, suggested the surgery be performed within the next few weeks.
“From what I understand, it has the potential to be life-threatening,” said Councilmember Scott Gruendl. “But he’s been treating it like it’s no big deal.”
City staff learned of Lando’s condition on Sept. 16 from an e-mail message sent to all city employees. A secretary who works in the Chico Municipal Center expressed surprise but also confidence that Lando would come through the surgery well.
“We think he’ll be running the city from his hospital bed,” she said.
Earlier in the year, on April 21, Lando announced his upcoming retirement, offering to stay as long as through next September while the city searched for his replacement. The application period for the position closes Oct. 18, and Lando said he expects his successor to be on board by next March at the latest.
Trish Dunlap, the assistant city manager, has said she has no intentions of applying for the city manager position and would likely retire shortly after Lando. She was on vacation when word of Lando’s surgery broke and could not be reached for comment.
For his part, Gruendl said he does not expect Lando’s absence to alter the city’s daily business.
“This is fine because we are going into a mode where we were going to have no city manager or a new city manager,” Gruendl said. “All this does is move things up a little bit. I would expect Tom to come back and help with the transition.”
Lando, 51, was born in Washington, D.C., and moved to California in 1968 with his family. He attended the University of the Pacific, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, and then earned two master’s degrees at Ohio State University. He came to Chico in 1980 when he was hired as planning director. In 1985 he became the city’s community services director and was hired as the city manager in 1992.
Earlier this year, before he announced his retirement plans, Lando, who is generally regarded as an excellent manager and an exceptional asset to the city, modestly described his position to the News & Review.
“I think anybody could do this job," he suggested. "I just think it’s being a traffic cop. There are many people both in this organization and outside this organization who could do my job. I’m just fortunate enough to have it, and they have to put up with me."