OAKLAND (CBS SF) — In his last day on the job, Oakland City Attorney John Russo Friday appointed Chief Assistant City Attorney Barbara Parker to be acting city attorney until a permanent successor is either appointed or elected.

Russo, who has been city attorney since 2000 and served on the City Council for six years prior to that, will begin serving as Alameda’s city manager Monday.

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The Oakland City Council now has 60 days to appoint a replacement for the rest of Russo’s four-year term, which ends in December 2012.

If the council can’t muster enough votes to make an appointment within 60 days, the city will have to hold a special election within 120 days to fill the post.

Russo announced May 4 that he would take the Alameda job, but it was widely known for a long time before then that he was seeking that position, largely because he has clashed with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who was sworn in Jan. 3.

In a letter to City Council members Friday, Russo commented on their slowness in selecting a replacement, saying, “It is clear that the council will not make an appointment before I vacate the office.”

In his letter, Russo said he is appointing Parker “to assure a seamless transition with an experienced, eminently qualified attorney in charge of the office until the council makes its appointment decision.”

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Parker has 20 years of experience in the Oakland City Attorney’s Office, including more than 10 years as second in command to Russo. She graduated from Harvard Law School in 1975 and previously served for more than five years as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California.

As Oakland’s chief assistant city attorney, Parker has represented the City Attorney’s Office at virtually all council meetings for the past decade.

Her responsibilities included overseeing a staff of about 20 attorneys and directing all legal advice provided to the Mayor’s Office, City Council, City Administrator and all other city boards, commissions and departments.

City Council President Larry Reid said in a statement, “Barbara Parker is exceedingly qualified in providing objective, reasoned legal advice. I am very comfortable with Barbara taking on this responsibility until the City Council takes further action.”

Parker said, “I welcome this opportunity to continue to serve the city and residents of Oakland in this time of transition.”

She said, “During these challenging economic times, I am committed to continuing to work closely with the City Council and to bringing people together to represent the best interests of the Oakland community in a transparent, accessible manner.”

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