SAN BERNARDINO - Former Operation Phoenix and city Code Enforcement Director Glenn Baude recently accepted a retirement deal, he and officials confirmed Friday.

Mayor Pat Morris recruited Baude to lead the fledgling anti-crime program in May 2006.

Baude, 56, was one of San Bernardino's more visible city leaders until July, when a key Operation Phoenix official was arrested on suspicion of child molestation and San Bernardino experienced a political eruption.

The recriminations that followed the July 3 arrest of community center supervisor Mike Miller may have affected Baude more than any other city official.

After news reports that Operation Phoenix efforts were hindered by a cloudy chain of command, Morris in mid-July reorganized the program, removing Baude. Later that month, then-City Manager Fred Wilson placed Baude on paid leave.

Although San Bernardino's politicos often brought up Baude's name in the debates and arguments of the following weeks, a gag order prevented Baude from telling his side of the story.

Friday, interim City Manager Mark Weinberg confirmed that Baude has agreed to retire.

"The city's investigation into allegations of misconduct against Glenn Baude have been concluded and the results have cleared him of any wrongdoing. During the proceedings, Mr. Baude indicated an interest in drawing his service with the city to a close," Weinberg wrote in an e-mail.

Baude, no longer subject to the gag order, said Friday he believes his career in San Bernardino was doomed by political maneuvering and what he deems sensational media coverage of Operation Phoenix.

He said he's not angry at any individuals for what happened, but is saddened that the program's reputation suffered a devastating blow after Miller was arrested.

Miller, who has pleaded not guilty, is due back in San Bernardino Superior Court on Dec. 9.

"The only thing that hurts me," said Baude, "is to think we had a chance to build a good program. A good program that would help the city for many years and we have torn it apart."

Operation Phoenix's blueprint relies upon collaboration by San Bernardino officials, outside agencies and nonprofits to fight and prevent crime. The city's three Phoenix recreation centers - one of which was managed by Miller - emerged as the most visible parts of the initiative.

Baude said he and other officials were trying to solve the program's chain-of-command issues shortly before Miller's arrest threw Phoenix into turmoil. He also said city officials erred by not taking a more public stance in pledging to improve Operation Phoenix immediately after Miller's arrest.

"We should have had a press conference the day it happened (and) said this is what happened. Press, we need your help," Baude said.

Seventh Ward Councilwoman Wendy McCammack, who was one of the most aggressive city officials in calling for investigations of Operation Phoenix, said she would have preferred that Baude remained with the city as code enforcement chief instead of retiring.

Morris was effusive in praising Baude on Friday.

"He acquitted himself in a very, very honorable fashion," the mayor said. "He is to be highly respected and complemented for his work."