New City Manager? Think Small

For the second time in a row, Cincinnati officials are looking to a smaller neighboring community for someone to oversee City Hall's daily operations. Mayor Mark Mallory announced June 6 that Mil

Jun 7, 2006 at 2:06 pm
Brewster Rhoads

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, speaking downtown June 3, said he plans to return to Ohio to campaign for Democrats.

For the second time in a row, Cincinnati officials are looking to a smaller neighboring community for someone to oversee City Hall's daily operations. Mayor Mark Mallory announced June 6 that Milton Dohoney Jr. is his choice to become city manager. Dohoney is chief administrative officer of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and previously served as Louisville's deputy mayor.

"The bottom line is he's going to do what he needs to do as a city manager, he's not a politician," Mallory says. "I'm confident he's going to transform this city."

Dohoney's nomination still must be confirmed by city council. Although Mallory hoped for a vote at the council meeting Wednesday, a day after his announcement, at least four members opposed Dohoney and two more hadn't decided. Chief among opponents' concerns was that Dohoney doesn't have experience managing a city of Cincinnati's size. He oversees a $411 million annual budget and a 3,500-member workforce in Lexington; Cincinnati has a nearly $1 billion annual budget and a 7,000-member workforce.

Among the perks in Dohoney's proposed contract: He would receive $185,000 annually in salary, a $550 per month car allowance, $7,500 for relocation expenses and up to $1,500 per month for temporary housing, not to exceed six months.

He'll also begin with 21 days accumulated vacation time and 250 hours of sick leave and would get a year's salary for severance if fired without cause.

Dohoney would replace Valerie Lemmie, who left a job as Dayton's city manager to serve here in early 2002. She resigned in September 2005 after a rocky tenure that included frequent clashes with city council. David Rager, the city's water works director, has served as interim city manager since then.

Democrats? Think Positive
The future of the Democratic Party — Ohio's near future and the nation's more distant future — was on display June 3 at the Westin Hotel downtown, where about 150 people attended a fundraising lunch for U.S. Senate candidate Sherrod Brown, running against incumbent Republican Mike DeWine. Many came to find out about northern Ohio native Brown, a Congressman representing the Cleveland area, but the real buzz surrounded Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

Attendees knew Obama from his scintillating keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where the self-described "skinny kid with a funny name" vaulted to national prominence. Now touted as a potential presidential nominee, Obama was a huge "get" for this Cincinnati appearance; he told the lunch crowd he's barraged with speaking invitations but wanted to come to Ohio "early and late in this campaign" because of the state's obvious importance in the national political scheme.

The name Paul Hackett wasn't mentioned once by any speaker, but it was pretty clear that a lot of people in the room weren't familiar with Brown other than as the guy who pushed Hackett out of the Senate primary. Brown did his best to woo, name checking a number of local office-holders in attendance as well as those also running this fall, such as Congressional candidates John Cranley (District 1) and Victoria Wulsin (District 2) and State Sen. Eric Kearney, who introduced Brown.

Obama took the stage after Brown to rally the troops for a strong showing in the fall. He said his overriding goal is to convince Americans that "we're all connected and we have a mutual obligation to each other." He challenged Democrats to "have a serious adult conversation with the American people that talks about a future that's optimistic and hopeful" — not to be negative about what's wrong with the country, a message he said Americans naturally resist, but to point out how Democrats offer a better future than the Republicans.

Obama invoked a quotation of Martin Luther King Jr. about the arc of history always bending toward justice, using it to buoy the spirits of Democrats who've seen Ohio give Bush two national elections, give Republicans every statewide office and support conservative causes like the gay marriage ban. If everyone in the room can just pull together and help bend the arc of history a little bit more, he said, justice (and the Democratic cause) will ultimately prevail.

Porkopolis Blog? Think Now
If you missed CityBeat's Porkopolis blog earlier this week, you had to wait a day for the other media to report about the mayor's pick for city manager and about the Republican county commissioners missing their self-imposed deadline for a new jail plan or you didn't see in-depth coverage of Brown and Obama's visit to Cincinnati. Why wait? Visit and get today's news today.

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