News: Young and the Rest

Is there a weak link in the city's chain of command?

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If City Manager Valerie Lemmie and Mayor Charlie Luken are away, responsibility for running the city of Cincinnati could easily fall to a 26-year-old who until recently worked in Dayton. It happened last month.

When Police Chief Tom Streicher held a press conference in mid-July announcing the suspension of Assistant Chief Ron Twitty for allegedly falsifying an accident report, Luken, Lemmie and Acting Deputy City Manager Tim Riordan were out of town or on vacation.

That left Assistant City Manager Rashad Young, then 25, in charge of city government — in just his third full month on the job. The unusual circumstances left some wondering how someone so young and new to the city had so much responsibility.

The city manager is the "CEO of the city," according to Deputy City Solicitor Bob Johnstone, who often works directly with council. This means the city manager is responsible for day to day operations. But that doesn't mean the mayor is a figurehead with a veto stamp.

"Clearly the mayor holds an office that the city manager and council has to consult in terms of the discharge of their duties," Johnstone says.

The question is when.

This is tough enough when Lemmie is at City Hall, but she isn't shy about taking time to attend conferences. She also receives four weeks of vacation each year.

Lemmie, who reported to work in early April, has been out of office for 17 days, including 14 weekdays; two were for vacation.

Riordan is second-in-command. The city's former finance director, Riordan is a City Hall veteran who was a leading candidate for city manager. He's also one of the few people at City Hall with the word "acting" next to his job title.

In three months, Lemmie named eight new administrators, three of them from Dayton. Asked if Riordan has been useful with so many Dayton transplants, Lemmie said Riordan has lots of experience with finance but not in the city manager's office.

Which brings up Young, third in command. His $103,000 salary is high, but not outside the city guidelines. An assistant city manager in Cincinnati can earn between $93,912 and $126,783 annually.

But across the country, assistant city mangers — who are generally second-in-command — averaged $69,847 annually in 2001, according to the International City Managers Association in Washington, D.C.

Like Young, there are others doing well: an assistant city manager earns $113,000 in Minneapolis (383,000 population); $104,600 in Atlanta (402,000 population); and $142,000 in Berkeley, Calif. (102,000 population). Cincinnati has about 300,000 residents.

Lead public administrators in local and state government — positions akin to the city manager — earned an average of $39 an hour, according to the National Compensation Survey 2000, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Rashad, just third in command, makes $49.52 an hour.

Young's age is a topic he isn't embarrassed about. He says many bureaucracies are modeled on seniority, but that isn't necessarily the best way to decide who should be in charge.

"I think that culture or that paradigm is no longer valid," Young says. "I think it's good that the model is changing."

Young began working in the city of Dayton as an intern in 1994 for $5 an hour, but climbed the ladder quickly. In 1997 he earned $10 an hour as an intern. His first full-time job was administrative assistant to the city manager in 1998 at $37,000, which led to a job as assistant to the city manger in 1999 at $42,000.

Young spent most of 2001 as deputy director of the Dayton Department of Information and Technology, beginning at $72,000. He left in April as acting assistant city manager, earning $79,000.

Young graduated from the University of Dayton in 1998 with a bachelor of science degree in business management, according to the city of Dayton. He also holds a master's degree in business administration from the University of Dayton.

Young's pay is based on the job's salary range and his skills, not his age, according to Lemmie.

"You've got someone who is extremely well-prepared for the task and the responsibility," she says. "He has an extremely bright future ahead of him." ©

Young, but Not Poor
Assistant City Manager Rashad Young, 26, makes a lot of money for his age — $103,000. Following are samples of pay rates for people of similar age or education.

· Example cited by Social Security Administration: "Cathy Jones is 26 years old and receives $510 each month in Social Security benefits because she is blind."

· Salary range for graduates of the University of Buffalo's full-time MBA program, average age 26: $23,500 to $70,000

· Median income of men ages 25 to 34 in 1999: $29,864

· Probationary police officer, age 26, in West Lafayette, Ind.: $34,312

· Social worker in Cincinnati, with a master's degree in social work and two to four years of experience: median base salary of $42,352

· Cincinnati lawyer with two to five years of experience: median base salary of $90,144

· Cincinnati physician with two to four years of experience: median base salary of $124,730

· Scott Williamson, Reds pitcher, age 26: $400,000

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