Tuesday, June 20, 2000

Loveland Council votes for attorney

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LOVELAND — City Council on Monday night moved a step closer to removing City Manager Mark Fitzgerald.

        By a 5-2 vote at a special meeting, council decided to hire an attorney to represent itself and the city “in connection with the employment and/or conclusion of employment” of Mr. Fitzgerald.

        After an executive session, council returned and by the same 5-2 vote passed a resolution that city attorneys write up a preliminary plan for Mr. Fitzgerald's suspension.

        Supporting the resolution were Mayor Donna Lajcak, Heather Russell, Mary Newman, David Bednar and Paulette Leeper.

        Those opposing were Vice Mayor Brad Greenberg and former Mayor Lee Skierkiewicz.

        The vote revealed fault lines in council, in which new leadership has been critical of Mr. Fitzgerald's job performance, while previous leaders, including Mr. Skierkiewicz, strongly support him.

        Mr. Fitzgerald, 47, took over the position in September 1995 and has a salary of $81,400.

Politics rule
        Mr. Fitzgerald said that the situation was politically motivated.

        “The accomplishments of the tenure I served speak for themselves.”

        When the city hired legal counsel several weeks ago on Mr. Fitzgerald's situation, it was merely to work on the city manager's compensation package. His previous package expired April 30.

        Ms. Lajcak read to the public of about 70 residents a proposal by Mr. Fitzgerald in which he would resign effective July 13 and outlined a compensation package.

Improvements abound
        Mr. Fitzgerald has worked closely with Mr. Skierkiewicz and had been involved with Loveland's infrastructure improvements, including at the public works department, safety center, water department and renovations to City Hall.

        “That tells me we got a lot done, and there was a lot of growth and capacity to rapidly respond to that growth,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

        In addition, Mr. Fitzgerald supported efforts to see whether construction of a velodrome would spur economic growth in the city.

        A velodrome is an indoor cycling track that officials hope will bring world-class cycling events to Loveland, and as a result, new restaurants and hotels.


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