Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Shirey vows to stay

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Just back from Texas where he took himself out of the running for a new job, Cincinnati City Manager John Shirey spent several hours Monday telling council members that he isn't going anywhere.

        It doesn't matter that City Council for months has questioned his abilities, that some members still want him gone, and that he will lose power in November to the city's first directly elected mayor in 76 years.

        “I am not looking for a new job,” Mr. Shirey said. “The best thing for our family is to stay here in Cincinnati. This is the best place for us.”

        Despite a tenuous relationship with council members and their rejection of a small raise in January — which Mr. Shirey said weighed in his decision to apply for a job in Fort Worth — he pledged to continue working for them.

        “I don't intend to miss a beat. I am working every day to make things happen,” he said. “I do have the ability to work with council.”

        For the most part, council members say they are willing to give him a chance. Others say they can no longer trust Mr. Shirey to look after the best interests of the city.

        “In talking about trust issues, we're past the point of no return,” Councilman Phil Heimlich said Monday. “He has misled council, he has hid documents. Enough is enough. If it were up to me, he would not continue as city manager.”

        “The majority on council is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Councilman John Cranley. “He is going to have to demonstrate his commitment.”

        Economic development is at the top of Mr. Cranley's list, especially given the decision by Nordstrom to pull out of a downtown deal for a department store.

        Mayor Charlie Luken, who is the odds-on favorite to win the November mayoral race, with no known challenger to date, said he could continue working with Mr. Shirey after the election.

        “He could continue in that role,” Mr. Luken said. “I like John, I would like to see him continue.”

        Mr. Heimlich said he doesn't buy it. “There has been a host of incidents where he has not acted in a forthright manner,” he said, adding that he is willing to call for Mr. Shirey's dismissal. “When there are four other votes to support it, I will step forward to do it.”


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