Wednesday, April 04, 2001

Director will return to work

Mayor criticized customer service

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Planning Director Jim Boerke said Tuesday he was placed on a brief paid administrative leave at his request Monday, and had not resigned his $85,000-a-year position over a flap with the mayor.

        “I'll be back at work (today),” Mr. Boerke said.

        He declined, however, to discuss criticism by Mayor Adolf Olivas over a litany of complaints directed at the city's construction services department, which is run by Mr. Boerke.

        Mr. Olivas wrote in his weekly report, released Sunday, that in his nearly 18 years on City Council no other department has received as many complaints.

        “Maybe it is about time that we stop pussyfooting around the issue of customer service. ... How many more complaints do we need?” the mayor wrote.

        City Manager Steve Sorrell denied reports that Mr. Boerke told him he planned to retire or resign, and that Mr. Sorrell asked him to take administrative leave to reconsider. Mr. Sorrell said Mr. Boerke requested the leave.

        Mr. Olivas said he and Mr. Boerke recently discussed the mayor's criticisms.

        “My criticism was neither harsh nor unmerited, nor a surprise,” the mayor said. “I am not going to tolerate an attitude that is forcing businesses out of town or is perceived to be forcing businesses out of town.”

        Several members of City Council, including the mayor, said Mr. Boerke is not the problem, but is responsible for fixing them.

        Construction services handles building inspections, oversees building and occupancy permits, approves building plans and issues zoning citations. Council members said problems include delays in issuing sign and building permits, poor customer service, a shortage of employees and an antiquated sign ordinance.


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