Saturday, January 12, 2002

City manager list down to three

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Mayor Charlie Luken could nominate a city manager to Cincinnati City Council as soon as next week. Mr. Luken said he's in intensive talks with three candidates:

        • Robert Bobb, the city manager of Oakland, Calif.

        • Valerie Lemmie, the city manager of Dayton.

        • Tim Riordan, the acting city manager of Cincinnati.

        Mr. Luken declined to characterize any of the three as his top choice. That includes Ms. Lemmie, who has been the subject of speculation over the last week.

        Ms. Lemmie turned down a contract offer from the Dayton City Commission Friday morning — but it wasn't because she had an offer from Mr. Luken on the table.

        “We have never talked details, and I want to underscore that because I think some of the media reports have overstated where we are,” Mr. Luken told reporters from Dayton after his State of the City Address Thursday.

        The new “stronger mayor” system of government gives Mr. Luken the power to nominate a city manager to the council, which must then confirm the appointment.

        Most council members say they're willing to give the mayor considerable latitude in finding a chief executive who will complement his new powers under the city charter.

        The former city manager, John Shirey, left Dec. 1 — the same day Mr. Luken was sworn in.

        The city manager's job now pays $149,000 a year. Mr. Luken said he's willing to offer considerably more in order to attract the right candidate.

        The list of three finalists doesn't necessarily preclude the emergence of another candidate, but Mr. Luken suggested that's unlikely at this point.

        Michael Bierman, a Cincinnati native who has been city manager of Fresno, Calif. and Columbia, S.C., seems to have dropped out of the top tier of candidates.

        Mr. Luken said Friday he hasn't spoken to Mr. Bierman for a while, although he's not completely off the list.

        Profiles of top candidates for city manager

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