Monday, January 21, 2002

Mayor wants Vine St. coordinator

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Mayor Charlie Luken plans to hire a “Vine Street coordinator” — a staff member who will answer directly to him — as the first step toward his top neighborhood priority in 2002.

        “The first thing I'm going to do is get someone on the street, and by that I mean someone to walk with me on Vine Street and get to know the neighborhood,” Mr. Luken said Saturday.

        Mr. Luken said he plans to announce the new hire this week, but declined to name him (he used the male pronoun) or discuss spe cifics of the position.

        The hiring will come two weeks after Mr. Luken announced the Vine Street Project in his State of the City Address, calling the revitalization of the 1 1/2-mile stretch in Over-the-Rhine a “critical test” of the strong mayor form of government.

        The hiring of a coordinator may be a test itself.

        Under the city manager form of government, the mayor has direct authority over members of his immediate staff only. The four people now on his staff work on constituent service, neighborhood issues, media relations and scheduling.

        City Council approved moving positions from the city manager's office to the mayor's office in the 2002 budget. But the addition of a new, high-profile person in the mayor's office to coordinate city departments and spearhead Mr. Luken's efforts on a specific issue is without precedent.

        Mr. Luken rebuffed any suggestion that the new job blurs the lines of authority between the city manager and the mayor.

        “The difference is, it will still be the city staff — people who work for the city manager — who will implement what I want to do,” he said. “All I'm talking about is someone to help me set a vision.”


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