Saturday, April 06, 2002

City manager gets off to rough start

Lemmie locked out and blocked out

By Gregory Korte,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Ever have a bad day at the office? On your first day?

        That's what happened to Valerie Lemmie this week.

        After being sworn in with pomp and circumstance as Cincinnati city manager on Tuesday, Ms. Lemmie tried to get an early start to her day Wednesday — only to find a car parked in her space in the City Hall courtyard.

        John Shirey, her predecessor, had parked his city-owned car there when he left office in November, and acting city manager Tim Riordan had rarely used it — so rarely that the battery was dead.

        “It was a misunderstanding,” Ms. Lemmie recalled Friday. “They said, "Didn't you want that car?' I said, "No, I've got my own car.'”

        After parking in Councilwoman Minette Cooper's spot, Ms. Lemmie went to her first floor office — only to discover that no one had given her a key to the outer door.

        When she finally got into her office — all decked out with fresh-cut flowers from well-wishers — she found she could not log into her computer. And a test of the “panic button” in her office had less than optimal results. It took 17 minutes for security to respond.

        Ms. Lemmie remained unflustered.

        “Life goes on,” she said. “This organization spends a lot of time keeping busy with urgent-but-unimportant things.”

        Her first important but not urgent task: figuring out how to carry out City Council's plan to spend $50 million on neighborhoods once the city sells its stock in Anthem Inc.


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