Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Booth to resign from council

Taking post with state personnel board

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Paul Booth will leave Cincinnati City Council to take an appointment on the State Personnel Board of Review, Gov. Bob Taft will announce today.

Booth will take the Democratic seat on the three-member board, which is the state equivalent of the Cincinnati Civil Service Commission. Booth had sought the position for several months.

"It's an opportunity to extend my interest in public service beyond Cincinnati, and to be able to do it on a state level," Booth said Monday.

Under the city charter and past practice, City Council's five remaining Democrats will caucus to select a replacement, who would serve until the Nov. 4 election. Some Democrats said a consensus was already beginning to emerge around former state Rep. Sam Britton of Madisonville.

Booth said he would stay out of the selection process unless Democrats asked for his input. He did say, however, that it would be important for City Council to appoint another African-American.

"It makes a difference in terms of the kind of representation we have," he said. "We're elected to serve all people. But council as a whole should as much as possible demographically represent Cincinnati."

Cincinnati is 43 percent black; three of the nine council members are African-American.

Booth, a 48-year-old Bond Hill resident, was appointed to City Council in 1998 to replace Dwight Tillery.

He won election twice, in 1999 and 2001. In 2001, he came in eighth.

During his tenure, Booth has served as chairman of the Neighborhood and Public Services Committee and prided himself on introducing more motions than any other council member.

Among his recent proposals: requiring the mayor to give his State of the City address in a public forum, requiring committees to meet in neighborhoods more often, and purchasing thermal imaging cameras for every firehouse.

A former president of the Cincinnati chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Booth also served a partial term in 1989, when he was appointed by City Council Republicans to replace J. Kenneth Blackwell, now Ohio Secretary of State.

Booth said he did not know when he would be sworn in to the state board, which hears appeals of civil service appointments and dismissals in state government and advises local governments on civil service law.

Booth replaces Debora A. Batta of Columbus, whose six-year term ended in February.

The appointment must be confirmed by the Ohio Senate. The job is full-time and the governor sets the salary, between $45,198 and $89,710 a year.

E-mail gkorte@enquirer.com

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