Some on council woo Shirey

Saturday, August 8, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Three weeks after officials learned Cincinnati City Manager John Shirey may be considered for the same position in Long Beach, Calif., several of his bosses on city council would like to give him a report card and pay raise all wrapped up in a package marked "stay."

"I think that given all the things that are going on in the city, we would be crazy to let John go right now," said Councilwoman Minette Cooper. She listed accomplishments such as managing the city's first major African-American street festival and ongoing plans to develop the riverfront.

Mr. Shirey oversees an annual budget of $864 million and more than 6,700 employees.

Council members, in the midst of their summer recess, plan to complete the review either during a special session this month or at the first meeting in September, said Mayor Roxanne Qualls.

Mr. Shirey's review, close to four months overdue, comes the same week as council members learned there was little interest from consultants sought by the city to aid in the review process. Last year, council gave him an "average" rating and no pay raise. When it surfaced last fall that Mr. Shirey was a finalist for the city manager's job in San Diego, council gave him a 4 percent raise. He now earns $141,300 annually.

In July, it became known that Long Beach officials had asked Mr. Shirey to consider applying for the city manager job there. The Long Beach post would offer Mr. Shirey the opportunity to return to the city -- population 450,000 -- where he served as assistant city manager for six years before coming to Cincinnati -- population 364,000 -- in 1993.

Councilman Charlie Winburn wants Mr. Shirey to stay another year.

"It's unfair to let this go on and on and on. I wouldn't want my boss to do me like this," Mr. Winburn said.

Councilman Dwight Tillery said it was in everyone's best interest to wrap up the review.

"I think he's done a great job, and I definitely want to keep him," said Mr. Tillery.

Councilman Tyrone Yates said he will bump Mr. Shirey's grade from a B+ to an A- because of a range of accomplishments -- from downtown development to neighborhood initiatives.

"He has shown tremendous leadership, sophistication and maturity in guiding this city to what it is," Mr. Yates said. "Any drive around downtown will show we're on the precipice of enormous economic vitality."

Mr. Shirey, who hasn't decided whether to apply for the Long Beach position, said Friday: "Certainly, our (family's) preference would be to stay in Cincinnati."

He added: "I'd like to have my evaluation, have a good discussion with the city council and reach some conclusion about where I stand at that time."

"I think that given all the things that are going on in the city, we would be crazy to let John go right now.' -- Councilwoman Minette Cooper

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