BY SANDY THEIS
Enquirer Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS -- At age 33, Scott Borgemenke has worked with the city's top power brokers as head of the Cincinnati Business Committee, held a high-profile job at Cinergy Corp., and worked for the premier Republican lobbyist in Ohio's capital -- all in less than a year.
His blend of business and government experience -- coupled with a reputation as a consensus builder -- prompted Gov.-elect Bob Taft to tap his fellow Cincinnati native for one of the top two jobs in his office.
"I almost didn't take this job because I didn't want to get the reputation of being a job hopper," Mr. Borgemenke said in an interview. "But the fact is, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a difference -- and to work for a man who I feel can and will make a difference."
On Thursday, Mr. Taft held a news conference to announce four top-ranking appointees. The list includes a newly created spot crafted with Mr. Borgemenke's skills in mind: chief policy adviser and director of cabinet affairs.
In this capacity, he will direct policy development, supervise the executive assistants for each of the 23 cabinet
agencies, coordinate cabinet meetings and oversee state legislative affairs and the Washington, D.C., office.
Some of those duties traditionally have fallen to the chief of staff, but Mr. Taft opted to divide those duties. Mr. Borgemenke will oversee most of the office's public-policy work.
Chief of Staff Brian Hicks -- also announced Thursday -- will oversee the bulk of the office's political work, including personnel, legal matters, and appointments to hundreds of state boards and commissions.
Mr. Hicks, 33, and Mr. Borgemenke will report directly to the governor.
When reporters asked Mr. Taft if it was difficult to lure Mr. Borgemenke away from his lobbying job -- a job that pays more than his yet-to-be-determined state salary -- Mr. Taft said it was not.
"I sought Scott out to perform this role," he said, praising Mr. Borgemenke's work both with the CBC and with the Ohio Senate. Then Mr. Borgemenke chimed in unsolicited.
He noted that he's known Mr. Taft since Mr. Taft's time on the Hamilton County Commission.
"I worked on the short people," said Mr. Borgemenke, the son of a now-deceased River Downs jockey who stands a good 6 inches below his boss-to-be. "He worked on the tall."
Paul Tipps, a lobbyist and former Ohio Democratic Party chairman, gave Mr. Taft high marks for the appointments he's made so far -- especially the decision to divide the usual duties of the chief of staff.
"From a management point of view, he (Mr. Taft) has approached things correctly," Mr. Tipps said.
Governors traditionally have loaded down their chiefs of staff with too many responsibilities, he said, diminishing their effectiveness and often setting them up to fail.
Even better than splitting just politics and policy, Mr. Tipps said, would be adding a third person to handle office administration. Mr. Hicks said he and Mr. Taft came up with
the idea to divide the chief-of-staff duties after attending a meeting of the National Governors Association.
"What we heard repeatedly is that you need to have a good demarcation of duties," Mr. Hicks said. "The governor-elect and I had several conversations about the structure of the office and who might be right for certain roles, and we came up with these roles together."
On Thursday, Mr. Borgemenke resigned from his job as a statehouse lobbyist with NSC Consulting, a lobbying firm owned by Neil Clark. Before that, he worked as manager of external affairs for Cinergy Corp.; was executive director of the CBC, a private organization of business executives; and was chief of staff to then-Senate President Stanley Aronoff, R-Cincinnati.
Mr. Taft also officially announced that House Finance Committee Chairman Tom Johnson, R-New Concord, would serve in his Cabinet as director of the Office of Budget and Management.
Mr. Johnson, 49, said many factors prompted him to accept the job, including term limits that would have forced him from office in 2001.
Mr. Taft's final announcement was the appointment of Beverly Martin, 35, as director of operations and special projects.
She will coordinate the daily business of the office, handling constituent affairs and special projects.