Friday, March 17, 2000

Luken's new job: consultant


Mayor helping other cities on economic development

BY ROBERT ANGLEN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken is committing himself to economic development — in other cities. For two weeks, Mr. Luken has been working as a part-time consultant, doing the same work in other parts of the country that he does here as his elected duty.

        “Is it the same job? No. The same subject? Yes,” he said Thursday. “The difference is that I am not directing anything. I am working with a team to assist cities to move for ward.”

        As a senior consultant with KMK Consulting Co. of Cincinnati, Mr. Luken said, he will be able to enhance his understanding of municipal issues and maybe even bring back some good ideas.

        “I've learned in the first few weeks about revitalization in some inner-city neighborhoods,” he said, explaining that his first job has been in Charlotte, N.C., where officials are developing a charter outlining future growth.

        Mr. Luken said the work does not present a conflict of interest, adding that he will be helping other cities to get organized rather than scoping out specific companies and industries that might want to relocate.

        “I recognize what my oath of office is,” he said. “I will avoid any conflicts like the plague, the way I always have.”

        Mr. Luken said recent Cincinnati mayors — who are paid as part-timers — have held other jobs while in office. While not giving a specific amount, he said his consulting job pays “the same range” as mayor, which is $53,000 annually.

        “I don't see any red flags being raised,” he said.

        Economic development is one of four areas of focus for KMK Consulting, which was created in 1998 as a subsidiary of Keating, Muething & Klekamp, a Cincinnati law firm.

        “The law firm made the decision to expand the things we can do for our clients,” said James McGraw Jr., managing director of KMK Consulting. “It is separate. We tell our clients you don't need to use our (law) firm at all.”

        The consulting company also specializes in capital formation and debt management, helping

        to set up Internet companies and real estate planning by structuring investment deals and negotiating purchases.

        Mr. McGraw said the mayor's work will be strictly in economic development, where the firm is hired by municipalities or civic organizations such as the chamber of commerce to help plan growth and ways to revitalize communities.

        “He is a tremendous talent,” he said. “He has terrific leadership skills and is a consensus builder. He also is experienced in public-private partnerships.”

        The consulting work will also give Mr. Luken a chance to see how economic development works in other parts of the country, Mr. McGraw said.

        “It will be a neat opportunity for him to brag about Cincinnati a little bit,” he said. “He is a good fit for us.”

        Councilman Pat DeWine, a lawyer who works for the KMK law firm, said Mr. Luken will be a good consultant and doesn't see the new job as a conflict.

        “Mostly he will be doing stuff out of town,” he said. “I certainly think it is exciting.”

       



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