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New plaza chief named

By David Skolnick

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Council also hired a new clerk.



YOUNGSTOWN — With a new Youngstown City Council comes change, most notably the replacement of Claire Maluso as Federal Plaza director.

Council voted at its Monday reorganizational meeting to accept Maluso’s retirement and replace her with Phil Kidd, an assignment officer in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court best known for his pro-Defend Youngstown Web site and T-shirts.

Kidd begins his new job, which pays $41,124 annually, Jan. 15.

The city will sign an as-needed contract with Maluso, as early as next week. Maluso will primarily concentrate on helping Kidd with the transition for a short period and to a lesser extent, organize ribbon cuttings and groundbreaking events at new and expanded businesses, Mayor Jay Williams said.

The amount paid to Maluso would be no more than $6,000 to $7,000 this year, Williams said.

“I’ll do whatever they need,” she said.

Maluso served as plaza director from January 1988 until May 1998 to become then-U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.’s economic development adviser. She returned to the city role in September 2003 and was involved in promoting downtown activities and events, and holding ribbon cuttings to attract interest in new and expanding businesses.

Though the city changed the job title last year to director of events, special projects and community outreach, city council still calls the job unskilled laborer, Federal Plaza director. Federal Plaza no longer exists. The plaza was dismantled and the east and west sides of the street reconnected in December 2004.

Kidd “brings a fresh perspective and a fresh look,” said Councilman DeMaine Kitchen, D-2nd. “He has a passion for the city.”

Reached by telephone after the appointment, Kidd said he plans to focus on expanding the number of events in the downtown area, connecting Youngstown State University to the downtown and establishing a Web site that would promote downtown events.

Monday was the first meeting for this year’s council, which has six new members. The only holdover is Councilwoman Carol Rimedio-Righetti, D-4th.

Council hired Valencia Marrow as its clerk. Faith O’Nesti retired last month from the job. Marrow will receive $67,862 annually in the post.

She spent the past two years as the director of Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority’s YouthBuild, a program for kids that combines continuing education and life skills with teaching construction. Before that, she spent about 18 months as the YSU Metro College’s work-force development adviser.

Kitchen said council members Jamael Tito Brown, D-3rd, and Janet Tarpley, D-6th, have known Marrow for a number of years and recommended her.

Also, council selected John R. Swierz, D-7th, as its president pro tempore. He will run meetings in the absence council President Charles P. Sammarone.

A coalition among four council members — Kitchen; Brown; Paul Drennen, D-5th; and Tarpley — determined committee assignments placing themselves as the head of a number of influential committees such as safety, buildings and grounds, community development agency and education.

The four named Rimedio-Righetti as head of finance, considered the most influential committee, with Brown and Drennen as its two other members.

The four gave one committee chairman post to Swierz, off-street parking. Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, was selected chairwoman of legislation and public health.