Youngstown mayor-elect can keep or fire the park and recreation director, law director says

By David Skolnick


Mayor-elect John McNally IV can keep or fire Robert Burke as the city’s park and recreation director, according to a legal opinion from the city’s law director.

The question arose because a charter amendment, approved last month by city voters, to eliminate the park and recreation commission also included language making the director an at-will unclassified employee who serves at the pleasure of the mayor, effective Jan. 1.

But the amendment didn’t include specific language about Burke, hired by the commission in March 2012 after going through the civil-service process.

Law Director Anthony Farris provided a legal opinion Tuesday based on the city’s civil-service rules and regulations and state law. The opinion came at the request of the city’s civil-service commission.

The commission’s rules permit “employees to be laid off because of the abolishment of a position due to reorganization,” Farris wrote.

“The classified position [Burke] occupies no longer exists on Jan. 1,” Farris told The Vindicator. “It’s up to Mr. McNally to keep him.”

The commission meets Dec. 18 to discuss Farris’ legal opinion. The commission has to notify Burke in writing that as of Jan. 1 his job is no longer civil-service protected as it’s been abolished, based on the charter amendment results, and been replaced by an unclassified position, Farris said.

The charter amendment requires the mayor’s park and recreation director selection to be confirmed by city council.

If McNally doesn’t retain Burke, he can appeal his removal to the civil service commission, Farris said.

“The law is the law,” Burke said. “I feel pretty confident [I’ll be retained]. I’m hoping the new mayor will keep me. I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job.”

Burke along with about three or four other people applied for the job, McNally said.

McNally gave those interested in serving in his Cabinet until last Sunday to submit resumes and letters of interest.

The incoming mayor said he expects to start making announcements on who will be part of his administration beginning late next week.

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