Youngstown’s former chief of staff/secretary to the mayor is working for the city

By David Skolnick


Jason Whitehead, the former chief of staff/secretary from January 2006 to August 2011 to then-Mayor Jay Williams, is back on the city payroll.

Mayor Charles Sammarone selected Whitehead as comptroller in the city’s Community Development Agency, the No. 2 job in the department. He will receive $50,311.46 in annual base salary.

The city’s Civil Service Commission had 17 applicants for the job. The commission found 15 of them that met at least the minimum qualifications and ranked them, assigning a point total based primarily on education and employment experience.

Whitehead finished eighth with 96.03 points, including 12.52 in bonus points for his city residency.

“What is lacking in CDA is good communications skills,” Sammarone said. “Of the finalists, he was the best qualified. No job should be based on one area or only qualifications. Skills in public relations and management are important, and that’s not determined in” reviewing job experience and education.

Some department heads in the city aren’t “good managers,” Sammarone said.

When Whitehead was Williams’ chief of staff/secretary, Sammarone, who was city council president, said he “was always thorough, he worked hard and always came on time.”

While serving as Williams’ No. 2 man, Whitehead also was interim parks and recreation director. Some council member expressed concern that the department was being neglected without a full-time director, but the city was facing a financial crunch at the time.

DeMaine Kitchen, an independent mayoral candidate who is on a leave of absence to concentrate on his campaign, finished seventh in the ranking with 97.75 points, including 12.75 in bonus points for being a city resident. Kitchen withdrew his name from consideration before the interview process.

City residents receive a 15-percent increase in their scores with all but three of the top 10 getting those bonus points.

Under state law, the city must choose a person from either the top 25 percent of those deemed qualified, four in this case, or the top 10, whichever is greater, said Jonathan M. Huff, civil service administrator.

Besides Kitchen, Leonard Morris, who received a score of 100 without any bonus and was ranked fifth, opted to withdraw his name from consideration leaving eight candidates.

At No. 1 was David Hogue of Hubbard with 105 points. Mark Williams, the CDA’s assistant compliance director, was second with 104.64 points, including 17.44 in bonus points as a veteran.

In third was Beverly Hosey, the CDA’s compliance director, with 103.16 points, including a city-resident bonus of 13.46 points with Richard Harvey, the CDA’s assistant comptroller, in fourth with 100.17 points, including 13.07 city-resident bonus points.

A committee of Huff, Harry L. Johnson, the acting water commissioner, and Anthony Donofrio, deputy law director, interviewed the eight candidates and recommended Whitehead, Hosey and Harvey to Sammarone with Whitehead as their top choice.

Whitehead’s starting base-pay salary of $50,311.46 is 80 percent of the annual salary paid to his predecessor, Peter Evanovitz Jr., who received $62,889.32. Under Sammarone, new management employees start at 80 percent of the salary given to their predecessors, eventually getting to that full amount, usually over a period of three to five years.

The comptroller is to be involved in all phases of CDA activities including planning, administrative, financial and program activities as well as help handle the agency’s fiscal activities and manage budget appropriations for various projects, according to a civil service job description.

When Williams resigned in August 2011 to join the President Barack Obama administration, Sammarone was elevated to mayor as per the city charter.

Whitehead offered to resign, which Sammarone said at the time was “very nice” and he “was thinking of replacing” Whitehead anyway.

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