Youngstown council expected to rescind legislation on downtown coordinator

By David Skolnick


City council is expected to vote today to rescind legislation that gave the mayor the power to hire the coordinator of downtown events and special events.

Four of council’s seven members have voted in recent weeks to overturn legislation the body adopted Aug. 20.

That hasn’t been enough to get the ordinance approved by emergency measure. It has its third and final reading today, and only needs a majority vote to be approved by council.

But even with a majority vote, the legislation is not enforceable, Mayor John A. McNally said. That’s because city Law Director Martin Hume has stated numerous times that the city charter allows council to hire only its own clerk.

The mayor could veto the bill if council approves it, and with only four members supporting it, council would be two votes shy of overriding a veto.

But McNally said because Hume has determined he has the authority to hire the coordinator, he doubts he’ll use his veto power.

“It would be easier to veto it, but I’m following the law director’s opinion that the mayor has the authority to hire,” he said.

For at least three decades, city council has appointed someone to this job, which previously was called the Federal Plaza director.

Councilwomen Annie Gillam, D-1st, and Janet Tarpley, D-6th, who disagree with Hume’s legal opinion, wanted last month to provide up to $40,000 to council for outside legal counsel to hire an attorney to contest that decision.

At the time, Hume refused to prepare legislation allowing it to move forward based on what he says about council’s limited ability to make hires.

Gillam and Tarpley may introduce similar legislation at today’s council meeting.

The proposal would recommend the board of control — consisting of McNally, Hume and Finance Director David Bozanich — seek outside legal counsel, but doesn’t compel it to do so. If council approves such legislation, McNally said the board would not act upon it.

Meanwhile, a five-person committee, selected by McNally and that includes Gillam, is expected to recommend a candidate by Tuesday for the director’s job. If McNally agrees with the selection, that person would likely start in early November.

Fifty-four applicants applied for the job by the Sept. 5 deadline.

The job will pay about $41,000 annually.

The position last was held by Lyndsey Hughes, who resigned, effective May 21, as part of a settlement agreement related to her being sexually harassed on the job by DeMaine Kitchen, the former chief of staff/secretary to the mayor.

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