54 applicants want to be Youngstown’s downtown-events and special-projects coordinator


By David Skolnick



Fifty-four applicants — including the company that runs the Covelli Centre — are seeking to become the city’s coordinator of downtown events and special projects.

I’m “very happy to have so many interested and talented applicants,” said Mayor John A. McNally. “This shows that the community appreciates the importance of a vibrant downtown district for the city.”

McNally selected a five-person committee to review the applications and determine how many to interview.

The mayor said he expects the committee members to give him their “consensus pick” by Oct. 10.

“I will then meet with their consensus pick,” McNally said.

If McNally agrees with the selection, the applicant would have a likely start date of Nov. 3. If not, McNally would meet with the committee and decide the next step.

McNally’s committee is: Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st; Jeff Kurz, a downtown business owner; Dennis Schiraldi of CYO Marketing, who is the committee’s chairman; Jan Strasfeld of the Youngstown Foundation; and Scott Schulick, who represents Youngstown CityScape.

JAC Management Group LLC of Struthers, which manages the Youngstown-owned Covelli Centre, submitted an application for the position. In the application, JAC officials wrote that the company’s experience working downtown and with businesses located there make them an ideal choice.

Among others who applied are Debra Grim, Mid America Event’s sales and marketing coordinator; Michael McGriffin, operations manager for Youngstown State University’s Kilcawley Center; Amanda Shina-Cutright, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s business-services coordinator; and Stephanie Novak, box office and merchandising manager for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers minor-league baseball team.

Also on the list is Terrill Vidale, an event coordinator and promoter. Gillam, who disagrees with having the mayor appoint someone to this position, unsuccessfully had tried twice to persuade city council to hire Vidale on a temporary basis.

The job will pay about $41,000 annually.

The position was last 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.

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

But city Law Director Martin Hume says the city charter only allows council to hire its own clerks.

Gillam and Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th, wanted to give up to $40,000 to council for outside legal counsel to hire an attorney to contest Hume’s decision.

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

Council voted Aug. 21 to give McNally the authority to hire for this job. Council last week voted to rescind that legislation, but the measure didn’t have enough support to be approved as an emergency. That means it needs two more readings before it can be passed.

McNally has declined to discuss a veto, saying council’s vote carries no legal authority.

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