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Two department heads out at city hall

I hate to say I told you so, but you heard it here first:

Public Works Director Greg MacLean was asked to resign by the mayor.

Today Mayor Chris Beutler announced he asked for the resignations of three top administrators at city hall.

Beutler asked Public Works Director Greg MacLean to resign, as well as Building & Safety interim director Chuck Zimmerman, and an administrator below Zimmerman, Ron Peery, who heads up building inspection and enforcement. The mayor said the B&S department is being reorganized, eliminating those two positions.

I had been told these three were being let go Friday, but did not report their names because I could not confirm them. Zimmerman became head of B&S when Fred Hoke was promoted to head up the newly created Development Services Center — which is an umbrella for three development-related departments. Hoke will take over as director of Building & Safety now (a post he previously held before moving up to the DSC. Talk about musical chairs.)

MacLean is the second public works director to be shown the door by Beutler: Just a few months after taking office as mayor in 2007, Beutler asked for Karl Fredrickson’s resignation and brought in MacLean.

Beutler appointed Miki Esposito interim director of the public works department. She is currently the compliance administrator for the public works department. The mayor said she will assess the department’s needs and determine the process for appointing a permanent director. (Who wants to bet she’ll be the new director?)

“I have asked Miki to focus on making Public Works a more responsive, less contentious organization, one that blends in more smoothly the concerns of elected officials and the general public,” Beutler said. “I have great faith that the Public Works management team will unite behind Miki and help lead the department into an even brighter future.”

Since being elected in 2007, Beutler has dismissed an interim fire chief (but then reinstated him to the post recently), an Urban Development director and now, these two department heads. When he campaigned in 2007, he made it clear he intended to do some housecleaning at city hall.

To be honest, I was surprised when Mayor Beutler ever chose to promote Zimmerman to head up a department that has been the subject of so many complaints about its impotency when it comes to dealing with dilapidated housing. Seems to me if you’re serous about bringing change to city hall, sometimes you’ve got to bring in new blood.

But Beutler indicated Zimmerman was the man for the job two years ago when he announced his decision.

Zimmerman has worked in Building & Safety since 1992, and prior to that worked for the State Fire Marshal’s office for 14 years.

Beutler said the changes in the two departments are “part of our continuing efforts to respond to the changing dynamics of our community’s job creation and development needs.” You can bet there’s more to the story than that, however.


Out of office

I am out of the office this week working on a special report, but I will try to blog if possible, so let me know if anything blog-worthy happens this week in Lincoln. In the meantime, I’m out interviewing people like this woman:


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