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September 6, 2011


Two department heads out at city hall

by Deena Winter

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.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. paul mike grieger
    Sep 6 2011

    fire marshall’s appears to have a strong relationship with building and safety…you forgot Mike Merick former head of b& s he too came fro the f & s office i.e. state government.

    lets see …Former mayors hire Our present Mayor for grant righting skills…then our present mayor hire former mayor to be lobbist…thats musical chairs….

    lastly, with all these wizards @ the b & S and have firemarshall skills, how come they did not strongly suggest that the LPS admin. building be equiped with alarms and sprinkler systems???

  2. Jane H Kinsey
    Sep 6 2011

    This just sounds like musical chairs. Unless the Mayor really gets rid of department heads and/or eliminates one or replaces one or another with a lower paid person, he has done nothing new. After the piece in the newspaper about his grand design for Lincoln, one can bet there are future tax hikes in the offing to pay for it. How long are citizens going to put up with this situation?

  3. porcupine
    Sep 6 2011

    Did you say BET? What ever happen with the alleged gambling, does anyone know? How about the retaliation that was to have be taking place, has anyone heard any more about it.

  4. Gene
    Sep 7 2011

    I’ve talked to Greg MacLean before. He seemed like a really nice guy and I wish him all the best. Too bad it didn’t work out.

  5. Skipper
    Sep 7 2011

    Until the Mayor can get the City Charter changed, Dept heads are protected and retaliation and intimidation WILL continue. Most Dept Heads have better than thow attitudes, as they have been there for SO LONG that they think the City will crumble w/o them.

    NOTHING will get better until the Mayor can make them at-will employees.

    • John Wayne
      Sep 7 2011

      Greg MacLean was and is a key player in the cover up of what truly happened to Eric K. in the mower accident and is also a player in covering up a gambling ring being run on city time at one of the city shops.

      We can only hope that getting rid of this dirt bag is just the start of them cleaning house getting rid of the rest of the scum like Scott O. Bub E. and Leroy U.

  6. fedwayup
    Sep 8 2011

    John Wayne, it seems like you are holding back, tell us what you really think! John, you have to realize that these appointed administrators and aides serve at the pleasure of the mayor, therefor, when these scandals are being covered up, it is to please the mayor. I don’t really think that’s what it’s supposed to mean but this administration sure seems to have a lot of cover ups. The mayor sure seemed agitated when asked any questions about Mr. Macleans termination. I thought the mayor worked for us!

  7. Jane H Kinsey
    Sep 8 2011

    If department heads cannot be terminated, then how did Mayor fire these men? No, they can be demoted, fired and have their salaries lowered/frozen. They are paid way beyond what the private sector pays. They do run the city as they have all the knowledge about it and each administration of mayors and city council members depends on them for information, guidance and support in mostly rubber stamping their recommendations. Just ask a detailed question of any elected official in Lincoln and you will find that each has to go to a department head for the answer. Of course, if a department head gets too far out of line, his/her head will roll as in this situation.

  8. porcupine
    Sep 8 2011

    I don’t think the Mayor is telling the whole truth. Can’t someone be fired for dereliction of duty or misconduct?

  9. just me
    Sep 16 2011

    there is way more to this story than anyone has even touched so far. the mayor is making completely political decisions without any regard for what really does work, or what doesn’t work in these departments. these are hard-working people who have given a lot to the city – and have had to answer to mayor after mayor despite competing political agendas. working for the city is not necessarily the free ride many people seem to think it is. i would almost guarantee that morale and productivity are going to drop significantly in those departments.


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