Mallory Late with Invitations

Not a single Cincinnati City Council member attended this morning’s swearing-in ceremony for new City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. The reason: Late notification by Mayor Mark Mallory that most council members didn’t even see until this morning.

Dohoney, Cincinnati’s 14th city manager, was sworn in during a quick ceremony in Mallory’s office. The event was in marked contrast with the ceremony for his predecessor, Valerie Lemmie, who took the oath of office in council chambers with most council members present.

Although it was widely known that today would mark Dohoney’s first day on the job, notice about his swearing in only was given to council members via a mass e-mail media advisory sent over the weekend by Jason Barron, Mallory’s press secretary. The e-mail was sent at 11:54 a.m. Saturday, when most council offices are vacant.

The advisory said, “All council members have been invited; however, no city business will be discussed or conducted.”

But staffers for several council members said the media advisory was the only notice received, and the timing irritated members.

Most council members didn’t see the e-mail notification until their staffs returned to their offices on Monday morning, about an hour before Dohoney’s ceremony. By then, it was too late to cancel other plans, members said. Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell and Councilwoman Laketa Cole were out of town on trips, while others had work-related commitments.

At least one council member also was notified via a text message sent to her cellular telephone. Councilwoman Leslie Ghiz received the message Friday night, while out at a restaurant with relatives, from Carla Walker, Mallory’s chief of staff. Because Ghiz had an appointment at her law office Monday morning, she wasn’t able to attend. Walker’s text message said, “Milton will take oath of office mon am @ 9/915 in mayor’s off. It will be brief, not a spec session, doh & m3 have meeting dir following. Call w/q’s. Carla”

Some members privately say the scheduling snub is indicative of the deteriorating relationship between city council and Mallory. Several council members questioned Mallory’s process for selecting Dohoney, and he only was appointed in a 6-3 vote, not unanimously as Mallory had hoped.

Today’s incident isn’t the first time that Mallory has taken heat for last-minute schedule changes. Mallory’s staff canceled a June 29 housing forum on the same day the event was to be held, despite being planned since early May, so Mallory could take a vacation in Fort Lauderdale.

Residents who didn’t get the word in time and showed up at the forum said Mallory should have either scheduled his flight for another day or provided earlier notice of the cancellation.

— Kevin Osborne

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