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Published: Thursday, 8/26/2004

Ford ends contract with D.C. consultant

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Mayor Jack Ford has dropped Washington consultant Theodore Mastroianni from his payroll, the mayor confirmed yesterday.

Mr. Ford said he ended the city's approximately $5,000 monthly contract with Mr. Mastroianni "months ago" to save the city money. Mr. Mastroianni, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), was a paid consultant since early 2002.

"He hasn't been there probably for a couple of months," Mr. Ford said. "Under the budget circumstances, we felt we needed to go in a different direction, though he was extremely valuable."

Mr. Ford said he thought he had communicated that Mr. Mastroianni was no longer on the city payroll, but Jay Black, Jr., the chief of staff, informed directors in a meeting Tuesday about Mr. Mastroianni's termination so they would stop calling him.

The fact that Mr. Mastroianni had been off the payroll for two months surprised City Council President Louis Escobar, who on Tuesday complained of not getting information from the mayor's office on budget issues.

"I was informed yesterday that he had been let go in June," Mr. Escobar said. "It underscores what I've been saying."

Council approved Mr. Mastroianni's most recent contract on March 9 for up to $35,000.

Mr. Mastroianni's fee was at an hourly rate of $150, plus plane and taxi fare, meals, parking, and hotel bills. Since September, 2002, he had capped his bills at $5,000 a month. He was paid $24,448 so far in 2004, a spokesman for the mayor said.

Mr. Mastroianni's practice was to come to Toledo once a month for several days to work on such projects as reorganizing city departments, aiding in labor negotiations, and advising the mayor on budget and personnel issues. His continued employment had been criticized by Councilman Rob Ludeman, who has announced an exploratory committee for a possible run for mayor.

Reached yesterday in Washington, Mr. Mastroianni said he understood the mayor's action.

"Certainly he's not going to keep a consultant on with the possibility of city employees losing their jobs. I certainly enjoyed working for the mayor and working for the city," Mr. Mastroianni said.

Mr. Ford has one other consultant who reports to him - arts consultant Susan Reams, who is paid $27,500 a year.

Mr. Mastroianni was chief of staff for Miss Kaptur from 1983 to 1992. He later worked in the Department of Labor and as a private consultant.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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