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Toledo councilmen question need to hire Bell backer

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Cady

Jetta Fraser Enlarge

Mayor Mike Bell wants Toledo to spend $60,000 to hire a consultant who worked on his political campaign to advise the city on how to save money.

The proposal to hire Steven Cady, an associate professor in Bowling Green State University's college of business, was offered Tuesday to City Council.

"He is very organized and would be an extreme asset," Mr. Bell said yesterday. "You have to have someone like him who can cross the private sector and the public side … and that has been missing in government."

After Mr. Bell's election last year, Mr. Cady - who is also director of the Institute for Organizational Effectiveness - helped coordinate the mayor's transition. He organized and moderated a series of public meetings this year to solicit input on the city's budget crisis.

The idea to spend $60,000 for Mr. Cady's services got a lukewarm to cold response from some councilmen, especially since the city faces a $48 million deficit addressed with barely any wiggle room for extra spending.

Mr. Cady said he would "focus on the strategic priorities" identified during the mayor's "citizens special investigation" meetings, public hearings, budget meetings, and transition team meetings.

"My intent is to continue the collaborative technologies and expertise that I have in this area to continue our momentum," he said. "We identified items that would have a high payoff … combining resources was definitely one of them."

Councilman Rob Ludeman said because the city needs to "pinch every penny," he would not vote to hire Mr. Cady or any other such consultant.

Councilman Joe McNamara was first to raise the issue of hiring a person who worked on the mayor's election campaign, which could appear to be a form of political payback, he said. Mr. McNamara has proposed amending the mayor's legislation and opening the contract for bidding.

"There is something fishy about giving a $60,000, no-bid contract to a political supporter and opening the contact up for a bid would make sure we are not doing anything nefarious with taxpayer dollars," Mr. McNamara said. "The administration thinks we need this, so let's figure out who would provide the best services for the city of Toledo."

Mr. Cady, who was recently in South Africa teaching how to do "large-scale [municipal] collaborations and strategic planning," said working for Toledo would not be a payback for his work on the campaign.

"I think that [Mr. Bell] really wants to keep the momentum going and I specialize in large-scale organizational change," he said. "We have the expertise here to help."

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.

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