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Collins will travel to Harvard for seminar

3-day workshop targets newly elected mayors

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    Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins is expected to learn about operations, retiree health care, and more at the seminar.

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    The Blade
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Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins is expected to learn about operations, retiree health care, and more at the seminar.

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Toledo Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins plans to let the public know more about his administration, but first, he’ll spend three days with 20 other newly elected U.S. mayors at Harvard University.

“I was pleasantly surprised when I received an invitation to attend a seminar at Harvard for newly elected mayors,” Mr. Collins said. “There is no expense to the taxpayers since Harvard is the complete sponsor and I feel it will be a wonderful opportunity to meet mayors of cities who, like myself, are newly elected.”

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, a nonpartisan organization for cities with populations exceeding 30,000, invited Mr. Collins to the event that begins Tuesday.

The “Seminar on Transition and Leadership for Newly Elected Mayors” is co-hosted every two years by Harvard’s Institute of Politics and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“I’m fully prepared for a new challenge and I think this is going to be a tremendous experience as I move into a new political office,” Mr. Collins said. “I don’t think a value can be placed on the networking that will be established as well as the quality of the curriculum. It covers everything from operations, budgets, and human resources. It covers the whole gamut of the functions of municipality in an urban environment.”

Harvard said the program topics generally include transitioning from the campaign to city hall, financing the city, intergovernmental affairs, business and government, pensions and retiree health care, the media, and managing in a crisis.

A list of speakers was not available but past speakers have included Jane Campbell, former mayor of Cleveland; Larry Summers, former Harvard president, and Antonio Villaragosa, former mayor of Los Angeles.

Toledo councilmen — who have been anxiously waiting for Mr. Collins to announce his choices for chief of staff, police chief, and other top positions — were supportive of the three-day trip to Harvard,

“He needs to do whatever is possible to lead the city,” said Mike Craig, a district councilman who represents East Toledo and part of South Toledo. “You cannot fault anyone for trying to do a better job. I hope he comes back with a ton of new ideas.”

The Harvard trip follows a recent meeting with former U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio), mayor of Cleveland from 1980 to 1989.

“He said the most important and critical decision would be who you entrust with responsibilities on your first day in office, regardless of all the advice you receive,” Mr. Collins said.

The mayor-elect said he expects to hear from police Chief Derrick Diggs late next week about whether he wants to remain police chief. Chief Diggs could not be reached for comment.

The only cabinet-level announcement Mr. Collins has made is that Lisa Ward, a city council legislative aide, will be the city’s next public information officer.

Earlier this week, council delayed for two weeks Mr. Collins’ request to increase from $92,500 to $135,000 the city’s salary cap for a business development director.

Mr. Collins said he needs the higher salary to attract qualified applicants.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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