published Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Chattanooga chiefs told to resign as new mayor arrives


by Cliff Hightower
Chattanooga City Hall
Chattanooga City Hall
Meghan Brown

The transition to a new Chattanooga mayoral staff got rolling Wednesday with a directive to current administrators to turn in resignation letters by Friday.

Travis McDonough, incoming chief of staff for Mayor-elect Andy Berke, said the move "is a typical request when a new administration takes office and is necessary to move forward with our goal of providing efficient and effective service to the people of Chattanooga."

Berke will take office April 15. He has named three staff members so far: McDonough; Andrew Kean, chief operating officer; and Stacy Richardson, senior adviser.

City Attorney Mike McMahan said six positions must be filled under the City Charter: police and fire chiefs, treasurer, finance officer, court clerk and city attorney.

Others not mandated in the charter include administrators for the city departments: public works; parks and recreation; neighborhood services; education, arts & culture; multicultural affairs; general services; human services and personnel. As mayor, Berke can organize departments as he wants.

Berke has 60 days to name his administrators, and the City Council then will have 30 days to confirm his nominations.

And all jobs are on the table at this point.

"All department heads, including the police chief and fire chief, are subject to the mayor's discretion," McMahan said.

McMahan said he planned to reapply for the city attorney post.

Most administrators -- Police Chief Bobby Dodd, Fire Chief Randy Parker, Public Works Administrator Steve Leach and others -- could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Parks and Recreation Director Larry Zehnder declined to comment.

Beverly Johnson, administrator for the Department of Neighborhood Services, said she initially planned to retire, but found she needs a little more time on the job to acquire some additional retirement benefits.

She said she's reapplying, but hasn't heard anything yet from the incoming administration.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.

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