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Bob Downey's Performance Review Sheds Light on Council’s Decision To ‘Move In A Different Direction'

Council members’ reviews varied greatly — scores ranged from 30 points to 67.5 out of 70.

Mayor Ed Kelley confirmed Tuesday that before former City Manager Bob Downey , City Council had .

Council members indicated that they wanted to “move in a different direction,” needed “new leadership” and “new ideas.” But they did not explain why, and City Council meeting, when Vice City Manager Susanna Niermann O'Neil was appointed acting city manager.

The city provided Cleveland Heights Patch with Downey’s 2012 City Manager Evaluation on his 2011 performance, prepared for City Council’s April 9 meeting. Members ranked him in 14 different categories, including budget, diversity, communication and infrastructure. The yearly report was divided into four sections — management activities, planning activities, communication activities and goals for 2012.

Downey received an average of 65 percent, or 46 points out of 70. Most council members rated him between “poor” and “average,” but some council members gave him positive reviews. The lowest score he received was 30, while the highest was 67.5.

The documents do not give attribution to specific council member comments, but we have highlighted a few statements from the evaluation and Downey’s own progress report.

Downey has not returned calls or emails from Cleveland Heights Patch for comment.

Overall management

"It has been an exceptionally productive year: the new phone system, IT, the website soon to be up, the hiring of consultants to help us find money, the new police chief really taking the reins and changing morale and productivity in the police department, etc."

"Overall it is my perception that if a a task is not standard maintenance, it doens't get taken care of and business or citizens are pushed to the back burner until they come to council or go away."

"It seems that the City manager gets the managers to devise plans and deal with situations quite effectively. However, it seems to me to be mostly reactive, rather than proactive."

Hiring, diversity

“Not enough minorities working for Cleveland Heights (including safety forces.)”

“There is also a lack of supervision of certain new hires, including the Economic Development Director (Howard Thompson) who at (Downey’s) request, was to report directly to him.”

“(City manager) has not hired a facilities or project manager, despite Mr. Czaga left almost two years ago.”

"The staff I come into contact with seem highly competent, though not very diverse racially."

"Of most important is the fact that we are still in a state of limbo with respect to the direction of facilities or capital projects within the city over a year after the resignation of the previous capital projects manager."

"There is a standing request for a written plan on how to increase diversity in the senior staff when the opportunity arrives ... No such written policy or procedure exists."

“The City Manager has excellent staff who are committed to quality service. Some of the new people, such as Alex Mannarino and the new chief of police, Jeff Robertson, seem to be substantial improvements over their predecessors in their willingness and ability to tackle some of our challenges effectively. That begs the question of why some of the predecessors weren’t replaced sooner. The City Manager seems to be very loyal to his team members.”

Budget, planning

“Overtime budget for fire department was outrageous.”

“Even after continual requests for him to pay more attention to the local and national financial markets, we still get no consistent information from him or his staff on our standing as a community financially in comparison with others of our size or recommendations from groups like the (International City/County Management Association).”

"The budget seems good."

"I am worried about the preparation of long-term plans for our sewers and water lines, for example. Is that our job, or the job of he Water and Sewer District? It seems that road repairs are on track now, but there was an embarrassing failure in previous years."

"Budget preparation has improved but remains problematic."

Communication with council, citizens

"I don't believe we receive adequate communication from the (city manager) on many issues. Inconsistent is the (word) I would use. For example, last fall was never communicated by (Downey) — only disclosed once council members learned from third parties."

"Residents have expressed frustration with lack of call back/response from city manager."

“For the third year in a row, complaints from the Cedar-Lee merchants has reached City Council before the city manager would proactively respond.”

“It is encouraging to see many and communication ideas implemented.”

"City website was scheduled to be completed in September 2011 - still not done." (The after this evaluation was complete.)

"Worked successfully with John to keep the lid on any communication about Oakwood." 

"Information (both good and bad news) is more readily transmitted to Council."

"Very often our resident's demands and hopes were met without a whole lot of disruption."

"It's good our residents have the opportunity to meet with police weekly, if desired."

"We are now receiving regular reports from the police department. Why are there no fire department reports? I know they were asked for at least a year ago due to the negotiations."

Economic development, zoning

"No follow up or explanation of failure to reach agreement on solar panels on recreation center roof."

"The planning staff has done a good job of finalizing our Strategic Development Plan and getting us to the point of approving and implementing the ."

"The zoning amendments took a long time."

"Economic development picking up with the addition of Howard (Thompson)."

Accomplishments from progress report completed by Downey:

  • "Transition from has been highly successful."
  • "General fund carryover remains in a positive position."
  • "Innovative programs throughout the police department have been instituted."
  • "The have made a difference with renovation and demolition of distressed properties."
  • "The economic development director has made impact in the commercial areas and in attracting business to the city."
  • More streets will be .
  • Website should be operational in the spring (now live.)
  • "'Pothole' strategy and mapping to indicate where various crews had been throughout the city was continued."

Look for more updates on this article soon.

Richard O'Donnell April 28, 2012 at 12:05 AM
My neighbor and I met with Bob Downey twice in the past 10 months to address staffing, costs, rumors re CH problems and other issues. Suzanna Neirmann O'Neil joined us in the 1st session; Chief Robertson and Alex Mannarino joined us in the 2nd. Bob and his team addressed our questions and concerns tactfully and completely. Cost cutting was implemented, e.g., Mannarino was given the additional duties of Czaga, a street repair concept was implemented in lieu of total reconstruction which was at least a big step in maintaining our infrastructure, CHPD overtime was under control -- an average of $1K or so per officer, overall city headcount down substantially in the past couple of years, doubling up of responsibilities for individuals in various departments, and despite the bad publicity re Section 8 housing, the administration has been working hard with CHMA to get rid of those who cause the problems. I came away from those two meetings very satisfied that city management was doing a very good job. Perfect? By no means. But they didn't shy away from addressing problems, offering their solutions, and, in my view they had a good handle on protecting our assets and spending our tax dollars wisely. So, as a tax payer who admittedly isn't an insider it all begs he question, what's changed since 2009 when Bob was rehired. I like the guy, thought he was doing a very good job. City Council owes up more than verbal sound bites from performanc reviews.
Susan Miller April 28, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Thanks for this follow-up, Michelle. Will you upload and link the documents from your public records request (as many newspapers do), or will CH citizens have to make our own requests? "Worked successfully with John to keep the lid on any communication about Oakwood." Sure makes me wonder what the lid was/is on regarding Oakwood. Since "keep a lid on" is surely not referring to a cooking pot, it must mean definition 2: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/keep+a+lid+on+something
Richard Davis April 29, 2012 at 04:38 PM
The city manager is being scapegoated by city council. City council is responsible for what went on in this city. They reveal their character by blaming their employee for their own errors. They wrote the following disturbing statements: "Very often our resident's demands and hopes were met without a whole lot of disruption." "Worked successfully with John to keep the lid on any communication about Oakwood." City council forgets that they serve the people. They should not try to manipulate or repress citizens' ideas. Very scary. City council members should be recalled. Ed Kelley should be recalled first, or better yet, he should save us all the time and moneyof the recall process, and just resign. He should hold the press conference announcing his resignation in front of the bulldozers on Oakwood.
Truth BeTold April 30, 2012 at 01:54 PM
It sure would be nice to know which council members made the statements above.
David Costello April 30, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Whichever council member said "Worked successfully with John to keep the lid on any communication about Oakwood." should immediately resign. Michelle, I do hope you put the full text of the evaluation online so we will know as to who each statement can be attributed to.
Michelle Simakis (Editor) April 30, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Thanks all for reading and for your comments. Truth Be Told, please use your real first and last name, as is required under our terms — www.clevelandheights.patch/terms. David, I didn't receive that information. The specific evaluations and comments are attributed to person A through G. The report was compiled from council members written evaluations, but I do hope to have the actual documents available online soon.
Susan Miller May 08, 2012 at 03:23 PM
"I do hope to have the actual documents available online soon." Is it "soon" yet, Michelle?

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