Friday, October 13, 2006

McGee Takes Atlanta Job

City Administrator Carlton McGee said Friday (Oct. 13, 2006) he is leaving office Oct. 31 to become chief financial officer for the Atlanta public school system.

McGee said he received an “unsolicited offer” for the job, which has been vacant since Aug. 30. The opportunity included a 50 percent salary increase over his Plainfield pay and would place him in the city where his 20-year old son is pursuing a double degree at Morehouse College. With a daughter, 21, in college in Illinois and another daughter, 12, being raised in Chicago, McGee said his family obligations led him to take the position.

McGee said he “had the blessing” of Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs in accepting the job and even put her down as a reference.

After flying to Atlanta for a couple of interviews, he said he learned he was a finalist in the nationwide search, “much to my pleasant surprise.”

The Atlanta Board of Education appointed McGee by resolution on Oct. 9.

Terms of his contract were not immediately available, but McGee said the package included numerous perks in addition to the higher salary. According to a salary document, his current pay here is $118,154.

Robinson-Briggs appointed McGee in acting capacity Jan. 1 for a 90-day term. He then received council approval for a term concurrent with the mayor, ending Dec. 31, 2009. The city administrator oversees day-to-day municipal operations and all three department heads report to him.

Since March, McGee also served as acting director of Administration & Finance, the city’s largest department. Robinson-Briggs recently appointed Tyshammie Cooper as acting director of Administration & Finance.

Recently McGee and City Council members have clashed over availability of fiscal information. McGee said he could not produce requested reports due to a lack of proper software and staff training. McGee also angered members by canceling the Oct. 4 budget meeting. Only the council president has the right to cancel meetings, members said.

But he said Friday, “I was in for the long haul, I truly was.”

Only the dramatic increase in compensation lured him away.

“I wish him the best,” said Councilman Rashid Burney, who heads the council’s Finance Committee. “I think most people in his situation would certainly go for the more money.”

Burney said of McGee, “His strengths do fall in the financial end of the spectrum. I’m just sorry to see him go. He was highly qualified.”

Councilman Harold Gibson also said he understood how compelling the offer was. Gibson said he heard McGee might be leaving, but didn’t know where he was going.

Gibson formerly served as Plainfield city administrator, but said if asked to take over, he would decline. He is currently Union County’s director of Public Safety and could not add another title with daily responsibilities, he said.

“No one should presume they are an all-seeing eye to everything,” he said.

Council President Rayland Van Blake and other members could not be reached for comment.

Regarding his experience in Plainfield, McGee called it a “world-class city,” but said it also has some world-class problems. They are surmountable, he said, if people are willing to “crack eggs and make omelets.” He said if the mayor is allowed to do what she wants to do, “I think the future is bright.”

--Bernice Paglia


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