Mayor’s top aide Kovacik to resign; Departure prompts shuffle at city hall

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 11

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner is losing his top-ranking administrator.

Yesterday, the mayor announced the resignation of Tom Kovacik, the city’s chief operating officer and safety director.

He will be replaced by Dan Hiskey, currently the city’s assistant chief operating officer.

“Tom Kovacik did a very good job, and we wish him well,” the mayor said.

In addition, Mr. Finkbeiner announced four appointments to his management team, including new heads of the law, finance, and public services departments.

Mr. Kovacik is on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment. Mr. Finkbeiner said Mr. Kovacik is leaving to return to the consulting business he left behind to work for the city in 1996.

Mr. Kovacik worked for the city for 19 1/2 years, including seven years as utilities director, before leaving city government in 1989.

He spent the next six years in the private sector, as president of Envirosafe Services of Ohio, Inc., and of Great Lakes N-Viro.

In March, 1996, Mr. Finkbeiner tapped Mr. Kovacik to return to city government as chief operating officer. Among his responsibilities: the city’s day-to-day operations and the administration’s relations with the city council. As safety director, Mr. Kovacik oversees police and fire operations.

Mr. Kovacik’s resignation will take effect at 12:01 a.m. May 1. His positions then will be handed over to Mr. Hiskey, a longtime veteran of city government. Mr. Hiskey’s salary will move from $89,500 a year to $91,000, which is identical to Mr. Kovacik’s salary.

Mr. Hiskey started out as a student intern in the city budget office, and eventually worked his way up to the post of city treasurer. He resigned in 1985 amid the ESM Government Securities scandal, in which Toledo lost $19.2 million it had invested in a Florida brokerage firm that collapsed.

In 1987, he became the city administrator of Northwood, a position he held until Mr. Finkbeiner hired him as human resources commissioner in 1994. In 1996, he moved to his assistant chief operating officer post. “There isn’t any body who gives more of himself to his responsibilities than Dan,” the mayor said.

Mr. Kovacik’s move spurred a series of changes as the mayor boosted people to fill the empty spots. Mike Justen, the city’s public service director, will take Mr. Hiskey’s job as assistant chief operating officer. It’s a job he’s had before. Mr. Justen was assistant chief operating officer from 1994 to 1996, before being replaced by Mr. Hiskey. Since then, he has been commissioner of fleet and facility operations, transportation commissioner, and public service director, his current job.

With Mr. Justen moving up, Jeep project head Bob Reinbolt will take on the added job of public service director. Mr. Reinbolt will keep his job as commissioner of customer services in the utilities department. He has worked for the city for 19 years.

“Everytime I’ve asked Bob to step up and do a job, he’s done it very well,” Mr. Finkbeiner said.

Mr. Justen’s annual salary will go from $84,000 to $89,500. Mr. Reinbolt’s salary will go from $80,000 to $88,500 annually.

Mr. Finkbeiner announced two other appointments unrelated to Mr. Kovacik’s departure.

Barbara Herring, the city’s general counsel since 1996, will become acting law director upon the exit of current director Ed Yosses.

Mr. Yosses is moving to Colorado next month to join his wife, who moved there last year.

Mr. Finkbeiner said Ms. Herring, a city employee since 1992, will hold the post while the city searches for a permanent replacement. He said she will be one of the candidates he considers for the permanent post.

With the change, her salary will go from $70,000 to $85,000 a year. Mr. Yosses earned $85,000.

The mayor named John Bibish, the city’s commissioner of accounts, as the city’s new finance director. He will replace Don Saunders, the former Toledo Edison executive who resigned last month after lashing out at city council members, calling them uncooperative and unwilling to support worthy parts of the mayor’s fiscal agenda.

Mr. Bibish has been a city employee for almost 19 years, and has been the commissioner of accounts since 1987. “I feel like this is something I’ve been preparing for for a long time,” he said.

His salary will be $85,000 a year, up from $69,000. Mr. Saunders was paid $88,500 a year.

The mayor must still find a replacement for Jim Fox, the transportation commissioner who resigned last week. Mr. Finkbeiner said that announcement should be made within 10 days.