Cleveland seeks new utilities chief to interchange at-times embattled director who quietly resigned


CLEVELAND, Ohio – The city of Cleveland is looking for a new public utility director to replace Robert Davis, the contested director who quietly quit his job on Friday.

Davis who had has held the position since May 2015resigned without Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration notifying the city council, an omission that sparked criticism.

Martin Keane, assistant director of utilities, said Tuesday he was named assistant director upon Davis’ departure.

“I would like to thank Robert for his service to the City of Cleveland,” Mayor Frank Jackson said in a statement. “His work has helped fuel our efforts to provide reliable and affordable utility services for residents and businesses.”

As director of public utilities, Davis was responsible for the management and oversight of the city’s water department, sewage department, Cleveland Public Power, and radio communications office.

Together, these offices have more than 1,700 employees and a combined annual budget of more than $ 570 million.

In his statement, Jackson commended Davis’ leadership on several initiatives, including:

  • Installation of automatic meter readings for the water department, transition from quarterly to monthly billing.
  • Supervised the Safe Smart CLE program to replace 61,000 existing street lights with energy efficient LED technology.
  • Start of multi-year study to determine $ 50 million infrastructure replacement for water pollution control.
  • Advanced training programs.
  • Cleveland Public Power’s renewable energy level increased to 20 percent.

But Davis had come under fire at times for leading operations in the departments, particularly the CPP.

City council members have complained frequently Power failures in the CPP service area – especially in hot summer months when the demands on the system are greatest.

A year ago, reported that CPP did not have an auditing bodyas required by city law to hear customer complaints such as B. Complaints about separation notices.

Last month, Cleveland announced it would resume the hiatus for non-payment of bills, a decision harshly criticized by the city council.

Councilor Brian Kazy, chairman of the city council’s utility committee, told Keane on Tuesday that he wanted to be briefed on the status of both issues at the committee’s next meeting, which is not yet scheduled.

Kazy was also upset that the council received no news of Davis’s departure.

“There has been a big change in the public utility department and the council has not been informed,” Kazy told Keane. “When you have a director stepping down and we either need to hear it … buried in the COVID-19 update or when a news channel calls us and asks if we know what happened … it becomes one serious problem. “

The government made no comment on why Davis was leaving Davis’ letter of resignation.

On his last day at work, all city offices were closed as a precaution before former Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated. The closings were announced last week after protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

City Council President Kevin Kelley told and The Plain Dealer Tuesday that Davis had left to take a job with a private water company. “As far as I understand, he wasn’t fired,” said Kelley. “As I understand it, it was an amicable departure.”

Kelley said he expected the administration to find someone with experience running a water utility company. Cleveland’s water division is by far the largest urban utility and one of the largest systems in the United States.

Prior to Davis’ appointment in Cleveland, he oversaw Warren’s water division and was the city’s utility director.

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