Cincinnati ready to hire new streetcar executive

Apr 8, 2013

Cincinnati Council could take the necessary steps this week to hire the former head of the city’s transportation and engineering department as the executive director for the streetcar project.

John Deatrick has lots of experience managing big projects including the reconstruction of Fort Washington Way and the public portions of The Banks development.

Now City Manager Milton Dohoney wants him oversee the city's streetcar project.

City Council could vote this week to create an executive project director position and also repeal a law preventing city retirees from returning to work while getting a pension check.  

Deatrick retired from the city in 2002 and went to Washington, D.C. for a similar position.  He returned in 2008 for The Banks job.  

He was asked why he would want the streetcar job

“It’s a great challenge and a great project that I think would do a lot to help the city especially if we can get it extended up to UC,” Deatrick said.

If the job is offered to him, Deatrick said he would likely accept.

Dohoney said Deatrick will help the streetcar project because of his skill set.  He said it makes sense to involve him right now.  

“So the next series of decisions that have to be made about project, the project is benefited by having a person with his credentials involved in it,” Dohoney said.
Council Member Laure Quinlivan is supportive of the hire.

“Whether or not you support the streetcar, we don’t want to waste a dime on this project and we want someone who knows what they’re doing,” Quinlivan said.  “You know has the breadth of experience that Mr. Deatrick has.”

Deatrick’s salary would range from $140,000 to $188,000, which would come from streetcar construction funds.  

Cincinnati would also have to repeal a law preventing city retirees from returning to work while receiving a pension.  

Council Member Chris Seelbach says the streetcar project needs better management.  But he has lots of questions before supporting Deatrick...

“I have to feel confident that this guy is going to untangle a very tangled web,” Seelbach said.  “I don’t feel the assurance today that would provide me to vote yes.”

Council's Budget and Finance Committee narrowly approved the items Monday to hire Deatrick.  Roxanne Qualls, Cecil Thomas, Yvette Simpson, Wendell Young and Quinlivan all voted in favor of the items.  Members Charlie Winburn, Christopher Smitherman, P.G. Sittenfeld and Seelbach were opposed.

The full Council will likely consider them Wednesday.  

A city spokeswoman said current streetcar manager Chris Eilerman would remain on the project.

The streetcar project has run into numerous hurdles recently including higher than anticipated construction costs and a disagreement between the city and Duke Energy about who should pay to relocate underground utilities near the proposed streetcar tracks.