Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Atlanta’s next mayor

Posted By on Tue, Dec 15, 2009 at 4:22 PM

click to enlarge UPHILL BATTLE: Having won election by a mere 714 votes, Mayor-elect Kasim Reed faces skepticism from some quarters.
  • UPHILL BATTLE: Having won election by a mere 714 votes, Mayor-elect Kasim Reed faces skepticism from some quarters.

Last Wednesday, a few hours after a vote recount had sealed his status as Atlanta's mayor-elect, Kasim Reed dropped into a local bar. But he wasn't there to celebrate his victory.

Reed was making a personal appearance at a small fundraiser for an Atlanta police officer who'd suffered spinal injuries in a car crash while on duty. As he mingled with the cops in a private room at Manuel's, Reed's cell phone rang, but no number popped up, so he didn't answer.

Within minutes, Reed was informed by excited aides that he'd accidentally blown off a congratulatory call from President Barack Obama.

"I guess you gotta know that when it says 'unknown caller,' it could be the White House," he says a little sheepishly as he recalls the oversight.

But Atlanta's next mayor has no time to dwell on lost opportunities. Save for a few more minutes of sleep here and there, Reed's post-election schedule nearly matches the breakneck pace of his come-from-behind campaign. Since the night of the Dec. 1 runoff, his days have been a blur of community meetings, business breakfasts, press conferences and interviews with the private-sector achievers Reed aims to lure into joining his administration – one he promises will be staffed by the best and brightest.

Some of those conversations have been successful: His choice for the city's chief operating officer is Peter Aman, managing partner of the Atlanta office of Bain & Co., a global consulting firm that specializes in advising Fortune 500 companies. Others, not so much: After serving for months as a punching bag for the Mary Norwood campaign, Jim Glass, the city's highly regarded chief financial officer, politely opted to retire rather than accept Reed's invitation to stay.

By the time you read this story, Reed may have announced his pick for "pension czar," a top-notch financial wizard who will – fingers crossed – prevent the city from being swallowed in red ink, GM-like. That appointment will be one of many new hires that Reed believes will convince doubters he's serious about improving the management culture in City Hall.

"I'm going to bring in people who never would've considered working for government," Reed says. "I want to be judged on the quality of my selections and my performance."

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(Photo by Joeff Davis)

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