No Decision Yet On LCI Chief

Thomas MacMillan PhotoEmployees of New Haven government’s neighborhood development and anti-blight agency went home for the weekend with the status of their boss still unresolved.

Erik Johnson, who heads the agency, the Livable City Initiative (LCI), recently accepted a $125,000 job as deputy development director for the city of Hartford. He agreed to start on July 7, according to his new boss-to-be, Hartford Director of Development Services Thomas Deller.

Johnson (pictured above promoting his agency’s new city homebuyer initiative) put out word around New Haven last week about his new job. But he didn’t formally hand in his resignation to Mayor Toni Harp. Harp asked him to reconsider the move, and began negotiating. She offered to try to match the proposed Hartford salary. (Johnson’s New Haven salary had been slated to rise to $98,230 in the new fiscal year beginning July 1.)

Read a full story about the fluid, unusually public episode and about Johnson’s career in New Haven here.

Harp originally said Johnson would let her know by this Tuesday if he would stay after all. Instead, negotiations between Johnson and Harp’s team continued through the week. According to people familiar with the negotiations, they center not so much on the salary as on the future direction of LCI. Johnson sought a new vision for the agency, including more of a focus on neighborhood development. Harp had promised during last year’s mayoral campaign to look at reconfiguring the agency and updating its mission. All sides saw this sudden will-he-stay-or-will-he-go negotiation as a chance to address that broader issue.

Negotiations were expected to continue through the weekend.

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posted by: NH_Needs_HELP on June 6, 2014  5:32pm

Deal time! Make sure you call your Alder and tell how you feel about this matter….I am an Erik fan because he has a vision and he is moving the agency out of stagnation and DeStefanosis.

This is exciting. Will the Alders make this happen? Can leadership flex? Can the Mayor pull this off? This process has become very public.

Memo to Hartford: Repost the job…..we are not letting him go! We have other staff for you to poach from LCI.

Let’s see how the Ducks line up on this one.

posted by: anonymous on June 6, 2014  7:15pm

Are Erik and Mayor Harp too busy “negotiating” to do something about the situation at Presidential Gardens, which is critically endangering tenants and children in Newhallville?

posted by: robn on June 6, 2014  8:10pm

Memo to the mayor. A $30,000 dollar raise? Seriously?

posted by: Noteworthy on June 7, 2014  9:04am

Erik made his decision. That this city should be held ransom is ridiculous. The mayor is weak and unfocused. This agency should be shrunk, re-focused and taxpayers should see savings, not more expense. Where’s the common sense? If there is such urgency now with Erik - where has it been in the past and why has there been none?

posted by: getyourfactstraight on June 7, 2014  11:13am

When he decides not to stay I wonder if another alder will be appointed to the job or a campaign worker? Seems common for this mayor. No jobs for the ones who really need it in New Haven. No jobs for the ones who are qualified if you went within the employment pool of city workers right now I am sure there are employees who would be qualified and deserve a promotion.

posted by: getyourfactstraight on June 7, 2014  7:20pm

I agree noteworthy.

posted by: 32knot on June 9, 2014  8:14am

Nobody is irreplacable!!  He may be a great guy but he elected to leave and go somewhere else. The city and the department will not stop when he leaves. therefore find his replacement, at close to the old salary and lets carry on the business of the city. It is my understanding that the mission of this department is anti-blight not neighborhood developement, lets not engage in mission creep just to keep this guy. I happen to believe this is a patronage based department and its functions should be blended with other groups to be more effective overall.