Harp Reappointing LCI Chief

Thomas MacMillan PhotoMayor Toni Harp will not dismantle New Haven’s neighborhoods anti-blight agency, after all—and she’s keeping its chief on board.

Harp said Monday that she is reappointing Erik Johnson (pictured) to a new term as head of the agency, the Livable City Initiative (LCI). Johnson’s current term expires Feb. 1; during last year’s mayoral campaign, Harp had suggested abolishing the agency.

She said Monday that since then she has come to appreciate the breadth of work LCI handles—not just inspecting apartments, but also developing housing and managing abandoned properties.

Harp’s administration will still examine long-term improvements or efficiencies at the agency, she said. In the short term, she has directed Johnson to make the agency more accessible. “It’s got to be more customer-friendly,” she said, “so people can call and get a” human being on the other line. She said people have been “very frustrated” at the difficulty in reaching people at the agency.

Johnson’s salary is $94,000 this fiscal year.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 22, 2014  9:22am

The king john machine is back.

posted by: Esbey on January 22, 2014  10:11am

This is good news.  I don’t like some of the more symbolic Harp actions (like the police drivers and giant new SUV or restricting access to parts of City Hall), but she is making some good appointments.  In particular, her appointments seem largely based on competence, not on supporting one faction of city politics. 

Her reversal on LCI is very welcome news and if she can increase its public responsiveness to boot, then so much the better.

posted by: grounded on January 22, 2014  11:43am

Good pick.  And quite right about office accessibility.

posted by: robn on January 22, 2014  2:05pm

Wait. What? Candidate Harp wanted to assertively dismantle LCI and Mayor Harp wants to keep it and its past director?

posted by: Shaggybob on January 22, 2014  3:01pm

Its called waffling Robn lol But in this case it works best for us. LCI is a HUGE asset to the average citizen for quality of life issues and keeping the City looking good.
I have NEVER had a problem contacting anyone at LCI and all calls are returned immediately- The inspectors give their cell numbers out and tell you to call them anytime. Shows how out of touch the Mayor is with that agency and if they were anymore customer friendly they would have their offices in my house.
I understand she’s just getting settled, but to make a statement like that is uncalled for. I would like to know who (or how many) have actually become “frustrated” with this process.

posted by: Serf of New Haven on January 22, 2014  6:38pm

Is it just me or does LCI have new ‘swat team’ uniforms with the baseball caps and dark blue T-shirts? I see these guys stepping over garbage at the curb while totally ignoring it. Too good to pick up litter?

Shouldn’t they help pick up the trash and litter all over town. Isn’t that what makes a city ‘livable’. Free of garbage.

I’ve been living in New Haven since this agency’s conception and every year they get bigger and bigger and their outfits get fancier and fancier, yet the streets, except those controlled in and around Yale, pile up with the same amount of litter and debris. Neighborhoods that should have their attention full time seem to be in the same disrepair and blight as when they started. They’re always bringing out the renderings for downtown when they should be in our most neglected neighborhoods picking up trash and painting houses and doing the type of work Jim Haley of NHS does.

No knock on the chief, seems like a nice fella, but we need to reevaluate and specify the mission of this agency whose powers never stop expanding.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on January 22, 2014  8:05pm

Good Choice! Glad that Erik is sticking around. LCI does a lot with a very small department.

posted by: OccupyTheClassroom on January 22, 2014  9:34pm

700 boarded up houses.