It's been the stealthiest (and dirtiest!) rumor around city hall since the May election: Mayor-elect Sam Adams was thinking of ditching his current chief of staff, Tom Miller, when he makes the move to the third floor of city hall.
Miller's been Adams' right-hand man in the commissioner's office for four years. But according to the whispers, Adams had reservations about Miller's style as he prepares to launch an ambitious agenda as mayor.
Miller certainly has his share of critics, who paint him as a guy who loves the political game and the art of cobbling together a backroom deal—often to a myopic degree. Others point to his tendency to get so absorbed in the commissioner's agenda that he takes it personally, and holds grudges when things don't go his—er, Adams'—way. (Incidentally, these are the same nagging criticisms that have plagued Adams throughout his political career.)
But Adams announced on Monday, August 11, that Miller "is well prepared to assume the role of the mayor's chief of staff," a memo that only served to confirm they've heard the murmurs, too. And were squashing them.
Adams hasn't named the rest of his staff yet—he can't technically hire anyone until January—but he's already putting together a community-based four-year plan, thanks to folks like Nichole Maher, executive director of the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA).
On the campaign trail, Maher says, Adams "talked about really wanting to hear from communities and what they wanted to accomplish" in the next four years.
So NAYA's Youth and Elders Council and other members of the Native American community came up with a "priority list," and Maher presented them to Adams on Monday. "We just scheduled a meeting and brought him a plan," she says. "He was great. He said he was so happy someone took him up on his offer."
The community's priorities? They asked Adams to appoint a staff member to act as a liaison with the Native American community, to be a voice for the community, and to increase the resources available to Native Americans—who have the highest unemployment rate, the highest poverty rate, and the lowest home-ownership rate in town, Maher points out.
One of the community's priorities dovetails with Adams' mayoral platform: to decrease the high school drop-out rate. NAYA's recommendations include addressing the problem in culturally specific ways.
Maher, who says Adams was "very responsive," wants more groups to bring a community-based plan to city hall, as Adams hones his mayoral agenda. "That's the hope," she says.