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VOL. 124 | NO. 117 | Wednesday, June 17, 2009

UPDATE: McGee To Retire As City CAO

By Bill Dries

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The Herenton administration’s No. 2 man announced Wednesday he is leaving City Hall.

Keith McGee, the city’s chief administrative officer, plans to retire effective July 4.

McGee, 47, sent the written notice to Mayor Willie Herenton the day after the City Council completed action on a city budget and tax rate for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Along with the city finance director, the CAO traditionally shepherds the administration through council deliberations on the city budget.

“My pastoral ministry and other consulting interests are calling me to transition at this time,” wrote McGee who has been pastor of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in Tipton County since 1992. “I am excited about the chance to explore some unique opportunities that require my time and attention. … I plan to continue my service to this great community through civic activities.”

McGee was a consultant to the U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Corrections before going to work for the city in 1993. He oversaw personnel training for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department and worked in the Shelby County jail in various positions.

But late Wednesday afternoon, McGee told The Daily News he is pursuing other consultant possibilities outside corrections.

No successor has been named for McGee.

In announcing McGee’s retirement, Herenton described McGee’s service as “exemplary.”

The CAO is responsible for the day to day running of all divisions of city government and reports directly to the mayor.

McGee became chief administrative officer in 2003 at the beginning of Herenton’s fourth term of office. Before that he had served four years as director of the division of Human Resources. He went to work for the Herenton administration in 1993 as the deputy director of human resources.

McGee figured prominently in Herenton’s brief flirtation with resigning the mayor’s office in 2008. City Charter provisions at the time would have made McGee the mayor after a 20-day tenure by then-council chairman Scott McCormick.

Before abandoning the idea of resigning, Herenton’s plan relied heavily on McGee continuing Herenton’s political agenda.

In addition to overseeing the administration’s budget priorities, McGee has also been involved in the administration’s attempt to recover from a growing list of problems at the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center (MSARC).

Herenton admitted there were problems but added fuel to the political fire with an appearance before the City Council earlier this month in which he declared MSARC would remain a city agency as long as he was mayor.

Herenton said McGee had counseled him not to go into problems at the center, which included a staffing shortage as well as a lack of administrative oversight. And McGee had also helped Herenton craft a prepared statement for the council that Herenton left unused for the most part.

Less than a week later, Herenton and Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. announced MSARC would become a part of the county-led Health Department.

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