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Allowing future hire to edit own job description violated no policy, Cleveland mayor's office says

Controversy has followed Phillip McHugh, Bibb’s former college roommate, since the mayor selected him to fill a newly-created Senior Advisor for Public Safety position in April, 2024.
Nick Castele
Ideastream Public Media
A U.S. flag flies above Cleveland City Hall at 601 Lakeside Avenue.

Cleveland officials say no policy was violated when the mayor’s chief of staff allowed a top safety official to edit his own job description before he was hired.

Phillip McHugh, who was hired earlier this year as Cleveland’s Senior Advisor for Public Safety by his former college roommate Mayor Justin Bibb, resigned last week amid controversy over a previous civil rights lawsuit in Washington D.C.

The resignation came the same day Ideastream reported that representatives from Bibb’s office sent McHugh a draft of a job description for the new role and asked for his input on Oct. 3, 2023.

McHugh replied that he had made “tweaks,” to the description, emails obtained through a public records request show.

McHugh was one of 16 candidates who applied when the job posted weeks later.

A city spokesperson told Ideastream Thursday that no city policy was violated by soliciting McHugh’s input.

"Many of our positions have been created through input of subject matter experts," the spokesperson said in a written statement. "These positions have been made better by adjustments made from key stakeholders.

"These are exempt at-will positions that are not required by law," she continued. "They exist only as the mayor creates them. He has full authority to seek input on them as he sees fit."

When asked if the position, which did not exist before McHugh's hire, would be filled, the spokesperson said that no decision had yet been made.

"Since there have been a few recent departures, we are currently evaluating the overall needs of the public safety department to determine if any tweaks need to be made," she said.

Abbey Marshall covers Cleveland-area government and politics for Ideastream Public Media.