published Friday, November 1st, 2013

Jeff Cannon takes on new role for Chattanooga

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke named a member of top leadership team Thursday to replace outgoing Andrew Kean as the city's chief operating officer.

Jeff Cannon will add the task of running the city's day-to-day operations to his current job as chief innovation officer.

Kean announced his resignation last week after six months on the job. He is leaving in mid-November to return to the private sector.

Berke praised Cannon, who is the former executive director of Green|Spaces, for the work he has done since he was hired in April.

"Jeff has demonstrated a thorough knowledge of city government and will incorporate his expertise as chief innovation officer to lead each department toward greater efficiency, while making local government more open to citizens," Berke said in a prepared statement.

Several council members said they support the appointment and they're relieved Berke chose someone who could move into Kean's position without interrupting the flow of city government.

Councilman Larry Grohn said he does wonder about Cannon's former position because Berke chose to combine the jobs. But Grohn praised Berke for saving money by not hiring someone else for Cannon's position.

Cannon was being paid $87,500 as chief innovation officer, compared to $125,000 for Kean. His new salary has not been set. Berke's spokeswoman, Lacie Stone, said the mayor's office is working with the human resources department to set an appropriate pay level.

Grohn and Councilman Ken Smith said they believe Cannon will be able to oversee the budget and the mayor's initiative of budgeting for outcomes, helped by the consulting firm the city hired for $100,000 and by Deputy Chief Operating Officer Brent Goldberg. Goldberg has worked with Kean on this year's $212 million budget and on the pilot version of budgeting for outcomes.

Cannon said he's qualified for the job, pointing to his experience at Green|Spaces handling every management aspect, including the financial side and overseeing a multimillion-dollar budget.

"As COO, I will further the Mayor's vision to incorporate increased customer service, data-driven decision-making, innovation and efficiency throughout every operating department to better serve our constituents," Cannon said in an email.

Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem said he has seen Cannon follow through with projects such as coordinating the government response to repair Patten Towers after a fire left 241 residents homeless.

"He doesn't like to start stuff and leave it half done," Hakeem said.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at or 423-757-6659.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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