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Staff shuffles as Gary City Hall awaits new Commerce Department director

Updated: February 12, 2014 6:11AM



GARY — While the city awaits a new Commerce Department director, a key position in Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s administration, a longtime employee’s job was eliminated in favor of a contractor.

Former Traffic Engineer Sam Shapiro’s position was eliminated and will be filled by Arnie Mazumdar, an engineering consultant and head of Northwest Engineering. The city has used the firm for years on a variety of projects.

In an email, spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington called Shapiro’s replacement a personnel matter. She wrote that Mazumdar’s work will be “a more comprehensive engineering position,” working on the Sheraton demolition, streets and sidewalk maintenance, site plan reviews and more.

Whittington also indicated a new Commerce Department director should be in place by Feb. 1. Freeman-Wilson last month moved J. Forest Hayes out of the critical spot to focus on directing the Gary Economic Development Corp.

Hayes, who has been commuting from Washington, D.C., will work to recruit individual businesses, while the Commerce director will take “a 35,000-foot-level” approach to working with different governmental entities, like the Indiana Economic Development Corp., Freeman-Wilson explained last month.

Hayes reports to an economic development board, headed by Oliver Gilliam, husband of Common Councilwoman and Finance Committee Chairwoman Mary Brown.

The Commerce Department head oversees a number of departments, including Community Redevelopment and Environmental Affairs.

For now, Hayes retains his post as president of the Redevelopment Commission.



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