It might have gone unnoticed, but the Columbus City Attorney's Office has discontinued "fugitive-of-the-week" press releases and "moseys," videotaped sojourns by car through city neighborhoods.

Changes tend to happen when a new elected official takes over, and Zach Klein, who was elected last November after Richard C. Pfeiffer Jr. decided not to run again, said that's why.

Klein said his staff's focus is on dangerous criminals, crimes and trends and communicating that information to residents.

He also has shuffled and added to the staff of 158 employees, which includes 128 full-timers and 30 part-timers who handle misdemeanor, civil and environmental cases. The office has a 2018 budget of $13,624,133.

Klein said he believes the handful of new positions are valuable and an "effective and lean use of resources."

"I consider these functions necessary to have a successful city-attorney term," he said.

Klein still will have plenty of experience in the office.

Bill Hedrick was first assistant prosecutor and chief of staff under Pfeiffer -- and the primary writer of the periodic fugitive-of-the-week headlines, using such phrases as "cologne cowboy," "sweet-tooth swindler" and "paleo-diet pilferer."

But for Klein, he serves as chief prosecutor and makes $155,084 per year.

Klein named Ed Roberts, who is not an attorney, his chief of staff, which pays a salary of $120,016.

Lara Baker, who was chief prosecutor for Pfeiffer, is now city solicitor, a newly created position. Baker, who makes $141,627, will be the point person dealing with all appeals, working with Columbus City Council on its legislative initiatives and developing direct internal legal policy, Klein said.

Both Hedrick and Baker's new positions were promotions, "in my opinion," he said.

Klein brought in Meredith Tucker as the chief of staff for communications, essentially a public-information officer, to help relay the office's message. She is paid $100,006 per year in salary.

Pfeiffer, reached by phone March 8 in North Carolina, where he now lives, said he briefly had a PIO, Scott Varner, who left the office in 2004 to join Mary Jo Hudson's staff on Columbus City Council. He said he believed he and his staff members should answer questions from news outlets directly.

"The key really is the competence in the quality of the senior staff in your office," Pfeiffer said.

In another newly created role, Gretchen James is serving as director of community outreach and special assistant to Klein. The position pays $90,002.

Another new addition to the city attorney's office is Amy O'Grady, a former appellate court judge who worked in Attorney General Mike DeWine's office. She is leading implementation of the Franklin County Opiate Action Plan, and $50,000 of her $111,093 annual salary is paid by Franklin County.

O'Grady has two people on her support staff: Gina Space, who makes $68,120, and Alexis Pannell, who is paid $56,451. Their salaries are funded by the city of Columbus.

Klein said he is uncertain if those jobs would remain in the city attorney's office after the action plan is implemented.

"We have a lot to do to see if (O'Grady's) position is going to be eliminated," he said.

Some employees left when Klein took office, and some senior employees' jobs were filled with people earning less money, Tucker said.

An overall budget increase, from 2017's $12,591,084 to 2018's $13,624,133, was planned by Pfeiffer regardless of whether Klein or his opponent, Republican Don Kline, was elected, she said.

All told, the net payroll increase to the office with the new positions was $309,336, Tucker said, with the higher budget also reflecting costs associated with raises and other office expenses.

As for the "moseys," Klein said, he would leave that as the former city attorney's legacy.

"While I will be out and about, hopefully as much as Rick Pfeiffer, I will not be videotaping my actions," he said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary