City TIF administrator on leave following arrest

Ravi Doshi was hired in August 2021 as the business projects manager and tax-increment financing administrator in the city’s Office of Planning and Economic Development. He is on leave following his Dec. 28 arrest by Springfield police.
Amid a mayoral candidate’s criticism that Springfield isn’t doing enough to promote economic development, a city employee described as the face of those efforts is facing a misdemeanor charge that he violated an order of protection against his estranged wife.

Ravi Doshi, business projects manager and tax-increment financing administrator in the city’s Office of Planning and Economic Development, is on a “family leave” following his Dec. 28 arrest by Springfield police.

He was released from the Sangamon County Jail on his own recognizance the next day while the misdemeanor case proceeds. He has pleaded not guilty.

Doshi, who isn’t represented by one of the unions covering city workers, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.

Mayor Jim Langfelder said he was aware of Doshi’s arrest and expected Doshi to return from family leave sometime in February.

Langfelder said the case against Doshi was part of a “messy divorce situation.” The mayor referred further questions about Doshi’s status to Lynne Wooden, acting director of the economic development office.

Wooden declined to answer questions about Doshi, referring an Illinois Times reporter to city human resources acting director Ronald Cook. Cook said Doshi remains a city employee, and in late 2022 or early 2023 began to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave as part of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Cook said Doshi can opt to use accumulated sick time and vacation time to avoid going without pay.

City Treasurer Misty Buscher, who is challenging Langfelder’s bid for a third consecutive four-year term in the runup to the April 4 election, said at a mayoral candidate debate Jan. 25 that the city needed to become more “business-friendly” to attract and retain more employers. Langfelder took issue with Buscher’s statement.

Wooden’s own employment situation could change in coming months. The 64-year-old former banker said she isn’t sure how long after the April 4 election that she will remain with the city.

Wooden is paid $105,525 per year and was hired by Langfelder in July after OPED had gone without a director since Langfelder fired Val Yazell in spring 2021.

The mayor said he is able to hire acting department directors for a year before they require council approval. He said in July that he wouldn’t ask the council to approve Wooden until after the April election. Before she joined city government, Wooden retired from banking in June after 10 years at INB.

Wooden said last summer that she didn’t expect to be a long-term municipal employee, and she said on Jan. 31 that her plans haven’t changed. But she said she hasn’t set a date to retire from her city job.

Doshi, 36, has worked for the city since August 2021 and earns $69,000 a year, according to city records. He previously worked for Gateway Foundation as a counselor, working with men who had substance-use disorder.

The criminal charge against Doshi, which carries a potential penalty of up to one year in jail, says he violated a protection order obtained by Alexa Doshi when he contacted her “by electronic means” on Dec. 23.

Alexa Doshi, 27, filed for divorce against Ravi Doshi on Nov. 10, citing “irreconcilable differences.” They have three children, ages 7, 5 and 2.

Sangamon County Associate Judge Jennifer Ascher granted Alexa Doshi an emergency order of protection on Nov. 9. In her request for the order, Doshi said her husband has “a history of drug and alcohol abuse, but has claimed to be sober.”

In early November, after Alexa Doshi had left the couple’s Springfield home with the children, she said in the order of protection request that her husband “admitted he is still drinking” and that she fears for her safety.

Alexa Doshi said in the request that police found her husband “drunk and unconscious” at home on Nov. 7 after not showing up at work for a week. She said he was taken to a hospital after police had to “break the front door to get into the house.”

The Springfield City Council, which approves the hiring of permanent department directors but not the people who work under those directors, hasn’t been informed by the mayor’s administration about Doshi’s arrest or family leave, Ward 6 Ald. Kristin DiCenso said.

“I think we should have been informed of this, at a minimum,” DiCenso said. “Many on the council work with Ravi frequently, and we’re baffled by his absence. I’ve been through a divorce. … It’s a private matter until something like this happens. I can understand how emotions can run high, but this is a serious situation. That we were kept in the dark about it is concerning at best.

“Ravi has been the face of OPED,” DiCenso said, noting that it’s her understanding Doshi has been away from work for about a month. “We should have been notified he was on leave, at the very least.”

When asked why Langfelder didn’t inform the council, he told Illinois Times that it was a “personnel matter. … I don’t know how that normally works.”

Ward 8 Ald. Erin Conley, who, along with DiCenso has been a critic of Langfelder, told Illinois Times the lack of information from the administration is frustrating. “They don’t tell us anything about anything,” she said.

Conley said she “has some concerns” about Doshi returning in the wake of the misdemeanor charge.

“There needs to be some thoughtful conversations” about “where and how he works,” Conley said. “It’s a very public-facing office. When you’re paid by tax dollars, you should be held to a higher standard.”

Ward 2 Ald. Shawn Gregory said he was aware Doshi wasn’t at work but didn’t know that Doshi had been arrested. At the council’s committee of the whole meeting Jan. 31, Gregory commended Doshi’s work in administering the city’s first round of business grants in 2022 that were funded by the city’s share of taxes from the sale of recreational cannabis.

Gregory said the “whole team” in the economic development office – a department of about 10 people – “does a great job.”

After the meeting, Gregory said he looks forward to Doshi returning. “The type of energy that that young man brings is what we need in economic development,” Gregory said. “He was a bright mind, we bounced things off each other. He would go out into the community, go sit down with the people, help them with their paperwork, meet with different stakeholders. He was really, really doing a great job.

“I’m going to support him,” Gregory said. “I’ve made plenty of mistakes.”

About The Author

Dean Olsen

Dean Olsen is a senior staff writer for Illinois Times. He can be reached at:
[email protected], 217-679-7810 or @DeanOlsenIT.

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