Fiscal chief may be near personal cliff
WELLSVILLE – A closed-door session of Village Council held Thursday afternoon for the discipline of a village employee ended with no action taken and little information divulged by officials.
The special meeting was reportedly called for personnel matters, and upon convening, Mayor Sue Haugh asked for an executive session for disciplinary matters, with solicitor Andy Beech invited to attend.
When council reconvened in open session less than an hour later, it immediately adjourned, and Haugh declined to comment further on the reason for the meeting.
However, a public records request made by this reporter in the fiscal office following the meeting turned up documents indicating that Fiscal Officer Dale Davis was the subject of the disciplinary discussion.
Asked for all emails, texts, faxes and other correspondence pertaining to the disciplinary issue, Davis provided a copy of a Jan. 2 letter from Walter & Haverfield, a Cleveland legal firm, to Haugh, Beech and village council.
In the letter, attorney Jonathan D. Greenberg wrote that he represented Davis with regard to employment issues “that have seemingly arisen with respect to his employment as Fiscal Officer.”
He referred to a text message sent by Haugh to Davis, stating, “Don’t bother coming n [sic] tomorrow. There r [sic] some things I’ve been made aware of and I think it’s best that our paths don’t cross until I get all the facts straight.”
The email was sent by Haugh at 8:11 p.m. Dec. 30, advising Davis to not come to work on Dec. 31.
Greenberg advised that Davis had not been informed of any facts, circumstances or allegations prompting the text message, nor had he been given an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
“In short, Mr. Davis has been completely blindsided and is totally in the dark,” Greenberg wrote.
The attorney said having learned of Thursday’s special meeting for an employment issue, he presumed Davis’ employment status would be considered by council and requested that Haugh immediately inform Davis of the facts, circumstances and allegations, noting that, according to the village handbook and employment laws, he should be informed of the situation and given an opportunity to respond to all allegations prior to the council meeting.
Davis did not work Monday and was again absent on Wednesday, but he sent Haugh a text Wednesday, telling her he had stayed home Monday at her request and “felt it was best for me to stay home today,” advising her he had to work Thursday in order to prepare payroll.
“It would be nice to know what I am being accused of doing or not doing so that I could present my side of the story,” Davis concluded in the text sent to the mayor.
A “special” council meeting was also held at noon Wednesday during which members voted to add the name of fiscal Clerk Cassandra Bloor to village banking accounts, with Haugh’s added as a third name “when required.”
No notice of this meeting was given to the media as required by law. Asked after yesterday’s meeting why, Haugh said, “It was an emergency. We needed to write checks in Dale’s absence and we weren’t able to.”
She was advised that Ohio’s Open Meeting Act (Sunshine Law) requires public bodies calling an emergency meeting to immediately notify the media that it has been called and the purpose.
Any action taken at a meeting determined to have been called illegally can be declared null and void in the event of court action against a public body.
Haugh said she was unaware notification was required in an emergency situation and said, “It won’t happen again.”
Asked what checks needed written so badly that an emergency was declared, Haugh initially said, “I’m not sure,” then quickly added, “No comment.”
Finally, the mayor said one check she was sure had to be written was for a transmission in one of the village trucks.
Haugh said council was “basically doing what should have been done months ago,” by adding others’ names to the banking accounts, which had been recommended by the state auditor.
At the meeting Wednesday, members John Morrow and Diane Dinch were absent. Dinch was also absent from yesterday’s meeting.
Asked for comment last night, Davis declined.