Friday, January 19, 2001

Villa Hills to discuss mayor


Councilmen call for special meeting tonight

By Cindy Schroeder and Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        VILLA HILLS — A report expected to include tough accusations against Mayor Steve Clark, including his motivation for firing Police Chief Michael “Corky” Brown, will be discussed at a special City Council meeting tonight.

        The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of River Ridge Elementary, 2772 Amsterdam Road.

        Councilmen Mike Sadouskas, Tim Sogar, Denny Stein and Bob Kramer — the four who voted on Jan. 6 to hire Covington lawyer Phil Taliaferro to investigate Mr. Brown's firing — signed the notice calling for the special meeting.

        “The report will deal with Villa Hills' exposure to whistleblower suits, and other legal actions stemming from the chief's participation in various investigations of the mayor,” Mr. Taliaferro said Thursday.

        Mr. Taliaferro had planned to make his presentation at the regular City Council meeting Wednesday, but that was canceled when about 300 people — nearly triple the meeting room's legal occupancy — showed up. The meeting had been moved to the Crescent Springs city building because its council chamber is larger than Villa Hills'.

        What brought out the crowd was the Dec. 28 firing of Mr. Brown and City Clerk Sue Kramer, the wife of Councilman Bob Kramer.

        Mr. Clark has denied the firing of Mr. Brown and the dismissal of Mrs. Kramer were in retaliation for anything done against him, but he also refused to say why the two longtime city employees were fired.

        Mr. Brown has retained attorney Steve Wolnitzek, but the former police chief has not said whether he plans to file suit over his dismissal.

        “I have no clue what the firings were about, but I feel they were for legitimate reasons,” Councilwoman Julie Schuler said Thursday. “The mayor has to have his reasons. I believe that he's following the laws that the city gave us to follow.”

        Ms. Schuler said that she will miss tonight's council meeting because she'll be out of town, and she criticized the four council members for planning the meeting without contacting her.

        Councilman Sadouskas said the meeting was set for tonight because Mr. Taliaferro — who, so far, has been working for the city at no charge — had requested that it be held as soon as possible. He added that no attempt was made to exclude Ms. Schuler or anyone else from tonight's meeting.

        On Wednesday, a newly formed civic group, Citizens to Make Villa Hills the Most Livable City ... Again, passed out petitions seek ing the reinstatement of Mr. Brown and Mrs. Kramer, and several in the crowd held signs expressing support for the two fired employees.

        Shelly Espich, a spokeswoman for the civic group, said its Web site, www.govillahills.org,received 1,600 hits on Wednesday, its first day of operation.

        Despite the outpouring of support for two fired employees and the possibility of legal action, Mr. Clark said that he has no plans to reinstate either Mr. Brown or Mrs. Kramer.

        “I'm going to get trashed by people now ... but I can't make management decisions based on if somebody is popular,” Mr. Clark said Wednesday night.

        “I made a decision as a manager, and I'll have some people mad at me,” he said. “You can listen to anything you want, but I'm here for the residents.”

       



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