Saturday, January 27, 2001

Villa Hills divide widens

Council won't meet privately on firings

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        VILLA HILLS — Council newcomer Robert Krems got a taste Friday of the deep divisions on Villa Hills City Council.

        Mr. Krems, who was elected in November, organized a special City Council meeting Friday with the hope that members would discuss some of the problems besieging this Kenton County city of 8,000 residents.

        Those problems include:

        • The Dec. 28 firing of Police Chief Michael “Corky” Brown and City Clerk Sue Kramer by Mayor Steve Clark.

        • The formation of a citizens group that supports the fired employees and wants Mr. Clark to reinstate both or resign his office. Mr. Clark has said he will do neither.

        • The hiring of Covington lawyer Phil Taliaferro by a majority of council who oppose Mr. Clark.

        Mr. Taliaferro, who has successfully handled two impeachment cases of Northern Kentucky mayors, has launched an inquiry into whether Mr. Clark acted properly when he fired the employees.

        • Lingering animosity over a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Clark improperly spent city funds — a probe that ended in the fall with no charges brought — and a scathing state audit that questioned $44,000 in spending by city of- ficials.

        “I think when you have two sides like this you need to sit down and see if something can be worked out,” Mr. Krems said.

        But legally, private council meetings are limited to only a few topics, including personnel matters.

        Mr. Krems thinks the firings qualify as a personnel matter.

        But Interim City Attorney Mike Duncan said what Mr. Krems was proposing probably didn't meet the standard for a private meeting.

        So no meeting was held.

        “We don't want to stretch anything,” Mr. Clark said.

        Three members — Mike Sadouskas, Tim Sogar and Bob Kramer, the husband of Sue Kramer, the fired city clerk — said they would not agree to meet privately.

        “We need to have everything out in the open so the people know what is going on,” Mr. Sogar said.

        “Besides,” Mr. Sadouskas said, “the mayor said he has no intention of changing his mind.”

        Council will meet Monday night at 6:30 at River Ridge Elementary in Villa Hills.

        Prior to the meeting the citizens group will hold a public rally at 5:45 p.m. at the school.


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