Meeting in Richmond Heights Tonight Will Finally Consider Appointments for Finance & Law Directors

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After members of Richmond Heights City Council informed Mayor Miesha Headen that they would be unable to present a quorum at special meetings Friday, Saturday and Sunday, meetings to discuss and (Mayor Headen hoped) approve appointments to the positions of city law director and finance director, and after those meetings were thereby canceled, council has now called a special meeting this evening (Monday), during what will surely be — this humble correspondent takes no pleasure in reporting — a crucial second half in the USA v. Ghana World Cup Match.

Mayor Headen was upset when not a single member of council showed up for the first of four emergency meetings she called last week, and later frustrated that members of council — elected officials — couldn't make time on Saturday or Sunday morning, during a time when the city needs governance in the worst way.

Mayor Headen has been all but condemned  lately for what many consider to be rashness in office. Eleven city employees have been fired or resigned since she took over in December. Now, Richmond Heights stands to suffer some frustrating financial losses (defaulting on a big bond, notably) if the finance director and law director positions aren't filled.

To refresh: Last week, council refused to approve Mayor Headen's appointments at a meeting in which residents expressed open hostility for what's increasingly resembling petty political bickering. Headen installed her finance director Mitchell Michalek in a temporary way, and council huffed and puffed. 

"I believe we have given access to our financial data to a person who may or may not have been vetted properly. Are these people working for pay or without pay? Were they property vetted?" Councilman Donald O'Toole asked NEOMG beat reporter Sara Dorn. 

Mayor Headen certainly sent an email to members of council with credentials and contact information for Joseph Szeman, her appointment for Director of Law. She encouraged them to reach out to Szeman before last Tuesday's meeting to do any personal vetting. Headen sent out a bulletin to residents this morning with background information on all her recent hires. 

Michalek is an attorney who served as the finance director for the city of Streetsboro. The fact that O'Toole, Council President David H. Roche and others continue to find fault with Headen and what sure look like sincere attempts to move past disagreements and get going with the business of the city —  she has plead for cooperation via email at least twice — smacks of personal vendettas.

Headen's new special assistant Edward Busch told Sara Dorn that the city's former finance director Jeff Smock was hired before council approved him, to shed further light on the inconsistency of council's insistence.

Council's political strategy has recently been to accuses the Mayor of technical improprieties. They literally hired a special counselor from Walter Haverfield to draw up a complaint for the manner in which Mayor Headen called an emergency meeting — IT WASN'T AT LEAST 30 HOURS IN ADVANCE!!!! Council now has a lawyer to complain about the having no law director. Mayor Headen vetoed the appointment of council's special counselor, but council overrode that veto. 

Council members Roche, O'Toole and Eloise Henry have not yet responded to Scene's request for comments regarding the status of the rift, and what they hope to achieve by their ongoing refusal to cooperate.      

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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