Fired Code Enforcement Supervisor Addresses Covington City Commission
UPDATE (Thursday 4:30 p.m.): The Covington City Commission will meet on Friday to vote on Weissman's termination again. An executive session has been called for 1 p.m. with a special legislative session to follow immediately after.
UPDATE (10:26 a.m.): Assistant City Manager and City Solicitor Frank Warnock does not believe the employee was fired by the 2-0 vote (with 2 abstentions) due to a lack of majority.
"I anticipate the issue will be addressed again," Warnock told The River City News. "There is no 'hearing' per se. The city manager prepares the agenda and the commission votes on the issue. The city commission as a body as a whole is the executive authority of the city."
When a city employee is fired, the move must be approved by the city commission.
Typically when this happens, the issue appears on the agenda and is quietly approved without much, if any, discussion because most of the conversation already took place in an executive session behind closed doors.
The termination of Covington code enforcement supervisor Tony Weissman on Tuesday night was a rarity.
Not only was there much discussion on the dais by commissioners and administrators, but Weissman himself was present and also took a turn to talk.
Though City Manager Larry Klein said that the issue of Weissman's employment was discussed at an executive session on Monday, the supervisor's presence triggered a lengthy discussion in public, broadcast on the government cable channel.
"Tony is here tonight," Assistant City Manager and City Solicitor Frank Warnock said. "Tony served in his position for about a year and he came in with the new code enforcement system. I think a lot of people recognized that the program has been relatively successful and moved the city forward on a lot of fronts and I'm hopeful that Tony can go forward with a bright future that will be good for him."
Weissman was hired in December 2012 as the code enforcement supervisor following the restructuring of that department that saw its previous manager laid off and most of its positions reduced to part-time. Weissman was selected over 120 applicants, The River City News reported at the time. He arrived with experience as a project manager, building inspector, and served as a consultant to the Ohio Department of Transportation. His first task was to oversee the first round of demolitions of blighted city-owned properties.
What led to his termination was not directly addressed.
"I have nothing against Tony. I like him personally. He is a character you come to like but he's not a good fit for our department that we need right now," Mayor Sherry Carran said.
She and Commissioner Chuck Eilerman voted in favor of the termination while Commissioners Steve Frank and Michelle Williams abstained. Commissioner Mildred Rains was not present.
"This is a tough one," Frank said. "I've heard both sides and actual specifics. Usually when we've had these types of issues you have some sort of adjudication so to some extent this is in a vacuum."
Weissman's position was not protected by any union.
"I've talked to Tony, I've talked to other people," Frank continued. "A lot of people seem to feel that this is in order."
Following the 2-0 vote, which seemed to indicate that Weissman was terminated but The River City News is awaiting clarification from Warnock, Weissman took to the podium, his arm in a sling from a recent injury.
"I've had twenty-five years of doing what I do and I do it damn good," Weissman said. "I have never been in this position before in my life. What the fuck happened? Excuse my French. I'm a little upset. I'm a little irate."