City Manager's Swift Departure Remains A Mystery
Do you think residents are owed an explanation?
Former Cleveland Heights City Manager Bob Downey's swift departure remains a mystery.
His resignation letter, dated April 12, gave no indication for why he was resigning. And he left a day later, did not attend the council meeting to hear officials' kind words about his service and he did not receive a proclamation.
Mayor Ed Kelley said he did not know of Downey's plans in advance.
Downey did not return calls or emails from Cleveland Heights Patch.
In contrast, when longtime Cleveland Heights Finance Director Tom Malone retired, he was given a proclamation, complete with a shamrock to honor his Irish heritage. Council members thanked him for his service. His wife was there, and he became overwhelmed with emotion.
He even played the bagpipes on his final day, concluding his 14 years with the city.
And he gave notice and an explanation.
Instead of getting paid for accrued sick and vacation time and severance pay, Downey received $75,000. He was paid $125,000 a year when he left, said Law Director John Gibbon.
"There was a dispute over what Bob might be entitled to under that employment agreement with a resignation," Gibbon explained. "The $75,000 was a compromise and to settle the dispute and to settle any issues having to do with any liability that the city might have to Bob, or that Bob might have to the city with respect to his employment and his resignation and what he was entitled to."
Gibbon did not share what each party felt he should have received. He said the discussions surrounding his contract occurred "throughout" the week of April 9.
Downey worked for the city for more than 30 years. He retired and then was rehired, his rehire effective in 2009, Gibbon said.
Council appointed Susanna Niermann O'Neil, community services director since 1989 and vice city manager, to take over the role at the regular council meeting Monday.
Kelley said the plans are to conduct a national search for Downey's replacement.
The Sun Press published an editorial Thursday, and wrote that residents should receive explanation, indicating that otherwise people are left to think the worst, referring to when Cleveland Heights-University Heights Superintendent Carlton Moody left quickly in 2003. Turned out he was forced out.
"By no means are we insinuating there are any such sinister stories involve Downey that would force City Council to remove him from office ... But this is precisely why either Downey or other city officials should tell the community exactly why he has chosen not to continue serving as city manager."
In addition, The Sun Press wrote that Downey's service should be honored.
What do you think? Do residents deserve an explanation? Should a celebration be organized for Downey? Tell us in the comments below and take our poll.