The crimes against her? In office for less that six months, Headen has fired key personnel — the finance director, the interim finance director, the law director, the city’s prosecutor, to name a few — and has created a culture of such hostile disarray that others have quit or intend to quit just as soon as it’s fiscally responsible to do so.
Richmond Heights’ City Council, which has pleaded ignorance to many of Headen’s actions — “All we know is what we read in the newspaper,” is their prototypical (and sort of quaint) stance on the developments — refused to honor Headen’s appointees when she tried to repopulate some of her staff in a council meeting last week.
But the thing that really got the NEOMG’s goat — you could see Chris Quinn almost chirruping with glee on the Opinion Show — was Headen’s attempt to “bat away” the video camera of cub reporter Sara Dorn, who covers Richmond Heights, Mayfield Heights, and Hillcrest with poise and aplomb for either Sun News, the NEOMG, the PD, or some other affiliated acronymic neighborhood rag.
“Don’t attack me!” Dorn can be heard telling the Mayor in the video posted to Cleveland.com and later re-posted by media blogger Jim Romenesko. Dorn was trying to get answers from Headen about her knowledge of assistant Brandeye Mells’ criminal record. Mells has come under scrutiny for two minor offenses in Lucas County. The charges came to light only after Mells took a city car for four days with Headen’s permission and left it parked in a garage in Cleveland Heights, a violation of the city's vehicle policy (a policy Headen herself wrote).
Dorn hadn’t had much luck on the phone with Headen, so she tried to snag her in the parking lot after a meeting. Headen resisted. She later said that she was taken off guard because Dorn had always asked her permission when taking her picture or recording her for a story.
Regardless, Chris Quinn and his hound dogs have redoubled their efforts, kicking the story and its sundry spinoffs into sensationalistic gear. Online commenters sympathetic to Headen argue that Dorn tends to report the mayor’s latest “wrongdoing,” and then offer the city council’s perspective. Indeed, at least one resident feels that the NEOMG's editorial board overlooked the fact that Richmond Heights was in desperate need of an overhaul, and though Headen may have been a tad "heavy-handed" in her dismissals, she wasn't wrong in wanting a fresh start.
Much of the hostility between Headen and council emerged in late April, when council unanimously voted to pass a pay ordinance which ensured that Headen could not get medical benefits paid for by the city.
You heard correctly. The city’s mayor doesn’t get medical benefits. Headen makes only $15,000 as mayor of Richmond Heights and $16,000 more for her role as safety director. In total, it’s “less than any secretary working for the city,” according to Headen.
Just for some perspective: Down in Beachwood, two or three suburbs south, with a population of about 12,000 (roughly 1,000 more than Richmond Heights) Mayor Merle Gorden is the most lavishly paid elected official in the state of Ohio, collecting a base salary of $175,000, $122,000 in retirement benefits, $34,500 in social security, thousands of dollars in meals and charity events and his $42,000 GMC Arcadia.
So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Editorial Board.