Fairborn city manager accused
Talya Flowers, News Writer
August 26, 2013
Filed under News
Fairborn city council met Monday, Aug. 19 to discuss accusations that City Manager Deborah McDonnell made inappropriate comments against a resident–an accusation that she denies.
“I am pretty sad because of their false statements and the fact that it has come at a time where there is political strife, and I am always the target. I never said those things,” McDonnell said.
Matt Stidham, a Fairborn resident for 15 years, alleged that McDonnell, during a private meeting with city employees, made inappropriate statements against his wife Eva Stidham. He claims that McDonnell called his wife a “troublemaker and wished that she had another heart-attack.”
“It just wrecks my heart that someone would say something like that,” said Eva, a resident of Fairborn for 50 years, who said that her heart has made a “99 percent recovery.”
The Stidham’s alleged that the comments were made because of their refusal to allow construction outside of their home located on 341 E. Dayton Yellow Springs Road– changes that would have decreased the value of their home.
“I have never said anything like that, and I don’t know who told you that. I don’t know what their motive would be to lie to you in that way,” McDonnell said to the Stidham’s. “Whomever told you that is flat-out lying.”
Councilman James R. Hapner said that Eva is a “respectable citizen of Fairborn, who does not tell lies.” He then claimed that he had a private breakfast with a senior staff member, and they verified the allegations against McDonnell.
Following the accusation by the Stidham’s, Hapner called for an emergency executive session. Councilman Robert Wood then seconded the motion. It passed 5 to 2.
On Wednesday, council met to investigate the allegations against McDonnell–who has been the city manager of Fairborn for six years. In May 2012, council made an unanimous decision to give McDonnell a four-year contract, a pay increase and vehicle allowance.
“I believe that there has been spreading of rumors for political purposes,” said Doug Hand, 74, who has been a resident of Fairborn for more than 29 years.
Before the executive session on Monday, councilman Wood said that “McDonnell was not a good fit for the city.”
“I am going to recommend that you search the Internet for a new position, contact a realtor and prepare a resignation,” Wood said to McDonnell before the executive session.
Residents also expressed their dissatisfaction with a memo that surfaced in which McDonnell provided a detailed reason why mediation services would not be utilized in the City of Fairborn. Several residents claimed that a quote used by the city manager in the Aug. 9 memo was discriminatory toward Appalachians.
“I spoke up the last time she attacked us (Appalachians), said Cheri McGee, a life-long resident of Fairborn. “She apologized and we let it go, but that is not going to happen again. It is time for her to resign or be fired.”
Other residents said that the quote was taken out of context.
“I believe that the accusations against Deborah McDonnell were taken out of context. She was making a reference out of a publication,” said Marilyn Powers, Fairborn resident.
After a 3.5 hour executive session meeting on the following Wednesday, city council had yet to make a decision concerning the accusations against McDonnell.
Mayor Thomas Nagel said that further investigation needed to be done and that if he found concrete evidence, then he would be the “first to ask for Mrs. McDonnell’s resignation.”
The investigation is ongoing.
City council is scheduled to have its next meeting on Sept. 3 at 7 p.m.