November 13, 2010
LIMA — What started out with very little being said besides the occasional whisper about the firing of the head of the Allen Metropolitan Housing Authority has turned into a legal battle that has only begun to heat up.
In fact, some say the battle over control and leadership that is or was running the housing authority will turn ugly, if it hasn’t already.
Two former leaders at the agency, former executive director Cindi Ring, and former manager of maintenance Traci Rogers, filed lawsuits this month accusing the board and its Chairman, Lamont Monford, of being out to get them.
The lawsuits included allegations against former assistant director Daniel Hughes. Alleging he gave preferential housing and employment opportunities to members of his church, and the continuation of a housing authority contract with a vendor in exchange for work at Hughes’ church, the lawsuit said.
Hughes could not be reached for comment.
Monford is being sued not only in his role as chairman of the board that oversees the agency, but as an individual, something his attorney, Matt Huffman, calls “malicious.”
“Whatever he did was done as chair of the board so there is no basis for suing him personally,” Huffman said.
Huffman said if Ring and Rogers continue to go after Monford as an individual he will sue them.
Huffman denied allegations Monford was out to get Ring. He said suing Monford as an individual shows who really is out to get who.
“In any of these decisions there are difficult decisions that boards have to make. To suggest somehow Lamont acted on his own…that is clearly wrong, Huffman said.
Monford said he has done nothing wrong in the unpaid role he holds as a way to serve the community.
“I have nothing to fear,” he said.
But Rogers and Ring maintain otherwise.
Rogers said he reported the issue with Hughes using a housing authority vendor at his church which led to Ring telling Hughes to report the matter to the Ohio Ethics Commission. Monford said the ethics commission found no wrong doing, only bad judgment by Hughes.
The matter and other issues between Hughes and Ring led to Hughes’ resignation July 30.
But that was only the start of the change of leadership. Ring was fired Aug. 11. More than two months later, Rogers was fired Oct. 26.
After Ring’s termination, Monford said Ring has done nothing illegal but the board wanted to go in a different direction with its leadership. Rogers was fired for trying to delete files from Ring’s computer when she was on administrative leave and for illegally copying files to a disk, Monford said.
Ring said in her lawsuit the job she held for 16 of her 33 years with the agency earned her praise until she started having problems with Hughes and later with Monford. She accused Monford of being out to get her for investigating employees who allegedly falsified their timecards, the lawsuit said.
Both Ring and Rogers want their jobs back with back pay and more than $25,000 for being fired. As legal battles do, this one is expected to play out over months and well into next year.
It’s unclear when more information will come out in the lawsuit but when it does each side is expected to throw some bombs.
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