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Ohio Mayor Slaps Reporter’s Camera before Ensuring Commitment to “Transparency”

A persistent reporter in Ohio who kept getting stonewalled by a local mayor with unreturned phone calls decided to track her down in person for an on-camera interview.

But that only led to the mayor slapping the reporter’s camera away.

Rather than make a public apology, Richmond Heights Mayor Meisha Headen stated the following:

“I was not aware that public officials did not have to give consent for our images,” she said. “I’d done video with Sara [Dorn] in the past and she had always asked my consent.”

Headen, who has been in office just over five months, apparently has a lot to learn about public accountability.

And Dorn, who has been reporting for the Northeast Ohio Media Group since November, appears happy to provide her with those lessons.

Dorn was attempting to ask Headen whether she knew about any charges against Brandye Mells, the mayor’s assistant. Mells is the subject of two criminal cases in Toledo Municipal Court, according to court records. She is charged with attempted forgery and theft, and a warrant was issued for her arrest on the theft charge in July 2007.

Headen took exception to being video recorded and pushed the camera away, telling Dorn she doesn’t give her permission to take her picture.

Dorn can be heard yelling, “Excuse me m’am, do not attack me,” while Headen pushes the camera. As the video goes on, Dorn follows Headen to her car and asks about the recent firing of the law and finance directors in Richmond Heights.

“I had a lot of questions and I can never get a hold of her on the phone so I jumped at the opportunity to talk to her,” Dorn said. She approached Headen after a Richmond Heights meeting about renovations to Cuyahoga County Airport.

Headen, who has fired several employees and prompted other employees to resign, is apparently trying to micro-manage the city of 11,000 by herself along with at least one “volunteer” who answers phones.

According to Dorn’s article:

Headen fired Prosecutor Jonathan Greenburg a week after she terminated longtime Law Director Todd Hunt. Both work for Walter Haverfield law firm in Cleveland. Greenburg was with Richmond Heights since 2007. He made $24,000 per year, according to his personnel file.

The mayor’s new special assistant, Brandye Mells, has been suspended as she facescriminal charges in Toledo, according to Roche.

Service Director Donald Lazar is retiring today, and Building Inspector Jim Uranker resigned, effective today. Building Commissioner Phil Seyboldt announced last week that he would retire June 6.

Including Greenburg, the mayor has fired six employees since she took office in December. Four have resigned or retired.

Headen, who ran on the platform of “full transparency,” has yet to explain the reasoning behind the firings.

However, after slapping Dorn’s camera, she did apologize to the reporter before insisting she is “committed to transparency” and will comply with her public records requests regarding her assistant’s criminal record.

She then proceeded to get into her illegally parked vehicle.

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