Former southwest Ohio mayor sues city over meetings before city manager resigned

The Huber Heights government building. EILEEN McCLORY/ STAFF
The Huber Heights government building. EILEEN McCLORY/ STAFF

A former Huber Heights mayor recently filed a lawsuit against the city over the private meeting and executive session in which council members discussed former city manager Rob Schommer’s resignation, according to a court document.

Thomas McMasters, who led the city before current mayor Jeff Gore, filed a lawsuit in Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas on Thursday . He is not an attorney, but is representing himself in the lawsuit.

“Tom McMasters is a very litigious person,” Gore said.

The city has taken steps to defend itself.

“The matter has been tendered to the insurance company to provide defense counsel,” Law Director Gerald McDonald said. “I am confident the city will prevail in the end.”

Three members of Huber Heights city council – Richard Shaw, Mark Campbell and Gore – met privately on March 6 to discuss Schommer’s resignation, according to the lawsuit. A fourth member, Glenn Otto, was invited but did not attend due to a family conflict. Shaw said during a public meeting on March 15 that he and Otto later discussed what happened in the meeting.

The Saturday meeting was not mentioned during the executive session on March 8, after which council voted unanimously to accept Schommer’s resignation and approved a consulting agreement.

“Defendant the city of Huber Heights violates the Open Meetings Act as a regular occurrence,” McMasters said in the lawsuit. “This complaint focuses on the violations occurring in conjunction with the issue of the separation of City Manager Robert Schommer, but there have been many violations.”

McMasters said he wanted to point out to city council that several times they are going into executive sessions for “inappropriate” reasons.

ExploreHuber Heights council members, mayor discussed city manager’s resignation separately before meeting

While he was leading the city, McMasters was in favor of asking Schommer to resign, but the way Schommer was asked to leave was, “a process problem that needs to be corrected,” the ex-mayor said.

He added, “The city can’t have a contract in place that is a blatant violation of one of the statues.”

On Thursday, McMasters filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the execution of the agreement with Schommer. A hearing is set for Wednesday.

According to the contract, Schommer was supposed to be paid $150,000 for a consulting agreement within seven days of signing the agreement, which would have been March 17.

In the lawsuit, McMasters also asked for an injunction compelling the members of Huber Heights City Council to comply with the provisions of Ohio public records law around open meetings.

Contact Eileen McClory at 937-694-2016 or eileen.mcclory@coxinc.com.

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