Former LMHA CFO hires attorney to look into 'abrupt' termination

By Brooks Sutherland / The Blade
Fri, 22 May 2020 20:30:43 GMT

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A former chief financial officer of the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority has retained legal counsel to investigate the circumstances surrounding his May termination, which occurred just four months after he assumed the role.

Andy Delaney, who had previously lived in Chicago, was offered the position to become the agency’s CFO in October, which he accepted in November and signed a contract in December. Mr. Delaney’s start date was Jan. 6. But his tenure in Toledo only lasted a few months. According to documents from a Tuesday LMHA board of commissioners meeting, Mr. Delaney was terminated on May 1 and Shimeako Cole was assigned as LMHA’s interim CFO beginning May 4. The documents did not disclose a reason for Mr. Delaney’s termination.

On Thursday, Mr. Delaney emailed a letter to Toledo City Council member Yvonne Harper, who is the chairman of the city’s Neighborhoods, Community Development and Health committee, asking for her help with legal referrals for counsel to investigate his short employment period and termination.

In the letter, Mr. Delaney expressed concern about his termination, writing to Ms. Har per that he had achieved “several accomplishments” during his short time with the housing authority, and outlining several particular examples.

The subject line of the email asked for “immediate attention” to the issue of “wrongful termination.”

“You can imagine my appall and confusion when I was given an abrupt 15-day written notice of termination, retroactive to Friday, May 1, during an in-person meeting held that same day,” Mr. Delaney wrote in the note obtained by The Blade.

Ms. Harper did not respond to a request for comment Friday, but City of Toledo Law Director Dale Emch responded on her behalf.

“Councilwoman Harper believes she only met Mr. Delaney one time but knows nothing about his job performance at LMHA or the specific circumstances leading to his termination,” Mr. Emch said. “Further, she does not know why he sent the letter to her.”

When reached by phone, Mr. Delaney declined to answer questions. Cleveland attorney Peter Mapley confirmed in a statement that his firm was hired by Mr. Delaney to “investigate the circumstances surrounding his abrupt termination from the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority,” but declined to comment further.

When Mr. Delaney was hired, the agency was at the time headed by CEO Demetria Simpson. But Ms. Simpson, who had been LMHA’s top executive since 2017, resigned her position in February. The housing authority then hired Joaquin Cintron Vega to be its next CEO in March. Before he was hired as CEO, Mr. Vega was the director of public housing for the Miami-Dade County Public Housing and Community Development Department in Florida. He had previously served as LMHA’s CFO and director of asset management.

LMHA board of commissioners chairman William Brennan told The Blade on Friday that Mr. Delaney’s firing was a decision by Mr. Vega, who lacked confidence in the CFO’s performance. Mr. Brennan said Mr. Vega consulted with him about the decision, but added the board’s policy is that personnel decisions “are the right of the CEO.”

“Joaquin told me that he didn’t think [Mr. Delaney] was able to do the job the way Joaquin wanted it,” Mr. Brennan said. “So, really the decision is left up to the CEO in terms of personnel matters.”

Mr. Vega could not be reached for comment Friday. LMHA chief legal officer Thomas Mackin declined to comment on Mr. Delaney’s termination.

“We don’t comment on any former or past employees,” Mr. Mackin said.

Lucas County commissioners, who appointed Mr. Brennan to head the board, also declined to comment Friday.

A public records request to review Mr. Delaney’s personnel file is pending.