Mantua fired its village administrator, latest ouster in troubled town hall

Mantua Village Council met on Jan. 17, 2023. Ryan Lind/The Portager

Greg Thomas, former administrator for the Village of Mantua, is the latest in a string of employees who have either resigned or been terminated under Mayor Linda Clark’s tenure.

Village council terminated Thomas’s employment on Jan. 17 less than five months after having hired him on Sept. 1.

Thomas said he was fired for checking his personal email on his personal cell phone while he was on the clock, adding that he did not take work breaks during the day. He also said he had been written up several times during the first three weeks of his employment when he made errors that he said were the result of a lack of training.

Clark and Council President Tammy Meyer declined to comment about Thomas’ termination.

Council Member Steve Thorn said only that Clark followed procedures in the village’s employee handbook for dealing with at-will employees.

Mantua has been plagued by turnover in its leadership and, more recently, by two controversies: an investigation into allegations against the police chief and a criminal charge against a council member for threatening a resident in an open meeting. Both of those cases are unresolved.

In an interview with The Portager, Thomas elaborated on what he sees as a wide range of problems in the village. He said he was shocked at the spiteful, vindictive workplace he encountered, and wondered why village voters keep re-electing Clark as mayor.

He referred to the village’s ongoing investigation into alleged favoritism by Police Chief Joe Urso as a waste of time, money and energy. The police department employees are doing nothing wrong, he insisted.

He alleged that Clark cultivates employees willing to tell her what she wants to hear and do what she desires, whether it is advantageous to the village or not.

“Every day you’re working, you’re on edge because somebody’s in a bad mood,” Thomas said. “They are ruining their own city.”

All U.S. states, except for Montana, consider employment relationships to be at-will, meaning either party can end or change the relationship at any time, with no notice and no consequences, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The only exception is that an employer may not terminate an employee for illegal reasons or for no reason unless they want to risk legal consequences.

Serving a village of about 1,000 residents, the town hall has seen a relatively high amount of turnover. Some people were fired and some who left attributed it to the workplace environment.

“Everybody left for their own reasons,” Meyer said. “I can’t attribute it to any one thing.”

But Chelsea Gregor, who is now Ravenna’s clerk of council, resigned in March 2020, citing Clark as the center of the village’s toxic work environment.

Gregor was succeeded by Jenny August, who resigned as Mantua’s clerk-treasurer in September 2021, saying she could no longer tolerate Clark’s micromanagement and abrasive leadership. Clark — and council — then converted the full-time clerk’s elected position to an appointed, part-time fiscal officer who would serve at their discretion.

After August reigned, Teresa Criblez took on the role as Mantua’s clerk-treasurer, but allegedly received so little training that the village turned to Deborah Wordell, Reminderville’s fiscal officer, to bring her up to speed.

August now serves Franklin Township as its administrator.

Maryann Fabian has been serving as the village’s fiscal officer since August 2022. Previous to her appointment, Fabian served Mantua in a number of other positions.

Street supervisor David Akerly was fired in June 2021, after having served as Mantua’s village administrator from 2013 to October 2014.

The revolving door of Mantua’s leadership isn’t limited to department employees.

Mantua Council Member Ben Prescott, who served on council since 2006, resigned in September 2021, joining Dave Sluka, Paula Tubalkain and Matt Rosolowski, all of whom resigned from council in 2021.

Their resignations were followed by that of Council Member Chuck Peterson in February 2022, citing conflicts with his work schedule as a union officer.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.