James Hartung's 14-year career with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority ended last week as board members unanimously agreed to fire the agency president "with cause," but he still hasn't been told why.
Mr. Hartung's attorney yesterday said he was frustrated with the pace information was being provided to him this week.
"I wanted to go over and talk to the attorney about the evidence they used to fire my guy, and they said they are 'putting it together,'•" attorney Kevin Greenfield said. "They said they are getting together the information that went behind [the firing] and they need a little more time to do that, so is this stuff that's being put together to support the decision after the fact?"
The 13-member Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board of directors fired Mr. Hartung Friday following an investigation of his hiring of a lobbyist with whom he was accused of having an affair.
James R. Jeffery, the port attorney from Spengler Nathanson PLL, a Toledo law firm, did not return calls seeking comment.
Last week, William Carroll, the port board's chairman, said he would not reveal the reasons behind the firing, citing "attorney-client privilege."
He previously promised transparency and that any investigation report would be made public after the inquiry's conclusion. The Blade last week filed a public-records request with the port authority for access to the report prepared for the port directors by Spengler Nathanson but was denied a copy.
Mr. Greenfield said he wanted on either Monday or yesterday to discuss the return of Mr. Hartung's personal property and more importantly, schedule a hearing to appeal the termination. Mr. Hartung's contract entitles him to a hearing and, if he desires, arbitration if severance is to be denied.
"I am just as much in the dark as anyone," Mr. Greenfield said.
The board's specification that Mr. Hartung is being terminated "with cause" is significant because it appears to be a denial of severance compensation to which Mr. Hartung would have been entitled, including about $100,000 to be paid in nine monthly installments and continuing health insurance for that time.
His contract says he may be terminated at will, but requires 60 days' notice "with or without cause." Mr. Hartung will be paid for that time, and receive health coverage.
Mr. Hartung's current salary of $178,165 breaks out to about $14,847 per month, or slightly more than $29,000 for 60 days.
The port authority began an investigation several weeks ago after Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said in a letter that the port president was having an affair with Kathy Teigland, a West Toledo lobbyist who had worked on behalf of the Northwest Ohio Legislative Consortium.
Mayor Finkbeiner has not seen the Spengler Nathanson investigation report, said his spokesman, Elizabeth Phillips.
The mayor refused this week to answer questions regarding Mr. Hartung.
Mr. Finkbeiner has previously criticized the port's use of Spengler Nathanson and questioned if it could conduct an impartial inquiry of port staff conduct.
The city is continuing with its own investigation of the port. A request by the Finkbeiner administration for public records from the port authority covered documents pertaining not only to Mr. Hartung's conduct, but to the Jan. 18 resignation of James Mettler, the port authority's vice president for new project development who received a $40,000 buyout and six months of health insurance when he left.
Yesterday, Mr. Carroll said the port board details of a search committee for Mr. Hartung's successor will be made public next week.
Paul Toth, Jr., the port authority's vice president of technical and financing services and the former director of airports, was named interim president while a national search for a permanent replacement is conducted.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: