By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – Public hearing dates for suspended Police Chief Chad Hayse have been set for 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 29 and 30 at Kessey Field House, 4300 S. Dearborn St.
City Councilwoman Nicole Barnes said at the Aug. 17 council meeting she had filed an amended complaint that afternoon against Hayse with City Clerk Diana Zarazua based on the recently received investigative report.
Barnes moved to amend Hayse’s leave so it was unpaid, which was seconded by Councilman Carl Louvet.
Corporation Counsel Lawrence Coogan said that with an amended complaint, Hayse would have up to an additional 20 days to respond. Coogan also recommended that until the council reaches a resolution, he would recommend the suspension continue to be with pay, as it has been up to this point, until there is a hearing.
“I think since there is a rather significant amendment, the 20 days would start from the time he is served with this complaint,” Coogan said. “I think it would be unfair to not give him a proper amount of time to respond to the issues that are brought up in the amended complaint.”
Coogan said 20 days were reasonable given the amended complaint was a fairly significant document. He said the council had some discretion in the decision.
“We made a decision already to suspend him with pay,” Coogan said. “I will give it to your discretion.”
Barnes said her reasoning to change the suspension to unpaid was to speed up the process.
“The public safety chair said they would like to see this resolved as soon as possible, because it is hard for them to do their job,” Barnes said.
Coogan confirmed for Councilwoman Michelle Said Land that time periods are granted to respond to charges, and that Hayes has 20 days to respond to new charges.
“The document being served on is an amended complaint, and to be fair, I think it requires notice to an individual,” Coogan said. “The accusations contained in the first complaint were not as extensive as what’s in the second complaint. And to impose a 20-day period, then I think Tuesday or Wednesday of next week I think really would be unfair.”
He said whether one thinks it is fair or not, the 20-day notice is required by charter.
The council was split on the motion, 3-3, with Barnes, Louvet, and Steve Densmore voting yes, and Land, Wheeler Marsee and David Cybulski voting no, so the motion to suspend Hayes without pay failed.
Barnes then made a motion, pursuant to the city charter, to extend the suspension 20 days with pay based on the newly amended complaint. The motion was supported by Louvet.
Louvet expressed concerned for the financial implications of the second 20-day notice.
“The city of Melvindale is in bad shape financially,” Louvet said. “To give a 40-day vacation is not a good thing. The rest of our employees don’t get it. Maybe we speed this process up a little bit? For Mr. Hayse as well as the city.”
Land said while she understood the point Louvet was trying to make, but with the amended complaint she had to act in favor of Coogan’s suggestion.
“If we do not get a timely response, or we get an extension, a time request, then with those scenarios maybe we could reconsider the no pay issue,” Land said.
The motion on the floor to suspend with pay for the amendment passed unanimously.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)