Heights council addresses meeting fallout

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS —    The City Council on Jan. 10 discussed an incident that followed its Dec. 13 meeting where two council members allegedly were harassed.

Residents reported that Councilwoman Marge Horvath’s son “talked, jeered and intimidated disabled residents while they were talking at the podium” near the end of the meeting.

After the meeting was finished, Horvath’s son reportedly approached the council table where he pointed and yelled at Councilwoman Lisa Hicks-Clayton.

“As Councilwoman Clayton was pointing to Patrick, asking Councilman (Ray) Muscat to have him removed, Muscat said, ‘Don’t you point at her. You got something to say, come up here and say it,’” Horvath said. “He provoked unfortunately and my son fell for it.”

Then, Muscat reportedly stood up and confronted Patrick Horvath before Police Chief Lee Gavin was called back into the council room.

A police report was filed as a result of the incidents by Muscat and Hicks-Clayton, but no further action was taken.

“This kind of thing is distracting from what we should be doing,” Hicks-Clayton said. “We have to be civil. We need to be working in the best interest of the residents as a whole.”

Following the first incident, Mayoral Executive Assistant Kristina Laslo allegedly threatened Muscat saying that “she would call her husband” to cause bodily harm.

Laslo was yelling and visibly upset outside the council chambers before she was taken to a smaller room away from the chambers.

Before the Jan. 10 meeting, the council held a public session to speak about the incidents at the Dec. 13 meeting.

“A council member requested a special emergency meeting on Dec. 20, but there was not sufficient support from other members when I called,” Councilman Bob Constan said. “The meeting was asked for to discuss censoring another board member.”

Constan said discussions need to be held in adult fashion, with no emotions and family members getting involved making the issues personal.

“I called this meeting to talk about audience participation, conduct of the council meetings, three-minute rule going forward,” Constan said. “Especially to talk about council members and members of the public not getting personal. We are here to conduct the business of the city.”

During the regular meeting Jan. 10, Councilman Joseph Kosinski asked to have his letter added to the agenda, requesting Muscat be censored and encouraged to participate in an anger management program.

The proposal to add the agenda item was turned down on a 5-2 vote. No further action regarding the letter has taken place.

“If we could just listen to the content of his comments rather than react to his emotions and passion I think we’d go a lot further,” Councilman Tom Berry said. “Unfortunately we get wrapped up in the physical aspects of his passion. Let’s listen to what he’s telling us because he does have valid points.”

Berry also said the council needs have a level of respect for each other and put the incident behind them to move forward.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)