Statement by Tanisha R. BrileyCity Manager, City of Cleveland HeightsSeptember 5, 2019
On Friday, I shared a memo with all Cleveland Heights employees reiterating the importance of performing our work at the highest ethical levels. This memo was shared in light of the recent investigations of two former employees, and I felt it was important to be transparent with our employees and our community as well. These types of events can threaten the public’s trust of our City so it is important that we provide an understanding of the events that occurred and the swift actions that were taken following the report of the allegations.
As I noted in the internal memo, last week we ended the employment of two employees from our Housing Department. The Chief of Inspections Officer David Harris offered his resignation and Housing Inspector Anthony DiFrancesco’s employment was terminated after a thorough investigation. We discovered that there were cases where each of these inspectors had clear conflicts of interest.
Anthony DiFrancesco, who was employed by the City for just over a year, owns and operates a private business for which he solicited work while performing his duties as a housing inspector. Upon his hire in 2018, he was instructed that his company could not conduct business in Cleveland Heights that could in any way pose a conflict of interest and he was restricted from soliciting any business on City time. On a few occasions, in his role as housing inspector he was found to have inspected the work that his private business completed. These abuses could not be tolerated and as such Mr. DiFrancesco was terminated.
Chief Inspector David Harris’s son owns and operates a property management business. Some of the properties are located in Cleveland Heights. Upon investigation Harris, who had been with the City since August of 2002, was found to have conducted inspections at some of these properties and he also signed off on city documents using his son’s signature. Mr. Harris admitted to these allegations and resigned from his position.
The departure of these two former employees, after comprehensive investigations and internal hearings, was handled quickly. Their actions were isolated and they were held accountable for their transgressions.
There is no room for this kind of behavior in our organization, and I am pleased that the culture of ethics we have built over the years encouraged a City employee to come forward and report these allegations. When I began the mandatory ethics training for all of our employees in 2015, I had hoped that situations like this would not occur. Transparency and ethics are core values of this organization and the work of our nearly 600 employees who live up to this standard on a daily basis. When a violation is reported, I along with City leadership, are committed to fully investigating any such allegations and taking immediate appropriate action if violations are found. Thankfully, these instances are rare in our organization; however, I will continue to watch for behavior that does not live up to the standard I subscribe and is rightfully expected by the residents and businesses of this City.