CLEVELAND: - The chief of the Hopkins Airport fire department was a no-show Monday at a pre-disciplinary hearing that could have led to his firing.
For now, Chief Roosevelt Davis remains in charge of the department while an investigation into his conduct and bogus overtime payments to firefighters continues.
The findings of overtime abuse were uncovered in an internal audit and it was Davis who signed off on the payments.
Davis has been chief for about eight years.
After a vacation abroad this month, Davis reported to work Monday at 7 a.m. but he left the department offices shortly afterward to attend a medical appointment.
He was not seen afterward and he did not appear at the pre-disciplinary hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday.
The hearing marks the third time Davis has faced disciplinary issues. He’s previously been disciplined for submitting a flawed airport emergency plan. For that infraction, he received a written reprimand.
He also received a 3-day suspension for misusing his city-issued cell phone.
The latest issue involves overtime payments to seven firefighters. Davis allegedly approved the payments for work that was never performed.
Davis’ failure to appear at the hearing Monday will require the city to reschedule. No new hearing date has been set.
Overseeing Davis’ work is long-time city administrator Fred Szabo, who serves as interim airport director.
For Szabo, his long tenure with the city has been turbulent and lucrative.
Szabo was in charge of Hopkins when the Federal Aviation Administration slapped the city with a $735,000 fine for not adequately clearing snow from airport runways. He also was in charge when the overtime abuses were uncovered.
And Szabo was second in command when United pulled the plug on its hub at Hopkins.
In the meantime, Szabo was paid about $116,000 as airport commissioner. That salary was bumped up $150,000 when he was tabbed as interim airport director.
It doesn’t end there. The city allowed Szabo to retire and begin collecting his government pension. Cleveland then rehired Szabo as deputy director for $150,000 a year. The city also paid him more than $192,000 for unused sick and vacation time.
The Investigator Tom Meyer tried to interview members of Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration about Davis and Szabo, but the requests were denied.
A spokesman said no one would comment because of ongoing litigation.
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