Currently The Leader's managing editor, Echo Day is an 11-year veteran of the paper.

Covington Board of Mayor and Aldermen

Tonight the Covington Board of Mayor and Aldermen will decide the fate of Covington Fire Chief Michael Naifeh.

Naifeh has been suspended with pay since his March 5 indictment for theft and official misconduct. According to the state comptroller's investigation, he made four personal purchases with his city-issued credit card.

Covington's charter allows the mayor to suspend the fire chief but requires approval from the board for a termination. 

The board will go into closed executive session with its labor attorney at 5 p.m. and a public meeting will take place at 5:30. 

Alderwoman Bommer frustrated with indictment

Alderwoman Minnie Bommer is not happy with how she found out the city’s fire chief had been indicted two weeks ago. She learned the news while celebrating the opening of a museum exhibit in which her achievements are being celebrated

“(The) news left me as an alderwoman unaware of the circumstances but very aware that we were destroying a loyal and good employee’s name,” she said. “I go on record that I did not know about or approve of how this employee was exposed to the public.” 

The investigation began after Naifeh told Covington Mayor Justin Hanson he’d used the city credit card for personal purchases. Hanson reported the incident to the comptroller which he said he is required to do. 

The board did not know, however, and Hanson said the city’s labor attorneys advised them not to take action until after the investigation report had been released. 

The report was released the day after Naifeh’s arrest. 

Reading from a prepared statement last week, Bommer said she had four questions:

  • Where is the crime if he informed on himself, paid back what was owed and received a reprimand?
  • If it was considered closed, why was it reported? 
  • If it was considered on-going, why wasn’t the board told? 
  • When was the city attorney informed? 

Bommer used examples from past terminations she did not agree with but said she knew those would happen. 

“All four of these actions appear personal, vindictive and punitive,” Bommer said. 

Former police officer Eunice “Sonny” Foster and public works employee Fred Davis have filed appeals and EEOC complaints. Both have been closed without further action. 

Bommer is requesting the state comptroller investigate records of all city-owned credit cards. 

“Are there others that have done the same thing, didn’t self-report, did or did not pay back?” 

Further, she said the way the investigation was done was a bad reflection on the mayor and board. 

“This statement to you, the city’s employees and citizens, is to reaffirm I will never agree to anything I believe is unfair, unethical or discriminatory.”

City attorney Rachel Witherington distributed to board members the report and other information from the investigation. 

Echo Day is The Leader's managing editor. To contact her, call 901-476-7116 or email eday@covingtonleader.com.

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