CRAIG BEACH Dispute over paychecks sparks confrontation

CRAIG BEACH -- Mayor Camille Gaia III and Councilman Dennis Champion either poked each other once, or Champion received three pokes and didn't poke back.
That's the way Maj. Michael Budd of the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department characterized assault reports written Wednesday morning by a deputy. The reports reflect the two officials' versions of what happened, Budd said.
"We advised them that the reports would be on file and we would consult the prosecutor," Budd said. "No charges were filed."
Gaia and Champion each called the sheriff's department after a confrontation outside the village administration building on Grandview Avenue over paychecks for two street department workers, Budd said.
Gaia said he tried to explain to Champion that there's a one-week lag on paychecks and that payday is not until Monday. The pay-ending date was last Saturday, Gaia said.
When employees get paid has been a matter of contention. Employees were previously paid on the 15th and 30th but should have been paid every two weeks, regardless of the date, the mayor said.
Allegations denied: When reached at home, Champion denied Gaia's poking allegation.
Champion said Gaia wouldn't release the checks to the street department workers, despite what the councilman termed an order from a U.S. Department of Labor representative to pay as soon as a pay ordinance was passed. Council passed the ordinance June 27.
Champion said the workers are disgruntled and may contact the labor department.
Gaia, meanwhile, said he called the sheriff's department for a second time Wednesday when he learned that Champion and Councilman Larry Ellis were trying to persuade the clerk to issue the paychecks.
Budd said only the clerk was at the administration building when a deputy arrived. She told the deputy there wasn't a problem.

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