2008-03-01 / Editorials & Letters

Bowling Green Township gets a watchdog


"WE THE PEOPLE" is not just a phrase that the founding fathers of country threw out there for effect. WE must all be vigilant about what our elected public officials are up to. WE should all be aware of how they operate & spend our tax dollars, no matter where they are in the chain, all the way up to the top of the ladder. Having said this, where best then to start at one of the lowest levels of government, at the township, where what the trustees decide to do affects us right at our personal property, road & driveway.

One of the things all residents should do is to review the Ohio Sunshine laws, this is where WE THE PEOPLE, can get our power from. Plus this is where WE can determine if our elected officials, are indeed following the prescribed duties/responsibilities of their offices.

Then there are the Ohio Revised Code sections, for the townships, the main ones to review are Title 5 - Townships & Title 55 - Roads, highways & bridges. This is their "Bible", so to speak and dictates how they are to operate and provides the basic guidelines of their position.

Now when it comes to my own township, which is Bowling Green Township, there happen to be two trustees that have gone so far astray of the above requirements, it is about to end up in a court battle. One specific issue is listed on my website, see www. will-kern.com and click on the "Never Ending Story" to see this sorry tale.

I have been attending each township public meeting since late 2006, when I became aware (awakened is more like it really) as to how totally absurdly two trustees are conducting business. Many of the things I have become aware of (so far) will be detailed further, in future letters and will surely amaze many of you "thinking" people out there in reader land.

From my perspective, our township has been run more like a personal kingdom, one where two of the trustees give out their personal favors to the chosen few residents that are in their cliquegroup. This group is mainly made up of township residents that are interrelated through marriage or other means, plus were likely born/raised there.

Anyone else is likely not going to considered to be a part of this crowd. These residents are considered "city folk,"and seems to still apply even if you've been here for 10 - 20 years. One other thing, a member of this group (lynch mob is probably a more apt a term) said recently is "this is blue collar country", sort of indicating that us "new folks" are apparently considered "white collar" and thus not suitable for "their" township. These new folk just "bring crime & city ways" to our nice township! Basically these "these folks are ruining our township", the point here is, they consider it "their" personal township or actually as I indicated above, their sole kingdom or domain.

Have I mentioned, we even have our very own "town bully" who will try to intimidate anyone that comes to a meeting and says anything that may not be to their liking. At a past meeting, he has gone so far as to physically get up out of his chair, walk over to one of the women residents in attendance, stand right in front of her face and make a threatening remark. The Sheriff was made aware of this action, there is a report and there was a hearing on this issue. That lady finally said, enough is enough! But there are numerous other stories about how the town bully has harassed, threatened and bullied other residents, a trustee & even a business owner, from out of town. Oh..... did I tell you, he is also a favorite part time township employee of the two trustees?

Have I noted yet that we have one trustee that admits, he "cannot read very well" and thus has passed most anything that must be read, to another person to read. I findthis quite interesting all in itself, considering all of the broad duties/responsibilities of this office.Good possibility that this may be a big reason that he has only completed a few of the courses offered by the Ohio Township Association Leadership Academy (OTALA). As a matter of fact, only one of the three trustees, the newest trustee, Jeff Chorpenning, has completed all of the offered training courses. When I last checked their website, the oldest trustee, Don Watkins, (26 years in office)had not taken any of them yet. I suppose he probably thinks he "knows it all" by now and does not need any new information to clutter up his mind. His normal comment to anything new suggested by Trustee Chorpenning is, "We don't need that" or "That's the way we have always done it" or even better "Well that's just stupid."

Audio tapes of meetings are often "very poor" quality and at times have not even been complete. OOOPPS, someone forgot the turn it on or turn over the tape. Official"written" meeting notes are not always, shall we say, completely factual/accurate, as to what was said as well. Plus, we have to wait until the next month to even know what was recorded in the official meeting notes, plus pay for the poor quality Tape & wait on it for a month or so to get it as well. I reviewed the Ohio Sunshine (Open Meetings law) about this issue and based on that review, I took matters into my own hands and set up my own video taping of the upcoming meeting. Then I would have a complete/total record of the entire proceedings, that same day!

An interesting thing happens; Trustees Watkins and VanBuren decide, even though I provided the section in the Ohio Sunshine Law that discusses audio/video taping of a public meeting, that they wanted to cancel the meeting. Why? So they can ask the county prosecutor for a legal opinion. Mind you the other Trustee Jeff Chorpenning had a lot of business to discuss & objected strongly to this action. Let alone there were all sorts of people at the meeting. This was likely due to volunteer positions being advertised for Zoning & the Park/Community Center committee. But here again, we now have something new and don't want to do anything different, then we have "always done it" in the past.

Sort of the same thing that happened when Trustee Chorpenning first discussed setting up a township website, so that all of our residents could have valuable information right at their fingertips, any time of day or night, using his own time/energy & money mind you!

Well, that's enough for now, but stay tuned there is sure to be much more to come in future letters! Will Kern Bowling Green Township

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