2008-03-22 / Editorials & Letters

'Watchdog' says GOB's have a new member

Editor:

A couple of weeks ago I stated that some of the employees of the Licking County Planning Commission were playing "hide the construction company" with me. I wrote how former Kirkersville Mayor Bennie Evans (also Licking County Rehab Inspector) had been inspecting county jobs performed by his son-inlaw though a company owned by Evans' daughter and that Evans' son-in-law was now working under a new company name. I asked the county commissioners how they can justify this behavior and Tim Bubb told me they are uncomfortable with potential conflictsof interest whether it is real or perceived and they are working on a solution to this problem. I will certainly keep you informed on updates regarding this situation.

At the February 6th council meeting, Kirkersville Mayor Terry Ashcraft directed Solicitor Debbie Kenney to ask the Attorney General's officefor an opinion on Bennie Evans' appointment to a council seat on December 5th though the seat, according to Bobbi Miller's resignation, wasn't to be vacant until December 31st at midnight.

But in the March 5th meeting, Ms. Kenney reported that she did not speak to the Attorney General's office,but rather Licking County Prosecutor Ken Oswalt. Ms. Kenney says that she and the prosecutor concur that, since Ms. Miller didn't attend any more meetings and didn't participate in that meeting any more, the seat was actually vacated that night and, therefore, council could put Evans in the seat on December 5th.

However, the December 5th council minutes show that Ms. Miller did participate in the meeting by voting on the nomination for Evans. Ms. Miller also seconded the motion to adjourn and reported during council poll her findings about a truck that Mike Cloud was looking at for the village. Ms. Miller did not attend any more council meetings because there were no more, but had a special meeting come up, I'm sure she would have been expected to come.

I emailed the Attorney General's Officeabout this nomination and the response I got stated this: "Pursuant to R.C. 731.43, I believe that the earliest this vacancy could be filled would be the date on which the resignation took effect. Cf. e.g., 1963 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 572, p. 588 (syllabus) ("[i]n the absence of an actual relinquishment of officeprior to the effective date stated in a prospective resignation, no vacancy occurs in the officeof clerk of courts by reason of the presentation of a prospective resignation prior to the effective date thereof")"

The Attorney General's representative also made it clear that, "The foregoing explanation is not a formal or informal opinion of the Opinions Section of Attorney General Dann. Rather, this represents my understanding of the meaning and application of R.C. 731.43, and is provided to you as a courtesy and as an aid to your understanding of the law."

During the March 5th council meeting, a citizen asked Debbie Kenney WHO she represents - do you represent the village? Ms. Kenney responded that she represents the Mayor and Council (and other public officials) in the Village of Kirkersville. It seems clear to me that the citizens/taxpayers/ voters in the Village of Kirkersville should be the real client of any village solicitor. Public officials are GOB's (good ole boys) when they ignore the best interest of the entire village and act only on what is best for themselves.

A village solicitor could surely stop this selfishbehavior or at least stifle it to some degree. I can only come to one conclusion in the case of the Kirkersville Village Solicitor, Debbie Kenney: She may be a girl, but in this case she is just one of the boys - the Good Oleí Boys! Bonnie Mansfield Buckeye Lake

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