2009-07-11 / Editorials & Letters

Watchdog' wants trustees to follow ORC requirements


On June 15, 2009, I made a written public records request to our township fiscal officer for copies of the official resolution, form letter and permits regarding Ohio Revised Cod (ORC) 5571.16 -Obtaining A Permit Before Installing Driveway Culvert or Making Excavation in Township Highway or Highway Rightof Way. At the June 30 monthly trustees meeting, I asked her if she had the information available and she said she had ...."nothing to provide!" Based on her response, I concluded, as I had suspected, that she hadn't heard of his requirement , didn't know anything about forms or permits and obviously hadn't given out or received anything.

At this same meeting GOB (good ole boy) Trustee Don Watkins says HE has the forms and all the permits as well. Plus, he stated that HE had given the forms to the township's zoning inspector. Our fiscal officer has been in office about six years, yet she has nothing to give me when ORC 5571.16 specifically states "applications for permits under this section shall be made to the township fiscal officer, upon forms furnished by the board." How can that be? Are these some very old forms and records that were NOT passed along to our current fiscal officer? Who was holding these official documents? Why is our fiscal officer not aware of them?

Obviously, this is another case of where our GOB's pick and choose whether they want to enforce these requirements. This way they can conduct their selective enforcement methods and harass residents that are unaware of the statutory ORC requirements levied onto the board. I am sure this permit issue is another shot at me! One thing for sure, it is quite apparent that no one in the last six years was aware of this requirement and ever provided a permit form from the fiscal officer. So now that we know some public records are apparently available, when will I get them and will the fiscal officer be holding the records as stated per ORC 5571.16?

Licking County Prosecutor Ken Oswalt and assistant county prosecutor Eric Fox attended the June trustees meeting. This was mainly to coordinate the never ending story of the Cooperrider Road turn-around. If you want some background and see the site, you can go to my website - www.will-kern.com. I am certainly glad Mr. Oswalt and Fox have stepped up to the plate personally and are making sure the required ORC process is now followed. This lengthy ordeal has really awakened me about how totally out of line things can get in local government. There seems to be nobody monitoring the ship, let alone any checks and balances at this level. Unless someone reads the ORC sections and makes the GOB's toe the line, they will do anything to, as they say....to "get-r- done". Violating the ORC sections they swore to abide by, failing to bring required public business to the table (Sunshine Law), making mandatory formal resolutions and then adequately maintain the township records means nothing to them.

If you read ORC 5571.15 and 5573.01, you will find a defined process how things are to be done and if done correctly there is a documented trail to get the road records updated. I have noticed from reading many ORC sections that only a very few sections that require a UNANIMOUS vote of the board. One is a road improvement without a petition, so it is safe to assume that this is VERY IMPORTANT! Our GOB's do not even bring these to the table, let alone make a resolution or vote on these important actions! But now, mainly due to Trustee Jeff Chorpenning's efforts, the GOB's will actually have to do what has always been required by Ohio law!

Why would I take the time, effort and aggravation to hold trustees' feet to the fire? Take a look at the official Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) website. It provides all sort of details about county and township roads, including the mileage reports and a listing of township inventory sections (Report RI-34B), which lists all of the township roads in detail. The GOB's total disregard of ORC required procedure means the official inventory records have not been updated for more than 10 years now. I have checked a sample (about 10%) of our roads and found that 90% of the data on this official record is completely bogus (incorrect, outdated, etc...). Basically what is actually on the ground (be it width or surface type) is not what is listed. So are the GOB's doing justice to their official duties with what has been going on? YOU can be the judge this NOVEMBER, so be informed and make your VOTE count!

Will "Watchdog" Kern Bowling Green Township

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