2009-08-08 / Editorials & Letters

Police chief moonlights on water construction project


Most of us are very excited about the construction of our public water system. Right now our streets are dusty and muddy, but I won't complain because that's a necessary part of installing the distribution system. Stillion seems to be doing a good job and I'm very impressed with the pace of their work.

However, I do have a major concern. Why is Police Chief Ron Small acting as a subcontractor for Stillion? Small is apparently hiring out two small dump trucks at a reported rate of $30 an hour that are hauling dirt away from the job sites. His brother is driving one of the trucks.

Once again, Ron Small has compromised his position as police chief. This is definitely a conflict of interest. The police chief should not be a subcontractor in the village's biggest public works contract ever.

Obviously, the chief doesn't have the scruples to know better so it's up to the mayor or council to put a stop to it. He's already been in my neighborhood checking on the progress of his "business." He'll stand around on the corner while our taxes are paying him to be on duty in uniform. But that's not unusual. How many times have we seen him over the years consulting with the maintenance crew in Leisure Village, while he was wearing his police uniform, but his "Property Manager Hat?" And then there was his security detail at the bingo hall and let's not forget the job with the former Bowman Chevrolet repossessing cars. He has done all this while serving as Buckeye Lake Police Chief.

It doesn't seem to bother our mayors. It didn't matter how strongly I and some other former council members opposed it, nothing ever changed. I haven't changed my mind since I left council. It's still wrong.

I used to tell Chief Small he should pick a job…property manager or police chief. Once he told me that I should review his daily log sheet and see how he racks up more daily miles than any other officer. As a council member, I told him that doesn't impress me at all. In fact, the opposite is true. At $40,000 a year, he should be managing the department, projecting budgets, providing training, applying for grants, and implementing department improvements instead of driving the streets! But, that's what he does best - driving the streets! By staying out of the office, he can stay on top of all his personal ventures. If he were fulfilling the normal responsibilities of a real chief, it would interfere with his extra income.

This water construction project will last a year and Small, as a subcontractor on a federally-funded project, must meet some very specific requirements. At $30 an hour for a truck, he could hardly be in compliance with the prevailing wage requirements for his driver. State or federally funded construction projects require all employees to be paid the prevailing wage which in this case is more than $30 per hour for the base wage and benefits. That doesn't leave anything for the truck, fuel, maintenance or insurance. Who is going to get stuck with that bill when back wages are assessed?

Residents got a tremendous break when our project was awarded $5 million in stimulus funding. Let's not screw it up by letting our police chief get a piece of the action. Peggy Wells Buckeye Lake

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