Monday, September 28, 2015

Something smells in North College Hill

A major story is brewing in North College Hill, where reformist politicians, citizen activists and public interest attorneys have been trying valiantly to reform the corrupt City, and have encountered legal and political obstacles aplenty in response.  This is a City that will not reform easily.

Here are the bullet points:

1.    The City just last week experienced a second mayor resignation since the last election.  Read about that here.

2.    There is an election this fall for the Mayoral and all Council seats, determining the direction of the City for coming four years.  The City until now has been in the grips -- as you will see below -- of the bureaucrats and City Solicitor, who have something other than the best interest of the public in mind.  The reformers have a strong candidate for Mayor in place and may capture control of the municipality.

3.    The reformers already control City Council, but the administration and City Solicitor have been manipulating municipal governance to attempt to place any reforms behind the control of the Council. 

Now, what's going on?

·      In 2011, the City hired the City Manager's wife to be "Economic Developer" for the salary of $41,000.

·      But in order to boost the City Manager's OPERS retirement plan calculation, the Manager's salary was increased by that amount, and the wife was paid nothing.  Under Ohio PERS calculations, retirement payments are based upon the last three years of salary.

·      Five of seven NCH Council members voted in favor of the ruse to mislead OPERS.

·      When caught red-handed with the ruse, which was documented in writing, OPERS ruled that NCH was paying the Manager "$41,000 fora position that he does not hold and for work he does not perform."

·      Then, the City administration and Solicitor switched stories, and began to claim that the wife of the Manager was never serving as "Economic Developer" and the City Manager was at all times performing those duties.  

·      This was so even though the Council approved the pay increase based upon the City Manager's wife performing those duties (two for the price of one!) and the City Manager continued to tell Council for several years that his wife was performing those duties.  Indeed in 2012, the wife made a public appearance at the NCH Business Association as NCH Economic Developer.  She also appeared at Council as the “Economic Development Director” in 2012.  Council was never told that the wife was not performing those duties until the Spring of 2014.

·      There is a taxpayer lawsuit to fix all of this before Judge Robert Ruehlman that has reached the stage of cross-motions for summary judgment.  Pleadings in that case are linked here.

·      In addition, Council has now passed resolutions to return the City Manager’s salary to the amount that existed before the $41,000 “Economic Developer” ruse.  However, the City Administration continues to illegally pay him at the higher salary, and refuses to stop the illegal expenditures.­

So, through litigation or elections, the fleecing of the taxpayers of North College Hill could stop this fall.  It is up to the voters and Judge Ruehlman if these clearly illegal expenditures continue.

1 comment:

  1. Columbia Township has some of the same problems. Lack of transparency from the trustees and administration. Employee raises above inflation. tax and spend policies.


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