Port Clinton officials say they followed the rules when the city hired three of Mayor Vincent Leone’s sons as temporary summer workers.
Ohio’s Ethics Commission rules say a public official’s family members can work for the same government agency. They also say a public official cannot hire his or her family members for a job.
Leone and Port Clinton safety service director Tracy Colston both said the decisions on hiring for the temporary summer worker program were made by Colston.
A list released by Port Clinton’s auditor, in response to a public records request by the Register, shows that David Leone, Michael Leone and Nicola Leone are among 10 people hired for the program. Leone said he didn’t ask Colston to hire his boys. “You don’t go there. That’s not the thing to do,” Leone said. Colston said the mayor’s children applied like everyone else. Colston said he made the hiring decision, and there was not a big rush of applicants. “I didn’t have 20 people apply for it,” Colston said. “If you wanted a job, you pretty much had it.”
The rules for hiring relatives of public officials are spelled out on the Ohio Ethics Commission’s website. “A public official or employee is absolutely prohibited from hiring his or her family members,” the website states. “The official or employee also cannot use his or her public position in any way to get someone else to hire his or her family members.”
Under an agreement with the city’s union, the city is allowed to hire a few temporary workers each summer for various outdoor maintenance jobs. The union has said it prefers the city hire high school or college-age workers, Colston said.
Usually the city has seven to eight summer workers, although this year the city had enough money for 10, he said. The summer workers earn $10 an hour if they have a driver’s license, and $9 an hour if they don’t.
They work from May 1 to Sept. 1, maintaining baseball fields, mowing the grass in all parks, taking care of cemeteries, going on trash runs, doing brush pickup and helping with the blacktop hot-mix program, Colston said.