OVH director says union claims no problem|Superintendent Cook says she can account for time and pay at base of union accusations

PERKINS TWP. Ohio Veteran's Home Superintendent Col. Christine Cook says she's not concerned about union allegations that she
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Ohio Veteran's Home Superintendent Col. Christine Cook says she's not concerned about union allegations that she has misused her position or home property.

A four-page letter sent by Robert Robinson-- a staff representative for the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association serving union members at the home-- to the Governor's Office for Veterans Affairs and the State Attorney General's office in January alleges Cook's employee earnings history for 2006 didn't indicate her vacation, sick or personal time.

Two of 14 allegations made by the union assert that Cook inappropriately utilized staff and didn't track her vacation, sick and personal time.

Cook said the board of trustees, appointed by the Governor, oversees and approves her employment records.

She admits her schedule can be difficult to keep up with because she spends much of her time in Columbus and Georgetown at the second state Veterans Home facility. But she said her time is accounted for.

Cook has been the director of the home since 1997. In early 2001, she was named superintendent of the new Ohio Veterans Home system, which includes the new Georgetown facility as well as the Sandusky facility.

The letter also alleges Cook's residence on the Sandusky home grounds has been cleaned by union staff, an action prohibited in the union's contract.

The letter describes staff having had to make Cook's bed, wash her sheets and clean her shower with a tooth brush.

Three of the rooms in Cook's residence at the home are considered private. The remainder of the area is community space home residents are welcome to use, she said. Cook leases the home, which allows her to be on site should a situation requiring immediate attention arise. She pointed out that other state officials, including wardens, live on state grounds when their job necessitates their doing so.

On Thursday, when Cook invited the Register into the residence, two residents were sitting at Cook's kitchen table talking and playing with her dog and cat.

"My home is open for all of the residents to bring family or friends to entertain," she said.

A work therapy program resident assists Cook with light housekeeping in the home, but the resident is paid and works at his or her pleasure, not her command.

The prior superintendent of the home did have staff clean the residence while he lived there, she said.

"I don't have housekeeping or maid service," she said.

Cook said if she has a reception or gathering in the public portion of the residence, she is responsible for cleaning up after the celebration, not union staff.

A spokeswoman at the Inspector General's office said the office has received the complaint and the board that reviews all complaints will consider the validity of the allegations and decide whether further investigation is prudent. The office could not confirm when the board would review the information, but said no formal investigation has taken place.

"I welcome the Inspector General," Cook said.