Who is opening whose mail in Perkins? Don't ask township

PERKINS TWP. You've got mail. But you don't get to open it. Or maybe y
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



You've got mail.

But you don't get to open it.

Or maybe you do.

The Perkins Township mail policy -- if you can even call it that -- is confusing.

The only thing clear is everyone has his or her own understanding of the unofficial mail policy.

Perkins police Chief Tim McClung doesn't understand why sometimes his mail is opened and other times it's not.

Fire Chief Rick Myosky doesn't mind that all departmental mail gets opened and time-date stamped.

Highway Superintendent Daryel Sternberg said the opening of invoices -- all that he believes are opened -- is fine by him.

The person who may or may not open incoming mail, Perkins Township employee Lynn Hargrove, prefers not to comment on what the township's actual mail policy is -- or isn't.

Chairman Tim Coleman said he knows the township needs to get something on the books. Meanwhile, no mail will be opened by anyone but the person to whom it's addressed, he said.

Coleman acknowledged the township's lack of an overall policy and procedure manual is a problem.

The trustees will compile township and departmental policies into a book to ensure written policies on matters like the mail exist.

In April 2006, a memo was distributed to department heads notifying them all mail would be opened.

The memo stated it was from Coleman, Bill Dwelle and Tom Pascoe, but none of the men signed it.

It's not clear from whom the idea originated, although the motivation was to make sure the township paid all of its bills, which had been a problem in the past.

Several days after the original memo, township legal counsel suggested amending the memo to clarify that only mail that is clearly a bill or invoice would be opened by the township's front office. The mail is then time-date stamped.

The bills were to be copied so department heads would have a copy for their own records.

But even that policy caused the township trouble.

Tuesday night, Dwelle brought up a matter more than one year old.

Dwelle said he had been in communication with a person from the U.S. Navy seeking the return of several sets of night vision goggles loaned to the township several years ago.

All but three sets were returned in 2005.

One set was broken and two sets were stolen from a police cruiser while two police officers attended a conference in Columbus. An insurance report was filed to recoup the loss of the goggles and other equipment, but the Department of the Navy still awaits payment for the lost goggles.

McClung never saw correspondence from the department because the mail never reached his desk. He said his department notified the Navy when the goggles were broken and stolen.

The letter questioning the whereabouts of the goggles isn't the only piece of mail causing an issue.

Since the blanket policy was enacted in April 2006, confidential information for LEADS, a crime tip network shared among law professionals, and mail containing criminal background checks have been opened.

Even after the blanket policy was changed to allow only the opening on invoices, McClung has a letter with boldly printed letters on the front reading: "This is not a bill," opened.