Councilman abused power, cops say

HURON A Huron councilman stepped over the line when requesting emergency services earlier this month
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



A Huron councilman stepped over the line when requesting emergency services earlier this month, according to a complaint filed on behalf of police.

The Fraternal Order of Police and Ohio Labor Council lodged the complaint against Councilman Sam Artino on Tuesday, accusing him of malfeasance in office. The complaint stems from two calls Artino placed to police on July 7 to complain about neighbors shooting off fireworks.

"My name is Sam Artino ... there's a big party (where) they are shooting off some pretty extreme fireworks ... Roman Candles going up in the air," he told a dispatcher at about 10:02 p.m.

At 10:13 p.m., a clearly agitated Artino placed another call to the dispatcher, complaining about how police responded to his earlier call.

"This is Sam Artino. The people across the street are screaming my name and using the F-word. They are talking about my daughters ... and my wife," he told the dispatcher. "Obviously you people must have told them. You either do your job or we will find somebody who will."

The dispatcher was surprised by the admonishment.

"Excuse me sir, I never gave your name to the officer. Please don't blame me, sir. I'm doing my job correctly."

Council went into a closed-door executive session after Dennis Sterling, staff representative for the FOP, raised the complaint.

After the session, the Columbus-based Sterling said Mayor Terry E. Graham Sr. recused himself from the issue because his son is a member of the police force.

"Council is going to investigate the matter and give the other side a chance to respond," Sterling said. "Filing the complaint tonight was just part of the process. This is certainly not anything criminal."

The city charter states, in part, that "No member of Council shall take the initiative in the appointment or removal of officers or employees subordinate to the city manager." It also prohibits any Council member from giving any orders to a subordinate of the city manager publicly or privately.

The penalty for violating the portion of the charter is removal from office and a two-year exemption from city employment or holding office in Huron.

Law Director M. Lee McDermond will be reviewing the complaint along with City Manager Andy White.

Police Chief Randy Glovinsky said he can't remember a similar issue in Huron. But said the process should be allowed to play out.

Artino, standing outside of City Hall later, declined to comment.