Perkins still waiting on ethics rulings

PERKINS TWP. The Ohio Ethics Commission continues to work on two requests for opinions from PerkinsT
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



The Ohio Ethics Commission continues to work on two requests for opinions from PerkinsTownship.

Township Trustee Bill Dwelle said he still has not received any official ruling from the commission on whether the township canpurchase police cruisers from Foster Chevrolet. Dawson Foster, who is an employee of Foster Chevrolet, also works part-time for the Perkins Police Department.

Dwelle said he received a letter from the commission a month ago asking if he wanted the commission to forward its recommendations from a previous case that had similarities to the one in Perkins Township, or if the trustees wanted a new opinion. Dwelle said he requested the commission issue a fresh opinion.

Because of Foster's close ties to the dealership -- he is general manager -- Dwelle asked for an original opinion.

"It's a direct potential conflict of interest," said Dwelle.

The township is in the market to purchase between five to 10 new cruisers. The township currently has enough running cruisers, Dwelle said.

The township used to allow officers to take their cruisers home until changing the policy late last year, Dwelle said.

The township would likely lease the new cruisers and then buy them out for $1 at the end of the lease period, Dwelle said.

Perkins Township also asked the ethics commission to issue an opinion on whether trustee Jeff Ferrell, who is also a Sandusky firefighter, can vote on a proposal between the township and Sandusky to combine emergency fire and police dispatch services.

Dwelle said he had not heard back on that ruling either. Dwelle said that he considers that request to be "null and void" because he believes the city has decided to team with the county for its fire and police dispatching.

The Perkins opinions should be completed in "three to four months, " said Jennifer Hardin, the chief advisory attorney for the ethics commission.

In cases like the two in Perkins, Hardin said, the commission will "analyze the facts" and provide guidance to the government entity requesting it. If the requesting government entity "complies with the opinion," it protects the government entity from criminal or civil prosecution, as well as removal from public office, Hardin said.