BGSU Firelands offers public officials training

Keeping secrets. Ignoring others. Throwing tantrums. Perfect descriptions for teenagers caught up in their own little world in high school. But sadly, these are also spot-on characteristics of some officials in 2012.
Andy Ouriel
Jan 2, 2013

With BGSU Firelands hosting a training academy on leadership and good governance, aimed specifically at public officials, the Register compiled a list of area representatives who might find the program beneficial. (Read more about the BGSU Firelands program in Wednesday's Register.)

 

Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer

Overmyer dodged legitimate questions and ignored public records requests relating to a January 2012 incident, in which county jail guards allegedly exploited a naked, schizophrenic inmate who was locked in a jail cell.

Overmyer eventually fired two of the jail guards involved, and a third resigned.

 

Willard police Chief Mark Holden; former law director David Harwood; law director Eric Weisenberger

When 16-year-old Michael Mason was arrested in Willard for allegedly shooting his mother, Holden and Harwood refused to release police reports detailing a hit list the boy created. Michael's mother survived. Willard officials long maintained their steely grip on any information in the case.

Since then, they've continued to dodge public records requests.

When a police officer shot a woman in the foot during a drug raid in Willard recently, Holden was on vacation.

Weisenberger didn't return numerous phone messages seeking public records, and the police department failed to release a report on the incident.

 

Sandusky attorney Marc Fishel and city manager Nicole Ard

With Ard's approval, Fishel released heavily redacted documents detailing an alleged love triangle involving two city police officers and a commander's wife this past spring. When asked why he blacked out the information, Fishel couldn't recall exactly why he made the redactions. He also couldn't say which specific sections of state law allowed him to withhold the information.

 

Sandusky County coroner John Wukie

In March, Wukie originally ruled 19-year-old Jacob Limberios' death a suicide. But major inconsistencies in witness statements led others to believe differently.It then took Wukie nine months to order a coroner's inquiry into Limberios' death. And that came only after the family hired an attorney and sued Sandusky County.

 

Perkins Township attorney John Coppeler and trustees Tim Coleman, Jeff Ferrell and Mike Printy

Coppeler refused to release an internal report on an incident involving an on-duty officer who provided an off-duty officer a ride home after a night of drinking on
Thanksgiving morning.

Trustees agreed wholeheartedly with Coppeler's decision.

The off-duty officer -- Kate Barker, who has since been fired -- had allegedly been drinking before Officer Tim Alexander pulled over her vehicle.

When the Register tried to figure out why the township wouldn't release the investigative report, Coppeler didn't return reporters' phone calls.

For their part, trustees deferred to his legal advice.

It's not the first time Coppeler and trustees opted for a "hold-your-horses" approach to public records requests.
 

Comments

bmgasser

Kayleigh couldn't have said it any better. Or should I say Bobby D

Gardenman

The public records law is what it is and it's clear on what public officials much do. In the examples cited in this article it is clear that some of these people clearly were not going to supply the information to the public regardless the law. That kind of disregard for the law can and should not be tolerated.

If there is a genuine reason the records can not be given at the moment and they are honest in what that can ot happen I believe that is accpeted. BUT when its total "I will not do it no matter what the law says" then I am fine with them being publicaly scolded in the press and legal actions begun to cite them for not following the law. To do anything less means why even have the law if its not repected by our public "servants."

mstacy

In regards to the Limberios case, the Register has been a staunch supporter for the TRUTH. They have brought to light the inept actions of Sandusky County Officials and the family’s quest to solve their son’s murder. While the family and friends of Jacob continue efforts to drudge through the shambles left behind by Sandusky attempts (NOT ONE OR TWO, BUT THREE!), Sandusky County Officials (Wukie, Overmyer, Meggitt, Kaiser and Stierwalt) still have yet to release documents requested by the family. Enough is enough! It is high time everyone involved in this case answer for their actions or should I say in-actions. Today it has been 10 months, since we have first sought answers of what happened that tragic night. The house of cards they have built and is now tumbling down around themselves.

reader

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safecracker2

Matt: Please cite the section of the law you are referring to which requires them to disclose information during a criminal investigation and personnel issues with government employees, along with the time frame they are to disclose it. Thanks in advance for your response.

luvblues2

Why does the Register have to be your Google? Look it up yourself.

Here is a place to start:

http://oc.course.com/illustrated...

Centauri

Thank you for the link to the internet searches. That is a nice list to find just about anything on the internet. People need to put the link into their favorites.

luvblues2

No problem, Centauri. You may find some of those links outdated but, as I stated, it's a good start.

Diane Schaefer

I think Safecracker's question was meant to be retorical since there are no sections that specifically address these issues. Ongoing investigations are exempt. So are the addresses, personal information for emergency personnel (police and fire) unless the media follows very detailed procedures. Time frame - reasonable. What is reasonable depends on a number of things such as the form of the public records, where they are stored, whether they need to be redacted (confidential information deleted,like SSN, addresses, etc.)

Julie R.

Remember what the Cuyahoga County crook Frank Russo said? He said the only time Dimora and him ever worried about getting caught is when the reporters from the Plain Dealer came snooping around asking too many questions and requesting public records. Didn't he say that's when they got busy shredding the records?

donutshopguy

The requirement of supplying public records to a newspaper is a check and balance accountability for our public officials.

Now, in today's day and age, who is the check and balance on the media and their sometime misuse of power?

Diane Schaefer

I totally agree with this. The media will sometimes use the denial of public records when they cannot get all the information for their deadlines.

Then at other times they will just take information (?) received from a "confidential source" to print an article without verifying the information. Then after the fact, when they do verify the information and find out what they were told may not have been totally factual there is no followup report saying that.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks for the comment Diane. Would it be possible for you to cite an example concerning the use of a 'confidential source' for an article when the information was not verified? You can email me at westerhold@sanduskyregister.com, or call me at 419-609-5866. 

Diane Schaefer

Two articles come to mind. The Curtis claim is one. The other was the article about how much compensation I had received for building fees.

Darkhorse

The Cuyahoga County case will go down in the history books. So many people were involved from judges to county staff and it went on for years until some top notch newspaper reporter cracked the whole thing open. It is why entities don't like the reporters because they are always asking questions and requesting documents. They call the newspaper negative and the entity will put a guilt trip on the paper. They will even get up a campaign against the paper to make them back off. The paper works on behalf of the people in the community to make sure accountability exist. You can call it negativity but I call it accountability.

Julie R.

If the first class is going to be about ethics, I do so believe there's a couple of courts at the Erie County courthouse that might benefit from that class, too. I know quite a few attorneys that for sure should also be attending. For some odd reason when it comes to Erie County attorneys seem to laugh at the 1st Rule for Professional Conduct:

"An attorney may not engage in any conduct involving FRAUD, dishonesty, and deceit."

Centauri

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
"It's none of your business," Cirigliano told a reporter when asked how the city's hired attorney, Margaret Cannon, assisted him in writing the opinion, which stated that Nuesse's termination was justified. "You're not entitled to know everything."

http://www.americanbar.org/group...
"(f) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law."

http://www.lawlessamerica.com/in...
"How Attorneys Violate the Rules, Commit Fraud Upon the Court, and Corrupt the Legal Process"

thumbs up

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Julie R.

I heard the new judge in Huron is a good judge -- very honest and ethical. I enjoy his articles in the Huron Hometown News. One of his recent ones was something about how attorneys and judges are supposed to take classes or something every couple of years that deal with ethics and professionalism in the courts.

I was tempted to cut it out and send it to the Erie County courthouse.

Diane Schaefer

The BGSU course sounds much more than a class in Public Records. It is a leadership class, very similar to the one they provided to Perkins Township after charges were levied by the building official against the Fiscal Officer (me). Cost to the Township was over $10,000.

Was the training worth it? Yes, it helped identify other types of personalities and how to deal with them, what motivates them, how they process things.

IMO in the end the identity of the person causing the problem at the Township was identified.

Diane Schaefer

Finally even when the public record information is provided, it is not reported correctly. Specifically, the sale of the Perkins Township building on Milan Road. There are been at least 2 articles in recent months that show that Perkins Township received $1.65 million in 2010 from the sale of the building to FRMC.

In my report provided to the SR reporter Andy Ouriel in Januay 2012 it showed that Perkins received $1.5 million from the sale in 2010. Then in 2011 the Township received in kind services from FRMC valued at $17,416.90 as of 12-27-11. The amount for 2011 actually was $19,266.30.

The sale agreement was for $1.5 million cash and $30,000 per year of services for each of the next five years with no rollovers. In other words use it or loss it. Now this was explained to Ouriel on more than one occasion. How can you show $150,000 that you may not receive; and even if you do will not receive its benefit totally until 2015?

The other figure I question is the Other one time source of $240,000. Should not that amount be itemized similar to others as small of $1,800? And when was this received? It wasn't included in my report of January 2012.

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