Relationship between Fox, Kalahari under ethics review

An Ohio Ethics Commission investigation of Huron Schools superintendent Fred Fox centers on his friendship with Kalahari Resorts owner Todd Nelson.
Jessica Cuffman
Jun 19, 2012

An Ohio Ethics Commission investigation of Huron Schools superintendent Fred Fox centers on his friendship with Kalahari Resorts owner Todd Nelson.

Fox and Nelson readily acknowledge the friendship and say they have no concerns about it affecting Kalahari’s business relationship with the school district.

Ohio Ethics Commission has been asked to determine if reduced rates Fox received on golf outings at the Wisconsin Dells Kalahari resort violate rules against public employees soliciting or accepting anything of value from parties they regulate or with whom they do business.

Kalahari, which is partially in Huron Township and partially in Perkins Township, has received several tax abatements to encourage its expansion and growth. Any abatement must be approved by voting officials from the school district and other local government entities.

Fox, as the district superintendent, doesn't have a vote on the school board.

On May 22, after a four-hour heated executive session, the board voted 3-2 to send the investigation to the Ohio Ethics Commission for review.

“I did nothing wrong,” Fox said. “This is an apparent smear of me, trying to undermine my ability to run this district. I’ve done nothing wrong. Mr. Nelson is a friend of mine. That’s all I can tell you.”

View documents related to the investigation below and for a more in-depth look at the issues in question, pick up a copy of Tuesday's Register.

 

 

Comments

underthebridge

So if the Ethics Commission finds that Fox had an unethical relationship with Kalahari, then does that mean eventually that Nelson could be charged with bribery of a public official?  Yikes!

 

Wald

A golf outing.  This is what the Huron School Board is so worried about?  This is basis of an investigation that they're spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on?  Really?  Fox even says in the emails that they are willing to pay full price!  Better get ready to rip out the state-of-the-art football field that Kalahari paid for!  Unless there is more to the story, the school board members who voted to go through with this investigation are going to come out looking like morons.

Restless1

Does this mean that you can't have friends if you hold a public office?

clementine

It means you better be sure you are doing EVERYTHING above boards! 

grannie G

who benifits in this friendship? EVERYONE! HURON and KALAHARI!!  Plus Fox and Nelson have a great friendship.That is sometHing MONEY can't buy.NOT EVEN a gulf outing

clementine

Perhaps this has more to do with things other than golf.  Maybe things Nelson and Fox don't want anyone to find out about.  Too late!

Darkhorse

I think things like this are done all the time.  It is just that Fox got careless with the e-mails and got caught.  If no one catches on, nobody is the wiser for it. 

princedenny

It seems like there is at least 1 member (probably 3--according to the vote to investigate) of the school board who has a  vendetta against Mr. Fox.  People like this don't belong on the school board because it could cost the district the great relationship it has with Kalahari.

Kalahari has been a great addition to the area, specifically Huron Schools, and continues to give back to the community.  Do you think Strobel Field or Perkins schhols would have received their donations from Cedar Point and Firelands Morgue (err, Hospital) if Kalahari didn't set the precedence?  I certainly don't. 

I think all members of the school board should immediately be forced to resign for being complete IDIOTS.

Natti Light

 That's what this is about?  Are you seriously going to tell me that we've reached a point where getting a good rate on a room/golf is enough to drag a school employee through the mud??  Well, then I guess I should get fired for getting an educator's discount from Apple and AT&T.

Sowecke should be thrown out on his rear end for starting all of this.  The man has been, and always will be, a complete idiot.  Every time he opens his mouth, he proves my statement.  Perhaps he should try to keep his overpriced hardware store from going bankrupt.  If I had the resources, I'd open a Home Depot right next door just to put him out of business.

How much did this cost the taxpayers of Huron again???

Editor070911

This is really about discounted golf? Leave the guy alone. 

 

Jane Goodall

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained personal attacks. Discussion Guidelines

Jane Goodall

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained personal attacks. Discussion Guidelines

truthbetold

Honestly..this is ridiculous.  How embarrassing that thousands of dollars are being wasted on this. Who cares if he got free golf and a deal on a room.  PULEEZ people..if this is all their is..this is truly pathetic.  What some people won't do to create drama.  Enough already.

 

Just Saying

What a waste of money this is going to be. If accepting discounted tickets or free tickets was against policy, why couldn't Mr. Fox be informed or reminded of correct protocol and had it made clear it was unpermissable in the future??  Hmmm, instead let's pay $10,000.00 for an arbitrator to go on a witch hunt. Obviously, the School Board decided this is a better idea !

TaxRaider

The Board of Education has no choice but to investigate aligations of wrong doing and a third party investigator eliminates a witch hunt.  The money may be well spent . . . . it sends a clear message that being above board is the expectation no matter who you are. 

I'm just curious, if this were a teacher, janitor, or bus driver, would it be acceptable to use school equipment during school time to conduct private "business"?  I'm going to guess, this at minimum, is a violation of the district's Computer Use Agreement, which all employees sign. 

I will assume all of the rumors ( like girlfriends were involved) are just that ... rumors.  As a huron taxpayer, I have a few questions and concerns .... did the administrators who attended this getaway use vacation days or were they paid while they were golfing and drinking, was the BOE lead to believe this was a business trip, were district funds utilized for mileage or meals, etc.  What other personal business is conducted while "on the clock"?

 

 

 

underthebridge

I agree with Clementine.   My instincts are this is the just the tip of the iceberg.  

donutshopguy

 Mr. Fox the school board does not have to smear you. They can fire you with a 3-2 margin and be within their legal rights.

A smear campaign is not necessary. But, nice attempt to spin the story to your advantage.

I'd be packing my bags if I were you.

 

fudge pies

Sure, he can also sue them!

Wald

"Mr. Fox the school board does not have to smear you. They can fire you with a 3-2 margin and be within their legal rights.

A smear campaign is not necessary. But, nice attempt to spin the story to your advantage.

I'd be packing my bags if I were you."

 

 

They can fire someone without just cause?  Just because three members of the school board don't like a person is justification for taking away his livlihood?  Hmm.  Those aren't the kind of people I want running a school district if so.  And if they do fire him without just cause, the school's lawyers better saddle up, because there'll be a lawsuit a-comin'!

donutshopwannabe
Come on. You can’t just fire a Superintendent with a 3-2 vote. Look up this Appellate Court Decision and you will see what it takes. Joseph L. Bertolini, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Whitehall City School District Board of Education, Defendant-Appellee. There must be repeated, documented gross job performance issues. If they try to fire Fox, he will take them to the cleaners in Court and they don't even know it.  
My thoughts

I think the fact he received discounted rooms and golf isn't the issue. It is that he received discounted rooms and golf and tried to help Kalahari get fees waived by Huron Township that may be the problem. Who were the other members of his golf party?

Darwin's choice

So, someone didn't get to go along on a golfing/drinking outing, and is throwing everyone under the bus?  You have got to be kidding me !  You fools need to go !    It's obvious the agenda of these board members!

donutshopguy

 Darwin,

If it was the agenda of the school board to relieve Mr. Fox of his job than all they would have to do is vote.

I'm not sure it's that obvious. Maybe in your mind.

donutshopwannabe

Agree with all. In total this is going to cost the School District at least $30,000 – investigation plus their internal attorney and other costs. Nelson has done nothing but help the District with huge donations that WERE asked for by guess who.  No not Mr. Hardware but the guy pulling his strings. Fred Fox has done a super job. Academics the best in the area for 3 straight years, excess carry over cash, fiscal responsibility, and super improvements to all buildings. “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” Wait until the teachers’ contract is up. My bets are there will be a strike in Huron or maybe this cowboy will be out by then.  Bottom-line is that he is there to settle a vendetta. Just look back over your shoulder to Berlin/Milan a few years back and remember who is pulling the strings. Fred did his job and we are very proud that he did.  The Ethics Committee will clear him. They don’t investigate golf outings.  My bets are that Mr. Nelson will not let this one go. Too bad for Huron.  There is a third vote that can stop all of this and he is an intelligent guy but unfortunately does not have the back bone to stand up to Mr. Hardware. Go figure. Vigilante law, just like the Wild West.

FoxFire

 What's $30,000?  Fox spent more than that eight years ago on attorney's and administrators he paid to follow teachers that were union leaders around in an attempt to get rid of them. Heck, when he went after the union vp in 2004 with false accusations, a false ethics violation, and ordered low evaluations from his administrators on the teacher just a year or so after the teacher had been nominated for Disney's Teacher of the Year, he not only had to spend the schools money on attorney's to clean his mess up; he paid at least an additional $30,000 to that teacher via salary and a year's insurance just to get that teacher to go away and drop the charges against him.  That was 8 year's ago.  Just think of all he's gotten away with since.  How ethical is that?  The board is merely using Fox's techniques against him.  What goes around comes around. It is about time.

As for, "Academics the best in the area for 3 straight years, excess carry over cash, fiscal responsibility, and super improvements to all buildings."  Are you kidding me?  Same old Huron elitist mentality.  It doesn't matter what you do or how you get there.  As long as Huron looks good, you could have Al Capone running the district.

 

fudge pies

As MR Asher said in the audio weeks ago. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY REDICULOUS!  and I now fully agree.

 

Julie R.

This is totally different then the rumors that are going around.

Gardenman

Reduced golf rates at the Wisconsin Dells Kalahari Resort.....is this what our school board is worried aboutspending money and valuable Board time on???  You got to be kidding !!! . What was it $10, $50 maybe more and the school board is spending thousands $$$$ to hire an attorney. Maybe we should investigate the school board and see if they have any connections to this school hired attorney. Maybe they are getting some special favors from this guy for the business pushed his way. While everyone is investigating everyone let's get the school board members into being investigated.

These school board members some of which we know full well have an agenda fail to realize good hardworking taxpayers have in many cases scrapped to pay these school taxes. Here they come along and wildly spend for ridiculous causes like this. Money that should be spent on the education of children is being spent on as most of the town now knows (and I love his new name is being called in town) Mr Hardware's agenda. This guy came with an agenda and in his 6 months on the Board he has it now split, Board members are at each other's throats and pretty who Board is pretty much in semi chaos . Really Mr Hardward is this what you feel your legacy is for the Huron City Schools? Better clean up the act and start doing the job of a school board member or those of us who supported you will no longer. Huron has a track record of turning out under achieving Board members.

Before these $1000 were spent to make an attorney much more wealthy did anyone think to just ask Mr Fox if he would pay the $$$ he got discounted to Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells.  I think if you asked the citizens in town you would have the money donated quickly. How nice that would have been we could have cleared up this mess and moved along to the more important business of educating children with limited state and local tax dollars.

I was not a particular fan of Mr Fox when he first started but I feel he has gained experience and changed some irritating ways. He has moved HCS forward together with staff and not inspite of them. For those reasons I will support him on this one. 

Phil Packer

 So much for the school system being about the students. It's all about the big kids, isn't it...

Darkhorse

This situation may be small now but could get bigger later on if let go.  It needs to be dealt with harshly and that is why we have a a code of ethics to live by.  There cannot be any gray area when it comes to ethics no matter how minor.  If anyone needs a reminder,  just take a look at Cuyahoga County and what happened over there.  The little ethics grew and grew until it had a whole corruption ring of people involved from the city, county, and even judges and that is how it all gets started.   If no one addresses the inappropriate conduct, people think they can continue doing unethical things.

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