'Free' counsel to Huron schools turns costly

Judge dismisses suit that stalled school district's payment to attorney in Fox probe.
Jessica Cuffman
Feb 17, 2013

 

An attorney’s promise to provide 10 free hours of service has turned into a $90,000 bill for Huron Schools.  
Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Roger Binette this week dismissed a lawsuit that had kept Huron Schools from paying attorney Matt Markling for his work on the Fred Fox investigation.  
Early last year, the board voted 3-2 to hire Markling to investigate Fox’s alleged misdeeds, including his interactions with a district vendor and an extramarital affair on school time.  
After interviewing a number of district employees, Markling issued a 50-page report that concluded the board had substantial reason to fire Fox.   
Markling had told board members his first 10 hours of work would be free, and he would send a bill for any additional work. He kept his word — he submitted a $50,000 bill in June, followed by a $10,000 bill in July, $12,000 in October, $5,300 in November and $11,400 this past week. 
The Fox fiasco has effectively divided the school board, with the majority — Donna Green, Scott Slocum and Tim Sowecke — voting in June to fire Fox. 
The other two members, Kevin Asher 
and John Caporini, voted against the firing. 
The board ultimately suspended him without pay, pending the outcome of termination proceedings overseen by the Ohio Department of Education.   
Asher, however, also filed the lawsuit to keep the school district from paying Markling, but Binette quashed those efforts this week.  
Huron Schools treasurer Mike Weis said the district is mailing a $50,000 check to Markling. The board will then have to approve, or not, the additional $40,000 in expenses, since the district’s insurance company won’t foot the bill.
State education officials have already conducted termination hearings against Fox, but a hearing officer has yet to issue a recommendation to either fire or retain Fox. The board does not have to follow the advice. 
The days of hearings, held at Sawmill Creek, were closed to the public and spaced out over a period of months.  
The hearings addressed 23 alleged wrongdoings on Fox’s part, including three major allegations: Fox had an improper business relationship with a district vendor; he improperly sought reimbursements for a trip to Arizona; and he was involved in an extramarital affair on school time.
This past week, Binette also issued a key ruling in a defamation lawsuit Fox filed against Sowecke.
Fox alleges Sowecke delivered the Markling report to the Ohio Ethics Commission to intentionally make the document a public record, thus defaming the superintendent. In court documents, Sowecke’s attorneys said any material provided to the ethics commission would have been privileged and exempt from public disclosure. As such, Sowecke would be immune from a defamation lawsuit.
While Binette seemed to agree, there are still too many unanswered questions to simply dismiss the case.  
 

Comments

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

hahaaha.. ha..
1969 that was a good one !

UgtaBkdnMe

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

Tsu Dho Nimh

Okay Sold, we get it. Public records are free. You sound like a a hippie stuck in the 70s. I am starting to seriously worry about you.

UgtaBkdnMe

You're not that bright, Sold. We know where you get your information. Your behind closed doors information comes from one of three sources: Asher, Caporini, and Weis. Probably all three. They are the only ones tied to Fox. None of you are the brightest or sharpest crayons in the box.

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

Fred Fox, Tim Sowecke and Donna Greene walked into a bar..
There was a monkey sitting on one of the stools..
Donna Greene said:_______________________

UgtaBkdnMe

Donna said "Fred, shouldn't you go join your friends Kevin, John and Nancy? You guys would make a cute quartet for an organ grinder."

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

Lest we forget what this 'thread' was about:

'An attorney’s promise to provide 10 free hours of service has turned into a $90,000 bill for Huron Schools'. - Sandusky Register

Bland

Sold, I hope your cousin is doing well.

I don't have much of an opinion either way in this situation. I must say though that I admire your friendship with Fox. You stick up for your man through thick and thin.

Before I take a side, I have one question for you. What did Fox do wrong? Please don't give me any of the above stuff about "Markling Reports" or "Leaked records." I simply want to know what Fox did wrong.

I will say that if you say "nothing" then I will be forced to disbelieve everything you have typed. I want an honest answer. I will value and respect an honest man (or woman, since we don't know), but a fool I will not.

Thank you.

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

Bland-
Honesty is the best policy.

The only thing Fred Fox did that could be considered wrong was only wrong to his family.. not the public. The public never should have known about, 'The Affair'.

Fred Fox has I believe 23 complaints to answer to. None of those complaints will stick and contrary to what the Register says above, or anything posted here.. 'The Affair' is not one of the complaints.

Use of company email for private reasons.
(No one else who works for 'the company' is asked to follow this. Why is Fred Fox ?)

Reimbursement for Arizona trip.
(Fred Fox does not reimburse himself)

Relationship with a vendor.
(Kalahari is not a vendor to the school system)

These are the three things that make up the 23 'charges'.

Now.. Having said that, if the Markling report had not been 'leaked' to us, the public, none of us would have an opinion on 'the Affair'.

I hope I've answered your question and yes.. No matter what others say, I will stick by Fred Fox. He's too good of a man and a superintendent to allow this miscarriage of justice take him down.

PS.. I have no cousins who live in Huron ?

Dudley Do-Right

HEY MAN, FREE MAN, SOLD MAN, you are right public records searches can be free just check out BuckeyeInstitute.com

UgtaBkdnMe

Dudley

You don't sound like a "do right" but more like Cheech or Chong!

Tsu Dho Nimh

What is up with all of this hippie lingo? Did I miss something?

Sit n Spin

People are becoming crazy like a Fox ! Cabin fever is becoming rampant ! Release the hounds, the Fox hunt is on ! Bring spring !

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

hahaha.. No kidding.
Can't wait for it to be warm so I can go out on my porch and type.. lol

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

Listen __________-
I'm not naming you on here.
Your identity means nothing to me or anyone else here.
You are one of the Sowecke minions who won't admit your boy screwed up.

I may not name you, but I guess you'll never doubt my sources again..
You really think running and telling on me like a school girl will make any difference in the big scheme of things ? The people you told don't control me.

You would have to get to my girlfriend
to have any chance of controlling me.. lol

Tsu Dho Nimh

I thought you are married. You told us before that your wife doesn't have blonde hair like the former board member. Her hair is dark, remember?

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

TDN-
Shhhh.. I'm just effing with some of the posters on here.
And you have to go remember what I said about 1000 posts ago.. lol

Something happened the other day and I heard about it and called out the party who found out that not only what I said was true.. It was even worse than I said..

UgtaBkdnMe

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

UgtaBkdnMe

Since you are so concerned with knowing who everyone is, why don't you man-up and admit to who you are, you coward !!!!!

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

Still trying to censure my comments ?

Listen.. It was a joke moron.

Tim Sowecke and Donna Greene walked into a bar..
Fred Fox ducked.

UgtaBkdnMe

Sold

Your posts recently are bizarre. Are you running out of propaganda?

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

This is your captain speaking:

I'm not running out of information..
It's already all been posted over and over and over everytime someone new gets on here. They always say: Sold, what exactly did Fred Fox do ? Sold, why do you attack that kind old man, Mr. Fernbaugh ? Sold, why did you sink the Titanic ?

If you want to know what's going on please feel free to go back to the beginning and read all of the posts !

Our altitude will be about 6 feet.. Hope you enjoy your flight !

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

hahaha.. Oh my..
Did you know that when you do a 'request for a public record' you become a matter of public record ?

Apparently not..

UgtaBkdnMe

The names of EMPLOYEES are public records, not private citizens. You are allowed to know a request was made but not the identity of a private citizen. But since you think it is public record, then you are public record, fool ! Maybe you should check with the attorney general's office. It's FREE, MAN! You don't like being censored, then stop censoring others. You're all about the truth so let the truth be known. I'm posting again. Let's see how much you are about the truth.

UgtaBkdnMe

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

UgtaBkdnMe

Looks like SOLD ON MYSELF (aka Sold on Fox) doesn't want the rest of you to know where he gets his info !

UgtaBkdnMe

Here is the email my friend sent to the treasurer. It is public record and I would hope that the Register will not remove it.

-----Original Message-----
From: Weis, Michael
To:
Sent: Fri, Feb 22, 2013 8:04 pm
Subject: Re: Public Records Request
What are you talking about? I have no idea who you are or actually care. I responded to whatever you requested or had my tech people do same. If you have a proble,m contact whomever you wish. But remember any request that hits my desk, like this is a public record available to anyone who asks. Again I have no clue who you are and what your problem is but your irrationality makes me worry about my safety and i fully intend to contact the police
On Feb 22, 2013 5:46 PM, <(vetted)> wrote:
Mr. Weis,

During the past months, I have made several public records requests from you and your office. My expectations are that you would conduct these requests in a professional manner which you clearly have not.

Today, while reading the Sandusky Register blogs on the article regarding the Asher court ruling, I noticed that a poster known as Sold On Fox starts using the phrase FREE MAN within hours of my most recent request. This has never been a phrase that this individual has ever used prior to today and it is out of context as if he/she is trying to prove a point. Do not try to dismiss this as a coincidence. Here are some examples that I am quoting from his/her blog:

But.. I could do a RECORDS SEARCH through the Huron City School's treasurer's office because that is FREE MAN..
Anyone here doing a records search that was FREE MAN would know that the figures I quoted on Fernbaugh's salary were low.
You got that ? It's FREE MAN !

It is obvious that you have shared with someone that I made a request today. I sent the email to you and no one else and you indicated that you were not in the office today so nobody but you would have known. This is unprofessional AND unethical behavior and I will have no problem whatsoever checking with the Department of Education, the ESB, the OASBO, or the Ethics Commission to see what the opinions of these agencies are. I have printed and downloaded the posts so that when they magically disappear from the Register site as a disputed comment, I will have the documentation I need to support my allegation.

In addition to this incident, I did not appreciate the manner in which a previous request was handled. If you recall, I asked for approximately three months of email back in late August. It took quite a while to receive the records and then the records where attached in a file format that the average home computer user would not be able to open. You then gave me the option of either coming in and picking up a physical copy or to met with TJ and view them on a school computer. I opted to send in my wife. When she came in, she told me that you were trying to make it difficult to pay for the records. You sat in your office, stretching your neck trying to see who she was. You also told the woman waiting that my wife needed to pay for it by check, not cash. I believe you were trying to figure out who we are and where we live. She did not back down and insisted that she was paying with cash. Eventually your office cooperated with her and accepted the payment.

It is my expectation that I will hear from both you and the board members regarding this issue. At minimum, I expect an apology and the name of the person who released my name and who it was released to. Afterall, if my name and inquiries are public records, then so is this individua'sl. The Huron Board of Education has enough issues that the treasurer's office does not need to be creating more.

UgtaBkdnMe

-----Original Message-----
From: (vetted)
To: jessicacuffman
Sent: Sun, Feb 24, 2013 12:14 pm
Subject: Fwd: Public Records Request - on line posting
My friend recently shared truthful information on the article regarding the dismissal of the Asher lawsuit. One of his comments was removed. He then shared an email. I am sharing the email with you so you know it is truthful. Please do not remove the post. It is important that the people of Huron know the truth.
-----Original Message-----
From: Weis, Michael
To: (vetted)
Sent: Fri, Feb 22, 2013 8:04 pm
Subject: Re: Public Records Request
What are you talking about? I have no idea who you are or actually care. I responded to whatever you requested or had my tech people do same. If you have a proble,m contact whomever you wish. But remember any request that hits my desk, like this is a public record available to anyone who asks. Again I have no clue who you are and what your problem is but your irrationality makes me worry about my safety and i fully intend to contact the police
On Feb 22, 2013 5:46 PM, (vetted) wrote:
Mr. Weis,

During the past months, I have made several public records requests from you and your office. My expectations are that you would conduct these requests in a professional manner which you clearly have not.

Today, while reading the Sandusky Register blogs on the article regarding the Asher court ruling, I noticed that a poster known as Sold On Fox starts using the phrase FREE MAN within hours of my most recent request. This has never been a phrase that this individual has ever used prior to today and it is out of context as if he/she is trying to prove a point. Do not try to dismiss this as a coincidence. Here are some examples that I am quoting from his/her blog:

But.. I could do a RECORDS SEARCH through the Huron City School's treasurer's office because that is FREE MAN..
Anyone here doing a records search that was FREE MAN would know that the figures I quoted on Fernbaugh's salary were low.
You got that ? It's FREE MAN !

It is obvious that you have shared with someone that I made a request today. I sent the email to you and no one else and you indicated that you were not in the office today so nobody but you would have known. This is unprofessional AND unethical behavior and I will have no problem whatsoever checking with the Department of Education, the ESB, the OASBO, or the Ethics Commission to see what the opinions of these agencies are. I have printed and downloaded the posts so that when they magically disappear from the Register site as a disputed comment, I will have the documentation I need to support my allegation.

In addition to this incident, I did not appreciate the manner in which a previous request was handled. If you recall, I asked for approximately three months of email back in late August. It took quite a while to receive the records and then the records where attached in a file format that the average home computer user would not be able to open. You then gave me the option of either coming in and picking up a physical copy or to met with TJ and view them on a school computer. I opted to send in my wife. When she came in, she told me that you were trying to make it difficult to pay for the records. You sat in your office, stretching your neck trying to see who she was. You also told the woman waiting that my wife needed to pay for it by check, not cash. I believe you were trying to figure out who we are and where we live. She did not back down and insisted that she was paying with cash. Eventually your office cooperated with her and accepted the payment.

It is my expectation that I will hear from both you and the board members regarding this issue. At minimum, I expect an apology and the name of the person who released my name and who it was released to. Afterall, if my name and inquiries are public records, then so is this individua'sl. The Huron Board of Education has enough issues that the treasurer's office does not need to be creating more.

(vetted)

Julie R.

Geez, what the heck is going on in Huron, anyway? Why would the Treasurer of the school threaten to call the police on a citizen that requested a public record?

(this is beginning to sound like the same crap I heard from a bunch of Huronites and a Lorain County attorney after the death of my mother)

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

Wow..
Think I may hit a nerve.
They said you may get violent.

Pages