District provides some, but not all, records

Treasurer Mike Weis releases documents related to Huron Cement purchases.
Alissa Widman
Oct 14, 2013
Huron Schools officials may not have provided all public documents related to a state probe when the Register requested them this past month.

When contacted Oct. 7, district treasurer Mike Weis provided the additional documents — a check register and dozens of invoices related to district purchases from Huron Cement, a local business, from 2007-12.

The documents detail more than 40 recent transactions with Huron Cement, which longtime Huron school board member John Caporini owns.

Click HERE for a previous story including documents requested by the OEC

Representatives from the Ohio Ethics Commission appear to be investigating Caporini, as well as fellow board member Tim Sowecke, owner of Ace Hardware. A few months ago, the commission requested invoices and paperwork regarding Huron Schools purchases at both local businesses.

The Ohio Ethics Commission fields complaints against public officials and determines if an accused individual’s behavior is unethical. Its representatives will not comment on ongoing investigations until they have released an official report on their findings, which only happens if an individual is found to be unethical.    

On Sept. 30, the Register obtained documents the commission requested, which indicate Huron Schools paid Huron Cement about $20,000 during 24 transactions from 2002-07. The district also paid Ace Hardware a total of about $4,000 in 29 transactions from 2011-12. The district’s annual budget is about $15 million.

The additional documents obtained Oct. 7 indicate about $9,350 was spent during 40 transactions with Huron Cement between 2007-12, for a total of 64 transactions and $30,000 spent from 2002-12.

When asked if the commission had requested the additional invoices the Register received Oct. 7, Weis said he had “no idea” because of “search issues” in the district’s records system.

“We have had multiple requests for Huron Cement invoices, and this was a batch that went to someone,” Weis said in an email. “That is why it was filed in a different location. Not sure whom. I do know the batch sent to you last week did go (to the commission) for sure.”

Weis mailed the document detailing the commission’s initial public records request back to its representatives, using it as a checklist to ensure he sent paper copies of all documents they requested, he said. They said Friday the document is confidential, and the commission is not required to provide it to the Register.

Jim Peters, Huron Cement’s attorney, emailed the Register a statement Friday on Caporini’s behalf.

Prior to Friday, Caporini hadn’t yet commented on the alleged investigation, although at board meetings he has said his transactions with Huron Schools have adhered to Ohio Ethics Commission rules.

“Huron Cement Products Company has a long history of providing specialty products to Huron Schools,” the statement said. “The relationship predates John Caporini’s tenure on the school board.”

“Throughout the relationship the specialty products and services were provided at or below prices charged to comparablecustomers, at discounted prices or free of charge,” the statement continues. “With regard to the Ohio Ethics Commission investigation, Huron Cement and Mr. Caporini are cooperating fully with the investigation.”

Caporini has been a Huron school board member for 18 consecutive years, while Sowecke has been a member for two years.

                                Sept. 30 Records Request                         Oct. 7 Records Request

Ace Hardware     $4,000 in 29 transactions; 2011-12

Huron Cement    $20,000 in 24 transactions; 2002-07         $9,350 in 40 transactions; 2007-12

 

Comments

UgtaBkdnMe

Here's a public record. The school board's attorney spells out why Caporini can't sell to the district.

From: Gaschen, Dane
Date: Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 3:51 PM
Subject: Ethics Concerns and Course of Dealing Exception [BRICKER-WS.FID191447]
To: michael_weis@huron-city.k12.oh.us

Mike,
In response to XXXXXX ‘s questions from this morning. The one statute at issue is R.C. 2921.42. In terms of whether the course of dealing exception applies, as noted in Ethics Opinion 90-003 (copy sent separately this morning) on page 4 it notes that if any material changes are made in the agreement between the parties the sales would not fall within the exemption because such changes alter the original understanding between the parties. Separately, in Ethics Opinion 90-005 (copy sent separately this morning) the Ethics Commission stated that each individual sale was a separate transaction and thus prevented the continuing course of dealing exception from applying. This would appear to be particularly applicable to your situation with the hardware store. Additionally, I have attached three other Ethics Opinions that addressed the exception in 2921.42. All of these would show that each contract that Mr. Caporini is involved in would need to be considered separately and does not constitute a continuing course of action. Further, there is an additional statute (attached) R.C. 3313.33 which prohibits a board member from having directly or indirectly any pecuniary interest in any contract of the board. So, even if you could get past the ethical considerations, R.C. 3313.33 prevents board members from having a pecuniary interest –directly or indirectly – in any contract entered into by the Board.

I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you need anything additional.
-Dane

Dudley Do-Right

Thanks UgtaBkdnMe for sharing. This is coming from the Board's attorney saying a Board member's business can not do business with the school district. Gee, I wonder what his motive might be? Seems like if you disagree with Mr. Caporini you must have some motive behind your opinion because there is no way you could be right.

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