Dirty little secret in Greene County

By John Mitchel

RE: “Invasion of privacy isn’t fault of Ohio’s taxpayers,” Dayton Daily News, November 26, 2009:

In his “Other Voices” column, Mike DeWine rightly points out that, “The Attorney General may not represent an employee who acts recklessly, maliciously or in bad faith outside the scope of his employment.” To be sure, Ohio taxpayers should not have to pay to defend government officials who act outside the law. That’s precisely what happened in a lawsuit filed against Greene County Commissioners. To add insult to injury, taxpayers also paid for a cover-up perpetrated by the Greene County Common Pleas Court (Reference Case No. 2009-CV-0305).

In my public records lawsuit I asked the Greene County Common Pleas Court to force the Greene County Commissioners to produce public records related to the 2003 BRAC Initiative Agreement with the Dayton Development Coalition. Tragically, the Court dismissed my lawsuit on a procedural technicality, then less than 24 hours later, the Greene County Prosecutor’s office released 26 boxes of requested records, but only after at least two public investigative agencies got involved. Greene County elected officials suddenly realized they broke the law three times; once when they withheld public records from a private citizen, again when the County Prosecutor defended their illegal action, and finally when the Greene County Common Pleas Court covered up their malfeasance.

But perhaps they finally got it right in October when they hired a private Columbus law firm (Downes, Fishel, Hass, Kim, LLP) to defend them against further actions. Trouble is; the taxpayers will pay for that too, which could add up to $50,000.

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