The Open Meetings Acts for dummies at Wright State (and elsewhere)

The new wright state logo not done by YorkBranding or Push Inc showing Wright State leadership under Dr. David Hopkins

If there are two primary jobs of a university board of trustees, it is to hire and evaluate the President of a University and to keep track of the money. It would seem the WSU board of trustees can’t figure out where the money went and who to blame or praise. Maybe it’s because this feckless bunch lead by Doug Fecher of WPCU don’t know what their job is, and no one at the State level seems to care.

When the university went from cash rich to the poor house, no one got blamed. The President didn’t get fired, the numbers guy, Mark M. Polatajko, Ph.D., CPA ended up at Kent State, and the money has never been accounted for.

So, when the board has a committee meeting, ostensibly to review and create the evaluation for the president, in private- they have to do it a certain way.

From a regular meeting, a majority of the board has to make a motion to go into executive session to specifically discuss personnel issues. No exceptions. A subcommittee can only meet in public.

Here’s the law:

(G) Except as provided in divisions (G)(8) and (J) of this section, the members of a public body may hold an executive session only after a majority of a quorum of the public body determines, by a roll call vote, to hold an executive session and only at a regular or special meeting for the sole purpose of the consideration of any of the following matters:

(1) To consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of a public employee or official, or the investigation of charges or complaints against a public employee, official, licensee, or regulated individual, unless the public employee, official, licensee, or regulated individual requests a public hearing. Except as otherwise provided by law, no public body shall hold an executive session for the discipline of an elected official for conduct related to the performance of the elected official’s official duties or for the elected official’s removal from office. If a public body holds an executive session pursuant to division (G)(1) of this section, the motion and vote to hold that executive session shall state which one or more of the approved purposes listed in division (G)(1) of this section are the purposes for which the executive session is to be held, but need not include the name of any person to be considered at the meeting….

(4) Preparing for, conducting, or reviewing negotiations or bargaining sessions with public employees concerning their compensation or other terms and conditions of their employment;

Source: Lawriter – ORC – 121.22 Public meetings – exceptions.

The problem is, if the meeting wasn’t announced, and wasn’t specified to follow one of these two directives- the meeting is illegal.

… a release issued Wednesday from the university stated “Schrader would not accept” either for her work in the past year. Clarifying the issue later, WSU board chairman Doug Fecher, who said he helped write and review the release, said, “There was no vote taken and it wasn’t meant to imply that” the president turned down a bonus offer….

The executive committee of the the WSU board, which included Fecher, former board chairman Michael Bridges, Anuj Goyal and Grace Ramos, met behind closed doors with Schrader on Monday to discuss an evaluation of her first-year performance.

Schrader was not offered a merit raise or bonus because of the university’s financial troubles, Fecher said.

In June 2017, trustees slashed more than $30 million from Wright State’s fiscal year 2018 budget and another $10-million decline in revenue is expected over the coming year. Just last week, the university announced it would begin issuing layoff notices to around 26 employees.

“There was no change in compensation offered and she agreed there should be no (additional) compensation offered,” Fecher said.

Cox Media Group has requested public records about the evaluation and was told by the university there were no written documents from the meeting. Trustee Bruce Langos also said that he was not aware of a formally documented evaluation.

Fecher said the evaluation was more of a conversation. Fecher said he contacted trustees separately before the Monday meeting to get their opinion of Schrader’s performance and ideas for what she could improve upon.

Langos said he was “shocked” when he saw the release sent by the school that stated Schrader did not accept a raise or bonus, because he said it made it sound like the board offered her one.

Although the university may not be in a financial position to offer Schrader a raise, Langos said it’s something the entire board should have discussed and voted on publicly.

“I don’t think any laws were broken but I don’t think the rules or the bylaws (of the board) were followed because the bylaws require that things like this require (a vote). And we didn’t take a vote,” Langos said.

The executive committee cannot take action in executive sessions, meaning any action such as a vote for or against a raise for Schrader would need to be taken in a public session.

The Ohio Open Meetings Act states that members of a public body are required to “discuss and deliberate on official business only in open meetings.” How Wright State’s board handled Schrader’s evaluation falls into a “gray area” of the law, said Dan Tierney, spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

“Our advice is always consult your legal counsel in such a gray area and then decide whether they would be comfortable defending that or not,” Tierney said.

Source: WSU president not given raise due to budget – Dayton Daily News

Fecher isn’t allowed to have private conversations with three others in private to discuss university business, and he is not allowed to round robin request information. Him contacting other board members to discuss their opinion is a violation of the OMA. Pure and simple.

The proper procedure is to create a subcommittee, that works on the evaluation, a written document, that is then reviewed by the entire board in a properly called executive session, and a final document is released to the personnel file of the President. If an “executive session” discussion is to be held in private with the president, it must be stated what the issue is in advance, from an open session.

Unbelievably, I’m forced to cite the Dayton School Board lawyers site for info on case law of actual evaluations- which may be an interpretation that evaluations may have to be done in public:

The most striking part of the court’s decision, however, is its conclusion that performance evaluations do not fit within this executive session exception.  The court said, “construing the OMA liberally in favor of open meetings and construing the executive-session exceptions narrowly, the trial court correctly found no exception for employee ‘evaluation.’”  The court agreed with this interpretation.  This ruling appears to be based upon the fact that the word “evaluation” is not specifically listed in R.C. § 121.22(G)(1).  The court continued:  In any event, we do not necessarily disagree with the [  ] statement that the OMA permits discussion of an employee’s ‘job performance’ in executive session.  Prior to entering into executive session, however the public bod must specify the context in which ‘job performance’ will be considered by identifying one of the statutory purposes set forth in R.C. 121.22(G).

Notably, the court offered no opinion or explanation on how performance evaluations of administrators and executives by a governing board do not fit within the continued “employment” of employees under Section (G)(1).  Is it their opinion that the “employment” exception to open meetings is only for the initial hiring?  We do not know.  The court offered no explanation on how and when a governing board should discuss routine evaluations of employees (especially direct reports, such as the Executive Director), which often do not relate to a specific “dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation” decision.

The court’s ruling may now require governmental entities that conduct routine evaluations of Directors, Superintendents, Treasurers, City Managers, etc. to either find one of these specific pegs of (G)(1) on which to hang personnel evaluations or, otherwise, hold the discussion in public.  Unlike Ms. Maddox, it is likely that most public administrators do not want their performance evaluations to be aired in a public session.[1]  And, the promise of a public discourse on one’s job performance by one’s own employer could make the difficult job of finding qualified people to fill these high-level positions all that more difficult.

Source: Public Records Decision: Consideration of Performance Evaluations | Subashi & Wildermuth

Part of the reason University Presidents are paid the big bucks is that they agree to take public criticism, hold responsibility and lead by example. There is really no legitimate reason to conduct annual reviews in private, or to be embarrassed by the discussion- it’s the future of the university- a public institution.

The Open Meetings Act is the only law I know of that comes with a 250 page public handbook to explain the importance of conducting the public’s business in public.

One of the quotes in the beginning of the handbook should make it pretty clear:

 “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when rulers may be concealed from them… {T}o cover with the veil of secrecy the common routines of business, is an abomination in the eyes of every intelligent man.” Patrick Henry

~see State of Ohio Sunshine Laws Manual

Every elected public official is required in the State of Ohio to take a three hour course in the Open Meetings Act/Sunshine Laws. I’m not sure if University Trustee’s are, but, this latest screw up suggests that they should be.

And, btw, ostensibly the penalty for violating the OMA is removal from office, although it’s never happened in the State of Ohio. Removing this board for a violation of the OMA would be a good start.

As to the whole faux pas of Schrader announcing that she declined a bonus that was never offered, and that Fecher helped write the press release, says there is way more wrong than right at Wright State.

Why isn’t Dr. David Hopkins in jail?

Justice comes late to the president of Penn State, as he and other are sentenced to very short jail time for their role in the Jerry Sandusky sex offenses:

Three former Pennsylvania State University administrators, including former president Graham Spanier, were each sentenced to serve at least two months in jail Friday for failing to alert law enforcement about a 2001 incident involving retired football coach Jerry Sandusky and a boy in a campus shower. The sentences marked one of the final rulings from the criminal justice system on the shocking saga of missed opportunities to stop a sexual predator associated with one of America’s most storied college football programs.

Source: Former Penn State president Graham Spanier sentenced to jail for child endangerment in Jerry Sandusky abuse case – The Washington Post

They are guilty for what they didn’t do. They knew, but failed to act.

Dr. David Hopkins and his staff at Wright State aren’t facing any charges, in fact, most of them still are getting paid.  What did they do? Well, that depends on who you ask. Finger pointing, lawsuits, breech of contracts, odd hiring, even odder logo redo,  real estate purchases, failed presidential debates, H1-B visas, issues with nepotism (a trustee’s son was hired without a job posting) the list goes on and on- yet, the man who was paid to be captain at the time the ship was sinking still has a job.

The very foundation of the institution was critically damaged. Life long employees are now without jobs, key positions are opening up like pot shops in Colorado, and staff is interviewing everywhere and anywhere to escape the mess that Hopkins made.

The oddest thing about all of this to this observer is that the Board of Trustees is also intact, despite being the designated check and balance to this shit show. What’s even more insane, is that being a trustee in the state of Ohio to a public institution is an unpaid gig.

The trustees shall receive no compensation for their services, but may be paid for their reasonably necessary expenses while engaged in the discharge of their official duties.

Source: Lawriter – ORC

Then again, there is the saying, you get what you pay for.

The latest news on this front is Bruce Langos, formerly of Terradata and currently working for Sheriff “Shifty” Plummer, is now the newest Wright State Trustee. Langos previously starred on this site for being a tax evading beneficiary of the Austin Landing tax scheme where only little people pay taxes.

    Bruce Langos, standing, chairman of the Montgomery County Drug Free Coalition and director of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Intelligence Unit, and Jason Olson, seated third from left, addiction resource officer for the Dayton Police Department, presented information Friday afternoon about how Montgomery County officials deal with addiction, overdose deaths and crime caused by drug use at Consolidated Care Inc.’s West Liberty office. (EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)  Source: Montgomery Co. officials share strategies in fight against opiates

Bruce Langos, standing, chairman of the Montgomery County Drug Free Coalition and director of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Intelligence Unit, and Jason Olson, seated third from left, addiction resource officer for the Dayton Police Department, presented information Friday afternoon about how Montgomery County officials deal with addiction, overdose deaths and crime caused by drug use at Consolidated Care Inc.’s West Liberty office. (EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)
Source: Montgomery Co. officials share strategies in fight against opiates

That Langos, who says he has an undergrad and MBA from the unaccredited “Hamilton University” is the best pick for the seat on a board over an institution of higher ed, has me scratching my head. Considering half the hub-bub at WSU stemmed from questionable relationships with people closely linked to the Dayton Development Coalition of which Langos used to be the chair, says Kasich is looking to manage a coverup instead of bringing in a true objective voice.

There have to be more qualified, less controversial people who are actual Wright State graduates to place on the Board.

Wright State is a critical part of our local economy, and the damage done to it under Hopkins and the existing board cannot be left to ride off quietly into the sunset. No matter how nice Hopkins is, or how apologetic the board, they are all guilty of malfeasance in office and at the least, should be removed from any positions to do with the University.

 

 

Only the people who don’t pay off politicians pay income taxes at Austin Road

Bruce Langos sells 24,751 shares of TDC on 02/10/2012 at an average price of $62.09 a share.

via Feb. 14, 2012 – TERADATA CORP (TDC) COO Bruce Langos sells 24,751 Shares.

that’s $1,536,789 in income- or $34,578 in taxes at 2.25%  In 2008 (last date I could quickly find for his compensation) he earned:

Total Compensation $1,242,916.00

via Bruce Langos Profile – Forbes.com.

that’s another $27,966 in income tax that he’d have to pay if he was subject to the same income tax that the people who work at Kohl’s next door are subject to under the connived rules created by the JEDD- or “Joint Economic Development District”- in the name of “economic development.”

Put the two together and there goes $62,554 in taxes that could be funding police officers, water treatment plants, regional dispatch centers. The income taxes being skipped by excluding just one person in Teradata are greater than the average total wages of all those “jobs” we created at Kohl’s, Menards, Walmart and other major corporations who have been subsidized by this boondoggle of massive proportions at Austin Landing.

boundaries recently set in the Austin Landing district exclude workers like RG Properties President Randy Gunlock who works from one of the office buildings excluded from the district and lives in nearby Clearcreek Twp. The district also excludes office workers living in the development’s residential village, but construction workers are to be taxed.

(James Durham, a law professor at University of Dayton) Durham acknowledged excluding RG itself and other tenants, such as Teradata, failed to capitalize on taxation of the higher wages earned and larger staffs working in the office buildings.

“On the whole, they are going to be paid more. It’s certainly imperfect,” he said.

via Townships use economic development district funds to spur growth.

Teradata was part of NCR- and those jobs were in Dayton, with employees paying the 2.25% income tax. The company was spun off- and despite having revenues in the billions, the residents of Montgomery County have subsidized this company’s moves not just once, but twice in the last 5 years. Moving them first to a custom built HQ (Oberer Companies)  in Miami Township and then moving them half a mile down the road to a new one, constructed by RG Properties.

I’m not picking on Bruce only, his whole company is benefiting, but Bruce was also the Chair of the Dayton Development Coalition which advocates for corporate welfare instead of the health of the community. It’s also easier to find his compensation.

Another tenant of the 1% tax free while the 99% pay tax zone, is the law firm of Thompson Hine. They too used to be in downtown Dayton and paid the 2.25% income tax. They left for the shiny new oasis of Austin Road- leaving their offices in the former Mead Tower and helping force that building into financial straights. This triggered Key Bank to move across the street, abandoning their building which sold for $500K to a mysterious guru who calls himself “Commander.”

Thompson Hine’s lawyers won’t have to pay income tax either, thanks to the “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” rule that somehow snuck on the books. Of course, the lawyers of Thompson Hine pay a different tax- the “campaign tax” as I call it- handing out huge donations to federal candidates.

Top Contributor to Member (5 results)

  • Thompson Hine LLP to Jean Schmidt (R) in 2012
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Rob Portman (R) in 2012
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Sherrod Brown (D) in 2012
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Albert R. Wynn (D) in 2004
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Steve Chabot (R) in 2004

Top Contributor to Candidate (4 results)

  • Thompson Hine LLP to Ohio District 10 candidates in 2012
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Ohio Senate candidates in 2012
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Ohio Senate candidates in 2010
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Ohio District 7 candidates in 2008

via OpenSecrets.org Search.

So if you have money to donate to political candidates you get a hall pass on income taxes? Note, OH-10 democratic candidate Sharen Neuhardt is one of the Thompson Hine lawyers who won’t be paying a Montgomery County income tax- and she’s also a prime recipient of donations from her firm.

Of course, Austin Landing is the pet project of local developer Randy Gunlock who is also not going to have to pay income taxes in his new development. His company, RG Properties is also excluded. Randy does OK for himself and is a top donor as well to political campaigns giving tens of thousands of dollars between him, his wife, his kids- to candidates like Congressman Mike Turner and the Republican National Committee. When you’ve got an indoor full size hockey rink in your backyard, complete with a Zamboni, the idea of having to pay income taxes like a checkout person at Kohl’s must be really repulsive.

His home, a 5 bedroom, 15,879 sq feet, is appraised at just under $2 million.His annual property tax bill is $30,000 of about what someone working at Kohl’s makes. He pays no income tax, they pay 2.25%

The taxpayers have poured over $150 million into the interchange and improvements at Austin Road, the residents of Miami Township have gotten stuck for the airfare on Randy’s private jet when he flew two trustees up to Michigan to look at a hockey arena. The Township residents have already been hit up for $24 million to help finance Mr. Gunlock’s private tax haven for the wealthy by being asked to float bonds, apply for development grants and transportation tax dollars. All so that the wealthy can work in brand new office buildings and pay Mr. Gunlock rent- while getting to evade income taxes that were supporting existing infrastructure in Dayton. Recently another million dollar cost overrun was paid without investigation.

This is the giant sucking sound of the lifeblood of Dayton’s core. The saddest thing is it’s being financed by the very people who can least afford it, and have the least influence in changing political outcomes, the working poor.

Of course, the county officials are talking out of both sides of their mouths- the original reason for all this investment according to another article claiming the development is worth $400 million was to generate income taxes:

“We’ve got our flag in the ground,” said Steve Stanley, executive director of the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District, the entity which helped fund the interchange, roads and other infrastructure underlying the development.

Income taxes from employees working in the area will go to the county, Miamisburg, Miami Twp. and Springboro. Sales tax will go the county.

“Sales tax is one piece. Income tax is another piece. The idea is to bring income tax from outside the region into this area,” said Todd Duplain, director of development for Mills Development.

via Austin development part of over $400M in projects off interchange.

We just didn’t know at the time that the richest incomes wouldn’t be contributing.

 

 

 

Dayton Development Coalition preaches to the choir: Dayton Region Rally

The Dayton Development Coalition held a “Dayton Region Rally” today- and everybody who is somebody and still wears a suit to a job paying six figures or more was there. Not exactly the people who make up the “Dayton Region” where unemployment is still around 12% (unless you are a minority where it’s way higher).

I’m not going to report the guest list, but, I was barely through the door when I had seen more of the “powers that be” than I saw during my election campaign. Yep, they were all ready to hear what the messiahs of good fortune (at least for their friendly congressman’s wife with her no-bid contract) had to say. The “political leadership” wasn’t on stage- this was the business community beating the drum, with a good dose of the base and higher ed thrown in. Noticeably absent were the hospitals from the standard of Feds, Meds and Eds routine that has become the rally cry.

The 1,000 or so people in attendance were treated to one scripted speech after another. Delivered like lectures to schoolchildren. Not sure where DDC head Jim Leftwich got the idea he should be MC- but, I kept looking at his deadpan delivery and thinking Jack Parr had risen from the grave (and that was from before my time).

It was an expensive production. Just the AV alone had to run $15 to $20K with three big screens and at least three cameras- plus the channel 7 interviews from the concourse (why?) thrown in. Figure the t-shirts and all the staging and coordination- handled by Real Art (of Get Midwest fame) and you have another $15 to $20K thrown in. All this for an event that was done during regular business hours so only those who can make their own schedules could attend.

There were exactly three people who made presentations that moved the cause forward: Bruce Langos, COO of Teradata, who got the biggest rise out of the audience when he talked about their successful divorce from NCR and their enviable cash position and market strength. We need to hear more from both Bruce and Teradata to put this city back on track. And, in my mind, the real icing on the split from NCR would be for Terradata to move back to Dayton- into NCR HQ and show Bill Nuti how it’s done.

Charlie Shoemaker, executive director of Five Rivers Metroparks, brought a whole parade of people in “outdoor attire” to reinforce his position as the outdoor recreation chief of the region. The only thing I wonder about is giving away $5 coupons to use at the 2nd Street Market to people who don’t need $5 coupons- is that really why you just asked the taxpayers for a levy? To give away some of that money to people who can afford to take a few hours off to listen to the cheerleaders?

The final speaker, was Kellen Winslow Sr. – the Athletic Director for Central State- who did a great job of representing Central State and was using the new “Change is Central” slogan. He didn’t need a script to know that people were stiff (and bored) and got everybody who was still in attendance up- and out of their seats, at least to make sure no one was asleep. If I were looking for someone to coordinate a regional sports program, I’d be sitting in his office asap.

The finale of celebrity painter Michael Israel, was too little too late. People were even trying to head guests off at the top of the concourse, trying to keep people in. I’m not going to guess how much it was to bring him in, but the real question was what was he adding to our message of Dayton? That we have to import talent?

The real question was what was the point? What was the call to action? Could you do something with $7oK+(low ball estimate of how much this cost) that would actually have an impact? The back of the program wants you to go take a two question survey.

The questions:

  1. What declaration of possibility can you make that has the power to transform the community and inspire you?
  2. What are you prepared to do to make this possibility a reality?

I don’t make declarations of possibilities- whatever that means. You want to inspire people to transform the community- there is an answer- and it doesn’t involve committees, group think, rallies or surveys- it involves leadership.

Give a leader a mission, hold them accountable, measure progress and evaluate their progress- and guess what?- we may actually have some.

If the people in the room would only learn to march together, instead of to the beat of a hundred drummers, we may actually get the choir to sing together. The first step is to get serious about regionalism- and start referring to us as Dayton- without the word “region.”

Yep, I said it. Time to own your heart Dayton, and it may start beating again.