By Jeff Gallatin
City Council Sept. 3 approved abolishing the North Olmsted Ethics Commission and referring any future complaints to the Ohio Ethics Commission.
Prior to the meeting, municipal officials said there didn’t seem to be a need for the municipal ethics group anymore.
“I’ve been a council member for the last several years, and we’ve only met once or twice,” Paul Barker, Ward 2 representative and senior member of City Council, said. “We’ve not exactly had a lot of business or issues to deal with within the city the last few years.”
The city commission consisted of the city finance director, personnel or human resources director, council president, a ward councilman and councilman at large. City codes stipulated the ward councilman and at large member be of different political parties unless all council members were of the same political party.
Barker said it would probably be better for a state panel to be dealing with any city complaints than a group of city officials.
“In most cases, if there’s a complaint about a city worker or official, we’re going to know the person involved in the complaint,” he said. “It’s probably better if we have other people, like the state ethics commission, investigating and handling the complaint. They won’t know the people and should be pretty impartial in how they handle it.”
North Olmsted law Director Michael Gareau said the city ethics commission appeared to be duplicating the function of the state group.
“I can see where it would be good to have the ability in the city to be able to handle any ethical issues which come up,” he said. “It’s always good to have that kind of review. But when something like that can be referred to the state level and handled, that can work just as well in getting the issue dealt with.”
Gareau said having an impartial group of individuals from the state handle any matters is a fair and equitable way of dealing with any issues.