By Jeff Gallatin
Former Mayor Thomas O’Grady and current Mayor Kevin Kennedy both think the other’s numbers don’t add up when it comes to the new mayor’s court in North Olmsted.
During the public comment portion of the Sept. 3 City Council meeting, O’Grady, who is attempting to take the mayor’s office back from Kennedy, said the mayor’s court, which Kennedy initiated actually lost money when compared to a comparable time period in the Rocky River courts last year. However, Kennedy contended O’Grady was not utilizing the right financial figures in making his challenge to the mayor’s court.
O’Grady has been a foe of the mayor’s court since before he formally announced earlier this year that he was again planning to seek the mayor’s office. He also spoke against it during council meetings last year after Kennedy revealed his plans to form a city mayor’s court to handle the bulk of its traffic offenses and minor misdemeanors. O’Grady has noted that the vast majority of states besides Ohio do not have mayor’s courts. He also has said it causes a conflict of interest by eroding the separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches of government.
Kennedy has said that North Olmsted will benefit by keeping money that otherwise would be going to the Rocky River Municipal Court.
Although he has been attending council meetings, O’Grady’s speaking out against the mayor’s court was the first time he had spoken at one in several months. O’Grady said the Rocky River court paid North Olmsted $255,394.70 for the first six months of 2012. He said for the first six months of 2013, the mayor’s court received $256,259.31 with 300 more cases. He also cited figures of $19,429 for salaries and $15,514 for computers, saying the overall numbers translate to a net loss of $34,078.39 for the city.
He also initially questioned Kennedy as to whether he knew the mayor’s court financial figures, which Kennedy said he did not know off the top of his head. O’Grady admonished Kennedy, saying he should know figures for the court since he initiated the mayor’s court. During the exchange between the two, Kennedy questioned O’Grady’s figures, saying O’Grady did not factor in city collections in excess of court costs, saying they showed how the court is indeed successful for North Olmsted. He also asked O’Grady if he had consulted with finance Director Carrie Copfer to obtain his information, which O’Grady said he had. Kennedy noted he had seen some of O’Grady’s contentions on O’Grady’s website, with O’Grady thanking him for reading his website, adding he had not looked at Kennedy’s.
Copfer spoke briefly, noting some information she had with her at the meeting, and Kennedy said
afterward he would provide financial figures for
The next day, Kennedy noted the mayor’s court had started in mid-January, and had figures showing $43,683.67 in collections in excess of costs for the first quarter, $72,715.05 for the second quarter and $50,937.07 for first two months of the third quarter. He also cited figures for computerized fines collected, with figures of $4,713 for the first quarter, $5,943 for the second quarter and $4,341 for the first two months of the third quarter.
After O’Grady spoke, Jennifer Randolph, current head of the North Olmsted Board of Zoning Appeals, who also attends most council meetings, spoke and questioned whether O’Grady was using the proper forum to try to engage Kennedy in that type of discussion.