A meeting called Friday afternoon by the Lucas County Board of Elections for the “termination of employees” ended with no terminations and no clue as to who was to be terminated or why.
“Termination of employees” was the sole item on the agenda of the board, but Board Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler announced as soon as the meeting started that there would be no firings.
“In lieu of terminations I am going to ask at the next meeting we have the Lucas County human resources department become involved with the board of elections and its employees and try to work together for positive resolutions to some of the situations that have developed,” Mr. Rothenbuhler said.
Fellow Democratic board member John Irish said he concurred.
Asked what the problems are that prompt the need for county human resources intervention, Mr. Rothenbuhler said, “communication, working together, organizational chart, same things we've had on the table for quite a while.”
On April 23, the board voted 3-1, with Republican Jon Stainbrook in opposition, to have the Lucas County human resources department investigate a harassment complaint by Gina Kaczala, executive assistant to Director Meghan Gallagher, against Ms. Gallagher.
However, the request was not properly worded and so was returned to the elections board to be revised and passed again, according to Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken.
Mr. Rothenbuhler, Mr. Irish, and board member Anthony DeGidio refused to comment on who was supposed to be terminated at Friday's meeting.
Mr. Stainbrook said he had not been consulted by the other three board members. He criticized Mr. Gerken as interfering with the elections board and of meeting privately with the other members.
“The Lucas County Commissioners are very intrusive and involved way too much in the Lucas County Board of Elections. They only have budgetary oversight,” Mr. Stainbrook said. “I will vote not to refer anything to the county commissioners at all. They're three Democrats and they would love nothing more than to dig in more and manipulate more the Lucas County Board of Elections.”
He said the complaint against Ms. Gallagher is without merit and said that if it had merit the other board members should not have allowed a month to go by with no investigation taking place.
“I think Ron did the right thing,” Mr. Stainbrook said in apparently heading off the planned firings.
Mr. Gerken said he allowed two members of the elections board and a board staffer to use the commissioners' eighth-floor office recently but was participating in an unrelated meeting of the board of commissioners at the time.
He said state law allows the county's human resources division to be used by the board of elections as their own personnel department if they pass a correct motion to opt into the service.
“I have not met privately with the board [of elections]. If Jon Stainbrook has an issue with the county commissioners, who fund them, provide them space and support, I would love to talk to him about it,” Mr. Gerken said.
Contact Tom Troy: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419--724-6058.