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Published: Friday, 4/28/2006

Douglas gives up job with state union

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU
Douglas Douglas
ZAPOTOSKY / BLADE Enlarge

COLUMBUS - Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andy Douglas has resigned, effective immediately, as executive director of Ohio's largest state employees union, but he said that doesn't necessarily mean he will become Toledo's new law director.

Mr. Douglas, who served 18 years on the high court before reaching mandatory retirement age, submitted his resignation to Ohio Civil Service Employees Association President Ron Alexander late Wednesday, even though he still has nearly a year left on his contract.

Mr. Douglas, 73, a Republican and longtime friend of Democratic Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, met with members of Toledo City Council last week to discuss the law director job.

But he said yesterday that the discussion is still "very fluid."

He declined to say whether he would have stepped down from his union post if the Toledo job were not on the table.

Mayor Finkbeiner also would not say whether Mr. Douglas has been offered the law director job.

"I've let him know that I'd like him to be associated in government with me," Mr. Finkbeiner said yesterday.

Mr. Douglas was a member of Toledo City Council from 1961 to 1980.

The law director post is held on an acting basis by John Madigan.

Council President Rob Ludeman said the discussion last week definitely centered on the law director job. He said he would support the appointment, given Mr. Douglas' experience and background.

Mr. Ludeman said it might require allowing Mr. Douglas to work in Toledo four days a week, Monday through Thursday, so he can retain his residence in Columbus.

The news release issued by the 36,000-member union said Mr. Douglas wished to pursue "a number of personal and professional opportunities."

But first Mr. Douglas would have to get the OCSEA board to release him from his contract.

"My experience [with the union] has been pleasant, exciting, productive, and, above all, I've made lifelong friends," Mr. Douglas said.

Mr. Douglas led negotiations with the state for a three-year contract for employees that led to raises of 3, 3, and 3.5 percent. As city law director, he would be expected to take on management's role in contract negotiations with the police and fire unions, which have worked without contracts since Dec. 31.

OCSEA spokesman Sally Meckling declined to disclose what the former justice was paid by the union. Mr. Douglas was making $123,900 a year when he left the court more than three years ago.

"Andy is a shrewd strategist," Mr. Alexander said in a statement. "When we asked Andy to take this job on, we knew we were facing important economic and political battles, and he took on those challenges. His talents will be missed."

Mr. Douglas frustrated fellow Republican justices and GOP leadership while on the court with decisions striking down the state's method of funding schools and legislative attempts to limit litigation jury awards. He won support from both labor and trial lawyers in his campaigns.

Last year, Mr. Douglas was involved in the largely Democratic but unsuccessful effort to amend Ohio's constitution to change how congressional and legislative districts are redrawn and how the state runs elections.

Blade staff writer Tom Troy contributed to this report.

Contact Jim Provance at:

jprovance@theblade.com

or 614-221-0496.



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