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Published: Wednesday, 6/13/2007

Report critical of Fisher s handling of Columbus first lady issues


COLUMBUS A state investigation has concluded that the wife of Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman did not work the hours she claimed to while at the Ohio Department of Development and was critical of Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and his staff for missing obvious "red flags about her problems.

The report determined, however, that Mr. Fisher did not improperly fire her supervisor, Glenda Williamson, after she raised questions.

A report released this afternoon by Inspector General Tom Charles found that Frankie Coleman was initially dishonest with investigators when she claimed to have worked every hour she declared on her time sheets. It was only later that Mrs. Coleman revealed what appeared to be a pattern of tardiness and absenteeism dating back to her work on Gov. Ted Strickland s transition team.

"We conclude that Williamson was not fired for criticizing Coleman or refusing to sign her time sheet, and that the evidence was insufficient to conclude that Coleman drank alcohol before or during work," reads the report. "That said, Coleman s attorney conceded during our second interview that Coleman has an alcohol problem and that there have been times during the period when she had difficulty dealing with [her problem]."

Mrs. Coleman resigned her job as assistant manager of workforce development effective Friday and has entered herself into an inpatient alcohol treatment center.

The report was critical of the department and Mr. Fisher for missing a number of "red flags that Coleman s hiring was a mistake, regardless of her qualifications."

"We also question the actions and conduct of Fisher and other DOD officials who ignored or were oblivious to warning after warning that Coleman s personal problems were interfering with her job duties, the report reads.

The report also found that Mrs. Coleman received preferential treatment by receiving a government parking pass that she should have given up after leaving Mr. Strickland s transition team.

The inspector general recommended a number of changes in supervision procedures with the department, and referred the Coleman issues to the Columbus city prosecutor for consideration of possible criminal charges.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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