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Published: Friday, 12/14/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Copeland says he plans to retire as local union manager soon after taking county recorder job

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
When Toledo Councilman Phillip Copeland takes his new job next month as Lucas County recorder, he plans to keep working as a top official for a local union. When Toledo Councilman Phillip Copeland takes his new job next month as Lucas County recorder, he plans to keep working as a top official for a local union.
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When Toledo Councilman Phillip Copeland takes his new job next month as Lucas County recorder, he plans to keep working as a top official for a local union.

Mr. Copeland — who began this week with his transition into the office with the unofficial appointment of Jessica Ford as his chief deputy — told The Blade that he would keep his $126,127-a-year job as business manager for Laborers Local 500 for “at least a few months.” As recorder, he will be paid $71,286 a year.

“I just haven’t come up with a date yet and I have some things I have to wrap up,” he said. “I don’t have a date when I am going to retire. It might be a couple or few months after I take office. The recorder’s job is not full time but I am going to make it full time and I am going to be there everyday.”

Lucas County Assistant Prosecutor John Borell said he has not researched the topic but believes Mr. Copeland will be permitted to hold a job outside the recorder’s office. “There is no statutory prohibition,” Mr. Borell said. “There is for coroner and prosecutor. They have to make a decision if they want to be part time or full time at the beginning of the term.”

Other elected county officials do not have set hours or vacation schedules, he said.

“They set their own hours,” Mr. Borell said. “If he had a job that presented a conflict, that could be an issue, but he works for a union so I can’t see that it would.”

Mr. Copeland admits he has to learn about the recorder’s office operations, which are now headed by fellow Democrat Jeanine Perry.

As of Wednesday, Ms. Ford, currently the executive assistant of Democratic Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, had gone on part-time status there and began spending part of her day learning the job of chief deputy recorder.

Ms. Ford, 26, will be paid $60,000 in her new job, an increase from $48,900 in the commissioners’ office. She is replacing Julie East as chief deputy, and Ms. East will move to the vacant position of office manager in the recorder’s office.

Mrs. Perry, who did not seek re-election, said she met with Mr. Copeland twice after the election for a couple of hours on each occasion to discuss the job of the recorder. Before the election, she met with Republican City Councilman George Sarantou, who challenged Mr. Copeland.

Mrs. Perry said Ms. Ford was learning the tasks of the chief deputy recorder, including delivering the previous day’s receipts for fees to the treasurer’s office, also in Government Center in downtown Toledo. Mrs. Perry said she usually does that job but said it can be done by the chief deputy and the office manager.

“This is what I see as part of my responsibility as recorder to have a smooth, orderly transition,” Mrs. Perry said.

Ms. Ford is the daughter of Jack Ford, a former mayor, city councilman, state representative, and Toledo school board member who has applied to replace Mr. Copeland on city council when he leaves Jan. 7 for his new job.

In 2002, Mr. Ford’s recommendation helped get Ms. Wozniak appointed to a vacancy on the Lucas County Board of Commissioners to replace Bill Copeland, who was retiring as county commissioner. The late Mr. Copeland was the uncle of Phil Copeland.

Mr. Ford did not return a phone call seeking a comment.

Ms. Ford, 26, said people could view her hiring as political payback because of the public offices her father previously held.

“I am sure people think that, but it is really not the case,” Ms. Ford said. “After I graduated from the University of Michigan, I was hired as a regional representative for state Treasurer Kevin Boyce and then I came to the commissioners’ office, and I have been here for two years.”

Mr. Copeland said he has known Ms. Ford since she was a child.

“She comes with good credentials and people who work around the county recommended her,” he said. “She graduated from the University of Michigan with a major in political science and social work.”

Staff writer Tom Troy contributed to this report.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:imessina@theblade.comor 419-724-6171.



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