Taking issue with city’s legal claims


To the editor:

City council’s last action Monday bespoke continuing confusion about who did what last year concerning Issue 22 on the May 2014 ballot.

Law director Jon Clark referenced pending litigation between me and “the city” originally before the “board of elections.” The legal matter, now in the Tenth District Court of Appeals, is actually between me and the Ohio Elections Commission: an administrative appeal of the OEC’s decision about a complaint I brought in June 2014 with two elected and three appointed Oberlin officials as respondents.

The five council members not named in the complaint (three of whom, ironically, voted against putting Issue 22 without amendment on the ballot) have apparently been convinced in executive session that the city itself is a party to the litigation, by Mr. Clark and/or by the attorney engaged to defend the five respondents. Examination of the record shows only Mr. Severs continually listing the municipality as a party to the litigation. (See “Case Information Online” on the Franklin County Clerk of Courts website; look up 14-CV-10441 and 15-AP-184.)

When a municipality itself is not a defendant in a lawsuit, its agents are often directed to retain their own legal representation; the legislative authority (in consultation with its attorney) later considers whether or not it should reimburse its officials or employees for legal expenses. Such discernment seemingly was not employed here.

Mrs. Soucy would have you think I am costing taxpayers several thousand dollars in legal fees. Aside from the fact that the city need not shoulder this burden, the sum is dwarfed by the $600,000 raised annually by Issue 22 in excess of what was needed to plug the budget hole identified last year. Furthermore, 73 percent of that 0.6 percent wage tax increase is paid by taxpayers without representation in Oberlin — folks who could not vote on the measure in May 2014, nor next month on the people who brought it to the ballot.

Whether I return to city council or not, I will continue trying to make this right and to hold accountable those who wronged 100 percent of us.

David R. Ashenhurst

Oberlin