Mayor Fitzgerald must not be allowed to drag Loveland residents and taxpayers into his personal election woes.
Open letter to Loveland City Council, City Manager, Clerk of Council, and City Solicitor,
In light of the special council meeting called by Mayor Fitzgerald for 7 PM this Monday night, Loveland Magazine hereby does, and will, protest if the meeting adjourns to executive session to discuss Fitzgerald’s, (through his attorney) notice to the Board of the Hamilton County Board of Elections (BOE) that, “We will be pursuing other legal remedies.”
If the Mayor says in vague terms that he will pursue other legal remedies (in regard to the Boards decision of last Friday that he must either resign by midnight Monday or stand in a recall vote this November) that this is his private matter and presumably since the statement was directed to the BOE or one member of the Board, it is of no regard to Loveland, Council.
If the Mayor has or will insinuate that the City will be involved in his private dispute with the BOE or a Political Action Committee, then it must be so “publicly” declared and discussed in an open meeting of Council. If the Mayor has called for this special meeting to discuss a private “civil” matter that he may pursue either as an appeal of the ruling to the Secretary of State or in a court of Common Pleas, We would ask all of you to consider the implications of a possible conflict of interest on the part of the Mayor.
Will Fitzgerald ask taxpayers to hire special counsel to represent his interests in a law suit he might file?
If Fitzgerald asks for an executive session to discuss a matter involving himself in possible litigation with a 3rd party, that he may attempt to draw the City of Loveland into, it would be out of order. In fact, in light of the conflict of interest, because of the implications of financial and personal advantage, the Mayor must not be allowed to enter the executive session. This would not be a matter of the mayor of a city being sued in his official capacity, but one Fitzgerald has indicated he may file in a matter of pursuing his personal political goals.
Loveland Magazine will suggest that Council is prohibited by law from entering into an executive session, and perhaps even this “Special Meeting” itself — to discuss any permutations of “Mark Fitzgerald vs. 3rd Party”.
This is not a case of the Mayor of a city being sued in his official capacity where he would be entitled to outside counsel, but litigation that Fitzgerald might himself initiate in a private political dispute attempting to salvage his political career.
Are you prepared to pledge a vow of silence?
Another ramification of Council and Staff discussing a “Mark Fitzgerald vs. 3rd Party” lawsuit in executive session (and one that I would suggest may be a motive) is that it would make ALL subject to sanctions if they ever publicly discuss anything mentioned in the closed door meeting.* Are you prepared to commit to a vow of silence on the Mayor’s election woes? Will this prevent the Solicitor or the other Council members from discussing these matters with the press? It is clear that the only person who will not respect the vow of silence is the Mayor.
Right to see the sausage made
Re-stated… Loveland Magazine believes that any “Mark Fitzgerald vs. 3rd Party” lawsuit or perceived “imminent litigation” must be discussed, if at all discussed by Council as a body, in an open session of Council. The press and indeed the residents of this City have a right under the laws of the City and the State of Ohio to listen to your discussions — to understand and appreciate the rationale behind your decisions.
To provide transparency in government, a free press needs to be able to comment and report on public matters in an informed fashion. An executive session would interfere with Loveland Magazine’s ability to scrutinize and report first-hand on government proceedings and deliberations. We and residents have a right to see the sausage made, and your formation of public policy.
* Charter of City of Loveland
117.01 COUNCIL RULES.
Rule 16. Executive Session.
Executive Session is reserved for matters permitted to be addressed in Executive Session pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code or to secure general legal advice from the City Solicitor and all matters discussed shall be kept in the strictest confidence. All members of City Council are prohibited from removing written notes from, and making audio/video recordings of, any executive session. All members of City Council are prohibited from divulging materials, topics of discussion (beyond the stated reason by the Mayor for the executive session), or discussions made during executive session meetings. Members who violate this non-disclosure policy of Executive Session will be subject to all possible sanctions.
Read background on the efforts to recall Fitzgerald as Mayor: