Pounds: Husted watchingWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | email@example.com
The chaos and dysfunction at the Lucas County Board of Elections have inspired Toledo Free Press to use this space to ask for oversight from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Husted may or may not heed our request, but a Jan. 6 letter he sent to the BOE illustrates he is paying close attention.
In his letter, he addresses three requests to break ties on votes the BOE could not decide for itself. Can there be any other county in Ohio that requires as much SOS attention as Lucas County? Husted declined to break ties in two cases — votes on allowing Republican staff member Meghan Gallagher to act equally with BOE Deputy Director Dan DeAngelis and a no-confidence vote on DeAngelis — because “The Lucas County Board of Elections did not timely send to the Secretary of State either the minutes of the December 13, 2011 meeting or the board members’ position statements related to the December 13 tie votes.”
Apparently, even when the BOE asks for Husted’s help, it can’t meet procedure or demonstrate competency. Husted lightly chastised the BOE, writing, “the Lucas County Board of Elections must assume complete and total responsibility for oversight of the operations and the duties assigned to them. The Board must carry out its statutory duties and resolve these problems rather than relying on the Secretary of State to oversee the staff at the Lucas County Board of Elections.”
Husted did break the tie on the third vote, on whether to certify the candidacy of Constantine Stamos, because, “None of the declarations of candidacy and part-petitions filed with the Lucas County Board of Elections included the candidate’s original signature as required … there is simply no tangible evidence to certify the candidate for the ballot.”
Husted then gets a bit tougher.
“The more troubling information provided in the board members’ position statements was the assertion that the staff is not competent to perform even the most routine function of accepting candidate petitions,” he wrote. “Furthermore, let me remind the members of the Lucas County Board of Elections, it is their responsibility, and theirs alone, to remedy the continuing issues of staff competency and workplace environment. Hopefully, a timely solution will prevent this office from the need to take separate action.”
Last week, Toledo Free Press reported that former BOE Director Ben Roberts may have logged more than 65 hours of weekend work time but may not have been present during the hours he claimed. We strongly urge the BOE to place an investigative query on its February agenda, not just to ascertain any wrongdoing in this case but to ensure that all BOE employees are aware of policies for claiming hours that cost taxpayer money.
It is somewhat comforting to know that Husted is watching the mess that is the BOE. We look forward to a day when his oversight is not required any more here than it is for other Ohio counties.
And we bet he does, too.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This editorial was co-authored by Toledo Free Press Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller. Contact him at email@example.com.