BARBARA HARTMAN: Thanks to the vigilance of Pierce Township resident Barbara Hartman, the public now knows that township trustees there have violated Ohio’s Open Meeting Act 18 times in the past two years. Hartman filed a complaint against the trustees, alleging they violated state law by not specifying what types of personnel actions were to be discussed when the group convened closed-door, executive sessions. Just as a trial was to begin last week on the complaint, the trustees admitted the violations and agreed to pay Hartman $500 and her legal fees.
Trustees need to be reminded that Ohio’s “sunshine laws” aren’t just pretty words about transparency — they’re meant to be complied with by local governments.
ARNOLD BARNETT: The Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority’s former chairman is furthering the city’s national reputation as a bitter, intolerant place.
Barnett made headlines last summer when — while replying to an attorney who had filed a civil rights complaint against the agency — he stated he would start putting Section 8 housing in the attorney’s upscale neighborhood.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is now investigating the agency for discriminatory actions, and its review concluded Barnett’s comments amounted to retaliation. Barnett was removed as chairman a few months ago after he used a racial slur against fellow board member John Rosenberg, who is Jewish.
“NO MERCY” T-SHIRTS: Rape is a horrible crime no matter who is victimized. But it seems even worse when it happens to an elderly woman and the suspect is just 14 years old. So we’re not surprised that the sons of victim Phyllis Mays are angry. But Mays’ attorney should have advised the three sons not to wear stark black T-shirts with the words, “No Mercy!” written on them into the Butler County courtroom last week.
Although only an arraignment, a savvy defense attorney could possibly spin the sight into a basis for a mistrial, and definitely could do so once a jury is seated if the garments are worn again.
LOCAL GUN SHOWS: More than three months after an undercover sting organized by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg revealed illegal firearm sales were occurring at gun shows held in Sharonville, the practice is still continuing. A video provided by ProgressOhio last week showed more such sales happening at the convention center there.
It’s time police crack down on the problem, and lawmakers should require background checks on all purchases. According to the ATF, more than 10,000 guns are illegally trafficked each year, accounting for about 30 percent of all guns used in criminal acts, and Ohio is a major source. Let’s be part of the solution.