Perry Township Board of Trustees
May 8, 2012 7:00pm
Excused absence: None.
Additions/Deletions to Agenda: None.
Public Hearings/Invited Guests: None.
Public Speaks on items up for Board Approval: None.
Township Business requiring Board Action:
Unfinished Business: None.
Trustee Chessler made a motion to approve bills and payroll in the amount of $155,277.76 for the week ending May 8, 2012; Seconded by Trustee Laubacher.
ROLL CALL: Mr. Chessler, yes. Mr. Laubacher, yes. Mr. Haines, yes.
Trustee Chessler made a motion to approve the minutes with modifications from the May 1, 2012 Regular Meeting; Seconded by Trustee Laubacher.
ROLL CALL: Mr. Chessler, yes. Mr. Laubacher, yes. Mr. Haines, yes.
Board Discussion with Steve Toohey
Trustee Chessler stated that this item comes from a request received last week. The Board individually received a copy of a letter dated April 30, 2012 from Steve Toohey. In that letter, Mr. Toohey requested to speak collectively with the Board of Trustees. The Board received a second letter of correspondence from Mr. Toohey dated May 4, 2012. Mr. Toohey asked that this matter be placed on the agenda for the work session for further discussion. Since then, there was discussion with the Law Director based on the substance of the letter and it was his opinion that the substance involved regarding the complaints against a public official as such is a proper topic to discuss in executive session unless the person complained about requests that it is discussed in an open meeting. Trustee Chessler stated that he and his colleagues are of the same mind that with that they would like to have that discussion in executive session. Mr. Hall has advised the Board that they have the ability to include an interested party (Mr. Toohey). Trustee Chessler inquired if that is still the request of Mr. Toohey. Mr. Toohey stated that it is not because in an executive session it is his understanding that the public is not included and anything that is stated in that session is not public record.
Mr. Toohey stated that we are here and this is not taking shot at any one public official. Trustee Chessler inquired if Mr. Toohey is here is a representative capacity when he says “we.” Mr. Toohey stated that he is obviously representing a group of people who are interested enough to be here tonight to listen to what he has to say. Mr. Toohey stated that there is nothing slanderous or mean in this letter but it is giving him the opportunity to say what he needs to say. Trustee Chessler verified that Mr. Toohey would like to address the Board in a public session. Mr. Toohey stated that he would appreciate that. Trustee Chessler stated that for clarity sake, in both letters requesting to meet with the Board at the Work Session the Board stated that it would be in executive session and Mr. Toohey has declined to participate in that. Mr. Toohey stated that he will participate in an executive session after the public meeting if needed. Trustee Chessler stated that is not his call but that is a Board decision. Mr. Toohey stated that he spoke with Trustee Chessler via email and telephone this week and it was clearly stated that knowing that the executive session was such he would be able to have his voice heard and requested that the meeting be open to the public. Trustee Chessler stated that the Board will move through the remainder of the agenda and this matter will be addressed under public speaks.
Discussion of the Perry Township Business Exchange
Administrator Fetzer stated that per the Board’s request, she has researched the opportunity to create a Perry Township Business Exchange program. This is a way for the Board to reach out to the three hundred and fifty (350) plus businesses located in Perry Township. The Business Exchange program will bring similar benefits as surrounding communities receive through their Chamber of Commerce. The Board of Trustees would be the facilitator of the initial Business Exchange event and it will take place at the Exploration Gateway. The collective goal is to create a Business Exchange program whose primary goal would be to cooperatively work together to promote, support and protect the interest of all Perry Township businesses. Administrator Fetzer provided the Board with a binder which included the draft invitation for their review. The invitation is inviting the Perry Township businesses to join the Perry Township Board of Trustees at the Exploration Gateway to have the opportunity to participate in the Perry Township Business Exchange. A continental breakfast will be served at 7:30am. The Board has received a copy of the agenda for the meeting. The RSVP’s will be accepted through the Perry Township website.
Administrator Fetzer stated that the second supporting document is the survey form. The survey form addresses what the businesses main concerns are, preference of meeting date and time and whether or not they would be interested in serving on the Business Exchange Committee as; Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary or Treasurer.
Administrator Fetzer stated that the third supporting document is a sample page of the Business Exchange home page for the website. Phase I of the Business Exchange website would be things that the Board could do prior to the committee being selected. Everything in Phase II would be after the committee is formed and would include everything that they would have input on such as a mission statement and current membership rosters.
Administrator Fetzer stated that the fourth supporting document is a job description for the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer. There is also a document for sub-committee representatives which will be best described by the committee members.
Administrator Fetzer stated that the fifth supporting document is a list of all of the active businesses within Perry Township. Currently, there is just over three hundred and fifty (350) business located within Perry Township. The invitations will be sent out to each business.
Administrator Fetzer stated that the sixth supporting document is a list of future promotional opportunities for consideration. Administrator Fetzer stated that she had the opportunity to speak with each of the Board members regarding this but would be happy to discuss any questions or concerns that anyone might have. The tentative date for the initial meeting is June 12, 2012.
Trustee Haines inquired if Mr. Hall had any comments regarding the legalities of the Business Exchange program. Mr. Hall stated that he has not had the opportunity to review this information because he has not seen it. If the Township is not going to be receiving membership dues then there should not be a problem or concern. Without fees, it is considered as more of a consortium. Mr. Hall stated that he will review the information but does not anticipate any problems.
Trustee Chessler inquired if the Business Exchange Committee will be an antonymous Board or if the Board of Trustees has membership on it. Administrator Fetzer stated that would be a decision for the Board to make but she saw the Board of Trustees as more of the facilitator and bringing the businesses together. One of the benefits to the Business Exchange is the utilization of the Perry Township website to promote their businesses on the one existing page dedicated to the Business Exchange.
Trustee Laubacher inquired when the invitation should go out. Administrator Fetzer stated that after speaking with Trustee Haines they determined that they didn’t want to send the invitations out too far in advance and was considering the time period around May 28. Trustee Chessler inquired what other steps the Board needed to take other than giving the go ahead. Administrator Fetzer stated that the Board needs to review the invitation and give it their stamp of approval. Trustee Haines stated that the Board needs to give Mr. Hall the opportunity to review the information. Administrator Fetzer stated that she was not certain on what portion the Board wanted the Law Director to review. Trustee Haines stated that in discussion there might be a fee for the businesses to join the Business Exchange and if there is then that opens up what Mr. Hall just said. If there is no membership fee then so be it and it makes it cleaner. Mr. Hall inquired if the Board was going to take action on this matter tonight. Trustee Haines stated that the Board is not taking action on this matter tonight. Mr. Hall stated that he will review the information with Administrator Fetzer and he will get a memorandum to the Board by Friday.
Trustee Chessler inquired if once the group is constituted if they take on the form of a non-profit corporation. Administrator Fetzer stated that will be up for the committee to decide. Trustee Chessler inquired if it would be sufficient if the Board took action on this at the next regular meeting. Administrator Fetzer stated that would be perfect.
Fire Department: None.
Police Department: None.
Road Department: None.
Law Director: None.
ORC 121.22 (G) (1) to consider the Investigation of complaints or charges against a public official
Trustee Chessler stated that he will defer taking a vote for an executive session unless it is necessary.
Department Matters Not Requiring Board Action:
Fire Department: None.
Police Department: None.
Road Department: None.
Law Director: None.
Public Speaks-Open Forum:
Steve Toohey- 642 Summerdale Ave. NW. Mr. Toohey read a prepared statement to the Board. This statement will be attached to the minutes and on file at the Township Administration Office. Mr. Toohey highlighted several concerns that he would like the Board to address.
Mr. Toohey summarized most of the issues to be issues of respect, communication, motivation and overall leadership abilities and traits.
Issues Summarized by Mr. Toohey:
1. The forty (40) plus grievances that have been filed within the police department in the past two (2) years. The appearances of petty, mis-motivated or vindictive actions against certain officers that create friction and a breakdown of good morale within the department. More grievances have been filed than any time in the past, costing our Township time, frustration and expense with each one.
2. The resignation of dependable and long tenured officers from the department. Our recent retirement of a fantastic, well liked and respected fourteen (14) year veteran, Officer Jeff Caughey, last week and not more than a reading and entry of his retirement for a unanimous vote by the Trustees. Is this how we treat our officers who “stick it out there” every day and night? Do we have an exit interview procedure in place to find out why we are losing our best officers? Has Perry become a training center for our officers, just to send them on to the next police department? Have we asked why so many officers are abandoning ship? Has anybody taken the time to ask them? Finally, how many more officers are poised to leave? Mr. Toohey thanked Officer Jeff Caughey for his dedicated service to our Township and hopes that his career ahead is fulfilling.
Trustee Chessler noted that he did call Mr. Caughey to conduct an exit interview and thanked him for his fourteen (14) years of service and wished him well as he is going on to another job he thought he had a better opportunity with.
3. Mishandling of a donation, intended to be given to the Perry Rotary Club, not the Police Department from Mr. Guy Cecchini in the amount of $4,000.00 on behalf of the PRIDE program. Nobody has issued to Mr. Cecchini a formal thank you or an outline of how his generous donation will be applied and spent. This is a donation that was to be forthcoming on a yearly basis, but I fear we have dropped the ball on such an important and simple item. Our PRIDE summer camp is a program developed by Officer Bill Watson and allows sixty (60) plus kids two weeks every summer to enjoy the experience of new and different things that they may otherwise never have a chance at. I have attended the PRIDE camp the last five (5) years and I can tell you it is worth every penny spent. Building upon that program in the future could only do good in our Township. That money must be turned over to the Perry Rotary Club as intended to allow Officer Watson to operate his summer camp as needed.
4. A town hall meeting on Wednesday, April 25 sponsored by the Stark Mental Health Recovery Board and the Perry Police Department and held at Perry High School that was unknown to most everybody in official capacity within our Township. Our school superintendent, the high school principal, the manager of our school building and several within our administration knew NOTHING of this incredible educational and informative program regarding the epidemic drug use of opiates within our schools and how it is killing our children. After additional research on the Township Trustee Board meeting minutes, the School Board minutes, the Perryite newsletter, the Police Department website, the DARE website, the High School website and the Township website under Community Alerts…….NOTHING. I found a tiny article in the Independent two (2) days before the event. Our Police Administration knew of this town hall meeting at least a month in advance and communicated to NOBODY about it. Ironically, DARE Officer Watson was not even invited to be a part of the program, but did show up as a concerned citizen to learn what he is paid to know and teach. The fact that only twenty-five (25) residents showed up was embarrassing! I have met with Dr. John Richards and the Stark Mental Health Board to try it again and have our parents, teachers, students and administration on board next time. We will be doing another presentation this fall.
5. A drug bust of four (4) pounds of marijuana that took place on Thursday, April 26 on Greenpark Road and as printed by the Independent was within 1,000 feet of Watson Elementary School. Was there any notification to our school superintendent or principle of Watson Elementary School and a suggested lock down? I think if you ask, you will find the answer to be NO! The bust took place at 11:35am, the time when the children were at recess. Ironically, at a joint meeting of the Township Trustees and School Board members just two (2) days earlier, was not the topic of school safety? How was this event overlooked or not communicated to the proper authority? I am thankful that neither a foot chase took place nor gunshots exchanged while our children were in obvious peril.
6. The unbelievable chaos on Sunday, April 29, 2012 experienced by Perry Police Dispatch, trying to locate any officer who would answer their phones and assume an unfilled 10:00am-2:00pm shift due to an officer reporting off sick and a missed scheduling for an officer who requested the day off. Dispatch personnel spent four (4) hours calling no less than twenty (20) officers to fill the time slot. Phones went unanswered time and time again. On the CD recording, you can hear the absolute frustration of the dispatcher’s task. Comments such as, “We know nobody will work”- “Supervisors should be doing this stuff”- “This is a big mess”- “I stopped leaving messages”- “Call the Chief for direction”- “I didn’t know I should call the detectives”- “it’s 9:30 and I’m already tired”- “I called up and down the list 5 times”- “There will be policy changes coming with this”- and finally “everybody will get their asses chewed out for this one.” If I didn’t hear it I wouldn’t have believed it myself! This situation was only a symptom to the underlying fact, as I heard clearly that nobody wants to work. What are the underlying facts here? Why don’t officers want to work? More importantly, where would help be in our Township if there was an all-out-crisis….and nobody answers their phone?
7. There was a dedication of a bench at the Ohio War Memorial in Clinton on Sunday, April 29 on behalf of Sgt. Danny Patron, our fallen hero. The DARE car was scheduled to represent our Township to lead the caravan from the Patron’s home to the war memorial. Permission for this duty was revoked one hour before the caravan was due to roll, because of “unforeseen scheduling problems.” Officer Watson was now placed on road patrol and could not escort the caravan. When I was informed that he could no longer make it, I spoke to Chief Pomesky and asked if he could go on road patrol or at least lead the caravan with the DARE car. He advised he could not due to family activity. I then asked Chief Pomesky to call the Patrons and apologize for the situation; he said he would not be able to call them until later that day to do so. I reminded the Chief that the Patrons were waiting for that vehicle to arrive; therefore I called the Patrons to break the news to them. The DARE vehicle did indeed lead the caravan, only after a very thoughtful and understanding off duty Officer Caughey, heard of the situation and came in on his day off to work road patrol to allow Officer Watson to lead the caravan. My fear is that since this activity of an officer helping another officer was “not by the book” then certain repercussions may exist. I was told by one of our officers that if you just come to work and put in your shift, you’re just a cop. If you look to assist your community with the things that matter, then you are a police officer, looking to give back your best. How can we mess up something so simple that means so much to the family in their grief healing process!
Mr. Toohey stated that the goal tonight is to recreate our Police Department to become the best it can be, providing a safety force of officers willing and able to perform to the highest standards that we as a community demand. With that in mind, Mr. Toohey is recommending the formation of a Police Department based committee to serve our community and Police Department leadership. The Police Action Coalition or “PAC” will be a Police Department and community based organization, comprised of representatives from the Police Department, Fire Department, private businesses, Township Administration, church, civic organizations, School Administration and students. This coalition will be open to everybody wanting to be informed about all that happens in our Township. This group will also become the eyes and ears of our Police Department and our community.
Mr. Toohey stated that in closing, many in the audience will be watchful and mindful of what actions may transcend within the next few weeks or months. We hope that positive change starts tonight and carries through the weeks ahead. Mr. Toohey stated that it is his hope that we develop a Police Department where each officer can be proud to go to work and perform his or her job, knowing they are allowed to contribute their best. Mr. Toohey stated that his underlying fear is that we will forget what is said here tonight but he will not let that happen. Let it be said tonight, that all of us here, are being put on notice to do the right thing. These problems must be fixed now.
Trustee Chessler stated that given the volume of information provided this evening the Board will need time to digest all of it. Mr. Toohey stated absolutely.
Doug Waikem- 4027 Dunoon Circle NW. Mr. Waikem inquired if the forty (40) grievances were filed by the same officers over and over or if they were filed by a majority of the officers. Mr. Hall stated that numerous officers have filed grievances over the course of two (2) years and that they were involved in collective bargaining. Most of those grievances were resolved at or before the Step II- Board level. Several of the grievances were filed without authorization of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) business agent. Those grievances were then withdrawn. Mr. Hall stated that though the number of forty (40) grievances is accurate it is also misleading. One (1) of the grievances is going to arbitration and the Township is waiting for a list of potential arbitrators from the FMCS as we speak.
Mr. Waikem stated that he has helped the Township and the Police Chief’s all the way back to Mr. Smith. Mr. Waikem stated that he was asked to help on the police levy renewal and he met with Chief Pomesky and the rest of the committee. Of nine thousand (9,000) dealerships in America, the Waikem dealerships are at the lowest percentage for theft and vandalism which has helped lower their insurance rates. Mr. Waikem stated that when he was asked to help with the levy he was trying to figure out what would help sell the Perry Police Department versus other police departments and levy’s passed under the other Chief’s. This information is available; DUI’s, burglaries, grand theft, domestic violence, drug abuse, child abuse and breaking and entering statistics are all down. Mr. Waikem stated it was the easiest direct mail piece he has ever written in his life. In every category we can measure the police department, they are exceeding the expectations. Everyone makes mistakes and you can’t make everybody happy.
Mr. Waikem stated that he has had a problem with this Chief. Chief Pomesky wants to add another company to the towing rotation, cutting the business back by twenty-five (25) percent for Oscar’s Towing. Mr. Waikem stated that he called up Chief Pomesky and asked if they really needed another towing company. Chief Pomesky’s response was no but it is the right thing to do. If they meet all of the specifications then how can they not give them a shot at it like all of the other companies on the rotation? Let the best man win, the market will take care of itself. That is not normally the mentality you get out of the public sector. Mr. Waikem stated that Chief Pomesky is absolutely right, had someone not given his father an opportunity in 1957 they wouldn’t be where they are today. Mr. Waikem stated that Chief Pomesky has more of a business mentality than any other Chief this Township has had.
Mr. Waikem stated that when they talk to Chief Pomesky regarding IT stuff or other business related matters with the levy the guy is on his game. Mr. Waikem stated that Chief Pomesky is a good Chief and if he’s made mistakes; that’s great. If we need a Police Action Committee; that’s fine. Are we going to have a committee for the Fire Department? Are we going to have a committee for Zoning? Are we going to have a committee for the Trustee’s? Sometimes, we get too many people involved and we end up with camels and not horses. Mr. Waikem stated that he appreciates what Mr. Toohey said tonight but he looks at the facts. The Police Department gets the job done. Mr. Waikem stated that Chief Pomesky has brought in over $750,000.00 in grants and he would die to have a guy working for him that could generate ten times his income.
Stephen Slone- 313 Redwood St. SW. Mr. Slone stated that he is a resident of Beach City but an employee of Perry Township. Mr. Slone stated that the Police Department is a little bit different and statistics don’t prove everything. It goes beyond that. If the cops don’t want to do anything, you are going to have low statistics.
Mr. Waikem stated that a lot of communities can’t get their school levies to pass. When you look at the Perry Township Police Department, they have had the last seven (7) or eight (8) levies pass by wide margins. Mr. Waikem stated that to him, that is a community saying “job well done.” Maybe it’s just perception, maybe the statistics he reported on were not exactly accurate because of the way they are reported but you have to watch what you wish for.
Mr. Toohey stated that he votes for every tax levy that the Township throws out to include the last Perry Township Police levy. Mr. Toohey stated that we want the best Police Department in the country if that is possible. We want the money to go to our Township to train and keep good officers. Mr. Toohey stated that he finds no fault in what the Police Department is doing in regards to arrests. Mr. Toohey stated that he was caught for speeding a year ago and wasn’t happy about it but he ate his fine and went down the road. That’s what you do when you break a law, you pay your fines and you go on. Mr. Toohey stated that it didn’t stop him from voting for the Perry Police levy. Mr. Toohey stated his whole point, to reiterate again, the police department is the officers; the guys, the women who are on the road putting up with the crap every night. They don’t do it for the money. Mr. Toohey stated that his premise here is to have the best leadership possible. Mr. Toohey stated that he is not throwing anyone under the bus; “Mike I like you as a human being, Brian I love you as a human being and you’re my neighbor.” Mr. Toohey stated that he has two (2) cops that live in his neighborhood. Mr. Toohey stated that he is merely saying that everyone here tonight needs to be held accountable for what they do and how they do it. Purely, out and out it is respect. It’s not playing games, it’s not going by the book just because that’s what we do. It’s not listening to the unions because the unions are the problem. Screw the unions and I do not mean that spitefully. Mr. Toohey stated that as long as you treat people the way that you want to be treated, unions are obsolete and we see that more and more. You don’t hear about unions because we in this country today have gotten a new perception that we all live in the same world. It’s not them against us. It’s not me against my employees. Mr. Toohey stated that his employees just got done building the most beautiful fallen soldier float that will be in the Hall of Fame parade. Mr. Toohey stated that he didn’t build it but he walked out and said to his employees the other day, “You guys make me proud.” Mr. Toohey stated that when he took the float to the Ohio Veteran’s Memorial people were patting him on the back. Mr. Toohey explained that he didn’t build the float that the people listed on the sponsor list are the guys that built it. Mr. Toohey stated that he paid them but when he gave them the initial challenge they said “this is going to be the best thing that we have ever done and it’s going to win the biggest award in the Hall of Fame parade.” Mr. Toohey stated that he is happier than you can imagine that the crime is down but it doesn’t stop there. It is more about respect, communication and good leadership. Mr. Toohey stated that he is personally willing to work with anybody that he possibly can to give his experience.
Mr. Hall stated that he has had the good fortune of getting to work with Perry Township for twenty-seven (27) years and has worked with seven (7) different Chief’s of Police. The one thing that everyone has to remember is that a Police Department is a quasi para-military operation. It can not be run by committee. It can not be run by popular will. It can not be run by a popularity contest. Mr. Hall stated that he can sit here and recount similar types of concerns that were brought against Escola, Machan, Smith, Marks, Bender and Woods. Mr. Hall stated that if you would speak to any of the prosecutors that work with the Perry Township Police Department at the municipal level that handle the majority of the cases that this Police Department arrests and prosecutes as well as the two (2) judges at the Massillon Municipal Court, they will tell you that this congery of police officers, are the best law enforcement organization in the county. Mr. Hall stated that he is confident that if you would talk to the county prosecuting attorney and those that are handling the felony level cases, they will tell you that our police officers, the men and women who are serving you, are the best in the county. Mr. Hall stated that he will suggest that there have been some difficulties throughout the last three (3) years. Senate Bill 5 drove a wedge between many of you and the administration that we had to stress and struggle through. Forty (40) plus grievances resulted from that. Mr. Hall suggested to keep in mind that it is a top down organization and when you are at the top and you are making the decisions, whatever decision you make in someone’s mind; you’re wrong. Mr. Hall stated that Chief Pomesky has done a very good job for you and for your community.
Trustee Haines stated that he seconds what Mr. Hall said as far as what the judges and prosecutors think. Trustee Haines stated that he had an opportunity to speak with Judge Elum and he praised all of the officers from the top down. We do have a great police force. Trustee Haines stated that there is absolutely room for improvement as there is any where but that is something that the Township will continue to work on.
Trustee Chessler stated that he just wanted to echo that comment and when you talk about leadership that includes the Board of Trustees. That means there is room for improvement, we have a good record and we are putting up good statistics. Trustee Chessler stated that you have to look into the locker room and see if improvements can be made and that is what he takes away from it.
Bob Schnabel- 5553 Richville Dr. SW. Mr. Schnabel stated that he agrees with Mr. Waikem. The numbers are incredible and as a business person you can not argue with numbers. Mr. Schnabel stated that he also agrees with Mr. Hall in that if the Police Department is rated as a great police force that is indicative of having great numbers. It doesn’t just happen by chance. Mr. Schnabel stated that he personally likes Chief Pomesky and what he is hearing tonight is an under current of a potential problem. The problems discussed tonight should be listened to. When you hear things, if you really start to peal back the onion you may find that there are areas that have room for improvement. Mr. Schnabel stated that after listening to Mr. Toohey and talking to some other people he thinks that there may be some underlying problems that the Board may want to look at and address. If there aren’t any then so be it. Everybody can march on their own way and everything is fine. The reason that this police force has such an excellent rating is simply because those guys do one heck of an excellent job. Mr. Schnabel stated that he isn’t hearing that they are upset enough that they aren’t going to go in to their job but there seems to be some disgruntlement and in the future we could end up losing police officers.
Dave Waikem- 3198 Inwood Dr. NW. Mr. Waikem stated that at his business they go through management changes all of the time. Anytime there is a management change there are some ruffles but anytime there is a management change within weeks you can see improvements or not see improvements. Mr. Waikem stated that when the last Chief made an embarrassment of Perry Township he told people that it was not the officer’s fault. That was a stupid mistake made by an individual. Mr. Waikem stated that he knows Mr. Toohey, Administrator Fetzer and Chief Pomesky from Rotary and he was shocked when he read some of these accusations because he does not see it from any one of these people sitting up front. Mr. Waikem stated that they shouldn’t just rush to conclusions and say, “let’s just get somebody else.” That is not a solution. That is just creating more headache. Mr. Waikem stated that he hopes that this is not a lynch mob. Mr. Waikem stated that from what he has read there may be some issues but feels that this can be turned into something positive that everyone can learn from.
With nothing further to come before the Board, Trustee Chessler made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:07pm; Seconded by Trustee Haines.
ROLL CALL: Mr. Chessler, yes. Mr. Laubacher, yes. Mr. Haines, yes.
Craig E. Chessler, President
Joe Schlegel, Fiscal Officer