XENIA — City council will begin its inquiry into the alleged actions of councilmen John Caupp and Dale Louderback Aug. 19.
The hearing, approved by council July 23, is set to begin 6 p.m. and is expected to last two days. It is an open session and will be televised live on the city’s cable access channel.
Council is alleging that Caupp and Louderback violated the city charter when they announced their intention to invest in a $7 million entertainment center in Xenia Towne Square. Plans to turn the former Kmart building into a movie theater were also announced.
Council turned the case over to the Ohio Ethics Commission, which has yet to make any comment, and decided to hold it’s own investigation as well.
A decision by council could come as early as Thursday and if council decides the pair violated the charter they could be removed from office.
Throughout the process, Caupp and Louderback have maintained that they did nothing wrong and received clearance from City Law Director Ron Lewis.
Supporters of Caupp and Louderback have packed the council chamber during the last two meetings, speaking for more than an hour at the Aug. 13 meeting. Some spoke about the integrity and honesty of Caupp and Louderback, while others admonished council for spending taxpayer money on an inquiry that is already being conducted for free by the Ohio Ethics Commission.
Also at the Aug. 13 meeting, Louderback said neither he nor Caupp had gone through with investing in the project.
Public comments will not be accepted during the inquiry according to a “procedure for purposes of inquiry” document obtained by the Gazette. However, written comments may be given to the clerk of council before the inquiry begins or at breaks during the proceeding.
Much like a regular judicial hearing, witnesses will testify and there will be documents entered into the record as exhibits.
Unlike a trial, following the presentation of witnesses and exhibits, council will deliberate in open session. Comments during deliberations by council members will be limited to five minutes per member for initial statement and three minutes for follow-up comments. Council may decide to extend or limit the time and extent of comments upon a majority vote of council.
Any member of council may introduce a motion whether or not to take action. A majority of council must vote to take action, if any.