Stop inquiry before it starts

Xenia City Council is set to begin an inquiry into alleged actions of councilmen Dale Louderback and John Caupp on Wednesday.

Council is alleging that the pair violated the city charter when they announced their intentions to invest in a $7 million entertainment center in Xenia Towne Square and assume management positions for the developer.

This has been the hot topic around Xenia for months. Residents have let their feelings be known, especially on Facebook, where pages such as “Enough – Louderback & Caupp Resign Now” and “Xenia Stands Proudly With Councilmen Louderback and Caupp” were created for both sides to air their thoughts.

Council meetings have been packed with residents wanting to address council — 99 percent in defense of the pair.

We don’t know if Caupp and Louderback violated the city charter or not and we think it’s not about sides, it’s about what’s right for the city. This topic has divided the city. It has brought stress to all the council members and their families. And it’s become ugly. Personal attacks seem to be the norm. Police had to be called to last week’s council meeting.

Isn’t Xenia the City of Hospitality?

The project has yet to break ground. City Manager Brent Merriman recently said the entertainment center is a top priority for the city. It will bring jobs and tax revenue to the city, which has seen cash flow decrease for myriad reasons.

Louderback announced at the Aug. 13 meeting that neither he nor Caupp are financially tied to the project anymore. Their employment with the developer never began. No contract was ever signed. An email from the developer that Louderback read at the council meeting confirmed that.

Considering Caupp and Louderback are no longer involved, is there a reason to move forward with the inquiry? No.

The Ohio Ethics Commission is already investigating … at no cost to the city. The city has been paying an outside law firm for counsel throughout this process and just appropriated another $30,000 last week. While the city undoubtedly has money somewhere in its general fund for something like this, we don’t think it’s the best use of taxpayer dollars.

There are more important issues for the city right now.

City council should do the right thing and end the inquiry before it starts. If the OHC finds something, then council can act.

But until that happens, both sides should agree to disagree and drop it. Let’s move forward.