When the Xenia Gazette headline raised the question July 31 about “lies, half truths,” there were key questions for what’s true and how to obtain these facts.
As we approach a second round of city council hearings on Aug. 31, we should insure that legal due process is carefully followed to guarantee fairness and compliance with Ohio laws.
Here are four important questions before this “show trial” is continued on questionable legal grounds and where the legal costs will continue to skyrocket.
1. Gazette’s wise warning? On Aug. 18, the Gazette correctly wrote a strong editorial headlined “Stop council inquiry before it starts.” We agree. This editorial judgement has been popular with nearly 1,000 views on the website, plus lots of positive feedback and agreement we have heard. They also noted that council has been: “packed with residents wanting to address council — 99 percent in defense of the pair” and “we don’t think it’s the best use of taxpayer dollars.”
2. Waiting after independent state reviews? Would it not be better use of taxpayer dollars to stop this waste of money/time now and allow the Ohio Ethics Commission and state auditor’s office to complete their independent investigations? Why continue this costly politics by the council president trying to score pre-election political attacks? We have and will continue to fully cooperate with the Ohio Ethics Commission and auditor in order to complete their independent review and conclude this matter at no cost to the taxpayers of Xenia.
3. Key, Basic Facts? The important truth missing is that both of us councilmen made the Xenia city law director and city manager aware, in advance, that we might be involved. Our goal was to support this development project to add jobs and tax benefits for the community. Both the law director and city manager have documented that we did the correct actions to avoid any potential conflict of interest. On April 9 when official land sale approval happened, we both abstained. Why is there now supposedly a problem, other than to play political games wasting tax dollars?
4. Real, hidden issues? What the current Xenia council president does not want to admit is why he is pushing this “witch hunt” and wasting tax dollars. The real reason? We both have dared to raise serious questions on the costs for the new $12 million city hall, whether this Taj Mahal is needed and how it will be funded. Costs are increasing on this project and there are other issues. Plus, we have raised legitimate questions about violations of Ohio’s Sunshine law on this project and with other municipal operations.
Our bottom-line? Why continue these council hearings that could end up wasting more than $100,000 in taxpayer funds. So far, during two long evenings, only one and a half witnesses have been heard and nothing of substance proven. We could better use these moneys to repair our local streets and help improve our police-fire services.
John Caupp and Dale Louderback are Xenia City Council members and guest columnists.