Councilman Otto investigation

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During Monday night's council meeting there was a 40-minute discussion[1] by council to decide if they want to spend money and hire a lawyer to investigate whether they want to try and invoke Section 13.08 (2)[2] of the Charter where is says an official can be removed from office for “Intentional violation of the prohibitions set forth in Section 4.06 of this Charter”.

This is how Section 4.06 (C) – Prohibitions defines the offense;
“Interference with Administration. Except for the purpose of investigations under Section 4.09 of this Charter and inquiries, Council or its members shall deal with City Officers and employees who are under the direction and supervision of the Manager, solely through the Manager. Neither Council nor its members shall give any orders to any such officer or employee, either publicly or privately.”

The claim is that Mr. Otto violated section 4.06 because he sent this email to the code enforcement officer without courtesy copying the City Manager:

From: Otto, Glenn
Tue 5/7/2019 2:06 PM

Millard, Donald
Good afternoon Don,

I wanted to reach out to you concerning the “yard issue” at 7019 Shull Rd.

I have spoken with Mrs. Lisse and gone to the property to review the situation. Mrs. Lisse has stated that the contractor that she is using for the repairs has stated that they need to wait for “ground settling” prior to reseeding or sodding the yard. As I walked the area, it was clear to me that the ground was not quite “settled” yet, as even I sank several inches stepping in certain areas.

She has also forwarded me several receipts for materials to repair and improve the yard, when the weather cooperates. (If you would like me to forward those to you, please let me know)

I asked her to clean up the weeds and overgrowth in the areas not directly affected, to show good will, and in return I am asking for some time and leniency from the City. She is agreeable to that.

Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to assist in this situation. Mrs. Lisse Was positive in her response to me, so I am happy to help in any way that I can.
Thank you,

Glenn T. Otto
City Council At-Large
Huber Heights, Ohio
(End of Email)

There are many things Mr. Otto is posting on Facebook that are bad arguments.  I am not going to get into those in this article. 

There are many reasons why council should not waste City money hiring a special council to investigate and then pursue removal of Mr. Otto.  First, is that implicit in the violation is the need to order an employee to do something.  There is the lessor term “deal with” used within the Charter but this term is too broad to have any meaning in and of itself, without the follow-on sentence that defines what “deal with” means.  That sentence tells us that it means “give any orders to any such officer or employee, either publicly or privately”.

Another mitigating phrase in the Charter violation is “intentional violation of ….”.  I would say that it is pretty obvious that Mr. Otto did not intentionally violate this section.  However, some of his Facebook posts say that he plans to continue these types of actions.  This of course does not make sense.  He should emphasize that his failure to courtesy copying was unintential and then promised not to forget again. 

I know I said I wasn’t going to list his bad arguments.  What I meant was, I wasn’t going to list all his bad arguments.  I listed this one because I intend to write an article entitled “Corruption in Huber Heights”.  Those of you interested in helping Mr. Otto could do some research that would help me make one of the points I intend to make in that article. 

From my recollection, while I was Mayor we had 3 to 5 discussions concerning the proper protocol for council to comply with the section of the Charter that says, “Council or its members shall deal with City Officers and employees who are under the direction and supervision of the Manager, solely through the Manager”.  Ms. Smith has posted in the past, that she thinks, these discussions concluded she was not able to talk to staff at all.  My recollection is that it was determined that the City Manager was able to decided the level of contact council can have with staff.  His only limitation was that this needed to be the same level for all members of council.  The recommendation at that time was that he defined his desires in writing.  From my recollection, he chose not to take that advice.  Instead, he indicated council had wide latitude, almost unlimited access, if they wanted to deal with staff.

These discussions will be on video.  Both the City Manager and a City Attorney would have been present.  The time frame would have been between Jan 2016 and Dec 2017.  If anyone has the time to do the research to see the words the City Manager actually used and which City Attorney was present, this should be very useful to Mr. Otto and it would help the construction of a future article.

My back yard
[1] Executive Session May 13 2019
[2] Section 13.08 - Removal of official.
The Mayor and Councilmembers shall be removed for cause as provided in this Section of the Charter.
As used in this Section of the Charter, the "Charging Official" shall mean: the "Mayor" except where the person accused of a grounds for removal is the person holding the office of Mayor; or the "Vice Mayor" where the person sought to be removed for cause holds the office of Mayor.
The Charging Official having reason to believe there is probable cause (as such causes are defined in this Section) for the removal of the Mayor or Councilmember, shall give notice of the alleged cause for removal and the time, date and place of the commencement of hearing for removal, which shall not be earlier than ten (10) days after the service of the notice to the accused person by personal service, certified mail, or by leaving a copy of such notice at the person's last known place of residence in the City. At such time, date and place and at any adjourned meetings, the Council shall hear, provide an opportunity to the accused person to be heard and present defenses, and determine whether the accused person shall be removed from office. The Council shall remove an official for any of the following causes by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Councilmembers then holding office, provided that if the accused person is the Mayor or a Councilmember, such person shall not vote on any matter during the removal procedure and shall not be counted in determining required majorities:
Failure to possess or maintain the qualifications of the office prescribed by this Charter;
Intentional violation of the prohibitions set forth in Section 4.06 of this Charter;
Conviction of a felony; or
Violation of any expressed provision of the Charter; or
Unexcused absences from any three (3) consecutive regular meetings of the Council, Board or Commission on which such person serves. An absence from a regular meeting may be excused by a majority vote of the members of the Council then holding office; such absence may be excused at any time, including the excusing of any absence after action is initiated but prior to the commencement of hearings for the person's removal under this Section.