As we all sit here
watching the County Administration implode before our eyes
By Bob Rhoades
As we all sit here watching the County Administration implode before
our very eyes, one has to wonder how it got to this point. Did
the commissioners bring these attitudes and practices with them?
Did they learn this type of behavior after getting into office?
What about the people who have left office, where did this all
start? Is it just a comedy of errors that festered till it
popped? The reality of it all is they work for us,
supposedly. As we go forward are more things going to
surface? We haven’t even scratched the surface on unanswered
questions. It’s become pretty evident that Ms. Delaplane talked
to Melody Lucas to give her a heads up that the “good ole boy” way of
doing business was alive and well.
For a long time, Mr. Rhoades was silent on the whole thing. Mr.
Stegall who really had nothing to do with any of it because he wasn’t
elected yet has defended the situation, but really didn’t need to say
anything. The incident that started it all was the former EMA
director leaving office either by resigning or getting fired. We
can’t tell because it’s been stated both ways. So it looks like
without a Freedom of Information Act request for all the documents is
the only way we’ll ever know what is really going on at 4th and
Media Releases said that former EMA director June Mong resigned.
Commissioner Mike Rhoades said she was fired. Was this just a
mistake, it would be good to know what actually happened. The
circumstances of her leaving are unclear. The investigation
allegedly found five felony events on her watch. When Judge Hein
was Prosecutor, he made it a point to prosecute anyone who messed up
that bad, causing them to lose their pension to pay back ill-gotten
gains, spend time on community sanctions or incarcerate them. If
there were in fact five felony counts after the investigation, why was
there no prosecution? Don’t the citizens deserve to have the
money that was wasted returned? Do we have a double standard, or
was it just supposed to go away.
About the same time this was going down, the superintendent of the
County Home was removed also, and the public never heard about what
happened there, anyone seeing a trend here? Also about the same
time there was the matter of the 911 director being busted for selling
drugs, he was convicted, got to keep his job, went to work from jail
and lived happily ever after. The sheriff said he was a good
employee. I’ve heard that he is, but the fact remains, lots of
good employees over the years have given up their rights to be good
employees because they did something stupid.
Recent statements from all Commissioners have said the matter of the
EMA Director was handled appropriately. Was County policy and Ohio
Revised Code followed in investigating a report of potential theft? Was
it the Commissioners that requested an official investigation or was it
the written complaint from Ms. Lucas that was also copied to the
prosecutor’s office? Why didn’t we see the state auditor
launch an investigation? Since the Emergency Management Agency
was involved there were State of Ohio monies and the potential for
Federal dollars to be involved. Were they all notified?
Perhaps they will show up and cost us more money.
So we have previous employees who were prosecuted for lesser offenses
and we have one who got to keep his job, one who resigned or quit,
apparently keeping her pension monies intact and allegedly got
unemployment. Sure is a roller coaster of how things were
handled. Maybe one of the highway employees will steal a dump
truck. Might as well, it doesn’t look like anything will happen
to you. So there is actually a quadruple standard not
To make things worse, after Ms. Mong left office, the commissioners
advertised for applications for the job. At least three people
had most of the schooling required and all of the other
requirements. Finishing any of the schooling requirements would
have been no problem for any of the three but they were passed over for
a more qualified candidate who allegedly spent most of the two years in
office getting the requirements needed. So we were paying
someone to work that was actually in Columbus in class most of the
time. After the educational process that we paid for was over,
the dude resigns, go figure! His resignation stated he was returning to
manufacturing which fits more to his background. It’s sort of
looking like maybe $63,000 probably is only a starting figure for the
screw-ups over the last couple of year.
Ms. Lucas stated in light of the current EMA Director’s resignation,
she had offered to dismiss her claim and end financial negotiations to
look at a possible full-time position within the EMA. According to her,
that was quickly denied and the settlement figure increased. If, as
Commissioner Rhoades stated, making the initial report was “admirable”
why was the Board so adamant on settling financially and determined to
end Ms. Lucas’ employment with Darke County? Couldn’t the money paid to
settle been put to better use as a salary that would benefit citizens
of Darke County? Indeed! What’s up with that? Ms.
Lucas was one of the people who had the right credentials for the
As it turned out, credentials seem to not mean very much to the
commissioners. The commissioners gave the excuse for not hiring the
three who had the qualifications that they lacked a lot of supervisory
experience. A request to Mr. Lee on the matter has gone
unanswered. So it seems If you part your hair the right way, or
maybe have the same politics or go to the right church, those are good
credentials. The job that Ms. Lucas formerly held is posted right
now for applications. You have to wonder what person in their
right mind who actually had the qualifications would apply for it
Next will be a request for applications for the EMA Directors
job. I’m not applying this time. I looked at the picture of
the commissioners and my hair is parted on the wrong side.
Although I have the same politics, have never seen any of the three at
any church I’ve been in. Sure, I could change the side my hair is
parted on and that would give me two out of three. Last time I
had 3 out of 5 and it didn’t work!
From the recent minutes that were published here on CNO and other
places, it has become pretty obvious that it’s not even close to being
over. The Darke County Commissioners didn’t do a few things:
1. They obviously didn’t follow their own manual
2. They may have not followed the ORC
3. The State Auditor’s office wasn’t called in
4. They don’t have an understanding of the application and
selection process that SHOULD go on when hiring an employee. That
I can remember, during the interview process, I was never asked about
supervisory experience because I could have provided references who
would have backed me up.
When you have three people with lots and lots of credentials, why do
you hire someone who has little experience or credentials. An EMA
director is a provider. The ORC and Federal Regulations are
pretty clear on what an Emergency Management Agency and now Homeland
Security is supposed to do. Mr. Lee couldn’t actually do it when
he was in class in Columbus or wherever.
While maybe we cannot know 100% what is going on in an individual’s
mind, conclusions have been made based on their actions. There is
evidence to support the answers to most of these questions. If all that
information was presented, a logical thought process would in fact show
the truth about how mismanaged this situation actually was and instead
of coming back around to admit mistakes and look for improvements, our
Commissioner’s prefer to stand on some platform of, “We handled the
situation appropriately”. The evidence speaks much louder than three
individuals continuing their self-serving actions.
The particular whistle blower incident it would seem was handled
correctly. What came after that leaves a bit to be desired.
Was the state auditor called in to investigate? Why have charges
not been filed? Why was Ms. Lucas so hastily “paid off” and sent
on her merry way? It would seem from press accounts of the last
couple of commissioner meetings that the pressure of being constantly
being bombarded with questions from the general public and the press
are wearing on some peoples nerves. Perhaps putting aside some
petty allegiances to other people who may have done wrong and actually
laying the cards on the table would work. Wouldn’t that be a
Real soon these questions will be answered, so stay tuned.
As Yogi Berra once said “It ain’t over till it’s over”. We’ll see!