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Dayton employee accused of metal theft wins job back

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 11:02 AM


            David Shaver testifies at his dimissal hearing. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
David Shaver testifies at his dimissal hearing. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

A city of Dayton employee who was fired for allegedly selling city-owned scrap metal without authorization and other alleged misconduct has regained his job.

Dayton’s Civil Service Board has ordered the city to reduce David Shaver’s firing to a 10-day suspension after ruling that the electrician did not directly take part in selling scrap metal and the city failed to prove that he violated sick leave and other personnel policies.

The board concluded that the city had a “long-standing culture and practice” of maintaining scrap metal cash funds, which multiple city officials previously denied.

RELATED: Conflicting evidence: Did Dayton workers have off-book cash funds?

Dayton employees at many levels of authority, with many years of service, took part in the sale of excess materials at recycling centers for cash, and the city failed to end the practice despite it being a problem in the past, the board ruled.

Closing arguments in Shaver’s dismissal hearing took place last month after multiple days of testimony.

Shaver was fired last year after a police investigation into an October incident in which city employee William Landis allegedly sold scrap metal at First Street Recycling.

Landis was investigated and faced criminal charges for theft in office, but he was placed in a diversion program and retired as part of a separation agreement with the city.

Shaver was present at the time of the sale but denied receiving any of the cash and said he just accompanied his supervisor to the recycling center.

RELATED: Two city employees out after scrap-metal sales probe

Shaver’s attorney, David Duwel, argued that multiple city departments and supervisors had de facto petty cash funds from scrap metal sales that they used to pay for work-related purchases.

“Why the heck would (my client) think that this was something that was wrong — that he needed to turn his boss in on — even when his division manager is allowing it to go on?” Duwel said.

Duwel’s argument was bolstered by the testimony of a former city of Dayton contractor who said he attended an employee barbecue that he was told was paid for with cash from scrap metal sales.

Former city employee Romona Carver also testified at Shaver’s dismissal hearing that she heard about a small cash fund kept in the plumber’s shop when she moved over to the facilities division.

Shaver testified that Landis, who at one point was his supervisor, and other supervisors kept small cash funds from the sale of city-owned scrap metal that were used to pay for items including a new microwave, refrigerator, tools, equipment and other work-related items.

The Civil Service Board said the evidence that city employees routinely sold leftover scrap material for cash was convincing.

Testimony indicated that the city tried to eliminate the practice in 2008, but it continued on afterward and the city was aware or should have been aware of it, according to the board’s order.

Though the city initiated investigations and criminal charges against some employees who sold scrap materials without authorization, the city did not formulate precise rules with precise examples to effectively end the practice, the board said.

RELATED: Conflicting testimony: Did Dayton workers have off-the-books cash funds?

During the dismissal hearing, some city of Dayton officials — including a department director, a supervisor and the assistant city manager — rejected the idea that departments were permitted to keep off-the-books cash funds and condemned the idea that employees would not report the inappropriate activity.

During rebuttal testimony, the city’s director of central services Pete Hager said Carver’s testimony was stunning and she would face discipline if she were not already retired.

RELATED: Contractor: Dayton used scrap-metal money for barbecues, equipment

“My reaction to that news is that I’d like to see her somewhere as well regarding this issue, in terms of discipline, in terms of accountability,” Hager said.

City policy is clear on how scrap metal should be recycled and what should be done with the money, and past employees were fired and faced other consequences for inappropriately taking city-owned materials, said Norma Dickens, senior attorney with the city of Dayton.

Cheetahs nixed in zoo plans for Warren County, official says

Published: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 @ 10:07 AM


            Cincinnati Zoo cheetah running during a photo shoot for Natiional Geographic Magazine. FILE
Cincinnati Zoo cheetah running during a photo shoot for Natiional Geographic Magazine. FILE

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has set aside plans to move its cheetah recovery center to Warren County, but is moving forward with improvements to a farm and wetlands area already operating here, according to the county’s chief zoning official.

“They’re not going to build the cheetah breeding facility. That’s off the table,” Mike Yetter, zoning supervisor in Warren County said Tuesday.

RELATED: Zoo studying different location for cheetahs in Warren County

Yetter, who reviews plans for developments in unincorporated areas of Warren County, made these comments while sharing details of plans by the zoo to add and improve barns and make other improvements to the EcoFarm on Mason-Montgomery Road.

RELATED: Zoo, others developing between Cincinnati, Dayton

Zoo officials did not immediately respond to questions about the change of plans regarding the cheetah recovery center move from a facility east of Cincinnati in in Clermont County or improvements to the former Bowyer Farm property in Turtlecreek Twp., Warren County.

RELATED: Cheetah center in Warren County to offer close encounters

Plans for a new barn, a wall, a solar-powered pit toilet and other improvements are detailed in documents filed with zoning and building officials in Warren County.

In January, the zoo put on hold plans to move its cheetah facility from the Mast Farm in Clermont County to another farm at the corner of Nickel and Hamilton roads, while considering a different site.

The zoo questioned steps sought for safety by the county.

RELATED: Cheetah conservationists live in Warren County

The facility was to be built near the home of Cathryn Hilker, a cheetah conservationist who pioneered the zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program.

Why Montgomery County water, sewer customers will pay more

Published: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 8:51 AM
Updated: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 4:06 PM

Crews work on the Hillcrest sewer replacement project in Montgomery County. PROVIDED
PROVIDED
Crews work on the Hillcrest sewer replacement project in Montgomery County. PROVIDED(PROVIDED)

Water and sewer customers receiving service through Montgomery County will see their combined rate climb an average 14 percent in 2018 and go up 5.6 percent each year after through 2022, the county announced Thursday.

The increase is needed because of deteriorating infrastructure resulting in higher costs for maintenance and needed new construction with little foreseeable state or federal funding, officials said.

The average Montgomery County residential customer, now paying about $170, will see quarterly bills rise about $24 in 2018.

“It may appear to be a relatively large increase,” County Administrator Joe Tuss said. “But when you look at where we’ve been from an historic standpoint, it’s about catching up and generating the revenue we need to invest.”

MORE: Report claims Ohio one of worst states for water quality offenses

While Montgomery County purchases water pumped by the city of Dayton, the county maintains a distribution system of 1,400 miles of water mains as well as 1,200 miles of sewer line and two wastewater plants.

The system provides drinking water and fire prevention for about 250,000 residents. Most customers are in Centerville, Harrison Twp., Kettering, Miami Twp., Riverside, Trotwood and Washington Twp.

“Like many systems across the country, we have an aging system, and this rate increase is necessary to help us replace and maintain our water and sewer system,” said Tuss. “We had low or no rate increases for eight years, and we just can’t put this off any longer.”

Montgomery County rate increases have averaged about 2.5 percent since 2007, which is below the state average of 4 percent, according to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency data.

Officials estimate about $750 million will need to be spent over the next 20 years to maintain and replace aging portions of the system.

MORE: Are the drugs we’re taking — and flushing down the toilet — hurting our water?

A larger portion of a customer’s bill will be the fixed charge, going from 20 percent to 40 percent, while consumption charges move from 80 to 60 percent. The increased fixed charge will provide more stable, long-term financing needed to upgrade and maintain the system the county values at $3.1 billion, said Pat Turnbull, the county’s Environmental Services director.

Turnbull said the county is routinely experiencing 300 or more water main breaks a year — spending about $2 million annually to fix — on the system primarily installed 60-70 years ago.

“The water mains are breaking more frequently. The sewer lines are cracking more frequently,” he said. “We are just reaching that point — similar to the roof on your house — when you’re having to patch leaks all the time, you get to a place where it’s time to put a new roof on”

Officials say two large projects are required to ensure that tens of thousands of customers aren’t at risk of losing water or sewer service.

A $65-85 million replacement and upgrade of the main sewer line and pump station to the Western Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant is planned. The 40-year-old sewer line and pump station is the only sanitary service for more than 83,000 residential and business customers.

The county also plans an additional water feed that provides drinking water and fire protection for 150,000 customers in Centerville, Jefferson Twp., Kettering, Miami Twp., Moraine and Washington Twp. Cost of the project is estimated to be $76-118 million.

More: Greene County officials respond to water bill complaints

In addition to the loss of revenue because of decreasing water consumption, federal dollars that once paid for up to 90 percent of plant construction have gone away almost entirely, Turnbull said.

“Those grant dollars have gone away over the last couple of decades, and we do not see a replacement funding source on the horizon from the federal or state level,” he said. “So these dollars have to be generated locally primarily, and that would be in the form of rates.”

Montgomery County water rate presentations

Presentations will be made at regular township and city council meetings.

- Butler Twp., 7 p.m., Nov. 27

Township Hall, 3780 Little York Rd., Dayton, OH 45414

- Centerville, 7:30 p.m., Nov. 20

Municipal Building, 100 West Spring Valley Rd., Centerville, OH 45458

- Clayton, 7:30 p.m., Dec. 7

Government Center, 6996 Taywood Rd., Englewood, OH 45322

- Harrison Twp., Noon, Nov. 16

Township Offices, 5945 North Dixie Dr., Dayton, OH 45414

- Jefferson Twp., 7 p.m., Dec. 5

Administration Building, One Business Park Dr., Dayton, OH 45417

- Kettering, 7:30 p.m., Nov. 14

Government Center, 3600 Shroyer Rd., Dayton, OH 45429

- Miami Township, 6 p.m., Nov. 28

Township Offices, 2700 Lyons Rd., Miamisburg, OH 45342

- Moraine, 6 p.m., Dec. 14

Municipal Building, 4200 Dryden Rd., Moraine, OH 45439

- Trotwood, 6 p.m., Nov. 20

Trotwood-Madison City Schools Board of Education Meeting Chambers, 3594 N. Snyder Road, Trotwood, OH 45426

- Washington Twp., 7:30 p.m., Dec. 4

Township Offices, 8200 McEwen Road, Dayton, OH 45458

Find your new rate

If you receive water and sewer service from Montgomery County you can get more information as well as estimate your new quarterly bill using an online rate calculator at www.mcohio.org/water.

Ex-village worker sues state, claims malicious prosecution

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 3:20 PM
Updated: Sunday, November 12, 2017 @ 2:44 PM


            Ohio Auditor Dave Yost
Ohio Auditor Dave Yost

The former fiscal officer for New Madison is suing the Ohio Auditor of State, claiming malicious prosecution after theft-in-office charges against the former village accountant were dismissed.

Wanda Lacey on Oct. 25 filed a lawsuit against the state auditor’s office in which she accused the auditor’s office of seeking felony theft-in-office charges against her despite having insufficient evidence .

The lawsuit, filed in the Ohio Court of Claims, seeks unspecified damages exceeding $100,000.

Lacey was indicted by a grand jury in December 2016 on two counts of theft in office after the auditor’s office concluded that an audit found she stole more than $21,500 from the township. The charges were dropped in September 2017.

RELATED: Village fiscal officer ‘negligent’ but theft in office charges dropped

Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost said Friday that the case was dismissed without prejudice because new evidence was discovered.

“The state anticipates the case will be re-filed after the newly discovered evidence has been analyzed,” he said. “The claim of malicious prosecution is without merit and will fail. A grand jury considered the evidence and found probable cause to believe that the crimes had been committed by the person charged.”

Royce Link, Lacey’s attorney, said the auditor’s office investigator mistakenly determined the money as missing without doing due diligence to find it in the village’s books.

“Whether she was just overly zealous, new to the job and wanted to make an impression and get somebody, whether she actually did not like Wanda Lacey, whether somebody else who worked in the village told her some stuff that set her on fire against her, those are the types of reasons why a person would do that,” Link said when asked why the state auditor’s office would falsely accuse his client.

RELATED: Ex-New Madison village worker accused of stealing more than $20K while in office

The charges resulted in Lacey losing her job, suffering physically and mentally and damaging her reputation, he said.

“You get charged with theft in office as an accountant, that’s pretty much going to make it hard to get a job,” he said.

While the theft charges were dropped, a separate audit released Thursday included an administrative finding against Lacey for not paying village taxes on time, incurring $8,166 in fees. Lacey and her bonding company were jointly ordered to repay the money.

Yost issued a statement, along with the audit, saying Lacey’s “negligence” cost village taxpayers money.

Link said Yost’s comments were an attempt to “mitigate the exposure” from Lacey’s lawsuit.

MORE LOCAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE NEWS:

Local jails overcrowded, failing safety standards, investigation shows

Sheriffs fear state plan will flood jails with felons

Clayton mayor-elect turns focus to development after ousting incumbent

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 1:17 PM


            Mike Stevens, Clayton councilman and mayor-elect
Mike Stevens, Clayton councilman and mayor-elect

Clayton will have a new mayor in January after Councilman Mike Stevens defeated incumbent Mayor Joyce Deitering in Tuesday’s election.

“I attribute my win to getting a message out there: to increase our development in Clayton, economic and residential. And I think that message resonated with our residents,” said Stevens, a Coldwell Banker Heritage real estate agent and retired circulation director for Cox Media Group, which owns this newspaper.

He said he wants to “jump start development” of Villages at North Clayton, a project that is currently tied up in in estate issues after principals of the two development companies died.

RELATED: New pizza, donuts carry-out planned for Clayton

Deitering, a Republican attorney who has been mayor since 2006, said she’s not sure why she lost.

“Of course the narrow loss has been disappointing but I have received a number of very touching phone calls, messages and emails relating support and stories about how grateful the citizens are for my many years of service and how my work and the city have positively affected their lives,” said Deitering. “This response and outreach was unexpected and very comforting.”

Deitering is a former councilwoman and Randolph Twp. trustee who ran unsuccessfully for the Ohio legislature against then State Rep. Roland Winburn, a Harrison Twp. Democrat who is now a Harrison Twp. trustee. Deitering is Clayton’s second mayor since the city incorporated in 1998.

RELATED: Accusations flying in local state House race

Thirty-one votes separated the two candidates on election night - with Stevens getting 1,697 and Deitering receiving 1,666 votes. Those tallies may change slightly as the Montgomery County Board of Elections counts late arriving absentee ballots and provisional ballots that were cast when there were questions about a voter’s eligibility.

The Election Day vote was not close enough to trigger an automatic recount and historically the post-election counting of those final votes generally doesn’t change the outcome of races, said Steve Harsman, deputy director of the Montgomery County Board.

The Clayton Council will choose someone to fill the council seat vacated by Stevens, a Democrat who has been on council for two years, said City Manager Rick Rose. That decision will be made within 30 days of Stevens taking office in January.

RELATED: Who are the candidates for Clayton mayor

Stevens said he and Deitering ran good races. He said the two went to high school together and had a conversation early in the campaign.

“We both kind of on a handshake decided we want to keep our campaigns out of the weeds and we both did that,” Stevens said. “We tried to run on our merits and I think part of that is the reason it was so close. We both had strong merits to run on.”

RELATED: Redrawn district makes for expensive state House race

Other stories by Lynn Hulsey

Kettering mayor wins a final term, seeks ‘bigger and better’ for city

Ohio House votes to require photos on food stamp cards

It’s the largest bus contract in the history of the RTA: Here’s what you need to know about it