Residents claim First Amendment violations on trustee’s Facebook page

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 11:30 AM


            A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of five Hamilton Twp. residents claims Trustee David Wallace Jr. violated their First Amendment rights by blocking them from commenting on a Facebook page he uses to communicate with residents about township business.
A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of five Hamilton Twp. residents claims Trustee David Wallace Jr. violated their First Amendment rights by blocking them from commenting on a Facebook page he uses to communicate with residents about township business.

A township trustee running for re-election in Warren County has unblocked Facebook critics since the filing of a federal lawsuit claiming he prevented residents from commenting on his trustee site on the social network.

The lawsuit is filed on behalf of five Hamilton Township residents who claim David Wallace Jr. violated the First Amendment when he blocked them from commenting on a Facebook page he uses for township business.

Wallace is one of seven candidates running for two seats on the three-seat board of trustees in the booming township, south of Lebanon.

MORE: Intergenerational community gets $9 million in state tax credits

Also running are Darryl Cordrey, Cadi Kelly, Nathan Myers, Joe Rozzi, Roxan Tarnowski and Kim Lukens.

The lawsuit is related to his management of a Facebook site where he interacts with residents about village issues, but which also features re-election materials. He also has another web page devoted to his campaign.

MORE: Huber Heights candidates speak out on Facebook fights

The lawsuit, claiming First Amendment violations, is filed in U.S. District Court for Lisa Wilson, Danny Wilson, Kathryn Wuest, Kyle Riley and Amanda Johnson.

“Recently, a federal court in Virginia found that a local politician had violated the First Amendment when she temporarily banned a constituent from commenting on her Facebook page. This case raises substantially similar issues,” Joshua Engel, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit, said in comments posted on his law firm’s website.

MORE: Dayton police called about woman posting about boyfriend on Facebook

This morning, Lisa Wilson said she also had been unblocked, but that others were still unable to comment on the site.

Also this morning, Mike Stine, who is not a party in the lawsuit, indicated he had been unblocked since the lawsuit was filed.

“Also thanks for unblocking me, I know it took some people to file a lawsuit so that I can contact you, one of our elected trustees,” Stine said in a post on the Facebook page in question.

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This morning, Engel indicated the lawsuit would not be withdrawn because of Wallace unblocking critics.

“We won’t be dropping the suit because we can’t confirm what he has done to unblock people and, more importantly, we need to make sure this is not done in the future,” Engel said this morning via email.

Wallace did not respond to requests for a response and has not responded to the lawsuit, filed on Sept. 5.

Staff writer Richard Wilson contributed to this report.

Rezabek to seek judgeship, opens up hot race for Ohio House seat and Dan Foley confirms he’s running

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 4:25 PM
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 7:39 PM

Rezabek seeks judgeship

UPDATE: Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley has confirmed he will run for the Ohio House 43rd District seat.

State Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton, announced on Thursday that he will not seek re-election and will instead run for Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Juvenile division judge.

His decision will likely lead to one of the hottest Statehouse races in the region as the Ohio 43rd is one of the most evenly divided politically in the Dayton area.

Thursday night Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley confirmed that he will run for Rezabek’s seat. Foley, a Democrat, had earlier announced that he would not run for re-election but will serve out his term  on commission through the end of this year.

Democrat Ralph Dean Brill of Brookville, also took out nominating petitions from the Montgomery County Board of Elections but could not be reached for comment.

On Friday Clayton Councilman Kenny Henning will formally announce he is running  in the Republican primary for the seat, and Stephanie Garrett of West Alexandria has also confirmed she is running in that primary.

RELATED: Dan Foley won’t run again for Montgomery County commission

Foley declined to say more about his candidacy but said he will hold a formal announcement news conference soon.

Dan Foley, Montgomery County commissioner, speaks at the Engineers Club in Dayton. FILE(Staff Writer)

‘We made an impact’

Rezabek said he wants to use his experience as a lawyer and a legislator to bring change to the juvenile court.

“We made an impact in the legislature,” he said. “But the real impact is directly on the community and directly with those kids and with those families.”

RELATED: Rezabek bill would give judges more say on trying juveniles as adults

Rezabek, an attorney specializing in juvenile cases, is running for the seat being vacated at the end of the year by Juvenile Judge Nick Kuntz, who cannot run for re-election due to age limitations for judges.

The race for Kuntz’s seat has attracted a lot of attention, with at least five other people taking out nominating petitions.

They include Democrats Julie Bruns of Miamisburg, Greg Scott of Dayton, Steven Wagenfeld of Centerville and Cynthia L. Westwood of Farmersville. Republican C. Ralph Wilcoxson II has also obtained a petition.

Rezabek ran unsuccessfully for the job in 2012. First elected to the Ohio House in 2014, he won a bitter re-election battle in 2016 against David Sparks of Clayton.

RELATED: Race for 43rd House district has turned ugly

Henning said he will make the formal announcement that he is running for the seat at an 11:30 a.m. news conference Friday at the Miami Valley Career Technology Center’s adult center, 6801 Hoke Road, Clayton.

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“I’m 100 percent invested in the community and I want to ensure that our 43rd House district has a strong champion to advocate for the district in Columbus.” said Henning, who is a judicial assistant to Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Erik Blaine.

Kenny Henning, Clayton councilman(Staff Writer)

A Clayton native who has served on the council since 2012, Henning said his campaign will focus on farming and agriculture, the concerns of small business owners and trying to restore Local Government Fund revenue slashed by the legislature. He said he also wants to address the opioid addiction crisis.

Garrett is president of the Preble County Convention and Visitors Bureau and assistant treasurer of the Ohio Republican Party.

Stephanie Garrett, president of the Preble County Convention and Visitors Bureau, is running as a Republican for the Ohio House 43rd District seat.(HANDOUT)

“I wanted to teach my children that they could make a difference. So I got involved in my community and started working with candidates and the Republicans.”

The filing deadline for the May 8 primary is Feb. 7.

Mark Owens, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, said the 43rd House district is about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans and can be won by a Democrat like Foley.

“If he’s willing to get out and roll up his sleeves and work I think he can win it,” Owens said.

The district covers parts of Englewood, Clayton, Trotwood, western Montgomery County and all of Preble County.

RELATED: Ohio could have two redistricting proposals on ballots this year

County commission

Multiple people have pulled petitions to run for Foley’s county commission seat. Democrats include Montgomery County Treasurer Carolyn Rice and Daryl Ward, senior pastor of Omega Baptist Church in Dayton.

RELATED: Candidates seek to replace Foley on Montgomery County commission

Both Rice and Ward have turned in their nominating petitions.

Republicans include former Miami Twp. Trustee Bob Matthews and current Miami Twp. Trustee Doug Barry, both of whom have turned in petitions. Petitions have been obtained but not submitted by Greg Hart and Joshua Smith, both Dayton Republicans.

Other stories by Lynn Hulsey

Kucinich enters governor’s race with call to “reclaim” the state, bring back Democrats who voted for Trump

U.S. Senate candidates Renacci and Brown spar over Trump’s comment about immigrants

Husted wants new voting machines in every county in Ohio

Warren County’s Massie Twp. meeting tonight over fire department future

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 11:43 AM


            The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.
The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.

The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.

Fire Chief Scott Hines, the department’s only paid employee, resigned on Jan. 2 after learning he was under scrutiny for purchasing food for firefighters, and part of the department’s entirely volunteer force resigned too.

“They left us with a skeleton crew,” Trustee David Crisenbery said this morning.

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The township, home to about 1,500 residents, is on the south side of Caesar Creek Lake. The department handles emergency calls from the lake.

Since Hines’ resignation, fire and emergency calls are being handled by the remaining department along with mutual aid from fire departments in Wayne Twp., Warren County, and Chester Twp., Clinton County.

The trustees are also weighing creating a joint fire district with Chester Twp. with new levies supporting the operation.

“That is the goal,” Trustee Daryl McKinney said.

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A larger district qualifies for more grants, McKinney said.

The Massie Twp department operates on a $92,000 budget from two levies.

MORE: Beavercreek Twp. to build $2.5 million fire station

Crisenbery said the township could seek an additional local levy to fund part-time paid firefighters. Also, Hines’ replacement could be picked, Crisenbery added.

“Anything’s possible tonight,” Crisenbery said. “All options, I feel, should be on the table.”

Hines said he was working with the Village of Harveysburg on creating a fire department, taking over fire and ambulance services within its municipal limits within Massie Twp.

He accused Trustee Mark Dawson of “micromanaging” him for more than two years.

“I just got tired of it,” he said.

Dawson said Hines was the subject of two internal investigations which provided 11 grounds for his removal.

“It is our responsibility to address the issues,” he said. “I call it doing the job we’re appointed to.”

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the township fire station, 10 N. Harveysburg Road.

Clayton pushing to make public more aware that golf club is city owned

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 10:04 AM


            The city of Clayton took over ownership of Meadowbrook Country Club, now Meadowbrook at Clayton, in 2015 after it was donated to the city by Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC. City officials are reviewing marketing efforts for the facility. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
The city of Clayton took over ownership of Meadowbrook Country Club, now Meadowbrook at Clayton, in 2015 after it was donated to the city by Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC. City officials are reviewing marketing efforts for the facility. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Clayton officials are trying to figure out how to market a golf course and banquet space donated to the city three years ago.

City council will hold a workshop on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss how to make the public more aware of Meadowbrook at Clayton, which includes a golf course, banquet center and swimming pools.

Meadowbrook was privately-owned until it was donated to the city in April 2015. Since then, the city has been trying to figure out how best to market the banquet space and golf course to the Miami Valley.

The workshop, in council chambers at 6996 Taywood Rd., is open to the public but no public input will be accepted at that time, said City Clerk Barbara Seim.

“This is just an ideas and information session, there’s no action item, no voting,” Seim said.

Meadowbrook staff will present to city council current marketing efforts as well as what they hope to do in the future.

“It’s great that they want our input,” Bill Williams, director of golf at Meadowbrook said.

After the workshop, members of the community can stay to comment or share ideas during the city council meeting that follows at 7 p.m.

The city is placing an emphasis on marketing Meadowbrook because many don’t know they have access to the golf course and banquet hall now, city officials said.

“We were private for so long that people don’t realize we’re public now,” Williams said.

Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC donated Meadowbrook Country Club, a 171-acre club, to the city. The property consists of a 65,000 square-foot banquet center, clubhouse, Olympic-sized pool, baby pool, driving range and 18-hole golf course.

Clayton City Manager Rick Rose has “really taken the lead” on promoting the Meadowbrook, according to Williams.

“Since it was a donation to the city, we didn’t have a department to take it over, so as city manager I’ve just taken it upon myself to make sure it succeeds,” Rose said. “We are a small city and it is a group effort of employees and elected officials.”

According to Rose in 2016, the first full year the city owned Meadowbrook, its revenues were $483,203 plus an additional $252,000 in transfers from the general fund. The following year’s revenues were $507,481. Transfers from the general fund were $162,480.

“In general, cities spend somewhere between 2 and 11 percent of their general fund budget to supplement their parks and recreation facilities. Clayton is on track to be in the five percent range,” Rose said.

Rose said the goal of the workshop is to discuss different directions the city could go with marketing. He hopes the change in marketing will increase direct revenues and lessen general fund transfers.

He wants to encourage the public to play on the golf course and get word out about all the different events the banquet center can be used for. The ultimate goal is to increase golf outings and rentals of the banquet center.

Meadowbrook currently uses social media for marketing but the city is hoping to “change it up.”

“We want to broaden our reach and put in the minds of everyone that (Meadowbrook) is open to the public,” Rose said. “Meadowbrook at Clayton is not just a golf course and banquet facility but also a place to hold public events and bring our community together.”

In addition to the marketing, the city is upgrading and remodeling parts of the building, another change they hope to finish this year..

Fire department back in place in Warren County township

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 11:00 AM


            The Massie Twp. Fire Department has a new chief, Donald Fuguate, and is back in operation.
The Massie Twp. Fire Department has a new chief, Donald Fuguate, and is back in operation.

The Massie Twp. Fire Department is back in business.

On Tuesday night, the township trustees picked Donald Fugate to succeed Fire Chief Scott Hines, who resigned on Jan. 2.

RELATED: Warren County’s Massie Twp. meeting tonight over fire department future

Fugate was the captain reporting to Hines, the only paid member of the volunteer department.

Hines resigned after learning he was under scrutiny for purchasing food for firefighters, and part of the department’s entirely volunteer force resigned too.

Emergency medical service - handled through mutual aid with Wayne Twp., Warren County, and Chester Twp., Clinton County - still has to be returned to the department, Trustee David Crisenbery said.

“We’re checking protocols seeing how quick we can get our EMS back on,” Crisenbery said.

MORE: Beavercreek Twp. announces fire department promotions

The trustees also plan to move ahead with forming a joint district with Chester Twp.