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Published: Friday, October 13, 2017 @ 7:00 AM
Updated: Friday, October 13, 2017 @ 12:12 PM
MIDDLETOWN — Middletown may no longer allow the city court system to share information through city newsletters and inserts after some say a candidate for Municipal Court Judge used those resources to campaign for the November election.
The discussion came after some complained that Middletown Municipal Court Judge Melynda Cook Howard used city-paid collateral to campaign for the upcoming election, according to an email sent by the city manager to city council.
“One option we are discussing is in the future removing the courts from our web page and any other city functions,” City Manager Doug Adkins wrote in the email obtained by the Journal-News. “They are a different branch of government that the city does not control. There may be some benefit in letting them develop their communications independent of other city functions and then linking the city web page to the court records search section. …”
The city affords the municipal court space in a water bill insert to relay information to Middletown residents. Cook Howard, who was appointed in May, recently used the space to introduce herself to the community.
The biography for Cook Howard states she will run “to retain this judicial seat in the November 7, 2017 election.” It makes no mention if she’s opposed or of her opponents, local attorneys James Sherron and Beth Yauch. The biography also states, “The late judge Mark W. Wall … entrusted her with his court before his passing.”
Gov. John Kasich’s office appointed the former defense attorney to the judgeship some 3½ months after Wall’s death. In that time, the Ohio Supreme Court had assigned three retired judges to hear cases until an appointment was made.
“I would certainly categorize Judge Cook Howard’s remarks as approaching campaigning,” Adkins told city council.
Cook Howard insists the remarks are “not a form of campaigning” and said the print was “okayed” by the city and any complaints are part of a political opponent’s campaign.
“They apparently did not like the answer given by the law department and the city manager,” Cook Howard told the Journal-News.
While the city did approve the newsletter to go out to its some-20,000 water customers, Adkins said it did not get the regular scrutiny it normally receives.
“As happens sometimes, we were in between communications staff when this went to print … so this didn’t get the scrutiny that past and future inserts would normally receive for content,” Adkins told this news outlet. “Other than grammar and formatting, I’m not aware that any further review took place on this insert.”
“Four to five” people complained about Cook Howard’s statements in the insert — though none in writing, Adkins wrote in an email to city council.
“The language was reviewed and while I’m not overjoyed with it, I don’t see any false information in her statements. As the sitting judge, she does have access to certain city functions such as our web page and water bill insert, that other candidates would not have at their disposal,” Adkins wrote in the email.
The Middletown City Law Department does not review the newsletter, according to Law Director Les Landen.
The information in the biography “doesn’t pass the smell test for ethical behavior,” said Butler County Democratic Party Executive Chairwoman Jocelyn Bucaro, who called it “a terrible disservice to Judge (Mark) Wall’s memory and his court.”
“It stinks and taxpayers are fed up with seeing their hard-earned money used for political gains,” she said. “Whether it’s Cabinet secretaries flying around on private jets or a sitting judge using public funds to campaign, we deserve better.”
Both of Cook Howard’s opponents called the reference to the election, and the inference that Wall endorsed her, as “inappropriate” and that it came across as a city-paid political advertisement.
“Perhaps the city should invoice her for that,” Sherron said.
“She goes too far in those statements,” Yauch said.
Butler County GOP Executive Director Todd Hall said political opponents are making this a political issue, as the mailers were “approved and standard procedure,” adding that the public “has a right to know who their city servants are, and the municipal judge is no exception.”
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 2:08 AM
Asteroid 2002 AJ129 – which at 0.7 miles is wider than the tallest building in the U.S. (New York's One World Trade Center) stacked on top of itself – is predicted to miss our planet, according to Metro. However, it will pass relatively close in terms of outer space.
NASA classifies any space object surpassing 459 feet wide and passing within 4,660,000 miles of Earth as "hazardous," according to a 2013 report on the space agency's website. There are about 1,000 such known space objects monitored by NASA.
This asteroid is more than eight times wider than the minimum (3,696 feet) and will pass within just over half the minimum distance (2,615,128 miles) to our planet.
For a reference point, the moon orbits Earth at a distance of about 238,855 miles.
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 1:21 AM
— Another meteor may have lit up the sky late Wednesday night.
Several reports have come into our newsroom of a bright flash that shot across the sky just before midnight. People from Englewood, Marysville and Randolph County, Ind. have said they saw the bright flash, with some saying it was bright blue or blue/green.
The American Meteor Society received several reports of a meteor in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Kentucky.
A meteor was spotted in Ohio, Michigan and Canada late Tuesday.
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 1:13 AM
OCONEE COUNTY, Ga. — The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office was back at it again with the jokes (and insults) as Georgia woke up to a messy wintry mix Wednesday, prompting schools, businesses and nearly three-fourths of the state’s roadways to close.
Stay home. Just STAY HOMEPosted by Oconee County Georgia Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, January 17, 2018
State government offices are remaining closed for non-essential personnel Thursday across the 83 counties affected by winter weather, Gov. Nathan Deal said.
Although the weather’s no joke, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office brought some humor to its Facebook page on what many found to be a frustrating snow day.
“I know you need cigarettes, beer and wine to get you through having your kids at home. Can you just do without for a day? Stay home,” one post read.
In another post, the office noted the multiple morning crashes due to the inclement weather. “Body shops and wrecker companies just love y’all.”
There is an incoming ballistic missile...er, wait. That was the wrong button. Ok. Got it now. Oconee County Government is closed today due to weather.Posted by Oconee County Georgia Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, January 17, 2018
If a Deputy is directing you to not travel down a roadway, he or she probably has a good reason for doing so. The fact that you are from Wisconsin and “this ain’t sh..” is really not pertinent.Posted by Oconee County Georgia Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, January 17, 2018
I know what y'all are doing. You looked out the window and saw your driveway and the 87 feet of road you can see looks...Posted by Oconee County Georgia Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, January 17, 2018
While most readers lauded the sheriff’s office for its jokes, some found the announcements to be disrespectful.
“Government entity at its finest. Oconee, be respectful! We all feel what you are saying, however, some of the things you are saying are offense considering you are a government office and serving the public (those stupid beer and cigarette runners). Thank you!” commenter Wendi Turpen Hood wrote.
Another commenter, Nikki Giamarino, noted some serious implications of bad weather.
“My employer called off work. But what about people who’s employer didn’t? What about single parents who cannot afford to lose their jobs due to absence? I wish the world was a kinder place,” she wrote.
This isn’t the first time the Oconee Sheriff’s Office has garnered attention for its humor.
Following Georgia’s win against Auburn last month, the office wrote, “Show proof you graduated from Auburn and we will discount your speeding tickets by 5 miles per hour,” the post said. “Y'all have had enough of a beating today.”
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 12:47 AM
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 12:47 AM
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