Wednesday, July 23, 2014

County Auditor Can Serve on Board of Revisions, GOP Central Committee
March 17, 2014 by John Karlovec | No Comments

Gliha legally, ethically can hold both positions

There is no conflict with Geauga County Auditor Frank Gliha serving on the county Board of Revision and the Geauga County Republican Party Central Committee.

There is no conflict with Geauga County Auditor Frank Gliha serving on the county Board of Revision and the Geauga County Republican Party Central Committee.

That is the legal opinion Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz delivered to both Geauga County Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri and Gliha in a March 17 letter.

Earlier this month, during a March 3 BOR hearing, Spidalieri challenged Gliha’s compatibility to hold both positions.

He based his challenge on a 1965 Ohio Attorney General’s opinion, as cited in the Compatibility Opinions Index the attorney general’s office publishes. That opinion held a member of a county BOR could not hold a position as an officer or a member of a county political party central or executive committee.

Both elected officials asked Flaiz to issue a legal opinion on matter.

“Unfortunately, the attorney general’s Compatibility Opinions Index is, at best, misleading,” Flaiz wrote, noting the 1965 opinion was clarified three years in 1968.

“After reviewing the Compatibility Opinion Index (which is erroneous), both attorney general opinions, and the current version of Ohio Revised Code section 5715.51, it is my opinion that an elected official such as the county auditor, commissioner or treasurer may serve as a member of the board of revisions and a member of a political party committee.”

The 1968 opinion holds that because the county auditor is considered a “public officer” and not an employee of the BOR, “the county auditor can hold office as a member of a party central committee and also serve on the county board of revision,” Flaiz wrote.

Flaiz said he understood Spidalieri’s confusion because the compatibility index is incorrect and added he would request the attorney general’s office correct it.

Spidalieri said earlier that Gliha’s alleged conflict should have precluded him from casting a vote in two separate GOP county commissioner appointments.

The first time, in July 2012, Gliha voted to appoint then former Commissioner Mary Samide over Walter “Skip” Claypool to fill retiring Commissioner Bill Young’s seat. Samide defeated Claypool by one vote, Spidalieri said.

Then, in November 2013, Claypool again lost an appointment to the board of commissioners at a time when Gliha and Samide both served on the BOR. Claypool lost to current Commissioner Blake Rear by two votes, Spidalieri said.

“My whole thing is we have a duty to the people to be legal, to be correct and ethical, and right,” Spidalieri said May 3. “If we can’t do that, we’ve got to make some changes and we’ve got to make some changes fast.”

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