Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Move to oust city manager


Councilwoman: 'He was totally dishonest with us'

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The city manager attended at least three meetings early this year on an engineering project he insists he didn't know had started, the project's manager said Monday.

        “I know that we talked about the need to get it started, and the need to get things ordered,” City Manager James Patrick said in response. “I don't remember” hearing the work had started, he said.

        The disclosure could result in the second challenge to Mr. Patrick in less than a year on the job. Two council members said Monday they will seek his ouster.

        Brad Cramer, vice president of GPD Associates in Akron, also told The Cincinnati Enquirer he and Mr. Patrick talked about the contract by telephone at least twice between December and February. Mr. Cramer was out of town last week when $35,860 in unpaid GPD invoices dating to September came to light.

        The invoices were for engineering work to expand an electric substation and transmission lines.

        The work has become a contentious issue because the $245,000 contract was not approved by council, as the city charter requires. The question then becomes: who authorized the work?

        The answer, according to Mr. Cramer: Robert Newton, the former head of the electric department, verbally authorized it. Mr. Newton, who retired Dec. 31, has not returned several calls.

        “It may have been that between the old director of electric and the interim director of electric something fell through the cracks,” Mr. Patrick said.

        Regardless, he said, a 1985 resolution allows the city manager to hire engineers for power work without council approval.

        The situation could still be a political problem for Mr. Patrick. Council members must decide whether he lied to them or sat through three meetings with GPD in which the project was a major topic without grasping that the work had started.

        “I believe he was totally dishonest with us,” Councilwoman Amy Brewer said.

        She and Councilman James Reinhard said they intend to seek Mr. Patrick's resignation or firing because of the contract, his changing of an employee's time sheet and other issues. However, they would need two votes from supporters of Mr. Patrick.

        Meanwhile, GPD stopped work on the project after City Attorney Mark Yurick said last week that Lebanon could refuse to pay.

        “I just hope that they do pay,” Mr. Cramer said. “We had every reason to believe they were going to pay when we performed the work.”

       



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