Monday, June 26, 2000

Auditor search resumes

Weekend interviews prompt legal questions in Lebanon

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The search for a city auditor moved forward this weekend as the acting auditor and two Butler County residents interviewed for the job amid continuing controversy.

        Interviewed Saturday were Gregory Dixon, of Trenton and Middletown's assistant finance director since 1987, and Douglas Childs of Hamilton, who has been assistant business manager in Hamilton for five years.

        Sharee Dick of Morrow, who has worked in Lebanon's finance department for nine years, was interviewed Friday.

        “I think the process is moving along just fine,” Councilman Mark Flick said Sunday.

        A third Butler County resident, George Gordon IV of Hamilton, will be interviewed Thursday. He is chief deputy auditor for Butler.

        The effort to fill the auditor's job — vacant since Debbie Biggs retired in December — hit its first bump in March when the consultant hired to help find a replacement fired his client.

        “It would be incumbent upon me to let candidates for auditor-finance director know they are likely to get caught in struggles between a faction of council and the rest of council,” consultant Martin Jenkins said in a Feb. 29 letter.

        The 7-member council got the search back on track this month, reducing a stack of resumes to the finalists. .

        Then finance committee members developed criteria and a scoring system for candidates and interviews started Friday.

        The search hit another bump Saturday when a council member called City Attorney Mark Yurick about the interview process. They were held in executive session, with Mr. Flick, finance committee chairman, running them.

        “I have some concerns about it,” said Mr. Yurick, who was not invited to the interviews or told how they would occur. “I wish somebody would have asked me because I'm really just trying to make sure they're doing things according to the law.”

        Among his concerns: “If a majority of council members is there it's considered a meeting. I was not aware that the notice was posted” as required by Ohio law.

        Therefore, Mr. Yurick said, he called and informed local newspapers of the Saturday interview “to try to fix a shortcoming in the procedure.”

        Mr. Yurick also said council could not meet in private — as it did Friday night and Saturday morning. Meetings must be properly announced.

        Mr. Childs was interviewed in a public session Saturday afternoon after Councilman James Reinhard raised the objection.

        Further, Mr. Reinhard questioned whether the finance committee held an unannounced meeting to develop the list of criteria and the scorecard.

        Mr. Flick said the meetings to interview the candidates were announced at council's last meeting.


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