Friday, July 28, 2000

Deerfield clerk takes trustee fight to court

They don't like way she keeps minutes

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP — The feud between trustees and township Clerk Kristin Spiekerman is about to spill into the courtroom.

        Mrs. Spiekerman, who assumed the clerk position April 1, is suing township trustees for refusing to approve three months worth of meeting minutes and stripping her of her duties as recording secretary of the board. She filed the lawsuit in Warren County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday.

        “This is not the manner I would prefer to handle this situation, but the trustees have left me no other choice,” Mrs. Spiekerman said Thursday. “Since beginning my term of office, I have not received any help from trustees, only roadblocks.”

        The lawsuit asks the court to force trustees to approve the clerk's minutes and grant a permanent injunction preventing trustees from interfering with Mrs. Spiekerman's duty to maintain an accurate record of all township proceedings.

        “This lawsuit is minutia and ought to be filed in the trash can rather than in court,” said Trustees President Bill Morand. “Instead, we've got to spend money on an attorney and waste our time because our clerk is unwilling to work with anybody here.”

        Trustees and Mrs. Spiekerman have been at odds since last November's election when she defeated former township clerk Ben Dotson, husband of township Administrator Hazel Dotson. The two sides have sparred over everything from office furniture to the location of Mrs. Spiekerman's working office in what she calls “the township's garage.”

        Trustees told Mrs. Spiekerman July 18 she would no longer be recording the minutes.

        Under Ohio law, the township clerk is assigned to keep the official record of the meeting. But legal counsel Doug Miller said because Deerfield Township is under home rule, trustees are responsible for the minutes.

        “Kristin had refused to cooperate and accept our corrections and we needed minutes approved,” Mr. Morand said. “Her minutes are very biased and not based on the facts of the meetings. They are politically motivated and meant to demean the former clerk, the township administrator and trustees for her own benefit.”

        Attorney Patrick Long, who is representing Mrs. Spiekerman, wrote in the lawsuit: “The (trustees) have demanded that she prepare minutes that are politically slanted in their favor, that she delete relevant comments made during the meeting, and (that) she rewrite motions and comments to exclude embarrassing statements made by (them).”


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