Saturday, February 03, 2001

Judge's double-dipping called legal

Doan free to collect salary and pension

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Hamilton County judge is apparently able to collect his pension and his salary at the same time because of a glitch in a law intended to help lure retired teachers back to the classroom.

        Judge Rupert A. Doan of the 1st District Court of Appeals informed the Public Employees Retirement System of his retirement a month after voters re-elected him in November to another six-year term, which begins next week.

        Because of his two-month retirement, Mr. Doan, a Republican, will be able to collect an annual $88,000 in pension while also collecting his $115,000 annual salary for the next six years.

        Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Joe Deters has asked Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen to look into the matter. Mr. Allen said it appears to be legal.

        “I haven't seen anything that would tell me otherwise,” Mr. Allen said.

        The change in law that allowed the judge to take his two-month retirement happened in the Ohio General Assembly in September, when lawmakers passed a bill reducing the time retiring officials must wait before they can return to work from six months to two months.

        Retired state Rep. Dale Van Vyven, R-Sharonville, was chairman of the House Health, Retirement and Aging Committee when the law was changed. He said the purpose of the legislation was to encourage recently retired teachers to return to the classroom to help ease a statewide teacher shortage.

        “But, inadvertently, the new law knocked out some language that said that if you are a judge running for re-election and you plan to retire, you have to state that when you become a candidate for re-election,” Mr. Van Vyven said. “Without that language in there, what Doan did followed the law.”

        State Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-Price Hill, said he wants to see the legislature rewrite the law to disallow such double-dipping.

        “This is something we have to address,” Mr. Driehaus said. “This does not look good.”

        Judge Doan could not be reached for comment Friday.

        Ohio law does not allow judges to run for re-election once they reach age 70, so this will be the 67-year-old judge's last term.


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