Tuesday, August 07, 2001

Council to meet in special session

City manager, house purchase on Lebanon agenda

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — City Council couldn't wait until next week to tackle two hot-button issues: the fates of the Mechanic Street house and City Manager James Patrick.

        A special meeting has been called for 7:30 tonight in the city building, 50 S. Broadway St. Council will vote on whether to spend $130,000 to buy 27 N. Mechanic St. and will discuss Mr. Patrick's future.

        A third council member, Ben Cole, weighed in Monday in favor of removing Mr. Patrick from active duty. He was indicted late last month on four felony counts of aiding and abetting two council employees who took questionable early-retirement buyouts in December 1999.

        “I don't think he should be fired, but maybe he should take a (paid) leave of absence until after the election,” Mr. Cole said.

        Mr. Cole, who is not up for re-election this year, said the city manager will become a major campaign issue for the four incumbents if he remains on the job. After the election, Mr. Cole said, Mr. Patrick's fate will be up to the new Council.

        It would take four votes to remove the city manager.

        Legislation to fire him — sponsored by Amy Brewer and James Reinhard — was tabled last week on a 5-2 vote.

        Mr. Patrick has not returned calls seeking comment.

        In other business, the city faces an Aug. 14 deadline to back out of its purchase of 27 N. Mechanic St. Badly damaged by fire in late 1999, the Federal-style house is thought to have been built by Shakers around 1808.

        A Warren County jury ruled in May that Council must pay owner John McComb $230,000 for the property, which it took through eminent domain last year.

        If Council decides not to buy the house, it must pay Mr. McComb's legal fees.

        The Lebanon Conservancy Foundation committed $100,000 toward the purchase and renovation of the house within two years. In exchange, it wants a 99-year lease on the property.

        An emergency appropriation of the other $130,000 needs five of the seven votes to pass tonight, City Attorney Mark Yurick said.

        Mrs. Brewer has consis tently voted against buying the house, and Mr. Reinhard — Mr. McComb's brother-in-law — consistently has excused himself. Therefore, all remaining members would have to support the measure for council to avoid holding its third special meeting in two weeks.

        The second vote would require a four-person majority.


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