Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Mason not funding 3 positions

Lawyer under review sought job with city

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — City Council won't fund the position sought by a Hamilton lawyer who is under state disciplinary review.

        Council did agree to pay for six of the nine new positions requested by the new Mason municipal judge.

        After emerging from a late Monday executive session, City Council asked Judge George Parker to postpone his request for the other three positions, the judge said.

        City Manager Scot Lahrmer said before council's late-night decision that Judge Parker “was quite adamant that litigation will occur if City Council does not adhere to his requests.”

        “The council wasn't fully convinced of the appropriateness and necessity of all the jobs that we wanted to add,” Judge Parker said later. But “I'm glad that the city recognized that we needed to add staff.”

        Among the three positions council didn't agree to on Monday was a $52,000-a-year court administrator. Three people were being considered for the post, including Michael Conese, a Hamilton lawyer.

        The total cost to Mason for the six new positions will be $126,000, with Warren County expected to help with funding. The positions include four full-time employees and two part-timers.

        Judge Parker served as Mr. Conese's attorney last month at a hearing in Columbus to determine whether Mr. Conese violated the Code of Professional Responsibility for lawyers.

        Mr. Conese, who lost his bid for re-election to the Hamilton municipal bench in 1995, is accused of accepting $4,000 from the family of a client and keeping $1,000 that was supposed to go toward the man's child-support debt.

        The Ohio Supreme Court's Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline may make a decision on Mr. Conese's case Feb. 1.

        The board could recommend discipline ranging from public reprimand to disbarment.

        Mr. Conese, who has denied wrongdoing, did not return several calls Tuesday.

        Judge Parker has said Supreme Court officials told him he would not face ethical problems if he hired Mr. Conese, whose relatives contributed $350 to Judge Parker's campaign.

        Enquirer reporter Sheila McLaughlin contributed.



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