Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Korte: Inside City Hall

Luken, DeWine duke it out in e-mail over Issue 5

Anyone who has followed the debate over Issue 5 and the Fraternal Order of Police contract knows that the arguments have gotten personal.

Remember when FOP vice president Keith Fangman and Vice Mayor Alicia Reece got into a shouting match during a council meeting last December?

Or when Fangman called Councilmen Pat DeWine and David Crowley "political predators"? Or when Crowley responded by suggesting to Fangman that his afterlife travel plans should include a place south of purgatory?

Arbitrator Michael Paolucci's July 2 decision may have settled some of the thorny legal issues. He ruled that the city couldn't force a change about how assistant police chiefs are promoted, despite a 2001 charter amendment approved by voters as Issue 5.

But the political and personal issues remain.

Witness this e-mail exchange between DeWine and Mayor Charlie Luken the day after the arbitrator ruled for the FOP. DeWine had sent a memo to City Solicitor Rita McNeil that morning outlining possible avenues for appeal. McNeil forwarded it to City Manager Valerie Lemmie, who forwarded it to the mayor, who shot back at DeWine. (Note the number of times they call each other by their first names.)

Luken, 11:14 a.m.: "Haven't we done enough damage, Pat? Council has done unnecessary damage to our relationship with police at a time when you, Pat, keep demanding that they get more active. Maybe if you showed some support for them we would get a better result."

DeWine, 1:09 p.m.: "Thanks for your e-mail. You seem to overlook the fact that the city wouldn't have been in this position to start with if your negotiating team had simply negotiated a contract consistent with the charter. I don't know about you, Charlie, but I took an oath to uphold the charter. I intend to follow it."

Luken, 1:19 p.m.: "Wrong again. The FOP refused to bargain it, as is their right.... I urge you to drop this divisive and costly pursuit.

"I don't know what you said on (the WDBZ talk show of host) Lincoln Ware, but it was reported to me that you said I had 'secret' meetings with Keith Fangman about this. That is untrue, and if you said it, or implied it, you should be ashamed."

Luken, 1:30 p.m.: "By the way, it was your negotiating team, too, and if you cared about it so much you had an obligation to raise it when you were briefed, or to raise it on your own initiative, which you failed to do."

DeWine, 1:30 p.m.: "Charlie, you are a lawyer and I'm sure you know the law better than this. I'm happy to have a discussion about the issue, but you don't need to misrepresent the law or the facts. Keith Fangman testified at the fact-finding hearing that there was a meeting held prior to formal negotiations at which the general outlines of the contract were agreed to."

Luken, 1:37 p.m.: "Just make sure you state I was not part of the meeting. Only you and (Councilman) David Pepper have been part of the negotiations.... The law is obviously on my side, otherwise one of the experts in public collective bargaining would have sided with you. Same for facts."


E-mail gkorte@enquirer.com

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