From The Cincinnati Enquirer The Community Press filed a complaint against the city of Blue Ash on June 8 for failing to provide and properly retain public records.
In early May, The Community Press requested a copy of a contract and related documents between the city and Inner Summit LLC, which conducted evaluations and questionnaires of senior staff members regarding key competencies and skill areas.
The city did not provide the records. Assistant City Manager Kelly Harrington said the city did not have a contract with Inner Summit for the project. Harrington said the city classified the completed questionnaires and result reports as notes, because they were shared only with employees and not kept at city offices.
Jack Greiner, attorney for The Community Press, stated in court documents that the city violated its record retention schedule and the Ohio Revised Code.
“Ohio law defines a record as any document created or received by a public office that documents the functions, operations or other activities of the office. Performance evaluations of senior staff members of the city of Blue Ash obviously are covered by this definition,” Greiner said in a comment about the lawsuit.
Blue Ash Community and Public Relations Coordinator Mary Grace Fitzgerald said the city was disappointed to hear about the lawsuit.
“No documents related to this case, public or otherwise, have been destroyed. The city always meets its obligation under the Ohio Public Records Act, fulfilling hundreds of requests each year. What The Community Press is currently seeking are personal notes, which are not matter of public record. The Community Press is not entitled to these notes under Ohio law,” Fitzgerald said.
Blue Ash provided a proposal between the city and Inner Summit.
The 360 Feedback evaluations were conducted in 2014 and 2015 of Harrington, City Manager David Waltz, Parks and Recreation Director Chuck Funk, Police Chief Paul Hartinger, Public Works Director Gordon Perry, Treasurer/Administrative Services Director Sherry Poppe and Fire Chief Rick Brown, according to the proposal. It included a cost of $5,600.
“And as a matter of public policy, tax payers should be able to review the performance of employees who are paid by those very tax dollars. Why Blue Ash would try to hide that information is a mystery,” Greiner said.
The Community Press is requesting the court award a forfeiture of $1,000, have Blue Ash pay attorney fees court costs and award any other relief it is entitled to.
Blue Ash has yet to file a response to the complaint.