Thanks to our Geauga patriots at Auburntownship.org for this article:
THE IMPORTANCE OF HOLDING COUNTY POLITICAL PARTIES TO A HIGHER STANDARD.
As many of our readers may already know, the Republican Central Committees of Geauga, Lake, and Portage Counties have raised enough ire in their respective counties over the last several years to be taken to common pleas court. In at least two of these counties, Geauga and Portage, the central committees have been challenged in both Eleventh District and in the Supreme Court of Ohio.
We are sharing this morning the contents of a report this morning in the News-Courier of Kent. Brian Ames, an elected Republican precinct-member from Randolph, like Tom and Diane Jones of Geauga County, was angry enough with unconscionable behavior on the part of a County Republican Chairman that he filed litigation against the party and the chairman in Common Pleas Court.
Like Geauga County Republican Chair Nancy McArthur, a Chardon Council person appointed by Republican Bossman Ed Ryder to a job in the Geauga County Board of Elections office in November that appears to scream CONFLICT OF INTEREST, Portage County Republican Chairman, Jonathan Jennings, hired Cleveland attorney Nancy Schuster for reported big bucks from the party.
Brian Ames tenaciously wrote and filed the motions pro se, that is, without the action of an attorney. He recently was notified by the Eleventh District Court of Appeals that his actions had resulted in the disqualification and removal of retired visiting Stark County judge, Robert Reinhold and notification that another judge was soon to be appointed.
We hope that everyone reads this article and takes encouragement from the actions of Brian Ames, who also contests the actions of township officials when they are too careless to follow the dictates of Ohio Revised Code.
Any sports coach will tell you that an ugly win is still a win.
And to Brian Ames, a win on a technical issue is still a victory.
Ames, a Randolph resident who has sued Portage County officials more than 10 times over the past few years, recently got a victory in the 11th District Court of Appeals. The court ruled in his favor on a procedural issue, agreeing that an area judge dismissed his case against the Portage County Republican Party without the proper motion being filed by the party’s attorneys.
The case now goes before the Portage County Common Pleas Court, where an outside judge is expected to hear the case on March 26.
“It’s important that these things be run by the rules,” he said.
Ames filed the case about a year ago with the Supreme Court of Ohio against Judge Richard Reinhold Jr., a retired Stark County judge who has overseen some cases in Portage County.
The original case, filed in April 2017, was against the Portage County Republican Party, of which Ames is a member. Ames claimed that the party’s main committee was not operating according to Ohio law, and that the party should have both a Central Committee and an Executive Committee, instead of a combined committee that the party now has. He asked the court to declare that the combined committee is a “ sham organization, that its bylaws are sham, that the true controlling committee of the Republican Party consists of those committeemen duly elected and qualified or appointed by law, The Statutory Members.”
Then in January 2018 Ames filed a complaint that Reinhold dismissed that case without any motion for dismissal filed. Ames said Reinhold scheduled a hearing on the sanctions after the case had already been dismissed.
Although the appellate court did not rule on the main case against the local GOP, Ames said comments made by one of the appellate judges in the ruling gives him confidence that the case will eventually be decided in his favor.
To Ames, such details are important because the party helps make sure that elections are fair. The party also can appoint some elected officials if that official resigns, as it did when it appointed Sabrina Christian-Bennett to succeed former Portage County Commissioner Tommie Jo Marsillo in 2014.
Ames likens appointing additional members to the committee to what would happen if former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan were to appoint additional members to the House of Representatives. That, he said, would dilute the votes of elected members so he could continue to keep himself in power in the next Congress. He said that letting some party leaders have too much power is similar to Tammany Hall the political machine that dominated New York ?City Politics for 80 years.
“Most of these local party members don’t challenge these things,” he said. “They just say, ‘We’ll let Boss Tweed do what he wants.”
Ames is not stranger to challenging things that other don’t want to deal with/ A while back, he learned that most violations of public meeting act violations aren’t challenged in court because it costs too much money to hire attorneys. Ames challenges them as a “prose” party, meaning that he represents himself and pays only a small filing fee.
One time he challenged meeting procedures in Brimfield. His victory in that case changed the system, and trustees are now specific about the reason to hold an executive session.
“They will now be a model for how local governments should operate in this county,” he said lat year.
Jonathan Jennings, chairman of the Portage County Party, did not return phone calls seeking comment.