Written by Brian Massie, Concord Township
The issue at hand is whether Mr. Chris Galloway, Lake County Auditor, is in violation of a 1979 Attorney General Opinion No. 79-111 because he is also the Chairman of the Concord Township / Painesville JEDD.
We also question whether it is appropriate for Mr. Galloway to maintain his private political consulting company, Red State Strategies, and spearhead the passage of property tax levies while performing the duties of the Lake County Auditor. Mr. Galloway is a very savvy political consultant and has been retained by Democrats, Republicans, lobbyists, and political subdivisions to help them get elected or their levy passed.
We asked the State of Ohio Auditor’s office for a ruling on this issue; and, of course, they have no jurisdiction in this matter. As a side note, the State officials are basically useless for the average citizen because they hide behind the “home rule” concept. They only have jurisdiction when they want to have jurisdiction, and force the average citizen into a long, expensive legal battle through a court system that does not favor the average citizen.
“General–law cities have only those powers that state law expressly or implicitly authorizes. By contrast, home–rule cities may assume any power not prohibited by the state constitution or state laws.”
The State of Ohio Auditor’s office did tell us that we need to go through our Lake County Prosecutor’s office or the State of Ohio Attorney General’s office for assistance in this matter. We decided to contact Mr. Charles Coulson, the Lake County Prosecutor. Here is the letter that we sent to him.
We have tried to contact Mr. Coulson several times but to no avail. Then we remembered that he does not have to deal with the average citizen since he is running unopposed on November 3rd.
We contacted the JEDD Board about this issue and was sent a legal decision by Michael C. Lucas, legal counsel for the JEDD, Concord Township and a host of other municipalities in Lake County. Mr. Lucas ruled that Mr. Galloway may hold both positions as Lake County Auditor and Chairman of the JEDD. We would have been more impressed if the ruling came from the State’s Attorney General.
Galloway was appointed to this position by the Lake County Republican Party because of the resignation of the former, long time Auditor Mr. Ed Zupancic due to health reasons. There were several candidates vying for this position including a very qualified Ms. Belinda Grassi. It is ironic to us that the Republican Executive Committee, led by Commissioner candidate Mr. Jason Wuliger, questioned Ms. Grassi vigorously about retaining her personal tax consulting business if she were to be appointed to the Auditor’s position. It seems that the local Republican Party is sending mixed signals regarding the qualifications for men and women holding the higher offices.
Our only recourse is to go to the “Court of Public Opinion”. On November 3rd the Lake County taxpayers will get to decide if Mr. Galloway is permitted to be the Lake County Auditor, in addition to being the Chairman of the Concord Township / Painesville JEDD; all while he is working as a very savvy, effective political consultant influencing the passage of property tax and sales levies and supporting other candidates for political office, regardless of party affiliation.
Stay tuned, there is more to follow…..