LFC is very concerned about actions taken by politicians and bureaucrats that are detrimental to the welfare of the citizens that they are supposed to serve. We cannot stand idly by and allow bureaucrats to abuse the rights of any individual, regardless of where the individual falls on the political spectrum. If they are abusing one, they are abusing all of us.
The current issue deals with the Concord / Painesville JEDD. Here is a link to their website that answers the who, what and why questions on their existence.
The CoVid-19 pandemic has created some serious issues for the citizens being able to physically attend meetings, but some political sub-divisions and Boards have accommodated the citizens with virtual on-line videos or audio. You will plainly see the JEDD Board, led by their Chairman Mr. Chris Galloway, has decided to exclude those citizens with health issues from their meetings.
The following series of emails will demonstrate that Mr. Chris Galloway, and his merry band of Board members, have developed a callous attitude toward citizens with disabilities and fear of the CoVid-19 virus. Mr. Chris Galloway, doing double duty as the appointed Lake County Auditor (a questionable conflict in LFC’s mind), is running again on November 3rd to be your Lake County Auditor.
- Email from Rita McMahon, JEDD Adminstrator, dated May 27, 2020 to CHRIS GALLOWAY, Chairman of the JEDD Board (and Lake County Auditor)
Hi, Chris, Andy [LFC add: Andrew Rose, Concord Administrator] and I have been talking about the June meeting and he has suggested we hold it at Town Hall. The Board will be there in person appropriately socially distanced and the public can WebEx or Zoom in. He has indicated that with this scenario we would not have to record it or show it on the web. I am wondering what your thoughts are an what you want on the agenda. Do we want to talk about the Strategic Plan? Or should we just stick to basic business?
[LFC Comment: Please note that having a virtual meeting was definitely available, but why did they not want to record it or show it on the web?]
- Email from Rita McMahon dated June 5, 2020 to all JEDD Board Members: [Emphasis added by LFC]
“Hello all, in consultation with CHRIS GALLOWAY, the June 19th Board meeting will be held in person at the Concord Town Hall. We will be social distancing the Board and the staff and will provide opportunities for any audience to be a safe social distance as well. Masks are encouraged but not required. Please let me know if you have any concerns about this approach.
[LFC Comments: Please note that Rita McMahon consulted with Auditor Chris Galloway, and then told the Board that the June 19th meeting will be held only in-person. Thereby, shutting out citizens with disabilities and fear of the CoVid-19 virus.]
- Here is an email dated September 10, 2020 from a citizen to Rita McMahon, JEDD Administrator:
I would like to attend the JEDD meeting on September 18th, but because of my health issues and the continuing pandemic, I cannot leave the house. I ask that there be a conference line set up for me and other members of the public in similar situations, to listen to the meeting. Please email me the link.
Thank you for the accommodation,
[LFC Comment: We do not believe that this is an unreasonable request by the citizen. ]
- Here is the email from Rita McMahon responding to the citizen’s request.
[Name Redacted] This is an in-person meeting, there is no remote connection.
[LFC Comment: Ah…the plot thickens…starting to smell a deception being brewed in this cauldron. Notice that there was no apology or explanation given to the citizen. ]
- Here is the email from Lobbyists for Citizens to Rita McMahon.
We have been made aware that upcoming JEDD meetings will only be conducted in-person, and there will be no audio available to the general public.
Since your June 19th meeting email to Mr. Galloway clearly stated that you can provide the WebEx or Zoom for virtual meetings, we were wondering why citizens with disabilities, or those with the fear of CoVid-19 virus, cannot be accommodated and permitted to listen to all future meetings in real time using WebEx or Zoom?
We would like to know who made the decision not to offer the public the real time audio of the meeting, and why was that decision made?
- Here the email dated September 17, 2020 from Rita McMahon.
…”it was the consensus of the JEDD Board to meet in person.”
[LFC Comments: Uh, oh…consensus of the JEDD Board? Ms. McMahon in her June 5th email to the Board wrote: “Hello all, in consultation with CHRIS GALLOWAY, the June 19th Board meeting will be held in person at the Concord Town Hall.”
In order for there to be a consensus of the Board there had to be another meeting to gain that consensus, but there is no mention of such a meeting.
Copies of the email were sent to the Concord Township Trustees – Carl Dorndorfer, Morgan McIntosh, and Amy Lucci. As of October 16, 2020, not one of the Trustees even bothered to contact Lobbyists for Citizens to express any concern for their constituents. By the way, Morgan McIntosh is on the JEDD Board. It is very telling conduct by the Trustees.
- Lobbyists for Citizens hand delivered a letter to Rita McMahon on September 18, 2020 meeting asking the following questions:
- When was the meeting held by the JEDD Board to determine to only hold in-person meetings, and not offer the public a remote connection to the meetings?
- What were the Board’s reasons for not providing the public remote access to the meetings?
- We would like to know the individual Board members’ votes to not provide the public remote access to the meetings.
- Rita McMahon responded via email to our hand delivered public records request of September 18, 2020:
… Pursuant to your hand delivered public records request of September 18, 2020, there are no documents responsive to your request.
[LFC Comments: We can just envision their lawyer, Mike Lucas, chuckling when he gave Rita McMahon the wording for that response. Here is a lesson for the average citizen to learn: These bureaucrats are not interested in making life easy for you. Rather than being helpful to the involved, concerned citizen, they will hide behind the law, and force you to use the court system to get them to respond to your requests.]
- Here is the Lobbyists for Citizen’s response to Ms. McMahon:
Thank you for your response. It is obvious that transparency with the citizens is not your, or the JEDD Board’s, strong suit.
LFC contacted the State of Ohio’s Attorney General office regarding violations of the Open Meetings Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act. Here is the response:
“Although relevant provisions of H.B. 197 permit public bodies to conduct virtual meetings (this allowance will continue during the effective period of the CoVid-19 declaration of emergency or until December 1, 2020, if the declaration remains in effect beyond that date), there is nothing in R.C. 121.22 or H.B. 197 which precludes a public body’s holding an in person meeting.”
“As to your question related to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and its potential application to the situation which you describe, I cannot make comment.”
So there we have it, the non-transparent JEDD Board, led by the Lake County Auditor, Chris Galloway, and supported by the Concord Trustees, can decide to shut out citizens that want to participate in the affairs of governmental boards.
We are finding all over Lake county that many elected and appointed officials do not really want citizen participation in their governmental functions. What they want is to control the affairs of government as they see fit, and only want to see and hear from average citizens at election time. There is a cabal of swamp dwellers in Lake County.
We find the JEDD Board’s conduct and attitude to seniors with disabilities and fear of the CoVid-19 virus to be reprehensible. We will let the court of public opinion decide this matter, and to let the officials hear us at the ballot box on November 3rd.
To the Concord Trustees, using your Administrator’s, Mr. Andrew Rose, new Concord rule for assigning “guilt by association”, we find you all guilty in this complicity to stop average citizens from participating in the affairs of their local government. It is conduct that is very unbecoming of elected officials, and we promise it will be remembered at election time.