Average Citizens Speak Out at Commissioners’ Meeting…updated 4/28/24

By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall

At the Lake County Commissioners’ meeting on Thursday, April 25, 2024, Lake County residents, Leonard Gilbert and Brian Massie, expressed their views to the Commissioners on property taxes, and the stunning lack of concern for the taxpayers of Lake County by the administration and the respective Board of Trustees of Lakeland Community College and the Auburn Career Center.

It is absolutely shameful what has transpired at both institutions over the years without any elected official, or any board member warning the taxpayers. Both institutions are guilty, in our opinion, of malfeasance.

“Malfeasance is an act that is illegal and causes physical or monetary harm to someone else. Malfeasance is intentional conduct that is wrongful or unlawful, especially by officials or public employees.”

The prior Lakeland Community College board forgot that they are in charge, and let Dr. Morris Beverage have free reign at the college. Since 2015, the college has been close to a “fiscal watch” by the State Auditor, and it was only the Covid funding from the federal government that kept them afloat since 2020. It is our hope that the new Board President, Ms. Ellen Foley Kessler, and Vice-President Mr. Matt Hebebrand can put Lakeland on the correct path for financial solvency. Here are three pages from the State Auditor’s performance audit of LCC that illustrate our point of poor Board management and the SB 6 score regarding their fiscal performance.

Auburn Career Center has spent $3.0 million of taxpayers money trying to defeat the employee union in the courts for over 12 years. They have lost each time in the courts. The eleven member board lost sight of their role in the running of the school, and has let Dr. Bontempo squander the taxpayers’ money on legal fees. It is really infuriating, and the Board members should be ashamed of themselves.

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive”

Here is the Mr. Paul Stefanko resignation letter we received from the Auburn Career Center officials. When you compare it to the actual resignation submitted by Mr. Stefanko below, it would cause the average citizen to question Auburn’s lack of transparency.

We would like to acknowledge an Auburn Board member that has recently resigned his position from the Board. Mr. Paul Stefanko, representing the Chardon school district, just handed in his resignation. Mr. Stefanko is a man of honor, and has a moral code that should be emulated by the other Board members.

Here is Mr. Stefanko’s letter of resignation:

Roger and Brian,

After much consideration I have decided to resign my position immediately on the Auburn Board of Trustees.

My recent request for financial numbers regarding the CATA lawsuit was refused by the Treasurer because it would result in a record that could be requested by the public.  I find this response to be unethical and will not be a part of intentionally withholding information from the public. I cannot and will not be a party to this type of behavior from anyone, especially those who are entrusted to be good stewards of taxpayers money. 

I have informed Mike Hanlon of my decision and he will be requesting my replacement to the Auburn Board directly. 

Up until this terrible situation I have always supported Auburn and held all of the staff in high regard.  I will sincerely miss Auburn, but I have always believed that if you do not stand for something, then you will fall for anything. This is unacceptable to me as a representative of the Chardon Local School district and cannot continue to serve in this capacity and under these circumstances. 

 I wish you all the best in the future. 


Paul Stefanko

Unfortunately for the Lake County taxpayers there is nothing you can do to fix the problems at the schools. You will be required to continue to pay property taxes to both institutions because they have continuous levies, or levies that expire in 2031 and 2041, which means that they will get the property tax revenue regardless of what the citizens think about their conduct, or performance.

Commissioners Hamercheck and Plecnik address the concerns expressed by the citizens. Commissioner Hamercheck states his strong admiration for NOACA (Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency), and the important role that they play in bringing money back into Lake County. He was the NOACA President for two years, and served well in that capacity.

However, we do not share his same admiration of NOACA since it is another layer of government that will only continue to grow government. It is our belief that their ultimate goal is to change the way of life for citizens of Northeast Ohio. They started as a coordinator to ensure roads and bridges are well maintained, but have morphed into a climate action entity that will ultimately advocate for the 15 minute cities, public housing for seniors that are priced out of their homes, and the reliance on buses, trains, bicycles, electric vehicles and mopeds for transportation.

As the globalist Klaus Schwab said: “You will own nothing and be happy”. Take him seriously, because he means it. It starts with you being priced out of your homes because of the ever-increasing property taxes.

Any tax that, if unpaid, causes a citizen to become homeless is immoral.

The State of Ohio legislators’ solution for the seniors being priced out of their home is for the seniors to sell their homes and move into an apartment. Since there is a shortage of homes in Ohio, their thinking is that with seniors moving out this will give the younger generation the opportunity to buy a home. The basic problems are that seniors want to “age in place”, and the younger generations cannot afford inflated home prices, mortgage interest rates, and the property taxes.

Categories: Education, Lake County - General, Uncategorized

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