Friday, September 24, 1999

Do two Ludlow jobs conflict?

Councilman asks court decision

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A Ludlow councilman has turned to the courts for an opinion on whether his involvement on City Council and the fire department constitutes a conflict of interest.

        Garry Hatter Sr., who holds a supervisory position with the Ludlow volunteer fire department, filed a petition in Kenton Circuit Court on Thursday, saying the two positions do not conflict. The petition appeals an August ruling by Ludlow's ethics board, which said he was in violation of the Ludlow Code of Ethical Conduct.

        Because he has financial responsibilities for both entities, “you are in an apparent conflict to do what is best for both entities,” ethics board Chairman Barbara Hamon wrote him.

        The board in August notified Mr. Hatter in writing that he should refrain from voting on any financial arrangement involving the city and the fire department.

        His reprimand from the board was confidential until he attached it to the court documents.

        Mr. Hatter advocated for the fire department, the letter said, in a debate over the department's receipt of an $18,000 check from the city. That advocacy could put Mr. Hatter in “a bad light in the public eye,” Ms. Hamon wrote, and might raise questions about his duty to preserve public funds.

        That check, for equipment purchases, led to an independent audit of city finances and landed City Administrator Mike Moehlman, who wrote the check, on administrative leave. City officials are still negotiating his departure from the city.

        The audit later found that the check did not violate the city's budget ordinance.

        The fire department and its finances also are in question in another forum. A grand jury investigation continues into its handling of charitable bingo proceeds.


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