Wednesday, March 01, 2000

Prosecutor's office seeks to throw out suit vs. county




BY DAN KLEPAL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Hamilton County prosecutor's office has filed a request to have a lawsuit alleging that county commissioners violated Ohio's Open Meetings law thrown out of court.

        Cincinnati lawyer Tim Mara filed suit against the county Feb. 7, saying commissioners decided in a closed-door executive session to give the city $2 million to help build a covering over three blocks of Fort Washington Way.

        The prosecutor's office motion says there is no basis for the suit and that Mr. Mara “lacks standing” to bring the suit on behalf of taxpayers.

        Their point is that Mr. Mara had an obligation to ask the prosecutor's office to sue the county first. After prosecutors decline to sue because of a conflict of interest, then Mr. Mara could bring suit.

        Mr. Mara said that shouldn't apply to his case because it would be a futile effort, asking the county's legal representatives to sue their client.

        Mr. Mara believes the request is really an attempt to keep the commissioners from testifying under oath.

        “They desperately don't want to answer my questions under oath,” Mr. Mara said.

        Hamilton County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus declined to comment on the suit because it is pending litigation, he said.

        Commissioners announced their decision to give money to the city at a Jan. 31 press conference. They officially approved the expenditure at a commission meeting two days later.

       



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