By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer
GREEN TOWNSHIP - Some residents here are challenging what they call a "closed-door" governing policy as the board prepares to replace a trustee.
But Trustee Tony Upton said 15 residents who came to Monday's meeting were putting on a publicity show. He described them as a group of Democrats who never come to meetings unless political power is at stake, who knew no action could be taken at the meeting and who wanted to embarrass the two Republican trustees on the board.
Three-year Trustee Paul Rattermann announced his resignation Monday evening.
"I would continue to serve as your trustee, gladly, if I were able to," Rattermann told residents in an emotional speech. "But I am not."
Rattermann said Ohio Supreme Court rules preclude him from serving as both trustee and magistrate. He told residents he starts as magistrate Dec. 1 for Hamilton County Probate Judge James Cissell.
Then the trustees moved to an executive session without residents being able to comment.
"They're pretty arrogant about thinking they're the only ones who can run the show," said Ken Brodbeck, who lost this month's election to Upton. "It should have been put on the ballot. It should be the people who decide who runs the township, not a select group."
"We were subject to what Republicans call, 'Operation Ignore,'" said Ann Thompson, president of the Green Township Democrats Club. "You just ignore everyone you don't want to be there."
Upton called it all a Democratic political maneuver.
"Their ploy is to get all this in the newspaper and get their publicity," he said. "There's no reason for (the large group) to show up. We can't do anything because (Rattermann) is still on the board."
Green Township has one meeting in December, on Dec. 15. The trustees - Upton and Stephen Grote, who was unable to attend Monday's meeting - must decide then or call a special meeting before Dec. 30. If Upton and Grote cannot come to a consensus on a replacement by the end of December - and Upton doubts they will - Rattermann's nominating committee has 10 days to choose a replacement.
Rattermann didn't return two messages Tuesday.
Rattermann's nominating committee consists of Tom Straus, who ran unopposed in November alongside Upton; Bob Mecklenborg, an attorney whose partner is Green Township attorney Francis Hyle; Chuck Mitchell, a former Green Township attorney; and Dale Proffitt and Cheryl Winkler, both former township trustees.
Rattermann and his supporters argue that a person who reflects Rattermann's views should be appointed to replace him in township government.
Dissenters say the position should have been voted on. Short of that, the appointment should be a more open process, they say, citing the recent Delhi Township election after Trustee Ann Langdon moved to Colerain Township.
The other two-year Delhi term was voted on in November in a hotly contested race won by Mike Davis.
Rattermann took a job as court administrator in February. Officials were informed then it was only a matter of time before Rattermann would be promoted to magistrate and not be able to serve.
"To not enable people to vote on this, Mr. Rattermann will have to live with this on his conscience," Grote said.
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