The Butler County commissioners on Nov. 28 appointed a committee to help select a new county solicitor.
The committee consists of current solicitor Julie Graham, who retires at the end of the year, chief clerk Amy Wilson, personnel director Lori Altman and former chief clerk Bill O’Donnell.
Commissioners Bill McCarrier and Dale Pinkerton voted for the committee’s formation while Commissioner Jim Eckstein dissented, saying its membership is biased.
Eckstein, a Democrat, said the committee will recommend a person his colleagues want.
“Basically, I’m dead set against this,” he said.
Eckstein said Wilson is too closely tied to Pinkerton because she is his former assistant. The minority commissioner also ruled out Altman, who is suing Eckstein for defamation.
“She’s suing me in court,” Eckstein said. “She doesn’t represent me. I feel I’m being excluded in this process.”
He said Graham won’t be objective because her husband, Don Graham, is a partner in the Butler law firm Dillon, McCandless, King, Coulter & Graham, which does business with the county.
Eckstein also objected to O’Donnell, who is working on a consulting basis for the county to help complete the 2013 county budget.
“I think Bill O’Donnell is your buddy,” he said to McCarrier and Pinkerton.
McCarrier said O’Donnell’s participation makes the committee bipartisan because the former chief clerk is a Democrat.
“My voters are being excluded,” he said.
Eckstein said O’Donnell doesn’t represent blue collar workers in the county.
“Are people not going to think the committee is rigged?” he asked.
McCarrier said Eckstein was wrong in his assessment of O’Donnell.
“To say Bill doesn’t represent you or your party is a fallacy,” McCarrier said.
Eckstein wasn’t swayed. He said his assistant, Margaret Abersold, an attorney, should be on the committee because she knows what questions to ask.
“That’s her career field,” he said.
Eckstein vowed to attend the committee’s meetings.
“You can rest assured I’ll be there,” he said.
McCarrier pointed out Eckstein doesn’t get a say on what the committee does and wouldn’t be allowed to speak during those meetings unless the committee approves it.
“You can enforce that,” Eckstein said.
McCarrier said the committee members represent all three commissioners, so if Eckstein doesn’t feel they do, that’s because he has problems dealing with the employees.
The deadline for applications for solicitor is 4:30 p.m. Friday. After the committee rates the applicants and makes a recommendation, the commissioners will appoint Graham’s successor.