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Article published January 15, 2013
More money wasted
Steven HivelyCranberry Township
The Butler County commissioners’ actions on Jan. 9 should win an award for dysfunctional governance. Spending $5,000 to investigate a so-called “internal” sexual harassment complaint against Commissioner Jim Eckstein — filed by an employee who wants to hide her name — is a waste of hard-earned taxpayer money and more foolishness at the Government Center. When charges and accusations are made against any public official, it should not be secretive. The accuser should be referred to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if she continues her accusations, or the solicitor should investigate the accusations for validity and recommend needed corrective actions, if warranted. Will the county spend thousands of tax dollars every time someone makes an accusation? How deep are the taxpayers’ pockets to fund all of the current foolishness and game-playing? Making $90,000 a year and after only a couple of weeks on the job, the new “rookie” solicitor has hired a huge, statewide law firm to do his investigation, because he has a “conflict of interest.” But, Julie Graham, the former solicitor for the last 20 years, had absolutely no conflict representing the county in a recent EEOC harassment complaint dealing with the county and Eckstein. Go figure. Unfortunately, everyone has witnessed the costly behavior of Eckstein during the past chaotic year: two defamation lawsuits; EEOC complaints; disruptive and unproductive meetings, as reported in the Butler Eagle; the waste of thousands of dollars; constant arguing; resignations of longtime officials; daily confusion; and endless rhetoric. Plus, panic buttons have been installed on the fifth floor to protect the staff, new surveillance cameras have been added for security in the commissioners’ offices and, of course, there’s a roaming armed deputy on the Government Center’s fifth floor to ensure order during business hours — all at taxpayer expense, with no actions to stop the erratic, unacceptable behavior and out-of-control costs. There are no efforts to address Eckstein, the problem commissioner, but there has been a lot of money thrown away to hide the issues with Eckstein’s chaotic behavior. County taxpayers should get ready for more wasted tax dollars as the three-ring county circus continues in 2013, to no one’s enjoyment. And the price of admission is property owners’ tax bill — with a 1-mill increase this year — to help pay for the never-ending sideshow and related fiscal waste. The Butler County Government Center’s fifth floor has become a spectacle for all to view in disgust.