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Commissioners access to records restricted

July 24, 2014 News Extra

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The Butler County commissioners no longer have immediate access to the records room in their office due to some files that are missing.

Chief county clerk Amy Wilson on Wednesday confirmed the room on the fifth floor of the government center is now locked with only county solicitor Mike English, an administrative assistant and herself having keys.

Wilson said even the three commissioners must request to see any of those records because they or their assistants cannot retrieve them directly.

She said once the missing records could not be located, she was obligated under state law to secure the room.

“We’ve never had to lock it before,” Wilson said.

Wilson, who is the county’s chief records officer, declined to identify which records are missing pending a possible criminal investigation into their whereabouts.

She also wouldn’t list examples of what types of records are stored there.

“It is the primary repository for all boards of commissioners,” Wilson said.

After Wilson sent an e-mail Tuesday to everyone in the commissioners office about the measure being taken, Commissioner Jim Eckstein protested.

Eckstein subsequently sent an e-mail copied to everyone with a county e-mail address questioning the legality of denying a commissioner access to county records.

He questioned whether Commissioner Bill McCarrier, board chairman, was denied access, too.

McCarrier said neither he nor Commissioner Dale Pinkerton has access to the room.

“I will not have a key to it,” McCarrier said. “Neither will Dale.”

Eckstein said he didn’t think anyone was implying he was responsible for the documents seemingly disappearing.

“I’m not taking that interpretation,” he said.

He supports an investigation being done by the county district attorney.

“Let’s call the DA,” Eckstein said. “I didn’t take documents.”

McCarrier said he also would support an investigation if Wilson determines it is necessary.

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