Friday, June 02, 2006

The Sheriff's Bus

Lucas County has a vehicle policy. It was revised in 2004 after former Treasurer Ray Kest was cited with a DUI. It pretty much limits the use of county-owned vehicles to employees and official business.

It's a good policy, as it is based upon the Ohio Revised Code, and does allow for exceptions - for such things as law enforcement and emergency management purposes.

It also requires that elected officials who want exceptions under the policy request them of the Commissioners. This provision is to accommodate for the fact that other county office holders are not accountable to the Commissioners, but the county-owned vehicles are titled under the Board of Commissioners and we're responsible for providing insurance and liability for them.

On December 1, 2004, Sheriff James Telb wrote a letter to the BCC requesting exemptions under the policy for certain vehicles. He wrote: "Further, the Elexibil bus is utilized at various times for special assignments and for official business of the Lucas County Sheriff. It may be used to transport individuals not employees of Lucas County." His exemption request was granted.

Thursday, June 1st, this county-owned bus was used for Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's public relations tour of his proposed bike path in the South end of Toledo. I've also been told that this is the bus used by the Mayor for his regularly-scheduled neighborhood tours with his staff.

According to the prosecutor's office, the Sheriff has the flexibility under the law to determine the definition of "official business." While the Sheriff does have jurisdiction throughout all of Lucas County, he and his deputies are not the primary responder to crime inside the city limits.

Now, I'm sure that someone could stretch the definition of "official business of the Lucas County Sheriff" to include regularly-scheduled neighborhood tours through Toledo - you could argue that you were looking for illegal activities, drug houses, graffiti and gang activity, etc... You could.

But, there is no way to twist the definition of "official business of the Lucas County Sheriff" to include a tour of a bike path with the mayor of any city. And since the operations of the bus are paid for by the County, I'm sure that the Mayor appreciates us picking up his tab.

13 comments:

historymike said...

Nice investigative work, Maggie.

I saw that on 13-ABC last night, and it sparked the same thoughts in my head.

Maggie Thurber said...

HM - thanks...but I can't seem to find the 13ABC segment...what was their take on the story?

Kate said...

Good job Maggie. Very good job.

Do said...

Great info, Maggie!

I'm afraid this type of misuse is more prevalent than we are aware of. Perhaps we should have a livery service as a city/county contractor to provide these services on a per diem basis so as not to abuse the system. It could be more fiscally responsible to only pay for actual use rather than 24/7 insurance/maintenance/housing...

BrianInVero said...

I wonder, does Bob Reinbolt have Carty's best interest in mind when he allows Carty to make these decisions?

I also wonder if these "missteps" Carty has made will be used against him in the "ethic's issue" he'll be facing?

I mean, if you take a look back over Carelton's career, it's FILLED with crap like this.

I'm starting to believe Carty "getting results" are more for himself than Toledo.

Maggie Thurber said...

do - great idea about the livery service and paying only for actual use rather than year-round maintenance...but I think we've got one of those (TARTA). :)

I think in this instance, the mayor just didn't want to have to pay for anything. When I talked to Bob Reinbolt about it, he offered to pay $1. Told me everything I needed to know.

Brian - I think many people have that impression - especially with his proposed bike path in his neighborhood.

Do said...

Maggie - I realize we have TARTA, but was hoping for a little 'economic creativity' in using a private livery. A small, but genuine, attempt at helping at least one of our local businesses TRY to stay above the water line. :) After all, we apparently have $600K that can be floated for idealistic projects...

I guess my hopeful optimism will be my demise at some point. ;)

Still like the 'fix it or flatten it' theory. Perhaps I'll explore a billboard ....

Hooda Thunkit said...

Maggie,
”Lucas County has a vehicle policy. It was revised in 2004 after former Treasurer Ray Kest was cited with a DUI. It pretty much limits the use of county-owned vehicles to employees and official business.”

Official Business probably now needs a multi-page definition, for the denser County employees…


”Now, I'm sure that someone could stretch the definition of "official business of the Lucas County Sheriff" to include regularly-scheduled neighborhood tours through Toledo - you could argue that you were looking for illegal activities, drug houses, graffiti and gang activity, etc... You could.

You and I could, but probably wouldn’t. Sheriff Telb and “Carty the Passionate,” apparently did.


”But, there is no way to twist the definition of "official business of the Lucas County Sheriff" to include a tour of a bike path with the mayor of any city. And since the operations of the bus are paid for by the County, I'm sure that the Mayor appreciates us picking up his tab.”

But, what about those instances when the criminal activity occurs within the bus? Surely, this activity can be seen by any rational, reasonable human being for what it is, abuse of power.

Any bets on someone getting off with a tap, tap, tap on the wrists and some mild verbal (almost inaudible) counseling?

It seems clear to me that both the Sheriff and our “beloved” Mayor have conspired to and engaged in criminal activity.

I’d love to see/hear them tap dance their way out of this one…


Brianinvero,

No one has ever accused "Carty the Passionate" of having ethics...

gotoledogo said...

anyone know why tarta buses weren't used?

I just figured Carty used the sheriff's bus in the event that one of those crazy Beechway residents got too lippy.

Not only did we have a sheriff driving the bus, but we had a few TPD's on the bus, too. And more TPD'ers hanging out with the crowd that waited for the next bus. I guess that was in case a lynching ensued?

I was on the first bus, but my friend rode the first bus. She was upset that she couldn't hear the guy at the front of the bus making his schpiel. He kept chatting with just a few people in the very front of the bus. Want to guess who he was selling the idea on? A few staffers from the Blade.

Kate said...

did he really say to you that he'd pay $1 Maggie? That's just rude.

Shame on him. Money and power will come and go but there isn't any excuse for just poor manners. Shows a murky gene pool. Now if provoked - that's another matter. But even then rudeness should be avoided...

There's some cocky folks involved in Toledo politics. Need taken down a peg or two in my book.

Maggie Thurber said...

Do - You're right about helping our local businesses...but again, that would have cost money and I don't think Carty was looking to PAY someone - hence the use of the County vehicle. I only mentioned TARTA because they rent their buses and I'm not sure if there are any other bus rental companies in the area.

Hooda - according to the prosecutor's office, since the law gives the Sheriff the ability to define "official business," it's unlikely that there was any criminal activity.

gotoledogo - as this was a PR tour, I'm not surprised about the conversations with reporters over citizens...sad, though.

Kate - I think he was kidding about the $1, but I didn't find it funny...

Lisa Renee said...

The City should be using TARTA, I'm sure it would be easy to arrange for a charter bus to be arranged. Using the trolley one as an example.

I also agree that the City should reimburse the County for the use associated with using the Sherffi's Bus.

Good post Maggie, I didn't see this on the news either so I would not have known about it if you had not posted it.

historymike said...

The 13-ABC piece just had Carty talking to the citizens who joined him, something like this:

"Now I know some of us agree with a bike path, and some of us disagree. That's fine, this is America, and we can disagree.

Again, nothing is written in stone, and the plan may change."

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