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COLUMBIANA COUNTY Criticism by judge irks commissioners



Published: Wed, August 21, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



One of the commissioners is lousy at his job, a judge says.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LISBON -- Columbiana County commissioners are objecting to remarks made about their leadership abilities by Judge C. Ashley Pike of county common pleas court.

Judge Pike criticized commissioners in a deposition he gave July 24 in connection with a lawsuit the judges have filed against commissioners over the amount of funding they've provided for court operations.

"You have commissioners who have failed to provide leadership, either because they don't understand or because they are looking after their own political hides," Judge Pike, who also is a 7th District Court of Appeals candidate, said of the commissioners' handling of county finances.

In another remark, Judge Pike described the leadership style of commissioners Sean Logan, Dave Cranmer and Jim Hoppel as "wishy-washy." The judge added, "They are masters at ducking and diving."

He said commissioners bought mulch for courthouse landscaping instead of toilet paper "so that the pines would look good out front, but jurors couldn't go to the bathroom. So I really don't have any confidence in their leadership ability."

Judge Pike also said he believes Logan persuaded Treasurer Linda Bolon to reduce her staff's hours to three days a week earlier this year to draw attention to the county's fiscal plight.

Logan is an excellent politician, but "he's a lousy commissioner," the judge said.

Reactions

"I'm very disturbed that a member of the bench would make such statements and make it so personal," Logan said Tuesday.

He described Judge Pike's allegation regarding the treasurer as "absolutely false."

Hoppel said Judge Pike is mistaken about the mulch and toilet paper issue. Hoppel said he purchased the mulch from his own money.

That prompted Cranmer to say that Judge Pike "doesn't have a clue what he's talking about."

Hoppel called Pike a good judge. "But I don't feel he has contributed to helping solve the financial situation we're in," he added.

"Judge Pike is upset because he finally has a board of commissioners who is not afraid to question the court's budget," Cranmer said.

"I stand by my remarks," Judge Pike said today. "The truth is not always pleasant. Given the choice of hurting somebody's feelings or telling the truth, I'm going to tell the truth."

In the lawsuit that's at issue, the county common pleas court judges are asking the Ohio Supreme Court to order the commissioners to come up with $487,753 in additional funding to run the courts and related operations such as the adult and juvenile probation departments.

Commissioners have said the judges' funding request is unreasonable and the county doesn't have the money to fund it.

The lawsuit is pending.




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