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Tablack: Why can't all board members meet at one time to decide an issue?



Published: Sat, June 18, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



One board member said he would be willing to get together on Saturdays.

YOUNGSTOWN -- When can we meet?

That is the question the seven members of Mahoning County's Data Processing Board just can't seem to answer.

And now the matter has turned political and personal, as Auditor George J. Tablack took to the radio airwaves Friday and called out four board members for failing to clear their schedules to meet and decide an issue that could save the county money.

On a local radio talk show, Tablack said the four members -- Treasurer John Reardon, Recorder Ronald Gerberry, Michael Sciortino, director of the board of elections, and Thomas McCabe, elections board deputy director -- are not working with him to get the meeting done.

The other board members are Commissioner David Ludt and Clerk of Courts Anthony Vivo Jr. Tablack is board secretary.

The board oversees the purchase, lease, operation and contracts for all data processing equipment or the hiring of technology personnel.

Tablack asked commissioners to disband the board Thursday, but the commissioners didn't do so.

Tablack said the genesis for what has turned into political infighting actually began with the commissioners.

Tablack said they asked the county's data processing and information technology departments to explore having the county phone system managed by those departments.

Tablack and Stephen J. Stanec Jr., the county's IT director, said they did the work to get a master agreement with SBC that would consolidate the county's various contracts for phone usage and long-distance calling. Stanec has estimated the consolidation would save the county $1.2 million over a seven-year period.

The rub: The data processing board has been unable to coordinate their schedules since April in order to meet.

His complaint

Tablack told his radio audience that Ludt and Vivo have been accommodating and ready to meet.

The others, however, just can't or won't clear their schedules, Tablack said.

The auditor contends politicking is to blame as well as Reardon's belief that Tablack and Stanec want to take over the phone system to peruse the phone records of county officials.

Stanec sent a letter to Tablack explaining that Reardon "is not understanding our concerns about overall telecom issues, including services, contracts, costs, technologies, missed savings, etc."

Reardon said Friday he strongly resents Tablack's suggestion that he's playing politics. The treasurer said he wants to meet to discuss the phone proposal and other items that would be placed before them.

In an e-mail message to Tablack, the treasurer wrote, "In previous e-mail correspondences to all board members ... I have consistently recommended that a meeting of the full board be scheduled at a time when all board members can be in attendance.

"In those same correspondences, I have provided my personal availability, and I have recommended that in deference to all board members we schedule a meeting with a couple weeks' notice."

Tablack had scheduled a board meeting for Wednesday -- a date Reardon said he told Tablack that he would not be available.

He wrote Tablack on June 1 to say he would be available to meet next week. But since that time his schedule has filled up, and he has commitments for next week.

What treasurer contends

Reardon wrote that nearly every scheduled data board meeting had been announced by Tablack or Stanec only a day or two before that session.

"How can you and Mr. Stanec possibly expect all board members to be in attendance with such short notice?" Reardon wrote.

The treasurer said he is even willing to meet on Saturdays to get the data processing board's work done.

He also said he gave Tablack a new schedule of dates and times he is available from June 27 through July 14. Reardon will be on vacation from June 29 through July 1 and will be at the County Treasurer's Association executive board meeting in Columbus on July 13.

Most of the notices for meetings have been done by e-mail, and not face to face, Reardon said. He urged Tablack to contact all board members to assure their availability before announcing a meeting date or time.

Gerberry, Sciortino and McCabe were still attending or returning from meetings Friday in Cincinnati -- trips planned weeks ago -- and were unavailable for comment.

But Tablack told his radio audience the four need to "grow up."

"The county's IT system is on the verge of collapse," he said, adding he's frustrated that a simple meeting can't be held to address the phone system issue and others.

Stanec is leaving the county on Monday to take an IT position in West Palm Beach, Fla. Tablack said he is angry that all the planning on how to achieve thousands of dollars in savings "all goes out the window" when Stanec leaves.

Tablack said he doesn't have the time to mentor another person on the intricacies of the county's IT system.




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