Polivka uncomfortably recounts Heltzel's actions

YOUNGSTOWN — Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka apologized for answering slowly and deliberately when asked about fellow Commissioner Paul Heltzel’s behavior during the “rocky July” of 2006, but said such questions put him in a difficult position.

“That is my colleague,” Polivka said. Though he and Heltzel have been at odds a few times, Polivka added he hates to jeopardize the good rapport in the commissioners’ office right now.

Polivka received a subpoena to testify under oath at a hearing Wednesday before the Ohio Unemployment Compensation Review Board over the unemployment compensation claim of Tony Carson Jr., the county administrator who resigned abruptly July 26.

Asked by hearing officer R. Keller Rohde about his knowledge of events in July between Carson, Heltzel and others, Polivka said he:

• Believed Heltzel had treated people in a manner that was inappropriate and that Heltzel sometimes yelled.

• Had not heard Heltzel swear, but had been told by office staff about swearing.

Asked whether he thought Carson was justified in quitting, Polivka said, “I think that’s up to the individual and the tolerance he can take.”

Wednesday’s hearing was a continuation of testimony that began Oct. 17, 2006. On that day, Carson testified to treatment by Heltzel: verbal assaults, punctuated by screaming, irrational behavior and vulgarity. Carson said that led to his resignation.

The county requested the hearing by appealing Carson’s compensation award.

The Bureau of Unemployment Compensation awarded Carson benefits of $416 per week for 26 weeks, which would mean his benefits run out in early February. County officials say that if Carson loses on appeal, he would be required to pay back the benefits money.

Rohde said he would rule on the case and notify the parties of his decision.

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