High court rejects judge's request
This is the second time the state Supreme Court would not hear the matter.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
GIRARD -- The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected municipal Judge Michael Bernard's request to reconsider hearing arguments that the city increase the court's 2006 funding.
This is leading some to hope the city can eliminate its debt in 2007.
Judge Bernard and city officials were in the 11th District Court of Appeals last year arguing before a magistrate over a funding order issued by the judge. Judge Bernard said the city failed to properly fund his court.
The court was appropriated 800,000, but requested slightly more than 871,000.
The dispute was eventually taken to the Ohio Supreme Court, which refused to hear the matter. Judge Bernard, however, asked the court to reconsider that decision.
Atty. Frank Bodor, on behalf of the city, stated that the judge's request for reconsideration should be rejected because it violated Supreme Court rules by re-arguing the entire case, because the court's financial woes are related to the judge's mismanagement, and because of inaccuracies in some of the judge's financial claims.
The Supreme Court refused to hear the matter again this week.
Mayor James Melfi said the Supreme Court decision will hopefully allow city officials to move forward in focusing on other city business.
"Hopefully this puts an end to the foolishness that has taken place in regard to financing the court ... hopefully this is all behind us," said Melfi.
Paul Marshall, chairman of the state-appointed fiscal oversight commission, said he is hopeful that the city can emerge from fiscal emergency late this year or sometime in 2008.
The oversight commission was put in place to oversee city spending while the city is in fiscal emergency.
Marshall said he would like to see a long-term agreement with Judge Bernard with regard to financing the court.
"I would like to get the city out of fiscal emergency by next year -- this year if things go our way. The big issues as I see it are [union contract] negotiations and the court. It would be nice to have a long-term agreement with the court," Marshall said. "A long-term agreement would be to the benefit of everyone."