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Mayoral race hinges on probe



Published: Fri, October 11, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)


On the side

Political forums: It’s candidates forum season. Here are some:

The Optimist Club of Springfield Township is having one from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Springfield Local Intermediate School auditorium for candidates running for Springfield school board, township trustees and New Middletown Village Council.

The Union Baptist Church’s Core Team is sponsoring a forum for candidates running for Youngstown mayor, council president, municipal court judge, board of education, and those in favor and in opposition to the “Community Bill of Rights” anti-fracking charter amendment at 6 p.m. Oct. 21 at the church, 528 Lincoln Ave., in Youngstown.

The Poland Presbyterian Church Breakfast Club is sponsoring a forum at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 27 in the church’s Fellowship Hall for those running for township trustee and board of education.

R&R time: I will be on vacation next week so there won’t be a column next Friday.

All indications are the investigation into sexual harassment claims made by Lyndsey Hughes, a city council employee, against DeMaine Kitchen, a mayoral candidate, will be concluded before the Nov. 5 general election.

The results of that investigation will certainly have a significant impact on the mayoral race.

The city hired Steve Sample, a retired Summit County sheriff’s detective who operates a security and investigation firm, last week.

Sample, whose company specializes in employee- misconduct investigations, started this investigation Monday.

In a Sept. 13 letter to city Law Director Anthony Farris, two of Hughes’ three attorneys wrote: “Kitchen sent a series of text messages attempting to explain himself and promote (legitimize) his attraction to Ms. Hughes. She ignored him.”

While the letter doesn’t mention whether Hughes kept those supposed text messages from Kitchen, it’s reasonable to assume she did if her attorneys included a mention of them in the letter.

Media outlets, including The Vindicator and 21 WFMJ-TV, have made public-records requests to the city law department for the text messages of Hughes, the city’s downtown director of events, special projects and marketing, and of Kitchen.

The response is the city doesn’t have them and can’t get them.

AT&T, the city’s cellphone company, doesn’t keep text messages unless customers specifically request that service, which comes with a fee, according to the law department.

The city doesn’t have that service.

So if Hughes produces those text messages, and it can be proven they came from Kitchen, it’s game over.

Also of interest is Kitchen’s work cellphone hasn’t been produced; he says it’s lost or stolen.

When asked at a candidates’ forum on Monday if he was willing to provide copies of text messages and emails between him and Hughes, Kitchen said, “It’s all public record,” and “it’s already in the city’s possession.”

Obviously, the text messages aren’t in the city’s possession, and there is no way the city can obtain them.

Hughes’ attorneys have contended in the letter to Farris that the sexual harassment of their client by Kitchen has been off and on since January 2011.

Kitchen has strongly denied the allegations.

Kitchen also questions the timing of the allegations, which were reported by The Vindicator five weeks before Election Day, because Hughes supports Democrat John A. McNally IV for mayor.

Hughes’ attorney claims her five-day suspension in July was “retaliation” for her complaints about Kitchen.

The suspension, according to the letter, came a month before Kitchen began “another torrent of harassment toward Ms. Hughes. And this time it was most egregious.”

But Kitchen has said he had nothing to do with her suspension. That’s been supported by members of city council, who gave her the five days off without pay.


Comments

1Silence_Dogood(1317 comments)posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

If they want a copy of the text messages why not just file a freedom of information request with the NSA, they have a copy of the transaction. I am sure that the NSA would help, after all it would help eliminate the opposition to a Democrat Candidate. Sort of like what the IRS was doing.

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2Kernaloftruth(84 comments)posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Yeah, I really bet McNally is sweating over this. FBI has nothing--not a case, and certainly not any credible evidence.

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3JS(578 comments)posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

"The results of that investigation will certainly have a significant impact on the mayoral race."

Yea but the impact will be far less than that of a raindrop on Lake Erie. From my perspective I can foresee DeMaine being the next mayor of Youngstown. Only a severe storm on election day would have any impact on the election outcome.

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4gdog4766(1401 comments)posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

GO CREA!!!!!!!!

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5goodoldboystown(6 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

When did Kitchen report his phone missing? There should be a record of that since he is responsible for paying for city property. There is a record of when his last calls were made or received? So what is the date of that? Council decided her punishment? Are those the same members who support Kitchen? The reason city employees do not report harassment/ sexual harassment is they are afraid to loose their jobs. This happens more often than the "law director" will admit. The entire system works by who you know around there. As for the mayor, he allows misconduct occur daily. He only wants his free health insurance and position as a council member. His favorite comment "accountability" is only for the unconnected. He attacks the people who work and ignores management. Corruption is still alive from the mayor down. McNally was proven innocent. Let it go. The city relies on taxes from residents. How can a man who can't pay his taxes making over 70k run a city? He had years to pay that. And now he cries that is a past issue, only when the public finds out. This women made her complaint long before the election. She was violated and the mayor, law director, and council let it occur. The investigator needs to do a lot more interviews that would not put peoples jobs in jeopardy and he would find the truth.

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6Silence_Dogood(1317 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

goodoldboystown welcome and GREAT question for a first post. David Skolnick maybe you might want to ask Kitchen that very question, and follow up by reviewing the phone records to see when it was last used and conveniently lost/stollen.

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7Westsider(222 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

McNally was never "proven" innocent - the charges were dropped due to lack of cooperation by the FBI.

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8walter_sobchak(1845 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

Westsider,
You are correct as it can be difficult to prove what you did NOT do. That is why the burden is on the state to prove you committed a crime. However, in this case, the State of Ohio has no choice but to dismiss the charges as the defendants can rightfully argue that the wiretaps could prove their innocence. I would doubt that but it is a possibility. A reasonable conclusion is that the Feds are investigating a more widespread influence of money corruption on the Youngstown connection that probably spreads to DC since they have business in many areas. Remember how JJ sang like a songbird against Traficant when presented with the evidence. He got a slap on the wrist while Jimbo justly did hard time as he was corrupt as the ocean is deep.

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9goodoldboystown(6 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

westsider. where did you get your law degree? if you have never heard the saying "innocent until proven guilty" let me explain it to you. if you are proven guilty, you are guilty. you do not have to be "proven innocent" you ARE INNOCENT! if you do not know anything about law or the way court cases are handled I suggest you quit making yourself look like the fool you are by interpreting the law incorrectly. quit beating a dead horse to try to convince people of your lack of knowledge of the law. just because you do not like the fact that he is not guilty in a court of law does not give you the right to judge him unless of course you are the judge that he went in front of with all the facts. with your lack of knowledge of guilt, I doubt you were the judge!

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10oldskooltiger(6 comments)posted 9 months ago

@goodoldboy remember that the women "allegedly" was violated. Remember your comment about innocents. And one other note, everyone on council are not all Kitchen for Mayor supporters. So I feel that there is some doubt to be cast as to weather she was reprimanded on his behalf. Just maybe it really has something to do with her work performance or the lack thereof. That may be a nice move on her part to help secure her job position. It would look pretty bad if council slapped her wrist again. Advantage her.

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