Liberty finally has a new law director

Published: Tue, March 27, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Samantha Phillips


Trustees appointed Atty. Cherry Poteet as township law director effective April 1 and also officially accepted former law director Mark Finamore’s resignation.

“I’m looking forward to working with Liberty and the trustees. Finamore and I are working on a smooth transition,” Poteet said.

Poteet will be paid $36,000 a year with an additional $100 an hour for special circumstances or research.

The resolutions to accept Finamore’s resignation and appoint Poteet were stalled at a March 19 meeting after Atty. Fred Coombs, a township resident, questioned the legality of hiring Poteet without advertising the law director position to the public and allowing a trustee, who chaired the meeting, to second a motion. Coombs cited Robert’s Rules of Order, which outlines parliamentary procedure.

Trustee Jodi Stoyak voted against hiring a new law director and accepting Finamore’s resignation at last week’s meeting, saying she wasn’t consulted about the decision to hire Poteet until after fellow trustees Arnie Clebone and Greg Cizmar met with Poteet while Stoyak was on vacation. She also voted no on both resolutions Monday.

Pat Ungaro, township administrator, said Finamore advised the trustees after last week’s meeting they were in the clear to hire Poteet.

Stoyak contends she is displeased with the move because she feels she wasn’t fully involved in the decision and disagreed with requesting Finamore’s resignation because of his expertise and experience with the township.

Clebone said in his discussions with Finamore, the former law director was understanding of the request.

“We need a new perspective after 26 years,” Clebone said. “I think it’s an indication when two new trustees come in that people are looking for change, so I think we have to move on. Mark is a wonderful guy. He served the township well for 26 years, but we need a change, someone who can offer a new perspective.”

The trustees disagree on whether hiring Poteet will have cost benefits.

Stoyak stated she is concerned the retaining fee and the additional $100 per hour for research may cost more than what Finamore charged. Stoyak said Finamore and his law firm were paid a total of $37,299 in 2017. Steve Shelton, fiscal officer, however, told Clebone the amount was closer to $42,000.

Stoyak said, based on Finamore’s W-2s from 2014 to 2018, he made $80,678 in four years and was charged hourly rather than having a retaining fee. Shelton wasn’t available to discuss those figures with The Vindicator on Monday.

Clebone said Poteet was highly recommended as legal counsel by other townships.

Finamore had advised the township police department in 2017 not to use a speed camera on Interstate 80 in Liberty. Clebone said trustees will work with Poteet to determine if the township will change its rules on using a speed camera on the highway.

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