BUTLER TOWNSHIP – Butler Township Trustee-elect Joe Flanagan wants Township Administrator Kim Lapensee to resign by December 31 for “lack of leadership.”
Flanagan made the demand of Lapensee in a letter dated December 13, or Sunday, despite it being postmarked on December 8. Lapensee has been Butler Township Administrator since 2010.
Flanagan says in the letter that he wishes to offer Lapensee the “opportunity to resign on or before December 31, 2015” and that failure to do so would result in his presenting a resolution to terminate her employment.
“Upon its (resolution) adoption, that document becomes a public record and as you well know, disagreeable by future employers.”
Flanagan cites a “lack of leadership…at a time the township needs to make some really difficult decisions,” he wrote. “It is poor decision making, coupled with lack of leadership over the past several years, which I believe has put the township in its current state of affairs.”
In Lapensee’s most recent performance evaluation dated August 10, 2015 she received a 3.5 rating out of a possible 5 in the “leadership” category. While meeting expectations, Lapensee was given some direction by the Board of Trustees.
“Kim’s delegation of responsibilities has improved,” the evaluation noted, but also said that she should “be more visible in her role as leader, remaining in front of issues…”
Flanagan said he is “appalled” at the township’s budget and a “lack of direction” given to the Board of Trustees. He says reductions in the service department “fails completely at providing our citizens with even a nominal level of service.”
“This is a bully tactic – asking her to resign on her own will before he has ever taken office, having never professionally worked with her, ” said Trustee Mike Lang. “That he has the gall, with apparently the assistance of (Trustee) Nick Brusky, to terminate her. She’s not going to resign on her own will – why should she?”
Brusky declined comment on Saturday saying in a text message that he wanted to “wait until I have an opportunity to discuss with the other Trustees at Monday’s meeting.”
Flanagan also reminds Lapensee that, according to Ohio law, she serves “at the pleasure of the board” and is an “at will” employee that that she “can be terminated at any time, for any reason or no reason.”
“It would seem to me that if one wants to get a true and accurate picture of where things are in the Township, one would take office, explore the internal issues, one would want to act like a leader, and then make a determination,” said Lang. “Instead, we have someone shooting from the hip which in turn makes you question what their true motives are.”
He says he “does not take pleasure in writing this letter” but is giving Lapensee “the opportunity to gracefully depart the township and find a more suitable employer before a formal record of termination is made.”
Flanagan was elected to Trustee after defeating incumbent Doug Orange and challenger Tom Zeigler in the November 3 election with just under 46 percent of the vote. He will be formally sworn into office in January.