I’ve seen many questions and comments on Facebook regarding the actions of incoming Butler Township Trustee Joe Flanagan. Many are asking what, if anything can do, about Flanagan’s recent move to demand for resignaton by Township Administrator Kim Lapensee and his intention to take over her position once she resigns or is fired.
Flanagan stated those intentions not once, but twice, and it appears likely that he has the backing of Trustee Nick Brusky based on my conversations with him and Brusky’s thinly veiled alliance during the campaign season.
So what can be done? Can Flanagan’s plan to remove Lapensee and take over himself be stopped?
The answer appears to be no. And, surprisingly, Ohio law provides voters no option for recall of Township Trustees.
The right of voters to file recall petitions only extends to municipal corporations – not school boards or township boards of trustees.
Some state representatives attempted to remedy this by introducing House Bill 157 in 2013 that wold have established procedures to removed elective township officers from office by holding a recall election.
The measure, which was introduced by Representatives Peter Stautberg, Peter Beck, John Becker, Margaret Ruhl, and Louis Terhar, all Republicans, died in the House State and Local Government Committee.
This is unfortunate.
Of course, Butler Township residents have every right to make their voice heard, and should do so. Based on my conversations with Flanagan, I don’t think that will have much effect. He says he isn’t running again in four years, and I don’t know whether to believe that or not.
Logic says that a stated one-term politician could be the most dangerous kind – the kind that doesn’t care what voters think because they don’t have to face them again.
Township voters upset by what they see won’t have an opportunity to change the balance of power on the Board of Trustees until 2017. That’s when Trustee Brusky, who doesn’t hide fact that he is Flanagan’s ally, must face the voters again.
Based on what I’m seeing, Brusky will pay a tidy price at the ballot box if he chooses to side with Flanagan over the next two years.
Until then, voters better strap in tight. It’s likely to be a bumpy ride.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983