The dysfunction between the Etna Township Trustees struck another low note on Aug. 2 as the three sparred over access to staff emails and even what decorations could be hung in the township office.
In a split vote, Trustees Rozland McKee and Jeff Johnson codified that email access and passwords are limited to the account holder and the township’s contracted information technology consultant. The pair also approved that none of the decor in the township hall can be removed without board approval. Trustee Mark Evans voted against both motions.
It was the latest in a series of disagreements among the three trustees since McKee and Evans took office in January.
McKee made the motion, and said the action was needed so the trustees could not have access to the emails of township staff members.
“We will not be going into other people’s email,” she said.
McKee asked Johnson, who has been a trustee for more than a decade, if he has ever had access to the email accounts of the township secretary or zoning officer, and if not having that information has ever prevented him from doing his job. Johnson said no to both questions.
Evans claimed records and information are being held from him, and he sought out an opinion from the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office, which said each board member should be afforded access to township documents.
Evans said he has asked the IT consultant for read-only access to the email accounts of the general township inbox as well as for Board Secretary Laura Brown, Zoning Inspector John Singleton, and Management Consultant Bill Vance.
Evans admitted to coming into the township’s office after hours and looking at the files on employees’ desk, claiming it’s the only way he knows what’s happening in the township.
McKee said no township information is being withheld from him.
After more and back and forth discussion between Evans and McKee, Evans said “there will be a lawsuit against the township” if records continue to be withheld from him.
Earlier in the trustees door meeting, approved purchasing a rolldown for a pass-through window in Singleton’s office because public files have been disappearing.
The motion about not removing township hall décor stems from a framed 2013 Columbus Dispatch article featuring Etna Township. The article, which prominently features former Trustee John Carlisle in a photo, is about the growing township gaining recognition, in part because of Carlisle’s efforts.
Over the last several months, the framed piece has come and gone from the hall multiple times with no explanation, and had been replaced by another generic article about township development. Evans admitted to being the one who did so because of the “improperty” of Carlisle’s actions by him as a trustee.
Evans said he didn’t understand the “allegiance” to Carlisle, but it was up to McKee and Johnson if they wanted to keep his photo on the wall.
Johnson said if Evans read the article more carefully, he would see it’s not about Carlisle.
“I don’t like you making assumptions that you don’t know the correct answers to,” Johnson said.