Editor, The Messenger:
In a recent Messenger article, it was reported that Athens County Auditor Jill Thompson is of the opinion that County Commissioner Lenny Eliason and County Treasurer Ric Wasserman have a conflict of interest as to the matters involving the Land Bank that come before the County Board of Revision. The alleged conflict arises from the fact they both serve on the board of the Land Bank and the Board of Revision. The opinion is as bogus as a $3 bill.
Eliason and Wasserman serve on the Land Bank board and the Board of Revision in their official capacities as commissioner and treasurer. The Ohio Ethics Commission has issued an opinion that when an official is on a commission pursuant to a statute, the official’s conduct in his official capacity is not a conflict of interest.
The effect of Auditor Thompson’s bogus opinion is to slow down the process of dealing with dilapidated, tax delinquent properties and to make it more expensive for taxpayers to deal with them. Favoring deadbeat taxpayers over homeowners who pay their property taxes is bad. If Auditor Thompson can’t participate in decisions to tear down the dilapidated properties, she ought to just get out of the way.
It was also disappointing to read the article that presented the matter as a “she said-he said” matter instead of reviewing the opinion of the Ohio Ethics Commission and reporting its content.