Councilman Dave Fiebig resigns after 12 years on council and accuses Mayor Andy Gardner, Council President Chris Hallum and Council Vice President Michael Kline of breaking Ohio law.
To my friends,
My goal as a councilman has been to use my abilities to strive to make Willoughby Hills an excellent place to live, work and raise a family, or retire. We accomplish this by working together to uphold our laws, our shared values and our common vision for our community.
However it has become clear since the last election, the direction our local government is taking is one that is not congruent with my goal. Therefore I submit my immediate resignation and announce my retirement from politics.
Almost everyone wants the best from our city government. During my service on council for the last 12 years, I have never forgotten who I work for; I have maintained the ideals that brought me into your service: fiscal responsibility, accountability, transparency and keeping the most important things first, roads, police, fire and emergency safety.
I was hoping to finish the final two years of my term but the last council meeting was the final straw for me.
Laws were “passed” in violation of ORC 705.15 that required a 3/4 majority of council to waive three readings. The laws were to restrict the minutes to the interpretation by the clerk, who is also the mayor’s administrative secretary. Citing the amount of hours it takes to transcribe the words of council displays a move to censor the ability for a citizen to read exactly what was said at a meeting and to decide subjectively what’s important. The public’s right to information should be paramount.
Council also waived and voted to change the structure and eliminate Standing Committees with limited debate and without three readings. Initially introduced with a vague and misleading heading, this gives all power and control to one person, the council President or Vice President, to run those meetings and report his own version of minutes to the public. The chair even refused to report on his committee’s meeting to those who were not present and the public as a whole.
So since it was an illegal vote, now that majority of members could be sued. This is not what any citizen should have to endure in order to give back in community service.
No one should go to work and feel threatened and in fear of their life. Sitting in front of a man who was once removed from the chamber for being disruptive, who sued me, threatened to sue me again, and reaching into a large bag visibly shaking and talking with a wavering voice, I genuinely feared as to what he may pull out of this large bag.
Instead of a top priority to cast a wide net to hire an impartial and independent law director, the city still does not have one, and if I hadn’t asked the question it wouldn’t have even been mentioned by the Mayor. Our local government is not a family or a mom and pop store. It is a multimillion dollar organization which needs professional advice on complex issues.
I’ve been able to accomplish many things, sometimes against the establishment, like calling out payments to council members and official’s family business, illegal massage parlor business, gambling and misuse of public property and false narratives on tax hikes and charter amendments.
I’ve championed many things too, like open government and transparency, low taxes, reduced sewer fees, improvement in police and fire spending, balanced budgets and economic development, and numerous quality of life issues. Now, one majority voting in a bloc has been replaced by another doing the same group think.
I predict more lawsuits and proposed tax hikes (even with a half million 2019 budget surplus) in the coming months. At this point in my life, I am no longer willing to subject myself to the acrimony in our local politics. I wish to return to being just a good neighbor and friend.
I salute those professionals who serve on our police, fire and service departments and thank you. For those friends and relationships I’ve developed over the years, I will cherish.
I will turn to running my thriving business and enjoy the loving family I am blessed to have. God Bless you and God save Willoughby Hills.
Monday morning January 27, 2020