Franklin County’s top elected official lashed out Tuesday at critics who regularly attend public commission meetings.
Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said those who are interrupting the county commission’s meetings “have evil and corrupt motives” and claimed they are “personal attacks lobbied and accusations of lies aimed at our staff.”
He singled out Art LeBeau, a Villa Ridge resident, who is one of three plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the county.
Last week LeBeau was critical of a contract the county signed for appraisal software.
“Over the past couple weeks, the decorum has degraded to the point that it is difficult to conduct business,” Griesheimer said this week, adding they should not attend meetings to further a political campaign or “help your buddies do so.”
The barb may have been aimed at Ron Keeven, a candidate for county commission who is one of the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed against the county.
“We’re going to have a zero tolerance policy,” Griesheimer said of comments from audience members. “We’re here to conduct the people’s business, not play kindergarten games.”
He said those in the audience making off-the-cuff comments would be ejected from the commission chambers.
Griesheimer said those removed by security “will not be allowed back into this chamber as long as I’m here.”
He said his main job is to preside over the meetings and said he has had successes as well as failures, citing the pending federal lawsuit from the ACLU against him and the county as one such failure.
The other plaintiff in the lawsuit against the county over the ceding of authority to Griesheimer, Eric Reichert, Villa Ridge, said Griesheimer was running a feudal system of government by prohibiting comments from the public.
Griesheimer said invocations, approved by a policy the commission adopted previously, would begin next month, with three people signed up to do so on different dates.
“We don’t want anyone saying amen or making comments or remarks” after the invocations, Griesheimer said.
Reichert objected to that “edict” as well, saying that Griesheimer was attempting to infringe on people’s First Amendment free speech rights.