Bentine, Toy reply to accusations
By Matt Echelberry
In her comments during the Oct. 23 Galion City Council meeting, Galion resident Kate Strickler recounted a phone conversation she overheard outside of the Oct. 9 meeting. She claimed that John Bentine, general counsel for AMP, made some questionable statements.
In a phone interview the following day, Bentine said he did have a brief phone conversation after the AMP presentation at the Oct. 9 Council meeting. “However, I can tell you unequivocally that did not happen. That is not something that would come out of my mouth, not even the words that I would use.”
Jolene Thompson, senior vice president of member services and external affairs, was the person on the other end of the phone conversation. According to Thompson, she had called Bentine to ask how the presentation went.
She also said Strickler’s account was incorrect, and any statements made by Bentine that Strickler overheard were not used in the context that Strickler implied they were.
Bentine, who commented that he has been an attorney since 1975, added that he takes his job very seriously and was offended by Strickler’s accusation. “I simply would not ever say anything like that,” he said. “I did say that I thought the presentation went well and we got a lot of good information out, and also corrected some misinformation.”
Galion resident Don Faulds made several accusations of the City’s neglect to follow the Charter when he spoke during the Council meeting.
In an email statement, City Manager Gene Toy refuted some of Faulds’ claims. “Upon its adoption, the Charter established five departments — Law; Finance; Public Works; Police Protection; and Fire Protection. Within the Department of Public Works, the Charter established four divisions — water; sewer; streets/parks/public properties; and electric,” Toy explained.
During the meeting, Faulds stated that Toy appointed two city employees without Council approval, but he should have.
In his email Toy said Council approval was not needed in those particular cases. “Article 5 of the charter is very clear,” he went on to explain. “Department heads are to be appointed by the city manager and confirmed by city council. The charter requires confirmation by city council only at the department level and not below that. Since I have been city manager, I have made three appointments that require city council conformation — Audrey Brodzinski, Karen Walters, and Phil Jackson. I have never failed to get council confirmation when it is required.”
In response to some of Fauld’s other statements, Toy said, “Mr. Faulds was also critical of me for attending a recent Kiwanis meeting and discussing numerous city projects. It is true that I did attend a Kiwanis meeting on September 25. I was invited by the group to be a guest speaker. I have addressed their meetings in the past and I am always honored to speak to local civic organizations.
“I was asked to give an overview of current city events and projects. Regardless of what Mr. Faulds may have tried to insinuate during last night’s remarks to council, I did not say or share anything that had not previously been acted upon or discussed by city council and there was no earth-shattering information published in the Inquirer of which council had been previously unaware.”