Council hires counsel, Keib resigns
By Matt Echelberry
Galion City Council held a special meeting on Jan. 15, with Council members Paul Flannery and Walter Keib absent. With eight citizens in the audience, that evening was the emptiest the room has been during a Council meeting in months.
Council President Gail Baldinger explained that the purpose of the meeting was for Council to enter executive session in order to discuss hiring outside legal representation for the city, regarding the pending litigation. Last month, the city and the Board of Elections were named as respondents in a lawsuit to nullify the results of Issue 5 from the November election, which amended the City Charter and returned Galion to a statutory form of government.
Chambers were closed to the public for executive session, which lasted 30 minutes. When open session resumed, Baldinger said Ordinance 2013–3 was on the table, which was legislation to hire legal counsel to represent the City of Galion.
Council member Roberta Wade supported the legislation, saying: “We have a duty to defend the city. Using outside counsel is appropriate because the law director here has a conflict of interest.”
Wade then moved to pass the legislation as an emergency, with a second by Council member Ken Bodkins. The motion passed 4–1, with Council member Cathy George dissenting.
The outside counsel hired is Mansfield law firm Renwick, Welsh and Burton. Attorney Harry Welsh will be handling the case at this point. As a respondent, the city must provide an answer to the lawsuit, which is due by next week.Also, before entering executive session Baldinger read a letter from Council member Walter Keib. In it, Keib announced his resignation as the representative of the city’s second ward, citing a conflict of interest in the litigation as his reason.
Baldinger then explained that Keib’s position as vice president of Council will need to be filled by another Council member. Any of them who are interested should submit a letter to the clerk by Feb. 1. The vacant Council position will also need to be filled for the remainder of Keib’s term, through May 31. Baldinger said Council will discuss the matter further at its next regular meeting, which is Jan. 22 at 7 p.m.