To The Editor:
This is in response to Mrs. Kimes-Brown’s statements to The Telegram dated 09/06/2019. Unfortunately, at that time our office was not contacted by The Telegram for a statement.
Mrs. Kimes-Brown wants the public to believe our request (two letters and one phone call) to return a vehicle is simply political. We would like to take this opportunity to clear things up and explain just a few instances that have led us to today. The court orders, law suits, arguing, conflict having to hire outside counsel and mediation have been constant during Kimes-Brown’s term. Her unprofessional behavior has occurred with present and past office holders, trustees, department heads, victims of crime, attorneys and past staff.
The unwillingness to work together began in 2003. Kimes-Brown, as a private attorney filed a suit against the County Commissioners and the Auditor because of a payment that was owed to her in the amount of $1,226.20. The amount, now that it was owed, was not disputed by either party. The county was in a financial crisis and communication was clear to her that she would be paid, but more time was needed. In written correspondence, Kimes-Brown threatened to “seize the statue in front of the courthouse” until payment was received. Per Tim Gleeson, our Prosecutor at the time, “the lawsuit was unnecessary and filed prematurely because the bills were not past due when the complaint was filed”. The court ruled in her favor, but prior to the award, the debt had already been paid.
On another occasion, Kimes-Brown was recommended to enter into mediation with a fellow office holder. The other office was unable to work with Kimes-Brown because of her disrespect of that office and its employees. There are several letters on file, where she calls the employees of that office derogatory names. The mediation was unsuccessful. Kimes-Brown also made an attempt to get rid of a volunteer employee, in that same office.
Kimes-Brown has yelled and cursed at another elected official in the hallway because of a disagreement. She yelled at a probationer so loudly it was heard on the second floor from her basement office doorway.
While we appreciate Kimes-Brown being involved in the community as a volunteer, the job she was elected for should take priority. In her 2012 campaign, Kimes-Brown promised to tackle delinquent taxes. As of today she has only foreclosed on one property and delinquent taxes are at an all-time high.
Offices have had to hire outside counsel, at an additional cost, to get projects and issues the attention they require. Kimes-Brown’s tenure is the only time the county has employed both a full-time prosecutor making $120,000 (2018 salary) and had to also have a full-time Assistant Prosecutor making $65,000 (2018 salary). This is not including all of the occasions that we have had to hire Special Prosecution, because of a conflict of interest.
Kimes-Brown, in 2018, requested the funding for a full-time Secret Service Agent for 2019 for her office. When that request was denied, due to budgetary restraints she filed suit with the court of Common Pleas. The court ruled in favor of the Commissioners and she did not receive the extra employee and the nearly $75,000.00 to go along with that demand.
Every budget cycle, the commissioners receive a large budget request from Kimes-Brown, it is always an increase to the prior year. Over Kimes-Brown’s tenure in office, her budget has increased 63%. The first 6 months of her 2019 General Fund expenses exceed the prior prosecutor’s full-year budget.
In Kimes-Brown’s statement she mentions more pressing issues such as storage issues and security. If security and storage was such an important issue, why were all of the prosecutor’s files sitting in the hallway for months, after being emptied from available storage? The same hallway that probationers sit in. Confidential case files and victims statements, some of which should have never seen the light of day.
The vehicle disputed is a 2006 Ford F250, and once sold (public auction or sealed bid) the proceeds will be deposited into the Law Enforcement Trust Fund. This is the same fund Kimes-Brown used to give away a new $15k vehicle last year, to a high school student. The program began with 44 students and only ended with 12 students being eligible, because of the stringent guidelines to personally meet with her while some students had school and work obligations. Next year, she is using the same fund to purchase a family vacation valued at $5,000.00 to the winner of a middle school program she is spearheading. This expense is legal under the Ohio Revised Code as “Drug Education”, we feel that is a far stretch of the intended purpose of these funds. Also with all the “pressing issues” there may be a better use of this money, but instead your tax dollars will be spent.
We are extremely sorry that our last option to deal with this situation was to file suit against our own prosecutor. This vehicle has been sitting at her personal residence for two years and not being used for its intended purpose while it depreciates, while the county continues to pay the auto insurance.
In closing, Vinton County has always struggled, but most offices have pulled together to make it work. Unfortunately, Kimes-Brown does not feel that is a priority and wants to battle constantly, making everyone’s job more difficult. We are sorry to make all this public but we feel the public deserves to know the history and what led up to our decision to file suit. We unfortunately, were pushed into a corner and couldn’t see backing down again. The public deserves to know.
The Vinton County Commissioners –
Tim Eberts, Mark Fout & William Wellman