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Politicians are copy cats.

Today they are aping President Donald Trump by ignoring the will of the people and taking vengeance on their enemies.

Look no further than Liberty Township in southern Delaware County where trustee Melanie Leneghan exemplifies Trumpian behavior run amok.

You may recall my February column in the Columbus Free Press headlined "Government At Its Worst. GOP Gives Black Eye to Powell, Liberty Twp."

I described how Leneghan and a second trustee were joining with two Delaware County commissioners, all four of whom are Republicans, in an attempt to remove emergency medical services from the Liberty Township Fire Department and transfer them to the Delaware County operation.

This ran counter to the will of the people as 75 percent of voters supported a fire and EMS tax levy in 2017. Hundreds of people showed up at trustee meetings to protest.

After much anguish, one of the two commissioners, Gary Merrell, relented and the plan was suspended.

This angered trustee Leneghan, the giveaway's leading proponent. She finished a close second in the 12th Congressional District primary last year, having labeled herself as a "Trump Conservative."           

Meanwhile, township residents formed the SOS Committee and began a petition drive to put before a judge the issue of recalling Leneghan and her collaborator, trustee Mike Gemperline, for alleged wrong-doing.

After gathering 4,000-plus signatures, 50 percent more than necessary, the petitions were filed in July.

Leneghan and Gemperline's plans for more "mischief" appeared to be put on hold by the legal proceedings.

Then, in a surprising development a few weeks later, the SOS Committee asked the judge to drop the matter. He did. Around that time, Leneghan announced she would not run for re-election as trustee, perhaps to run again for Congress.

Once the threat of recall was lifted, Leneghan took revenge on the forces who challenged her, namely the SOS Committee and the firefighter’s union.

She proposed that the trustees reduce by $3 million a year millage approved by three-quarters of the public.

In early September, Leneghan and Gemperline ignored the outcry from their constituents and voted to cut the property tax, literally putting the screws to the fire and EMS operation that they already had been weakening by failing to fill vacancies and to purchase equipment.

They refused to do right thing, which would have been to put the proposed reduction of millage on the ballot and let the public decide.

Vengeance was theirs.

Very Trumpian, wouldn't you say?

Meanwhile, the Republican elected officials who could do something to corral the rogue trustees stood by while the residents of the township were being abused.

It reminded me of the Republican Senators and Representatives in Washington, D.C., who sit on their hands while Trump abuses the Constitution, lines his own pockets, and employs charlatans at the Department of Justice, Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, etc.

The City Council of Powell, where nearly half of the EMS customers live, could have stepped in, but so far has not.

The Delaware County Sheriff could have investigated – the SOS Committee collected reams of material that is public record – and the Delaware County Prosecutor could be making the trustees answer charges. Only County Auditor George Kaitsa appeared to be trying to help the citizens. Kaitsa is a member of the County Budget Commission that must approve the reduced millage for it to go into effect.

The Governor, Attorney General and State Auditor could use their vast powers to investigate and prosecute, too.

But the powerful officeholders at the city, county and state levels, all Republicans, are largely sitting on their hands while the health and safety of 30,000 people are put at risk.

Very Trumpian, wouldn't you say? Very "government at its worst."


  • The Columbus Dispatch has shredded its credibility by failing to report that its subscription policies are being challenged in court. Two subscribers want damages because the newspaper allegedly forces subscribers to receive expensive supplements and deducts their costs from the price of a basic subscription, Columbus Business First reported.
  • OSU President Michael Drake has launched a publicity offensive to try and save his job. If head football coach Ryan Day flops and fans yearn for the return of coach-in-exile Urban Meyer, whom Drake more or less forced out, you can be sure Urban will not return if his nemesis Drake is still president.
  • Meanwhile, entrepreneur Urban, who is opening a new restaurant in Dublin, lost his objectivity on his Fox Sports commentator's job, and referred to the Buckeyes football team as "we."
  • Keep your eyes on the investigative reporting by John Damschroder regarding the investment policies of Ohio pensions and the politically connected investments by Ohio public institutions. A scandal is brewing. Johnny Nobody better watch his back.
  • Channel 10's reputation was sullied as meteorologist Mike Davis was fired after being charged with possessing child pornography.
  • Channel 6 is challenging longtime ratings leader channel 10 for news supremacy. It is claiming to be No. 1 at 6 p.m. among 25 to 54-year-old viewers.

(Please send your comments and suggestions for future columns to John K. Hartman,

(ColumbusMediaInsider, copyright, 2019, John K. Hartman, All Rights Reserved)  

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