EAST LIVERPOOL - The recent hiring of two new firefighters was done legally, according to an Aug. 28 opinion from Law Director Charles Payne which was released Tuesday.
Questions had arisen from not only Councilman Ray Perorazio, a retired city firefighter, but from former city auditor Terry Sprague and former city council member Linda Ziegler, all of whom aired their concerns at a recent City Council meeting.
Additionally, Perorazio had voiced his same concerns at the last Civil Service Commission meeting, saying at that time he believed the hiring of firefighters Jason Glista and Aaron Jones was improper.
At issue is the fact that Jones is the son of fire Chief Bill Jones while Glista has dated Chief Jones' daughter and also that others on the eligibility list were not hired, even those with prior training.
Perorazio has maintained that the newspaper advertisement announcing the competitive exam for firefighter was required by law to state that prior training was a requirement of those taking the test, although officials had said from the onset that training was not required.
In his opinion, Payne referred to Ohio Revised Code regarding such exams and said that, in this case, "The examination process resulted in an eligibility list. In fact, the eligibility list is made up of individuals, some who attended firefighting school and others who did not, but all were eligible to be in on the list. In other words, no applicant was deemed ineligible for failure to have attended firefighting school."
He continued, "It is therefore my opinion that no one was added or denied access to the list on basis of fire schooling and therefore having completed firefighter schooling does not constitute a minimum or maximum requirement to be on the eligibility list."
Payne concluded, "I find nothing in the facts nor the law that would lead me to a legal conclusion that the new appointments were made contrary to the law."
The Civil Service Commission had said much the same to Perorazio at its meeting, saying no minimum or maximum requirements had been established other than those already listed on the advertisement.
The issue was again raised at Monday night' council session by Sprague, who took exception to a comment made earlier by fire union President Bob Smith, who said Sprague should be more concerned with the burned-out homes in her neighborhood still standing instead of the firefighter hiring issue.
"For him to make (such a statement) means he knows what's going on in my house, but no one knows that," Sprague said, adding she has addressed the burned out homes with the planning director, who indicated the city is receiving money for tear-downs.
Sprague said she doesn't care about nepotism, saying that is how many got jobs in the mills, potteries and other industries but said her major concern is that the best person for the job is hired.
Asking Payne whether or not a requirement that firefighters move inside the city within a year after hire is contrary to state law, Sprague said that requirement needs eliminated.
She also took exception to comments allegedly made by Smith and Councilman Ryan Stovall on Facebook regarding her, Perorazio and Ziegler, saying she was "not going to take it anymore. I took it before because I had to have a working relationship (in City Hall), but the gloves are off."
Perorazio said his children also read the Facebook comments and were upset, saying, "People who stand up and make statements (in public meetings) shouldn't be belittled. What I said wasn't personal (about) anybody. I have a problem with (the hirings) and always will."