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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sheriff Donini Needs Some Self Insight and Restraint

As anyone who reads my blog has determined (after all, I keep emphasizing the importance of the Scioto Sheriff race), I support independent Charles Horner for sheriff. I have articulated my reasons for my backing of Horner, so I don't want to be redundant here. You can view my many past posts to read my personal justification for electing Horner. I think we definitely need a change.

Here is but one example why I believe we need a new sheriff. Today the Portsmouth Daily Times reported a story. Here is part of the article:

"The New Boston Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 208 has filed an ethics violation complaint against incumbent Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini, with the Ohio Elections Commission. That alleged violation charges Donini with making false statements of endorsement in campaign materials, which the Lodge says is a violation under Ohio Revised Code 3517.21 (B) (8) and 3517.21 (B) (10).

"In drafting the letter, the president of Lodge No. 208, Lt. Diane Davis says she personally witnessed Donini and 'several of his off-duty supervising deputies' going door to door in the Village of New Boston handing out and distributing campaign materials in plastic bags that read in bold black print - 'Endorsed by Fraternal Order of Police Portsmouth-New Boston Police Lodge #33, Scioto County Sheriff’s Office Lodge #187.'”

(Frank Lewis, "New Boston FOP Accuses Donini of False Statements," Portsmouth Daily Times, October 3 2012) 

Link the entire article here:

Davis explains, “Sheriff candidate Marty Donini is well aware the New Boston police officers are no longer part of the FOP Lodge #33.”

She continues,“Although I am the president of FOP Lodge #208, I am also a resident of New Boston and personally witnessed this and these materials were left on my front porch, as well as many other residents of New Boston."

The complaint charges that Donini, “as an experienced elected official that has been in elected office for sixteen years,” should have made arrangements to either black out the words “New Boston Police Lodge” on the bags or the bags should have been done without that phrase.

Now, if you don't know the real problem, let me explain.

Sheriff Donini is not endorsed by
the New Boston Fraternal Order
of Police Lodge No. 208.

The Portsmouth Daily Times reported the following information on July 24, 2012:

"New Boston Police FOP Lodge No. 208 ended speculation that they formed in order to endorse their captain, Steve Goins for Sheriff, by deciding not to endorse anyone for any office."

Steve Goins is the Democratic candidate for sheriff.

How does Sheriff Donini reply to the New Boston FOP charges? Again, let me use the Daily Times quotes from Sheriff Donini to explain the problem I have with our sheriff's views:

Donini says in response:

“'It’s not surprising. This is my fifth time to run for re-election, and it seems like each and every time I have always ended up in court because some inexperienced politician wants to argue some irrelevant issue,' Donini said. 'With that having been said, in 1996, again in 2000, again in 2004, and again in 2012, I received the endorsement from FOP Lodge No. 33 which included members of the Portsmouth Police Department and the New Boston Police Department. I received the endorsement each and every time....'

“'As a matter of fact, it was first brought to my attention when you (this reporter) wrote an article on June 30, I believe, that they had formed their own lodge,' Donini said. 'The only issue is that my literature was not only ordered, but was also received in my hands prior to June 30. It was already a done deal. Since June 30, I have accepted the responsibility and changed all of my literature, all of my graphics to exclude the New Boston Police Department in any of the endorsements....'


“'My point is that I was endorsed by FOP Lodge No. 33, and if you will read your (this reporter) article on March 7, you actually make a statement that members of the New Boston Police Department are also members of FOP Lodge No. 33,' Donini said. 'Therefore I don’t think I did anything wrong. I don’t feel that our committee should have to forfeit the financial sources that we used to pay for these thousands and thousands of items. And I’m going to continue to disperse them as is because I stand by what it says. It says, Portsmouth-New Boston Lodge No. 33. When I received the endorsement that’s who made up that Lodge.'”

Donini's comments and his handling of this serious violation of the Ohio Revised Code is indicative of the current operations of the Scioto County Sheriffs Department. Not only do Donini's words and actions show his apparent lack of knowledge about his police brothers and sisters in the New Boston FOP, but they show his arrogance and apparent disregard for election rules and for other people.

Donini says he doesn't think he "did anything wrong." As if it isn't enough to employ his off-duty supervising deputies to do door-to-door campaigning and use materials that contain false statements of endorsement for his re-election, he refers to Steve Goins as an "inexperienced candidate" and implies that Lt. Davis, by pursuing her legal duty to report ethics violations, is misguided and wrong. Donini whines "he ends up in court every time he runs for office about some irrelevant issue." Where there's smoke.... Do I have to point out the relevancy of that old saying?

There's more. Sheriff Donini takes no responsibility for his questionable actions nor does he offer an apology for the ethics violation of his campaign. Instead, he reluctantly "changed his literature and graphics" to appease the FOP. He looks at the entire complaint as something that could cost his campaign big money, not as a charge that he has done anything illegally. If anyone costs his campaign big money, it is Donini, himself.

Most surprising of all, Donini states, "And I’m going to continue to disperse them (the materials) as is because I stand by what it says. It says, Portsmouth-New Boston Lodge No. 33." In the face of evidence of illegal conduct, our sheriff adamantly demands his way. This is overbearing, unethical, and all too characteristic of the way the current sheriff advises his administration to do their sworn duty. Often, they comply with the sheriff's and the political party's wishes despite the need to investigate further evidence that could lead in other directions.

I believe anyone can read this single Times report and get an idea about some of the problems Scioto County faces with a Donini re-election. The sheriff's department sorely needs to do the following:

(1) To be knowledgeable and respectful of all law enforcement agencies in Scioto County.

(2) To develop better communication skills with all the people they serve.

(3) To control their behavior that causes the office to develop an "old boy" code of conduct, which may not align with proper departmental policy and procedure.

(4) To develop an attitude of respect and trust with the entire community rather than merely serving special political and financial interests.

(5) To stop breaking campaign rules and regulations.

(6) To develop and practice integrity in lieu of expediency, personal profit, or political favor.

(7) To investigate potential problems and prosecute all misconduct within their own administration.

I feel very sorry for Lt. Davis, Steve Goins, and the New Boston FOP Lodge #208. Sheriff Donini is portraying you to be the guilty parties when you were only doing your duty for the citizens of the county. Again, he places politics above ethics. If this is typical of the cooperation you receive from the Scioto County Sheriff's Office, no wonder you are upset.

I have heard many similar reports concerning misconduct and indifference on the part of Sheriff Donini and his administration. If you, as readers, disapprove of my saying this, please understand that I am only stating the truth. I, personally, refer to some of these incidents on my previous blog posts. Feel free to read them for yourself. The Donini camp has had decades to right the ship and improve enforcement in Scioto County. I ask you, "Have they?"

In closing, I believe people must elect a better sheriff. Citizens need to realize lack of availability,  poor communications, and slanted interpretation of the law controlled by political influence choke our county sheriff's office. These folks are public servants during working hours, not Democrats or Republicans. They must be held to the highest standards of integrity, and they must serve equal justice.

When the sheriff's office lacks public accountability and transparency (Need I mention the recent shooting in Wheelersburg?), citizens must react. In November, you can react responsibly by ending the administration of Marty Donini and electing Charles Horner as your new sheriff. To fail to do so means "more of the same."
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