MAUMEE (WTOL) - Political drama played out in front of a packed house at Monday night’s Maumee City Council meeting.
Residents gathered thinking that there would be a vote on the firing of City Administrator John Jezak. But that didn’t happen.
Two hours before the meeting, Jezak was informed that he was being placed on paid administrative leave while law firm Spengler Nathanson investigates the circumstances surrounding the initiation of an ethics report that was released in June.
However, Jezak received word of the suspension through a voice mail from Councilman Tim Pauken, who stepped in as acting mayor because much of the ethics report involved Mayor Richard Carr.
At 3 p.m. turned the reins of the city over to Pauken. In a surreal moment, Pauken and Carr exchanged seats during the meeting while the report was discussed.
Jezak’s suspension revolves around a report from law firm Squire Patton Boggs. The mayor accuses Jezak of taking whistleblower complaints to the firm prior to receiving authorization from council.
At times there was heated conversation back and forth between council members and the mayor, who urged council not to refer the complaints to state agencies.
“We went through this investigation for five months, not just me, but two other people. To put people through this for another year is just wrong,” Carr said.
But Councilman John Boellner was unmoved and made a motion to send the four complaints found in the December ethics report to the Ohio Auditor’s Public Integrity Assurance Unit and the state’s Ethics Commission.
Originally, the mayor tried to stop Jezak from commenting, but Councilman David Kissinger told council that he had a right to speak because his firing vote was on the original agenda distributed to the public.
Jezak then took the opportunity to read a 13-page statement, outlining many of the complaints in the report and describing in detail why he believed Mayor Carr and Councilman Brent Buehrer had committed ethics violations. He then encouraged council to turn the complaints over to the state.
“Mayor Carr also believes it is more important to discipline those who call attention to questionable behavior as opposed to those who commit and abet it. Let’s let Ohio’s regulatory agencies tell us who is right,” Jezak said.
It was clear after the meeting that Jezak believes the mayor is retaliating against him for taking the whistleblower complaints to Squire Patton and Boggs.
“I think it’s a desperate act. I’m on paid leave at this point on what I believe are baseless charges,” Jezak told WTOL.
Much of the city has been divided among residents loyal to Carr and those loyal to Jezak. Though there were many questions during the meeting about what exactly happened, what is clear is that there are many chapters remaining in this political drama.