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Toledo city auditor suspended Tuesday; mayor, councilmembers respond

Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz claimed Jake Jaksetic has underperformed in his duties, while Jaksetic claims his suspension is retaliation for concerns he has raised.

TOLEDO, Ohio — A day after the Toledo city auditor was suspended from his job, questions remain about just why city leaders took Jake Jaksetic off the job and whether his complaints of retaliation for blowing the whistle on problems with city finances are valid.

According to the city, Jaksetic was suspended because of issues with his work performance and also concerns about worker safety. A letter from the city Tuesday night did not level specific accusations against Jaksetic but said all city employees "have a right to feel safe in the work place, free from threats and intimidation."

Toledo City Council President Matt Cherry has not provided a clear reason for Jaksetic's suspension. Toledo's city auditor is one of the few city administrative positions that reports to city council rather than the mayor, making the council president responsible for disciplining the auditor in the case of poor job performance.

For his part, Jaksetic sent a letter of his own shortly before Toledo City Council voted 10-1 to suspend him during a special meeting, accusing the city of making the move in retaliation for him raising concerns about city-contracted work such as the water-meter replacement project. 

At-large Council Member Katie Moline was the sole vote against the suspension because Cherry's move to suspend Jaksetic without first consulting the rest of council was improper, she said.

WTOL 11 reached out Wednesday to all members of city council. We only heard back from two council members. Both Moline and Council Member Cerssandra McPherson said they have not felt unsafe working with Jaksetic.

In response to calls for comment Wednesday, Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz claimed that Jaksetic has not produced nearly the amount of audit reports expected of a city auditor, which performs financial and operation audits of all city departments, divisions, boards, commissions and other city agencies.

"You would think a city auditor should produce some audits," Kapszukiewicz said. "I don't know that he has ever, literally ever, produced an audit report. Now I might be wrong, there may have been one or two, but as someone who worked as the auditor for eight years, there should be hundreds of audit reports."

Moline also said she thinks there has been a lack of audit reports produced, but disagreed with how Cherry handled the situation.

"Since I've been in office, I do think there have been a lack of audits, but that should have been addressed as a body and with the lead of president Cherry and that never happened," Moline said. "It's concerning the process that's unfolded. If that's the issue, that should have been deliberated on years ago."

Kapszukiewicz said he has learned through "talking with members of council," there is frustration across the board with Jaksetic's job performance and that council members were frustrated with Cherry for not addressing the situation sooner.

Following Jaksetic's suspension Tuesday, at-large Council Member Nick Komives motioned to remove Cherry from his position as council president due to a "lack of leadership."

The vote failed 8-3. Komives, Moline and District 1 representative John Hobbs voted to remove Cherry. Komives and Hobbs voted in favor of Jaksetic's suspension.

Cherry released a statement Tuesday on the failed motion to recall him.

“As any leader knows, it is difficult to make everyone happy 100% of the time," he said. "I am happy that the vast majority of my colleagues affirmed my role as President of Council yesterday. As I have done from day one in this role, I will continue to work with every member of Council to advance the city’s agenda and support our residents and businesses."

But, Moline said in an email response that Cherry's statement was inaccurate and he has not worked with other members as consistently as he claimed to.

"Your email is inaccurate," she said. "You have not communicated with me and other Members consistently. I wish you would actually practice your ideal of working with everyone. I hope that this incident can serve as be a reset of your working relationship with all Members because I would appreciate increased communication between us."

Council members McPherson and Michele Grim were not present at the special meeting Tuesday and did not vote on the suspension.

In a statement Tuesday, prior to the special meeting, McPherson said she would have voted against suspending Jaksetic if she was able to attend the meeting and that council should have taken more steps to fix any issues with his job performance before suspending him.

"I've only been on council since 2020," McPherson said. "I can't speak on his performance and the number of audits, but I've received all the reports I have asked him for."

It is currently unclear who will fulfill the duties of city auditor during Jaksetic's suspension.

WTOL 11 has requested Jaksetic's personnel files as well as the audits that have been done during his time as auditor, but have yet to receive them.

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