LORDSTOWN — Village resident Mark McGrail, who was a mayoral candidate in the general election, has filed a complaint in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court against village council regarding the legality of four executive sessions held in 2021 and 2022.
McGrail states in his complaint, which was filed Wednesday, that meetings on Nov. 15. 2021, March 21, 2022, May 2, 2022, and May 12, 2022, included council entering executive sessions. The complaint filed was for a declaratory judgment and injunction for enforcement of the Ohio Revised Code. The case will be heard by Judge Sean O’Brien.
The filing states at the Nov. 15, 2021, meeting, council held an executive session “for contract negotiations with Ultium battery plant water project” and included council, the mayor, solicitor, engineer and village clerk.
The complaint states the motion to hold an executive session does not state an approved matter or purpose listed in the ORC to be considered in the executive session. McGrail states that the minutes do not reflect that council reconvened into open session after executive session as required by law.
The complaint states the March 21, 2022, meeting went into executive session “for personnel, police department” and had council, the mayor, solicitor and police chief invited into executive session. The filing states that meeting also does not state an approved matter or purpose listed in ORC to be considered an executive session and also the minutes do not reflect that council reconvened into open session after executive session.
The complaint states the May 2, 2022, meeting went into executive session “for contract negotiations, the TEC project” and included council, the mayor, solicitor, Board of Public Affairs members, engineer, water clerk and water superintendent invited. The lawsuit states that the executive session does not state an approved matter or purpose listed on the ORC to be considered in the executive session and the minutes do no reflect that council reconvened into open session after the executive session.
The filing states the May 12, 2022, council held a special meeting and the mayor stated “to adjourn into executive session for water utility service for the proposed Clean Energy Future-Trumbull Energy Center and inviting Lordstown Board of Public Affairs, CT Consultants, William Siderewicz and Franco Lucarelli.”
The complaint states the purpose for the special meeting is invalid.
Council President Ron Radtka said he was made aware of the complaint Monday.
Radtka said on the advice of the village solicitor, council announces a reason for going into a private session beforehand and if any action will be taken after the executive session. He said they have announced contract negotiations and pending litigation as reasons for going into executive session.
“We specifically say the purpose for the executive session,” he said.
Ratka said the village previously had to deal with Brian Ames of Mogadore, who had filed lawsuits against several Trumbull County communities, including Lordstown, for violating open meetings law.
He said solicitor Matt Ries will provide an update to council on the new lawsuit at council’s meeting set for 6 p.m. today. Radtka said the materials will be provided with council’s packet.
“I have not seen the complaint or know what specifically the complaint against council is. I know we indicate what we are going into executive session for,” he said.
Radtka said since the Ames case, council is careful about stating purposes for executive sessions.
Mayor Arno Hill said he was not included in the complaint and was made aware of it Monday.
He said if council members have any questions on the matter, they will be able to speak with Ries at the meeting.
A public body may meet in executive session, but it may do so only when it is discussing one of the approved matters or purposes listed in the Ohio Revised Code.