Xenia Township, Ohio – The fire chief in this rural township, about fifteen miles east of Dayton is finding himself under the microscope after he received a letter from the Ohio Ethics Commission. Chief Daryl Meyers received the letter on April 13, 2012 and immediately reported it to township trustees. The letter states that an investigation will be conducted to see if Meyers violated ethics laws concerning his employment at both the township and Sinclair Community College.
As chief, Meyers has recommended that at least one employee and maybe additional firefighters be sent to Sinclair Community College’s Fire Science Technology program for training. Trustees approved the training and the costs, which according to township officials ranged from $500-800 each.
It is likely someone sent a complaint to the Ethics Board alleging that Meyers had an unlawful interest in a public contract, which can be a felony or a serious misdemeanor if proven. The allegations center around whether Meyers can spend township money to send firefighters to classes that he taught at Sinclair. Meyers had been an instructor at Sinclair since 1998, but has not worked there since spring of 2011.
These allegations are going to be difficult to prove as there are several exemptions to the law that might benefit Meyers. If Meyers did not receive additional compensation from the college because the additional students were enrolled from the township, it is not a violation of ethics laws.
Additionally, the ethics commission will have to prove that the training that was received from Sinclair was not easily and affordably available from another training institute. Sinclair is the only fire academy in the Dayton area that offers live fire evolution training exercises, which allow firefighters to experience conditions that they might face in various types of fires. The closest facility that offers this training is the State Fire Academy, located in Reynoldsburg, east of Columbus. Sending firefighters to training at the state academy would involve additional expenses such as gas and lodging that sending firefighters to Sinclair would not incur.
It is going to be difficult to prove these allegations against the chief. The Ethics Commission was formed to protect taxpayers from wasting money on expenditures that might financially benefit a public official. If it is proven that by sending firefighters to the Sinclair program actually saved the township money, there is no case. Additionally, if trustees repeatedly approved the expenditures, it would only be logical that they share some of the liability.
The allegations against Meyers are a direct result of his duties as fire chief. As of this date, the township is refusing to allow Meyers to request legal assistance from the prosecutor’s office, who by law is responsible for providing legal representation to townships and their officials for official acts.