Saturday, June 2, 2007

FBI & Ohio Ethics Commission to investigate Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

The beleaguered Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) may now be forced to answer for their questionable spending practices of public money.

While Middleburgh Hts Mayor Gary Starr, who site on the NEORSD board has been a vocal critic on the lavish spending on decorating the NEORSD offices, 50% sewer rate increase and project cost overruns of 285% on contract work, he has been linked to shamed former district lawyer, William B. Schatz, who quickly retired when questioned by the PD on possible ethics violations.

It is pretty shameful, that the FBI and Ohio Ethics Commission will have to come in and clean up a bloated, incompetent and, corrupt sewer district because area leaders refused to stop the pillaging.

From the PD --

The FBI and a state watchdog agency are investigating the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, a sprawling agency that serves more than 1 million people and spends about $137 million in tax dollars each year.

The FBI is interested tens of millions of dollars in cost overruns and the contractors who made the money, sources indicated. The district was served with a federal grand jury subpoena this week seeking documents. A representative of the U.S. Attorney's office declined comment.

Next week a lawyer with the Ohio Ethic Commission plans to look at the district's records, said an attorney hired by the district's board of directors. The commission's investigations can lead to indictments of public officials.

The scrutiny comes two weeks after The Plain Dealer raised questions about possible conflicts of interest between the public job and the private legal work of longtime sewer district attorney William B. Schatz.

Schatz abruptly announced his retirement the day after the newspaper interviewed him. The sewer board subsequently placed him on paid leave. Schatz, a part-time employee who earns $160,000 a year, could not be reached Friday.

This is why I view any proposed programs of regionalization by current leaders with skepticism.

When the FBI gets done with this, they need to investigate Cleveland Mayor, Frank Jackson, and his role in the Triangle Development project.

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