What’s going on with the city?

Staff report

WILMINGTON — What’s going on at city hall? The lights have been on — but it’s the public — and the local media — which feels it is being kept in the dark.

The News Journal on Monday called and emailed the Mayor’s Office/City Administrator’s Office requesting information from the city about reports along the lines that City Administrator Marian Miller was on leave or no longer in that position. An earlier email to Miller on Monday bounced back with the message: “I am out of the office. Please email [email protected]” — with no further explanation.

We were later told she had been on leave, returned for a week, and now was back on leave.

We were told a press release was forthcoming that we assumed would answer any questions, and we indeed received it.

It came from HR Director Greg Muenchen stating only, and briefly, that Miller was on leave, then it went into a lengthy quote from Muenchen sounding like he was accepting the position in anything but a short-term capacity and thanking the mayor and the city.

Another local official referred to the release as the city’s “non-answer.”

Weeks ago we were told by reliable sources that Police Chief Ron Cravens had told folks he would be retiring from that post. We almost immediately made a public records request to the city and inquired to the chief as well as to the mayor’s office and to the office of the Safety/Service Director regarding this.

The response from the city administrator was a text, “I don’t have anything to say specifically to that.” The chief emailed us on March 25: “We can talk later. I’m still gathering data.”

Our public records request of March 24 was not acknowledged, nor was if fulfilled, which is well beyond the “reasonable” amount of time for both acknowledgement and providing of information as per Ohio’s Sunshine Law and the Ohio Revised Code. We had asked for all emails of the past two months between the chief and the mayor’s/city administrator’s office.

On Monday, we also asked “for his letter of resignation/retirement, which I assume came earlier than the day prior to his retirement date (as it was announced the day prior to retirement).”

In the meantime, last Thursday we received an emailed release from the city that the police chief would indeed be retiring — effective the next day. The release contained a quote from Chief Cravens, but no quotes nor anything congratulatory from any city staff. And still no answers to our questions.

This is all on the heels of the News Journal editor recently suggesting to the chief that the WPD temporarily end the weekly/periodic WPD incident reports — which had increasingly been received with fewer incidents, less detail and less frequently than we had agreed on maybe two years ago when WPD switched from their previous computer system (in which we had access to incident reports) to the LEADS system, which only law enforcement may access.

On Monday Mr. Muenchen did tell us that, in his duties of “filling in” as city administrator, he would work quickly to get us the information requested regarding the police chief.

At 4:05 p.m. Monday further questions were emailed to Muenchen, asking for details on Miller and her position, including another public records request.

No further information was received until after another email was sent to the mayor’s office Tuesday at 1:20 p.m., essentially stating that we need answers now or we would come over and attempt to get them.

Mr. Muenchen responded via email at 1:41 stating he received our Monday email late, and he had been in “meetings all morning” and would work to get us answers to our questions.

Meanwhile, rumors are running rampant all over the county. We, and the public as a whole, just want some straight talk and straight answers.

It appears Mr. Muenchen has been cast into an awkward situation, and no one else is talking, so it’s up to him to juggle the chainsaws as the public seek answers.

Staff report