Licking County News

Pataskala council members face off in heated exchange

Mike Fox questions Pat Sagar's comments

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Pataskala City Councilwoman Pat Sagar Monday, July 21, responded to questions submitted in writing by Carl Roshong, one of the residents who initiated an Aug. 19 recall election of Sagar.

During her responses to the letter, City Councilman Mike Fox called Sagar a "liar" and subsequently said she is "lying."

Roshong submitted a letter he requested be read into the record at the July 21 meeting.

Pataskala Mayor Mike Compton alerted City Council members about the letter and submitted it to the City Council Clerk Kathy Hoskinson.

The letter requested a response from Sagar on allegations made against her by the recall petitioners and stated:

"Tonight could be your night to prove to your peers and the city that you deserve to be in the position that you hold. You can answer my previous queries in front of them or you may choose to continue to withhold response and show the true level of your commitment to a constituent."

The letter accuses Sagar of "never" responding to Roshong's concerns, not supporting an upgrade of Mill Street and requests her opinion position about interim appointments and city codes.

Sagar responded to each accusation at the end of the meeting, during the time allotted for City Council comments.

She said she did not respond to one of Roshong's emails because she believed it was rude and disrespectful.

Sagar said she supported repairs to Mill Street that were completed two years ago and has supported other street projects throughout the city.

She said she was not sure what Roshong is referencing in regards to city code and said she voted not to have the city's Acting Administrator Nathan Coey appoint Andy Walther as acting planning director because she did not receive information about the appointment and she did not believe she had sufficient information to vote on the matter.

During the meeting July 21, Eileen DeRolf, who lives in Sagar's ward, again requested an investigation of Sagar's use of police to prevent DeRolf from speaking to Sagar Jan. 15.

Fox made a motion during the meeting to investigate DeRolf's allegations against Sagar and it died for lack of a second.

DeRolf said she was told not to speak to Sagar at the Jan. 15 hearing about three malfeasance charges against Fox. DeRolf said the restriction prevents her from having representation to City Council from her ward.

Council voted 4-1 to accept an agreement with Mike Fox Jan. 15, giving Fox a reprimand in exchange for his public apology.

City councilmen Todd Barstow, Dan Hayes, Tim Hickin and Bryan Lenzo voted to accept the agreement and Pat Sagar voted against it.

Sagar said she received an email Jan. 14 from DeRolf's email account prior to the Jan. 15 disciplinary hearing for Fox.

According to Sagar, the email said Fox "played a significant role in saving your son's life" and questioned her attitude toward Fox.

Sagar's son was gravely injured in a 1990 vehicle accident near Fox's home. Fox has said he rendered aid to Sagar's son.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol's records office only keeps accident records for five years, so there are no accident reports available from the crash and the West Licking Joint Fire District has yet to respond to a public records request for the report sent July 22.

Sagar said she has spoken with West Licking fire officials and she said they told her they do not remember Fox being on the scene.

Sagar said DeRolf called her Jan. 15, the morning of the hearing and asked her the same question that was in the email.

After the meeting, Sagar said DeRolf and another man approached her and the man asked the same question.

Sagar said she told them it was not a city matter and would not talk about it.

Sagar said she got teary eyed and was approached by Pataskala Division of Police Chief Bruce Brooks, who attended the meeting. Sagar showed him the email from DeRolf and said she did not want to be contacted further by DeRolf.

Brooks told the ThisWeek Licking County News he told Sagar he could speak to DeRolf and ask her to refrain from contacting Sagar and tell DeRolf about potential charges that could be pursued.

Brooks said Sagar was not interested in pressing charges and because he was not in uniform, he had officer Scott McClelland go with him to speak to DeRolf.

When recounting the story July 21, Sagar said Fox had told her he had helped her son during the accident several years ago. She said when Fox told her, he said she "owed him big."

At that point, Fox called Sagar a "liar" and called for a point of order saying Sagar should not be allowed to use council meetings as a way to defend herself against the recall movement.

Compton said Sagar is allowed to address the letter.

Council President Dan Hayes said council's rules of order allow council members to make meeting announcements and "other general comments" during the meeting and said Fox, himself, has taken advantage of the time to make general comments before.

Fox said she is limited to five minutes.

Sagar continued and said she is willing to talk to DeRolf, but not about her son's accident.

Fox requested to speak, even though he had used his time prior to Sagar's comments, and Pataskala Mayor Mike Compton said he could speak only after all other council members were done.

City Councilwoman Melissa Gibson addressed the issue in her comments, saying that after being appointed to the Ward 2 seat on council seven months prior, she is disappointed at the emotionally-charged discussions and said there is no excuse for any City Council member to fly off the handle, call others names and interrupt other council members while they are talking, acting as if the council members are in a classroom and not in council chambers.

Gibson was appointed to fill Compton's council post, which he vacated in January after being elected mayor.

Gibson said she does not support an investigation of Sagar and because the recall election is in place, the city should move forward.

She concluded by saying many residents in Ward 2 have said they support Sagar and she said to Sagar, "You have my full support."

Compton explained his role in trying to diffuse the situation between Sagar and DeRolf, saying he tried to get all the parties together unsuccessfully.

He said DeRolf got all of her questions answered at one point after he responded to emails, had phone conversations with her, met in person with her and met with her and the police chief.

Compton said the incident with DeRolf Jan. 15 was not listed as a police report. It was considered an incident call.

Compton said he assured DeRolf she could talk to Sagar about anything but her son's accident and was not losing representation in her ward.

DeRolf, who left the meeting during Sagar's comments, said after the meeting she still believes she is being denied representation and wants her question of an investigation addressed.

When Fox was able to speak again, he asked Compton if he tried to get DeRolf and Sagar to sit down and talk after the Jan. 15 incident. Compton said he would not get into a question-and-answer session.

Hayes made a motion to adjourn and Barstow gave a second. The vote was 5 to 1 in favor or adjourning, with Fox dissenting. Lenzo had left the meeting prior to council comments because of an emergency.

After the meeting adjourned, Fox asked his attorney, who was present, to meet with him in the council clerk's office.

 

The recall election

Sagar's recall was initiated by Roshong and his wife, Deanna. The Roshongs circulated petitions and obtained signatures from the required 15 percent of voters -- 107 people -- in the First Ward.

Pataskala City Council June 30 voted 6-0 to set a recall election Aug. 19.

Precincts in the city's First Ward will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 19.

Only residents of the First Ward residents will vote on the recall matter.

Sagar's term is scheduled to expire at the end of 2015, and she has said she would not seek another.

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