Olentangy Valley News

Orange Township trustees

Resident denounces 'negative-type stuff' on board

Trustee takes tongue-lashing, says she deals with 'continual harassment'

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The Orange Township board of trustees kicked off its meeting Monday, Feb. 3, with a resident's scolding of Trustee Lisa Knapp for her online behavior.

Resident Bill Wiebell complimented the township's employees for pursuing grants for park improvements and workers for clearing icy roads, but lambasted Knapp for her Internet presence.

"What becomes public business is representation 24/7 of you and your time, the same way a professional athlete or actor does when they are in the limelight or in the public view," Wiebell said. "That includes emails, that includes blogs, that includes anything that is out there.

"When you sign on that dotted line to put yourself in the election process, you have made a statement to the public that you are making a commitment to represent the public of whoever you are running for," he added.

In 2012, Knapp received a series of harassment emails and vicious comments on various social media accounts from "Buddy Wilson." Wilson claimed to be a male resident of Orange Township and reportedly commented on personal aspects of Knapp's life.

Wilson was discovered by trustees to be Karen Wilson, the sister of township Trustee Rob Quigley. Wilson lives in Twinsburg.

According to an interview with Delaware County sheriff's deputies, Quigley said he did not instruct his sister to harass Knapp, nor did he assist her in her efforts. Quigley said he addressed the issue as soon as he discovered Buddy Wilson was his sister. However, it is unclear at what point Quigley figured out Buddy Wilson's real identity.

Since then, Knapp has documented Orange Township trustees meetings by videorecording the proceedings and posting them on YouTube. Knapp also maintains a blog that often mentions her fellow trustees and township Fiscal Officer Joel Spitzer.

Knapp's recent posts, from Nov. 5, 2013, to her most-recent post Jan. 18, have publicized controversial information about Spitzer, such as an alleged 2013 altercation with a high school basketball coach, links to township meeting videos that allegedly show Spitzer harassing her, and details regarding a restraining order against Spitzer.

Wiebell suggested that Knapp stop her accusations, step aside or look into a referendum for an election recall. (Ohio Revised Code does not address the removal of a township trustee from office.)

"Your public behavior hasn't represented the township," Wiebell told Knapp. "Your ideas are fantastic. The park stuff -- I love your involvement with that. And I want to see that continue, but in a positive way. We need to stop the negative-type stuff, because if it continues, as a member of the community, I'm going to step up personally and be vocal with the community and look at all three of those scenarios. This needs to be a cohesive unit," he said.

Knapp tried to address his comments but was repeatedly interrupted.

"It's a politically motivated statement in that Mr. Wiebell is a friend of Mr. Spitzer," Knapp said. "For the last two years, I've tried my hardest to serve the residents but have been continually harassed for two years by the other elected officials."

Knapp added she will file civil suits against township officials in the next few months.

This is not the first time a resident has spoken at an Orange Township meeting about officials' behavior. Resident Robert Martin attended the Dec. 16 meeting and suggested trustees attend a mediation session with a neutral mediator.

Martin said the perception of the board is negative and added he is concerned trustees are not doing their jobs. Township officials all have said their focus is to work for the township and serve its residents.

Quigley said he appreciated Wiebell's comments about the parks' efforts and the maintenance crew's work on the roads.

Regarding Wiebell's comments about Knapp, Quigley said his "goal is to focus on township business."

Trustee Debbie Taranto steered the meeting back to the agenda, but thanked Wiebell for acknowledging the township employees' hard work.

Also at this week's meeting, the board:

* Agreed to remove obsolete items around the township, including dog-waste pickup dispensers, toilet-paper dispensers, underwater pool lights and an eyewash station.

* Agreed to let companies bid to construct a new playground at Walker Wood. The new playground tentatively will be in place this spring.

The board of trustees next meets Feb. 18 at township offices, 1680 E. Orange Road.

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