Delaware County commissioner Ken O'Brien on Nov. 23 argued with the his fellow commissioners that they don't need any help to overcome interpersonal problems.

Delaware County commissioner Ken O'Brien on Nov. 23 argued with the his fellow commissioners that they don't need any help to overcome interpersonal problems.

Commissioners Tommy Thompson and Todd Hanks last month voted to meet with a mediator from the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution.

Commissioner Ken O'Brien voted against the resolution, saying he didn't think it was necessary.

When he was contacted by an OCDR official, O'Brien told her he wouldn't agree to meet unless there were specific issues to be addressed.

The mediator is expected to contact Hanks and Thompson this week to see if they want any specific issues on the agenda.

The Nov. 23 exchange -- which lasted about 15 minutes -- began when O'Brien reiterated his position.

"I want to be very clear that when I spoke with (the mediator) Maggie Lewis, we had a discussion on whether it would be beneficial or fruitful for the commission to go forward (with the mediation). I asked if there was a specific issue the commission wanted to address. ... If they did I would be willing to talk about it," O'Brien said.

Specific issues might include the budget, personnel issues or controversial public policies, he said. "Not whether or not we like each other or whether or not we want to chum around."

Thompson asked O'Brien if he did not say he, O'Brien, would adhere to all decisions made by the commissioners, even if he was outvoted 2-1 on the resolutions creating the actions.

O'Brien agreed he did, but said he still believes the board needs to set an issue-specific agenda before meeting with Lewis.

O'Brien asked Thompson to clarify a comment he made in a local newspaper article Nov. 19, in which Thompson stated it was unethical for a commissioner to enter a county employee's office and go through the items on the top of their desk.

The article said that on Oct. 27, county economic development director Gus Comstock returned to his office after the close of business and found O'Brien going through items on the top of his desk.

"Maybe it's just the way it's (the Nov. 19 article) worded that this is a hypothetical unethical or you may in fact think I have done something wrong," O'Brien said to Thompson.

"Do you think my going into the office was unethical?" O'Brien asked Thompson.

"I didn't say that," was Thompson's replied. He suggested the two meet later to talk about the article and Thompson's comments.

O'Brien said he wanted to clear the air in public.

"Gentlemen, this is going nowhere," Hanks said. "I think we should honor the president's (Thompson's) respective comments and this needs to be discussed "

Interrupting Hanks, O'Brien said, "I think it's interesting you jumped in on an ethics question."

"I think it's important that we discuss ethics (in public) because you (Thompson) implied that I have ethical issues. If you think that I do, then it should be addressed here. Otherwise, you should apologize to me."

Thompson said he thought it was unethical for O'Brien to be in Comstock's office after the business day.

O'Brien said he was looking for Comstock's calendar to see if the development director would return before leaving for the day.

The two men kept asking the other one questions, raising their voices as the discussion continued.

Finally Thompson said, "I don't think this is healthy," to which O'Brien responded, "I think it's healthy to get this out and discuss it."

"I think it's healthy for the media," Thompson said. "We've given them substantial information to write about today."