Hillsboro safety and service director defends code officer

Citizens lodge complaints against enforcement director

By David Wright - [email protected]

Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie is shown at city council’s March meeting.

Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie is shown at city council’s March meeting.

David Wright | The Times-Gazette

Following the resignation of Hillsboro City Council President Lee Koogler Monday night, the second movement of council’s March meeting saw Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie defending the city’s code enforcement director from a litany of complaints.

In the public comment portion of the meeting docket, Joe Mahan, a local business owner and president of the Hillsboro Uptown Business Association, called for the city to fire Anton Weissman, the city’s code enforcement director and zoning officer, citing a list of complaints from local business owners.

Mahan said he has fielded complaints about Weissman for the past month and a half, specifically accusations that he is too stringent on businesses and “very hostile” toward women and businesses owned by women.

“I would like to see this man terminated,” Mahan said.

Michael Labig of the Southern Ohio Pregnancy Center in Hillsboro also complained that the center was penalized for having a deck used as an access point for disabled people.

Mahan and Labig both complained that McKenzie was not responsive to earlier complaints.

In the safety and service director’s report, McKenzie apologized for not responding to Labig and Mahan, and explained that Weissman “strictly” follows state building standards.

The safety and service director also defended Weissman’s character, saying that the allegations about Weissman being a “woman hater” were incorrect.

Contacted Tuesday, Weissman told The Times-Gazette that he does not know why that accusation was raised.

“I don’t know where (Mahan) got that from,” Weissman said. “I don’t feel like I’m hostile towards women at all.”

In response to a question from Mahan about Weissman having worked for Covington, Ky., McKenzie said, “I know what that’s about,” but did not directly address the issue. The safety and service director said he did his due diligence checking Weissman’s background and that other people vouched for him.

“He’s not going to make friends doing what he’s doing,” McKenzie said.

Weissman told The Times-Gazette that he was terminated from his position as the code enforcement supervisor at Covington after “ruffling a few feathers,” and that a corruption investigation later resulted in a number of city officials being terminated and even criminally charged.

Weissman said he loves Hillsboro and that he doesn’t “play politics.”

“What’s right is right, what’s wrong is wrong,” he said. “I give everybody a chance and I work with everybody… I try to be as human and workable as possible.”

In other action, council approved legislation assuring the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District that if or when the city becomes a member of the district, it will not withdraw for 10 years.

As previously reported, the city and fire district are on the verge of signing an agreement in which the city continues utilizing Paint Creek’s services on a contract basis for the next three years and becomes a voting member of the district at the end of the term.

The contract also includes terms for the sale of Hillsboro’s North East Street fire house to the district.

Councilwoman Wendy Culbreath said council has yet to receive more detailed reports from the city auditor, which were requested in a motion from council several months ago.

As previously reported, council in December approved a motion compelling the city treasurer to provide detailed monthly finance reports to council, although some council members said the city auditor would be charged with the task since the auditor’s office completes many of the treasurer’s statutory duties.

That motion carried 4-3 with Culbreath, Ann Morris, Claudia Klein and Mary Stanforth in favor and Justin Harsha, Adam Wilkin and Brandon Leeth against.

Harsha, who is Finance Committee chairman and council president pro tempore, said he would meet with Auditor Gary Lewis, who was not in attendance.

Council also entered executive session to discuss economic development. No action was taken afterward.

Also Monday:

• Council heard a second reading on an ordinance adding a $3 base fee to residents’ water bills.

• Mayor Drew Hastings said in his report that there is funding available for storm sewer systems from the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission. Hastings also welcomed Lauren Walker as the newest employee in the City Building and said Kim Abbott, a former economic development coordinator, has passed away and “will be missed by a lot of people.”

• The Street and Safety Committee, chaired by Adam Wilkin, will begin the lengthy process of reviewing and updating the city’s code of ordinances.

• Council accepted the resignation of Council President Lee Koogler, who said in a letter to council that he has decided to pay closer attention to his health and family.

• Community Enhancement Committee Chairwoman Claudia Klein said private parties will fund flowers for the uptown area, but the committee is identifying a way to get the flowers watered during the summer months.

• Council also approved legislation to apply for funding for its aging storm sewer system.

Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570.

Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie is shown at city council’s March meeting.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2019/03/web1_f-mel-mckenzie-march.jpgHillsboro Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie is shown at city council’s March meeting. David Wright | The Times-Gazette
Citizens lodge complaints against enforcement director

By David Wright

[email protected]