Correspondence received October 3, 2007 from "Mr. J" after meeting him at the County Fair.
Sat 01/19-Sun 20/08:
I would like to show my support for Mr. Varnau for Sheriff in 08....
Thanks for stopping by last evening. I hope that you receive enough signatures to get on the Ballot. Brown County needs someone like you with your background to effectively combat crime in this county....You have my vote!
|Sun 02/24-Tue 26/08:
8:08 PM, "Dennis J. Varnau" wrote:
Tue 2/26/2008 4:03 PM:
Hello Mr. Varnau -
Tue 2/26/2008 5:03 PM:
Tue 2/26/2008 7:28 PM:
I understand, Steve. If I'm in, and for as long
as you are in your position, the press will be kept up to date as much
as legally possible at the time.
The Brown County Press - Page 6, Sunday, March 2, 2008, bottom right corner of page:
Letter to Sen Tom Niehaus concerning an amendment to H.B. 75 in the 125th Ohio General Assembly - Sen Niehaus-03-11-08
Conversation with Sen Niehaus on 03/19/08; Sen Niehaus calling to answer questions posed in my 03/11/08 letter to him. He said he believed it was the hierarchy of the Brown County Republican Party that requested help from him to get this legislation going. He said this amendment was not enacted for Mr. Wenninger or any one person in particular but for anyone who needed it. I asked who else needed it besides our own sheriff, and he said he did not know. That answer prompted me to research all the candidates in the 2004 election to see how many would benefit from his legislation. He said it was for future individuals who might need it in upcoming elections. Will not answer questions in writing. Niehaus.wma
03/14/08 Research, as follow-up to Sen Niehaus conversation, on the candidates in the contested sheriffs' elections out of the 88 counties in Ohio to see how many candidates for sheriff needed Sen Niehaus' amendment to qualify under ORC 311.01(B)(9)(b) as a qualified sheriff candidate in the 2004 General Election - Election 2004.doc
Letter from Sen Niehaus 03/24/08 - Sen Niehaus-03-24-08.jpg Pay close attention to what Sen Niehaus delineates in his letter, regarding the change in schooling requirements. He says, "I do want to reiterate that the portion of the statute that you reference addressed the educational qualifications for county sheriffs, making a certificate of registration from the state board of career colleges and schools equivalent to completing two years of post-secondary education at a college or university ." Go to: http://www.scr.ohio.gov/schools/Query.asp [Select "All Schools" on School drop-down list, hit "Select," then use "More" button to view next pages] for a complete list of schools whose diplomas now equate to two-year post secondary education in Ohio board of regent approved schools.
The type of diplomas included under this amendment change include, for example: Bar Tending/Mixology diploma; Master Dog Grooming diploma; Massage Therapy diploma [two-year course]; Interior Design diploma; or, Floral Design diploma, Hypnotherapist diploma, etc., and, if I am reading his letter correctly, these diplomas, according to Sen Niehaus, are now equivalent to "completing two years of post-secondary education at a college or university." Now, a person with a Master Dog Grooming diploma, holding a valid OPOTA certificate, and employed full-time for one day, a week, or a month, qualifies as an eligible candidate for sheriff after Sen Niehaus' amendment to H.B. 75 became law when signed by Governor Taft on December 9, 2003. I may have the wrong perspective on this, but I think an increase in educational qualifications would have been more appropriate than a decrease. Then again, giving it a little reflection and thought, who knows, maybe if we had a sheriff with a master dog grooming diploma background, there probably would be at least one more dog walking the face of the earth at this time in Brown County.
What was the real reason for changing the sheriff candidate educational requirements anyway?
According to a retired State Trooper, when sheriff candidate requirements were first legislated, back around 1984, it was called the "Anti-State Trooper Bill" by OSHP. Why? Back then there were quite a few ex-State Troopers who were sitting sheriffs. They were not "grandfathered" in under the new statutory requirements. They had to upgrade their educational credentials to become eligible as a candidate in their next election cycle. Most of them supposedly complied with the new requirements by upgrading their educational background, and one supposedly just retired. So, why would legislation be enacted to lower the educational requirements when it looks like only one individual candidate in 2004 appears to have been the target beneficiary of such legislation? Why? Is this the way legislative power and/or authority is to be exercised? How much money was saved by our county as a result of tacking this amendment onto the Korean War Veterans high school diploma bill? You figure it out. I don't think the real reason why has yet been stated by anyone who may know.
Wed 03/12/08 8:00 PM:
Billboard up on Rt. 68 and Delhi-Arnheim Road
Mon 04/15/08 00:00 AM: HERE ARE QUESTIONS PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO ASK IN WRITING BUT ASK IN CONVERSATIONQuestions: Who is supposed to do something about this? Can something be done about it? When will something be done about this?
Answer: Don't ever be afraid to ask questions. If you send me a question, I'll print your first name only unless you state that you don't care if your whole name is printed. There are a lot of people who say they are afraid of retaliation, if they ask questions openly. It reminds me of those old Clint Eastwood westerns where the whole town population cowers behind closed doors, peeking through their curtains and windows, while the criminals control their streets, homes, and women, at will. If those who want an orderly, law-abiding community to live in don't get involved, then they won't have a safe society within which their families can grow and prosper. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, including our State. If you don't get involved because you are not affected now, or just don't care, sooner or later you will be affected, but then it may be too late to correct things all by yourself. This happened a couple of times while working at the prosecutor's office. Someone did not want to get involved by writing their statement, which would have helped a victim in the case against the assailant. It was only a matter of time before that someone too became a victim of crime, and they wanted everyone to get involved and give statements for their case. Too bad. Team work usually gets the job done easier, quicker, and better.
My protest to the Board of Elections [BOE] is solely based upon my opinion of what I think the law dictates, according to the facts as stated. It is an opinion that could be wrong, but I would not have submitted it if I didn't think there was some concrete legal substance to it. The facts depicted are those I could ascertain from historical and current documentation. To the best of my knowledge, I believe the facts are accurate. There could be some missing, like those contained within the sealed court case. The law as delineated in the brief is only one side of an argument presented from my perspective of the facts. There will be an opposing argument, and some forum or authority will eventually have to decide which of the two arguments is correct.
I'm at a disadvantage being a non-partisan independent candidate. I have no party power or support to back me up. As you can see from the cover letter to the BOE, I cannot challenge my opponent's qualifications because he is a Republican, but he, as a qualified elector in the county, is allowed to challenge my qualifications all the way up to September 2, 2008. [I've thoroughly checked my qualifications, and I am sure they are sound.]
I am not sure who can, or is supposed to, do anything about this situation, if, in fact, there is legitimacy to my protest. Assume that my protest has a solid legal foundation to it, that it is correct in its analysis, what would that mean?
First, go back to the sealed trial record. When a person is accused of committing a crime, he is represented by one or more attorneys at trial. These attorneys have to be knowledgeable about the facts and law involved in the whole case, including that surrounding all the issues that might come up before, during, and after trial. Supposedly, according to individuals who attended the trial, the trial court judge stated that even though the defendant was acquitted - found not quilty - of intentionally falsifying the documentation he submitted to the BOE, he still was not qualified as a candidate for sheriff. If, in fact, the judge made this statement in open court, in the record now sealed, then the defendant and his attorneys had to hear what the judge said. They were put on notice that the defendant was not eligible to be a candidate or hold the office, and that he "shall" not be "elected or appointed to the office of sheriff, unless [he] meets all of the following requirements:" including those listed in ORC 311.01(B)(9)(a) & (b).
So, how did the defendant remain in office when the mandatory statutory language was clear on its face? Did someone have a duty to do something at that time to remove the defendant from the office? Did the judge, or the attorneys, or the defendant, have a duty to do something at that time? The criminal charges were dismissed upon the verdict of not quilty, but the mandatory statutory legal requirements were still there to be satisfied, as the defendant was not qualified for the office. As officers of the court, did the attorneys have any duty to make sure their client took steps to obey the election laws and step down? Whose duty was it at that time to uphold the law? The defendant surely took an oath to defend the laws of our State, was it his duty at that time to uphold the law and step down? If you are not qualified, you're not qualified. Why would you want to stay in a position wherein you are not qualified? You'd probably only mess things up in the end, making it bad for yourself and others, not really knowing what you are doing, being in-over-your-head, etc.
What about those individuals who may have been in the courtroom that also heard the judge say the defendant was not qualified to hold office? That is, those individuals who were on notice that he was not qualified, that nevertheless, may have taken steps to circumvent the fact that he was not qualified, like, for instance, possibly having legislation enacted to try and rectify the defendant's lack of educational requirements prior to the 2004 election, before the legal reality became exposed to the general public. Could such activity by those individuals be classified as some kind of an organized effort or corrupt activity, designed to deliberately circumvent the law, thereby aiding or supporting a condition that led to huge monetary losses encountered by the county in unnecessary litigation settlements, etc.? Could those individuals be held financially liable for the losses realized by the county? The general public should not have to dump their hard earned tax money into the county's coffers just to have it unnecessarily spent on things that should never have happened. The laws, government agencies, and elected officials, are there to support and enhance the overall well-being of the county, not bleed it down for individual purposes that don't benefit the whole community.
In any event, the defendant had to hear the words the judge spoke in court, if the judge did speak them, that the defendant was not qualified to occupy the office of sheriff. Furthermore, the judge supposedly stated in court that the defendant was not to be saluted, or given any acknowledgement or recognition of being sheriff by deputies. When one deputy followed the judge's order, that deputy was put into a difficult situation, all because the law was not followed and enforced for one reason or another at that time by whoever's duty it was to take steps to see that it was enforced.
If the defendant knew, from the judge's statement that he was not qualified to occupy the position, yet remained in the position anyway, ignoring the judge's holding, how does that play out? Knowing that, how could the defendant, from that point onward, ever state on any official document that he was qualified, or appoint himself to a position he had to know he was not qualified to occupy? Would any official documents be falsified by the defendant, if he stated that he was qualified? Is anything done by the defendant after knowing that he was not qualified to hold the position, legally binding? Does the defendant incur any personal legal liability as a civilian because he knew that he was not qualified to occupy the office? Did his attorneys discuss this fact with him after the court trial, and inform him that he was not legally the sheriff at that time? There are a myriad of questions involved in this situation, as this set of facts has never happened before in Ohio, as far as I have been able to determine. It is a unique case in Ohio.
So, now, if my opponent is not legally qualified at this time, for one reason or another, does that raise questions of potential legal liability imposed upon those whose duty it is to remove him from office, if they don't take steps to remove him, that is, assuming he is not legally qualified at this time? In light of the protest I filed, wouldn't you think that my opponent would contact the Ohio Police Officers' Training Commission [OPOTC] to check and make sure that his police certificate is current, in light of the allegations made in my protest? If he did such, he would have to tell the truth about what the judge stated in court back in 2003, if asked whether he was told he was not qualified at that time, or else he would be committing a first-degree misdemeanor, lying to a government official, falsification concerning his government issued certificate.
Whatever develops in the coming days, I surely don't want to hear again, as a general excuse, "Well, that's Brown County!" There is no difference, under the law, between this county or any of the other 87 counties in Ohio. At least there's not supposed to be! If the mandatory statutory Ohio election laws are strictly complied with, then my opponent never legally assumed the office on January 1, 2001, was not appointed to the Brown County Sheriff's Department as a peace officer, and a break in service on his OPOTA certificate commenced that date. Four years later, his certificate would have totally lapsed, requiring him to re-take the complete police academy course all over again to obtain a new certificate. If the mandatory statutory language of the election laws are not strictly conformed to, then case law dictates that my opponent vacated the office upon assuming it, January 1, 2001, by failing to correct his educational deficiency disqualification immediately upon assumption of the office, thereby forfeiting the position, again rendering him in the exact same status, not appointed to the Sheriff's Department as a peace officer, with the same identical break in service, starting the same date. The only argument in his favor would be that his certificate break in service did not start until his Ripley PD appointment was terminated on November 11, 2001, in which case his OPOTA certificate would have totally expired November 11, 2005, with the same end result, only on a later date. In my opinion, if the election laws are applied according to the way they actually read in print, then he could very well be the longest sitting sheriff in Ohio that never was, sheriff.
This all reminds me of the main question posed during the Nixon Era - WHAT did he, she, or they, know, and WHEN did he, she, or they, know it???
Tue 04/15/08 03:32 PM:
Question: why can't a lawyer sue dwayne [sic] for money lost because he is not qualied [sic] for the position, he is holding? why can't we inpeach [sic] him like we can the president? Since he does not have the proper means to be the sheriff what does that do to the people he has arrested for breaking the law? I would think those cases would have to be thrown out due to improper arrest, I just do not see how they would hold up in court. can you help me understand all this? Teri
Answer: Thanks for the question, Teri. I don't have all the answers to every question, but I will try to answer you the best I can from my perspective and knowledge base of the facts, as I know them to exist as a qualified candidate for sheriff in the November 2008 election. If you are looking for legal advice because you may have a claim or issue against Mr. Wenninger, you should contact and consult with an attorney. I can only answer here from my perspective as a candidate who has filed a protest of my opponent's qualifications to be a candidate. I already have my own counsel lined up to represent my interests at any hearings scheduled.
The lawyers who represented Mr. Wenninger had a duty to represent him to the fullest extent in the criminal trial. I believe they probably also had a duty to counsel him about what the judge supposedly said on the record in the court after Mr. Wenninger was found not quilty of the criminal charges. If the judge did say that Mr. Wenninger was not qualified to be sheriff, then I think that counsel probably had a duty to explain to Mr. Wenninger what all that entailed as far as potential legal ramifications of him staying in office, etc. Only they know between themselves what, if anything, was discussed concerning that subject matter.
If you are asking whether a lawyer could file suit for the county against Mr. Wenninger for damages incurred because of his actions, that is something the county would probably look at in the future, only after all the present issues contained in the protest are decided, and if he is found to be not qualified. Some forum or authority has to decide what the law is, and what the outcome has to be to uphold the law. The laws are enacted by the legislators who are elected by the people. The laws are there to protect society as a whole, keeping things in order so we do not drift into chaos and anarchy.
Impeaching or recalling Mr. Wenninger: I'd have to look up the law and procedure for that type of action. The election laws are very specific on the qualifications required of a sheriff candidate, to the point where a recall action should not be necessary. The law clearly says a person is not eligible to be a candidate, and SHALL not be elected or appointed if he/she does not satisfy ALL the following requirements, of which ORC 311.01(B)(9)(b) is the focus of attention, because the diploma he possesses was not granted from an Ohio board of regents approved school, and it was less than a two-year post-graduate program. This is the section of the law on sheriff candidate educational qualification requirements that then Representative Niehaus worked to amend, prior to the 2004 election, to include the type of diplomas that Mr. Wenninger possesses, making them equivalent to two-year post graduate degrees in Ohio board of regent approved schools. But, as Senator Niehaus pointed out to me, this amendment was not made specifically for Mr. Wenninger, but for anyone who might need it in the future. Senator Niehaus said legislation cannot be made for just one person's benefit. See Election 2004.doc
As far as official actions taken by an unqualified office holder, this is a big Catch-22 type situation. If something is wrong, you can't leave it keep on going forever without taking steps to correct the matter. Situations like this expose deficiencies in the established protocol of the election system. I recall reading somewhere that this is what did happen in New York. Many judges were sitting on the bench, deciding cases, and they were not legally in office because they had failed to take their oath of office within 60 days of assuming their seats. Two days after not swearing out their oaths, their seats were vacated. Every one of these cases decided by all these judges sitting in vacated seats could be challenged, but realistically, there was no way to review every case, so all the cases decided by the unqualified judges stood, and were not reviewed, unless there was prejudice involved. The judges had to qualify by taking their respective oaths to become legal office holders.
Wed 04/16/08 09:12 PM:
Question: DENNIS IN READING YOUR WEBSITE, I HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION/COMMENT. IS THIS "WENNINGERGATE"? Don
Answer: Thanks for your question/comment, Don. You're disclosing your age group with that question! What did he know, and when did he know it? That's the real question here too. It could be answered by having Mr. Wenninger prove he is qualified by him unsealing that case file from his trial. Why would you seal a case file anyway if you were exonerated of alleged wrongdoing??? It is standing proof that there was no criminal activity of the accused.
In any event, this is a very important question. I covered this above a little already. Go back to the courtroom, the jury returns a verdict of not guilty, then supposedly the judge makes the statement that even though the defendant was found not guilty of intentional falsification, he is still not qualified to hold the office because he was not a qualified candidate in the first place. Now, you have to know that his attorneys had to hear what the judge said in the court room. And, I'd hope that Mr. Wenninger was paying close attention too at that time, and he too had to know that he was not qualified for the position at that time in light of what the judge said, assuming that the judge did say it. That can once and for all be satisfied by an AG investigator assigned to look into this matter, having a need to get the case unsealed to find out what the court transcript does say, get a court order to have the case unsealed.
So, if Mr. Wenninger knew at that time he was not qualified to continue on as the sheriff, and he chose to do so anyway, then I would take that as an intentional choice to assume whatever legal liability might derive from his deliberate choice. His attorneys most likely discussed the substance of what was decided in court, or at least they probably should have covered it with their client. You never know, it could come down to the point where Mr. Wenninger may claim that his counsel never did inform him of any legal pitfalls involved if he chose to remain in office. Something like that going on between a former client and his counsel could get real interesting. But you can be sure that his attorneys probably have documentation covering any claim like that against them, like a letter to their client about it, or a letter indicating that they did counsel him on it.
When a ship is sinking all the rats try to abandon it as quickly as possible. You used to play "pin the tail on the donkey" probably too, huh, Don?
Thu 04/17/08 09:45 AM:
Question: I am wondering if the startling information on your web site is of interest to the media? I would think that exposing the "sitting sheriff" as not legal would make big news both air time and print wise, wouldn't this be a HOT topic?
Answer: Thank you for your question, Leah. If my analysis is correct - I have no reason to believe it is not at this time - then eventually it will be a significant news item, I think for several reasons. My research did not uncover anything like this ever happening before in Ohio.
So how could something like this happen with no one apparently having the power and authority to do anything about it for so long? This is a very serious question, because the law seems to be pretty clear with respect to election statutes, and absolutely precise on the qualifications required of sheriff candidates. At least it definitely exposes a defect in the established protocol used to filter qualified candidates for election. It's a question I hear over and over again the more people become aware of my protest filing. Right now there is probably some government entity that does have the authority and power to immediately take corrective action. The question is, will such entity take corrective action once it becomes aware and thoroughly familiar with the facts and law involved? Time will tell. The media will eventually be there to document the action or inaction. The media is the best mechanism for enhancing accountability, and that is where politics usually enters the mix. Politics, however, should never eclipse the law. Please, feel free to contact anyone you know in the media to get the coverage going.
If you think about this for a minute or two, what kind of a message does it send when nothing is done by anyone with the responsibility to act? How does it look to all those past and present sheriffs and candidates for sheriff, who worked to satisfy the mandatory requirements so they would be eligible candidates to run for the office, if the facts as stated in my protest are true? It would be a real blow to them now, if such requirements turned out to be essentially insignificant and non-mandatory. It would be like a "slap in the face," so to speak. What about all those ex-State Troopers who were sitting sheriffs when the requirements were first enacted, those ex-State Trooper sheriffs that had to take OPOTA training so they were eligible to remain in the seats they held for one or more terms already? They were not grandfathered in on educational requirements. They didn't have the luxury of an amendment tacked onto an Ohio House bill that would benefit them. They had to exert personal effort, and devote the time necessary to acquire the mandatory training to become eligible to run in the next election after the law was changed.
It has always been my view that people want to see the laws enacted by their representatives equally enforced across the whole social spectrum of our society. It should not matter, who you are, what you are, how much you have, etc., when it comes to enforcing the laws of our land equally. When that is done, the public sees the system working properly, and they have more confidence in it, watching things get done as prescribed by law.
Tue 04/22/08 10:02 AM:
Question: I am a registered Republican and am concerned about what my party and elected representative, Senator Niehaus, is doing in regards to the Sheriff contest in Brown County. Apparently, the sitting Sheriff Wenninger has never been legally qualified. Can you post further information on your website pertaining to your discussions with Senator Niehaus? Glenn
Answer: Thanks for the question, Glenn. I too am concerned about what our elected representatives do once they are in office. I see their job as looking after the well-being of our community. I started looking into this matter, after hearing all the stories surrounding it. I wanted to know first-hand what had happened since my wife and I were not here when it all took place. I can post further information - the conversation itself. You can listen to the conversation by clicking on this hyperlink: Niehaus.wma I'll also put the hyperlink above so it is more accessible to those downloading the original documentation generated with Sen Niehaus.
Personally I'd be quite concerned about who is representing me if I belonged to any party, Democrat, Republican, or Independent. You'd think that a party would want to present the most qualified candidate possible to run for office, not just the opposite. It's the welfare of our county that should come first, not party politics, in my opinion, from my perspective.
Not until the good, honest, concerned, hard working people of this county get fed up with politics as usual, will things change. Everyone in elected office should be working for the best interest and welfare of ALL citizens in this county. That's why it is called "serving" the people. It is going to take everyone in every party getting involved and voicing their opinion openly, without fear of retaliation, to get things going in the right direction. This is not a Democrat, Republican, or Independent matter. This transcends party politics. Everyone who wants a better community to live in, and bring up their families, should be concerned about what is going on within their local government because it will affect them too sooner or later, one way or another.
Tue 04/22/08 6:35 PM:
Question: We listened to the Niehaus discussion. Everyone in the county needs to hear this! Maybe we could get Niehaus to attend a town hall meeting to address citizen questions. We could invite the whole county. Maybe a news station. This should be an outrage to any intelligent person.
We have to get everyone in the county talking about your campaign to get Wenninger out.
Can it be transcribed into a written document and passed around.
I'm still reading the written documents, but it appears anyone with an IQ above 10 could figure out Wenninger was not qualified and is not qualified!
Pretty wild. I thought Senator Niehaus stood for higher standards. We have to get this high visibility.
Thanks Dennis for standing up for what's right and honest.
Answer: Thanks again for your e-mail. Word of mouth is probably the best remedy. All of the documentation is available for anyone who has an Internet connection. If everyone who cares about what is going on gets involved in one way or another, something will have to happen. Who will act? I haven't the slightest clue! I'm addressing the facts as I perceive them. I'm in a holding pattern, waiting for response to my April 11th protest filing with the Board of Elections.
Tue 04/22/08 9:35 PM:
Question: A friend of mine was an officer for a Sheriff's department a few years back and he allowed his OPOTA certificate to expire. He wishes he had not let it expire, and is now wondering if his certificate may also still be recoverable in light of Dwayne Wenninger's apparently being good after a seven year break in service? Don
Answer: Thanks for the harbinger, Don. If Mr. Wenninger, in fact, lacked the supervisory and educational requirements to satisfy the mandatory statutory language in ORC 311.01(B)(9)(a) & (b), he was ineligible to be a candidate and could not be elected or appointed to sheriff, by law, on January 1, 2001. According to OPOTC, if all the facts as outlined are true and accurate, then Mr. Wenninger had a break in service start that same date, which translates to a seven year, three month, and 21 day, break in service yesterday. And since he was still sitting and acting as a legitimate sheriff yesterday, it would appear that any other officer with a break in service less than Mr. Wenninger's could possibly have a legitimate claim concerning his own lapsed certificate. Mr. Wenninger's SF400s [.pdf]
The best thing for your friend to do is consult with an attorney, but I would call OPOTC first to find out if one can have a break in service longer than four years and still have a redeemable certificate without going through the academy all over again. The administrative law is pretty clear on this - Ohio Administrative Code: 109:2-1-12 Certification before service and re-entry requirements. Certificates completely expire after a four-year break in service. After a four-year break in service, one would have to complete the whole OPOTC police academy all over again to obtain a valid certificate.
This is a good example of what can happen if one individual is apparently allowed to circumvent the law for one reason or another whereas another person is denied. Things get messy and tangled up in constitutional questions of equal protection, etc.
The election laws are mandatory and require strict compliance. If one is not qualified to be an eligible candidate for sheriff, he/she SHALL NOT be elected or appointed to the office. Furthermore, if he/she is elected, bypassing the mandatory statutory language one way or another, then upon assumption of the office, the elected individual has to immediately correct his/her disqualification or he/she forfeits the office. If one is not legally in the office, then he/she cannot appoint himself/herself to a position within that office. So, with no legal appointment, the SF400afm is defective, a break in service starts on the date the office was assumed by the ineligible candidate.
The longer an illegal situation is allowed to exist, the more entangled things get. Elected officials have been entrusted with upholding the laws of our State. It is their duty to act, if something is amiss, once they have determined all the facts and law surrounding an issue. If they don't act, they too become culpable and legally liable as a result of their inaction. This is how our system of checks and balances is supposed to work in real life, but when you throw politics into the mix, only God knows what will come out of that corrupting concoction.
Thu 04/24/08 11:35 AM:
Question: As a registered Republican, I am concerned about Senator Niehaus. During your discussion with him about Sheriff Wenninger not being legally Sheriff, he apparently had a lawyer sitting with him and being very careful about what he had to say. Who is paying for that lawyer? Why does he need one?
Most of us common people have to speak the truth on our own. We either can't afford a lawyer or don't feel the need for one because we are speaking the truth. He also turned down the opportunity to put his answers in writing. What is his fear of this? Glenn
Answer: Again, thanks for writing and your interest in what is going on in our county. As far as why Sen Niehaus wanted a lawyer to sit in on his conference call to a constituent, I haven't the slightest clue, unless he may have potentially violated some House rule, or something along those lines. If he was a Senate attorney, I assume he is being paid by our tax dollars. I don't know why he needed his aide and the Senate attorney to answer my questions. Somebody probably should be asking Sen Niehaus your questions. If the media ever picks up this story, maybe they can find the answers for all of us. It appears that State government is now stymied with allegations of sexual misconduct taking place within the AG's Offices.
If these allegations end up as factual stories, you have to wonder about anyone who has these proclivities wanting to serve the public trust. Why can't they just take a sabbatical from their uncontrollable conduct, at least for the four years they chose to serve the public, after running for office and winning. There should probably be a mandatory pants zipper for all government male officials and officers, in pants worn during working hours, that only goes down when the bladder is full, and goes up five seconds after the bladder is empty, otherwise it will not open, You'd probably also have to mandate a belly button ring piercing so the pants belt buckle could be padlocked into position too, during working hours. I say, go find another job if you can't be a reliable, trustworthy public servant for the years you chose to obligate yourself when running for office.
The only reason I investigated this was because I had always heard people talking about it ever since we moved here, and I wanted to know first-hand what actually did happen, and what the actual status of my opponent is at this time. I contend that Mr. Wenninger is not now an eligible candidate for sheriff in the 2008 election.
Sat 04/26/08 6:33 PM:
I am currently a police officer for the Village of New Richmond. I
have been browsing your sight [sic] and like what I see. I would like to
know if you have bumper stickers or signs I can put up to help support
Things are not going to get any easier the way things are going, with
prices rising and dollar dropping in value, but hang in there
nevertheless, our communities are going to need strong individuals with
deep-seated honest character that doesn't disappear when there's no one
around except you on the scene.
Sat 04/26/08 9:35 PM:
Question: If Dinger is a civilian right now, how does that relate to someone who is a subordinate, with respect to following orders, etc., particularly if, well, what if . . .? [Paraphrased by me to protect the identity of the questioner]
Answer: Thanks for the question. If you have a dilemma, the best thing to do is check it out with the prosecutor, in confidence, or BCI, ASAP, or consult your own attorney. Of course, if anyone ever asks you to do something you absolutely know to be illegal, or something suspect under color of law, I'd not take part at all, and make contact immediately with the next highest law enforcement officer not connected to the entities involved in the wrongdoing. Even if you don't take part, remember that knowledge of wrongdoing, as an officer, can come back to haunt you at a later time, more often than not. It's best to maintain your integrity in a manner similar to the expectations mandatory under the military academy honor codes.
Sooner or later people talk. It's inevitable. There is no honor among criminals. It is only a matter of time before one or more turn on each other to protect their own hide. It is not worth covering for any scumbag. They'd burn you in an instant, if necessary, when pinning the tail on you benefits them most.
This is an example of the kind of problems that arise when explicit, mandatory laws are not enforced for one reason or another. Everything eventually falls apart, often putting others in danger of becoming complicit, or legally liable for damages along with the main culprit. CYA is always the best approach in questionable situations - make a record or report with someone of authority, you can trust, in the justice system. Always keep a backup copy of important information in two or more different geographic locations, in case you lose one copy to an act of God, or some nefarious conduct, so you can replace it readily, when necessary.
Sun 4/27/2008 7:01 AM
Comment: Mr.Varnau, I hope you can continue your fight against the "good ole boy" system in our county. If everyone would just take the time to read all the facts, and listen to the call between you and Sen.Niehaus. They could see for themselves how things work here. I believe a police officer is to be, Respected, not feared or mocked. It's time for new leadership and direction, I hope you are that person. All of Brown Co. would benefit from your election to office. Stephen
Answer: Thanks again for your input, Stephen. The only way things change is for the general population, that is fed up with something, to get involved. Once their ire rises to the level where they start to get vocal and take action, like writing letters to the editors, getting the media to investigate what is going on, etc., ONLY then will things ever have a chance of changing. One person cannot effect change all by himself/herself. It has to be a team effort across the board of all those who are fed up and won't take it anymore.
You probably hit the "nail on the head," when you said, :"If everyone would just take the time to read all the facts, and listen . . ." I personally think this is one of the major reasons why people are not concerned, because they don't realize what is going on, for they have not taken the time to find out, in most cases, because they are too busy trying to make ends meet in their daily life. But there is probably no excuse for being ignorant of what is going on, because sooner or later the "chickens come home to roost," and it is usually on the doorstep of those who don't get involved, and then it is they who are wanting everyone else to get involved to solve "their" present problem. People don't have to get in the streets, all they need to do is take a few minutes and make their voice heard in a phone call to their political representative on the local and/or State level, or write a short note to the newspaper editor. It really is pretty simple when you think about it. It's the overall complacency, the dearth of letters to the editor and phone calls not made to public officials that indicates to them everything must be OKAY. So, nothing changes.
What I agree with you most, is that a police officer is to be respected. Respect, however, is earned, not automatic just because one is wearing a uniform with a badge. If the character, professionalism, and dedication, of the individual wearing the uniform and badge prompts contempt, then there is a problem somewhere in the mix that needs attention. Officers are there to keep the peace, to serve, and to quash criminal activity that disturbs or upsets that peace. Law enforcement knows who the bad guys and gals are in society. They have a way of coming back through the system time and again. Officers should be able to take pride in the job they are doing, and the whole county community should have reason to be proud and respect their officers, being top-notch professionals, with the best reputation in the State, as compared to all other counties. After all, each officer individually represents each and every county citizen collectively, when they act to keep that peace as legislated by our representatives in the legislature. These realities are goals to be strived for so the general public too becomes involved as a willing partner along with the officers in their continuing daily effort to keep peace in our whole community. This might sound idealistic to some, but nevertheless, this concept of policing is absolutely necessary for our society to work, live, and prosper, comfortably in our county.
Mon 4/28/2008 1:35 PM:
want to know where is the Republican party's integrity? I have been a
Republican all my life. I have worked for the party in 3 presidential
elections. I have put very much time in doing my part to try to work to
make this a better place to live.
When I first started to vote as a kid, I registered Democrat because my mother was a precinct executive in the Democrat Party. Then sometime during the Vietnam time frame, I registered Republican, or at least voted that ticket. After doing three WestPacs off the coast of Haiphong from 1969 to January 3, 1973 [cease fire day, and we left the line for home], I realized that there was no difference between the parties as far as international politics was concerned. Now it seems the only difference between the parties is if you want sexcapades or not. It makes no difference whether a Democrat or Republican gets into office these days. Both candidates are controlled by the same behind-the-scenes handlers who have all the power and money. We collectively have no voice left in government. The media picks the candidates we have to accept while holding our nose. Our country is not controlled by the people, but by powerful individuals in high places, who have bought off our elected representatives in one way or another, and own or control most media outlets. There is no "check and balance" function by the press anymore, which is what the 1st Amendment is all about in the Bill of Rights. Where are the "Washington Posts" of today when you need them???
That's why it is so important to check any candidate out, including me, as much as possible, particularly here at the local level. Locally you can contact and talk to these candidates, and get a direct feel for who they are, and what they are all about. You can ask people who know them, worked with them, and live near them, what they are like. Public service is just that. It is serving the community, not engorging yourself at the expense of the taxpayers. It's more like being in the military - serving, not taking.
This brings to mind an incident that occurred outside the JVS a few months back. A young lady walked by me and said she knew who I was, and that I blew her off when I worked as an investigator in the prosecutor's office. Well, I could not remember blowing anyone off while working there, because I too over the years have had to interface with public servants who would not give me the time of day. I tried to avoid that kind of conduct with a passion. I asked my fellow investigator to listen to that particular phone call to see whether I was out-of-line or not. After listening to it, Kristy said she would have told the person the exact same thing as I, and that I did not blow her off at all. What probably happened is that the attorney and/or case worker made her think that I was handing her a line of poppycock, after they probably sent her to our office to get rid of her. We always had dozens of individuals sent to our office, in what looked to us like a "dumping" technique used by many entities just to get rid of someone, or get them off their backs.
I agree with you, that in this instance, it surely does appear that the Republican Party hierarchy was not too concerned with the mandatory published standards in the Ohio Revised Code for sheriff qualifications, or our county would not be in the position and condition it finds itself at this time. It's just my opinion, but I personally think that the Republican Party and certain complicit individuals should be held financially liable for the monetary losses experienced by our county in this matter. I'm not sure of the exact amount, but I have heard that $600,000 has already been paid out by the county insurer, CORSA, in settlements because of lawsuits involving the Sheriff's Department. And there are still other active lawsuits in progress, with more new ones to be filed in the coming days or months.
It is also my opinion, that if Mr. Wenninger was paying attention, during the trial, when the judge stated that the State had made its case with respect to his ineligibility, and Mr. Wenninger, nevertheless, still chose to continue on in the office, acting as sheriff, knowing that he was not qualified to be there, that all wages paid to him from that date to the present should be reimbursed to the county, after his removal from office by whomever has the responsibility to uphold the law and remove him. This is a case of first instance in Ohio, as far as I can tell. So the entities and protocol to be followed to rectify the existing situation is a complete mystery to me at this time. It seems like no one in government is responsible for "taking the bull by the horns" to get the job done. They've all been given notice of my protest filing, so there will be no excuse for a lack of action on behalf of whoever is responsible for taking corrective action. It's already been 17 days and counting since I filed my protest with the Brown County Board of Elections.
It is settled law in Ohio. Election laws are mandatory and require strict compliance. The welfare of the county should automatically flow from the law, not corrupt party politics, in my opinion.
Mon 4/28/2008 2:00 PM:
Question: I am a retired widow with a small farm here in the county. All my children and their wives support you. I am afraid to support you openly. My son got me a bumper sticker for my car and truck. I have not put them on because I fear harassment from the Sheriff's Dept. I also have other rental property that I fear putting up your signs. I just want you to know you have my support and I tell everyone I feel I can trust about you. I am doing what I can but am afraid of doing too much. I just hope the truth wins. Mrs. J.
Answer: Thank you for the mail, Mrs. J. I'm sorry that you feel intimidated by the Sheriff's Department at this time. That is not the type of perception that should be inferred by individuals from any peace officer in our county, as far as I am concerned! If law enforcement is being used to intimidate people for political purposes, that is totally unacceptable! Law enforcement public servants are there to serve and protect, not intimidate and coerce law abiding citizens. Law enforcement -peace keeping - should be completely apolitical.
Don't worry about putting any signs out in support of my candidacy, There are plenty of other people doing that already. I surely would not want your person or property to be damaged in any way because of me, or my campaign. Really now. When you think about it, what really matters in all this. I'd venture to say that in another 100 years, all of this is not going to matter to either you, me, or any intimidators. And in another 600,000 years, anything you can now see, hear, touch, or smell, will be nothing more than part of a molten mass of matter composed of everything that was on the Sun, Mercury, Venus, and Earth, along with the Moon. So, what's the real purpose of what we do here and now, as we live from day to day?
Seeking the truth is probably the best thing any person can do throughout life. It has short term effects that can last forever. I am foremost thinking about the Bible, God's Word, when I think about "truth." But that's just my personal spiritual belief working there. I have friends who do not believe the same way, when it comes to that Book, but they too want the same things out of life, here and now, just like you and I. They want to be treated with respect, the same way each of us want to be treated. They want to live peacefully and equally under the law with everyone else around them.
It's the criminal who does not fit into the peaceful society, doesn't want to, usually for selfish reasons, and needs to be dealt with according to his/her illegal actions. The truth will stand on its own two feet. It always wins in the end, even if not in the short-term scenarios we sometimes experience. It's that everlasting principle of "what goes around, comes around." You can count on that holding true one way or another in time.
Oh, by the way, I still have about 2000 bumper stickers. If I could get all of them on vehicles, you could then put yours on too, because there would be too many vehicles to target at any one time. Would that send a message for you, me, and everyone else who wants the same thing out of local government. There's strength in numbers. You'd be out of place not to have one on your back window. Ha!
Wed 4/30/2008 11:00 PM:
Retired widow letter is overwhelming. The fact that any one citizen
would feel like this is seriously disturbing. I am a career law
enforcement officer and I wish to relay to this citizen of my
jurisdiction that I take my oath of office seriously. She and every
other resident have the right to endorse any candidate for any office.
This is not merely my opinion it is a fundamental right under our system
of government. Please do not paint us all with the same brush. The
majority of us take our duties seriously. For a long time I was
embarrassed to be a local law enforcement officer. I have since rethought this position. I am proud of my chosen career.
I feel that the embarrassment belongs to the Sheriff's Office leadership
specifically the office holder, Sheriff Wenninger. In my opinion, he has dropped our
standards through a series of costly errors and irresponsible behavior.
I go to work daily and work my scheduled shift. Our Sheriff works maybe
ten hours a pay period and brags about his alleged statutory requirement
of having to work only eight hours a month. It is time that we the taxpayers take notice and give Mr. Wenninger his walking papers on November
fourth. We can worry about fault and liabilities after the change over.
The priority now, from my viewpoint, is to return professionalism to the Sheriff's Office
and give our community the best law enforcement we can afford. We must
re-earn the trust and confidence of the community. Dennis will you
please comment on the alleged eight-hour statutory requirement Mr.
Wenninger so often refers to. Please relate to the widow on your web
site, that it is my belief her perceptions apply to this office holder and his cronies
whom have turned a once proud agency into a boys' club. Most of us are trapped
in this environment and we also find this intolerable. I hope the
citizens will help us get back our pride in public service.
I would consider such personal conduct as stealing money from the public coffers, if I did not put in an absolute minimum, regular 40-hr work week, at the very least being sheriff. This is an administrative position, a salaried position. Salaried employees normally work more than 40 hours/week. I regularly had 200+ hours of compensatory time in my last hourly job each year that I used for time off when needed, and did not take the money for those extra hours when I left that employ. I loved my job, and considered my donation of earned compensatory time back to the county as just that, my part in helping donate to the county's needs, so at least I could do my little part to make it a better place for all of us to live. I personally believe that government officials who do not earn what they are getting paid to do, are actually committing a theft of public funds in office. That's just my personal opinion on this matter, which obviously, apparently differs from the majority opinion in Brown County.
Thu 5/1/2008 11:21 AM:
To the Editor, The News
Fri 5/2/2008 10:11 AM:
I have been checking out your site the last few weeks. I am amazed all
the illegal things you have uncovered. My only thoughts till I read it
today was why are people not taking this to TV news, like the I-TEAM?
Answer: Thanks for your question, Allan. It seems that the television media is not interested in this story. I personally contacted the I-Team, Hagit Limor, by e-mail. She responded by e-mail that she was tied up with four different stories at this time that are going to be aired this month. She was presently overbooked and could not pick it up. She directed me to the news desk. I sent them an e-mail with a brief summary of the story and did not hear back from them. I also sent it to Channel 5 investigative group and they did not respond. It was the Brown County Press that picked up the story first in their newspaper. Then The News Democrat published a larger portion of the story, but they posed it in a way that made things more confusing for a first-time reader. The best information can be gleaned off this website. It is all there in pristine clarity for anyone to digest at their own pace.
My wife and I live just five doors south of Mr. and Mrs. Wenninger's gated estate. My wife and I aren't the only ones to wonder how Mr. and Mrs. Wenninger and their two children can afford to live their lifestyle. Mr. Wenninger has his concrete business, plus a sheriff's salary, and Mrs. Wenninger has her salary from her government job. I remember Mr. Wenninger telling me several years ago that he would take $500K for his property, but that was before he put up the old Texaco sign and gas pump in front of an old style Texaco gas station building, next to his woodworking shop with all its "top shelf" tools. His monthly mortgage payment is allegedly $4200.00/month, in addition to the recent purchase of a shiny new yellow Corvette you see him driving around Brown County, plus what appears to be a new vehicle in Mrs. Wenninger's side of the garage. It all makes one wonder just how lucrative the concrete pouring business can be at this time, during the present housing construction depression.
Fri 5/2/2008 7:12 PM:
We saw Wenninger doing a concrete job today at the corner of Williams
and Free Soil (Wade Highfield residence).
Answer: Thanks for the comment, Ray. Again, I believe there is an implied, if not actual, full-time employment contract between the citizens of the county and our elected officials. Does anybody really care? Does anyone paying taxes here in our county really care about how their tax money is being spent daily? Whose duty is it to do something about this kind of conduct? When the citizens of this county vote a person into office, what is their recourse if they end up getting a "pig in a poke?" What if the voters of this county get a person in office who is not eligible to be there by law, and whomever's duty it is/was to prevent such a catastrophe failed to take corrective action by doing his/her job? Who is suppose to do WHAT, HOW, and WHEN, while the well-being of our county is being undermined slowly but surely??? Nobody acts, nobody knows who is supposed to act, as the ship of state slowly sinks deeper and deeper into the abyss.
When we have the highest elected law enforcement officials in our State, allegedly acting similar to the recent New York Governor Spitzer, what are we citizens, who want the "rule of law" applied equally across the board, supposed to do? Who are you going to call? Go to ONN - Ohio's Channel using the following link: http://www.10tv.com/live/content/teninvestigates/stories/2008/05/02/story_ag_investigation.html?sid=102
Nothing is going to happen until a majority of individuals who do care, get involved, by making their voices heard, and demanding that things change, according to the "rule of law." "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke) If you are satisfied with the status quo, then don't take the time to do anything yourself. Just let it drift without a rudder like the Bismarck. It sure was peaceful out in the middle of the ocean, thousands of miles from the closest landmass!
Wed 5/7/2008 1:58 PM:
Question: I read with some interest the bulk of material appearing on your website. The content certainly could "dazzle" a person if this wasn't election year. I have no problem with Independents, Democrats, or Republicans running a good "hard fought" race. It makes life more interesting here in the valley. I do wonder about two or three things that came out during my review of the material appearing on your website and material "gleaned" from asking around about "this fellow Varnau."
The following comments and questions came to mind. Please respond and comment.
(1) You worked as an investigator in Brown County. My knowledge of "the system " here in Brown County is that it is pretty much " a good old boy" system. How did you obtain that job? What were the requirements for that job? What was the hiring process? I am assuming ( that is dangerous at times) that your Air Force Intel and attorney background qualified you. Are there Peace Officer Certifications required for that job?
(2) In the Incoming Mail Section of your website there was a letter referring to the term " Wenningergate." (4/16/08). You answer by stating , "It could be answered by having Mr. Wenninger prove he is qualified by him unsealing that case file from his trial." I was not aware that the Sheriff can order court records sealed. Can a sheriff order court records sealed? Please explain the innuendo at the close of your reply.
(3) Mr. Varnau, it does seem that the bulk of the campaign material on your website is aimed at discrediting Mr. Wenninger personally. I would be interested in knowing what exactly would you change in the Brown County Sheriff's Office operations and procedures if you were elected ? What area(s) of law enforcement and or administration have you seen as lacking in Sheriff Wenninger's role of serving Brown County? Please try to be specific.
(4) In the last election, the issue with Sheriff Wenninger's credentials stirred a lot of controversy. This in part was prompted by a publication entitled the "Beacon" and published by Ms. Jan Staubach. It appears that Ms Staubach is present at quite a few of your appearances, including the meetings with the Board of Elections. Is Ms.
Staubach a member of your campaign committee? Is she a supporter or advisory role to your campaign?
(5) Were all involved parties available for the meeting at the Board of Elections 5/5/08? I am unable to view the posting in your "Breaking News" section for 5/5/2008 "Hearing Docs Posted." What viewer is required?
Thank you in advance for your time reading and responding to these questions and comments. May the best candidate win. Jay
Answer: Thanks, Jay, for the questions. If I fail to respond satisfactorily to your questions, please fire back again for more clarification, as Question #3 is actually too open-ended. In my opinion:
1.) My campaign brochure has some information in it that might be helpful. It can be downloaded off the front page. After my wife and I moved here to Brown County, I started looking for an attorney job. I first put in my resume to, now Judge, Joe Worley's law firm and filed one with Judge Zachman. I never did hear from Joe Worley after providing him with the resume. I also stopped in at the prosecutor's office to see about becoming an assistant prosecutor, but I did not have enough court room experience to hit the floor running, which is what Mr. Grennan needed at that time, December 2003/January 2004. I was willing to work for Judge Zachman as a clerk for free just to get my court room experience up to speed to then go in the future to the prosecutor's office for an assistant job. I was headed for the clerk position with Judge Zachman when Mr. Grennan said he had an investigator position opening up soon, and that I could possibly fill that position for him. That sounded like a real interesting job to me because I could use all the modalities I had acquired throughout life, my Intel experience, my engineering experience, and my law background. Being an attorney allowed me to serve subpoenas. It would have been better if I were also a peace officer, but that did not matter. A peace officer certificate was not mandatory to do the job, but I picked that up anyway in 2005, as another modality I could add to the mix, after Mr. Grennan asked me if I would consider going to the police academy. I started working for Mr. Grennan on January 22, 2004, as an investigator at $11/hr. I worked there until September 2007. The money was not important to me, and I loved the job, and would have done it for free!
2.) When Judge Ringland denied a motion to dismiss the case against Mr. Wenninger in 2003, the Judge said that the State had made its case with respect to Mr. Wenninger's ineligibility as a candidate for sheriff, but that he had to allow the criminal charges to go before the jury for a determination of guilt or innocence on the intentional falsification of election documentation. The jury found Mr. Wenninger not guilty of intentionally falsifying the election documentation that he filed, but that did not change the fact that he still was unqualified to be a candidate back in 2000, and thus could not be legally elected or appointed to the office of sheriff, under the existing election laws. When Mr. Wenninger was found not guilty he had the right, under the Ohio Revised Code, to ask that the case file be sealed. The request was granted by the judge, and it was sealed. Mr. Wenninger can have the case unsealed at his request any time. Doing such would support his side of this matter, one would think, or maybe it doesn't and that is why he had it sealed. Someone other than me should ask him to unseal it, especially since he was acquitted of any wrong doing by the jury. It should only help his side of the story against my allegations, not hurt his position.
The innuendo at the end, if I recall, I was thinking about this: In my opinion, I contend that there are several individuals, and the Republican Party, that could be held liable for all the damages incurred by the county as a result of Mr. Wenninger's lack of qualifications, making decisions that led to unnecessary legal liabilities, ending up in huge settlements that had to be paid out by our county insurer, CORSA, and the county. I believe that there is enough evidence to clearly show coordinated activities among these individuals that were specifically designed to keep Mr. Wenninger in office, even in light of the fact that they knew he was unqualified. They are like the "proximate cause" of all the problems that sprung from Mr. Wenninger's tenure as "sheriff." What I was thinking of is, these individuals possibly, once they realize they might have some liability arising out of this whole mess, will start to distance themselves from Mr. Wenninger like rats jumping a ship, or lemmings jumping off a cliff. It is almost like a big RICO type of case, where his major donors, etc., could possibly be brought into a civil suit by the county to recoup all the monetary losses it has experienced because of Mr. Wenninger's actions. A RICO, or corrupt activities prosecution, upon a conviction, would allow for the forfeiture of all assets owned by those held guilty, including all their real property, automobiles, etc. There just might be enough total value therein, from all property forfeited, to fund the county's needs for quite some time to come, for the benefit of all citizens in Brown County.
3.) The material on my website is not aimed at discrediting Mr. Wenninger personally. The material is aimed at upholding the law, not attacking Mr. Wenninger personally. Mr. Wenninger could put an end to all the legal questions surrounding this issue by just having the court case unsealed so everyone could read the transcript to see if the judge did say the State made its case. You see, if the judge did so state, then the election laws are very clear. The election laws are mandatory and require strict compliance. If the judge so stated, then Mr. Wenninger was not, and is not now, legally eligible to be a candidate that could be elected or appointed, because he was, and is, unqualified at this time. The statutory law on sheriff candidates is very clear, even to the most casual reader. Even if the statutory laws were not enforced in Mr. Wenninger's case, the general Ohio election case law is also very clear. If a person who is unqualified is elected, that's okay. But immediately upon assuming the office, the elected candidate has to rectify the disqualification or the candidate forfeits the office. Mr. Wenninger, to my knowledge, as far as I can tell, never did complete two years of college or university training approved by the Ohio board or regents, therefore, he was not initially qualified to even run for the position, as he also did not satisfy the supervisory experience necessary to be a valid candidate. The problem is this, in this matter. If Mr. Wenninger was not legally in office, then he could not appoint himself to the position of sheriff, thus, according to OPOTA, his certificate on file with OPOTA would start a break in service the day he first took office, which was January 1, 2001. Four years later, under the administrative law, his peace officer certificate would completely expire, and it would be necessary for him to re-take the whole police academy all over again to become re-certified as a peace officer. Thus, on January 1, 2005, Mr. Wenninger assumed the legal status of a civilian, two days before he assumed the office for a second term. The real problem in all of this is a Catch-22 type situation. If this legal analysis, which is the core of my protest against Mr. Wenninger's candidacy, that I have just explained is accurate and true, then everything done by Mr. Wenninger as sheriff, at least since January 1, 2005, is suspect as being not legally executed. All officers he swore in after January 1, 2005, may not be legally operating as sworn peace officers. All concealed carry permits may be legally defective, opening the possibility that anyone depending on it to cover them legally while carrying a concealed gun, could technically have a problem with the law. Everything done by him, if a civilian legally-speaking, becomes legally suspect. If he is nothing more than a civilian, legally speaking, he does not have the powers of arrest at this time. He has no sheriff powers at all. Everything he is doing daily could be stacking up future legal liabilities not only for him, but also for the county, thus taxpayers' money being blown unnecessarily, etc. The law is the law. Politics is politics. All of this information on my website has to do with the legal status of Mr. Wenninger at this time. It is a legitimate question that should have been pursued further back in 2000, but wasn't because of defects in established protocol for checking out the eligibility of candidates before they are placed on the ballot.
The very first thing I would do as sheriff is establish a blanket mutual aid agreement between the sheriff's department and all municipal corporation police departments in our county. The first and foremost duty of all peace officers is to protect and serve. If there is such a dearth of funds, where there are not enough deputies on the road to respond to a scene, then the nearest municipal police officer that can respond to the scene should be allowed to go and get it under control until a deputy can arrive on the scene to take control. That just makes sense to me. I know of one case where two officers were within a mile of a guy having a heart attack. They were told to stand down and not respond to help him, that the sheriff's department would take care of it. By the time the deputy arrived on the scene the guy was dead. Now, even though the two officers could have arrived in a couple of minutes, they were both trained in medical emergency treatment and had the lifesaving equipment in the cruiser needed to help the guy, that doesn't mean they could have saved him. But when the deputy arrives 10 or 20 minutes later, it does make you wonder what could have happened in that instance. Another thing I would do is work the job at least eight hours a day, a minimum of five days a week, at least. It is a salaried position, and the sheriff is getting paid approximately $58K a year to do the job. I think that means at least the same kind of work week everyone else in society has to do in their full-time jobs. This is the open-ended question I was referring to above. There are a lot of things that can be done to improve over the present situation. These improvements cannot be made by operating in a vacuum. The sheriff's department should be acting like the glue that binds the whole county's law enforcement efforts together as a comprehensive team, not individual teams competing against each other. It has to be team work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.
4.) Right after my wife and I first moved here on December 4, 2003, someone told us about the sheriff situation and gave us a copy of the Beacon. At that time, we were new to the community, and I was only an attorney looking for a job in December 2003. I read it with interest because we too were now county taxpayers. After reading a few of them, I went down to Mr. Wenninger's house, since he lives right down the street, and I confronted him and his wife about what I was reading in the Beacon. I have always liked reading independent newspapers because they exist where the local media is not fulfilling their duty to cover what is really going on in the community. My wife and I met Mr. and Mrs. Staubach one night after leaving the county fair in 2004. Neither Mr. or Mrs. Staubach are members of my campaign committee. They are both acquaintances and supporters of my campaign, and I hope they continue to be such. I hope she and her husband continue to come to any meetings I may be at, as well as all the other "controversial" men and women in our community who want to see changes made according to law, equally administered across the board to all citizens. I have not yet found anything that was printed in one of their Beacons that was not accurate. And, if you think about it, if they published something that was not true, they could be sued for such, but have not been sued, which is self-explanatory as far as the information in the Beacons is concerned. For instance, I recall there was a Beacon that had an article in it about Mr. Wenninger purchasing a synthetic oil for the department's cruisers from another "Wenninger," but the Staubachs did not know if the "Wenninger" he was purchasing from was a relative or not. This was one of the questions I had asked Dwayne directly, in the presence of his wife, and he responded by saying to me, "that's my uncle, and I'm going to keep buying it from him no matter what they say." That was an investigative tidbit the Staubachs uncovered, that I verified and nailed down a little further with Mr. Wenninger's response. Anyone who wants what is good and right for our county's welfare, those are the kind of people I prefer to hang around with, rather than those who are only in it for themselves with the attitude of "to hell with everyone else." The latter attitude, coupled with congruent actions, is to be avoided like the plague, as far as I am concerned.
After thinking about your question a little more in depth, I realized something that sticks out clearly in my mind in this matter. It is the older women who outnumber the older men by about four to one, when it comes to having the guts to go for the juggler of some of these individuals involved. It is the women who are like the pit bulls. They have no fear. It is the men who are the wimps, failing to stand up for what is right and honest in this matter. Now, is this due to all the drugs and steroids in the water and meats? Is there an overwhelming amount of estrogen in the water supply and meat that is making men more docile, and women more tenacious? There is something to this I cannot identify. Is it because of the Read Only Memory [ROM] that is burned in at birth in women, like that instinct in the female lion with cubs, where she will beat the living daylights out of the male lion, when necessary? Whatever it is, the women are telling it like it is, much better, and more forceful than I, not backing down one bit!
5.) All parties involved in the subject matter of the protest were not present at the hearing. Mr. Wenninger was not there. I don't know if he was available or not. It would have been good if he were there, as I could have put him on notice too about being a civilian, according to my legal analysis. Once Mr. Wenninger becomes aware of the substance of my protest, I believe he has a personal duty to determine what his actual legal status is at this time, because if he determines that he is, in fact, a civilian because his OPOTA certificate did expire on January 1, 2005, yet he chooses to continue to act as the sheriff, knowing he legally isn't, I believe he is deliberately stacking more potential legal liability upon himself, and the county. WHAT DID HE KNOW, AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT!? I too would not have been at that hearing if someone had not mentioned to me that there was going to be a protest hearing that morning. I too wondered why I was not notified by the Board of Elections. So, I looked into the law concerning these types of hearings. I found that the Board did not have a duty to notify me, or Mr. Wenninger, unless we had asked to be notified ahead of time, which I did not do. I just ASSUMED, which I should not have done, that they would automatically notify me of any hearing scheduled. You think I would have known better by now, but I didn't. You learn something new every day! They just post a notice on the outside of the door to the Board of Elections Office when a meeting or hearing will take place.
The documents posted that were provided to each Board member are in MS Word format. You need Microsoft Word installed on your computer to view them, or WordPerfect and import the files to that software. They are .doc files. They are public records available at the Board of Elections.
Wed 5/7/2008 2:05 PM:
Question: Mr Varnau,
In regards to the information that you have presented on your website, if the sheriff is not actually the sheriff, which he is claiming to be, that means he does not have the authority to swear in officers. I guess my question is, how many officers has he sworn in under oath, that actually do not have arresting powers? Can or will anyone from the Brown County Sheriffs Office answer the question in general? Couldn't this cause legal issues, involving the Sheriff's Office. I'm sure people are concerned with the same question I am asking but are afraid to ask due to being retaliated against by the Sheriff's Office. I would just like to know what you think on this aspect.
Answer: Thanks for the questions, Pat. I would agree with you, that if the "sheriff" is not legally the sheriff, then anything he does is suspect, in my opinion. I have no idea how many deputies he has sworn in, but that documentation should be available in the sheriff's department. That is something each deputy should probably be concerned with at this time, because if a deputy knows his authority may be "legally defective," you would think that said deputy may become concerned about making any arrests that might come back to haunt him personally in court in the future. I think, assuming that the legal analysis in my protest to the Board of Elections is accurate and correct, that the longer Mr. Wenninger is allowed to act as the sheriff in our county, the more potential liabilities could be accumulating, adding up to more taxpayers' money being potentially wasted because of non-actions by whomever's duty it is to correct the situation now. For sure, everyone with any power and authority to do something has been put on notice. If the substance of my protest is correct, then there is a "ticking time bomb" of liability just waiting to explode all over our county. This situation has to be dealt with locally and immediately, if not sooner, in my opinion. It is purely a legal matter that deals with election laws and administrative laws concerning peace officer certificates at this time. There are gigantic holes in protocol and laws for this to have gone on for so long with no remedial action being taken by anyone having the authority to act to correct the situation. I just happen to be the one [the messenger] asking the questions at this time. Anyone else coming up with more questions should be weighing in too, to get things going on the "right" legal direction for our county's benefit and well-being.
Sat 5/10/2008 9:26 AM:
If Mr Gregory claims the sheriff was and still is qualified, why will he
not advise his client to unseal the court case? Is Mr. Gregory really
that incompetent and ignorant, or does he just think the people of Brown
County are ignorant and too stupid to ask questions?
Mr. Gregory also said, "He [Wenninger] was qualified the first time he ran, he was qualified the second time, he is qualified now." He also said, "there is no one more qualified than Wenninger right now to run for sheriff in that county." The BCP article also states, "In a telephone interview last Tuesday morning, Wenninger's attorney called Varnau's complaint 'old news', mentioning how those allegations already had been litigated upon and decided." Mr. Gregory has to be totally unfamiliar with the substance contained in my protest to have made this sort of statement. The main issue surrounding Mr. Wenninger's disqualification in the 2004 and 2008 elections is the fact that his OPOTA certificate expired on January 1, 2005, two days prior to Mr. Wenninger assuming the position of sheriff on January 3, 2005, for his second term. This is a completely new issue that has never before been addressed in any forum.
The BCP article also reported that Mr. Gregory said, "He [Mr. Gregory] said he and Wenninger hadn't been aware of last Monday morning's BCBE hearing until it was over. Gregory said it would have been helpful if he and Wenninger had been invited to attend that hearing." As I said above in response to another letter: I too would not have been at that hearing if someone had not mentioned to me that there was going to be a protest hearing that morning. I too wondered why I was not notified by the Board of Elections. So, I looked into the law concerning these types of hearings. I found that the Board did not have a duty to notify me, or Mr. Wenninger, unless we had asked to be notified ahead of time, which I did not do. I just ASSUMED, which I should not have done, that they would automatically notify me of any hearing scheduled. You think I would have known better by now, but I didn't. You learn something new every day! They just post a notice on the outside of the door to the Board of Elections Office when a meeting or hearing will take place.
I too wish Mr. Wenninger and Mr. Gregory had been at that meeting. They would have both been put on notice that Mr. Wenninger's OPOTA certificate has expired, and that he is acting as sheriff, but legally as a civilian. NOW, that is something that has happened with these articles and the reporters contacting Mr. Gregory about Mr. Wenninger's peace officer certification. Both Mr. Gregory and Mr. Wenninger have to now know that his qualifications have been called into question over the status of Mr. Wenninger's peace officer's OPOTA certificate.
So, how is Mr. Gregory going to counsel
his client at this time? If Mr. Gregory determines that there is
merit to this new issue, knowing what Judge Ringland told him when he
denied Mr. Gregory's motion to dismiss, then it won't take too much
legal research under the election laws to see that Mr. Wenninger
forfeited the office of sheriff on January 1, 2001, and that Mr.
Wenninger's OPOTA certificate expired four years later on January 1,
2005, making Mr. Wenninger a civilian, requiring Mr. Wenninger to
re-take the whole police academy all over again to become re-certified.
Thus, in light of these legal facts, one would think Mr. Gregory would
be counseling Mr. Wenninger what the legal pitfalls may be if Mr.
Wenninger knowingly remains in the office as sheriff, while legally a
civilian, from this time forward. I would think that both Mr.
Wenninger and Mr. Gregory may be assuming additional liabilities, each
on their own behalf, by maintaining the status quo in light of such
information. It is my opinion that Mr. Wenninger has stacked up
tons of personal liability over the last seven years, and also my
opinion that if his attorney knows, or has good reason to believe that
this "new" issue has legal merit, counseling Mr. Wenninger incorrectly
just might be creating a valid counterclaim for Mr. Wenninger against
Mr. Gregory in the future. "Hot potatoes!"
The Democrat also said, "Niehaus disagreed with Varnau's claims that the law would allow people holding any certificate to run for sheriff. 'Basically he was saying if you get a certificate as a dog groomer, you can be sheriff and that's just not true,' said Niehaus." Well! Let's look at the facts. First read Senator Niehaus' letter to me on March 24, 2008 - Sen Niehaus-03-24-08.jpg Pay close attention to what Sen Niehaus delineates in his letter, regarding the change in schooling requirements. He says, "I do want to reiterate that the portion of the statute that you reference addressed the educational qualifications for county sheriffs, making a certificate of registration from the state board of career colleges and schools equivalent to completing two years of post-secondary education at a college or university ." Go to: http://www.scr.ohio.gov/schools/Query.asp [Select "All Schools" on School drop-down list, hit "Select," then use "More" button to view next pages] for a complete list of schools whose diplomas now equate to two-year post secondary education in Ohio board of regent approved schools.
CLICK ON THE SCHOOL NAMES
IMMEDIATELY BELOW TO SEE THE CERTIFICATES OF REGISTRATION
Go down the lists until you get to the Cornerstone Dog Grooming Academy, 141 E. McPherson Hwy., Clyde, Ohio 43410, (419) 547-DOGS (3647), Sherri L. Glass, Certified Master Groomer, Director/Instructor, Website: http://www.cornerstonedoggroomingacademy.com/ Cornerstone Dog Grooming Academy is registered with the state board of career colleges and schools. All those schools listed on the State Board of Career Colleges and Schools website are registered with the Board. Check it out: http://www.scr.ohio.gov/ yourself. There's the Diamond Cut Dog Grooming School - http://www.schoolfordoggrooming.com/ and Dog-N-Suds Pet Grooming School - http://www.dogandsuds.com/ also registered with the State Board of Career Colleges and Schools. I can see it now, three candidates holding OPOTA certificates, working full-time as peace officers, and each holding a diploma from one of these three schools, all vying for Sheriff of Brown County. But that's not all!
Under the amendment then Representative Tom Niehaus tacked on to the Korean War Veterans' high school diploma bill, at the request of the Brown County Republican hierarchy, anyone holding any diploma from a college or school holding a certificate of registration with the State Board of Career Colleges and Schools, plus possessing a valid OPOTA peace officer certificate, and working full-time as a peace officer, is now qualified to be a candidate for sheriff in any of the 88 counties in Ohio. If you think the dog grooming diploma is not good enough, then check out the diploma you can get from Shake Em Up Bartending School, 6530 N. Union Road, Clayton, 45315, (937) 832-1383, or the ABC Bartending School - http://www.abcbartending.com/ . If bartending is not your forte, then maybe a diploma from the English Nanny & Governess School, Inc. - http://www.nanny-governess.com/ , plus your OPOTA certificate, and a full-time peace officer position in the county just might be more politically correct for you. It is too late now to get in this election cycle, but if you have designs on being sheriff in the next election, you can wait until about one month before you have to file your papers with the Board of Elections. The Shake Em UP Bartending School has a two-week diploma course that you can take under their certificate of registration with the State Board of Career Colleges and Schools. This might come in handy as a peace officer. Imagine this scenario. You could be bartending in your local town, serving drinks, watching who is getting drunk, then get off work, put your uniform on, get in your cruiser, and just wait for them to come out of the bar and get behind the wheel. So, maybe Senator Niehaus saw something the rest of us did not see when he made these diplomas equivalent to two years of post-secondary education.
This would all be quite funny, if it were not so serious a matter! Is this the way our legislators are supposed to conduct business, to reduce qualifications in order to benefit one person only, over everyone else in the whole county, or state? I think not. This kind of conduct makes Brown County the laughing stock out of all counties, in my opinion. So, which one of our elected officials is going to uphold the law??? Or, is politics going to trump the law, again, and again, and again???
Sat 5/10/2008 2:44 PM:
I would like to get a yard sign and/or stickers to show my support for
you. I was determined to vote against this so-called sheriff we now have
when he childishly shut down law enforcement over a 10% budget cut. I
would be glad to volunteer in your campaign in any help you could use.
Answer: Thank you for volunteering to help, Howard. Word of mouth to your friends, family, etc., is the best way to help my campaign. I do have plenty of vinyl bumper/window stickers left that I would like to have handed out and used up before election day. If you can get these out to anyone who will put it on their window or bumper, I'd appreciate that help anytime. I usually carry enough of every item in my truck to pass out when approached by anyone desiring them.
As you already know, I am not taking any donations, and I try to avoid "using" any one person to an extent that would equate to donating cash to my campaign. I wish to be completely neutral, when elected. In my opinion, that is the way law enforcement should be conducted by those who have been entrusted to do the job - apolitical and neutral with respect to individuals. Law enforcement, to me, is a job more important than any other job in the criminal justice system, from Supreme Court judges on down. We represent each and every citizen in the county, all wrapped up individually as deputies, troopers, patrolmen, and officers of every stripe. When we act, we act on behalf of everyone in our community, as their collective representative on the street. It is the most important job, that is sometimes thankless, when it comes to compensation, etc. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of officers know this, which is why they are so immersed in doing it daily. They are doing it to protect and serve the society within which they live.
Tue 5/13/2008 3:44 PM: HERE'S
AN ATTEMPT TO SIMPLIFY THIS MATTER FOR EVERYONE READING ABOUT IT
There seems to be a lot of confusion over this whole matter, so I will try here to simplify what the issue is with respect to Mr. Wenninger's present qualifications.
1.) In 2000, Mr. Wenninger had a valid OPOTA certificate as a road deputy, did not have any supervisory experience, and claimed his Diploma was equivalent to two years of post-secondary education in a college or university approved by the Ohio Board of Regents. He needed either the supervisory experience, OR, the educational certification, along with the valid OPOTA certificate to qualify as a candidate that could be elected or appointed under the election laws.
2.) His Diploma did not meet the Ohio Revised Code §311.01(B)(9)(b) mandatory requirement, because it was short on total hours, and it was not from a school approved by the Ohio Board of Regents.
3.) Several individuals noted that he did not have the necessary requirements to qualify as an eligible candidate, but instead of making a protest to the Board of Elections, they went to the Prosecutor's Office, which indicted Mr. Wenninger for knowingly falsifying election petition documentation
4.) Mr. Wenninger was indicted for knowingly falsifying the documentation, because he signed his petitions stating that he was qualified, and thereby he was certifying to the Board of Elections that he was qualified to be a candidate, when in fact he was not qualified because he lacked the necessary educational credentials.
5.) Mr. Wenninger had a jury trial in 2003. At trial attorney Patrick Gregory made a motion to the court to dismiss the case, but the judge denied the motion as the State had made its case with respect to Mr. Wenninger's lack of qualifications, but the jury had to determine whether he was guilty of "knowingly" falsifying the documentation. The only way this could have gone to a jury, is if there was something wrong with Mr. Wenninger's qualifications, as stated on the election documentation - that being his lack of qualifying educational credentials, otherwise the jury would never have been given the case to decide.
6. ) The jury found him "not guilty" of knowingly falsifying the election documentation, and the trial record was sealed by the court at the request of Mr. Wenninger. The finding of "not guilty" did not change the fact that Mr. Wenninger's Diploma still did not satisfy the educational requirements to be an eligible candidate for sheriff under the Ohio Revised Code.
7.) Nevertheless, because the proper protocol of protesting to the Board of Elections was not followed, Mr. Wenninger was allowed to squeak by the mandatory statutory requirements that were supposed to be strictly conformed to, and continued on in office until this day.
8.) Since the mandatory statutory laws were not upheld, the next laws that also pertain, Ohio election case law, dictates that if someone is unqualified yet gets elected, that's okay, as long as the person elected corrects the disqualifying factor immediately upon assuming office, otherwise he forfeits the position.
9.) Mr. Wenninger did not go back to school to get a total of two years of post-secondary education in a college or university approved by the Board of Regents, and still hasn't to this day, as far as I am aware, thus, he legally forfeited the position he physically assumed on January 1, 2001, for his first term.
10.) Since Mr. Wenninger was not legally sitting as sheriff on January 1, 2001, his OPOTA certificate started a break in service, because he could not appoint himself as a peace officer into the sheriff's department, if he was not legally there in office.
11.) Four years after illegally appointing himself to the sheriff's department with OPOTA, his OPOTA certificate completely expired on January 1, 2005, two days before he assumed the office for his second term on January 3, 2005.
12.) Once an OPOTA certificate completely expires after four years of a break in service, the person has to re-take the police academy all over again to become re-certified as a peace officer in Ohio. That makes Mr. Wenninger ineligible as a candidate for the 2008 general election cycle.
13.) Now, go back to the 2003 trial time period again. Since Mr. Wenninger only had the Diploma that did not satisfy the Ohio Revised Code §311.01(B)(9)(b) mandatory requirement of an Ohio Board of Regents approved college or university, the hierarchy of the Republican Party teamed up with then Representative Tom Niehaus to change the law to include Mr. Wenninger's lesser educational credentials. This was not a "retroactive" bill, but one needed to cover Mr. Wenninger's educational credentials prior to the 2004 filing deadline for sheriff candidates, so he would be eligible with respect to educational credentials in that election.
14.) On December 9, 2003, Governor Taft signed into law H.B. 75, the Korean War Veterans high school diploma bill. This bill became law at the latest on December 19, 2003. Mr. Wenninger filed his petitions for the 2004 election on December 22, 2004. This Korean War Veterans bill had an amendment that was attached by now Senator Niehaus that reduced the educational requirements necessary to satisfy Ohio Revised Code §311.01(B)(9)(b). This amendment made Mr. Wenninger's Diploma now equivalent to two years of post-secondary education in a college or university approved by the Ohio Board of Regents.
15.) All of this legislative effort, by now Senator Niehaus, to encompass Mr. Wenninger's inferior educational credentials does not matter as far as Mr. Wenninger's qualifications to run in the 2004 and 2008 elections, because Mr. Wenninger's OPOTA certificate expired four years after January 1, 2001, on January 1, 2005, two days before he physically assumed the office for a second term.
16.) Without a valid OPOTA certificate, Mr. Wenninger is not a legal peace officer in Ohio, and therefore cannot legally hold the office of sheriff. He is an ineligible candidate at this time to run for sheriff in 2008. No one, however, is yet doing anything to uphold the law and correct the situation, which will inevitably turn into the biggest legal liability Brown County has ever experienced, if those whose duty and responsibility it is to do something, don't do it.
17.) The responsibility for doing something now lies within the Board of Elections and Secretary of State. My petition was denied because I am a non-partisan independent. Non-partisans, independents, and write-in candidates cannot challenge any Democrat or Republican candidate's qualifications at any time during the candidacy process, either before or after the primary and prior to the general election, but both Democrat and Republican candidates can challenge any non-partisan, independent, or write-in candidacy. Both the Board of Elections and Secretary of State are aware of my documentation, that there is an illegal irregularity existing here in Brown County. It is their legal duty to make sure that ineligible candidates do not make it onto the ballots and into the voting booths. Knowingly allowing this to happen is a dereliction of their legal duty to uphold the election laws. These election laws are MANDATORY and require STRICT COMPLIANCE.
We'll see what happens next! Do I have to take it to the Ohio Supreme court eventually, or will some defense attorney use all of this as an issue in some, or many, court settings. The longer this illegal situation is allowed to exist, the bigger the bag of worms gets in size, over what it already is at this time. Since it appears that no elected official is going to act, thus far, it is probably going to take some real "people-power" to get things going in the correct direction - letters, phone calls, etc., to put the pressure on those we have entrusted to uphold our laws.
Tue 5/13/2008 7:48 PM:
Question/Comment: Dennis: Thanks for keeping me updated on what's going on in your neck of the woods. I enjoy every email. I'm also keeping Rich updated. We both think you are nuts and are going to get shot by the current sheriff--but I know that never would slow you down. Best of luck on the run for sheriff. Please keep us posted. And if you are ever in this neck of the woods, stop by. We miss you.
Answer: John, is your state and county similar to ours? Can you believe that our elected officials have let this go on in our county for over seven years now? What's your take on it? Send me Richard's e-mail so I can put him on the list too. Get a hold of all our old shipmates and get this news out. Shoot. If they won't do anything locally, we'll get the world looking at it! Get them reading this and maybe they too can spread it around. There is something really wrong somewhere in the system for this to continue without any action for so long. Get the scoop on our State AG off the Internet. Look up "Mark Dann" Ohio Attorney General on Google. Maybe others in our local and state elected offices have too many skeletons in their closets too for them to take any action. Why the whole damned country is going down the flusher! Rule of Law! WHERE??? What a JOKE! It was more organized off the coast of Vietnam for us on the ship than it is here! YOU CAN BE SURE, GOD ISN'T BLESSING THIS MESS!
Wed 5/14/2008 10:00 PM:
Dennis, I am a former law enforcement officer with over 16 years
experience before leaving for personal reasons. I recently contacted
O.P.O.T.A. to find out what I had to do to be reinstated as a peace
officer in the state of Ohio. I was advised that because I have been out
for more than four years that I would have to take the entire academy
classes over again. I have several years of actual work experience and
opota certificates, which are going to go to waste because I don't have
a personal state rep. or senator to slide a bill thru for me. It
just seems to me maybe I should produce some of my trade school
diploma's, and run for sheriff myself to give some type of competition,
this November. Or better yet. I have been calling in some favors
from long ago. WAKE CITIZENS OF BROWN COUNTY. Your current elected
sheriff is taking you for what we used to call a ride.
Answer: Thanks for the mail, Steve. It would seem that if OPOTA is going to make an exception for one individual, others in the same situation should also be entitled to the same opportunity and treatment under the law. That is a basic tenet of our Constitution in the Bill of Rights. It's too late to run for sheriff in this coming general election, because you had to have all the paperwork in prior to the primary, but you could wait until a month or so before you have to have the paperwork in for the 2012 cycle, since you can qualify with any diploma from a school holding a Certificate of Registration under ORC §3332.
I mailed out letters to 84 Ohio sheriffs yesterday, informing them of the kind of machinations going on with sheriff candidate educational qualifications. I feel quite certain that the majority of them are probably not even aware of what happened in 2003, with respect to the educational requirements under ORC §311.01(B)(9)(b). I don't know what they will think about it, but when a two-week diploma in bartending is now equal to two-years of post-secondary education in a college or university approved by the Ohio Board of Regents, that is making a mockery of what all present sitting sheriffs had to meet when they were running for sheriff. Like the retired state trooper said above in another posting, there was no "grandfather clause" for those ex-state trooper sitting sheriffs when the educational requirements were enacted as new requirements to run for sheriff. To make a change in the law for one person, solely to cover up an existing illegal situation, that of an unqualified person sitting as sheriff, is preposterous.
I don't know what else to tell you Steve, but if the laws are not upheld across the board equally by those elected officials whose duty it is to enforce and police according to those laws, then politics will continue to trump the laws and eventually create the chaos that the laws are there to prevent. I can only hope that the majority of the voting public, and all sitting sheriffs, understand what has been going on over the last seven plus years here in Brown County, and that they too become fed up with the lack of law enforcement done by those entrusted to uphold the law.
Thu 5/15/2008 10:00 AM:
COMMENT LETTER POSTED ON TWO NEWSPAPER SITES IN RESPONSE TO THEIR
ARTICLES, GO TO:
My Response To Mr. Cliff's Letter: I was checking both newspaper sites this morning to see if any comments to the articles had been posted. I found the above article was posted on Sunday, May 11, 2008. Mr. Cliff did not send me a copy of his letter for my response, so I'll post it here!
I'm in a quandary over how to respond to Mr. Cliff's letter. How can one logically respond to a person unable to identify the difference between politics and law, similar to Mr. Wenninger's inability to decipher the difference between the mandatory educational qualifications outlined in the Ohio Revised Code [ORC] and his educational credentials?
The "oft-used ploy" I see is not me pointing out an illegal existing situation with respect to Mr. Wenninger's legal status, because I believe the law supersedes politics, but rather, Mr. Cliff, a registered Republican, attacking me personally to discredit the messenger, in an attempt to re-direct the focus off of the existing illegal irregularity.
As a matter of fact, I am not qualified to run for County Engineer. I do not hold a Professional Engineer's license, and I am not a qualified surveyor. As far as qualifications to be a candidate for sheriff, I know that Mr. Wenninger never was legally qualified, and, is not now legally qualified to be a candidate for sheriff. On the contrary, I meet and exceed the qualifications required under the ORC, two times over on the educational requirements with engineering [5-year] and law [3.5 year] degrees from universities approved by the Ohio Board of Regents. I was also employed full-time in the Sardinia Police Department as a peace officer, and employed full-time as a law enforcement officer in the prosecutor's office for 3.5 years. My first supervisory position was at the age of 22, when Mr. Wenninger was three years old. I was supervisor of approximately 32 engine room and reactor plant personnel on board the USS Truxtun DLG(N)-35, during the Vietnam War.
Referring to an existing illegal irregularity as "empty qualifications accusations" and "ill-founded holes" is proof positive Mr. Cliff hasn't the slightest clue about the legal issues involved in this matter.
I would be a full-time sheriff for four years. I would not be employed in any other business, but would devote my full time doing the job of sheriff every day, if elected.
As an attorney, with some knowledge of the law, I feel quite certain that my operational decisions as sheriff would be aimed at being legally correct, avoiding costs to the county and its insurer, CORSA, of over approximately $600,000 in legal settlements to date from lawsuits against the present sheriff's department, with remaining legal liabilities that will probably exceed $1,000,000 before every case is settled, with more lawsuits still to be filed against the sheriff's department.
I have never appealed to Mr. Grennan, my former boss, to do something in this matter. It is the Board of Elections and Secretary of State that should be doing something about the continuing illegal irregularity, otherwise both will knowingly be allowing an ineligible candidate's name to appear on the November ballot. As far as Mr. Herdman's involvement in this matter, Mr. Cliff needs to get up to speed on the facts in order to understand the allegations made about Mr. Herdman's participation in Mr. Wenninger's candidacy.
"[J]ob well done under very trying economic times" is solely a matter of opinion that is obviously debatable. I'll leave that decision up to those who vote.
Thu 5/15/2008 3:11 PM:
It was quite an unexpected pleasure to meet someone, especially
considering in which county we met, with your intelligence,
determination, and respect for the Constitution. I will soon become a
voter registrar and get back into the swing of things. Moving from
Highland County, primarily because I had all the 'fun' I could stand
there, the fire has been rekindled.
I ran for office twice in Highland County, both times as an
Thu 5/15/2008 4:36 PM:
I had to post something after reading all the ignorant gibberish from
Mr. Cliff. If Mr. Cliff does not understand Mr. Wenninger's candidacy is
in violation of the same "rule of law" that he took an oath to uphold he
should shut his pie hole till he knows the facts.
Thu 5/15/2008 5:01 PM:
You have added much on here since I read it last. I saw at the beginning
you had an opposition email. I just was wondering why Mr. Wenninger and or Mr. Gregory have not answered some of the un-answered questions? If
Mr. Wenninger is not smart enough for open debate I would expect him to
be able to debate you in a way through this website. One would wonder
why the Sheriff does not defend himself against these accusations. Could
it be he knows these claims are real and he is just hoping no one will
notice? I find most people accused of something will usually speak up
and defend his/her position. Maybe he is afraid the people of Brown
County are not that ignorant and his response would make them look.
Answer: If you would have sent me your e-mail address, Allan, I would have put you on my mailing list for daily updates as they come in. I don't give e-mail addresses out to anyone, sending all update e-mail to recipients on the BCC: address line.
Allan, this issue is not going to go away. Even if our elected officials, like the Secretary of State, and the non-elected local Board of Elections don't do the right thing, defense and plaintiff attorneys will pick up on the issue and start using it in courts of law when appropriate to win their cases. It will only take one federal court to rule on the issue, as outlined in my protest, for the whole house of cards to come tumbling down. That is the Catch-22 situation that disturbed me at first when addressing this legal issue - defense and plaintiff attorneys using it against our county coffers. Then I thought, you can't let an illegality go on forever. It just gets bigger and bigger, affecting more and more people, until the county coffers are drained down to nothing, wasting money that could have been used for the benefit of everyone in the county rather than lining the pockets of a select few, all because some elected official did not really care about Brown County. The election laws are very clear, to the point where even one untrained in the law can understand what they dictate. If you are not legitimately an office holder, you aren't legally there, even if you are physically there in office, sometimes.
Thu 5/15/2008 7:04 PM:
Question: Do you have a plan as far as running the Sheriff's Dept. or are you and your small band of badgers planning on getting elected for attacking Sheriff Wenniger's qualifcations [sic]? I mean..really..is that all you and the Saturday morning Parker Pizza pals have? For some outsider from California to move in here and attack a POPULAR Sheriff (70% of the vote) many people find you silly. You will not win the election because of the small group of angry people sucked you in and are using you as a pawn because Sheriff Wenniger [sic] would not bow down to them! AND THAT"S [sic] A FACT ! You are a outsider who will get the vote of your small band of angry people and the registered criminals Sheriff Wenniger [sic] jailed. Being a Aux. Policeman, Lawyer?, and all other certificates hanging on a wall..does not mean YOU are qualified my friend. Jim
Answer: Thanks for your input, Jim. After reading your letter, from its tenor, I don't think I am really one of your friends, am I? In any event, yes, I do have a plan for running the sheriff's department, and Mr. Wenninger is not part of that plan, nor any "small band of badgers." Mr. Wenninger never had the requisite qualifications to be eligible to run for sheriff in 2000. There's nothing to attack because his qualifications to be a candidate never existed. They were never there. As a result of his non-existent qualifications, he could not be elected or appointed, he was ineligible as a candidate back in 2000, therefore, his OPOTA certificate expired January 1, 2005, and he became a civilian, legally speaking. Since he was never legally the sheriff, he could not appoint himself to the sheriff's department as a peace officer with OPOTA. It's that simple. Read it through a few times and think about it. Sooner or later it will sink in. It's not about politics - it's about THE LAW.
I'm not from California, although I was stationed in Long Beach, CA, during the Vietnam Era, onboard a ship that was home ported there. I'm from Ohio, Cincinnati, Kenwood/Montgomery area, and have relatives here in Brown County, as well as numerous friends, some of whom have worked in and with our machine shop business in Cincinnati, all the way back to the 1980's. Just because someone is a "POPULAR Sheriff" does not mean he is legally the sheriff. I may be "silly" to some, but those are usually individuals who do not understand the issues enough to realize there is a problem - and a BIG one at that. I'm not one to put my certificates and diplomas on the wall. I don't need any piece of paper to define who I am. I know who I am, I'm not a plastic faker. I'm a person who believes in what I am saying, and you can take that to the bank, the jail, or anywhere else you care to take it.
Fri 5/16/2008 12:44 AM:
Question/Comment: I have been reading your website with
great interest and even more so after the last week when you filed your
protest to the BCBE. This is just one more area of concern. I sincerely
hope our State and county leadership acts as expeditiously as possible.
I am a Brown County Deputy Sheriff and I would like to share a recent
experience and some observations and personal thoughts with you and your
readers. I was stopped on the roadway working when an older lady driving
an SUV stopped in the other lane as if she needed assistance, directions
or some other police attention. As I approached her in the manner I have
approached citizens in like situations hundreds of times before she said
" Mr. Wenninger I don’t believe anything I have read in the papers and I
think you boys have been doing a great job". There is no physical
resemblance between the Sheriff and me. This lady obviously had never
met the Sheriff. I interpreted the exchange as an honest citizen trying
to show support for her local law enforcement. I agree that I and some
of my fellow Deputies are doing a great job under some very stressful
and difficult circumstances. I would ask that this lady and all other
potential voters take a very close look at the reality of our Sheriff’s
Office. The service most of us are trying to provide to our neighbors
and this county is unrelated to Mr. Wenninger. We took an oath to serve
this community no matter how difficult the circumstances or the risk.
Today is National Police Memorial Day where we honor the ultimate
sacrifice made by our brother officers. This year there were 181 law
enforcement officers killed in the service of their community. We all
work a minimum of a forty hour week on various shift rotations missing
anniversaries, birthdays, children's’ shows and ballgames and quite
often jeopardizing our long-term health in the process. We gladly accept
these realities of our career field, however, we are in dire need of
your support and some legitimate and honorable leadership.
Fri 5/16/2008 1:23 PM:
I am K. O. Martin and as most are aware, I ran against Wenninger in 2000
and 2004. I would like to clarify a few things. When I first decided to
run for Sheriff, the first steps I took were to check the appropriate
laws and insure my qualifications were in order. I did not want a
protest filed against me. After 26 years with the Highway patrol and the
last 10 as a supervisor (Sgt/Lt), I found I was not eligible because my
Patrol training certificate was expired. Even if it wasn't expired, it
was not recognized by the powers that be in the law as it had to be an
OPOTA certificate. This was true even though we had the same training
and in some instances, more training than the average basic police
class. That is one reason we often referred to the qualifications
section of the law as the "anti-highway patrol" law. It was put in the
qualifications because there were so many sheriffs who were retired
Fri 5/16/2008 5:33 PM:
Comment: Mr. Varnau , As you can tell from Jim, and I'm sure you already know what you are up against. Some people DO NOT want change for the better. They want things just as they are, even when they should know better. The FACTS are there for all to see, just open your eyes and read. We need better protection and leadership in this county for the good of everyone!! Sorry, but I am neither a criminal or badger. Nor am I angry, I just want to see OUR county improve. Stephen
Answer: I'm with you, Stephen, all the way! Jim may think I am being used, or controlled, by others for their own design, whatever that may be, in his own mind. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is the main reason why I am not taking any donations from anyone, business or individual. I am not going to be in the pocket of ANYONE, including Jim, any "angry badger," or any other person who thinks they are above the law. Even the sheriff has to live by the same laws as the rest of us. Law enforcement has to be applied neutrally, across the board, with "Lady Justice" completely blindfolded, not peeking under or over the blindfold for "someone special."
Fri 5/16/2008 9:31 PM:
Question: Thank you for replying to my email. But, you never really exspanded [sic] on it. WHAT ARE YOUR IDEAS etc on running the Sheriff's Dept. (If Elected) changes, running a budget, have you any law enforcement back ground ? Other than a aux. police ? Have you ran [sic] a jail before ? Have you supervised 30 to 40 law officers before ? I want to know if your campaign is going to be anything other than attacking Sheriff Wenniger's [sic] qualification's ???? I hear no substance on YOU and why you would make a bettter [sic] Sheriff ! Also what are you implying when you mention wenniger's [sic] USED corvette and his wifes [sic] USED VW ?? PLEASE tell me ??? Do you think he is crooked ? I know MANY people who have bought and improved looks of their homes from years of hard work. Please tell me what you imply by them owning two USED cars and the home they have !!! Jim
Answer: Thanks again, Jim. I did say that your question was somewhat open-ended, but now you have asked some specifics, so I can give you some answers to those items.
First of all, you are correct in that I have never supervised a sheriff's department. There have always been things throughout life that I have not done before, taking on the task of doing them, but I have done them well, every time, so far.
For instance, who runs the sheriff's department now? Is it Dwayne, or is it Chief Deputy John Schadle? Who ran it prior to Schadle? Wasn't that Chief Deputy John Dunn? Dwayne allegedly was hardly ever there to do the "running" himself, according to many in the know. Why don't you ask some of the deputies who has been running the department daily over the last seven years. It's not really the best kept secret. You surely know that, don't you?
Since you picked up on something so casually obvious, do you think that I will have a Chief Deputy who also can run a sheriff's department? Even if I had to run it myself without others that have loads of experience, I feel quite certain that I could do a much better job than Mr. Wenninger has done for the last seven years. I already have copies of all pertinent documents related to the department, including jail procedures, etc. I also have general orders, policies and procedures from several larger sheriff departments, plus some from out-of-state, just to see what they might have that we don't have in ours. What I don't know I can learn pretty quick, as I have done throughout life. What I need help on, I know where, and how, to get it. One thing I inherently have in my qualifications is a background in the law. That alone should save the sheriff's department, the county, and the county's insurance agent over $600,000+ from the get-go, as compared to Mr. Wenninger.
Budget. I'd work within my budgetary limitations, using regular input and information from the commissioners, auditor, and our department's records. When you are low on funding, you don't go out and spend irresponsibly on items not needed to do the job. You make do with what you have to work with at the time, just like you do at home. Use fund raisers and grants for equipment that could not otherwise be purchased. I'd work more hours, since I'd be getting paid handsomely to do the job. You're not just a manager, but a leader. That means at the very minimum working 40 hours a week, particularly when shorthanded on personnel. It's a supervisory position, but you can still get your hands dirty when necessary to fill in for others - team work works. Choices have to be made daily. But you have to physically be there to know what is going on, so you can make good judgment decisions.
Honestly, I don't think I will have to say much more about the election illegalities, outlined in my protest to the Board of Elections, that are associated with Mr. Wenninger's candidacy. You're helping to keep that going daily with your questions, and I appreciate that. The current issue had never before been identified to be addressed by any court or board. This newly revealed issue is now completely exposed, completely out in the open, and is gaining momentum daily the more it is looked at, because there is a lot of liability riding on its imminent solution, for entities that can be held liable for all future actions taken by Mr. Wenninger, if Mr. Wenninger is, in fact, legally a civilian at this time. In my opinion, if the election laws mean what they clearly say, it won't be long before Mr. Wenninger is removed as a candidate from the November election ballot, with the Republicans substituting a fully-qualified candidate in his place.
I don't think I said Mr. Wenninger had a "used Corvette," but rather a shiny new one. I'm not sure if Mrs. Wenninger's car is used or new. Doesn't really matter. Many have seen their estate, plus all the toys, etc., and have questioned how they can afford all that. When one pays well over $100+K a year in State and Federal taxes, with no children, and a monthly mortgage less than $2K that is almost paid off, I too wonder how ends meet for them unless they are independently wealthy. My wife and I could not live like that. All one can do is wonder about things like this, particularly when others are constantly raising the question. You probably are a friend of Dwayne's, or an acquaintance at least? Ask him if he is paying all his taxes too on all his income, like us - and yet still be able to afford all that luxury. I don't know. Maybe you can fill me in on something you seem to know more about than I? I appreciate you asking these questions, Jim. This subject matter could use more open discussion, for sure!
IDEA! Better still, Jim, let's get Dwayne out in an open public forum for a debate on this and other issues. See if you can work that out. Dwayne and I could have several debates where questions could be asked by anyone in attendance, kind of like the Presidential debates. What better way could there be to iron out all these questions, like the ones you have on your mind. This is all one-sided now, with you asking me questions, and me giving you answers. Let's get Dwayne out in the open to discuss the content of the sealed court case, etc. There are many who are patiently waiting for the opportunity to ask him questions, but for some reason he is not making himself available for questioning. Maybe you can go see him and ask him yourself about some of these questions, and then come back and let everyone know what he has said to you in another question to me?
Do I think he is "crooked?" How would I know that? As far as I know, he hasn't been found "crooked" of anything, yet. Are you aware of something I am not? Let's see. Some facts would be good here. I'll tell you what. YOU tell me, if YOU think he's "crooked," as you put it, according to your own way of thinking. Here's an excerpt [for educational purposes] from an article published in The News Democrat a couple of years back:
GEORGETOWN – A Brown County Grand Jury met in the Brown County Court of
Common Pleas on Feb. 22, indicting 17 individuals in addition to the 17
indictments handed down on Feb. 2.
Just for you, Jim. Be honest with yourself, and the rest of us who will be reading your reply. Use this imaginary set of circumstances. Let's say you bought the exact same $3000 TV, brand new in the box from an appliance store, a few months earlier, on sale, for $2500-$2600. 1.) Would that make any difference to you, Jim? 2.) What would you have done in such situation? Two brand new TVs, exactly the same, brand new in the box, with a price difference of $1400 to $1500 to you, the only difference between the TVs being the serial numbers. 3.) Jim, would you have any concern about following though on buying that TV for $1100, from anyone, after you recently bought one exactly like it for $2500-$2600, ON SALE? 4.) Would you think there is something "fishy" about this proposed deal, and that TV? 5.) Would YOU be "crooked," Jim? Okay, now, assume Scotty Webb is found guilty of theft in a court of law. 6.) Would YOU then be "crooked," Jim? Let us all know your answers to these questions, 1 through 6, Jim, in your next letter.
You know something, Jim. When I started working as an investigator, my first law enforcement job ever, on January 22, 2004, one of my first cases was a truck wreck on Glady Road. One of my underlying qualifications, my mechanical engineering degree, was of paramount importance in solving that case. I had to use my knowledge of engineering mathematics, vector forces, velocity, friction, etc., to figure out what really did happen in that accident. The deputy did not have the luxury of having the developed pictures of the vehicle to compare, but he did have the supposed victim's story, and did take the pictures of the wrecked truck. The deputy had it all wrong in his report. Only by evaluating the skid marks on the pavement, as compared with the supposed victim's story, along with the physical damage to the truck, could you see that the supposed victim's story did not match up with the damage to the truck and the physics associated with the whole event. So, I'll take the liberty to claim my engineering degree as another qualification, along with my law degree, as "substantive things" that would make me a better sheriff than Mr. Wenninger, since you asked.
Sat 5/17/2008 8:27 AM:
Comment: Seems like Jim is determined to make a complete donkey of himself. I have to agree with Stephen. My wife and I see that more and more Brown Countians do not want any change, no matter the facts. I suppose that as long as they don't see a lesion rotting their skin, they assume there is no cancer beneath. "Let the Doctor take care of it. It's not my responsibility to safeguard my health." Dennis, it's going to be difficult to mend this self-defeating attitude. I feel confident that you are the Doctor to mend Brown County. Sincerely, Howard
Answer: Thanks, Howard. Here's the way I look at it. From what I saw working in the prosecutor's office, knowing that my wife and I are not going to move ever again, I felt that something had to be done to correct what I was seeing daily from my perspective as an investigator as far as the law enforcement situation in the county. That's the only reason I'm running at this time. If the majority of people in Brown County are satisfied with the status quo as far as county wide law enforcement by the sheriff's department, then they can choose to let it remain the same for another four years or more. If they want it run to better serve them as a whole, then they can vote for me. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it one way or the other. I've watched the country go down the tubes for the few decades I have been politically conscious. Those in the silent majority that do care about what is going on, seem to be "asleep at the wheel," like waiting for someone else to correct things for them, not taking the time to vote, or voice their opinion. It's like total resignation has set in with the attitude, "Nothing is gong to change anyway." So, things progressively get worse.
I'm going on 60 now, and figure that another 20 years would be a gift. Should I really care at this stage in my life? Well, I do. I saw so many people come into my office completely fed up with what was going on because they could not get things done for their personal situation at the time. What I saw was a progressive deterioration of "protect and serve." Yes, a lot of people don't see and are not aware of the problem because they have not yet become a victim that needs the help they are going to want. Once that happens, however, they become a believer quickly, but by that time it is too late for them too.
So, what else can I do? All I can do is offer my service to do the job. If they collectively don't want me doing the job for them, they can keep what they already have in place. I've plenty of job opportunities. It's obvious to me that things are not right, or how else could they have gone on for so long with no one taking the compete steps to correct the illegal irregularities going on in this county. There are a lot of people who do care, but those who don't seem to be in the majority. I'll live up to my part of the deal, according to my offer in this public service thing, if everyone decides they want that to happen. That's about all I can do in this political setting that has been slowly destroying our country from within for years. Just look at where we are at right now as a country. Why, if nobody did anything in government for the last 50 years, we'd be in better shape than we are now!
Sat 5/17/2008 4:03 PM:
Jim is obviously a friend or acquaintance of Mr. Wenninger and jumps to
conclusions like most uneducated people. I have read all the comments on
your page and at no point did you mention Mr. Wenninger is crooked or
made any rude comment towards him. You have only stated facts through
Answer: Thanks again for your e-mail, Mr. New Richmond Officer. If Scotty Webb lives long enough to make it to trial, and is convicted, guess what? Wouldn't that then be a prima facie case of ORC §2913.51(A), felony-5 RSP???
Sun 5/18/2008 1:48 AM:
In response to the letter to the editor in the Brown County Press,
Sunday, May 18,2008, written by Brady Liming.
Answer: Thanks for the mail, Paul. I saw the letter in the Brown County Press, and one in The News Democrat from one of those angry Brown County Badgers (BCB), Jan Staubach. I worked last night and will probably not get to my answer for Mr. Liming's letter until sometime this afternoon.
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