An investigation has found that Frankie Coleman, the wife of Columbus Ohio’s mayor who was given a position in Ohio’s Department of Development has found that Coleman didn’t work a full day, or missed work entirely for 13 days in her first few months on the job. The Ohio Attorney General’s office also found that Lt. Governor Lee Fisher’s office reportedly ignored many warnings that Coleman’s personal problems were interfering with her overall job performance.
I have resisted the urge to weigh in on this bizarre case, as I have repeatedly written about what I feel it is terrific leadership being displayed by the new administration in Ohio of Governor Ted Strickland. Time after time Strickland has shown that a combination of little things done today, will add up to big gains in the future, and he also show that he is willing to lead by example, most notably with his meal tab limits and his not accepting his Ohio health care coverage he is entitled to as Governor, instead opting for paying for his own coverage until all Ohioans have adequate coverage.
However, this case, which rests now squarely at the door of Strickland’s Lt. Governor, Lee Fisher, a tremendous asset during the campaign as a highly visible figure in Ohio politics, has gone on a bit too long for me not to comment on and report the findings of the state’s attorney general’s office. This is a controversial case that some lawyers may find it quite challenging just like accident lawyer Baltimore.
The investigation and reports on this situation started somewhat quietly, and I am guessing that was because that Coleman just resigning from her $70,000 Department of Development position would satisfy detractors and allow the case to continue to be “politically debated.” Then came the announcement that Coleman was entering an inpatient alcohol treatment program, after which more details came to light about Coleman seemed to come and go as she pleased for a variety of reasons, none of which were DOD related.
All the other details of this case have been thoroughly reported upon, but the recently released details of the attorney general’s investigation smack of “what the heck was going on here anyhow?” and are very alarming to me from an administration that has been a breath of fresh air up to this point.
The investigation details include that Frankie Coleman was paid for 13 days that she was either late, left early or not present at all for duty during February through April of this year. This covered 56 hours that totaled $2450 in compensation/benefits that Coleman received. Investigators also reported that they were slowed by Coleman’s “dishonesty” during early interviews that she had missed any work without approval, but during a second interview admitted to this not being the case.
Lt. Governor Lee Fisher’s office and other DOD officials apparently ignored altogether several warning signs about Coleman’s behavior. These signs included Coleman’s absenteeism as a member of Governor Strickland’s transition team, earlier observations about Coleman’s drinking, obviously false time sheets and even a call to the DOD from the governor’s chief of staff, who was reporting a tip received about Coleman’s poor attendance. The report stated that all these items were “red flags that Coleman’s hiring was a mistake, regardless of her qualifications.
Next, the report said that Glenda Williamson, Coleman’s supervisor who accused her of submitting false time sheets was not dismissed as a retaliation , but because records showed a dissatisfaction with her performance and conflicts with her superiors.
There was no conclusive evidence that Coleman consumed alcohol either before or during work, and finally that Coleman was not entitled to her free parking space in the state parking garage as she was not part of the department’s leadership team. Even Coleman’s boss had to pay for parking it was stated.
Again, I was not even going to weigh in on this issue, but when an attorney general’s report says that someone’s work ethic is “criminal” and that taxpayers have been cheated, and worst of all that an office as high up as the Lt. Governors may have ignored it, I simply could not bring forward the findings. Check out the report’s findings for yourself, and see what you think. Its too bad, and I hope that the necessary steps are taken to ensure something like this never happens again, and it is also too bad that it gives this administration a “black eye” against in my opinion an otherwise terrific start toward Ohio’s recovery.