Concerns about transit are documented

DEAR EDITOR:

While attending Transit Board meetings, I’ve been yelled at for recording meetings and told not to interfere with meetings upon suggesting the board begin when they wanted to delay to have four board members present to vote the same. I was told I was, “horrible to the public” after criticizing the board’s abstention from voting for competitive bidding, rather than favoring Community Busing, and just last month I was told to put my comments “in writing,” after the board and Mike Verich refused to respond.

I am awaiting unanswered public record requests.

So I will pose my comments and questions here. The public should demand answers.

The Ohio Attorney General opinion requires additional accounting controls to ensure senior levy funds are used for only payments to the vendor for senior rides. This does not mean the board can “borrow” senior levy funds, as the accountant said they do. What is being done to correct the accounting process?

This opinion says no levy funds should ever been expensed toward the transit board administration. Who will audit to ensure this did not occur? And if it did, will senior levy funds be reimbursed?

The TCTB historically paid Mobility Manager Mike Verich with senior levy and community funds. I believe he does not manage mobility, and instead was lobbying for Sen. Sean O’Brien’s legislation to allow commissioners to send senior levy funds to transit boards. Due to lobbying, he should not be paid with federal money. The board eliminated Verich’s pay from their grant application, thus losing $50,000 to $150,000 in match money annually. Why does the board find it feasible to maintain payments to a lobbyist not performing duties of mobility manager?

Mike Verich spoke recently about the good time he had at the Ohio Public Transit Association Conference. I asked if Verich attended the mobility manager training, and I received no answer. Commissioner Frank Fuda attended the workshop and said he did not see Verich.

I requested resolutions adopting several job descriptions for Verich. I have not received them. Of the records I did receive (five years of invoicing from Verich) the invoices appear duplicated. Is the board verifying that services are completed? There were reimbursements for alcohol, lobster tail and sirloin — among other meals — with some individual dinners costing $444.

The bottom line is Verich does not seem to be managing mobility. He is a lobbyist who has been marketing for Community Bus Service in Lake County rather than coordinating mobility among providers locally. The transit administrator did not recommend rehiring him. Paying him has lost grant money, so why is it a good idea to continue his contract?

NIKI FRENCHKO

Warren

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