Dear Village Residents,
This is in response to a letter that was recently mailed out to some village residents, by the mayor’s daughter, Shirleann Murad, who is also the mother of council candidate Mikida Clegg. This mailing was full of misinformation, half-truths, and much more. A full rebuttal will be forthcoming.
Mrs. Murad is quick to reference her version of the true public record. Because, she thinks you will just take her word for it, because she wants you to vote for her daughter and their friends. I encourage you to visit the municipal building and check the official public record.
Investigation(s): Myself and Mr. Smith, self reported to the Ohio Ethics Commission, a possible violation, in which her father, the mayor, signed off on, and stated no objection to. The village solicitor at the time offered zero legal guidance as to whether this issue was incorrect, and the other four members of council ratified this measure. If Mr. Smith and I had anything to hide, would we have “self-reported”?
Audit discrepancies: The three of us have never served as Fiscal Officer, which is charged with the handling of village funds and records. Mrs. Murad failed to acknowledge that during her term as Fiscal Officer, the village received numerous negative citations as a result of her work. She NEVER corrected some of these citations. These are public record and can be found at the State Auditors office. Council is not responsible for the filing the correct paperwork to the various state pension authorities. The responsibility is charged to the Fiscal Officer. The only occurrence, I can recall, was addressed in early 2010, under her watch.
Loss of Grant Money: In referencing losing $60K for the paving of Bench, Ohio and Willow streets. The Village applied for and did not receive a CDBG for the year 2012. Once, we received word that the village was declined, we tried to proceed with this project. Only, to see the previous engineer drag his feet. With this process normally taking a week to two, we finally decided that after 2 months to proceed with another engineer. This was legally voted on and passed. Due to the unnecessary delay, this project was bid out late at the end of the season, thus it created the bids to come in very high. ALL of council decided to reject these bids. We never, rejected a grant for $60K to pave any road. There is no reference anywhere in the official public record from 2010-present that shows we lost or turned down this grant.
Mr. Smith and I receiving over $10K a year: Once again, the proof is in the village records, where does she come up with that figure? Mrs. Murad is attempting to baffle you with made up numbers. The public record also shows that we did not vote to hire ourselves. Mrs. Murad omitted this while she was referencing the public record. (March 15, 2011 meeting minutes)
Bidding Out: Council has the right to employ legal counsel or enter into any agreement with out using bidding the process, as long as the cost is under $25K. One, who touts their own accomplishments, success and experience as a formal village fiscal officer and councilwoman, should know these basic facts.
Shutting down a $30K FEMA project: Three councilmen CANNOT take any action to do anything. The project Mrs. Murad is citing was not handed to the Board of Trustees, at the time of question. Council did state that the Board should have acted on this issue in February 2012. A councilman questioned the solicitor as to how a project could begin, that council did not authorize payment for. This project was halted for an afternoon, until the issue was resolved. (September 18, 2012 meeting minutes)
Garbage Packer Specs: Professionals drafted these specs, not Mr. Smith, as Mrs. Murad asserts. council then approved these specs. (November 20, 2012 meeting minutes)
Fiscal Officer allowed to work only 10 hours: The ordinance states that the Fiscal Officer is expected to work 20-24 hours. This council had ONE person doing the job in fewer hours than it took TWO people to do in the past. Which resulted in costing the village less money.
Village Business by email/ Sunshine Laws: Email, is used for informational and expedient communication in the year 2013. No decisions or policies were ever decided on via email, telephone or by any other means than an official meeting of Council.
Council Member Signing a Legal Document: On at least one occasion or more the mayor, has either failed or refused to sign ordinances, resolutions, or contracts passed by council. One for sure was the contract to hire the new engineer. By direction of the solicitor, and in accordance with the law, Mr. Smith signed this contract.
The President of Council only acts when the mayor fails to do his job or is absent.
Mrs. Murad claims there are no “hand-picked” candidates.
It is very odd that 3 of our opponents are also involved in the lawsuit, either directly or indirectly. The mayor, his family and friends, totally dislike the fact that certain council members ask questions, demand the truth, and desire accountability.
I challenge Mrs. Murad to cite from the official public record, where she protested any action by Marvin Husarik, Dave Smith or myself at a village council meeting!
Sincerely, in conjunction and with the authorization of Marvin Husarik and Dave Smith,
Benjamin D. Lenz
The Court of public opinion is both a powerful ally and a driving force of the political process.
Swaying public opinion is another matter. Swaying public opinion is the responsibility and frankly, the duty of anyone seeking public office. The manner in which this is done can be called into question.
Reference has been made that the current administration has designated candidates to run for the open council seats.The administration of the Village of Bridgeport consist of the mayor, the fiscal officer and the six councilmen. The assumption can be drawn that they are all responsible for “hand-picking” candidates to run against the incumbents.
The residents of Bridgeport are entitled to a slate of candidates for the open council seats. The voters will decide who they would like to be the voice of the people.
The voters should be impressed by those candidates for those candidates that have served ably in the U.S. Armed Forces and applied themselves as exemplary volunteers of the Village of Bridgeport Fire Department. Will the voters be swayed into thinking that these are the main criteria for election?
While attributed of integrity and honor are important, the spirit of cooperation and attention to priorities are equally important to the residents of Bridgeport.
I have announced my candidacy to serve as councilman for the Village of Bridgeport.
I have resided in the village for the past 28 years and served the Ohio Valley as an investment financial advisor for the past 30 years. I am currently President of the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce and an active member of the Bridgeport Rotary Club. I represent the Village of Bridgeport as President of the Board of Trustees for the Eastern Ohio Regional Wastewater Authority (EORWA). I also serve on the Foundation Board for Belmont College.
know I can provide direction and sound judgment as it relates to the village.
The residents of Bridgeport have always had the power; the power to elect councilmen who they believe are qualified and able to act in a manner consistent with the best interest of the village in mind, not their own personal agenda.
The essential question will be who can serve without controversy and abide by the ordinance of the Village of Bridgeport and the State of Ohio Code of Ethics.
I recognize that Bridgeport has a proud heritage and is the “Gateway to the West.” I want the residents of Bridgeport to be proud of their village, their administrators and their service departments. If elected, I will do my very best as your councilman to address any concerns and to work with the administration to achieve a bright future for our village.