OTTAWA — Putnam County District Advisory Council will meet Monday to decide if they will keep Matthew Herman as a member of the Putnam County Board of Health.
The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Putnam County Courthouse.
Herman has served on the board since March. The DAC is made up of 31 members including the county’s 50 mayors, 15 township trustees and one county commissioner. The meeting was at the request of the Health Board and Putnam County HomeCare & Hospice. The DAC is responsible for the appointment and removal of board members to the Putnam County Board of Health.
A letter was sent to DAC members notifying them of Monday’s special meeting, signed by Health Board members Al Hueve, board president, Mandy Klass, board vice president, and board members Teresa Hermiller and Nancy Wischmeyer-Schaub.
The letter states the following allegations against Herman including: he has at times bullied or intimidated leaders of Putnam County HomeCare & Hospice and fellow board members, it appears he has been recording executive session meetings, and he has represented the Putnam County HomeCare & Hospice in a negative way in public.
Herman said in April 2018, he brought to the board’s attention that there was possible ethical misconduct by a Putnam County HomeCare & Hospice agency supervisor, dealing with contracts that took place before he joined the board. He said the board made it clear they did not want to look into the issue and that further mention of his suspicions would not be tolerated. He said the ethical concerns that he is now raising are being investigated by the Ohio Ethics Commission.
The first meeting after the subpoena was issued to Putnam County HomeCare & Hospice is when he said Hueve started the process to remove him from the board.
“I feel the attempt to remove me from the board is in retaliation for bringing up these ethical concerns,” Herman said.
He said the board members who are asking for his removal are the same board members who voted against submitting his concerns to the Ohio Ethics Commission for review.
“The allegations that are being brought against me are complete lies. I will present clear proof at the District Advisory Council meeting on Feb. 25 that the incidents that they mention in their letter to the DAC is reasons for my removal never happened,” Herman said.
He added that it is also of interest that Putnam County Health Commissioner Kim Rieman stated during the January board meeting that she did not have concerns about his performance as a board member that is in meeting minutes. In the January board meeting minutes, it references the current investigation.
Under state law, the Ohio Ethics Commission’s investigations are confidential. The commission cannot comment on allegations or ongoing investigations, according to DAC Chair Bob Heidenscher.
During a telephone interview, Heidenscher said the purpose of the meeting is to get the facts about the individual where concerns have been raised. He could not confirm or deny the claim that the board is being investigated by the Ohio Board of Ethics.
“We need to find out from the accuser and the accused to find out the facts and truth of the matter and then go from there,” Heidenscher said.
Pam Sager, HomeCare & Hospice executive director, said during a telephone interview that she could not legally confirm or deny if the organization is being investigated by the state as all investigations by the Ohio Board of Ethics are confidential. Hueve also said he could not confirm or deny the ethics investigation.
“We are at a point where what seems like the best thing for the residents of Putnam County is to get a board that works well together, and at the moment we are just not there,” Hueve said.