Feuding continues between the Scioto County Board of Commissioners and Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini.
On Wednesday, the point of contention was not Donini’s well-publicized claims of overcrowding at the county jail. This time, Donini was upset over what he sees as the board of commissioner’s lack of action regarding 63 out of service sheriff vehicles.
“Since the board of county commissioners seem to routinely distort our communications with them, I wanted to make sure you receive the actual document recently submitted to them,” Donini wrote in an email to the Daily Times as well as presumably other media.
The document Donini referred to was a letter from the sheriff to commissioners asking them to take the proper steps needed in order for him to decommission and dispose of the 63 vehicles described as “no longer needed for public use … obsolete or unfit for the use for which they were acquired.”
Donini goes on to say the cars have no value, a circumstance which should allow them to be salvaged and the titles transferred. Donini added he purposely obtained a legal opinion from the Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office regarding the proper way to dispose of the vehicles. He emphasized he is merely asking commissioners to follow the procedure outlined by the prosecutor’s office.
At their regular meeting Thursday morning, with Commissioner Bryan Davis absent, commission Chairman Mike Crabtree moved to accept Donini’s letter, but commissioners took no action regarding the sheriff’s request.
Crabtree later questioned Donini’s claim the cars have absolutely no value.
“I can’t help but think they could make something off them,” Crabtree said.
In his letter to commissioners, Donini described the cars as “inoperable vehicles which have no cash value after taking into account the estimated costs associated with transporting the vehicles from their current place of storage to a licensed salvaged/junkyard along with permissible daily storage fees.”
Donini is requesting the vehicle titles be transferred to a private party, Michael E. Belford of Portsmouth.
In an early August letter to the county prosecutor’s office, which serves as the sheriff’s office legal counsel, Donini stated Belford’s father served as a special deputy with the sheriff’s office for over 40 years prior to his passing in 2016. Donini stated Belford and wife Juanita for many years allowed the sheriff’s office to store inoperable vehicles on their property.
“I offered to remove the vehicles from her property and she (Juanita Belford) has kindly offered to allow me to leave the vehicles on her property and spare me the trouble and additional cost of removing them providing the Board of Scioto County Commissioners would be willing to transfer the vehicle titles over to her son Michael,” Donini wrote.
“The only way that the vehicles could be transferred in this manner would be if the vehicles have no cash value,” Scioto County Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Parker in part wrote in her response to Donini’s request for help from the prosecutor’s office. “If the subject vehicles have no cash value, the board could discard or salvage the property. This would allow the vehicles to be salvaged at Belford’s junkyard.”
This is not the first time Donini and commissioners have clashed over the out of service vehicles.
In his email to the media, Donini stated the cars are a subject commissioners “sharply criticized me about in a previous meeting when they admitted to stonewalling me in ordering new vehicles. I am simply trying to resolve their issues but I’m sure this won’t be acceptable to them even though this is the route that our legal advisor has recommended.”
As part of the information sent to the prosecutor’s office, Donini included what he said is an inventory of the vehicles in question. That inventory consists almost entirely of Ford Crown Victoria’s, ranging from model year 1998 to model year 2010. The newest cars listed on the inventory are two 2012 Dodge Chargers.
Donini did not respond to a request for further comment for this story. Commissioners gave no indication of when they might take up the issue of dealing with the cars.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.