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Paperwork mixup means Loveland currently has no mayor

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Posted at 10:04 PM, Aug 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-18 00:49:52-04

LOVELAND, Ohio -- Loveland’s city solicitor has determined that former mayor Mark Fitzgerald’s Monday resignation was valid, but the process used to select his replacement wasn’t -- leaving the small city without anyone in its highest office.

Fitzgerald, whose recall became one of the primary goals of a local political action committee called Loveland Community Heartbeat, resigned Monday after a City Council meeting named vice mayor Angie Settell his successor. 

Here’s where things get odd.

According to city solicitor Joseph Braun, Loveland’s Code of Ordinances requires that all special meetings of the City Council are preceded by a notice posted on the city bulletin board 12 hours before the scheduled meeting. The notice announcing this meeting was posted just eight hours beforehand.

Braun said this failure to give adequate notice means all action taken during the meeting “should be deemed without legal effect.” Angie Settell is not legally mayor.

Neither is Fitzgerald.

Because he turned in his resignation after the meeting proper, Fitzgerald’s abdication is still legally valid. However, since the council’s appointment of Settell as mayor and councilwoman Pam Gross as vice mayor took place during the meeting, those appointments are null.

Settell, who remains in her previous position as vice mayor, had already called the tangled situation “a miscarriage of precisely why recalls are allowed” and “a sad and devastating chapter in Loveland.”

The City Council can still select a new mayor, meaning Settell and Gross might very well end up in exactly the positions they thought they were given Monday night.

It just needs to be a little more careful with the paperwork.