NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio – Former city councilor Dan Langshaw – who hopes to return to his seat on November 2 – told cleveland.com he would not appeal a June 15 court ruling that denied him the ability to search for additional public records – more than he has ever received – from North Royalton Town Hall.
In the Ohio Claims Court ruling, a court-appointed “special master” said there was no evidence that the records Langshaw requested even existed.
“I am happy to have taken (the matter) to court and to fight for the transparency that is badly needed in this city and (that) the locals expect from its government,” Langshaw, 35, told cleveland.com in an email.
Langshaw first applied for files to the city on July 18, 2020, about two weeks after he resigned his seat on Ward 3 city council.
Langshaw was looking for records related to disciplinary action that city council might have considered against him prior to his resignation, according to the Claims Court ruling. But Langshaw told cleveland.com he was looking for documents related to the city’s decision to close the municipal jail, which he opposed.
In August 2020, the city turned over public documents to Langshaw, but Langshaw believed the city was holding back. So earlier this year he appealed to the Claims Court.
“The mere disbelief of an applicant (of public records) in the assertion of the non-existence of a public office does not constitute clear and convincing evidence to establish that the sensitive documents exist,” said the special master of the Jeff Clark Claims Court in its decision.
âLangshaw has not fulfilled his onus of proving with clear and convincing evidence that there are additional documents documenting the city’s official activities,â Clark said.
North Royalton General Counsel Tom Kelly said the city has likely provided Langshaw with more files than he wants.
âHe (Langshaw) wants to believe there is more than there is,â Kelly told cleveland.com. âIt’s part of the personality we are dealing with. He insists the world is against him, so there must be more. This is not true, and the court concluded that it was not true.
Langshaw resigned from council on July 4, 2020, having served as Ward 3 city councilor since 2013. The resignation came about two weeks after Langshaw, in a rude phone call, threatened Mayor’s part-time secretary Larry Antoskiewicz, Jamie Anton.
Langshaw told Anton that he would try to fund her work unless she convinced Antoskiewicz to keep the city jail open. Antoskiewicz was seeking to close the prison because of the costs.
Langshaw also warned Anton that the council would investigate Antoskiewicz and his office unless Antoskiewicz overturns his decision to close the prison. He advised Anton to “show up” because the investigation would include him.
Due to the taped phone call to Anton, the board formally charged Langshaw with serious misconduct and / or wrongdoing in the performance of his duties. He resigned before the board could act.
Now Langshaw is running for the Ward 3 council seat again. He will face incumbent Joanne Krejci, who the council appointed to replace him after his resignation in the Nov. 2 election.
Langshaw said that despite the grudges that have built up between him, board members and administrative officials, he would work well with them if elected.
âThrough any obstacle there is the opportunity to grow and be better,â Langshaw said. âThe future council elected this November 2 and I have a great opportunity to grow together, be better and provide exceptional service to the Town of North Royalton.
Conflicts with colleagues
According to documents provided by Langshaw, his conflicts with city officials date back at least to when Antoskiewicz was first elected mayor in 2019.
At the end of 2019, then-adviser Langshaw declined the new Antoskiewicz’s invitation to meet in person. He told Antoskiewicz in an email that the city’s business should be discussed at a public council meeting, not in private.
âThis tactic is used so that (Antoskiewicz’s) words and transactions cannot be made public, if you cannot correspond by email,â Langshaw told cleveland.com.
At the time, Antoskiewicz replied to Langshaw that he wanted to talk about politics – Antoskiewicz and Langshaw were both Democrats at the time – not town business.
Antoskiewicz told cleveland.com he doesn’t remember why he wanted to discuss politics with Langshaw in 2019, but since they were both Democrats he might have wished to discuss a future event or event. ‘a party problem.
Antoskiewicz said he made no secret of the fact that he preferred chats by phone or in person rather than email.
âWith emails, you tend to go back and forth,â Antoskiewicz said. âOver the phone or in person, it’s a better way to communicate and more easily understand what a person wants or needs.
At a board meeting in January 2020, Langshaw raised concerns about Antoskiewicz’s appointment to Tom Jordan as director of community development. He pointed out that Jordan was hired as a part-time consultant by Olmsted Falls in 2019, and questioned whether Jordan’s work in that town would interfere with his duties at North Royalton.
According to the meeting minutes, Antoskiewicz said Jordan was not the only city employee with part-time jobs elsewhere. He said he was confident Jordan would meet his obligations at North Royalton.
âIt’s not against the law,â Kelly said of Jordan’s consulting role with Olmsted Falls. âMany people in director positions will also have part-time positions for communities that cannot afford full-time directors. “
In March 2020, Langshaw sent a letter to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, insisting that they provide COVID-19 information and case numbers daily. The board said no, it would only deal with mayors and city managers when it comes to COVID-19.
Shortly after, Kelly emailed everyone on city council warning them to “stay in your lane” and let Antoskiewicz communicate with the board of health about COVID-19. Langshaw felt the warning, telling Kelly he had the right to ask the board of health for information.
Kelly said Langshaw, as a citizen, had the right to ask for information, but being a lawmaker and not a city administrator, he did not have the authority to wait for updates from the board of health.
âIn March 2020, COVID opened wide,â Kelly said. âHealth boards were under pressure to provide tons of information, some public, some private. They decided to deal only with mayors and managers.
On May 4, Langshaw contacted the Ohio Ethics Commission about what he believed was a lack of transparency on the part of North Royalton City Council. The commission referred him to the Ohio attorney general’s office, which in turn referred him to the Ohio claims court.
Then, at a board meeting on May 19, Langshaw declined to participate in a private executive board session to discuss early labor negotiations and newly filed litigation. He said the executive session was inappropriate.
Kelly said the May 19 executive session was appropriate and legal. He said the law prohibited him from discussing details, but reaffirmed the session involved labor negotiations and litigation – topics the council is allowed to discuss in private under state code. He said Langshaw would have known if he had stayed for the meeting.
Kelly said Langshaw made between six and eight requests for public recordings at City Hall after his resignation, but only one request ended up in Claims Court.
In that request, Langshaw requested copies of correspondence, emails, text messages, letters and phone records from city officials between June 19, 2020 and July 8, 2020.
“The requested records should specifically include any discussion of Councilor Langshaw’s phone call to Ms Anton, his status as a council member and any disciplinary action that may be taken against him,” Langshaw’s request said, according to the Court of Justice. complaints.
On August 5, 2020, the city provided files to Langshaw. On February 8, 2021, Langshaw filed his complaint with the Claims Court, alleging that the city had not turned over all available documents, including text messages between council members Jeremy Dietrich and Michael Wos.
After Langshaw requested public recordings, Dietrich deleted the texts he had exchanged with Wos. Kelly said it wasn’t intentional.
âIn an effort to retrieve and print his text messages, Mr. Dietrich accidentally deleted them,â Kelly said. âThese messages were messages to Mr. Wos.
âSir. Wos had them all, and they were all provided to Langshaw as part of the response,â Kelly said. âAnd that’s what the court found. Neither has done anything illegal or inappropriate, and the inference is bordering on slanderous falsehood. “
Clark, the special teacher, said that since Wos was able to get his texts back with Dietrich, any further effort to get Dietrich’s texts was moot.
âLangshaw has not provided convincing evidence that this process was irregular or illegal, and his suspicions are insufficient to prove the existence of additional public documents on the personal devices of city officials,â Clark said.
After Langshaw’s phone call to Anton was made public, he publicly apologized. He said he still regrets the call today. However, he regrets that the council has chosen to broadcast a recording of this appeal to the media before it can respond to it.
âIt was because of my character and the stress that I confided in Jamie in a way that I am not proud of, but in any workplace, when you have a passionate disagreement, they will. address the individual first, not the media, âLangshaw said. âThey used the media as storytelling to force me out of my job. “
Langshaw said city officials, including Antoskiewicz and Kelly, turned around and plotted against him, at least in part because he changed political parties last year and became a Republican. He said they also targeted him because he was asking questions and seeking transparency.
âThey also heard about my interest in running for mayor at one point, and that’s when I saw me go from nice to bad with me,â Langshaw said.
Antoskiewicz said there was no conspiracy against Langshaw, who aided Antoskiewicz in his run for mayor in 2019.
Kelly said he was an independent voter, not a Democrat, and was previously a Republican, so he had nothing against Langshaw because of his change of party.
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