Open records laws cannot dictate choice of friends

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 2, 2005

As a councilman, I have always felt compelled to be open and up front about my feelings on matters.

As a citizen I have always been known to get out and about and drink coffee in the mornings with friends, lunch around town and to frequent eating establishments in Ironton such as the Elks, K of C, CR's, Frogtown, Pizza Forum, Giovanni's, and all the others I fail to mention.

One of my times out is often after Ironton Council meetings. Usually there are several of us who after a meeting at the city center go out to eat.

Email newsletter signup

This has always been public and not done in hiding or with any intention of misconduct.

I never felt as a councilman I gave up my personal rights or friends.

So, I am often seen with friends and co-council members having dinner and enjoying ourselves.

Many of us share the same hobbies, interests, etc.

I have even checked with the city solicitors to make sure no rules were being broken as well as making the newspaper aware of the outings.

I have even invited staff from the papers to come eat with us.

After doing city business at the city building for several hours per week, we all like a little relaxation before we end the evening.

Such is the case with this past Thursday.

We had a three-plus hour Council meeting and afterward went to dinner at a local eating establishment.

While there, I saw several AFSCME city union members there eating as well.

The president of the union rushed up to our table and took our picture.

I guess in hopes that it would intimidate one or any of the council members present to possibly vote a certain way or for a certain fee.

I won't be intimidated in making my vote a certain way, for or against a particular issue. I as a citizen have a right to enjoy my time eating and talking and if anyone wishes to think otherwise, I ask him or her to consult the Ohio Revised Code for a description of the Sunshine Law.

The law is truly meant to protect the citizens from unethical clandestine meetings.

If that were my intentions, I certainly would not go to the same haunts week after week.

Everyone who knows me knows where to find me.

There is nothing clandestine about where I am.

Remember I am the guy who bought the big yellow truck.

So when the news gets out that I and other council members are meeting at a certain place, please remember we were at the city building doing city business and at the local restaurant eating and relaxing.

My friends and I don't have a picture of us together, so I would really appreciate a copy of the one taken Jan. 27, 2005, at Frogtown.

Jesse R. Roberts is a longtime Ironton resident who has served on city council for nearly 10 years.