Some residents call for resignation of 2 West Chester officials

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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An attorney comments about comments on social media by West Chester Twp fiscal officer Bruce Jones

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Several West Chester Twp. residents are demanding two elected officials step down after their recent comments about controversial issues.

An over-capacity crowd filled the township offices for a trustee meeting Tuesday night, prompted by a recent Facebook debate by Fiscal Officer Bruce Jones as well as the controversial “Right to Work” issue trustees have been considering.

MORE: Comments about Women’s March land West Chester official in hot water

Jones told the Journal-News his frustration got the better of him when he told a woman on his Facebook page she should “go back to the asylum” following a lengthy discussion on gender equality.

Jones came under fire when he told a woman from Hamilton County who posted comments on his Facebook page she was "ill" and should "go back to the asylum."

The woman, Nicole Klungle, told the Journal-News she “engaged Mr. Jones because silence in the face of hate is acceptance.”

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Dozens of union workers and West Chester residents, including Jasmine Williams, crowded the West Chester Twp. Administration building for the Board of Trustees meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Dozens of union workers and West Chester residents, including Jasmine Williams, crowded the West Chester Twp. Administration building for the Board of Trustees meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

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Dozens of union workers and West Chester residents, including Jasmine Williams, crowded the West Chester Twp. Administration building for the Board of Trustees meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Jones shared a post on his Facebook page that was critical of the recent Women’s March in Washington, D.C. following the inauguration of President Donald Trump. He told the Journal-News on Tuesday he didn’t agree with everything in the post, but shared it because he supported equality for all.

Jones said he should have been more “artful” in expressing his frustrations with Klungle.

“I’m curious how Mr. Jones would artfully tell me that I am irrational and have no grip on reality,” she said.

Several people at Tuesday’s meeting asked Jones to step down, and township trustees have received emails calling for his resignation.

“In my opinion I think it’s time for Mr. Jones to resign,” resident Michael Dawson said. “Not because of his personal and political beliefs but because as an elected public official, in my opinion, it seems apparent he can not see past his own personal and political beliefs to serve others that may not hold and share the same values he does.”

Jones’ response to the call for him it quit?

“Why would I,” he told the Journal-News. “People elect me based on my performance. My performance is evidenced by the fact I’ve received the state’s highest award for financial reporting each and every year I’ve been in office. That’s what they vote for me is based on, not someone else’s social agenda.”

Welch and Lang said no one can force either duly elected official out of office, except through the ballot box. Welch said the heated comments showed him a “divisiveness” in the township he didn’t think existed, but the comments were made in a highly charged atmosphere.

“I think emotions were running high and because it’s a pretty serious accusation or desire to have somebody removed from office. That’s not they need to reprimanded or anything like that,” Welch said. “So in that respect I was a little surprised. I understand where they’re coming from, but there is really nothing in the Ohio Revised Code that permits that.”

The Jones issue struck a cord with several women who spoke during Tuesday’s meeting, but some just wanted an apology.

Jones did offer an apology “for those with good hearts.”

“Those people who disagree with me with a good heart, I regret if there’s anything I said that offended them,” Jones said. “But I’m not at all concerned how the political radicals and my political enemies, the people with dark hearts, I don’t care what they think. Haters will be haters. I just don’t want them to contaminate the people with good hearts. We all want rights for women as well as our sons and fathers. They are such an ugly, divisive group when you look at the full scope of their agenda.”

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Dozens of union workers and West Chester residents, including Jasmine Williams, crowded the West Chester Twp. Administration building for the Board of Trustees meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Dozens of union workers and West Chester residents, including Jasmine Williams, crowded the West Chester Twp. Administration building for the Board of Trustees meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

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Dozens of union workers and West Chester residents, including Jasmine Williams, crowded the West Chester Twp. Administration building for the Board of Trustees meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Likewise, some residents called out Trustee Lee Wong for his behavior during an earlier meeting when union members came to protest the “Right to Work” issue. Wong wanted to let everyone speak, whether they had ties to the township or not and refused to second an adjournment motion. Trustee George Lang left before the end of the meeting leaving just Trustee President Mark Welch and Wong to conduct the meeting.

“I witnessed a mob action or something close to it at our meeting of outside agitators, people with political interest but not legitimate jurisdiction who tried to seize control of the meeting …,” Richard Knodel said. “Mr. Wong refused to second the chairman’s motion to adjourn the meeting so the chaos continued. I find these actions so disreputable and harmful to the reputation of our township, that tonight I’m calling for the resignation from the board of Trustee Lee Wong. Whatever his private interests were he put them ahead of the township.”

Wong, like Jones, has no interest in relinquishing his seat.

“I’m not going to resign,” he told the Journal-News. “I’m the independent voice on the board.”

Others also commented on Wong’s actions two weeks ago but the underlying situation is moot for the moment. The trustees have put the Right to Work issue on a shelf while the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether to take further action on the opinion that opened up the designation — “Right to Work” allows jurisdictions like West Chester Twp. to forbid private unions from forcing membership and dues-paying — to jurisdictions other than states.

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