April 23, 2014

Medina
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Medina County Clerk of Courts fires 2 workers

MEDINA — Employees in the Medina County Clerk of Courts Office were told in a campaign letter they could lose their jobs if David Wadsworth wasn’t elected clerk in November.

Wadsworth won, but this week two longtime employees, including the deputy clerk, were fired.

On Monday, Penny Lovejoy, who managed court archives for about 20 years, was fired. On Friday, Deputy Clerk Julie Kauffman, with 10 years of service, was terminated.

Wadsworth said he plans to appoint a new deputy clerk on Monday, and hasn’t decided whether to replace Lovejoy. Employees are appointed by the clerk and are not protected by civil service.

“I decided to make some personnel changes in the office to make it run more efficiently now that I’ve been elected to a full term,” Wadsworth said.

Still, the terminations came as a surprise. The women had worked for Wadsworth since he was appointed by the Republican Party in January 2011.

Kauffman said she had just returned to work Friday after taking time off to care for her husband who suffered a heart attack about a month ago.

When reached by phone Friday, Kauffman said she was in shock and wasn’t able to comment. Lovejoy could not be reached for comment.

Months after Wadsworth was appointed clerk, a June 2011 letter sent by his campaign to employees in the clerk’s office asked for their support in the 2012 election.

“If another Clerk from a different political party should be elected in 2012, he or she might ‘clean house’ like each of the Medina County Prosecutors did following the 1980, 1984 and 1988 elections,” the letter read.

Wadsworth distanced himself from the campaign letter in the fall, and said it was sent without his authorization. When asked about the letter and the termination of Lovejoy and Kauffman, Wadsworth said the firings are partially because of a moving-forward strategy, not “cleaning house.”

“This isn’t really a sweeping change,” Wadsworth said. “We try to build a team. Every officeholder has to have a team for the future. This is definitely not a house-cleaning — two out of 39 employees.”

During Wadsworth’s fall campaign against attorney Maryann Chandler, a Democrat, he faced criticism, including over cost-saving statements, and the strongest came from within his own party — his predecessor Kathy Fortney.

Fortney accused him of politicizing the office and said, “I wish now I had never left the office.”

Lovejoy and Kauffman were hired during the 22 years Fortney served as clerk of courts. Fortney said both women were great staff members, and Kauffman served as her deputy clerk for 10 years.

“Julie was an excellent employee,” Fortney said. “She wouldn’t have been my deputy had she not been. It’s a lot of responsibility.”

After Fortney retired in 2010, Kauffman was tapped by Fortney to serve as interim clerk of courts until the party appointed a replacement.

When asked whether there were any problems with the work performed by Lovejoy or Kauffman, Wadsworth declined to provide specifics.

“You just want to move forward with the right people for the future,” he said. “I really don’t care to discuss personnel issues.”

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

  • Red_White_and_True

    What a shock! Anybody who didn’t see this coming is extremely naive. The entire Medina County courthouse is filled with corrupt, selfish so-called Christian elected officials. It’s a shame that most of Medina County voters do not really know their elected officials. They just blindly re-elect or vote according to the party they profess to support. These judges and the clerk cannot wait to tell you which church they regularly attend, how they taught PSR, how they were or are Eucharistic ministers, but they forget Matthew 25:40 “”And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me!” All of the terrible deeds they have done, all of acts of vengeance, all of the families that have suffered because of their terrible selfish deeds… they will answer for those acts in due time. For the deputy clerk who just lost her husband and the other clerk who lost her job just to make a salary for Al Shirer who can easily retire, they along with all the others wrongfully terminated by the ego maniac elected officials in OUR county courthouse sorely in need of an exorcism, do not fear, you are supported by many and sooner or later our voters will realize they need to educate themselves before they cast their votes.