Smith, Lenz Still Barred

A restraining order barring two Bridgeport Village Council members from their elected positions remains in effect despite both David Smith and Benjamin Lenz winning re-election last month.

Bridgeport Village Council is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. today for its last meeting of 2013, and the four remaining members – Carole Lyle, Howard “Jimbo” Porter, Marvin Husarik and Richard Riley – must all be present for council to achieve a quorum.

Officials with the Belmont County Probate Court confirmed Monday there has been no action regarding the case since a pre-trial hearing on Nov. 26, when Judge J. Mark Costine continued the restraining order for Smith and Lenz pending their receipt of an investigative report from the Ohio Ethics Commission. Smith and Lenz begin new terms at the beginning of next year.

Calls to Paul Nick, executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission, were not immediately returned Monday afternoon.

Smith said he hoped to speak with Kevin Flanagan, the attorney representing he and Lenz, on Monday, and referred comment to Flanagan. Flanagan did not return calls seeking comment.

Smith and Lenz were suspended from council in August by Costine after a group of 11 Bridgeport residents filed a lawsuit against them. The suit alleged the two men – also both members of the Bridgeport Fire and Emergency Squad – have repeatedly voted, as members of council, on matters pertaining to the emergency squad, including voting to hire themselves as EMTs.

Among the residents filing the lawsuit were Bridgeport Mayor’s John Callarik’s daughter Shirleann Murad and James Murad; Callarik’s granddaughter, Mikida Clegg and William E. Clegg; the mayor’s secretary, Ann Gallagher; John Porter; Chris Tarter; H. James Brubach; and Diane Orum.

Mikida Clegg, Tarter, and Brubach also were among the candidates seeking election to four council seats in the Nov. 5 general election, as was Gallagher’s husband, Vince Gallagher. Councilman Marvin Husarik and former council member David J. Coyne also were on the ballot.

Smith and Lenz were the top two vote-getters in the race, with Husarik and Coyne winning the two other seats.