Most Belmont County residents probably would have been willing to overlook complaints by Ohio Division of Liquor Control agents concerning county Commissioner Matt Coffland's behavior at his family-owned bar in Shadyside. Charges involving Coffland's behavior Friday night at Jamboree In The Hills are an entirely different matter, however.
If Coffland did what he was charged with late Friday, when he was alleged to have thrown a bottle at a liquor control agent on the JITH grounds, he should resign his post as a commissioner.
Of course, like anyone else, Coffland is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court. It could take months for him to go to trial.
Earlier this year Coffland and his son were charged with interfering with liquor control agents at the family's bar, the Tiger Pub in Shadyside. Allegedly the two saw agents enter the bar at about 2 a.m. one night, then informed patrons of the officials' presence and closed the establishment. Court proceedings in that matter are to resume July 31.
After that arrest, Coffland stressed the public should view his actions as a commissioner separately from those in private life as a bar owner. Again, Belmont County residents may have been willing to differentiate between Coffland the commissioner and Coffland the bar owner who was involved in a dispute with the Division of Liquor Control.
But the Friday night arrest involved an allegation of violence. According to state officials, the bottle Coffland allegedly threw struck a liquor control agent. Fortunately, the man was not injured seriously. Afterward, the commissioner was arrested and spent a few hours in the Belmont County jail before posting bail on charges of assault and disorderly conduct.
Coffland is expected to appear in court on the charges soon. But because of commissioners' official relationship to courts in Belmont County, the matter could be transferred or a judge and/or prosecutor could be brought in from outside the county. It is unlikely there will be a speedy resolution to the matter.
That is unfortunate, in part because Coffland is up for re-election this year.
If he is innocent of the charges, Coffland should fight the matter out in court, in the hope it can be cleared up before the Nov. 6 election. If he is guilty, however, he should resign his commission post immediately.