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Answers Needed On Balakos Firing

As so often is the case when public officials get the ax, Jefferson County Board of Health members offered virtually no explanation last Thursday when they fired Health Commissioner Nicole Balakos. But the tiny piece of information put forward certainly raised some eyebrows.

Regarding grounds for Balakos’ termination, the board would explain only that it appeared a violation of Ohio Revised Code section 2921.42 had occurred. That section is titled, “Having an unlawful interest in a public contract.”

Read between the lines: Though board members never said so explicitly, it appears they believe Balakos was involved in a violation of state law. Reinforcing that appearance is the fact that Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office reportedly is involved in the matter.

There are all sorts of possibilities for “unlawful interest in a public contract.” No doubt many Jefferson County taxpayers — not to mention people wondering how any such offense may have affected the department’s handling of matters such as the COVID-19 epidemic — want to know specifics regarding Balakos’ firing.

Don’t expect them to come from the health board. The sooner Yost’s office can release more information, the better — if only to explain precisely what about Balakos is being investigated.

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