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Former Mayor Claims Retaliation is Behind Lawsuit Against Him

The Dayton City Council went into executive session Tuesday evening to discuss pending litigation. There was no direct reference to specific litigation, though it is known that the city is suing former mayor Ken Rankle for inappropriately financing engineering work at a private business. 

The suit, filed against Rankle, claims that two checks were written in 2011 in the amounts of $1,781.25 and $475 and paid to Cardinal Engineering for services provided to Bouna Vita, a family-owned restaurant in Dayton. The checks failed to have the usual two signatures from the city.

Rankle spoke with The River City News over the weekend and called the lawsuit political. 

"I feel strongly I did nothing wrong," Rankle said. "We had a purchase order signed by (former city administrator) Dennis Redmond for approval. It was something council talked about to get Buona Vita established, and right now they have 25 employees."

The former mayor, who lost his reelection bid in November to Virgil Boruske after 12 years at the helm, directed criticism at the city clerk/treasurer. "I'm astounded by the fact that it was not signed twice. The procedure we had was that every check had to be signed twice. I feel that the city clerk did not do her job. She has a duty as clerk to question it or bring it to the city attorney. I wonder how many checks out there she hasn't done correctly.

"It makes it appear like I did something wrong when she didn't follow procedure."

In Dayton, the mayor, the city attorney, and the city clerk are authorized to sign checks. Checks are generated by the city clerk, City Administrator Michael Giffen told The River City News after the lawsuit was filed. Mayor Virgil Boruske did not say how the checks were brought to his attention, only saying that "someone" tipped him off and an investigation began. When Rankle refused to pay the money back, the city filed suit. 
 
The 2014 mayoral campaign between Rankle and then-Councilman Boruske was heated and bitter. Rankle called the lawsuit "retaliation".
 
"I was mayor for twelve years and left the city with more of a surplus than the city ever had," Rankle said. "It has allowed the current council to have a $400,000 deficit in their budget. I left the city in a better place than when I found it. I left there after twelve years of being mayor and four years on council without even a thank-you as I walked out the door. I feel this is retaliation."
 
At Tuesday's meeting, Councilman Joe Neary proposed that along with copies of the monthly budget, a check registry should also be made available to council members for review, showing all of the checks issued in that month. He said that while it might be little extra work in the short term, it may serve as a time saver down the road.
 
Other notes:

City Administrator Michael Giffen updated the City Council on the comprehensive plans pertaining to the proposed pier project along with Riverfront Commons development that will go through the city of Dayton.  The project is being done by the engineering and design firm KZF.  The plan was approved by City Council last fall.

“It’s taken a little bit longer than we anticipated, owing to the fact that they could only get so far before they needed more information from the Army Corps of Engineers.  As you can imagine with the wet weather that we’ve had, they’ve been busy with flooding all over the state and region. So they were slow to get back to us which caused a little bit of a delay. In the interim, Southbank stepped up to fully fund that project, so the $21,000 that City Council had initially voted to go towards the project will actually be reimbursed by Southbank, so I would like to thank them again for that initiative,” Giffen said.

About half of the plan has been finished, and now that KZF has the information they need from the Army Corp of Engineers, Dayton is hoping to wrap up the rest in the next couple of months. There may be another public hearing before all the work is completed and city officials urge the city’s citizens to keep on the lookout for an announcement of that kind.

There has been substantial work done by The Northern Kentucky Water District on Dayton Pike to replace water mains there.  Some unexpected problems occurred during the work, but Giffen said that he is working to ensure that the streets are fixed and repaved on as early as Monday, August 10.  Parts of the street will be closed for at least a day while these repairs are done.

On June 24 on 3:36 a.m. the Bellevue-Dayton Fire Department along with the Cincinnati Fire Department responded to an emergency call on the Ohio River to a boat that was sinking. Two people on the boat were able to swim to land, and the BDFD and CFD were both able to help four others out of the water, saving four lives in the process.

Rick Zumwalde, owner of the soon-to-be-opened restaurant, The Purple Poulet, was greeted by the City Council as a new business owner in town. Zumwalde says he hopes The Purple Poulet will be ready to open its doors by late September.

Ervin Terrace is in need of repair but Giffen said that it is the Northern Kentucky Water District’s responsibility to complete and pay for the repairs needed. He said that previous work done by NKWD was the cause of the street falling in along some stretches. The recent storms have only exacerbated the problems on the street.

“(NKWD) is going to assess the damage and what it will cost to fix. We’ve been out there several times and it is a top priority of ours,” Giffen said. Dayton Mayor Virgil Boruske said that he expects it to be “months” before improvements to Ervin Terrace will be made.

With Dayton Home Fest and Fall Fest quickly approaching, Councilman Joe Neary asked if the city could do some sprucing up by having the local VFW Hall supply flags to put up along the business district in anticipation of the extra visitors to the area.

Neary also asked for clarification on what it is he is permitted to speak with residents about concerning issues discussed in city council executive session meetings that are held in private. 

“The votes are a matter of public record, but the discussions in executive session are for the purpose that they are held in secret from the public for a variety of reasons there. Anything that is said in those sessions should not discussed with the public,” said City Attorney Tom Edge.

Dayton City Council approved an ordinance to make the museum board an official board of the city.

Infiltrate Ministries has requested to throw a block party on August 8 at the end of Clay Street from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Written by Bryan Burke and Michael Monks