Trumbull Co. commissioner addresses ‘false claims’ made by challenger about Veterans Resource Center

27 Investigates

Niki Frenchko's campaign printed a letter by a veteran that claimed Dan Polivka fought against the new building

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The race for one of the Trumbull County commissioner seats got even fierier on Thursday. Incumbent Dan Polivka held a news conference to address what he calls “false claims” by his opponent, Niki Frenchko. Meanwhile, she discovered a missing document that no one is denying.

“For someone to put an ad in the paper to mislead the voters is shameful,” Polivka said.

Holding a press conference outside the county’s new Veterans Resource Center, Polivka addressed what he calls false claims made by Frenchko.

“She’s crossed a line saying that I did not support this building,” he said.

This comes after Frenchko’s campaign printed a letter by a veteran that claimed Polivka fought against the new building and instead wanted to lease or buy an old building, along with a heated exchange Frenchko recorded and posted on Facebook Wednesday.

Frenchko: “Why are you threatening to sue veterans?”
Commissioner Frank Fuda: “I’m tired of it. I am tired of it.”
Polivka: “Because it was totally misinformation that you put in your ad, total lies.”
Fuda: “There was no misinformation there, Dan. Everything in that ad was the truth, I read it.”

The underlying issue dates all the way back to March 2014, when Veterans Service Commission Director Herm Breuer says they were looking to lease a new space to better serve the veterans.

Reporter Nadine Grimley: “Do you recall Dan Polivka being on board the entire time?”
Breuer: “The entire time, yeah.”

“I asked the other day when this false article was in the paper to pull all the votes to refresh my memory on everything. I mean, I know I supported it every inch of the way but I wanted it in black and white and I asked our clerk to get a copy of the records and she gave me everything,” Polivka said.

County records show that in the meeting, Polivka voted to approve a request for proposals for a lease. The other two commissioners, Fuda and the late Paul Heltzel, denied it.

Fuda: “We knew what we were doing.”
Grimley: “The plan was already in the works?”
Fuda: “We had the plan in place.”

But, a records request from Frenchko about that meeting six years ago has now revealed a missing document.

Fuda: “The rest of the packet is there, it’s just that one item that’s not there so that’s kind of suspicious.”
Grimley: “The journal action on this vote on whether or not to lease a property?”
Fuda: “Right.”

A journal action is a document that records an item on a meeting agenda that commissioners voted on.

Fuda says he and commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa are calling for an investigation into how that document disappeared.

Grimley: “Would you be in support of an investigation into how those records went missing?”
Polivka: “Most definitely. I mean, it’s probably a matter of just a one piece of paper or something, I don’t know.”

“Having an investigation is exactly what we need and we also need to, I believe, investigate why office staff is being used to promote candidacy of a commissioner,” Frenchko said.

Frenchko made that claim because Polivka asked a county employee for a copy of all existing records.

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