Group protests cancellation of Austintown concerts, trustee in middle of controversy

Coronavirus

An Austintown trustee's social media post has thrown him into the middle of a controversy

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – An Austintown Township trustee says he is getting a lot of phone calls after letting people know that he is obligated to reveal at least one of the people who has been complaining about the township’s Music in the Park program.

A group gathered at the park Tuesday night to protest the canceling of the popular outdoor event.

The Ohio Department of Health informed Austintown trustees that the concerts violate the state’s law about mass gatherings, and some have complained to the Mahoning County Board of Health.

Tuesday’s protest was led by members of the band Blue Siren. They were supposed to play a concert Tuesday night. About 150 people joined them in the demonstration.

“I mean, there’s certain reasons I do understand to shut down. This is not one of them. The decision was made without even being here, without being at a concert in the park, here,” said Larry Christopher, Blue Siren band member.

Trustee Jim Davis is finding himself in the middle of the controversy after posting a message on his Facebook page saying that he is obligated as a public official and under the Freedom of Information Act to reveal who sent emails to him and the Mahoning County Board of Health complaining about the concerts.

Austintown Twp. Trustee Jim Davis

Davis said he would turn over the complaint to anyone who wanted to see it, saying it is public record.

“It led me, after receiving a couple of phone calls today, to say, okay, well, if people are going to start calling me, I am going to tell people how they can obtain it,” Davis said.

Davis said his actions were not fueled by emotion and his intent was not to cyberbully the woman who complained. However, the woman was harassed by the public.

“I don’t condone people calling her and making threats. I do not condone people protesting at her house,” Davis said.

Anytime anyone asked for the complaint, Davis would send them an email that was sent to the Mahoning County Board of Health. He also sent a message that said, “In accordance with your request for public record.”

The woman’s email wasn’t an official complaint so it doesn’t fall under the Whistleblower Protection Act.

“Calling them reckless and saying they were not doing their job. Essentially, saying she was going to file a complaint. Her email was not her filing a formal complaint,” Davis said.

Davis posted another message on Facebook asking residents not to threaten the woman or post her personal information online. He says he talked to the woman and that they came to a mutual understanding.

“We understand the severity of the disease. We have to find a way to live with it, and we need to find safe ways to continue our life,” Davis said.

Davis said he does not regret publishing the Facebook post, saying his job is to answer when people have questions.

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