Cheryl Vespoint, Herald Publisher
Bob Morehead, Herald Staff Writer
No one on city council objects to giving the city’s three elected executives raises.
At-Large Councilman Thomas “Bebe” Heitic has spent a few weeks floating the idea of across-the-board raises to the mayor, finance director and law director; they haven’t had a bump in pay for many years. His idea would be to hike all three to $109,000 and then link their raises with the bargaining units from then on.
Most of council thought the mayor, as the city chief executive, should get more. Councilwoman Nina Angeloff suggested $99,000 each for the finance and law directors and $109,000 for the mayor.
The idea didn’t sit well with Lisa Okolish Miller, Barberton law director for 12 years. Besides serving the city, she is the president of the Akron Bar Association and a member of the Ohio State Bar Association. She was originally elected as the law director in 2008 and then re-elected in 2012, 2016 and 2020.
Heitic brought up his raise idea for discussion during council’s committee work session June 6. During the break between the individual committee meetings and Committee of the Whole, Miller can be seen walking over to seated Councilwoman Carol Frey. She is heard using profanity while explaining reasons why she should be compensated at a higher salary than the mayor. Miller also stated she is confronting Frey because “she has a vote.”
Miller continues using profanity as she describes comparing the mayor’s salary to one of a higher education such as her’s. Councilwoman Frey can be heard trying to reason with Miller.
The city of Barberton Law Department website states the law director should maintain a professional environment by providing prosecutorial services to the Barberton Municipal Court. In addition, the law department provides legal advice for the police department along with all other offices within the city.
The law director position is also tasked with representing Barberton in legal proceedings and serves as the prosecuting attorney for the Barberton Municipal Court. This means that the law director decides who is charged with a crime and what the charges should be.
The video with subtitles and the transcript is below. Make sure to click cc (Closed Captioning) at the bottom of the video.
Warning: Contains graphic language.
Law Director Lisa Okolish Miller speaking to Councilwoman Carol Frey June 6.
Lisa: Listen, I am not making $99,000 a year. Carol, that is bullshit. I haven’t had a raise in 12 fucking years…12 years. If I got the minimum raise everyone in this city has had for 12 years, I would be making $109,000. You guys can give Bill $111,ooo if you guys are fucking married to him making more than me.
Carol: This is the thing after this is done you guys do make the extra.
Lisa: I understand that but why do I have to make $99,000? I am the only one with a friggen advanced degree, he can have a high school diploma.
Carol: You know what that’s a mistake too. Inaudible…that’s the charter.
Lisa: I can’t fix that problem.
Carol: I’m just saying, that has to be fixed too.
Lisa: I don’t care about that. Right now, why do I have to make $99,000? I want you to answer me that. I understand…I understand it was you and her that said he had to make more than me.
Carol: Well it was. Yes, because anywhere that I have been that has been….
Lisa: Ok, explain to me why I have to make $99,000.
Carol: I didn’t say you had to make 99, I didn’t say that.
Carol: and if you would remember I was the only person that tried to give you a raise last time. Even though you had people saying you know make up whatever. Nobody even came up with a plan to as far as how to give you a raise.
Lisa: Right….so I don’t have it 12 years later.
Lisa: So, I am not making $99,000. So, If you and Nina want to make him have $111,000 that’s fine but that’s bullshit if I’ve got the same…the same….if me and Jeremy got the same raise that everybody else got we’d be making $109,000. Well Jeremy would make more than me because Jeremy would make more than me..well …whatever.
Carol: I mean I can relate to you. Lisa I mean you’re talking about your life. I have the same shit in all of my jobs but I didn’t have anybody to go to. I didn’t care if I went to personnel, that’s just the way it was.
Lisa: Ok Carol, but you are in charge of this though.
Carol: I’m not even on finance.
Lisa: You vote for it though, Carol.
Carol: Right, Right
Lisa: Right, so you are, you do have a say in this. So I am going to someone who has a say in it. This isn’t about when you were a worker. You have a say in this so I’m going to the person that does, right?
Lisa: I definitely have the facts and figures to back this up right? I am not making shit up. So …if you guys are married to the man making more than Jeremy and I then there you go but there is no reason that I should be making $99,000 a year. My, my, my the people that work for me make that much. I’d be in the same position I was before.
Carol: Why do you think I am the one that can change it all? Inaudible.
Lisa: Cuz I already know what he proposed. So I know that I don’t have to talk to him right? Right?
Carol: Yes, but he’s in agreement.
Lisa: Right except he said he proposed more than them. He didn’t propose for me to make less that $109,000 did he?
Carol: He didn’t. He didn’t go over $109,000. Nobody was going over $109,000. Inaudible
Lisa: Inaudible…. Well, I thought it was $109,000…..(Inaudible) give him $110,000.
Lisa: This is insane. You guys are killing me. I can go fucking eat and you guys can go find another law director.