PHILOSOPHICAL MUSINGS: City needs to be thorough, open in police chief search

Last week’s resignation of former Bellefontaine Police Chief Brad Kunze has been a troubling experience for our community, to say the least.

Yes, there was an investigation. Yes, Mr. Kunze did resign to avoid a public display. And yes, the city still needs to produce documents relating to the investigation.

But whatever your opinion of Mr. Kunze — I have mixed feelings on the matter — he is no longer in office.

He may fade into the shadows.

Like many other public employees, you see them a couple of years later — usually in the aisles of a supermarket or some other public place — looking a lot less run down and stressed out about being alive after leaving their jobs in the public sector.

Or he could resurface.

Like other people of influence, Mr. Kunze could find a niche in some other public position or eventually run for office. He certainly has the political skills to make a politician if the events surrounding his departure from the police department have not entirely damaged his reputation.

In any case, that is a choice for Mr. Kunze.

The job of city officials and the main concern for the citizens of Bellefontaine at this time now needs to turn to the future of our city police force.

While the Civil Service Commission has set a 4 p.m. Thursday, May 26, meeting to discuss this issue, the three-member body needs to think about the whole picture when deciding how to proceed. The three members of the commission are Art Harper, Jack Ritter and Alan Hale.

There are several methods already in place to name a new chief — specifically the commission can decide to promote from within, relying exclusively on as little as the results of a written Civil Service test to select the new chief.

While it is certainly one way to measure merit, I don’t believe a test alone measures the qualities of a true leader.

Given the nature of his character — very studious and by the books — I would imagine Mr. Kunze scored very highly on the exam at the time he was promoted to chief. What the test failed to assess, however, is that Mr. Kunze is not exactly a “people person.”

It was this very aspect of his personality, along with his uncooperative attitude in dealing with other local law enforcement agencies, that led to the recent events.

On the other hand, the commission and city administration could advertise the position both locally and nationally and accept applications from both within and outside the department to select a candidate.

Probably the most glaring problem with this procedure — other than the higher cost and time involved — is the possibility that the process could be tainted by political favoritism. I can already see the troubles down the road for a chief appointed by Democratic Mayor Adam Brannon’s administration when, eventually, the Republican power base in Logan County wins another term in the Mayor’s Office.

Also, take into consideration that a tight brotherhood of local police officers may not like an outsider being brought in to lead them. That, of course, would lead to internal conflict and likely result in an overall decline in the community’s perception of public safety.

What this process does allow is for a group of human beings to assess whether the candidate has the necessary qualities to lead and inspire confidence in the department as a whole.

Possibly some method could be used that incorporates both the test, which can include a personal interview component as well as an administrative review, along with an open discussion of the top-scoring finalists.

Whatever decision the commission makes, however, should be well-thought out and thoroughly discussed.

And any course of action they choose to take should not be rushed.

For the time being, the department is in the hands of Lt. Ron Birt, a capable officer who already has built the respect of the team of officers behind him. Our city police officers are top notch professionals who already know how to do the job they were hired to do.

Now, we as a community must move on from the past and prepare for the future.

The only way to do that is with thoughtful and open discussions and decision-making processes that involve not only a small commission of appointed residents and top city administrators, but the community as a whole.

Reuben Mees is an Examiner staff writer and Bellefontaine native. He won a 2007 Associated Press continuing coverage award for his stories on a controversial police chief change at a former job in Hattiesburg, Miss. He can be reached by e-mail at

  • Written by REUBEN MEES

Prez trumps Trump twice in a week

Two times in one week, Donald Trump was denied the personal satisfaction of seeing himself on national television firmly stating the two words now synonymous with his name:

“You’re fired.”

And it took the President himself to deny one of the most influential businessmen in the United States from fulfilling his weekly desire.

The first came when Obama publicly released his long-form birth certificate to appease the so-called birthers who still doubt whether the Commander in Chief is legitimately American enough to sit in the Oval Office.

Trump, whose name has been bounced around as a possible Republican contender for the presidency in 2012, has been arguably the most vocal of the birthers in his call to see the document. But despite the fact that he didn’t get to go on national TV, emphatically point his hand at the camera and tell the President, “You’re fired,” Mr. Trump jumped on the chance to lather praise on himself as thick as the foam on children in soap commercials designed to make taking a bath look like a heckuva lot of fun for a kid.

“I’ve accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish,” Trump was quoted as saying. “I want to look at it, but I hope it’s true so we can get onto much more important matters, so the press can stop asking me questions.

“I am really honored frankly to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully, getting rid of this issue,” he added. “We have to look at it, we have to see is it real, is it proper, what’s on it, but I hope it checks out beautifully. I am really proud, I am really honored.”

But by day’s end, the birthers were back at it — this time sending out e-mail statements that the birth certificate was a fake doctored in the computer imaging program Photoshop Illustrator. Laughable at best, but at least Trump isn’t taking it that far.

So fast forward four days to Sunday — Trump’s big day on national TV. When his Celebrity Apprentice show airs in NBC’s 9 to 11 p.m. primetime slot.

I’m going to have to admit that although I’ve never really been an Apprentice fan, this season has sucked me in. The antics of actor Gary Busey, Star Jones’ “my way or the highway” attitude and Meat Loaf’s scattered-brained ideas have made a fan of me ... for this season.

So needless to say, I was rather peeved when, at 25 minutes until the show was over (I had recorded it on my DVR and was watching it about an hour late) a news flash came on saying the show would be interrupted for an unexpected announcement by the President.

I wondered what was so important that Obama felt it was necessary to interrupt my Sunday evening television lineup.

But after the ensuing commercial break ended, it was back to Trump, meeting the contestants in the board room to announce that the guys had won the contest about — of all things — hair care products. And of all statements, earlier in the show, Trump had the audacity to state that he thinks he has good hair.

So we make it through the first series of dramatic buildups to learn that the ladies would face The Don and another commercial break. Almost there, Mr. President, hold on just 10 more minutes.

Then boom, it cuts to the newscasters.

There would be no “You’re fired” for the millions of Apprentice fans this week.

But you know what really ticked me off about the whole thing? The newscasters came on and after some meaningless babble about this and that, one of the NBC talking heads blurted out that the Commander in Chief was going to announce that Osama bin Laden had been killed.

The news came as a huge surprise, but it wasn’t the President delivering the message. It was two talking heads. In fact, the final minutes of the prerecorded program ticked away and Obama still had not taken the podium. I turned bitterly to my smart phone and read a more detailed story on bin Laden before Googling Celebrity Apprentice to learn that Hope Dworaczyk had been fired.

Unfortunately, not Trump saying, “You’re fired!” Just like it wasn’t the President announcing bin Laden’s death.

Case in point: No matter how cool or important you think you are, someone’s always there to steal your thunder.

Reuben Mees is an Examiner staff writer, political junkie and a closet reality TV addict. He can be reached by e-mail at


Jordan’s message lacks consistency, substance

Congressman Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, delighted a packed crowd at the Winner Harvest Barn during the Logan County Republican spring rally Wednesday with a grab bag of small government rhetoric and Republican catch phrases.

“It’s important to keep things in context; we still live in the greatest country in the history of the world,” he told the crowd.

He even invoked the name of Ronald Reagan.

Unfortunately though, the congressman’s speech amounts to leftover birthday cake, sugary and sweet, but without any real substance.

The Republican Study Committee — a caucus of 176 of the most conservative members of Congress — proposed an alternative budget on the floor of Congress last week.

Calling for more Draconian spending cuts than even the mainstream Republican budget proposal, this alternative budget has zero chance of garnering widespread support. It is, however, a telling piece of work that speaks to the priorities of the RSC.

As RSC Chairman, Mr. Jordan championed the budget proposal during his speech Wednesday.

“The alternative budget we proposed would balance the budget in nine years,” said Mr. Jordan. “We protect defense, we keep the tax cuts in place and we make cuts because that’s what you have to do.”

That cake tastes good.

The reality, though, is that Mr. Jordan wants to achieve more than $9 trillion in government savings by focusing largely on 12 percent of the federal budget.

“We cut non-military, discretionary spending in half over the decade,” Mr. Jordan told me after his speech.

As far as I’m concerned, this RSC budget proposal defies the oft-used political comparison between the government’s budget and a family’s finances.

When my wife and I “tighten our belt” we do so by evaluating more than just 12 percent of what we spend. And while we’re here, I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that a cash-strapped middle class family also evaluates ways to increase the amount of money it takes in — something that Mr. Jordan and his peers have deemed a “non-starter.”

Mr. Jordan remains resistant to substantial cuts in military and defense spending.

Military spending in the next budget will approach $1 trillion, or more than six times the military budget of China. In 2010, the budget for the U.S. Department of Defense alone comprised 19 percent of the federal budget.

“I’m certainly open to finding savings in areas of waste or redundancy,” said Mr. Jordan. “But one of our country’s obligations is to protect its citizens and we have to provide our troops with all they need.

“I think that’s the proper conservative position to have.”

Just how safe can I feel for $1 trillion?

Mr. Jordan also advocates defunding Planned Parenthood — the federal government’s family planning program originally enacted in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act.

“Part of our spending crisis is that taxpayer money goes towards funding abortions,” said Mr. Jordan.

Never mind the fact that federal law prohibits the use of Title X funds in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.

I’m not accusing Mr. Jordan of lying, or even of intellectual dishonesty. He simply gives his constituents what they want — a Rockwellian portrait of small-town America and simpler times.

For the record, I like Mr. Jordan personally and for more reasons than just because the four-time Ohio state wrestling champion could put me in a fireman’s carry with one arm behind his back.

Charismatic and accessible, Mr. Jordan is always more than willing to humor this enterprising young journalist.

What lacks from his platform, however, is any real degree of consistency.

Mr. Jordan, and politicians like him, couple pleas for limited government with calls for broad, sweeping legislation to ban same-sex marriage and abortion while taking a hacksaw to any and all federal programs that would aid low-income or single-parent families with a baby on the way trying to make ends meet.

They insist on limited government spending and support a military budget in excess of $1 trillion.

And they demand balanced budgets after nearly a decade of red ink and then use only 12 percent of the federal budget to arrive at those desired ends.

The hip new phrase among politicians these days is “adult conversation.”

Everyone wants to have an adult conversation regarding our nation’s finances and the role of government.

I’m just trying to give them something deeper than “Go America!”

Nate Smith is an Examiner staff writer and generally independent voter. He can be reached at

  • Written by NATE SMITH

Returning to normal in a small town

Reuben Mees

It’s cold as the April showers patter into pools on the asphalt of downtown Bellefontaine.

Albeit an unwelcome sight, it’s entirely normal. 

It’s a quiet week when tearing down emerald ash trees and the arrival of a new restaurant make front page headlines.

That’s not an entirely unwelcome normal day in newsprint.

And it’s been nearly a week since the last television news trucks left downtown Bellefontaine.

That’s an entirely welcome sign that a community torn by the tragedy of a triple homicide is starting to return to normal.

When I first heard that a woman went missing and was presumed dead, I wasn’t entirely shocked. It’s not completely out of the ordinary that our community and law enforcement officers respond to a homicide.

Certainly not a shiny spot on the surface of humanity, but there to be dealt with nonetheless.

It was only after news spread that the missing young woman was found brutally murdered and an elderly couple was also missing and presumed dead that the story began to take on a sinister tone that attracts the news trucks.

And that’s when the abnormal began.

Bellefontaine and Logan County were turned into a spectacle for national and regional news agencies to show the grim side of life in Middle America. The same newscasters that yawn at stories about life in small towns were salivating to feed the gruesome details to their audiences.

All at the expense of the people who live here.

The gem in all this is that within two months, authorities here and in West Virginia, where the suspect was located, were vigilant and quick to bring the case to resolution.

It’s been two months to the week that the manhunt was in full swing and already the case is closed.

The perpetrator is locked safely away in an Ohio prison, already having admitted to three counts of murder and sentenced to spend life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The death sentence was dropped in the process; so there won’t be a drawn out series of appeals as the convicted man waits for his turn on death row.

Now there only remains the difficult healing process for the two families. On one hand, there is the loss of a young mother whose two sons must still be provided for and, in the other case, mourners must come to terms with the cruel end to the golden years their beloved family members experienced.

However, the prosecutors who tried the case and the defense attorneys who represented the accused are to be commended for their speedy work in bringing this tragic case to a quick resolution.

In offering the plea, the two parties worked together to avoid a trial that would have been costly to the taxpayers of Logan County. What they and the families gave up in return was the opportunity to execute the defendant.

While his crimes certainly warrant that consideration, debate over the future of the death penalty in Ohio as well as the cost and stress the families must endure as they prepare for a lengthy jury trial is a just argument for offering the plea agreement.

I am thankful that despite the madness that drove the man to commit these crimes, he had the presence of mind to enter the guilty plea, go immediately into prison and put this sordid affair to rest.

In my opinion, the normalcy and closure we all get from this far outweigh both the potential costs and benefits of seeing the murderer executed.

I sincerely hope the families agree and find their own path to normalcy in these difficult times.

Reuben Mees is an Examiner staff writer, Bellefontaine native and general proponent of the death penalty. He can be reached by email at

  • Written by REUBEN MEES

Adrift in a world of clouds

I've been floating in the clouds pretty much all year. It started with the final days of 2010, actually, as my plane descended through the clouds above Lima, Peru, to deposit me on the Pacific shores of South America. 

After a week acclimatizing to the southern weather and fending off my first bout of food poisoning, I found myself floating through the clouds again en route to Iquitos, Peru, one of the most isolated cities in the world.

The interesting thing is I was reading an article on cloud computing. Although I'm moderately computer savvy, I had never heard the term before, so naturally it piqued my interest.

I struggled through the Spanish text, only occasionally turning to the following two pages for the English translation, and although the words and sentences made sense, the idea was still as nebulous as — well — a cloud.

What I managed to figure out is that information, programs and a bunch of other electronic stuff are just out there ... floating around like clouds. Basically, anyone can hop on one, then bounce on over to another one without ever touching the ground.

Reading that story made my brain hurt so I flipped to a travel article as the pilot took us back through the cloud layer on our descent into the jungle.

I went about my merry way, hoping the clouds wouldn't unleash the worst the rainy season had to offer. Fortunately they did not and I floated — this time on the waters of the Amazon and Marañon rivers — back to civilization.

A few weeks later, I found myself literally standing on top of a layer of clouds looking down from the second highest peak on the Inca Trail, preparing to descend the following day into the cloud forest that lies outside the historic ruins of Machu Picchu.

Battling through a few more bouts with the stomach crud and witnessing some other amazing sights along the way, I made it back to Lima for a grueling four-leg bounce through the clouds that landed me back at Port Columbus.

I had forgotten all about the cloud computing thing until I went out cell phone shopping.

And despite my best efforts in recent years to avoid the whole smart phone thing, I broke down, bought an Android and signed up for the data package. What I didn't realize is that I also joined the cloud computing club. I didn't have to go through any ritual and I don't have to carry a card I can swipe for discounts, but yep, I joined the club.

I unwittingly bounced onto my first cloud when I pulled up the map and it showed me I was on U.S. Route 33 just east of Marysville. From there, I bounced on to my first free game — Stupid Zombies, a super sweet sniper game in which you get to blast the heads off the walking dead.

Now when I look at the sky on a cloudless night, I can pull up my Google Sky Map and identify which constellations I'm looking at.

And I started asking myself how can all this information fit onto this teeny-tiny computer I carry in my pocket. A few years ago, I heard Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour make a comment that a computer the size of the convention room he was speaking in that day couldn't do half what these handheld devices do at that time. He certainly hit that one into the clouds.

And thinking back on that statement and that article, it all came together. It's not here on the computer ... it's up there ... in the clouds.

It was the click of the final piece of the puzzle in my tile game app sliding into place. All these apps they're not even on the phone. They're in the clouds.

When I look back at the old Commodore 64 I used to play incredibly uncomplicated video games that were stored on cassette tapes, I get a laugh. I couldn't even begin to imagine how many tapes a game like Stupid Zombies or Angry Birds would require. But now, they require nothing — no tapes, no discs, no wire to the wall ... just a nebulous web of clouds floating somewhere out there in the electronic ether.

Reuben Mees is an Examiner staff writer, recent traveler of Peru and newly converted smart phone junkie. He can be reached by e-mail (goes straight to the smart phone) at

  • Written by REUBEN MEES