Put-in-Bay Mayor Sentenced After Guilty Plea
At the end of March, former Put-in-Bay Mayor Mack McCann and his two adult children, current Put-in-Bay Village Councilman Michael McCann and former Put-in-Bay Village Councilwoman Melinda Myers, appeared in Ottawa County Municipal Court, where they learned what their sentences would be after pleading to various misdemeanor conflict of issue charges were filed last fall.
The charges came after a year-long investigation by several governmental agencies, including the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Ohio Ethics Commission (OEC) that resulted in the Put-in-Bay Mayor Being Charged with several felony crimes.
Plea Deal Includes Dropping Felony Charges
In a plea deal that included dropping two felony charges against Put-in-Bay Mayor McCann, it was agreed that he would resign as mayor and plead guilty to lesser misdemeanor charges. The visiting judge also fined each trio $1000 and 180 days in jail. One hundred and thirty-five days were suspended, plus upon completion of 100 hours of public service, the fine would be reduced to $500, and the remaining 45 days in jail would be suspended. Everyone will agree ethics and conflict of interest issues are essential for public officials.
They are complicated, to say the least, and sometimes interfere with what makes for common sense in conducting government business. In the former mayor’s case, McCann’s decision to recommend to the Council that his business associate, Todd Blumensaadt, install a portion of a new waterline on Victory Ave. made a lot of common sense. The waterline replacement had been on the Village’s burners for several years. Todd had the machinery, the equipment, and the time to put the line in before the busy season began, plus the work could be done with much less expense.
Following the Put-in-Bay Mayor’s recommendation, council members voted unanimously for the project, knowing full well that Todd and McCann have had a business relationship over the years. The project made sense, but ethically it violated conflict of interest laws. Had officials investigated the operations of past mayors and village council members, they more than likely would have found numerous examples of these kinds of violations. Sometimes when you live on an island, it makes sense to do things differently than in a community on the mainland. It becomes more challenging in the eyes of the law when the island has such a close-knit family and business associates.
Amid the investigation, in April 2018, a representative from the Ohio Ethics Commission presented a two-hour program on ethics and conflict-of-interest issues for the island’s elected officials. It was an eye-opener, to say the least. In retrospect, after seeing all this story play out, we wish the investigating officials would have come to all the village officials and sat down with them and explained exactly what the issues were, how things should have been done, and how to avoid them in the future. Island officials would have all learned something, and a prolonged, expensive legal battle could have been avoided.
Oh! And by the way, it’s somewhat ironic that the three McCanns were sentenced to perform public service. Over the years, the McCanns have voluntarily been champions of public service for the various community groups at Put-in-Bay on the island.