Friday, July 14, 2023

Wade Steen's attorney replies to Governor DeWine's claim that STRS member reinstatement would cause 'Chaos" while Governor Claims STRS Member Reinstatement Would Cause 'Chaos'

From STRS Ohio Watchdogs/Cindy Murphy

July 14, 2023
Wade Steen's attorney replies to Governor DeWine's claim that STRS member reinstatement would cause 'Chaos"
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Governor Claims STRS Member Reinstatement Would Cause 'Chaos'
Hannah News Service (Ohio)
July 13, 2023
Gov. Mike DeWine and current members of the State Teachers Retirement System board are asking a magistrate to deny a request from an ex-member seeking to rejoin the panel.
Wade Steen, one of Gov. DeWine's former appointees to the board, filed suit and a motion for immediate injunctive relief in June after the governor replaced him with G. Brent Bishop. (See Gongwer Ohio Report, June 9, 2023)
Mr. Steen argues in his motion that his position as an investment expert on the board is being "unlawfully held and exercised" by Mr. Bishop and that the latter's appointment was "impermissible and contrary to law."
His initial complaint contends that his removal violated statute because the Ohio Revised Code does not state that the investment expert on the panel serves at the governor's pleasure.
Gov. DeWine argues in his recently filed memorandum in opposition to injunctive relief that it would not serve the public interest to replace Mr. Bishop with Mr. Steen amid the ongoing legal fight.
"This Court should not take the extraordinary step of replacing him before having a full opportunity to address the merits of this case," the governor's filing states. "Such action would inject chaos into an already unusual situation, and would not serve the members of the public or the members of STRS."
Mr. Steen contends in his motion that he is entitled to injunctive relief because he is facing "immediate" and "palpable" harm from the governor's actions.
"He is being deprived not just the benefits and emoluments of his position, he is being deprived of the right to be effectively informed of matters coming before the STRS Board, to be heard on those matters, and, most important, to exercise his right to vote on those matters," his motion states.
Gov. DeWine, meanwhile, argues that Mr. Steen is not entitled to an injunction because he is unlikely to win his suit and potential harm to the public and third parties from granting his request outweighs any harm he has suffered.
The STRS board in a separate memorandum in opposition argues Mr. Steen's "own conduct belies his claims" that he faces immediate or irreparable harm.
"Despite his current allegation that he has been irreparably harmed by his removal, Mr. Steen did not file his complaint until June 8, more than a month after his removal and Mr. Bishop's appointment," the filing states.
The board members also have filed a motion requesting to be dismissed from the case, arguing that while state law allows "a person claiming to be entitled to a public office unlawfully held and exercised by another" to file suit, no one on the panel beside Mr. Bishop is claiming to hold Mr. Steen's former position.
The governor's team previously blamed Mr. Steen's ouster in part on his recent attendance record at board meetings. Mr. Steen pushed back on that in his complaint, calling such accusations "false," and arguing his attendance "has been in compliance with his duties."
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