WARREN — Trumbull County Commissioner Niki Frenchko said she has listened with frustration as her colleague, Frank Fuda, refers to her as “Ms. Frenchko” through most of her term.
Frenchko, on numerous occasions, has asked to be referred to as “Commissioner Frenchko,” but Fuda continues to refer to her as “Ms. frenchko,” which Frenchko says is disrespectful to her as a woman.
On Wednesday, Frenchko placed an item on the weekly commissioners agenda clearly designed to codify that all commissioners refer to one another as commissioner or by a title, such as president, if warranted.
During discussion of the item, Frenchko noted the commissioners should be willing to vote on the motion as a public commitment to Women’s History Month, which is in March.
The argument did not work, as both Commissioners Fuda and Mauro Cantalamessa voted down the agenda item. Fuda noted that Frenchko has, on various occasions in public, on social media and on radio talk shows, referred to them as thugs, a crime family, Good Ole’ Boys, minions, swamp people, goons, flying monkeys and numerous other disrespectful terms .
Frenchko said the legislation she proposed was aimed at the commissioners’ actions while they conduct county business during public meetings and in doing other official acts. She said she never called them any of those names during official commissioners meetings.
Fuda retorted she should listen to recordings of their meetings that have taken place since she has taken office because she would find numerous times that has happened.
“I have,” he noted.
Cantalamessa suggested if Frenchko wants support on an item such as this, then it should apply to how each of them acts at all times because each of them are commissioners 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
“I want this consistent across the board,” he said.
Otherwise, he noted, it would be hypocritical.
Frenchko responded when they are not part of public meetings as commissioners, she has a right to free speech, just as any other resident.
In other business at Wednesday’s meeting, Fuda and Cantalamessa voted to support the creation of a nine-member Citizens Human Resources Advisory Commission that will, among other things, screen the 58 candidates who applied to become the county’s next human resources director, and to review current human resources policies and make recommendations to commissioners.
Frenchko voted against the legislation, in part, because the original legislation passed in November for the advisory commission did not include language that it would be making recommendations for the hiring of the county’s human resources director.
Former Trumbull County Human Resources Director Richard Jackson announced his retirement Feb. 1.
Commission candidates are Charlene Allen, Paul Amos, David M. Bevilacqua, Jessica Felton, Linsey Gray, Charles Leightner, William Licht, Lindy Lucas and Michael Rapovy Sr.
Frenchko suggested that some of the nine candidates for the commission do not have any experience or qualifications needed for the hiring of a human resources officer. She also noted that at least one of the commission candidates, Jessica Felton, also is applying for the human resources director job. She would not be able to make recommendations on a job for which she is applying, Frenchko said.
She said another person who applied to be on the commission has a history of harrassing her as a commissioner, even being suspected of sending lurid photographs to the commissioners. Cantalamessa said only these nine people applied to be on the nine-person commission.
Frenchko said the commissioners should delay establishing the commission in order to obtain more candidates to serve. She noted the original legislation passed in November said each commissioner would have the opportunity to select three citizens for the commission.
“I will not have an opportunity to select three,” Frenchko said.
Cantalamessa argued they need to move forward so the commissioners can begin the process of hiring of a human resources director. Having the citizens panel is establishing a transparent process that Frenchko has been promoting, he noted.
Fuda said if there is a problem with any of the members of the newly formed commission, the county commissioners can have them removed, and, if necessary, reduce the size of the commission.
Cantalamessa added the commission members only will be making recommendations. The final decision of who will be the next human resources director will be up to the three commissioners.
“We can accept or reject any of their recommendations,” Cantalamessa said.