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The 9-25-2008 edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer quotes Judge-Executive O’Banion’s lawyer as saying “”O’Banion will continue working as judge” and “we intend for him to maintain office” in response to charges that O’Banion stole more than $6,000.00 cash and over $600.00 in services from Owen County. The legal system in the United States operates on the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. However, I am confident that state auditors, prosecutors and grand juries exercise extreme caution before levying felony theft charges against someone, especially an elected official in his capacity. It appears that Judge O’Banions loyalties are not to the people of this county. Owen County has one of the highest tax rates, and lowest returns, of all 120 Kentucky counties. Recent research indicates that our county taxes, when you include school taxes, are among the top five in the state. This places us in the league of counties such as Jefferson, Kenton, etc. As sad as that is, Mr. O’Banion cannot even be credited with some of the major improvements in Owen County during his tenure. We were the last of 120 counties to acquire natural gas, a quest started by Frank Downing nearly 20 years ago.
Recent statistics show we were the last Kentucky county to have a paramedic on the ambulance staff. This may seem minor, but in a county as large and rural as ours, it could mean the difference between life and death. Paramedics have the ability to initiate intravenous lines and administer life- saving treatment at the scene of an emergency, where EMTs don’t. So, I must question if the $6,000-$7,000 reportedly stolen from ambulance funds by our highest official could have been used to provide the necessary training to certify our ambulance staff? Finally, if you review Fiscal Court orders from the last 6-7 years, you may find regular tax increases and an abundance of approvals for salary increases, and training incentive payments etc. to an array of county government employees/officials. You may also find that most citizen requests receiving affirmative, unanimous decisions are coincidentally requests from Owen Countians with influence or wealth. In contrast, requests made by the “average” Owen Countian are often met by denial, delay or are “tabled indefinitely” (placed on a back burner-as explained to me).
Our nation was built on the principle of limited government and the will of the people. “We The People” begin, and are the foundation of our Constitution. When our representatives, trusted to serve the interests of the people, fail to remember this concept, it is “we the people” who suffer. If Judge O’Banion cares about Owen County, I hope he will reconsider his decision and step down from office to allow someone truly committed to the people and our county to take over.
Vicki Von Bokern