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City Commission votes to terminate Gooss

The Dickinson City Commission voted 3-2 to uphold the city's Civil Service Commission's ruling that former city attorney Jennifer Gooss' termination was justified.

The Dickinson City Commission upheld the Civil Service Commission's ruling that former city attorney Jennifer Gooss' termination was justified in a 3-2 vote Monday. (Ellie Potter / The Dickinson Press)
The Dickinson City Commission upheld the Civil Service Commission's ruling that former city attorney Jennifer Gooss' termination was justified in a 3-2 vote Monday. (Ellie Potter / The Dickinson Press)

The Dickinson City Commission voted 3-2 to uphold the city's Civil Service Commission's ruling that former city attorney Jennifer Gooss' termination was justified.

Commission President Scott Decker as well as commissioners Carson Steiner and Mike Lefor voted to uphold the ruling while Vice President Klayton Oltmanns and commissioner Sarah Jennings voted against it on Monday.

Decker said he was surprised by the split in the commission's vote but noted that it was a tough decision for everybody.

"For me, there should have been some recognition that there was a conflict of interest early on," Decker said. "I have stated over and over in different meetings that when you are a professional, getting paid as a professional, you need to act as a professional."

Gooss was fired on June 29 for an alleged conflict of interest due to an open-records request made by her husband four months prior. The Dickinson Civil Service Commission ruled in September that her termination was justified, a decision she then appealed to the City Commission, saying there was not a conflict of interest.

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Oltmanns, though he voted against the first ruling, said the conflict of interest was "readily apparent."

"When I weighed both sides of it, I could see that there was a conflict of interest, but I didn't know if the punishment warranted what the conflict of interest was, and so that was the biggest thing that I had to struggle with on both sides of it," Oltmanns said.

Gooss said she was happy that two of the commissioners "looked at the evidence and the law and followed it and voted against it." She was upset about the ruling of the other three.

This ruling was the end of the appeals process through the city. The next step would be for Gooss to pursue civil litigation against the city-something she intends to do, she said. That step would occur in the Stark County District Court in the southwest judicial district.

"This process, from the onset, has been about as flawed as you can get," said her husband, Jeff Gooss. "I am at least happy that the commission read everything. While I don't agree with the decision, I feel that, had the processes been followed properly and the clear intent of the city administration and the police administration-had they not had ulterior motives-the outcome would have been different."

Haylee Cripe, the attorney representing the city, said she thought it was sometimes unfortunate that people holding city positions have to have these dealings out in the limelight.

"You have to remember that city employees are people, and I don't think any of us would be especially excited about having our mistakes played out in the public eye," she said. "But I think this went as well as it probably could have. I think the commission dealt with it as professionally and fairly as they could, and so I think that's all you can ask for this type of process."

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The Dickinson City Commission upheld the Civil Service Commission's ruling that former city attorney Jennifer Gooss' termination was justified in a 3 to 2 vote Monday.
The Dickinson City Commission upheld the Civil Service Commission's ruling that former city attorney Jennifer Gooss' termination was justified in a 3 to 2 vote Monday.

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