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Investigators Focus On Arts Center Secretary's Work With Friends Group

For years, Karen Prasser's secretary helped manage the financial accounts for the non-profit Friends of the Solon Center for the Arts. It wasn't until May 2012 that city leaders put a stop to it.

From 2006 until her retirement in June 2012, Joan Long was secretary to Karen Prasser, the former director of the Solon Center for the Arts.

During that time, Long also helped manage the books of the Friends of the Solon Center for the Arts, a private nonprofit group that fundraises for the arts center's programs. Long also received checks from Friends, which Prasser said were only for re-imbursements, according to city documents.

That mix of public and private work by Long was not proper, city officials told Prasser in a May 2012 memo, and is now a key issue in the city's investigation of "irregularities" at the Solon Center for the Arts. (Read the memo attached at the right.)

After that May memo, Long had to give up the Friends duties. She retired at the end of June.

READ MORE: The Memos At the Center of the Arts Center Controversy

Prasser made no attempt to hide from city leaders the fact that Long was working closely with Friends and handling the group's money.

In early 2011, Prasser submitted to Solon's Human Resources Department a new job description for Long's position that included numerous mentions of the working relationship with Friends.

That proposed job description was obtained by Solon Patch. Dated January 14, 2011, the job description says that primary duties of the secretary would be to work closely with Friends, including managing accounts and promoting their activities. Read the proposed job description by clicking the PDF to the right of the article.

The job description reads:

"The Department Head Secretary is the administrative manager of the not for profit entity, Friends of Solon Center for the Arts, that serves as an advocacy and fundraising organization in support of the activities of SCA."

When asked about the job description this week, Human Resource Director Tom Cornhoff said that he didn't read it when was submitted in early 2011 and it was never approved.

Cornhoff said that only a couple of departments had submitted updated job descriptions and that he "never got around to looking at them."

He has since read the proposed job description and said it couldn't be approved because of the Friends activity, he said.

"There’s been talk about what should or shouldn’t be done by employees," he said. "Clearly, you can't do work for a nonprofit unless you have special approval."

There is no formal job description for the arts center department head secretary currently on file at City Hall.

When asked if members of the city administration knew that Long had been working so closely with Friends for years -- and when they ultimately discovered that fact -- Cornhoff said he couldn't answer those questions because of the ongoing investigation.

Questions by city officials about the Friends relationship and other issues led to Prasser's impassioned defense of the allegations against her in September. She  resigned a couple of days later.

Soon after Prasser's resignation, the city announced it had launched an investigation.

City officials have not commented on the extent of their investigation or given any timetable for when they expect to announce any findings.

Anne December 08, 2012 at 12:16 PM
I want to know if incompetence is in any job descriptions at city hall. The straw that broke the camel's back is when certain people wanted the noise ordinance vacated for that stupid Phil Dirt concert that was scheduled to be held on a goose poop covered field. Geese flocked there daily. Phil Dirt is a bar band that can be heard free at many venues in the area They neither sound nor look like the Beachboys. I asked my councilman why the ordinance was being vacated as the neighbors did not want ear splitting blasting music, louder than any football game or event. He couldn't answer me. He couldn't understand why neighbors didn't want their children's sleep disturbed (lots of babies around here). That is a demonstration of incompetence from all parties involved. City employees should NEVER have the power to control what goes on in the neighborhoods. As for above, I was given information that certain people didn't want anyone to know about. I've told the story hundreds of times because it's TRUE.
Harry December 08, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Ladies and gentleman, we finally have the missing pieces to this puzzle. Karen Prasser really lost her job because of Phil Dirt and goose poop. I knew there was much more to this entire investigation than met the eye. So now you have "the rest of the story".
Anne December 08, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Harry, whatever you think is of no importance to me. I simply stated information that was public, appeared in papers and there were ads on the radio. I contacted my councilman via city hall email, so it is public information owned by the city. I gave an example. Just an example.
Rocco December 08, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Who's Phil Dirt? Does he live in Solon?
Rocco December 08, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Do you mean is being incompetent in the job descriptions - a requirement for working for a city municipality?
Rocco December 08, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Again, I find this forum getting WAY off topic...
Harry December 08, 2012 at 03:37 PM
I am not sure you are right about that Rocco. I think what you are observing here is part of the root cause that got this started and led to Prasser's resignation and investigation.
Anne December 08, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Whatever. I do think that if any taxpayer money was involved, we deserve to know. I don't like the secret keeping. I find it so interesting that people who oozed and gushed complements and praise aren't doing that now. It's time for city officials to at least let us know what they are looking for. If my experiences come in to play at all (which I highly doubt), I want to know. If taxpayer money was misused in some way, I want to know. If there is any level of corruption, we deserve to know.
Rocco December 08, 2012 at 06:00 PM
You may have something there, Harry... perhaps it really is all about someone getting "goose poop" on their shoes... And, Anne, Phil Dirt is a nationally known band, not one you can see at a local bar for free, and if you saw the concert, it was fantastic, and it ended up being in the high school auditorium. And many council volunteered that evening for the Arts Center. I saw them with my own eyes. I only wish fellow residents in Solon could look at the big picture and stop being small minded thinkers...
Anne December 08, 2012 at 10:49 PM
How much money did you lose on the "concert?" There were no cars parked on the ABC streets, and the high school lots weren't full. A full house at the high school fills the parking lots and the ABC streets. How much city money was lost? I saw Phil Dirt free at cruise events in Mayfield Village and Willoughby. I remember seeing Sonny Geraci in Solon City Park for FREE. We also see lots of great bands at Home Days for FREE. No one wanted to pay 12 bucks to hear a band we could hear free elsewhere, and no one wanted to sit in goose poop. It had nothing to do with "the big picture." Times are tough and folks won't pay for things they can get for free.
Anne December 09, 2012 at 02:46 AM
I wouldn't be surprised if more than one person is being investigated. I want to know how he ended up in Solon and why he is here. He was not an HR professional when he first got here.
Anne December 09, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Do you think he'll be the next one to go?
Anne December 09, 2012 at 12:10 PM
There is a history here, and anyone who knows me has been told a rather incredible story that is 100% true. The mayor, council, my family and friends have been told. I won't print it here because I don't want more retaliation. Mr. Pelunis put the information in my hands 10 years ago.
Anne December 09, 2012 at 01:15 PM
If you dare speak the truth, you will suffer threats and retaliation. By the way, I remember when the ATM er friends group was formed, and I know why it was formed and I know why certain people were included and other excluded. It was explained to me 10 years ago . Everything that is happening now was outlined at the "dance meeting" held in August at the Community Center 10 years ago. The entire plan was laid out in clear English. Mr. Pelunis put the phony information in my hands at the conclusion of that meeting. Standing with me when I received that piece of trash were Bob Paulson and Dale Pelsozy. It seems to me that people at city hall worked very hard to cover up the truth.
Anne December 09, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Maybe they are investigating. We'll never know because secrets are being kept. Our city government seems to forget who they work for. I have a very strong feeling about what is not being said. People are finding out that I was right all along. My story hasn't changed in 10 years.
Anne December 09, 2012 at 04:06 PM
To city officials: Stop keeping secrets. Secrets are the reasons for rumor mills working overtime. Don't forget who you work for and represent. Has something been found? Tell us, please! Most of you know the story going back 10 years and I hope you use that information in your investigation. There are innocent Solon residents who await vindication .It's time to end silence.
Paul Skowronski December 09, 2012 at 05:43 PM
I'm shocked that this story has garnered as much attention as it has. What has happened has happened. Let the investigation take it's course, and stop focusing on rumors. I can only imagine what would happen if, say, the crossing signal burned out at the corner of 43 and 91. WHO LET THIS HAPPEN? HEADS WILL ROLL!!! FIRE THEM AND SUE THEIR FAMILY OUT OF EXISTENCE!!
Anne December 09, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Don't be shocked. If things are happening that affect the residents of Solon, we need to know. From my own personal experience, I think that this housecleaning should have been done years ago. The former mayor did not stress accountability, integrity, or honesty which opened the door to things that should never have happened.
Anne December 10, 2012 at 01:54 AM
I don't think the city will look stupid at all. Mayor Drucker should be praised for cleaning house and there is more cleaning to do. I also hope the ATMS er....friends are thoroughly investigated. It's about time!
kindleberry1 December 10, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Does anyone out there have any idea what Anne keeps talking about? What are these deep dark secrets that she is being so secretive about?
Anne December 10, 2012 at 10:54 AM
I guess you would have to know me, then I'd tell you the entire story. I won't put it in to print here. Truth brings retaliation in Solon.
Harry December 10, 2012 at 02:10 PM
I have been a long time follower/reader of this situation (but not an active participant) going back to the time the city created SCA. My memory may not be totally accurate about the course of events but I believe Anne feels the former mayor, current HR director and Prasser really treated her sister poorly when they dismissed her as an art center employee. She has expressed this in letters she has written to the papers. She apparently hates the former mayor, current HR director and Prasser. She also loves the current mayor. What I find ironic about all this is even if there was wrongdoing at SCA (either procedural or criminal) why has it taken almost three years into this new mayor's term to root it out? Most of the cast of players involved in and supporting this investigation (including the current mayor) have either worked for or have been elected in this city for a long time.
Rocco December 10, 2012 at 03:44 PM
What's the Friends group responsible for? Why do you call them the ATMs Anne?
queen of the may December 10, 2012 at 03:59 PM
actually harry, some of the cast of players has changed. there is a new finance director and law director. the rest of the cast has stayed the same... as for anne, it must all stem from her sister not being asked to stay on to direct more of the kids theater. it wasn't personal, just business. people get replaced all the time.
Harry December 10, 2012 at 04:15 PM
My point is if some of these holdovers (including the politicians) thought something was wrong at SCA/FSCA during Prasser's tenure or just didn't like the way it was being run then why did they wait using the new fraud policy to take action?
queen of the may December 10, 2012 at 04:24 PM
anne, i would have to ask if you would be supportive of anything the Arts Center held as a fundraiser? it sounds like the answer would be "no". but there were hundreds of people there that had a blast. and we thank them for their support.
queen of the may December 10, 2012 at 04:24 PM
i am curious.
queen of the may December 10, 2012 at 04:35 PM
youre missing the point. according to them, nothing was wrong.
Harry December 10, 2012 at 06:12 PM
So why so suddenly is it now? How did things evolve to this? The dots don't connect right now. Will they ever?
Rocco December 12, 2012 at 03:50 AM
They will, Harry. I think we're getting closer to the answers.

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