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What’s the Matter with Milton Township? Supervisor Chris Heidorn Fourth Report

“Just tell them… the books are closed.”
Milton Township employee Ralph Hinkle to his bosses | August 15th, 2012

Despite awareness of employee Ralph Hinkle’s very troubling behavior, Milton Township Supervisor Chris Heidorn authorized Hinkle the power to write township checks and gave authority to privately “self-manage”.

Now, Ralph Hinkle is issuing ultimatums to his bosses: the Supervisor and Milton’s Board of Trustees.  Read email here.

Three serious allegations are explored in this report: 

I.            Did Supervisor Heidorn install employee Ralph Hinkle on township checking accounts while misleading Trustees?

II.            Did Supervisor Heidorn let employee Ralph Hinkle institute his own private “management system”?

III.            Is employee Ralph Hinkle strong-arming his boss and the Milton Township Board of Trustees?

Previously, we exposed Ralph Hinkle showing thousands in taxpayer money spent on travel junkets; fine dining; and undocumented gas purchases. We highlighted township cell phone and email used for political purposes;  large taxpayer liabilities incurred for implementation of secret surveillance systems;  and showed that Hinkle had knowledge of repeated instances of alleged drinking/driving of township van…

I.  Supervisor Chris Heidorn installs Employee Ralph Hinkle on Township PAYROLL Account:   

On July 10th, Supervisor Chris Heidorn installed employee Ralph Hinkle on the township’s PAYROLL checking account.  See Fifth/Third bank cards here.

Payroll is a “one signature” required checking account which means the “signer” controls the account. The Top 10 Milton employees make $1 million and Milton has at least 34 employees.  Millions of taxpayer dollars flow through this “checking account”.

No notice was given to the township board, see certified July Board minutes.  As an employee, Ralph Hinkle is only “bonded” for $20,000. This delegation of power and duty from a supervisor to an employee may violate township law.

Heidorn Caught Misleading Trustees:
On Thursday, August 30th, Supervisor Chris Heidorn misled all Township Trustees regarding Ralph Hinkle’s “authorization” on township checking accounts.  Heidorn wrote that Hinkle was removed from all township accounts in 2011, except General Assistance.  Review email to all trustees here.

But this was not true.  Most recently, Heidorn gave Ralph Hinkle signature authority on the PAYROLL account!

Ralph Hinkle had signature authority on Township checking accounts since 2008:
From June 2008- June 2011, Ralph Hinkle was allowed to sign the signature cards at up to five local banks for up to eight separate township checking accounts.  In fact, up to seven other officials and employees were also signing signature cards on township bank accounts.  Over this period, up to $12 million in township tax revenues flowed through these checking accounts. Read 2008 resolution here.

Did Ralph Hinkle sign his own re-imbursement checks?  On many township checking accounts, only “one required” signature was mandated.  This begs the question, were Ralph Hinkle’s and Chris Heidorn’s reimbursement checks respectively co-signed by each other?

Was Hinkle a part-time employee?  As of 2008, the only employment paperwork in Ralph Hinkle’s personnel file was a memo hiring him as part-time! Read memo here.  Hinkle didn’t “morph” into full-time until his 2010 memo, here.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, we asked for copies of both Chris Heidorn’s and Ralph Hinkle’s reimbursement checks from years 2009-2012.  Township FOIA officer Gail Hinkle (wife of Ralph Hinkle) provided documents that are not canceled checks, click here.

Was this a legal delegation of supervisor power and duties or just a breach of accounting controls?  Township code only mentions a supervisor as signatory of township checks, read the code.

In addition to sweeping checking account powers, now Supervisor Chris Heidorn lets Ralph Hinkle “manage” himself…

II.            Did Supervisor Heidorn let employee Ralph Hinkle institute his own privately controlled “management system”?

During our investigation of Milton Township, we documented at least eight years of no formal management– no time cards, job activity reports, or employee job descriptions.  Because of intense local scrutiny, Supervisor Chris Heidorn decided to implement a “formal management system”…

To get going, Chris Heidorn spent $1,700 to purchase “PocketClock”- an employee time reporting mobile application, see invoice/payment here.  But, the expenditure looks wasted…

“PocketClock” isn’t being used.  Read Heidorn’s documenting email.

Instead, employee Ralph Hinkle got to personally select and privately purchase his own time reporting system, “Birkeda Time Track”.  When asked to produce the records, there’s already a gap in reporting:  Hinkle supposedly dropped his phone and app in a fire-pit!

          Is employee Ralph Hinkle trying to strong-arm his boss and Milton’s Board of Trustees?

In August, a Milton Trustee wanted documentation of a credit card restaurant charge by Ralph Hinkle.  Supervisor Chris Heidorn and other trustees asked Hinkle to produce the details.  Read email chain here.

Here’s how employee Ralph Hinkle responded:
a.            “I would recommend ignoring his request just like you ignored his motion last night.  Just ignore this request… the books are closed.”  The “request” was a trustee’s audit of a Hinkle credit card restaurant charge.

b.            Hinkle name-calls the trustee:  “Ignore Napoleon.”

c.             Hinkle dictates the terms in which he will or will not show up to the next township meeting.

d.            Hinkle wants to control when and where he’ll provide information regarding his own taxpayer funded township expenses.

In this email, Ralph Hinkle repeatedly asks for “cash advances”…

So if I am not given the cash advance, we will not have the township van and equipment at tomorrow’s meeting.  I also need a cash advance for graduation food requirements and any other misc. expenses…

During our investigation, we uncovered that Ralph Hinkle racked up thousands of credit card charges for fine dining and gas purchases without documentation, used township assets used for political purposes- and now Ralph Hinkle is trying to strong-arm his bosses for “cash advances”!

SUMMARY:  Supervisor Chris Heidorn has delegated power and control to Ralph Hinkle of township monies and informal township management practices.  At best, Supervisor Chris Heidorn has shown incompetence.  Ralph Hinkle is now dictating the terms of his employment to his boss and to the Milton Township Board of Trustees.

In the next edition of “What’s the Matter with Milton Township?”, we will continue to explore Milton Township management…


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