Kowalski loses bid for administrative appeal of 2022 censure

by Judy Stringer

On Feb. 21, Summit County Court Of Common Pleas Judge Tammy O’Brien dismissed a case in which Hudson City Council member Nicole Kowalski asked the court to review her Dec. 6, 2022, censure by the council and determine if it was fair and followed the law.

O’Brien dismissed the administrative appeal “for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction,” according to court documents.

In an emailed statement, Kowalski called O’Brien’s decision “the wrong one.”

“What the court is telling us is that legislatures can do things like this, and their actions will go completely unchecked,” she said in the statement.  

Kowalski added in a follow-up phone call that she will not make a decision about appealing the dismissal until the court rules on the second part of her lawsuit. That part seeks to compel the city to comply with a public records request for un-redacted copies of the 46-page document council President Chris Foster provided to council on Dec. 6, as evidence for the censure.

“After the fact, when I was trying to defend myself to prove what [Foster] said was patently false and no part of it was based in fact at all, he tried to prevent me from using those same documents,” she said.

Kowalski also claims she had no prior notice of the Dec. 6 censure proceedings and no opportunity to prepare a defense, and that she has been personally targeted by Foster “many times over the years.”

In an email, Foster said he believes the “second half of [Kowalski’s] suit will be thrown out,” given subpoenaed evidence showing she had the un-redacted documents already. 

“Council censured her without penalty because council was unaware of the activities she had undertaken, which cost the city staff time and money to pursue what I believe was her own political goal,” he wrote in the email. “The result was her bringing suit against the city to overturn the censure, and then blaming the city and me for the legal fees she caused by initiating the frivolous suit. Playing victim gets old.” ∞