Lebanon mayor, 2 councilmen call ‘vax-a-million’ program ‘unethical and likely criminal’

Lebanon Mayor Amy Brewer and two councilmembers wrote a letter to express their "outrage" to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine for his plan to award $1 million to five vaccinated Ohioans each through a drawing using federal COVID relief funds. FILE
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Lebanon Mayor Amy Brewer and two councilmembers wrote a letter to express their "outrage" to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine for his plan to award $1 million to five vaccinated Ohioans each through a drawing using federal COVID relief funds. FILE

The mayor of Lebanon and two city council members say Gov. Mike DeWine’s plan to award $1 million to five vaccinated Ohioans through a lottery is “using our tax dollars in this way is definitely unethical and likely criminal.”

Lebanon Mayor Amy Brewer, Vice Mayor Mark Messer and Councilman Doug Shope made the allegations in a letter to DeWine sent Thursday.

The letter urged DeWine to “reconsider this decision, and allow those dollars to be used as rightfully intended - For The People.”

The letter said the three council members were expressing their collective “outrage” at DeWine’s recent decision to use tax dollars to fund a vaccine lottery.

“Everyday businesses have struggled tremendously to keep their doors open and to secure employees. Many have been forced to close their doors because they could no longer survive - not due to the virus, but as a result of your heavy-handed & restrictive mandates,” the letter said. “So, we now ask you this question: Shouldn’t the people’s tax dollars be used for Ohio’s people and their businesses?”

Vice Mayor Mark Messer
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Vice Mayor Mark Messer

This is the scathing letter that Lebanon Mayor Amy Brewer, Vice Mayor Mark Messer and Councilman Doug Shope sent to Gov. Mike DeWine expressing their outrage about the vaccine lottery. The letter was posted to social media pages where it has received a large amount of support. CONTRIBUTED/MAYOR AMY BREWER
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This is the scathing letter that Lebanon Mayor Amy Brewer, Vice Mayor Mark Messer and Councilman Doug Shope sent to Gov. Mike DeWine expressing their outrage about the vaccine lottery. The letter was posted to social media pages where it has received a large amount of support. CONTRIBUTED/MAYOR AMY BREWER

Dan Tierney, DeWine’s press secretary, had no comment late Friday afternoon on the Lebanon leaders letter as he was not aware if DeWine’s office had received it.

While the three elected leaders used their official titles in the letter, Brewer said they were not speaking on behalf of the city or Lebanon City Council.

On social media, Brewer’s position has received support by some but with others calling her views “short-sighted.”

The plan to give away $5 million as well as four-year, full-ride college scholarship to a state college or university is being funded using federal COVID-19 funds.

Councilman Doug Shope.
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Councilman Doug Shope.

“We took a stand for responsible use of taxpayers dollars,” Brewer said. “There are too many elected officials who don’t take a stand and just ride the fence and worry about re-election.”

Brewer has been on Lebanon council for 30 years with the last 20 years as mayor. She said DeWine wanted to act immediately and took a stand without contacting local officials for feedback on the proposed vaccine lottery plan.

“It’s really disgusting,” Brewer said. “This is an obscene us of our tax dollars that could be used for other things. I’m tired of politicians sitting back and saying nothing.”