Below are my notes from Thursday's council meeting...
Approval of petitions to cut council pay
You have probably read about the petitions to cut city council pay. Well, council voted tonight whether to approve the petitions. Council has an administrative role in the process, with the ability to strike any petitions that are facially improper.
As you might have already guessed, the Good Ole Boy Network blocked the work of these residents. By a 4-3 vote, their petitions are dead. This issue will not be on the November ballot.
The petitions had a small legal defect -- that the title of the petition failed to inform signers that the amendment would eliminate the prohibition that salaries of mayor, law director, and finance director cannot be reduced during the middle of a term. Additionally, the circulators had not yet obtained the required amount of signatures (which is an issue for the Board of Elections, not us.)
Still, this was only a pretext for the Good Ole Boy Network to do what they've been doing for two years: protect their precious salaries.
Janet D'Antonio ("D'Antonio") leaped into political mode. She used the government's time to criticize my campaign literature (seriously), claiming that I had a misstatement in my literature. My literature states the following:
Mike successfully defeated the plan of Councilmembers D’Antonio and Pribonic to levy a fee on all property owners for the city to inspect homes for code violations.
D'Antonio called it a lie and threatened to sue. To rebut her, I explained that I have the council minutes to prove her wrong, and that I'd be happy to show that to anyone in the crowd after the meeting. (Click this link for D'Antonio and Pribonic's public comments to the Public Improvement Committee and go to page 15). D'Antonio appropriately backed down.
But later in the meeting, D'Antonio took it way too far when she personally attacked the circulators of the petitions. Those residents spent their free time to do something they thought was important for their community. They presented these petitions, albeit not perfect, only to have the council president say they, as circulators of the petitions, were incapable of being councilmembers such as she is, because of their errors. I couldn't believe my ears. Such arrogance.
It's fine to campaign, and even publicly help your son in his first race, but during a public meeting is not the proper time. I think D'Antonio should apologize for these blowups, particularly for impugning the character of these taxpayers.
Marketing vehicle in Stonebridge
On Tuesday, the Planning Committee discussed a conditional zoning variance for a recreational vehicle to be parked in the Stonebridge neighborhood for six months, which would help the developer's marketing. We were told that residents of Stonebridge unanimously supported this.
I was skeptical. Having been misled so often by the mayor and the Good Ole Boy Network, I have developed an eye for this. So I went out and knocked on all of the doors in the neighborhood and found out for myself whether the taxpayers supported this vehicle. Contrary to what we heard on Tuesday, 18 residents told me that they did not support the recreational vehicle. Only one said she did not mind.
After I presented my findings to the council, we voted unanimously against the recreational vehicle. It was only the second unanimous "no" vote during this term.
Senior snow plowing
We approved an expenditure of $10,000 for snow plowing for senior citizens. The plowing is only available for residents over 75 and residents between 65 and 75 who can verify their poverty. On Tuesday, we learned about how verifying income of senior citizens for this program is a bureaucratic nightmare. Plus, much of this financial data becomes public record, which could unnecessarily embarrass our senior citizens.
Joe Hickin and I proposed an amendment that eliminates the verification process, replacing it with an affidavit of income, which is how it's done in many other instances. The prior process could be easily hoaxed anyhow, so there is no reason to spend man hours to verify it.
Stow's senior snow plow program is a great example of how government can turn something good (helping out senior citizens) into something not as good (getting a poor return on our spending because of the bureaucratic man hours involved). Tonight, Joe Hickin and I unraveled some of the bureaucratic mess at City Hall. The amendment passed unanimously, as did the legislation.
Graham Road engineering study
City council approved the $60,000 study for an alternative on the Graham Road widening. It was a 5-2 vote, with Joe Hickin and I voting "no." To me, this is the epitome of government waste. Both cities are publicly saying that this study won't change a thing. We should have chosen one of two options: 1) truly analyze a way to change the plan and help Krieger's or 2) just go forward with the current plans, without wasting tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars. Tonight, Stow picked the worst possible option: spend more money without any purpose.
- The city anticipates that the retention basin on Ritchie Road will be done Sept. 22.
- On Monday at noon, the Stow Municipal Court will unveil a plaque honoring Stow officer Jonathan Bastock who was killed in the line of duty.
- On Sunday at 2 p.m., the city will hold an event commemorating the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. The event will be at Stow-Munroe Falls High School.
- Council will next meet with committees on Sept. 19.
- The primary election is Tuesday.