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City Council Votes Down Pay-Cut Petition, 4-3

For now, City Council salaries will remain at about $15,000 per year.

A aimed at reducing the pay of Stow’s government officials was voted down 4-3 by the City Council at their regular meeting on Thursday night.

If the petition had been approved, it would have allowed voters to decide in November on whether or not to reduce the salary of each council member by $6.500.

According to law director Brian Reali , the initiative’s organizers – 2011 city council candidates Brian Lowdermilk and Bob Adaska – left out necessary language in the preamble of the petition that included how the process of reducing salaries to the law director, finance director and mayor would be changed.

The petition also did not get the adequate number of signatures, council president Janet D’Antonio said. 

The voting population of Stow is about 9,700 people, and according to the council’s charter, 10 percent of the city’s residents, or 967 voters, needed to sign it. Adaska and Loudermilk only collected 888 signatures, she said. 

In a prepared statement following the meeting, At-large councilman Mike Rasor, who voted for the petition to go on the ballot said, “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.”

In other news, the council unanimously voted down a developer’s plan to park a at the Villas of Stonebridge Crossing off Fishcreek road. 

Roger Puzzitiello, president of Parkview Custom Homes, requested a conditional zoning certificate to park the custom-painted RV, which advertises his company, along Danforth Reserve Drive. 

The RV would have also acted as a rolling sales office for folks who were interested in purchasing a home within the development. 

After receiving several complaints from homeowners in the development, the council collectively agreed that it was not in the city’s best interest, and that granting the zoning permit would have set the wrong precedent for others who might have wanted to mimic Puzzitiello’s plan. 

Don Daugherty Jr. September 10, 2011 at 06:52 PM
Hello everyone, As a newcomer to the site and political arena in Stow, I would like to say that Brian and Bob have worked very hard to try to make this a reality. I have approached our current adminstration over several issues for many years. It has always fallen on 'deaf ears'. While gathering signatures for my nomination petitions, I also got signatures for them on the petitions for council pay reduction and placing control back in the hands of the citizens. At the council meeting on Thursday, listening to Mr. Reali, it seemed as though he was not quite sure how to explain why the petitions were not worded correctly, or what he claimed to be missing from them. After a confusing explanation of the problem, D'Antonio went on a venomous diatribe for about 5 minutes, lobbing insults and criticisms at Brian and Bob. It would seem that D'antonio, Pribonic, Drew, And Costello are more interested in covering their own rear ends and their pensions, rather than looking out for the citizens. I believe that without Mike Rasor, Joe Hickin, and Matt Reihl, our problems would be worse than they are now. We need to remove the "rubber stamp" council and administration that we have,and improve it with those that truly care about this city. It would be an honor and a privilege to stand beside these fine men, along with Brian Lowdermilk and Bob Adaska, to bring control of the city government back to the people, instead of city government controlling the people.
Bob Adaska September 10, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Don't you dare talk about fairness Brian. Both Brian Lowdermilk and myself sat in your office separately, with the petition on your desk, over a year ago when this project was first underway. The purpose of our meetings with you were to have you look over the wording and form we submitted for accuracy. From the beginning you were supportive and on the surface saw no problems with the petition. Now you dare to mislead the Council during a meeting and say you only saw the petition for the first time a month ago. Yes we could have hired an attorney who specializes in municipal and Ohio constitutional law but that is extremely expensive. That is why we thought our elected law director could look the petition over and check it at least to form. Ohio law requires that a copy of the Charter Amendment Petition be filed with the Clerk of Council prior to its circulation to the public. Brian Lowdermilk additionally filed a copy with the Finance Officer and Law Director. Does anyone believe that this petition, which if approved by the Voters, would have lowered the Council's pay and taken away their right to raise their own salary in the future, did not get read by these Officials and others for over a year.... I don't think so.
Andrew Vitullo September 10, 2011 at 08:43 PM
Can the petition be presented to council for a second vote?
Brian Lowdermilk September 10, 2011 at 09:47 PM
I am not sure. There are some rules governing the ability to vote a second time on petitions or legislation that has been turned down. I would have to do some research. Perhaps the law director woudl like to answer this. As we have stated before, there would be nothing stopping the council from creating their own amendment and sending that on to the board of elections. This would take a 2/3 majority and I doubt you would get D'Antonio, Drew or Pribonic to vote yes on letting the residents vote on this, as we have seen already. I think that the above group are fighting it because they know this would pass with the same overwhelming majority as term limits.
Tiffany Bryant September 10, 2011 at 10:23 PM
Mike - You were the only reason I went to the polls a couple years ago. Keep up the good work you have been doing for Stow!
Bob Adaska September 11, 2011 at 03:20 AM
No. Friday was the filing deadline for the board of elections to put it on for the November election cycle. Council could put on their own amendment and then we could vote on that but who knows what that would look like or when it would go into effect if passed. There is one long shot and that would be to file a mandamus action that would take the matter to the 9th district court to decide and additional time could be given because the measure would more than likely go to a special election in December. That would be expensive to file and for the city who would have to pay for the special election. If the mayor has not yet signed the ordinance which was voted on thursday evening, a member of Council who voted against the measure could I believe make a motion for re-consideration, which if seconded and passed by a majority of those who voted no, could bring the issue back to life for further consideration by the full Council. I don't see that happening though. This whole thing is unfortunate because we were hoping to use the savings to fund expenditures in the upcoming year. All candidates running for Council were fully a where of the possibility the compensation could be reduced in the beginning of their new term had the measure been adopted by the Voters this Fall. Obviously there was still a huge turnout of Candidates who filed to run which necessitated Tuesday's primary election.
Stow Resident September 11, 2011 at 11:46 AM
Mr. Reali, you are in the minority here. I fully support Bob Adaska, Brian Lowdermilk & Mike Rasor. They are trying to make positive changes to our community. Everyone should ask themselves in this election if they are happy with our government and the way they have acted. Are you happy with the courthouse, golf course and the way the mayor's office and city council have constantly looked out for their own interests and the interests of their friends? If not make a positive change and vote this election. Please!
Michael Rhea September 12, 2011 at 12:05 AM
Mr. Rasor, as a licensed, practicing attorney, why didn't you look over the petitions since this is something you so strongly believe in?
YOUR BEST FRIEND September 12, 2011 at 11:58 AM
no more ,PROBONIC, COSTELLO,DREW, OR ANOTHER Dantonio. stow needs a change for the people of stow .not for there own gain .vote no !!!.vote yes for the people want to make stow even better place to live.
Ed Kent September 12, 2011 at 02:32 PM
While I will be voting for Mr. Adaska and even agreed with the petition, I do think very highly of our law director. The greatest thing that came out of this petition is the fact our city now matches the Ohio constitution in regard to how many signatures are needed for future petition drives. That alone made it worthwhile.
Stow Resident September 12, 2011 at 03:43 PM
I have to respectfully disagree. I don't think highly of our law director at all. In my dealings with city council & the mayor he was simply a yes man for the mayor.
Nancy Kroft September 12, 2011 at 09:35 PM
I have worked at the voting booth for over three years. When a voters' ID (most use an Ohio drivers license) is shown, you check the name, address, & picture, etc. There are many times when the voter signs the registration book in haste and the signature only slightly resembles the signature on file, but you can identify that voter by their picture and address on their license. Maybe the BOE needs to request more detail on petitions, such as: the last four digits of a person's social security number or the number on their drivers license. These would be easy to identify the person and make for more accurate information.
brian reali September 13, 2011 at 02:01 AM
Great that everyone has point of view. But the petitions has two verbal errors and not enough votes. All the circulators had to do was ask the Board of Elections for.the number. They chose not to do so. In sum, 2 syntax errors and a lack of signatures, maybe it was a great idea but at least take responsibilibity Bob and Brian for waisting our time.
Michael Rhea September 13, 2011 at 10:18 AM
Mr. Reali is the law director for the City of Stow and should not be regarded as a private attorney for our citizens. This was a citizen led initiative. The Stow Sentry article quoted Mr. Lowdermilk as saying the law was clear and that no private attorney was needed. That was obviously one mistake of several. Why didn't Mr. Rasor look it over for you? Bottom line- had the wording been correct there were still not enough signatures. You can't rewrite the laws.
Ed Kent September 13, 2011 at 12:04 PM
Bottom line, the petition may have been a great idea, as Mr Reali stated, but in the end Mr. Reali must follow the law to the letter no matter how he feels. I realize Bob and Brian wish their private meeting with the law director would have presented to them the changes that were needed to prevent the problems, but for whatever reason that didn't occur. It's unfortunate that there were people who signed the petition, but did not qualify. That happens all the time. What this did do was correct our council's misconception about how many signatures is actually needed. That was a HUGE win for citizens and we can thank the the 2 petition drive leaders and our law director for that. All three made that change happen. Thank you!
Brian Lowdermilk September 13, 2011 at 12:08 PM
Mr. Reali, Why is it when the residents need or are doing something it is a waste of your time? This is the mind set of our elected officials that needs to change!!!! You know we did ask the Board Of Elections for the number of signatures required they refered us to you our Law Director. When we asked you, you were unable to answer the question exactly. As a matter of fact you were asking us for the number early on. Please explain to us why the city had to record a conversation with the Board Of Elections regarding signatures if all you had to do was ask. Did the unsuspecting man or woman at BOE know you were recording them?
Brian Lowdermilk September 13, 2011 at 12:25 PM
The constitution and Ohio Revised Code are clear on many issues and that is why the number of signatures was changed. Mr. Kent is right that was a great victory for the residents. I have never disputed that we were short signatures when it was all said and done or that there may have been an issue with the wording. As we have all seen there are many things around this type of citizen intiative that are open for interpretation. This is now in the past and we need to all move on and work at electing new people to our local government that will help the citizens and do what it is in their best interest. After all the city is not a collection of buildings and rulers that occupy them, it is the citizens. Without the citizens of Stow there is no city. I think they often lose sight of this.
Ed Kent September 13, 2011 at 12:34 PM
A person has a right to record a conversation that they are involved in, even if the other person doesn't know. How that recording is used is up to a judge if it's ever brought into court. I always assume my conversations are recorded. Emails are also not private.
Stow Resident September 13, 2011 at 02:26 PM
Mr. Reali, your arrogant attitude is exactly what the citizens don’t need right now. You are better off in the private sector and not having your time “wasted” by the people in our great city. Do us all a favor and either improve your attitude or leave.
Andrew Dee September 13, 2011 at 02:32 PM
John, you are by far not the only one that feels this way -- I believe it to be the more popular opinion in Stow actually.
Ed Kent September 13, 2011 at 06:55 PM
Many attorneys must hiring outside consultants in regard to certain legal situations that may or may not be within their expertise. City attorneys are wise to recommend outside recommendations when dealing with certain issues. I've never ran into an attorney yet who was an expert in all fields. Unless, of course we're talking about Denny Crain from Boston Legal. :) What a hilarious character he was and very well played by William Shatner.
Andrew Vitullo September 13, 2011 at 09:23 PM
Mr Reali, you seam to be missing the point in this dicussion. You are a public servant. This means you serve the public. No one is wasting your time. When it comes to the citizenry of stow, you should be bending over backwards to support their initiatives regardless of how you feel on the matter. It is not your position to pass judgment but to provide advice in the support of the city. We the residents of stow are the City. Somewhere in this discussion, you have lost site of this.
John Moyer September 13, 2011 at 10:46 PM
Not for certain here, but I don't think the job of the Law Director is to give advice to citizens at all. It's to give legal advice to the government of Stow, review contracts for their legality, etc. Individuals who wish to bypass the elected representative body (city council) to draft their own initiative (pay reductions) have to take responsibility to make sure they are completing the petitions correctly. Elected or appointed officials don't take on that responsibility in the event that the petition is ruled invalid. Then the petitioners would say, "Well, so-and-so said it was ok". The attitude conveyed by some in this and similar stories: "I pay your salary, you work for me" is demanding and unhelpful. Would you want your boss coming to your desk, banging their fist to implore you to work harder and then uttering the above line? Let's engage in listening and reasoned debate. I can't demand that of others. No one owes me anything.
John Moyer September 13, 2011 at 11:45 PM
I agree with you Jeanne. As a teacher, if I was shirking my responsibilities, I would expect my principal to hold me accountable. As I was preparing for tomorrow's lesson on the Constitution, I read the following that seems relevant here: "One of the most striking findings in social psychology is that when like-minded people speak mostly with one another, they tend to go to extremes--to a more extreme point in line with their original tendencies. This means that if people of one ideological stripe congregate together, they might well end up taking an extreme position. This is no truer, of course, now than in the founding era, and the Framers were aware of risks of this sort. But in some ways, new technologies have aggravated the problem, because they make it so easy for people to live in echo chambers of their own devising.
Karen Gonidakis September 14, 2011 at 01:21 PM
Ed: My husband and I absolutely LOVE the Denny Crain character. William Shatner did a great job with it!!! You gave me a nice laugh for the morning - Thank you!
Karen Gonidakis September 14, 2011 at 01:25 PM
Brian: What a great statement! The city is not a collections of buildings and rulers, it is the citizens. THAT's why you need to be on City Council!!
Andrew Vitullo September 14, 2011 at 01:39 PM
Mr Moyer, while I agree with your position on the role of the city law director, I believe you are missing the point of my comment. The goverment does not exist for the pleasure of the government, it exists for the service of the people. This whole argument ultimately comes down to a value proposition. Bob Adaska and clearly many others in the city don't perceive the value provided by the council is in line with their compensation for their service as council members. Ultimately, the final resolution of this value question gets resolved over time while at the polls when we elect or vote against certain politicians. Also, now there exist a perception that their may have been an overt effort to mis-lead the petitioners to inhibit the petition to be added to the November ballot. The council members that voted against the petition for the ballot leave the casual observer with the perception that they are protecting themselves without give the Stow citizens the right to decide where that value lies. It is trully up to a court to decide the legality of that language not Brian Reali. It is these types of events that upset and aggravate people that brings a call to action. I have lived most of my 48 years in the city of Stow. I have never been an activist in these issues, but clearly it is time for me to hold our local government accountable. The winds of change our upon us. Value provided and taxes taken are clearly linked at the City government level.
Andrew Vitullo September 14, 2011 at 01:41 PM
Bob Adaska can you publish the language of the petition on this thread. Thanks, Andy
Ed Kent September 14, 2011 at 02:12 PM
Very well stated Mr. Vitullo.
Don Daugherty Jr. September 15, 2011 at 01:24 AM
Thanks Jeanne, as you can see by the date I am now the "odd man out". But not to worry, because the fun is now about to begin! I would also like to say thank you to all who voted for me and supported me in the primary.This is only the beginning of what is yet to come. I will "be baack".

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