Vote no on issue #6, part 2 – the NRI deal

Published October 19, 2018 by justicewg

Three signs #6The school is trying to complete a negotiation with NRI that could accelerate the tax payments from the Yard, to the point where the boost in tax money may becomes as much as 50% of the cost of the bond the board needs to build a new middle school. Why should voters pass the present levy, when we could have a significantly smaller one via waiting until the negotiations are finished?

The deal

Early in 2018, the school board started negotiation with NRI over increasing the rate of tax money coming from the Grandview Yard development. The board had almost completed the facility meetings, and had set themselves a goal of building a new middle school – the only uncompleted work was the finance committee recommendation to increase the already high $50 million plan from Culp up to a $55 million plan with the extra connector between the schools.

The board was also fully aware of the objections to the new school plan by the G4G group. That unprecedented group spelled levy doom for board members who were not living in a fantasy world. Normal, uncontroversial levies have only passed with 60% yes votes in the past, an opposition group insured failure of the levy (and the two additional NO on #6 groups are the nails in the levy coffin).

I’m of two minds over the board’s attempt to cut a new deal with NRI. Was it just an amateurish mistake to attempt to renegotiate taxes with NRI.and pass the bond at the same time? Even the slowest members on the board must have known they were shooting themselves in the feet with the uncertainty added by the NRI deal. I also think it might have been a desperation move by the board, they knew they would fail in the levy attempt, so they wanted to have some way to win – even if it was by completing a deal that would be bad for both the the school and the city. As long as they got some money, they could claim victory, as long as THEY were the ones who got some money out of NRI..

Whatever the motivation, we now have a deal in progress that might bring substantial money from Grandview Yard, well ahead of past deals. Lets look at what the Mayor said about the deal.

The Mayor and the council

Before the quotes from the Mayor, to be clear – he supports the school levy, So do all the council members who have been asked. They support it because:

It is a normal thing for the board and the council to support each other when they have a levy on the ballot. This is standard mutual support – it is what good politicians do *.

And the council will be asking for new tax money for a new city hall next May. They want the school levy issue completed so they are not both asking for new taxes at the same time.

The mayor speaks

How much additional money will (the NRI deal) mean to the school?
There are some initial estimates using various assumptions, but I do not want to speculate until we have an agreement. I believe we are close. It should be recognized that until recently the City and School have estimated only the dollars coming to the school of what is actually built. We both are fiscally conservative. Those figures indicated that the school would receive about $60 million over the next 20 years. For a long time, this was the figured used. We now have more information on what is being proposed in the current project, which would bring an estimated additional $18 million, or $78 million total to the school. Add to this the development to the south of Goodale and modified school compensation agreement and that figure could almost double. – Mayor DeGraw

Re-read that last sentence for the most important news. The school might be getting an additional $78 million, through modifying the TIF agreement. But the additional taxes that might come from the construction of new buildings south of Goodale could be another boost, up to $156 million total.

This is the most important question – why are we being asked to pass a high levy by the board, when they are on the verge of receiving news that could completely change the financial position of the school?

Committee for Grandview Heights Schools pamphlet

The Pro-levy committee sent a brochure out to every home in the city, answering questions about the levy. What do they say about the NRI deal, in a bullet point section?

The need is now, and at this point no agreement has been reached with NRI.

OK, most taxpayers want to know what they are getting into, and can wait a year for a deal to be completed. What is the rush? Are their bulldozers sitting near the middle school, ready to start the demolition?

The NRI deal could reduced costs to residents by 50% , but could never cover the entire costs

So what? If my income might go up by 50%, I sure would want to wait until I know for sure, before I buy a house. Who cares what percentage the NRI deal covers? If it is significant, we should wait.

Delaying the project would result in added costs.

The committee doesn’t have a crystal ball that allows them foolproof projections on cost, but they do have this thing called “history”. The cost of construction went down in 2008, due to recession. “Costs always rise” is not true. Also, income to the school will be rising, because of the additional tax money from the Yard (tax money that was negotiated in the past, not the current deal). Everyone with any financial skills at all should be shouting “STOP, do not sign contracts for construction when your income is in flux”.

Waiting until the NRI deal is reached would not change the ballot millage, however, it would reduce the taxes the school could collect from residents.

I think the brain power of this committee just completely gave out at this point in the brochure. That talking point is one that belongs to the anti-levy groups, the important issue is the tax rates we are going to pay. If the need for operation millage is going down, we should wait until the financial position of the school is clear.

Implied in the statement “no change in the ballot millage” (I think they mean to say bond millage) is a threat – pass this levy, or we will come back, over and over, asking for the same amount. We will never listen to critics and cut the size of the school facility plan. That threat supports the need to vote the current board out of office.

Part three of my “reasons to vote no on issue #6” will be covering the effects of high taxes on the community, and how the board has failed to make obvious moves that could have protected fixed income and lower income residents.

The YT information session

In past years, the school used to hold public meetings before levies, and would answer questions from the community. I just read the following from the school:

Superintendent Culp and Treasurer Collier are holding an online Community Conversation on Monday, October 22 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. They will be at the YouTube feed at  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvM52He47uyzfX0bnjSsz-w.

The superintendent is so deep in the bunker, he can only answer pre-screened questions on YT? For one hour? Yikes, I think the school administration is having a mental breakdown.

Previously – https://watchinggrandview.wordpress.com/2018/09/28/reasons-to-vote-no-on-the-levy-the-grandview-heights-school-board-is-not-trustworthy/

Read the rest of this entry →

Advertisements

Short and hot council meeting

Published October 15, 2018 by justicewg

https://youtu.be/OLn9jf13emE?t=56s

A very unusual council meeting happened tonight, most are long and boring, this one was the opposite.

Two observations:

Changing the meeting notes of a BZA meeting – or any meeting – so that they support the illusion that a politician (or city official) wants to project, and not the objective facts as they happened at the meeting, is a very serious thing. I don’t have access to the documents that were presented at this council meeting, so I can’t comment on the validity of Ms Oster’s complaint. I do know what it feels like to see meeting notes falsified, and I don’t like it. I will support any investigation the council makes into the matter.

Second, once again we get to see city attorney Khouzam rend her garments, and weep about how she is so offended that someone would have the impertinence to “question her integrity”. When someone has to give us sermons about their integrity over and over, you begin to wonder why. Something about a lady doth protest? The exit is right in front of you Ms Khouzam, if it is too hot in that chamber.

Grandview has Issues

Published October 14, 2018 by justicewg

Three signs #6The ballot is loaded with Issues this election, so many it is hard to keep them all straight. Here is a listing of the Issues Grandview residents can chose to vote up or down, and the groups who have Political Action Committees to support or oppose them.

Issue #6 – the school levy, the No groups

No on issue #6, Grandview Heights schools – Tracy Kessler, Tres. Their website is:

https://www.votenoonissue6.com/

Quote – “We are a Pro Community ~ Pro Schools group of residents who believe that Grandview Heights’ Issue 6 proposal is simply the wrong plan at the wrong time.” At least 100 of their signs are on lawns in the area.

Citizens for a Responsible Levy – Craig Berlin, Tres. I don’t think this group has a website. Over 100 signs on lawns.

Issue #6 – the “Info” group

Good for Grandview is a group that formed last year when it became clear the school board would try to build a $50 million new school and other facility improvements. Their website at the time pointed to problems with the numbers the school was projecting for maintaining present facilities, and they objected to the process in the facility meetings. They warned that the board’s plan was too expensive and would bring unnecessary conflict to the community. They had a petition to the school board that had 360 or so names, asking the board to re-think going forward with the $50 million plan (which has increase to a $55 million plan). That part of the website has been removed, now they are just an “info” group, with facts on Issue #6. Over 100 signs are up in Grandview.

https://www.goodforgrandview.org/

Issue #6 – the Pro group

for issue #6Committee for Grandview Heights Schools, Susan Jagers ,Tres. The BOE report shows this group had $29,100 in their bank account as of 7-01-18. Big contributors include “Tri-W group”, at $10K, and another $10K from “810 Grandview LLC”. Nationwide also contributed $5K.

https://forgrandviewheightsschools.org/

https://www.dispatch.com/news/20180827/grandview-heights-schools-ballot-issue-campaign-launched

Issue #31 – the Goodale Greenspace

yes on #31Residents for a Greener Grandview – AKA – Join Grandview – Jody Oster, Tres.

https://joingrandview.com/

The website suggests this group is more than a single issue organization, but at present they are all about promoting Issue #31, the Goodale Greenspace initiative. The group created a citizen initiative to increase the size of the Green Space on Goodale. The required number of signatures were obtained, and the petition was sent to the city, which forwarded it to the BOE. After a couple of legal challenges by the city over process issues, the Ohio Secretary of State ruled that that all legal steps had been followed and the initiative would be presented to the voters.

No on #31

no on #31Citizens to protect Goodale Greenspace, James Oberla, Tres. First registered 10-01-18. I can’t find a website for this group.

I have to make a complaint about the name of this group because of the choice of words, the name suggest they are a group that is somehow protecting the greenspace, but there is no chance that the greenspace will go away with either vote result. The pro-issue #31 group will protect the Greenspace, by increasing the size. Preventing a house being built is more protective than keeping the rules as they currently exist. If this group picked that name just to confuse voters, they don’t deserve a public seat at the discussion table.

(edit)   www.protectgrandview.com is the website. I don’t think “the right to do a lot split” was one of the fundamental rights our founding fathers fought a war to give us.

Issue #32 – The medical-marijuana dispensaries vote

Keep off grassIssue 32 is a referendum on whether the city’s ban on dispensaries should be overturned. The city intentionally made the vote to ban dispensaries a non-emergency measure, so the voters could decide the issue.

This issue is a little confusing – a “Yes” vote means No to dispensaries. A “No” vote means we will allow dispensaries inside the city limits (at present there is a planned dispensary just outside).

I can’t find any yard signs or PACs for either side of the issue.

http://www.thisweeknews.com/news/20181008/medical-marijuana-voters-will-cast-die-on-grandviews-dispensary-ban

Issue #30 – City of Grandview Heights – Proposed Charter Amendment Read the rest of this entry →

City might take responsibility for repairing sidewalks

Published October 9, 2018 by justicewg

Sidewalk no on 6The city requires all homeowners to maintain the sidewalk between your house and the street, and if you get the “green X of shame”, you will soon be receiving a letter that tells you to fix it, or the city will repair it and send you a bill. The city of Marble Cliff maintains all sidewalks by themselves, and doesn’t require homeowner repairs. Grandview Heights city council is looking at following our neighbor to the west and might start taking responsibility for sidewalk repair into a part of the city service provisions.

Sidewalks belong to you

The history of sidewalks begins in the dense housing of major metropolitan areas. Most houses were set near the street, and the sidewalk was considered a part of the porch of your home. You made the sidewalk as a courtesy for those walking by, but it wasn’t a requirement. At some point it was noted that sidewalks were vital for keeping walkers out of the street and away from traffic, and cities started requiring the construction and maintenance of sidewalks (but ownership of that strip of land was still kept by the private owner).

Letter from the city

Although we know that the tax assessment from the city is an ever growing expense, we can budget for that twice yearly bill. The notice from the city that requires sidewalk replacement is an unplanned shock to most, the thousands of dollars needed to do a complete replacement can throw budgets out of whack, and inspire epic rants on the unfairness of “the goberment tellin’ me what to do”. You have no recourse when it is time to do the repair (unless the city decides a tree caused the issue *).

In order to forestall the anger and pleading that some homeowners are sure to make over a sidewalk repair, many cities have started to fold the sidewalks into the general services of street construction and maintenance. Cities can schedule sidewalks fixed by a contractor as a bulk job, usually cheaper that an individual owners can negotiate. It also helps keep the city safe for those with mobility issues, if a wheelchair user can’t use a sidewalk because of a high lip between slabs, they use the street instead, and increase the risk of accidents.

Email from Reynolds Read the rest of this entry →

The dirty campaign tricks begin!

Published October 5, 2018 by justicewg

phamplet_scanGrandview Heights has some history of dirty tricks during campaigns, and the school levy (issue #6) has inspired a political trick by what appears to be from pro-levy people.

According to an email sent out today by a Good for Grandview spokesperson, some people were finding the G4G signs placed on their yards, but they never asked for a sign. The G4G website allows a sign request to be made, but it has no checks for bogus requests. The G4G people placed some signs on lawns without knocking and confirming with home owners. The tricksters are wasting the money of the G4G group on unrequested signs, and are probably hoping to inspire people to accuse G4G of being behind the misplaced signs. It’s a silly little trick, and G4G can very easily confirm with homeowners from this point on to prevent it from continuing.

The G4G spokesperson also said that they had a digital trail of IP addresses that they can follow to find the identity of the tricksters – more to this might be coming if the group decides to press charges.

The DeGraw pamphlet

Grandview has some history of political tricks before an election. Back in 2008, some unknown person (or more likely a group, from the number distributed) went around in the middle of the night and stuck a very odd sheet of paper under the windshield wipers of cars. It was a political screed criticizing Mayor Ray DeGraw, and in a rambling page tried to smear him with various sorts of accusations.

The hundreds of sheets of paper were placed on the windshields of many of the city’s cars that were parked on the street. No one was ever found to be responsible (but in the linked post I made some guesses). Mayor DeGraw was elected to return to office with high numbers.

The best part – word is that when the Mayor was asked who he thought printed and distributed the sheet, he replied “I think my wife might have done it”.

Another Mayor had an election prank pulled on him, John Leitz was in the late weeks of his re-election campaign, and found a news camera and reporter standing on his front step. During a civics class that Leitz had taught as a guest at the school, he dropped some adult words a couple of times. An opponent tried to make this into a big deal, and got at least one local TV station to cover the story of the “bad words from the Mayor”. Leitz was re-elected with no problems.

Email dirty tricksters

I have also been the target of political shenanigans, back in 2014 there was an email in circulation that was supposed to be from me, and I’m guessing they thought it would somehow anger people enough to … send me an email? Tell me off at the grocery store? Whatever, it had absolutely no effect, other than some wasted electrons.

In preparation for another dirty trick like this – if you get an email that says it is from me, read this blog. If I don’t say the same thing here, I didn’t say whatever you are reading in the email. Also, I have this blog, so why would I send emails out to random people?

Also – for full disclosure – I have never been paid by the school for any work, at this point or the past. I have never been paid to oppose the school, or board members, for political reasons, or any reason. I make no money from this blog. Just in case you are wondering who got paid, and who didn’t!

I’ll keep updating this post if the dirty tricks continue – I’m afraid the school levy issue is so hot it will inspire more in the weeks leading up to the Nov. election.

(Later) Some owners of No on #6 signs have reported sign theft. They responded by adding even more signs to their lawns. My suggestion – video cameras are needed for most homes these days, so you might as well get the camera, and point it at your yard sign.

Porch decoration collector

Published October 2, 2018 by justicewg

An odd thief has been caught on cams stealing from the porches of Grandview homes.

He likes to steal wreaths off doors, large planters, and pumpkins from the front porch of homes. He commits his crimes both at night and during the day.

These videos are from Pullman Way and Urlin Ave. One of the videos has a fairly clear image of the suspect vehicle that we believe to be a silver mid-size SUV or hatch back vehicle. He also wears what appears to be Adidas sandals during the offenses. Anyone that may be able to identify him is asked to contact our police department at 614-488-7901.

Sometimes crime makes no sense at all. What is this guy doing with the wreaths, planters and pumpkins? I can’t see how he can sell the stuff, it would be obvious they are stolen to any purchaser. My guess – this guy has a shrine at home, decorated with all of the plunder. Probably has a map on the wall behind, with string connecting pushpins, showing the deep connection between all of the stuff.

Reasons to vote no on the levy – The Grandview Heights school board is not trustworthy

Published September 28, 2018 by justicewg

culp in facility meeting 7There are many reasons for voters to give a thumb down on the school’s issue #6, but the one I have heard the most is “I don’t trust the school board”. Let’s look at all the ways the board has failed the community, and lost the trust that is needed for a functional school board.

The big lie about the Finance committee

The school board used deception and back-room dealing throughout the entire facility review process, but one lie topped them all – the claim that everything about the process would be open and transparent. This video (recorded by the school) captured the moment that superintendent Culp told the community that the Finance committee would be open, that minutes would be taken.

A community member asked superintendent Culp about the Finance committee, asked if there will be notice of meetings, public participation, minutes online. Culp said “I fully commit to that, I don’t think you can do it any other way.” The board later made the committee closed, with hand picked supporters, no meeting notes were allowed out of the room.

Andy Culp knew that the Facility Task Force had already been created as a closed, no visitor, no meeting notes allowed committee by the school board. He should have known that the board would do the same thing with the Finance committee. I think it’s likely he knew he was lying to the parents at this meetings. But if we take him at his word, and accept that he was “fully committed” to an open Finance committee, what does that say about the relationship with the school board? They knew that he had staked his integrity on the stand he took for an open Finance committee – and they destroyed it.

Should we trust a school board that can so casually (and for so little gain) trash the integrity of the superintendent?

The secrecy of the Finance committee was a big deal

Was the promise by Culp really that important? Watch the video of the report to the community from the Finance committee. On eight separate occasions, community members ask why the Finance meetings were closed, why there are no meeting notes available. The G4G group complained about the secrecy of the closed committees on their website (website is under revision currently) and attracted 368 community members to sign their petition to the school board.

For the people who spent hours going to the open facility meetings, attending 7 of them, the major revisions to the school facility plans, made by a closed committee, was a big deal. The fact that the board has refused to answer questions about why the Finance committee was closed is a big deal. It’s a major reason to vote no on the levy.

Do you trust Jessie Truett with $55 million?

Read the rest of this entry →