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All posts for the month May, 2012

Not my kid

Published May 30, 2012 by justicewg

I attended the presentation on Black Tar heroin at the high school on May 29th, the speakers were Officer Jackson from the Grandview police, and the parent of a Worthington Christian High School graduate who died of a heroin overdose on May 11th of this year.

The police showed slides of the drugs, and they played YouTube videos about the effects of drugs. They talked about the increase in use of heroin in the county. Although the drug is used in the poor parts of the county, the big increases are in middle and upper income areas. They didn’t get into the specifics of how drug dealers operate, it sounded like the article I read in the L.A. Times was similar to the way things are done here. It’s not a “dealers with guns selling on corners” like the Wire TV show, it’s very low key, secretive, relatively low price product. If you see something that looks like a drug deal on the streets of Grandview, you are probably wrong.

If you sat through a dare program as a kid in school, you have the general idea about the police presentation. I don’t know why they still do the “alcohol and marijuana lead to heroin” bit. It’s factually true that people who do heroin start with those drugs, but it’s not true that children who use alcohol and pot axiomatically move on to harder drugs. This is not supported by the statistics, or the experience parents had in their own drug use when they were young. There is some support for a relationship between Oxycontin abuse and heroin, the police should go with that and stop the “reefer madness”.

A parent spoke about the death of their 21 year old son, just 2 weeks ago. It was heartbreaking to hear of a young man who was well liked, active in sports and the community, who became addicted to Oxy, then heroin. He went into a treatment program, suffered through withdrawal, and on the 19th day of his treatment was allowed to go home. The next day he scored and died of an overdose. It was a devastating story, the nightmare of any parent. My condolences to the family.

I can’t help but think back though, to something D. Steven Allen, the former superintendent at Grandview said about kids with drug problems. “People who are using drugs (and their parents) tend to think that everyone else is doing it also, so their anecdotal evidence is not useful”. The parent who spoke this evening had the same conviction about widespread drug abuse, and suggested that all parents should be drug testing their kids for all drugs, all the time. That’s not going to happen. Most parents would consider themselves failures if they needed to constantly test their kids.

I think that same attitude of “not my kids” resulted in the low attendance. It’s hard to tell who was there as a concerned parent, but I’m guessing no more than 15 were at the meeting. One parent stood up and said “how will we make this a serious issue in the community when so few parents are here?” To answer that question, my guess is that preventing heroin use will not be a big issue until a kid dies in Grandview. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen. I think most parents have the same attitude.

No step raises for teachers

Published May 23, 2012 by justicewg

The teacher’s union has voted to approve a deal that has no raises the first year and 2% the second, with higher heath care cost picked up by teachers. The article in the dispatch is not clear on the raises, it says “performance based” but I have heard there is some formula that controls the raises.

The real shocker is the part about no step raises. This has always been a part of the deal teachers have worked under at Grandview and most other school districts. The idea is that as compensation for the lower pay that teachers received compared to other professions with a similar level of education, they could count on regular raises, no matter what the economy was doing.

This issue became a point of contention with those who wanted to hold down costs, they pointed out that the step raises and generally good benefits teachers received were exceeding the average of those in the private sector.  It is true that the Great Recession has beat down private pay and benefits. I think that the teachers have done the right thing, they have to acknowledge that sometimes they can’t be shielded from the bad economic times. I also think they should go back to receiving the step raises when the economy improves.

Is the Kaplin landfill along Dublin Road back in play?

Published May 21, 2012 by justicewg

To understand the history of this property, read a post from the old blog, Whatever happened to Grandview Station?

The short version – back in 2006 Bear Creek developers were going to build big box stores on the property, giving the project the name “Grandview Station”. The city of Grandview (which only owns part of the land) required higher intensity, urban mixed use of the area and blocked the developer’s plan. The plan got dropped by 2008, maybe because they didn’t like the planning Grandview was pushing, maybe they found that it is a toxic waste dump that would be too expensive to clean up. It was never quite clear why it died.

There was some indication from Wagenbrenner a few months ago that they were trying to revive development with the new name “Grandview Crossing”.

News from the B.F. is that Wagenbrenner Development has landed a $3M Clean Ohio grant for Grandview Crossing project. The  Ohio Controlling Board must still approve the grants.

I’m not looking for anything to come out of this for quite a few years. Lots of things can go wrong with grants, the cleanup could be a long process. Interestingly, there was nothing said about this project by the Mayor during his meeting, when he was  projecting 5 years in the future of the city.

(Later) Wagenbrenner says the project is not expected to be completed until 2021.

The Mayor wants new taxes

Published May 18, 2012 by justicewg

Some highlights from the Mayor’s meeting this evening.

Revenue cuts from the state level are not the only problems hitting the city. All that economizing you have been doing with you car is another part, falling car ownership and less miles driven has resulted in lower tax income to the street repair budget here in Grandview. Given the assumption that the price of gas will not fall, the tax revenue will be down long term. Repairs to the streets have slowed but can’t be put off unless we want to drive on potholed streets.

Grandview has done unexpectedly well in office occupancy levels. Most buildings are filled, and more businesses are on the way. The taxes from these offices, plus new buildings projected to be built, could put the city back in safe financial condition by 2016. This assumes that Grandview Yard will have substantial new building going on.

The new Giant Eagle is being built north of 3rd, inside Columbus. Nothing new has been announced for the Grandview part of the Yard.

Here was the puzzling part of the presentation. Some very specific numbers were projected for growth in Grandview Yard, but the Mayor had no announcements about new contracts signed for new businesses to move into the Yard. When I asked how they could make these projections for growth, without contracts, I was told there are assumptions that could be made just from the building of streets and infrastructure that NRI is in the process of putting in. In other words, if they build the streets, the buildings will come. If the office building are put up, new tenants will fill them. And the long awaited tax bonanza will shower down on the city.

I have a feeling there could be some back channel communication that the city can’t talk about due to non-disclosure agreements. Or maybe just a lot of wishful thinking.

The projected financial future looks good for Grandview, but there is a short term hole in the budget that the Mayor and council don’t feel safe leaving unfilled. By 2015 they say the cash reserves will be down to 27 days (normally the city has over 100 days on hand). The Mayor thinks there is no way to cut any more employees. So new taxes are being floated.

There is already a one mill renewal levy slated for the fall. The Mayor wants to add a new one mill tax for infrastructure, and a 1.5 mill operating tax. He didn’t speak with urgency about adding those new taxes in the fall, but said they would be needed soon. The Mayor was opposed to any raise in the income tax, he felt the city would become less competitive in luring new businesses.

He asked the 15 people at the meeting to hold up their hands if they thought the infrastructure tax should be added. A few hands went up. The operating levy got a lot of blank looks.

A new fee for trash removal was also pitched. Instead of the fee per can stickers used by U.A., he proposed a $10 per month fee, which could be added on to your water bill. The people at the meeting were not opposed to this, some though the trash was done well by the city services department and were willing to pay more for it.

Nothing was said about the possibility of outsourcing police or fire departments. The contract with the police union was just finished, failed negotiations by the city resulted in binding arbitration. As usual, the arbitrator though the city should give a three year contract that was generous to the cops. They will get 0%, 3%, 3%, with higher percentage of benefits paid by police (this is supposed to result in a effective raise of only 1%). Council member Hasty gave a mini-rant about the unfairness of the arbitration process. Nothing new there. Maybe if the city was more seriously proceeding with the planning to outsource the police to U.A. there would have been some leverage. Too late now.

The Mayor will be holding more of these meetings, TBA.

(update – the next town meeting will be on Thursday, June 7th at 7 p.m.)

Mayor to hold town meeting Thursday, May 17, 7 PM

Published May 14, 2012 by justicewg

The bad news on the city’s economic future has been simmering for a while.  Come and listen to Mayor Ray DeGraw give the full story this Thursday in the Grandview Center, 1515 Goodale Blvd. State budget reductions have been kicking us in the posterior for a while, and new cuts are on the way.

As with all service organizations, payrolls for employees are the majority of the cost of running a city. Cuts can be made, at the cost of decreased service. Would Grandview residents be happy with calling the cops with a non-emergency matter and be told “we will get back to you when we find time?”

Would Grandview be better to dissolve the fire and police departments, and contract with U.A. to provide those services? This is seriously under consideration by one council member (for the fire department, but the police could be cut also).

And of course paying for trash pickup (a fee for each can) is done by other cities, but has been rejected by Grandview residents in the past. Is it time to pay for the trash?

Free screening of Bullied at H.S., May 18th, 7 PM

Published May 11, 2012 by justicewg

“Every day, thousands of gay and lesbian students are verbally and physically harassed in schools. Bullied centers on the powerful story of Jamie Nabozny, a gay teenage boy, tormented for years by classmates in his middle and high schools. Jamie fought back, not with his fists but in a courtroom. His historic federal case established that gay and lesbian students have a constitutional right to be free from harassment and bullying. ” – from the IMDB.

(I incorrectly listed this for a short time as the 2012 movie “Bully”, which is currently in theaters. The movie to be shown is the 2010 “Bullied”, a different movie.)

Discussion of the documentary and the issues facing Grandview Heights students will follow the 40 minute movie. Presented by Equality Ohio and Safe Schools for Grandview. Enter the H.S. building at the 3rd st entrance and follow the signs.

Reading the TW-TVN May 3, 2012

Published May 7, 2012 by justicewg

I’m still trying to figure out how to abbreviate the new Grandview combo newspaper. The Tri-Village News was TVN and ThisWeek Grandview was TWG. The ThisWeek publishers violated the corpse of the TVN and use that name in the masthead of the new paper. I don’t feel like going along with this grave robbing by calling the new combo paper TVN, and TW-TVN is too many letters.

The website for the newspaper smashup is so poor that I can’t even link to any of the news articles I want to comment on. Maybe this is just a transition period, but if the publishers think that the ThisWeek website is “good enough” we are well on the road to crappy local news coverage.

Find the dead tree version of the newspaper for these articles.

Keep the adults out of it?

A letter to the editor from M. Lombardo points out a quote from Grandview superintendent O’Reilly was not so hot. “Keep the adults out of it, it screws up the process” (said in the context of a bullying meeting) does imply that kids will be left on their own, and if the bullying doesn’t stop then the victim needs to try harder.

There are endless experts and consultants who have the secret to stop bullying. After a quick survey I think they can be summarized as so:

  1. Teach kids how to respect each other, use mentors, teach the victims to deflect and de-escalate, and ask for help with the worst offenders.
  2. Don’t turn the school into an enforcement agency for policing every slight between kids. They have to be mostly left alone for part one to work

If super O’Reilly was caught emphasizing part two and they missed him saying part one, he was unfairly quoted. However, there is a very obvious reason for administrators to push part 2, they have enough work dealing with kids who break the school rules, refereeing every fight between kids adds to the workload. I wonder how O’Reilly will respond to this letter. Criticism of the super in the newspaper is a rare item in Grandview. *

Gang of Foxes, more Heroin

The police reports leads with a odd story about a pair of foxes that attacked a newspaper carrier at the intersection of Cardigan and Roxbury. I’ve had it with these roving gangs of Fox employees making it impossible to walk outside in Marble Cliff. It’s time to round up a posse and track down these no-good “news anchors” and deliver a sound beating. Rupert is in so much hot water that we can get away with it.

Some heroin left over in a rental unit after a DEA drug bust back in March was reported to the Grandview police. So now we know that the DEA can’t do a thorough search, and the Grandview police has to hold the drugs and ask the DEA if they want their stuff. The part of the article where they are “waiting to hear if the DEA will take possession of the drugs” sounds like some cop snark to me.

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*Something interesting is happening with the searches that bring visitors to this website (my site stats allow me to see the words that are used). Some are using terms that sound like they are accusing Lombardo of attacking O’Reilly. Knowing the defenders of the super and the SSG, I could see them overreacting to the letter in the paper and go into an attack on the people who are asking for their kids to be protected from bullies.

No, I’m not joking. There are people in Grandview who are so dedicated to defending the superintendent and suppressing complaints from parents that we could have a backlash against the parents of the bullied kids (see my long story about the SSG). We may have the parents of the victims of bullying being bullied by other parents. It may not be played out in the newspaper, but the word could get sent to them that they are being “whiners” and they should STFU.

Message to parents of bullied kids – please document any such complaints you receive, and send them to me.