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All posts for the month October, 2013

Beggars night in Grandview as scheduled

Published October 31, 2013 by justicewg
Travis S. on Flickr

Travis S. on Flickr

The Beggars night in Grandview will be tonight from 6 to 8 PM as scheduled, according to the city website. The current forecast calls for 20 mph wind, rain, and 61 degrees. Other cities have cancelled because of the weather, Grandview might still change to Saturday, but I’m guessing that it will be tonight.

This was sent by the school in the morning:

This morning a small package was found outside Marshall’s located at the corner of Oxley and First Avenue.  As a precaution, the Grandview Heights Fire Department, in cooperation with the Columbus Bomb Squad, investigated.  As part of our standard procedures, Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary students were kept inside the building for the duration of the investigation.  We did consult with officials on site and determined there was no need to evacuate the building.  The package was found to contain personal property of an unknown person.  We were given the all clear signal by city officials at approximately 11:00 am this morning.  The afternoon parade at RLS will occur as scheduled.  RLS staff and students did a wonderful job of responding to the situation.

The kindergarten Halloween parade traditionally takes a loop up NW Boulevard to Hope, over to First, then back down to the school.

Update 3PM: Confirmed by the mayor, beggars night still on for tonight. An indoors program will be held at the library from 6 to 8PM, call them for details.

Power issues, Notifications are contradictory

The school super sent out a “SchoolMessenger” service email at 6AM on Friday morning to tell everyone the power was off and the schools are closed.

Another one of these “SchoolMessenger” posts was sent in a different format at 7AM that said “Power on”.  Power on, and then school is still out? or in?

This email required you to click a link to get a two word message. Really – is this extra clicking needed for two word messages?

If you go to the school website, as of 9AM it still says “Schools are closed”.

Also, try finding any link to sign up for the SchoolMessenger service on the school website. Might be there, but I can’t find it, and without a search box I don’t know where to go.

All these methods of sending out messages to the community are a good attempt to use the technology, but the school – or maybe just O’Reilly – doesn’t use them very well when they combine to send hard to interpret messages out.

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Candidate night 2013

Published October 30, 2013 by justicewg

The candidate night on the stage of the high school can be summarized as “four knowledgeable people with years of experience, and one person stretching for answers”.

The question is, what do you use for a basis for a vote – experience, or something more intangible, like the perceived competence and morality of the candidate, which doesn’t have a number?

The stage program asked questions for general discussion by any candidate. I tried to talk to each school board candidate before and after the stage program and asked them questions that were important for each individual candidate.

Sandy Kipp

Kipp just retired after 35 years working on the school non-teaching staff. My question to her was, “You will be a good representative of the staff at the school, what will make you a representative of the parents of the students?”

She answered with the standard “open and listening” spiel, I guess what stuck with me was when she said she thought the job was more about doing the right things for the students.

I asked her for a good story about embarrassing things that happened at the school, she was enough of a politician to say that would have to wait for some other time.

John Leutz

Leutz had one embarrassing incident in 1995 in which he used swear words in front of some students in a civics class and had to send a letter of apology to the school. I asked about it, he said that he has not gotten in trouble like that again.

A very interesting story about the incident, he said that at the time it happened he instantly apologized and though that was the end of it. Two months later, as he was nearing the end of his campaign for re-election as Mayor, he walked out of his office and found a news camera pushed in his face as the reporter asked questions about the swearing. The story made the TV and newspapers. He heard later that the reason for all the press attention was because some people “wanted to get him”. He was elected mayor a few days later.

Stephanie Evans

Evans and her husband recently opened the Ohio Tap Room, a growler shop that offers Ohio beer on tap. I asked her what kind of example she would be to the students at the school who might get in trouble with the rules for alcohol usage at the school. Kids can be highly tuned into the hypocrisy of the adults that set the rules, and a board member who makes money from beer while telling students that it is bad for them will set those detectors ringing.

She said that her tap room was not a standard bar, there were no drunks hanging around it. True, but it doesn’t change the “profiting from alcohol” part. She said they don’t serve intoxicated people, are very strict about checking I.D.s, and want responsible drinking. All standard bar owner mantras. None of them change the part about “the more people drink, the more money I make”.

She said that alcohol use was a deeply ingrained part of the community, and that the best we can do for students is to show them how to be responsible. That is the most true thing she said. But it doesn’t change the fact that she is a bar owner, and maybe we should be setting a higher standard for the board members.

Jesse Truett

Speaking of someone who doesn’t meet high standards.

I have been wondering about people who are supporting Truett, and I spoke with one of them in the hall. Their take on Truett’s leaving the school and turning in his teaching license – “That’s water under the bridge”. There is forgiveness for minor things gone by, and there is closing your eyes as a flood of water passes under the bridge. We don’t know how close Truett came to being charged with sexual battery. He’s not talking.

I asked Truett why he gave us two different stories about his departure from the school. He said no comment. I asked him just what exact kind of relationship he had with an 18 year old student while he was a teacher. He said no comment.

I have a suggestion for Mr. Truett, after you have just told someone twice “no comment”, don’t pull out that “I have been transparent with the community” line that your lawyer told you to say. Because it makes you sound like a big liar.

I pointed out that his statement of “I have been transparent with the community” was not at all consistent with his refusal to answer my questions, he said “You are not part of the community!” Warning to anyone who asks the wrong questions of Jesse Truett – you might become an un-person and then he doesn’t have to answer to you any more. He’s wishing people into the cornfield! (See the “Questions for Truett” post for more on him.)

Grant Douglass

He got away this time. If I had talked to him, I would have asked him if his construction company, which built the artificial turf football field, was going to be bidding on the $200K+ resurfacing job that will be needed on the field soon.

After the jump – a review of the answers the candidates gave on stage. Read the rest of this entry →

New restaurant/bar going into space across from the Library – La Tavola

Published October 23, 2013 by justicewg

I noticed some welders working on heavy duty metalwork in front of the building across from the Grandview library. They said they are fabricating some big tables that will be used as an outdoor seating area for a new restaurant/bar. That spot has been the short term, death-cursed grave for so many restaurants I can’t even keep track of them all. I guess the last was Roccos Pizza. Before that, Google tells me that The Culinary Table was at that address, Bellisaris Catering, and I remember a Mexican convenience store years ago. Wonder what is next?

And after a little more searching, I have the answer:

This autumn, Rick Lopez (of Knead fame, and pictured here in the previous La Tavola space) will reopen his former Powell-based, chalkboard-menu, Italian cafe at 1664 W. First Ave., across from Grandview Heights Public Library.

The story in the “Crave” dining magazine explains the history of La Tavola. It started in the space left open by the closure of the Galaxy Cafe, from ’99 to 2006, then moved to Riverside in Dublin.

This part of the story is interesting:

How far along is the process of opening La Tavola?

It should be September or October. We have to get a wine license on the ballot in November, so if that passes, we won’t have wine until January. We’re in the process of getting a beer license transferred in.

If I remember correctly, there was a failed attempt to get a liquor license for this spot back when it was a Mexican convenience store. I looked up the ballot info, found this:

Liquor Option: Grandview Precinct B

ZEPOL LLC, doing business as La Tavola, 1664 W. First Ave, Grandview Heights, OH 43212 seeks to sell alcohol on Sundays (10 a.m. – midnight).

They must already have a license at this spot for the rest of the week. I guess they are doing a quiet campaign, I don’t remember anything in the papers.

So the great drought in Italian restaurants in the Grandview Heights area will be ending. Let me see if I can name them all – Z Cucina , Trattoria Roma, Figlio, Paul’s Fifth Avenue, Spagio, Vino Vino, and more pizza places than I can count. Did I miss any?

Also – really, we need to have outdoor drinking right in front of the library, in the path that kids will take to go from the schools to the library after school? The guy couldn’t find a better space?

(Later) The La Tavola is open as of April 2014. For now the hours are 5 to 11PM, so the issue of kids walking past a patio area with drinking is not an issue.

I’m not a restaurant review sort of person, but my first visit to La Tavola was very good, attentive staff, lots of people have discovered this new place.

Rancho Ballot

Part of the reason I don’t read much about the ballot issues for restaurant booze licenses is that they are precinct specific, only the people who live in the area vote on the issue. Grandview B will vote on the La Tavola license.

I just got some promotional material in the mail for Issue 20-B, covering Grandview Heights precinct C. This referendum allows for Sunday sales at Rancho Alegre Restaurant. The strange thing is that when I searched for more info on this issue, I found a page that says there was a  ballot issue in November 2009 that was for the same Sunday licence and it passed with a 85% Yes vote. Why is this back on the ballot (lazyweb request)?

Candidate Night at GHHS

Published October 18, 2013 by justicewg

This seems to be very late in the campaigns to be scheduling a candidate night, but here we go again.

The Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a Meet & Greet for Grandview City Council, Marble Cliff Council and Grandview Heights School Board Candidates from 7:00-8:00 pm, on October 29, 2013, in the high school foyer.  Light refreshments will be served.   At 8:00pm we will have a forum moderated by Ann Fisher of All Sides on WOSU to meet the 5 candidates running for Grandview Heights School Board.  Competing for the three available seats are: incumbent Grant Douglass, candidate Jesse Truett, and write-in candidates Stephanie Evans, Sandra Kipp and John Leutz.  This event is sponsored by the K-3, 4-8 and HS PTOs in conjunction with the Grandview Chamber of Commerce.

Community members who are interested in submitting a question to the forum can use the anonymous form at: http://tinyurl.com/ljt828d Hope you can join us on the 29th!

On the chamber website it has the same general information, except it has a person named Dot Keil listed as the contact for submitting questions. Google tells me that Dot teaches a class in public speaking at Columbus State. It is not clear who will be selecting the questions – Keil or Ann Fisher? All I know is, I will be yawning if they ask the same softball questions that have been used in past candidate nights.

I have a beef with the format of the questioning. The link above leads to a Google question submission form that says the following:

The School Board Forum on October 29, 2013, is intended to be an informative Q & A session, not a debate. Submitted questions should focus on issues that every candidate can address. Specific questions for individual candidates can be posed during the Meet & Greet session (7:00 pm-8:00 pm) or outside of the Forum.

I don’t want my specific questions to specific candidates answered in the hallway where they can be witnessed by the two or three people standing near. The whole purpose of the candidate night is for them to sit on a stage and answer questioning from the community, and have those answers heard by the whole community. Jesse Truett has already established that he will not answer questions, which is his right, but I want him to refuse to answer questions about his past on stage and on record.

Here is my question for all of the candidates: “Suppose you were a teacher and you were in danger of going to jail because you had an affair with a student, would you make a deal with the police to surrender your teacher’s license in order to avoid prosecution?

The candidate night should be a debate, and the questioning should be open. Line people up at a microphone and let them ask anything they want. Is this too much democracy for Grandview?

Questions for school board candidate Jesse Truett

Published October 17, 2013 by justicewg
Truett yard sign

Truett yard sign

(Edit – see the end of this post for my reaction to the TVN story about Truett, and some reaction after the candidate night.)

The primary issue that I and many others have with Jesse Truett is that he is leaving us a lot of unanswered questions. I have been trying to contact Mr. Truett, and I get no reply. Maybe this post will prompt some action from him. I get the feeling that he has a core group of supporters who are telling him “you don’t need to answer to anyone”. Mr. Truett may get those votes, but from an unscientific survey I think there are are a lot more people in Grandview who want some answers and are not going to vote for him without them.

This Dispatch story has the most information about the circumstances surrounding his leaving the principal position at the high school. The short version – Truett suddenly resigned with a weak explanation about personal and health reasons, later it came out that he started an affair with an 18 year old student while he was a 23 year old teacher at Westerville. State law says that sexual conduct with a student, regardless of the student’s age, is considered sexual battery, and could lead to jail time. Truett voluntarily surrendered his teaching license to the state board of education.

I personally have no great issue with his affair with an 18 year old. That age is considered an adult for most laws, except drinking. I don’t see a victim in this crime. However, I do understand the people who want sexual relationships between teachers and students, no matter what the age, to be forbidden and criminalized. The power relationships between the two always leads to questions about any pressure the teacher is using on the student. Read the rest of this entry →

Ivotronic machines and write-in voting

Published October 16, 2013 by justicewg

From VerifiedVoting.orgIf you want to vote for a write-in candidate for school board on November 5th, you need to understand how the Ivotronic voting machines work. I sent an email to the Franklin county BOE and got some info from Dana Walch, the Deputy Director.

Using the machine

I never voted for a write-in candidate on the Ivotronic voting machines, my experience was with the old clunky lever machines, which opened up a slot and required you to write a name on a piece of paper. There was always the danger that people who had poor penmanship would make an illegible scrawl with that system, and I’m sure spelling mistakes invalidated some votes. Things are a bit improved with the electronic machines.

This YouTube vid explains the process of voting for a write-in (jump to 1:19 if you are in a hurry). The short version – touch the slot that says “write-in”, an on-screen keyboard will allow you to enter the name. One name per write-in slot.

What about over voting, could you vote for more than three candidates in the school board race and cause your vote to be rejected? What if you voted for the two on the regular ballot and tried to vote for more than one write-in candidates?

The voting machines will not permit you to vote for more than the allowable number of candidates. In your example, if you vote for the two listed candidates, the machine will only allow you to vote for one write-in candidate. If you attempt to vote for two write-in candidates after already having marked two listed candidates, the machine will instruct you that you must de-select one of the candidates you have already selected.

What about spelling – and do we have to remember first and last name?

If the voter has written in part of an eligible write-in candidate’s name, the board of elections must count a vote in which a voter has written in only the first or last name of the candidate, if there is only one eligible write-in candidate with that first or last name. However, if there are two or more write-in candidates with the same first or last name, the voter must provide sufficient information for election officials to determine the voter’s intent in order for the vote to be counted. This is listed out in Secretary of State Directive 2013-19 which can be found here (http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Upload/elections/directives/2013/Dir2013-19.pdf).

Since none of the school board candidates has the same first name, you could get away with typing only the first name. I would suggest entering the last name of the candidate if you are in too much of a hurry to write-in the full name.

What about the nag screen after you have finished voting – will it remind you that you have not filled in a name in the write-in section of the school board race?

On our Ivotronic voting machines, the voters are giving a generic reminder if they have not voted for the allowable number of candidates in any given race. They are not reminded that they can specifically still vote for a write-in candidate or any listed candidate, just that there are more possible spots for which they could vote. Dana Walch, Deputy Director,  FCBOE

This is where the regular ballot candidates have a big advantage. If you get a nag screen that tells you that you have not voted for all of the possible candidates, the low information voter will return to the school board race and see that they need to make three selections to stop the nag. The easy votes will be for the two regular ballot names. If they can’t remember a write-in name, some people will skip the vote, some will enter Mickey Mouse (and that vote will not be counted).

I don’t think the second place write-in candidate has much chance of getting on to the board, the write-in process is such a weird, half real, not at all easy vote. Almost no other country in the whole world has write-ins, most other countries have a sensible “on the ballot or off” system.

If you are planning to vote for two of the write-in candidates, let me repeat the math for this vote. Your two choices will not be the same as other people’s two choices. The result will be less votes for all of the write-in candidates, and will improve the chances of the regular ballot candidates. I’m guessing Douglass will win no matter what you vote, but if you don’t want to see Jesse Truett on the school board, vote for all three write-ins.

November school board election strategy

Published October 3, 2013 by justicewg
Evans election sign at the Ohio Tap Room

Evans election sign at the Ohio Tap Room

Three important bits of wisdom for the school board election in November.

The most popular of the three write-in candidates will take a seat. This is guaranteed.

To win, the second most popular write-in candidate must get more votes than Truett, who is on the regular ballot.

If your driving motivation is to keep Truett off the school board, your best bet is to vote for all three write-in candidates. Read the rest of this entry →