All posts for the month July, 2015

GetGo near Grandview has fuel mix-up

Published July 17, 2015 by justicewg

If you bought regular or plus gasoline at the 5th Ave. Get-Go station between 9:30 a.m. Monday, July 12, and 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, you might have a problem. Somebody made a mistake and put unblended ethanol into the station’s fuel tank. You probably already got a call from the company if you used a credit card, which would have been the great majority. A few cash customers may have an expensive fix as the ethanol does damage to their cars.

What will it do?

We can assume there will be a high percentage of alcohol in the gas that was bad, but the exact number depends on the volume of fuel that was already in the underground tank. It was also diluted by the gas left in your car, so those who fill up at the 1/2 tank mark would see less effect than the “running on fumes” drivers.

I found a number of websites that explain how alcohol affects cars, some of them seem to be biased against the mix. I think there is an undercurrent of opposition from the petroleum industry, mainly because of “government rules are always wrong” kind of thinking. This story seemed to be a bit more fact based.

The most immediate change a driver would see from a high alcohol gasoline would be a drop in performance and gas millage. Depending on how your car computer interpreted the change in the gas, you might see warning lights.

The older your car, the more damage will happen, as the alcohol begins to dissolve rubber in the hoses and carburetor parts. However, new cars are built with alcohol mix fuels in mind, so the damage might be minor.

The worst effect will happen after the car sits overnight, and the fuel separates. A layer of alcohol on the bottom of your tank will sit, slowly absorbing water from the air. The water will crud up the fuel system if it gets sucked up the next time you run low, probably leaving you dead on the side of the road.

People who fill gas cans at the Get-Go,in order to use a gas discount, will leave the cans sitting somewhere, slowly sucking up water from small leaks in the gas can vent. The longer it sits the worse it gets.

I don’t think the mistake will be a car-killer, but getting your gas system flushed (and contacting the Get-Go company if you think it might have happened to you), will be priority for the drivers of the “drunk” cars. And stop using those gas cans to save a few pennies, you are exposing yourself to the chance of a huge flaming fireball if something goes wrong while filling or on the drive home.


School board continues to ignore Ohio Open Meeting laws

Published July 14, 2015 by justicewg

Sunshine Laws 2015

There really isn’t much to the Open Meeting laws in Ohio, it’s all common sense and easy to comply with the rules. Give the public plenty of notice about the date and location of meetings. Send out an agenda that is detailed enough to cover the specific topics to be discussed. Let people know if an executive session will be held, and the topic (but not a list of all possible topics).

As I have documented in the past here on this blog, the Grandview school board does a terrible job with following the open meeting laws, both in the letter of the law and the spirit. A few people have noticed that the board has been particularly bad in the past few months. I decided it is time once again to make a list of failures by the school board.

Board taking big steps in morning meetings with no community involvement

The school board has sometimes scheduled morning meetings in the past, normally these are urgent business meetings that are short and have a limited topic. Recently the board has taken to holding long morning meetings, with multiple important topics. The records of these meetings show that no parent or press is present while important subjects are discussed.

Special Meeting May 13, 2015, (a Wednesday) brought to order at 8:40 AM and adjourned at 12:30 PM (more than 4 hours). The meeting notes show that 6 major items were under discussion, including important statements like the following –

“80-­‐90 years ago the people of Grandview invested in school buildings and infrastructure; it’s our turn now.”

There was much discussion of levy money for Permanent Improvements, and adding new PI and operation levies. The full agenda for the meeting (sent out on 5/12/15) was the following:

a. Work session regarding K-12 facilities

b. Any other business that may come before the Board

Nothing in the agenda mentions the possibility of board discussion on new levies. The agenda was sent out less than 24 hours before the meeting, in violation of the open meeting laws on notification.

Special Meeting May 28, 2015 , started at 7:30 AM and closed at 10:07. There were three motions voted on, and an executive session. By this point in the meeting, two board members had left the meeting. There was then a full page of voting on personnel, followed by a second executive session!

There were five items on the agenda, including the board favorite, “Any other business that may come before the Board”.

Special Meeting May 6, 2015, this was not a morning meeting (starting at 5 PM), but it again had no parent or member of the press present, and the meeting lasted 4 hours. The meeting notes mentions four general single line topics with no detail of the meeting contents.

The agenda has one topic, an executive session, and the standard “any other business”.

Executive sessions have rules too

The board has a list of topics they may discuss in executive session, and has the ability to keep that discussion private, but they should be listing the specific reason for the session before each meeting. From the 2015 Open meeting laws:

“A motion to adjourn into executive session must specify which of the particular personnel matter(s) listed in the statute the movant proposes to discuss. A motion “to discuss personnel matters” is not sufficiently specific and does not comply with the statute. 963 “

The board almost never complies with the rules for stating the reason for entering the executive session, in agendas the simple “an executive session” is listed, and the meeting notes normally have no listing of specific topics discussed in the session.

There are no rules when the board leaves town

I have twice posted the violations of open meeting laws the board ignores when they leave town on their “retreat”, held outside the area the rules say public meetings should be held, often in non-public buildings with no access for those with disabilities. I had hope that with Ms Brennan as the new president of the board she might try a little harder to comply, but again they took the meeting 40 miles outside the city, and refused a direct request to record the meeting.

I think the board’s attitude to the open meeting laws are best represented by the response I got from then president Douglass, when I asked, “how could the board legally have an executive session when the agenda published before the meeting didn’t give notice of a session?”

His complete reply was this –

Mr. Wagner, The simple answer is “b. other matters that may come before the Board.” Grant Douglass

The rules for executive sessions have a number of requirements, but springing a surprise session hidden in a “other matters” line on the agenda is not following the rules, or the spirit, of the open meeting laws.

I don’t even know why the board bothers with the slim agendas for the special meetings. They should just have one sentence. “Any business”. Apparently it is all they think the board needs to give the parents of Grandview. They certainly are not thinking about following the Ohio Open Meeting rules.

Council President Panzera on the Grandview Crossing development

Published July 9, 2015 by justicewg
The dirt pile

The dirt pile

The developer of the Grandview Crossing shopping center at the corner of Dublin and Grandview Ave. has not talked very much about his plans for the tenants he will try to bring in. The only hint we have is the announcement that he was looking for “junior big-box” stores, similar to Dick’s Sporting Goods. I asked the city council President if he had any clues to the future of the development, and how it might affect the traffic on that section of Grandview Avenue.

Why developers are so secretive

Picking the perfect mix of tenants in a shopping center is not a matter of finding the businesses who will offer to pay the most rent. A highly complex formula is needed to find the needs of the nearby communities, and build a mix of businesses that will attract shoppers enough to spend time in multiple stores. As you might guess, there are software solutions that are formulated as a nonlinear integer program and solved using a linear approximation. Businesses who can predict the needs of the developers will ask for lower tenant rates, knowing their acceptance into the center is a vital part in the mix. It’s a complex dance, and it doesn’t enhance the profitability for developers to telegraph the next moves.

It also doesn’t help to give opponents to certain retail chains a head start in organizing community opposition. During the previous attempt to build on this corner Walmart was named as a possible anchor, and council member Panzara was one of the leaders in the opposition.

Thoughts from the city council president

I asked Mr Panzera two questions, will we see a return of Walmart, and how will the city deal with more traffic in the G.C. Area.

Little is confirmed regarding the Grandview Crossing development, and, as you pointed out correctly, much of it lies inside the municipality of Columbus.  The history of the site certainly has made it a great undertaking, and it has been tried before on a couple of occasions within the past 15 years.  This time it obviously looks like it will be a reality.

The last time this was seriously considered was around a decade ago, with a developer named Bear Creek.  Although I don’t believe they publicly named a user at that time, it was widely believed (pretty much known) that they were working with Wal-Mart, as they had a number of sites developed “for” Wal-Mart.  They seemed to work with them regularly based on the developments featured on the Bear Creek website – and those that were familiar with their work.

In this case, it seems that we have a more dynamic developer, and Wal-Mart is not a desired tenant.  We will again be required to work with the city of Columbus to make it a unified development, and hopefully one that provides benefit to the area.  As you know, retail is among the lower performers of revenue to the city, but it does have a necessity.

We were successful in keeping Grandview Yard largely void of big-box and “junior” big-box stores, yet, had it not been valued at some 500k per acre, it would have been far more attractive to big-box.  The Kaplan Tract land acquired for this Grandview Crossing development was *significantly* less, like a fraction.  I’m afraid we have a bit less traction in this case due to so much land being in Columbus, but I do feel a certain comfort knowing that we have a more locally involved developer.  So, it’s a balancing act; we don’t want to end up with simply a giant parking lot on the Grandview Heights side – one large enough to hold a sea of cars for a big-box that Columbus could approve on the land that they control.  At the same time, we have to be practical about the appropriateness of a retail-style development on Dublin Rd.

Our hope is that the developer will keep to their stated desire to avoid big-box, that would be a worst-worst-worst case scenario for Grandview Heights, and one that would certainly not have our support.

As for the traffic on Grandview ave, I have strongly asked for the ingress-egress to be limited to Dublin Rd, far east of Grandview ave. There’s already increased traffic expected on Grandview ave south of Goodale from Grandview Yard, and I am aware that this could be an additional burden. I am not in favor of an entrance near the current Napa store.  I believe (as a resident and Council member – not a traffic engineer) that this would overly-congest and complicate the railroad crossing among other complaints.

There’s a glimpse of my thoughts, stay in touch.

– Anthony Panzera

Kasich’s budget vetoes will cause 4% loss to Grandview Heights

Published July 2, 2015 by justicewg

Back in February of 2015 the state announced possible budget cuts that could have chopped 42% off the state contribution to the Grandview schools. This worked out to about 6% of the total operating expenses projected for the district. I took the school board and administration to task for their passive reaction to the cuts. Some commenters assumed the school board had enough influence with the state through lobbying groups to retain the funding, and that action on the local level was not needed. The final budget has been signed by Governor Kasich, and with his line-item vetoes, the Grandview school district will see a 4% cut in total funding starting in 2017.

The Tri-V news spoke too soon.

The TVN has an article printed on Wednesday that seems to be contradictory, it claims there will be no cuts. “It’s about what we expected,” is a quote from district Treasurer Beth Collier. Unfortunately, this article was written before the Governor stripped funding from the school with a veto. If the flat funding was expected by the school administration, the lobby groups the school used apparently did their jobs and had convinced state legislators to keep the “hold harmless” funding. All that work with the legislators can be canceled with a simple cross-out by the Governor, and a vote to override the veto would be highly unlikely with a majority Republican state House and Senate.

Current numbers are in the Dispatch article

Read the Dispatch article for a current picture of the cuts that will be in place for schools all over Ohio. The number that caught my eye is the reimbursement eliminated account for 5 percent or more of the budgets of 88 Ohio school districts. These schools will be faced with the need to either pass high increases in taxes or make draconian cuts to school programs.

Superintendent Culp sent an email out that explains the numbers and inpact this new budget will have on the Grandview schools. Once again, it seems to me to be strangely passive, implying that the cuts are just things that happen, like school snow days. The full text is quoted after the jump.

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