Grandview City

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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 →

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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.

Econ committee votes to start city onto a track that leads to a bad deal with NRI

Published September 18, 2018 by justicewg

The city council members on the economic development committee voted on Sept 17 to approve a resolution that supports the deal the school board is making with NRI, which might lead to more money for the schools, but at the cost of approving a deal with NRI that is bad for both the city and the schools. This deal is on a track that will be hard to stop, unless many residents of Grandview Heights speak up, and tell both the board and the council to stop being poor negotiators. With the pressure of public comments, both via email and in city council meetings, the citizens of this city can stop this poor deal, and work for something from a position of strength.

Details of the deal

The full story on the NRI deal is complex, I’m trying to give a short summary that might pass over parts that are important to get a full understanding. I will be posting as many documents and videos from the city as I can, in the future.

Mayor DeGraw was part of the Finance committee at the school (the closed, hand picked group that made major decisions on the school facility plan with no meeting notes or video being taken). The group was looking hard at ways to improve the poor deal the school made with NRI back at the start of the Yard development, but as the mayor told the group, the city and the school had no bargaining power, a slight revision in 2014 didn’t help the school much.

The mayor told the school board that there was only one possible way to get movement from NRI, that was the land south of Goodale near the Yard. There were problems with the ownership of the land (at the time of the finance meeting), and there are big issues with cleanup of the land from pollution, but it was the only way that the school might get a lever on changing the deals made with NRI.

The school board saw this as a green light to start a new negotiation with NRI, and in the first months of 2018, they pressed NRI to make a new deal. NRI, being some of the best deal makers in the Fortune 500, immediately saw this as a way to come out on top of a deal with the rubes on the school board.

NRI must have been fully aware that the school was throwing every bit of influence they possessed into the quest to build new school buildings, and they are now almost certain to fail in the November levy request. The only way the board can pull some respect out of their floundering is to make a deal that brings more money out of NRI. This was a setup that NRI used to make a terrible deal for both the board and the city.

What is wrong with the NRI deal?

Both council members Anthony Panzera and Steve Reynolds spoke at length before the econ committee about the bad position the city and school are placing themselves into. I will be posting video of their talks. A short summary:

The council is allowing itself to be leaned on by the school board, and is shortcutting the normal channels under which the city would review and approve deals like this.

There is no reason for linking the development of the south of Goodale area with a renegotiation of the TIF with NRI. The only reason this is happening is that NRI knows the board is desperate for something they can call a win. The only one winning is NRI.

A housing development with 400 new units is not the best use of the land, and the city can do better.

The school board has been talking lowering their tax rate if they get the NRI deal. First, this is pure fantasy, the board will just use excess money to tear down Stevenson and build a new middle school. And even if the board did cut taxes for residents property, the one entity that would get the biggest tax cut would be – NRI, the largest land owner in the city.

(UPDATE) The board is now officially saying “vote for the full tax levy in November, but we probably will not need all that money if the NRI deal goes through.

While the combined bond issue and operating levy on the November ballot as Issue 6 would still be needed, this agreement would likely enable the district to reduce the amount of taxes that are collected on the November ballot issue. – Andy Culp

Amazing. The board is now saying “pass our levy, but trust us to give some of the money back to you – maybe”. This is self sabotage, why will anyone now vote for taxes that the school says they might not need? I think the board is so sure the levy will fail that they are giving themselves an excuse for the failure.

What about the Comprehensive city planning committee?

There is a large group of residents who are in the middle of a comprehensive city plan, one that is supposed to set the direction the city will take in future development. That group is not finished, and is not scheduled to be done until sometime next year. The fast tracking of the south of Goodale development is a blow to the integrity of the process – it is the city telling all of those people who spent hours in meetings “sorry suckers, you just wasted your time, because we are going to do what we want, to heck with your plans”. This is the kind of action that generates cynicism in the community. This is what makes people say “I though Grandview was different, but I guess we have a city government that is the same as anywhere else”

Check back on this post often, I have lots more to post – city documents, video, etc. Until those updates, you can watch the video of the NRI deal discussion in the last council meeting, starting at the 1:04:30 point in the YT video.

(UPDATE 2)

Video of the Sept 17 full council meeting

All of the preceding discussion happened at the Econ committee meeting on the 17th, and was not recorded by the city. Immediately following that meeting there was a full council meeting, which was video recorded. The speeches given by school board members at this meeting are just carbon copies of the ones they gave to the committee, except for one from board member Brannon. The things she said about NRI needs to be listened to carefully.

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City council video 09/05/2018 meeting – Scooters, Green Space, School Board Taxes

Published September 6, 2018 by justicewg

The city of Grandview council meetings were video recorded and posted to YouTube since spring of 2017. The quality of the recordings have been all over the place – some OK, some totally unusable because of low volume and noise. I have been monitoring the city’s attempt to do a better job with council member Keeler, and for the first time, the council has gone to a more professional recording setup, with a camera operator tracking the conversations and working the sound levels.

This council meeting was the perfect time to get the video right, because of all the important issues that were on the agenda. Scooters, the Green Space ordinance, the school board negotiation over the TIF with NRI – all topical and of high interest to the community. I did some quick note taking of the action in the video, this is not a complete record, just the high points.

City council video 09/05/2018 meeting summary

6:25 Michel Martin talked about suicide prevention.

13:20 Tijs van Maasakkers was appointed to the BZA to fill a vacancy. He is an Assistant Professor in City and Regional Planning at Ohio State University

14:20 School board member Melissa Palmisciano said the board and the city administration have been in negotiation with NRI over the taxes received from the TIF in Grandview Yard. More later.

15:30 Jody Oster, a member of the group behind the Goodale Green Space initiative, spoke to the council. She objected to the fact that the council had not voted to approve the Mayor beginning the legal moves to block the Green Space ordinance. She though the mayor was not following the laws in appealing the ordinance before the county Board of Elections. President Kearns said there was an executive session at which the council “provided input to the city”, but no vote was held. Kearns said she doesn’t think the Mayor or the city attorney needs the vote from the council for pursuing the appeal. The Mayor said he acted because he felt the appeal was in the best interests of the city.

36:47 Mayors report. The “Invasion of the electric scooters” was talked about, the city had to tell the scooter companies they can’t drop them in the city without an agreement in place. The city is still in negotiation, but it sounded like the Mayor will require then to ride only on the street (no sidewalk rides), helmets, and no two up riding. The Mayor said that we will be following the city of Columbus in their rules, since we are so close.

38:05  5G data transmission poles being installed in the city. The Mayor said he would post a map on the city website (I don’t see a map, but this city blog post lists the locations)

51:30 City attorney Khouzam presented the Grandview city side of the debate over the Green Space initiative appeal. Council member Reynolds clarifies that the appeal is coming from the administration, the council has not voted on the issue. Some back and forth happens – watch this part of the video.

1:04:30 Resolution on renegotiation of the Grandview Yard TIF. The mayor talked about re-allocation of taxes to the school, also part of the issue is more development in the Grandview yard south area.

Council person Reynolds expressed his disappointment with making any agreement that would be tied to the development of the Grandview Yard south area as it has been presented thus far. The addition of 400 units of housing is not what he feels is the best use of the area, nor does he feel that the addition is that good for the school board. He didn’t think it is a good idea to plan to transfer money from the city to the school when the city will be looking for new money to do its own new construction.

He also mentioned that if some agreement with the school was made that could cut the tax rate, the one entity that would get the biggest break would be NRI and Grandview Yard. He doesn’t feel this is a good position for the city to enter into.

1:22:15 Anthony Panzera expressed opposition to the resolution. He doesn’t feel that the negotiation over the TIF should have any connection to the Grandview Yard south deal, and thinks the city is being pushed into it for the advantage of developers, not the citizens of the city.

1:23:10 Jessie Truett, school board president, gets up and walks out of the council chambers in the middle of an important debate, disturbing the council and blocking the video. If there is anyone still wondering why the city council and the school board don’t have a good relationship, dumb insults like this from Truett are just par for the course.

1:25:10 A visitor points out that the city is still deep into the city Comprehensive Planning process with the residents, but has not completed the work. Why is the city in a rush to make this GY south development planning all on its own, with no completed city plan? The mayor tries to say that a road south of Goodale has been in the plans for years, but that is not what is under discussion – hundreds of new residential units are on the table.

On the quality of the video – so much better, but still distracting sounds are in the background. Some of them might be impossible to stop – shuffling papers, thunks on the table. Some come from people in the room, because everyone is cramped into a small space right beside the camera. Some of the noise is from people talking in the hall outside the room – maybe some signs can help?

Why can’t the school board video record their meetings?

The city council is now perfecting their video recordings, after more than a year of posting them on YouTube. The school board has never made video recordings, and will never bring a camera into the room. There are supposed to be audio recordings somewhere – good luck finding them.

This was the response I got from Jessie Truett the last time I asked him to record meetings:

“Today’s meeting was not recorded and as in the past, we do not intend to record future work sessions. “ Jessie Truett

The school board doesn’t want to provide audio recordings, they don’t want your opinion, and they really don’t want you to see what they are doing in their meetings.

Councilman is opposed to appeal of Green Space ordinance

Published August 27, 2018 by justicewg

UPDATE!  Secretary Husted broke the Board of Elections’ tie vote in favor of putting the Proposed Ordinance on the November 2018 ballot. If you want to read a post that practically has the winning lawyer doing a victory dance in front of the city administration, read the post on the Join Grandview website.

What happens next is up to the city, but they really need to understand that the time for legal fighting is over. They can organize opposition to the vote, but can’t spend any city money.

 

I try to stay neutral in political issues in Grandview, unless it appears there is a clear reason to side with some position in a local dispute. I’ve looked at all the arguments over the Green Space initiative, and I have to agree with them at least on the process – they have done everything by the book. They should have their ordinance on the ballot. Read the reasoning for allowing the voters to decide the issue in this post on their website

https://joingrandview.com/2018/08/22/the-trouble-with-the-citys-protest-of-the-proposed-ordinance/

I emailed the Mayor and all of the council members with my opinion on the Green Space ordinance appeal, and at this point have one response, from Steve Reynolds. My email is after the jump, first the email from Reynolds.

Thanks for your feedback.  I can’t express an opinion as to the initiative itself.  I also cannot speak for my fellow Councilmembers; however, I can say I am disappointed that tax dollars are being spent to “protect” residents from voting on the matter.  The legal maneuvering is not an action that has been voted on by Council.  It is being brought forth by the Mayor, the City Attorney, and the other attorneys who were hired to wage this battle. – SReynolds@grandviewheights.org

I’m a little unclear on Reynold’s claim that he can’t express an opinion on the initiative, Ohio law says the city should not be spending money to oppose the ordinance, but they still have the right to express their opinion. I guess if you count using the city email system to answer questions as spending money, that makes sense, but in a technical and not practical way.

His opposition to the Mayor spending city money on further appeals is the correct function for a council member, the Mayor holds administrative control of city funds, but the council is the final arbiter over the use of those public funds. I think if the city council had a majority belief that the city should stop spending money on appeals, and voted to direct the Mayor to let the vote be held in November, the Mayor will have to stop all court actions.

Let all the council members, and the Mayor, know what you think about the Green Space Ordinance.

Council@grandviewheights.org, rdegraw@grandviewheights.org

(Update) Council president Kearns is backing the Mayor.

What is so bad about the Elmwood house?

The reason that the Green Space initiative was inspired was because the locals wanted to keep the area looking the same as it has for many years. As I understand the dispute, it wasn’t so much that the Elmwood property was split, but that the house the owner wanted to build was so out of place in the area. An important aid in making that decision was the renderings of the plans for the house (or would have been if they were presented to the BZA).

Those renderings are now up on the Join Grandview website. Check them out and make your own judgement on the proposed home.

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The Goodale Green Space Ballot Initiative

Published August 20, 2018 by justicewg

UPDATE: the BOE has tied in voting on the Green Space initiative. This will require the Ohio Secretary of State to cast the deciding vote at some time in the future. Keep up with the latest news on the initiative at the group’s website. (also read how BOE member Sinnott refused to to recuse himself, even though his law firm represented the property owner in question.)

UPDATE 2:  Secretary Husted broke the Board of Elections’ tie vote in favor of putting the Proposed Ordinance on the November 2018 ballot, read the post on the Join Grandview website.

UPDATE 3: Election results – the initiative did not pass.

https://joingrandview.com/

Mayor Ray DeGraw posted a letter on the city blog last week in which he announced the city would be opposing a voter initiative to change the Green Space rules on Goodale Ave, west of Grandview Ave. He says the petition to change the city ordinance was not following the rules allowing the planning commission to give their opinion, so the city will oppose the initiative in a Board of Election hearing on August 24th.

I contacted Jody Oster, a Grandview resident who is part of the group which created the petition to change the Green Space rules on Goodale. She provided me with a long list of reasons the group had come together to make this initiative, as well as the petition that was signed by almost 400 Grandview residents.

The following is a very brief TL:DR of the positions held by the city and the group behind the voter initiative change to Goodale Green space (not sure if they have a formal name). For the purposes of this post I will call them the Green Space Group, (GSG). I can’t say all of the following is accurate, because the facts are in dispute (and I might make some mistakes too – it is complex). After the short version, I will post the full reply by Jody Oster.

The short version of the Goodale Green Space dispute

In 1989, the city created a 100-foot Green Space Overlay District along Goodale Boulevard, stretching from Broadview Avenue to Wyandotte Road. One resident was opposed and sued, to settle the lawsuit the city bought his property.

According to the GSG, the city and the board of zoning have created a feeling of unwanted change to the city by approving too many large buildings that don’t fit the character of the surrounding buildings. This has caused an opinion among many that a voter initiative is needed to preserve the character on Goodale.

A property owner on Elmwood made two previous attempts to do a lot split and build a new house adjacent to the Green Space, but was denied after residents objected. A third attempt in April 2017 was approved after the owner threatened to sue the city. The GSG didn’t feel the Zoning Board allowed enough notice of this approval. The board also approved a building for the site that the GSG doesn’t think fits into the character of the neighborhood.

As a result of feeling that the city and the board are not willing to listen to resident complaints, the GSG was formed, which has 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. However, the city feels that the actions to change the Green Space are not in line with the city charter or the proper procedures for going through the planning commission. The city will be opposing the initiative in a BOE hearing Friday, August 24, 2018 at 11AM at the Morse Road location.

If approved by the BOE, the Green Space change issue will appear on the November ballot. The GSG is confident this will happen.

The full reply from Jody Oster

This is the GSG position on the Goodale Green Space. I linked to a Pdf of the petition that was signed by enough residents to get on the ballot, the link is at the bottom. Following this, a short opinion from me.

(edit) The TVN has a story on the Green Space issue now.

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