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Sunshine week in Grandview Heights

Published March 23, 2019 by justicewg

This is Sunshine Week — an annual nationwide celebration of access to public information sponsored by the American Society of News Editors and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. It’s a sunny day here in Grandview too. Let’s hear what Ohio Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says about public records requests during National Sunshine Week.

“The public records of the government belong to the people, not the office holders who created those documents.”

You don’t need a special form, or say magic words. Just get a message to the public office holder, explaining as best you can the documents you need to receive a copy of. You don’t have to identify yourself, or explain why you need the record.

Read all about the public record laws in the new updated Yellow book on the Ohio Attorney General website.

https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Legal/Sunshine-Laws

Watching Grandview Heights in 2018

Published January 1, 2019 by justicewg

Time to re-cap the best stories posted on the blog. In no particular order:

Board highballs the facility bid, admits finance committee is running the school

The school board’s push to build a new middle school was the top issue for the school system, and the tactics used by the board were the topic of many posts. This July story documented the highball bid used by the board to push for more money for construction. It also points out the board had no defense from the charge that the finance committee was a policy deciding group that should have been open under the Ohio Open Meeting laws.

https://watchinggrandview.wordpress.com/2018/07/09/board-highballs-the-facility-bid-admits-finance-committee-is-running-the-school/

The Goodale Green Space Ballot Initiative

A group created a petition to change the Green Space rules on Goodale, after a disagreement over the city decision to allow a large new home on Goodale Ave. Ms Oster 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 citizen initiative placed on the ballot by the group failed to stop the house from being allowed to proceed.

https://watchinggrandview.wordpress.com/2018/08/20/the-goodale-green-space-ballot-initiative/

Video of the May 29, 2018 finance committee report

A listing of highlights from a video taken at the school. School administrators shouted down questioners. The superintendent danced around questions about the meeting notes and closed door policy for the committee, but failed to answer questions, showing a lack of integrity. Committee members shrugged their shoulders when asked what the effect of the levy might have on lower income residents.

The most interesting part was when Kukuria talked about the only disagreement the group had between each other, over renovations for the Stevenson building. Apparently some wanted to do the $6 million in renovations that were recommended, while the final report suggested the school be given minor repairs. The conclusion from this report suggest the committee wants Stevenson to be allowed to deteriorate, so that it can be next up on the demolition list.

https://watchinggrandview.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/video-of-the-may-29-2018-finance-committee/

City might take responsibility for repairing sidewalks

Councilman Reynolds proposed the city might take over the repair of sidewalks, and answered some questions. As far as I know this issue is still up in the air in committee.

(Edit) A TVN story covered the sidewalk repair proposal, still in committee and under study to find an accurate cost to the city.

https://watchinggrandview.wordpress.com/2018/10/09/city-might-take-responsibility-for-repairing-sidewalks/

City of Grandview Heights – Comprehensive Community Planning process

The city of Grandview Heights started a comprehensive community planning process, much wider in scope than previous planning groups. Commercial development, residential development, neighborhoods, pedestrian safety and walk-ability, city finance – the whole gamut of issues the city council must plan for are up for public discussion. The process will continue into 2019.

https://watchinggrandview.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/city-of-grandview-heights-community-planning-process/

Winner of the tallest snowman in the city competition

8 ft tall snowman

If the city holds another snowman competition, and if it ever snows again in Grandview, I defy anyone to beat my championship level snowman building.

https://watchinggrandview.wordpress.com/2018/01/16/winner-of-the-tallest-snowman-in-the-city-snowman-competition/

Top Watching Grandview stories of 2017

Top Watching Grandview stories of 2016

Top Watching Grandview stories of 2015

Top Watching Grandview stories of 2014

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.

Winner of the tallest snowman in the city competition

Published January 16, 2018 by justicewg
8 ft tall snowman

I call it, Mt Freeze Megasnowman, the Comprehensive Community Driven Facility Finance Committee crusher

Years ago my kids and I built this 8 ft tall snowman. The city of Grandview Heights just ran a snowman competition, and didn’t specify the dates for the snowman building, it just had to be in this city. We won! We deserved it too, almost broke my back getting that second snowball up on top.

Congratulation to the kids who won in other categories. Just don’t try to top my snowman – no really, don’t try, it would be dangerous to do it. Make your dad build a bigger snowman!

Watching Grandview Heights in 2017

Published December 31, 2017 by justicewg

This year contained some end points, like the opening of the new Grandview swimming pool, but it was more about the continuation of projects that had been in the works for years. Next year might be the time for a final decision on the school facilities, or the plans for a new city office building. Here are the news stories that had people visiting this website.

Bomb threat at PNC Bank

pnc-bank-bomb

A bank robber at the PNC bank on First Ave caused the first major story of January 2017. The street was closed and lockdowns in place at all the schools until bomb squad members determined that the bag left outside didn’t contain explosives. By February the Grandview Heights police announced they had a suspect in custody. Karl Schlenker, 60, of Cranford, New Jersey, was arrested at his home without incident.

I can find nothing online about a trial, so I guess it is possible Schlenker might still be walking the streets of Columbus after he posted bond and was released.

A reader found the info on the case, Schlenker plead guilty and was sentenced to 4 years, 9 months in jail. He is still appealing the sentence (from jail), if I am reading the casework correctly. Also, prior convictions were mentioned in the sentencing, so this was not a guy who just broke bad at 60 years old.

School facilities recommendation, and Good for Grandview group formed

culp-leads-laughter

The school board ramped up the public meetings to study the facilities at the schools this year, options for possible building plans were first presented at a May meeting. The school quickly narrowed choices down to three by June, and after an open to all (and hackable) online survey, superintendent Culp determined that the outcome of the process supported the “Tear down the middle school” option.

Some of the parents and community members who attended the facilities meetings got together, and decided they couldn’t agree with Culp’s recommendation. The Good for Grandview group posted a website with their complaints with the process the school used to chose a facility plan, and a warning that the cost of the new construction was just too expensive for this small community. As of December 31, 2017, they have 276 signatures on an online petition to the school board (March 2018, 325 sigs).

The board has remained absolutely silent about the G4G group. Culp had some jargon filled responses, but he rejected all direct questions. Two new board members will join the board in 2018, but past experience indicates there is little chance they will deflect the board from its current path.

Read the rest of this entry →

Facebook is bad for everybody / Changing minds

Published December 13, 2017 by justicewg

I try to keep my commentary on this blog focused on local Grandview issues, but occasionally I read or see something that makes me say, “Yes, this person is absolutely right, we all need to pay attention”. I will get back to the local after a while, but first some thoughts on this TED talk about social media, and Facebook in particular. Later, I discuss a good website on changing minds.

We’re building a dystopia

That is a bit of a clickbait headline, isn’t it? Sure, but this TED talk backs it up with careful reasoning and reference to studies of how behavior changes because of online ads and social media groups.

There has been a few headline news stories that have told us how we are becoming a nation that is sharply divided, not just because of ideological differences, but because of the perception of reality. We want to read stories that reinforce our own world view, and discount those that don’t fit – cognitive dissonance has been studied for many years, we know how the mind can bend perception to fit our view of how “things should be”. Now we have Facebook to reinforce those perceptions, feeding us a computer generated stream of news and commentary that intentionally pushes us into more extreme views on politics and society.

It has gotten so bad that even one of the founders of social media admits that Facebook is tearing the social fabric apart (jump to 21:30). He suggests the best solution is to stop using Facebook, but if that is not possible, at least understand how it works to suck you in and make you angry. Read the rest of this entry →