council

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Were Grandview police downtown using excessive force on the protesters?

Published June 5, 2020 by justicewg

The videos of the Columbus police engaging with the protesters marching in response to the police murder of George Floyd shows that some of them have learned nothing about appropriate use of force. Videos show U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio being pepper sprayed by Columbus Police during protest. Many other videos show reporters and others being sprayed, and police riding horses directly into crowds.

Residents of Grandview Hts. might think “that was Columbus cops, our officers are here at home”. Unfortunately all of the Columbus suburbs have signed mutual aid agreements with the Columbus police department, so they were required to help during the protests. These aid agreements are really needed by small departments like Grandview, a major emergency, like a toxic waste spill on the RR tracks, could require many times the personnel we could field. The flip side of the agreements might bring our police into dangerous situations where they have had little training.

I asked the PIO of the Grandview Hts police if our officers were called in to aid Columbus during the protests.

We responded to a mutual aid request on Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Columbus due to riots. We assisted with traffic control and had no direct contact with protesters or those rioting. – Officer Scott Bruney

Do you have any photos of Grandview police working the streets of Columbus during the protests? Please send them here to this blog, contact info in the “About” section.

What policy should Grandview Police change after the protests?

We have not heard any public comment from new police chief Ryan Starns since the murder of Floyd and the protests. I would like to hear how he has reacted to the actions of the Minneapolis officers, and how he thinks this could be prevented from happening here in Grandview.

I would like to know what policy the department has for restraint of citizens during arrests.

I would like to know how complaints against police officers are processed, and what outside review of complaints are available.

Body Cams are standard in Franklin Co. – except in Grandview Hts.

Minneapolis cop Chauvin didn’t have a body cam at the time he murdered George Floyd. Another officer named Thao did have a cam, but it isn’t clear what was captured by it, because he spent most of the near 9 minutes Chauvin kneed on Floyd’s neck facing away. It did record Thao asking if Floyd should be moved to his side, and clear intent to kill him when Chauvin refused to move off his neck.

I wrote about body cams in an older post, and noted that the spiked baseball bat wielding Grandview resident was restrained off camera (the only cam was in the car in front of the house). If the officers had used deadly force against Metters (and the police union said that he could have been justifiably shot), there would have been no video inside the house.

Grandview police need to update equipment and issue body cams to all officers on the street. If the response from Mayor Kearns has not changed, she will not be ordering the Chief to act.

If you were inspired to protest against the police abuse in the Floyd case, and want to see changes, let’s start here in our community. Call, send emails, to the Chief, the Mayor, and the Council. Demand that accountability is needed for all officers, and body cams are a vital part of that.

Comments from Visitors should not be limited to email

Published April 6, 2020 by justicewg

Council 6-5-17The following was an email sent to the city council before the April 6th council meeting. The Grandview school board has a similar new rule that restricts public comment to email, and I have a similar email ready to be sent to the board.

To the Grandview Hts. city council:

The city council normally has a “Comments from Visitors” segment at the beginning of each council meeting. Any member of the public used to have the right to speak live before the council at length. This was required in the Open Meeting laws of Ohio.

Due to the restrictions on public meetings during the Corvid-19 pandemic, the city council has restricted public comment to email, which must be received and pre-approved by the council. We don’t know if the council will read these emails – because the first meeting under these rules has yet to occur.

Following the law in SB 197

I believe the city council has made the wrong choice in restrictions to comments via email. I don’t think the restrictions are following the laws, as spelled out in SB 197. The following is a quote from that law.

From SB 197
(C) When members of a public body conduct a hearing by means of teleconference, video conference, or any other similar electronic technology, the public body must establish a means, through the use of electronic equipment that is widely available to the general public, to converse with witnesses, and to receive documentary testimony and physical evidence.
End SB 197.

The important words in that law are “to converse with witnesses”. The word converse implies a back and forth, live comment from the public. An email is not a conversation, it is a one way text.

Residents could have been allowed into video conferences

The city council could have allowed live comments during council meetings. The online video conferences that is used instead of in person meetings allows additional attendees to hold the floor, with permission, and speak live before the council, and hold a live conversation. That option was not chosen by the city council.

There is no additional danger from residents who might try to violate the rules for speakers before the city council during an online conference. If anything, the council has even greater control of speakers, because they can be rejected from the meeting with a simple button press.

The council should change policy and start allowing live conversations online at the next council video meeting.

The emails from residents might be censored before meetings

The council has rules in place that restrict the words that may be used during live comments at council meetings. I’m afraid that the temptation will be to pre-screened emails that are to be entered into the public record, and reject whole emails that only contain certain objectionable words.

I have heard residents speak before the council in the past, and use strong words. The president has a gavel to restrict the use of specific words during live meetings, but the general comments of the speaker are still heard by the council. If the council can pre-screen emails and reject some for strong language, that person has been censored, and loses the right to be heard.

And the word censored is correct, because it will be an action taken by a governmental body. F*** that.

Restrictions on speech feed into general paranoia during the pandemic

One of the more common reactions to the restrictions that have been placed on the public is to accuse the governments of using a national emergency to take away freedoms – and imply that those freedoms will never be returned.

The council could have followed a less restrictive method to allow public comment. The law, as written in SB 197, says that the meetings of public bodies may be held online until December of 2020. This is not a minor, temporary change in council policy, if it will be taking away the right to be heard live before the council for 8 months. This is a major restriction.

Restrictions on “Comments from Visitors” that will now only allow emails are bad policy. Given that the Grandview council can streamline meetings by cutting out comments that might go at length and take up a lot of time, the council will have a big temptation to restrict comments from the public in the future. I have no faith the council will return to live comments, in person, in the future.

The council should re-think policy and start allowing live conversations at the next council meeting.

 

Ways the city can continue live conversations with council visitors during the Covid emergency

Published March 30, 2020 by justicewg

council on YTThe city of Grandview Heights has published new rules for public participation during all city meetings (see quote from the email at bottom). All residents are now directed to watch live streams of the meetings on YouTube, and stay out of city hall. The result of this new policy will be to end the “comments from visitors” section of all meetings, along with important live testimony during BZA and other hearings. The city claims it is following new emergency rules from the State that allow meetings to be conducted online without visitors. I think the city is failing to follow the new directives properly, and has not given enough thought to simple measures that would both allow live public comment, and protect the council from exposure to Coronavirus.

SB 197 passed to allow emergency rule change

The Ohio Senate passed new rules that allow public bodies in Ohio to conduct official meetings online, or with no visitors but live steamed to online services. The full bill has extensive rules for how this online meetings should be held, this short section is the most important for understanding the new policy (see below for comment on the quality of the video and audio of council meetings).

From SB 197
(C) When members of a public body conduct a hearing by means of teleconference, video conference, or any other similar electronic technology, the public body must establish a means, through the use of electronic equipment that is widely available to the general public, to converse with witnesses, and to receive documentary testimony and physical evidence.

Grandview city council has said in the past that they want emails sent to council members before meetings to substitute for live attendance and conversation with the public. The new rules clearly say “to converse with witnesses”, which means live back and forth talking at minimum. The city should have policy for sharing documents from residents during meetings, and physical evidence – and I have read no provisions for doing this during council meetings.

In my emails with the council, I have been told by Vice Pres. Smith that he interprets the above as only applying to hearings like the BZA. But – the city has not made rules for how this conversation with witnesses will be done. After they figure out how to allow testimony during hearings, what prevents them from using the same method for allowing conversations at all meetings?

If the council tries to use a “this is temporary!” dodge to the issue, please read SB 197. It allows these new rules to extend until December 2020. New policy that excludes the public from meetings is not “temporary” when it lasts all year long.

How the council is currently holding meetings.

The city is currently livestreaming meetings on YouTube. The audio quality is abysmal, the fixed wide angle camera doesn’t allow us to perceive who is speaking most of the time, unless the speaker is waving their hands. SB 197 requires high quality audio and video.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzR6z47-hYUc4kvJV3P0GUA

From SB 197
The public body shall ensure that the public can observe and hear the discussions and deliberations of all the members of the public body, whether the member is participating in person or electronically.

The quality of the video and audio so far fail to comply with SB 197. The city should be hiring a camera operator to follow the speakers during meetings, and ensure clean and clear audio is recorded. This is not some magic that requires special skills – the school board has done it since Aug, 2019, and is supposed to have a camera operator recording meetings after April this year. You could hire a teenager with the skills needed for cheap.

When we watch the council we can see they have spaced out the seating, and removed most of the visitor chairs. Good – but they are still passing paperwork between each other with no gloves, they pass within inches of each other while moving around the room. If you made a drinking game out of counting the number of times they touched their faces, you would not survive (but the alcohol you spill might protect you from viruses).

Just let the visitor in the room to speak, then leave

My first suggestion for allowing conversations with the public during meetings is the simplest. Ask those who wish to speak before the council to wait outside the building. Provide them with a means of requesting to speak (someone goes outside and makes a list). When the council gets to the “hearing from visitors” section of the meeting, allow each individual person to enter the room and speak. If the council is really worried about infections, it can provide gloves and a mask for each visitor. When the conversation is over, the speaker leaves.

Every council person already has to go out in public, to shop for food, to see family members. I don’t think allowing a few people to briefly enter the council chambers is going to perceptibly increase the danger to the council.

The window option

I think the above solution is the best, but if the paranoia of the council will not allow people in the room, visitors could stand outside the chambers and speak to council. Give them a phone number to call, place the answering phone in the center of the room set to speakerphone, with the volume all the way up. Each speaker stands outside the left window, and council members face the speaker. After the speaker finishes they can walk away and watch the streaming YouTube video of the meeting on their phone. This would have zero increase to the dangers of infection for both speakers and council.

Video conferencing options

There is no reason the council has to meet in person, as I read the new rules they can meet via video conferencing like Zoom. Everyone just stays home, visitors can watch the Zoom conference, the owner of the Zoom conference has controls that allow individual participants to have permission to speak. Allow residents to join in the conference and take the floor for five minutes.

This could also be done via Google Hangouts for free, as long as the participants are limited to 25. This would be well within the usual number of participants at council meetings.

The city just hired a IT expert who is supposed to be knowledgeable about these things, here is where he can earn his salary. Why do I have to do this work?

The Mayor and council are disappointing

We have been watching this pandemic approaching for two months, and the rules that the Mayor and council have enacted do not show that they have any respect for the preservation of live conversations with the residents of Grandview Heights.

I fully expect the Grandview school board to use this emergency to shut the meeting doors firmly closed, and place guards outside with orders to use fire hoses on anyone who attempts to enter. As of now, the board has been silent on rules – because informing the public is lowest on their list.

I don’t think this failure would have happened under Ray Degraw. This is another disappointment from Mayor Kearns.

(Edit) The council sent out new rules banning all public attendance at meetings. The council will now read the title of emails sent to the “all” address, during meetings, but not the body of the email. They say the text will be added to the official record – which will never be read by the public here in Grandview. This is not the best way to continue conversation with the citizens, and as I read the new laws, fails to be in compliance. An email sent to City attorney Khouzam asking for her legal opinion has not been answered.

(Later) I have to give credit where it is due – the Grandview Hts. School board has better public comment policy than the city council. On April 8, 2020, at 7 p.m, the board will have a Zoom conference (link to be posted on the school website), and they say they will still allow public comment via participating in the zoom room.

(later) The above was info that was briefly posted by the school, they now say they will hold a closed video conference that can only be viewed on YT. Like the city, public comments must be sent via email. The board claims “comments will be read into the public record and attached to the meeting minutes.” I doubt they will be reading anything aloud they don’t agree with.

City council, you can’t keep up with the school board in allowing live public comment? Shameful. (edit) Shame on both the city and school board for taking away live public comments.

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Restrictions on public attendance and comment during city meetings

Published March 27, 2020 by justicewg

council on YT(Edit – read the new section at the bottom for rules the new Ohio SB 197 requires for online meetings).

(From an email to the Mayor and council)

I received an email on 3-27-20 in which the city of Grandview Heights has set new policy on attendance at public meetings in the city hall. Apparently all of the public will be restricted from attending all public meetings. The reason given was to comply with Covid-19 distancing guidelines that were suggested by the Governor. Instead of public meetings, the city will have private meetings that are broadcast live on a YouTube channel.

No matter what the intended reasons the city has used to make these new rules, the real outcome of the steps taken up to now has deprived the citizens of the right to view, hear, and comment at public meetings. The proposal to restrict the public from any attendance is unacceptable, and in violation of Ohio Open Meeting laws, which have not been suspended.

First, the recordings of two meetings that have been streamed and archived on YouTube are nearly worthless because of audio issues. Council members and the Mayor, sitting on the far side of the room, are nearly inaudible on the recording.

If there was an attempt to record meetings but it can not be heard due to audio recording issues, there is no public record of a speech. If the city can’t fix the audio issues, then it should drop the live YT recordings, and find a new method of sending live audio out. In the past, the council was recording meetings and it was better quality – why is it worse now?

Second, there is no way to perceive who is speaking when the camera is only showing a wide angle shot from a corner of the room. Sometimes you might be able to figure out from the movement of the current speaker who is talking, but when short comments are made at low volume it is impossible to identify the speaker (or to hear low volume speakers because of audio issues).

Third, and most importantly, no provision has been made to allow public input during meetings. Again, this is in violation of Ohio Open Meeting rules. There might be workarounds, the council might have a phone number displayed that will allow comments to be called in and recorded. The council might hold live Zoom conferences and allow comments from attendees at home.

None of these workarounds appears to be under consideration.

I suggest the city work on finding more acceptable solutions, that will both allow live public input and hearing during meetings, and protect the members of the council from Covid-19 dangers.

(after the jump, new info on Open Meeting rules from council person Smith)

(update 6PM) The Ohio senate passed SB 197, which allows legislative bodies to hold meetings online, and stream them to the public. However, read this section of the bill:

(C) When members of a public body conduct a hearing by means of teleconference, video conference, or any other similar electronic technology, the public body must establish a means, through the use of electronic equipment that is widely available to the general public, to converse with witnesses, and to receive documentary testimony and physical evidence.

As I read the bill this requires the city to include a means for the public to speak before the public officials that are holding the meeting, through the same means the meeting is being held online. This isn’t a “good to have at some point” requirement, it is a “must” for the council to hold legal meetings.

Read the bill text after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry →

Grandview Hts. Coronavirus info from the city and schools

Published March 17, 2020 by justicewg

city websiteThe city of Grandview Hts. has posted a single page on their website that will keep us informed as the virus emergency continues.

http://www.grandviewheights.org/COVID-19

City closings and changes

As the last post here informed, the city is trying to keep people away from the entrance lobby of the police department. I’m not sure why this is needed, the lobby is small and it wouldn’t take more than a single person with a spray bottle a short time to sanitize the lobby, but for now the police department is a drive-in service. Call (614) 488-7901 and a police officer will come outside and speak to you in your car.

Almost all the rest of the city departments are closed or locked. One odd change is the recycling pickup has been suspended, while normal trash collection continues. I’m not sure why this service has stopped, just guessing the people who run the recycling plant have decided to close down.

The city parks are open, but all rec programming has ended. No Easter egg hunt this year. All restrooms in the parks are closed. (Edit – playground equipment is now closed)

The mayor’s court has suspended, all cases re-scheduled. The online payment options for tickets will be open, can’t delay the important stuff!

The city council info is not posted on the city website yet, but in an email they encouraged citizens to stay away from council meetings, and send any statements that they might have addressed to the council in meetings to the “all council email” address (council@grandviewheights.org). The problem with this email box is that it reflects the emails into all of the council members individual boxes, with no indication that it came from the “all members” address. I  had emails that got ignored in the past because everyone assumes that somebody else will answer the email. My suggestion for contacting the council is to address the member you want to answer your questions, and begin with “Dear Mr or Ms council member” at the top, so they know you expect an answer from them.

The city council has been posting videos of their meetings online for years. The YouTube channel they were using was closed last year, they changed to the Internet Archive hosting the videos back in the Fall of 2019.

http://www.grandviewheights.org/AgendaCenter/City-Council-2

(Click the TV icon for videos)

Later – The city is live streaming some meetings on YouTube. Still waiting on more info on rules for public participation.

(March 27) According to the email sent today with a BOH meeting announcement, the residents of Grandview Hts are banned from attending meetings. The Mayor feels the YT videos are sufficient (watch this meeting and tell me if you can make out the words being spoken).

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzR6z47-hYUc4kvJV3P0GUA

Grandview Hts. School Corona info

The schools have been closed, per state mandate. Currently April 6 is the target date to re-open the school buildings.

The school has a landing page for Covid-19 info at

https://www.ghschools.org/apps/pages/covid19

The school board has made no announcements addressing the precautions they will be taking during board meetings. I see no updates on the board page of the school website.

The board has video recorded meetings since august of last year, they made it clear in the January meeting that they have no mandate to continue video recordings, and they might stop the recordings if they decide they want to end the program. The board has not uploaded a new video recording of the board meetings since December 2019.

Ed Hastie returns to city council

Published January 26, 2020 by justicewg

Ed HastieThe Grandview City Council voted unanimously to appoint former council member Ed Hastie to fill the seat vacated when Greta Kearns was elected Mayor. Hastie was elected in 2008 and served until 2015, at which point he lost the election for his seat. He owns Hastie Law Offices in Grandview Heights as well as two local restaurants. His practice is in general business representation, criminal defense, real estate etc.

News from Hastie’s time on council and beyond

I searched back through the history of Hastie’s time as a council member, here is a selection.

Smoking laws

The council passed a law in 2015 that would criminalize buying tobacco by 18 to 21 year olds (under 18 is already against the law). Mayor DeGraw vetoed the law, he said the chief saw no way to enforce the rule without causing big legal issues for the city. Hastie was the sole no vote during passage, he said that he saw the smoking ban as a civil rights case. After hearing from residents the council changed the smoking laws to only penalize shops that sold the smokes.

First and Grandview building

Hastie was both a council member and  owner of the house at first and Grandview Ave. The developer of the parcel (according to Hastie he had no financial connection to the developer other than a contingent sale agreement ) wanted to tear down the historic farmhouse and build a large brownstone, which was opposed by many, and the designation as a historic building required a vote to remove the status by the council.

Hastie would have needed to recuse himself from voting on removing historic status because of his association with the developer. There were other votes and actions that caused Hastie to refrain from speaking on other issues in council meetings.

(edit) In an email Hastie tried to deflect all fault for the angry response from nearby property owners and those who wanted the historic building protected. I could find no police report that was filed by Hastie alleging he was forced by the developer to offer a sale agreement.

https://outline.com/q9XZ6X

Hastie represented exotic dancers in Stormy case

Hastie was the legal council for two exotic dancers who were arrested during the same raid on the club where Story Daniels was arrested and charged. Hastie received national coverage for a successful lawsuit that cost the city of Columbus $150K.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/oct/2/miranda-panda-and-brittany-walters-strip-club-empl/

Topless case

Hastie defended the ComFest against a liquor law violation, charging that the festival didn’t keep topless women away from the bar areas. ComFest was successful in the defense.

Last place in 2015 election

Hastie ran what was seen as a nearly invisible campaign for reelection in 2015, and finished last in a crowded field. He didn’t even beat Ryan Longbrake and Brandon Lynaugh, two unknowns running on a slate with Keeler. The appointment to council of a person who had been resoundingly voted down only a few years ago can be seen as a finger in the face of the voters.

 

Taxation and government spending 101

Published January 19, 2020 by justicewg

 

I read a lot of rationalizations from the city council members this week for the support of a new assistant position to be created under mayor Kearns. Most of it had some fuzzy or incorrect thinking about how tax money came to be sitting in the budget of the city. They need a refresher course in taxes and spending.

Government money comes from taxes

There are some fees the government collects for the use of land, or more esoteric stuff like sale of radio frequencies. That stuff is minor – most government money comes from taxes (property and income and sales, individual and business). The voters give the government the right to tax, and increase taxes, via voting.

The Grandview Heights school board once tried to tell us all that they had negotiated the rent of space on the football field for cell towers, and that because they did all the work negotiating with the phone companies, they were the owners of that money and could use it however they wanted (which at the time was to pay for new field turf).

If the board had gone into business for themselves, and started buying up property, then selling it to cell phone tower companies, they could have honestly said they owned the money. But that would be silly – school boards are not in the business of cell towers. The land those towers were built on belonged to the public. The money they received was only a fee, same as the fee for use of the field by other school teams. Those fees went into the general funds of the school, which is owned by the residents of this city.

Our city collects some money from other parts of the government, the state (which has been decreasing mostly) and the federal government. They got that money from taxes too, so … taxes are where the money comes from.

Taxes increase because we voted for the increase

Ohio has House Bill 920, which decreases the tax valuation of property because of property value increases (and Grandview has some of the fastest increases in value). There are some other exemptions and rollbacks, but generally taxes ratchet higher every year.

Taxes go up because governments convince voters to approves increases. We all want better schools, more services, faster police response, new transportation options (monorails). Our governments are supposed to be the experts who can tell us what new expenditures will be worth higher taxes, and which will be wastes of money. Unfortunately, those office holders can fall for the same poor rationalizations that cause the normal person with a high credit card balance to get into trouble.

Spending money because we have it in our hand

This is the “burning a hole in your pocket” trap, and I think many of the city council members have fallen for it. They were quick to note that the council had not spent all the money it had budgeted for last year, and this was a rationalization for more spending this year.

If we are the kind of people who carefully budget our household spending, and we end the year with money to spare, we can feel free to go out for an expensive evening, and still not cause long term budget issues. The problem comes when people use a short term surplus to justify a big ticket item on the credit card. If that budget goes negative the next year, you are in trouble.

New employees for the city are even worse than credit card spending, because if you keep up the CC bills, eventually that new car is paid off. A new employee for the city is forever – it is nearly impossible to cut city employees, unless the economy has cratered (I can’t remember the city cutting people during the 2008 downturn, mostly there were people who didn’t get replaced when they chose to leave). The cost of new employees continues to rise with seniority.

And good luck being the council member who has to tell the mayor “we need to cut your assistant due to budget problems”. The job – and the cost – is forever.

No new taxes

Councilman Smith said he felt OK about the new assistant position because it would not require new taxes.

Every single dollar in the city coffers is there because of new taxes. The 2016 tax levy was not that long ago, if there was a large surplus in the last year’s budget, then maybe that 2016 tax was too large.

As I noted above, every dollar in the city budget is the result of new taxes – some of those increases may be longer in the past, but it all came from new taxes.

A present for the new mayor

Some of the council members said they felt the new mayor deserved the staff she wanted, as a sort of birthday present. Ms Houston said:

“… The mayor also reserves the right to reconfigure her leadership staff and their responsibilities as she sees fit …”

The mayor is charged with running the city administration as she sees fit, within the limitations of the city charter. The city council, however, holds the purse – and all authority for hiring new employees.

If we are at the point where new city positions are created just to make the new mayor happy, then the council has lost its way.

Reasons I could accept

New mayor Kearns needs to stand up before the residents of the city, and make the case for her new assistant. If she is honest, she will say “yes, this new position will cost you more of your tax dollars that you voted for in 2016. It is going to shorten the time before we ask for more money. But it is a good thing to spend your money on.” And then explain how this addition to the bureaucracy will not make the mayor’s office less responsive.

(1-29-20)

Mayor hires her assistant

I could find no public statement from the Mayor justifying the addition to the bureaucracy in city hall before she took action and hired her new assistant, Aubrey Hale. In the tradition of confusing and unneeded obfuscation as the bureaucracy expands, the new assistant is being called the “Strategy & Engagement Officer”.

(1-31-20) Hale is being paid $70K + benefits – to start, first day on the job.

City video moves from YT to Internet Archive

Published October 1, 2019 by justicewg

IA GH searchI wrote about the closure of the city YouTube channel in a July post, the city was attempting to save the channel from a ban because of TOS violation. The appeal process has failed. YT is famous for closing channels with little explanation, and no recourse. It doesn’t matter that the content of the channel was official videos from city council meetings, there was something on those videos that caused the people at YT to decree a permanent ban on the channel.

I emailed Chief Shaner (who does the IT work for the city, along with running the fire department). He found a better place to host the city videos.

“I corresponded with Google Government and their final response was, “the site will not be re-enabled”. If we establish another YouTube channel, it can be deleted just like that one was so we will not be doing that as long as I am here. Everything we have is now on Archive.org. It seems to be a good use of taxpayer money at this point.

I think the agenda center on the website reflects the changes. If you go to the website, you can navigate to the appropriate meeting. You should not have to search for it.” – Chief Shaner

http://www.grandviewheights.org/AgendaCenter/City-Council-2

The location of the city council videos is not so intuitive, you normally don’t expect to find videos of past meetings on a page that is titled “Agendas”. The city is using a pre-packaged CMS that doesn’t give them a lot of flexibility, so that might be the best that can be done.

Click on the little TV set icons to the right of each meeting, this will take you to the video on Archive.org.

The Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more. You can think of it like a library for the internet, although it isn’t a library like the one we have on First Ave. It is funded through donations, grants, and by providing web archiving and book digitization services for partners.

You can also find videos from the Grandview city council by doing a search for the term “Grandview Heights” in the main search bar of the IA. A warning about using the IA, the website is not a fast as YouTube, it can bog down at times (it is one of the most used sites on the internet).

Why the city YouTube channel was closed

The management of YouTube is notorious for impenetrable decision making processes and rule enforcement. Even if we had all of the documentation that was provided to the city, it may have told us nothing except “rules were broken- see the rules on this page”. That page would then contain a list of possible infractions, with no explanation of who complained, or what they didn’t like.

We don’t know what closed the channel. We can look at the issues that were being discussed in city council meetings just before the closure, and the one that stands out is the complaints that residents were making about the open drug use and disruptions that occurred around the short term rental properties. The owners could have worked together to accuse the city of TOS violations, just because the words “drugs” were mentioned (a trip wire that has closed many YT channels).

The city did the right thing in moving away from YouTube, we don’t want our video recordings of council meetings censored or limited in any way. I’m hoping the city can work out a way to host the videos on their own servers, and end all outside party enforcement of content rules in city videos.

The schools use YouTube

The Grandview schools have been posting football games and other sports on a YT channel for the last two years. For some reason, despite the pitfalls of YT that the board knew and had objected to, they decided to post the new videos of board meetings on the same YT channel. The public comment section of the video posts has not been turned off. The channel is vulnerable to being closed for TOS violations.

The school has a video section on their own website, and can host their own videos. Why would they choose YouTube?

Rebekah Hatzifotinos joins city council

Published September 25, 2019 by justicewg

HatzThe Grandview city council swore in Rebekah Hatzifotinos September 16, to finish the term of Steve Gladman, who resigned.

Hatzifotinos and Ryan Edwards will be on the ballot this Nov. with incumbent Emily Keeler. Although there was another candidate for the seat Gladman vacated, Hatzifotinos was the logical replacement, since she will step into the seat after an uncontested race this November.

There is a disconcerting habit for political races in Grandview Heights to become uncontested coronations. Most of the current council members took office without facing a challenger, the same for the school board. The two school board candidates who will run for the open seats this Nov. will also have no competition. I’m working on an article on why this happens so often in our city. Democracy is supposed to feature an election that pits candidates who are required to meet with the citizens and state their ideas for the future of the office. The qualifications of the candidates are supposed to be scrutinized (although on a national level that often only means a check for membership in the D or R group). If “it doesn’t matter who you vote for” is the result of the political process in Grandview, something is wrong.

Hatzifotinos is a lawyer/baker

Ms Hatzifotinos is listed on the city blog as “earned a juris doctorate from Capital University in May 2004 and has practiced law for more than 12 years. Her community involvement includes serving as chair of the 2017-2018 Grandview Heights Charter Review Commission; pro bono work for the Children’s Hunger Alliance; and her current service as president of the Edison Intermediate & Larson Middle School PTO.”

Basic biscuitsMs Hatzifotinos is also the owner and chief baker for “Basic Biscuits, Kindness & Coffee”. She is planning to open a retail store on Goodale sometime next year. If you are wondering how a bakery that only sells biscuits and coffee can make any money, maybe this photo of her prices that she currently charges will tell you what she thinks will be sustainable.

How to pronounce her name

I asked her what her agenda on the council would be, and how to pronounce her surname.

“I do not have any particular agenda as of this moment, although I am very interested in seeing through to completion the new Municipal/Fire/Police building as I participated in the Spaces & Places committee. Generally speaking, I am interested in Grandview’s growth, but balancing that with maintaining its established neighborhood character.

My last name actually IS phonetic, that’s the wonder of the Greek language- but I can break it down a little further for you. Hahtzee-foeteen-ohs.”

I’m still unsure of the pronunciation. Is it “Hat-zee-foeteen-ohs”, or “Hadzee-foeteen-ohs”, with flap T?

Mayor DeGraw was paid $40K a year

Published August 23, 2019 by justicewg

An ordinance passed back in 2013 set the base pay for the Mayor of Grandview Heights. At that time Ray DeGraw was earning $30K per year for a part-time position. With the knowledge that the Grandview Yard development would add to the complexity of the position, and the increasing number of constituents ringing his phone and sending him email, the council boosted the pay up to $36K, followed by annual increases to $40K as he ends his term.

Ray always joked that he was being paid peanuts compared to the workload the Mayor position demands. He must oversee the spending of the city, create new budgets, manage all the employees, respond to the many contacts with residents, and run the Mayor’s court. Add in the complex negotiations needed to oversee the Yard and the follow on SOG development – then throw in the Grandview Crossing development on 33 – and it becomes almost ridiculous the he would be paid so little, given the high stakes.

And don’t forget – a part-time Mayor must also work a regular job.

The city council voted to give some boosts to the Mayor’s salary, starting in 2020 it will be $48K, increasing to $52K by 2023.

But facts can’t be bent – Grandview is the smallest city in Franklin County. Our tax base is increasing, but still small enough that the Mayor position must be part time, given the resources of the city.

With an annual budget of only $15 Million (similar to Canal Winchester), it would be extravagant to pay for a full time Mayor.

Switch to a professional city manager appointed by city council?

Other cities in Franklin Co. (Hilliard in 2018) have been switching to a professional city manager instead of a Mayor. The idea is that unlike a Mayor who might come into the position from any background, a professional city manager would be trained (at least a Master of Public Administration degree) and experienced enough to quickly fit into the job. The manager would be updated with the educational programs specifically aimed at city managers, and be focused on doing the job the city council needed to have done, without worrying about running for office every four years.

Grandview does have a Director of Administration, but as Pat Bowman is already working in that position, and as head of development, his job is as stretched as DeGraw’s. Finding a replacement for him may only make sense with a professional manager who could wear both the hat of the Mayor and the work that Bowman currently does.

Gray heads have more time for the workload

Ray DeGraw has long experience as Mayor, but it must be noted that he has reached the age at which he is not forced to chose between kids and the work (and Ray has often said that he wishes he had more time for his wife). That long experience – and the focus he has on the work – will be nearly impossible to replace, given the wide skill set needed for his position.

Neither of the candidates for the Mayor’s office have the gray hair that would be better for the position.

I am aware that pointing out which candidate has kids makes me open for accusations of sexism – but I hold that I would be pointing out the kids of the male candidate too (if he had any). I just don’t understand why anyone would take on the workload that DeGraw strained under, for only $48K a year – and then added raising a family, and working a second job.

I think that Grandview Heights would be better served if it went with a professional manager. You might get lucky and find a person with the talent of a DeGraw, and that person might want to run for office. What happens to that person if they don’t get re-elected to the Mayor term after four years, and have to re-start a full time career?

I don’t think either of the current candidates will measure up to Ray. I think the best long term choice is to hire a person with the talent for the job.

More to come on this issue – I will contact the candidates about switching to a professional manager, or folding the Director of Administration into the Mayor’s duties and turning it into a full time position.