election

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Quick answers from council candidates – part 2

Published November 3, 2017 by justicewg

Link to part 1

(Edit after the election – the three candidates who responded to my questions received the most votes, and Panzera also was re-elected. Not sure if any positions held by these candidates were deciding factors, as the conventional wisdom goes, working hard on door knocking and answering all questions seemed to be way to gain office.)

Melanie Houston

Neglected issues – Houston makes a good point about the lack of park space in Grandview, we are low in terms of per capita park space, and have no “wild” areas. I don’t know where we can find more space inside the present city boundaries though. Maybe connect the community garden with the McKinley Field Park (the strip in the back by the tracks is already owned by the city). Buying and tearing down the homes south of Goodale has been suggested in the past, but that doesn’t really feel like greenspace when it has trains a few yards away. Increasing park space is a good topic for the council, I would like to see more discussion, maybe it would be part of the community planning process that has been mentioned in the past.

More about money and parks in this 2016 story on Wallace gardens.

Medical marijuana – Houston says she believes medical marijuana as a viable treatment option for our community members, but she got no requests to support dispensaries in Grandview while door knocking. She also has the “but what about the children?” worries, and correctly assumes that some other town in the area will have no problem taking in the taxes that will be generated.

Apparently Grandview council had no issues with allowing the sale of alcohol at the Ox Roast (approved in 2016 by unanimous votes), which somehow didn’t trigger any “but what about the children?” worries. Someday there will be acceptance of the facts about which drug is the real danger, we have a way to go on that issue.

School facilities – There has been a long discussed plan to somehow make a community recreation facility that could be shared by the schools. Houston also likes the idea. Where to find the millions needed to build a indoor pool and track facility has always been the stumbling block. Houston mentions a paid pass system as a possibility, but that still puts the funding problems on the schools.

The logistics of how to share a rec center, while keeping random people away from school kids, has never been explained in the plans I have read. And recreation facilities is not the problem, finding funds to build new schools is the current puzzle for the board.

A funny things that happened on the way to office – someone told Houston she looked better than her campaign literature. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess this was a guy who was on the make, or at least well trained in responding to “do I look good in this photo” questions. Still looking for the candidate who can bring the funny.

Full answers after the jump, more Q and A’s will be posted here if the last two guys respond.

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Quick answers from council candidates – fall 2017

Published October 29, 2017 by justicewg

The five candidates for four council seats have been out knocking on doors and attending meetings to answer questions from the public. They are still open to questions from emails, here are a few that I thought had not been done in the past. Responses from the candidates are posted in the order they gave me their replies.

Come back to this post for updates, I will add new commentary to the front page as I read through the responses, and the full text of the answers from the politicians will be added after the jump.

Greta Kearns, current council member

Question about policy that has not been given enough thought – she mentioned a comprehensive community planning project, which has been talked about by other council members. I’m not sure that it is a missing topic for the average voter in the community, these planning sessions are generally boring and don’t really engage the attendees.

The issue is the same one that made the school facility planning session a dud, they asked the parents to attend days of sessions, get deep into the weeds on policy, but there was no payout for that work. The final vote on facility options was open to anyone, and easily hackable. And the board was clear that they can dump the recommendations and go their own way. I don’t have a solution for this problem, but I would like there to be an admission that a problem exists.

Medical Marijuana is a no for Kerns. She sites reasons that are similar to the Tobacco 21 and minor bike helmet legislation, if a drug is bad for kids (or a lack of a helmet), we should not allow it in Grandview.

Relationship with the School board. Kearns says there is no problem ( but since she is the the School Liaison, she would say that). The competition for property tax can be solved, according to her, if city can add all needed improvements without a tax increase. That will be quite a trick to build a new fire and police station (which she supports) without new taxes. She doesn’t see any way to share facilities with the school.

A funny things that happened on the way to office – I guess the resident who answered his door wearing only a toga and a cowboy hat was sort of funny. I guess you had to be there.

Chris Smith, council V.P.

Neglected issues – I like the discussion on public transport, as a metro area Columbus has neglected transportation for so long it gives us a negative image for any business looking to relocate to the area. Why would someone want to develop in a city that had no public transportation other than old buses and roads that are fast becoming constant traffic snarls? Unfortunately it is a regional problem that can’t be solved by Grandview city council.

Smith said that Medical Marijuana businesses would “probably not the wisest use for commercial property in the city.” And given that the city of Columbus will probably have no issues with the dispensaries, and the taxes they pay, there will not be a problem finding a near by dispensary. But if we have full access to Medical Marijuana, but chose to let someone else get all the tax money, does that really make sense?

Smith agrees that there are issues in communication between the city and the school board. He doesn’t have a solution other than “we need to work hard”. He did mention the re-negotiation with NRI at the Yard will allow the bonds to be paid quicker, allowing the schools to boost tax income sooner.

Smith did have a good story about a long rant from a resident during a door knock session. I would call it more poignant than funny. I guess nothing really funny can be expected from politicians.

More full answers from candidates will be added after the jump.

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Fall 2017 election candidates have filed

Published August 11, 2017 by justicewg

The Franklin Co. Board of Elections has posted the candidates that have filed to run. These are not certified, mistakes in the paperwork could disqualify some of them.

City Council

Four open seats on the council have six candidates attempting to take office. Anthony Panzera, Kearns, and Smith will try for re-election. Stephen Papineau will be retiring from the council.

Dan Headapohl, a past council president, will try to return to the council. Nicholas Pavlik, and Melanie Houston will also run for a seat.

(later –  Nicholas Pavlik dropped out of the race).

School board

Current member Truett has filed. Douglass and Evans are stepping away. Only two other candidates have filed, Eric Bode and Molly Wassmuth, so at this point they will get to take office with no opposition. You have to wonder how much the planned major building at the schools have turned off candidates for this office, instead of the usual running the schools and passing normal levies, the board will be tasked with trying to pass new construction levies that will hit record heights.

Remember, this is only the first filing list, the candidate must still have all the paperwork in order to be certified. We could still have a shocker election, like 2013, when Clifford made a rookie mistake in her paperwork.

(Aug 23) All candidates for council and the board have been BoE certified.

Grandview board selects controversial Truett for President

Published January 14, 2017 by justicewg

truett-at-visioningThe Grandview school board voted to place Jessie Truett into the president position at the January 2017 organizational meeting. This is a completely nonsensical move from a board that should be avoiding controversy while they gear up for requesting the community to build new schools.

Truett is the most controversial member of the board, due to his resignation from his job as the high school principal back in 2011. The short version – Truett suddenly resigned with a weak explanation about personal and health reasons, later it came out that he started an affair with an 18 year old student while he was a 23 year old teacher at Westerville. State law says that sexual conduct with a student, regardless of the student’s age, is considered sexual battery, and could lead to jail time. Truett voluntarily surrendered his teaching license to the state board of education.

Mr Truett now works for OAPCS, promoting charter schools. Ohio had many scandals involving charter schools, some observers think that the top reason that Kasich failed his run for president was the constant news of fraud and failure from Ohio charter schools. Truett’s job is to push for more charter schools, and weaken public schools.

Watch Truett in action at a board meeting

What will it be like with Jessie Truett in charge of the school board? We have a video that allows us to see direct evidence of how he will conduct the business of the school, and how he will respond to comments from the community, All of the links in the following take you directly to the section of the video being discussed.

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Running for a public office in Grandview Heights

Published October 12, 2016 by justicewg

Some Grandview residents have interactions with local public officials, and wonder just how a person ends up an elected council member or board seat holder. A much smaller number actively try to run for office. How does that work in Grandview Heights?

Brandon Lynaugh decided he needed to try for the city council during the fall 2015 election. He didn’t win, but got a valuable lesson is what is needed to run for a public office. I asked him questions about that run.

Making the decision to run

J.W.: How did you come up with the idea of running?

Brandon Lynaugh : There were a lot of factors that led me to run for GH city council.  First and foremost it was a desire to serve a community that my family and I have a deep appreciation for.  Like a lot of folks in Grandview, we originally came because of the school system.  Over the last decade we’ve come to appreciate the community even more and I wanted to do my part to give back to it.

While the desire to serve should be at the core of anyone’s decision to run for local office, I was also driven by an interest to give the community a choice in who represents them.  I’ve lived here a decade and never once had a candidate for local office knocked on my door.  It’s no real surprise as the previous two elections for council were entirely uncontested.  No need to campaign when you don’t have any competition I guess?  That bothered me.

And finally, I thought I had a background and approach that would be an asset to council.  It wasn’t to stroke an ego or to set up some future race for higher office as sometimes is the case with local campaigns.  I recognized that if elected, I was there to represent the interests of the entire community as best I could and I was excited by that challenge.

J.W. Did people contact you to encourage you to run?

B.L.: I probably have talked about it with friends and neighbors for a couple years, but nothing too serious.  It wasn’t until I worked on the last school levy campaign did I start to think I might make a go of it.  But the final decision came after a porch visit by a longtime friend/neighbor.  I’ve told a lot of people that it was a combination of civic pride and a little red wine.

J.W.: Was the paperwork easy? How did the petition to be placed on the ballot go?

B.L.: The process can be a bit tedious.  Depending on whether you intend to raise/spend campaign funds the first thing you need to do is file a designation of treasurer with the Franklin County Board of Elections.  You’ll then need to collect fifty valid signatures from registered voters in Grandview Heights.  I think I collected about one hundred to be safe.  Every year there are stories of candidates that fail to make the ballot because of errors with their petitions.  The Board of Elections does a good job of instructing candidates on the do’s and don’ts, but it was still nerve-racking to turn them in.

Other than getting certified for the ballot, the big paperwork requirements are campaign finance reports and an ethics/financial disclosure form that all candidates and elected officials have to fill out.  The disclosure form is designed to prevent conflicts of interest.  The campaign finance requirements include pre-election and post-election filings of every dollar raised and spent.  Sounds like a hassle, but once you get the hang of it it is fine.

Finding the Guru

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Signs of the times

Published March 11, 2016 by justicewg

No Urlin sleddingThis “No Sled Riding” sign in front of the Summit Chase condos has been successful in keeping the snow away from the hill this winter. Seems to have worked too well, it kept all the snow away from the city all winter. I can’t recall another when it was not possible to sled.

work at home scam

A work from home scam sign on Goodale Ave. near Urlin. I can’t believe there are people who still fall for this. Also can’t believe that this location is where people who want a work at home job are living, if you can afford to live in this neighborhood, you will not be getting a job from signs on the side of the road.

Orange Barrel NWbvOrange barrels have turned the section of NW Boulevard from First to Goodale into a eye-blasting orange overdose. Sorry about loosing all those parking spots, and the trees that need to be removed for the street construction are on the way to the toothpick factory. Progress! Get out of the way, or you will find an orange barrel placed over your head.

levy sign city hall

I noted in a previous story that there were no yard signs for the Issue 3 renewal on Grandview Ave. near the city hall. I found one, and (record needle scratch) what the heck is that behind it?

 

central committee

Not going to get a free mention of your name from me, Ms. Duvghjvd

Grandview has been infected by a case of gigantic sign syndrome! Symptoms are an inflated sense of self importance, and signs in your front lawn that exceed the rules for size set by city ordinance. Expect a 15 foot tall police officer to be arriving soon with a door sized ticket to present to this Gulliver.

(Later) Ms. Duvghjvd did not get elected, maybe she should have used a 100 foot tall sign?

Almost stealth campaign for city levy renewal

Published March 3, 2016 by justicewg
Grandview ave no levy signs

Photo fun, count the number of levy support yard signs on this strip of Grandview Ave. right across from the city hall*.

You would not be alone in being surprised by the city tax issue on the March 15th ballot. The city has gone low key, almost stealth, in the hopes of another easy passage of property-tax.

Issue 3 is a renewal of the city’s four-year, 7.5-mill property-tax levy. The city says it is needed for general funds, as well as for some street improvements. I don’t think this tax money has anything to do with the city streets and utilities going into the Grandview Yard development, those were supposed to be paid with the TIF money that targets taxes from that development directly into the project’s public costs.

There may be some additional costs coming out of the Yard that needs regular city funds – additional police and firemen who will now be in charge of serving this part of the city. I have not heard any numbers from the city on how the development has increased personnel, but it is a sure thing.

There are a few yard signs posted around the city to promote the levy. I think you can spot the city council members homes by the occurrence of a sign on a front yard.

Will the Gladman income tax relief cause problems with this levy?

One of the issues that caused conflict on the council last year was the attempt by Mr Gladman to give 100% tax relief to all residents who work outside the city. While the income tax paid by Columbus workers is similar to Grandview’s, it leaves most workers with an additional tax payment to RITA, his plan cut this tax, while taking $250K away from the city. Some council members thought it was a poorly timed issue, this levy renewal was in the planning  stage and it didn’t make the city look consistent by asking for a renewal at the same time it was looking to cut taxes.

If you are thinking about voting against this levy, you have a good reason to hit the no button, provided by a council member.

Does the school board support the city?

The standard way the school board and the city council work is to support each other when they ask for a levy. Apparently the board is asleep – or doesn’t care – about the city levy this time. There is nothing in the school website about the levy, not a word in support of the city in the “Superintendent Speaks” published Feb 24th. Nothing was emailed home with the parents. Unless “Meet Me in St. Louis” is a secret code for “vote for the levy”, the school cares more about the spring play.

If you go by the absence of yard signs in front of the board members homes that I pass on the way around town, you would have to guess they don’t support the city. I hope the council members remember this the next time the school board is asking for more money.

History lesson

There was another Issue 3 on the ballot back in the spring of 2009, it was also a renewal that had a low key campaign, and passed by 773 yes, 125 no. Given that the economy was in the crapper that year with no improvement in sight, I was surprised by the numbers. I guess Grandview residents are happy to vote for something that is not an increase (and almost always vote for big increases too).

It’s like I’m shouting at clouds when I say this, but the way to keep taxes low and the  city representatives on their toes is to say NO every once in a while. Negotiation 101 – suckers take the first offer.

Reynolds flips on Issue 3

A story in the D says that councilman Reynolds has changed his mind and is now against the renewal issue 3. The city has an $8.4 million carryover in its budget from last year, and Reynolds thinks the tax is not needed. Mayor Ray DeGraw is quoted saying “We don’t have surplus money,” and that every dollar in the issue three is needed for long delayed maintenance and buildings.

There is almost no chance that issue three will fail, so it is an odd position for Reynolds to take. Anti-tax is a popular position though. Reynolds said in the article that he will not be campaigning to vote no, but he apparently thought it was a good thing to send an email to the news media announcing his flip during the week before the voting.

Election results

Preliminary vote – 2087 for the Issue 3, and 741 no. This wasn’t the quite the 80% yes vote of 2009, but 73% is close enough to think that any opposition expressed by a council member had little effect.

*Trick question! There are no signs.