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The Weekly Informer (2/2/2016)

I’m proud to announce the launch of a new feature of this blog; the “Weekly Informer”. Here, I will provide what the people of Newark are desperately lacking, which is a regular report on weekly activities in your Council Chambers. Now, with the first edition:

On Monday, February 1st, 2016, at 7pm, the following transpired:

Councilwoman Carol Floyd, of the 7th Ward, was absent due to her recovery from a recent knee surgery.

Under the first section for citizens’ comments:

William Butcher, a regular attendee and speaker, spoke to his concerns about the need for paving of his home street and our alleys. He also noted that we need some kind of annual educational event wherein the people of Newark are able to enjoy themselves and learn about our community’s history.

David Greene, President of the Freedom School and Author, spoke about the recent unfortunate turn of events where two Habitat for Humanity homes were burnt down and he spoke about how concerning it is that the East End fire station is not open. Then, he remarked about the need to avoid shifting to part-time fire fighters because – just as with his experience as a teacher – a part-time public employee can’t adequately replace a full-timer since there is a significant loss in benefits for that worker. Instead, he suggests pursuing new revenue to avoid this drastic change.

On to the legislation (descriptions as seen at my facebook page):

1) Resolutions (2nd Reading): a. No. 16-06: A money-spending measure: * Places $500,000 in the Budget Stabilization Fund, as the Mayor reported that our tax department collected 3.5% more in taxes than what was projected in our budget last month. * Pays out $680.99 to "Temp Services" - reimbursed by the County - for the Parks Division.

Result: There was no discussion. The vote for approval was 9-0.

2) Resolutions (1st Reading): a. No. 16-08: permitting Mayor Hall to apply for an Ohio EMS Training and Equipment Grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety (to help with fiscal year 2016-2017 funding).

Result: It was held for a vote in two weeks.

b. No. 16-09: a measure for spending money, with a request that it gets voted on tonight: * Authorizes the payment of $4750 for "vehicles" by the fire department. The Chief requests this authorization of spending money that was reportedly raised through "private" fundraising. * Authorizes the payment of $6500 for "vehicles".

Result: Councilman Doug Marmie, of the 6th Ward, motioned to waive the two-day reading rule, that was seconded by Councilman Ryan Bubb, At-Large, and the vote to waive was unanimous. There was then no discussion prior to another unanimous vote for approval.

c. No. 16-10: for the downtown project on sewer separation, allowing Service Director Rhodes to secure a supplemental water pollution control loan.

Result: It was held for a vote in two weeks.

d. No. 16-11: permitting Mayor Hall to apply for a Community Housing Improvement Grant from the Ohio Development Services Agency.

Result: It was held for a vote in two weeks.

e. No. 16-12: another money-spending measure: Service Director Rhodes says that this is a request to allow him to spend "unspent" money previously allocated by Council. * Authorizes expenditure of $10,000 for "Building Maintenance" of a city-owned house (with most of the money going to fixing a "dead" roof). * Authorizes expenditure of $5,000 for "Land Improvements". When asking for the latter expenditure in committee, Director Rhodes said: "The $5,000 is for down at the new parking lot that was built between the Fire Station and the Police Station. We want to put a sidewalk between the parking lot that leads to the Fire Station and we also want to put a gate in the fence of the Police Station."

Result: It was held for a vote in two weeks.

Under the second section for citizens’ comments:

A citizen (didn’t catch his name), who is a firefighter (I believe he said he was retired), first asked about a recent zoning change in his residential area for a location that is now deemed a “multi-family” dwelling. He inquired about when the change occurred and was concerned that the signs around the property aren’t up to code. He then spoke in support of Mr. Greene’s position.

I then spoke, first - briefly - in support of the position held by the previous gentleman and Mr. Greene, and then about my concern for the homeless. I pointed out how one community recently ordered the destruction of a so-called “tent city” on the eve of the recent blizzard which swept through the area. I insisted that the administration thereof should face prosecution should their actions have caused the deaths of any homeless persons affected by their heartlessness. I called for a more compassionate approach to those less fortunate, including – at the very least – simply allowing these unfortunate souls to dwell in a tent at night.

Tim Waldren, another regular attendee, spoke, says that the city once considered getting rid of the police department and remarked that you once couldn’t be an officer unless you lived within the city. He then complained about the fire station out east being shut down as opposed to the one out west; as the former hurts Newark’s poor more. He then asserted that Council and the Mayor don’t care about the East End, lambasted our “failing” schools, complained that there are vacant lots in the South End that no one will purportedly build on since we are in a “flood zone”, and then he wrapped up with a suggestion that instead of giving some “rich guy” a tax break to renovate the old school on West Main, we could house the homeless there.

Under Miscellaneous comments:

From the Administration, Director Mark Mauter remarked that we use the Home Revolving Loan fund to contribute 20% of Habitat for Humanity’s local budget, so it hits at home for the city.

Law Director Sassen complimented those of us who commented “positively”, and said that he and Mr. Waldren live in two different worlds.

The Mayor, Councilmen Bubb, and Cost (at large) all passed on their opportunity for comment.

Councilman Mark Fraizer, at large, responds to Waldren’s claim that society doesn’t care for the impoverished by noting the various charities which exist to help them (including Habitat). He noted his belief that Part-Time Firefighters is a “long-term solution” for Newark. Finished by saying that he looks forward to the next four years.

Councilpersons Hall (1st Ward), Johnson (5th Ward), Rolletta (4th Ward), and Marmie pass on their opportunities for comment.

Councilman Jeff Rath (3rd Ward) praised Fraizer.

Councilman Jeremy Blake (2nd Ward) highlighted some upcoming local events. Praises comments about safety and poverty. In the process of mentioning another event involving the author behind “Orange is the New Black”, he suggested that we need to treat addiction as a health issue and not a crime.

Finally, before adjourning, Council President Don Ellington took issue with Mr. Waldren’s portrayal of the city.

See you all next week. Thanks for reading.

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