The Weekly Informer (4/9/16)

On Monday, April 4th, 2016, at 7pm, the following transpired:

All members were eventually present, as Mr. Marmie arrived about 15 minutes late. There was a heavy presence in the crowd of BSL-repeal supporters, media, and a handful of mascots with signs supporting the repeal.

Council received and filed into the record – among other things – 6 emails from citizens in opposition to the repeal of BSL and one letter from a noncitizen from a Humane Society member in support.

Under the first section for citizens’ comments:

William Butcher addressed need for road work near his home and on Cherry Valley Road.

One citizen spoke out in opposition to repeal of the BSL, citing a recent incident involving a set of “pit bull” attacks.

Numerous citizens spoke out in favor of repeal – citing the failure of BSL to protect the people of Newark as well as the fact that “Pits” are used as service dogs for many.

I, too, spoke: here are my remarks:

“To the activists who’ve fought hard for this moment, I say: rejoice and make a joyful noise, for victory is upon you. After many days and nights yearning for a change, canvassing for a change, speaking out for a change, demonstrating for a change, and even voting for a change: the moment has come, and you have yourselves to thank for that. Now, with this accomplishment soon to come and go, I must ask: what’s next?

What will you do with your newfound power? Surely the ending of breed specific legislation is not all you would like to see from your city. So, the challenge I pose to you is to use the victory here as a model to promote your will in all other aspects of local activism and government. If you haven’t a clue as to where you should start, allow me to offer a set of suggestions:

First and foremost, what do you think about the jobs situation in the Newark area? Not just for you and your family, but for the people of Newark overall? Would you, like me, prefer a model of job creation where the city take a more active role in promoting the creation of living wage jobs – which pay no less than 15 dollars an hour at full-time – over those jobs which are temporary and/or part-time at a minimum wage? I assure you, that if you come together as you have on behalf of your beloved pitties, there is nothing that can stop you.

Secondly, what is your opinion about the conditions of our roads? Yes, the city is making a little bit of progress, but I’m sure that you know we can do better. What are you willing to pay in order to pave more of Newark in a shorter period of time? Or, what are you willing to cut so as to meet this objective? I promise you that, as one, we can conceive a better approach to getting the job done. Together, as has been demonstrated in your success on – as many of us expect for tonight’s vote – toppling the onerous restrictions on dog ownership, when you work together nothing will stand in your way.

Thirdly, are you okay with how the homeless and those struggling with addiction are treated here at home? Are our resources scarce? Yes, but we are able to put our minds to work so as to conceive a more humane reception for these disadvantaged citizens than a mindset which regards them as being among the “undesirable”. Put your heart into addressing poverty and all its symptoms as you have with liberating our four-legged family members and the doors will swing open to a brighter future for all. Again, together we are mighty, and no obstacle is too high for us to climb.

Finally, I dare you to dream of a Newark which serves you every step of the way. We mustn’t allow ourselves to become complacent once our elections come and go or the moment when our officials deal with the issue most important to us. I don’t believe that any of you are “single-issue” voters, not for one second. No one is, because life doesn’t just deal with a single issue at any particular time. So, resolve to take your victory here and prepare to seek victory in the next fight, because there are many battles to be won.

As for our City Council, I want you to know how appreciative I am of the opportunity to torment you on a semi-regular basis with my long-winded speeches. I love democracy, I love activism – as it represents the spirit of democracy -, and what I am seeing here is democracy at work through the hard work of brave activists for change. Thank you for taking the time to hear the people out and for pondering this change in law once more. In closing, I recite two proud activist chants: “the people, united, will never be defeated”, and “there ain’t no power like the power of the people”.”

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

1) Ordinances (2nd Reading):

a. No. 16-05: permitting Service Director Rhodes to secure/renew a contract relative to Newark’s health services - with the Combined General Health District of Licking County.

Commentary: None.

Result: Motion by Rath, seconded by Bubb, no discussion, passes 10-0.

b. No. 16-07A: amending our laws pertaining to “vicious dogs”. * Creates four dog classifications: regular, nuisance (dogs that approach bystanders in a menacing fashion), dangerous (dogs which have injured a person or killed another dog, or which have been three times convicted by their owners as dogs which have escaped and run at large, or which have killed or seriously injured a person whilst defending their home), and vicious (any dog which has - without provocation, and excluding police dogs and dogs protecting their families - killed or seriously injured a person). * Fines/punishment for owners whose dog is running at large imposed as follows: Regular dog (first offense sees a fine of $25-100, no jail, subsequent offenses leads to $75-250, and further offenses a judge can sentence 30 days in jail), nuisance dog (minor misdemeanor on par with speeding ticket with fine $0-150, subsequent offense is a fourth degree misdemeanor with $0-250 or 0-30 days in jail, third offense equals dangerous dog classification), dangerous dog (first offense leads to fourth degree misdemeanor with $0-250 fine and 0-30 days in jail, subsequent offense with third degree misdemeanor $0-500 fine and 0-60 days in jail) and vicious dog (hurts a person while at large: first offense: first degree misdemeanor, $0-1,000, 0-180 days in jail and possible euthanization. If the dog kills someone, it is a fourth degree felony with mandatory euthanization. Running at large without harming anyone, the dog is treated as a dangerous dog).

Commentary: Motion by Mr. Fraizer, seconded by Mr. Rath. Mr. Rath and Mr. Fraizer spearheaded the cause, mentioning repeatedly in their commentary how they felt that this was a necessary change. They likewise expressed their belief that this will make the penalties harsher for owners of “vicious dogs” since the penalty of a misdemeanor – as opposed to a felony – could produce more jail time instead of dismissal because of “overcrowding” in prisons. Their support for change was echoed by Mr. Johnson, Mr. Marmie, and Mr. Blake. In opposition, Mr. Rolletta, Mrs. Floyd, Mrs. Hall, and Mr. Cost all spoke out against what they believed were reductions in the severity of penalties. Mr. Rolletta and Mr. Cost both made it a point to say that they personally opposed “Breed Specific Legislation”, but they were concerned about a transition from current law to one with less penalties for violators.

Result: Mr. Cost made a motion to recommit the legislation so that it could be improved upon so as to tighten the penalties. Mrs. Floyd seconded. The motion failed when President Ellington voted against it in a tie breaker (note: Mr. Johnson, who supported repeal, voted for the motion, but his vote in favor was surprisingly countered by Mr. Bubb’s vote against it despite his own opposition to repeal). Further commentary involved Mr. Fraizer pointing out that repeal tonight could mark a “first piece”, and does not preclude future action to improve upon the law. Rath reminded everyone of when it was promised (by Mr. Guthrie, though he was not mentioned by name) last year that this proposal would be reviewed and resubmitted, but such promises were left unmet. Soon after a number of others chimed in again, the vote came down to a tie (with the opposed being Rolletta, Hall, Floyd, Cost, and Bubb and those supporting being Rath, Fraizer, Blake, Johnson, and Marmie). President Ellington noted that this had been a tough decision for him as he has contemplated it over the past year. He ultimately voted in favor of repeal to break the tie.

c. No. 16-08: closing an alley - at sixteen feet wide - located south of Linwood Avenue.

Commentary: None.

Result: Motion by Johnson, seconded by Floyd. Floyd remarked that this was an uncontroversial closure since the properties on either side of the alley had the same owner. Passes 10-0.

d. No. 16-09: closing an alley; located east of North Hazelwood Avenue.

Commentary: None.

Result: Motion by Floyd, seconded by Johnson. Floyd remarked that the same facts stand as the previous ordinance. Passes 10-0.

2) Ordinances (1st Reading):

a. No. 16-10: with an emergency clause, issuing “$2,000,000.00 of bond anticipation notes” to pay for the “Buckeye Corridor stormwater plan sewer improvements”.

Commentary: None.

Result: Motion by Rath, seconded by Bubb, no discussion, passes 10-0.

3) Resolutions (2nd Reading): a. No. 16-25: allowing Service Director Rhodes to secure a contract - without a requirement for bidding out the contract - for professional engineering services in connection with the design and construction of a Riverbank Filtration System Project.

Commentary: None.

Result: Motion by Rath, seconded by Bubb. No discussion. Passes 10-0.

b. No. 16-26: spending money. * Appropriating $10,603 awarded via a grant from the Licking County Foundation for “upgrades” to TJ Evans, Everett, and Wilson Park. * Disappropriating $500 pre-set in the general fund for a headstone. * Appropriating that $500.

Commentary: None.

Result: Motion by Marmie, seconded by Bubb, no discussion, passes 10-0.

4) Resolutions (1st Reading): a. No. 16-29: allowing Service Director Rhodes “to enter into an amended agreement with the Newark Development Partners as its agency and instrumentality for commercial development in the City of Newark”. * Allows the City of Newark to transfer property over to the Newark C.I.C. so that said entity can dispose of such. * Allows the city to recognize a piece of property as potentially having an economic development purpose and will transfer it over to the C.I.C..

Commentary: None.

Result: Held for a vote in two weeks.

b. No. 16-30: allowing Mayor Hall to secure a “Community Development Block Grant funded subrecipient agreement” with a number of organizations (to be named in the legislation) so as to perform the “activities” listed as part of the grant’s “one year action plan”. * Sub-recipients of the grant will be: Behavioral Healthcare Partners, Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul, St. Vincent Haven, Coalition of Care, Newark Development Partners (receiving $60,000), Denison Garden of Hope (receiving $1,000), Licking County Coalition of Housing, Canal Market District, Together We Grow (receiving $2,000), and New Beginnings, with most receiving $5,000 and a total of $98,000 being distributed.

Commentary: None.

Result: Held for a vote in two weeks.

c. No. 16-31: permitting Mayor Hall to apply for a NatureWorks Grant from the state.

Commentary: None.

Result: Held for a vote in two weeks.

Under the second section for citizens’ comments:

William Butcher again spoke up, this time pertaining to the differences between misdemeanors and felonies on dog laws.

Ryan Stone, a citizen supporting the repeal of BSL, thanked council for taking action and spoke about how this change will improve life for citizens like him.

Another citizen spoke up about concerns regarding overreliance on the internet for reporting incidents, when considering that many seniors don’t have access. She also – as a Republican - condemned the attacks by the Ohio Republican Party against Mr. Rolletta in last year’s campaign.

Under Miscellaneous comments:

From the Administration, nothing.

Law Director: Nothing.

Mayor Hall: nothing.

Council:

Floyd reminded citizens about the United Way event coming up to bring attention to the issue of homelessness.

Mr. Fraizer reminded everyone that “April is child abuse awareness month” noting that he attended a recent event alongside the Mayor. He eventually segued into saying “Love your neighbor as yourself” to address the controversial pit bull vote and expressed his hope for the city to move beyond the issue. He then said: “I understand Dan Crawford’s comments about minimum wage; we are going to differ on economic philosophy about employers bringing wages up through competition and the role of government in setting wages but ultimately we are citizens of the same community. It is up to us to make a better community that we all want to see. …I look forward to [those who’ve been involved] continuing to come back, staying active and voicing your opinions and I hope together we can make a brighter future.”

Rath then – after calling a committee meeting – addressed me: “Daniel! I don’t always agree with much of what you say but when you do say something that I strongly agree with I want to acknowledge that. I appreciate you challenging the attendees in the Chamber tonight to get involved and do more and make a change. Whether or not I agree with the change that you want them to make is irrelevant the fact of the matter is that you challenged them to get involved and I think we all ought to do that more often. I appreciate you making those comments.”

Rolletta thanked the citizen for her kind remarks.

Blake assured the citizen that “reporting” incidents can be done via a phone call to even a member of Council. He remarked on the upcoming United Way event on the 7th, as well as a “Save the Sparta” event for the downtown restaurant which exists in part to help people who’ve made mistakes in the past rise above such and rebuild their lives. He also mentioned the South Newark Civic Association’s 5th annual neighborhood clean-up. The councilman then made some remarks about the legislation dealing with the Newark Development Partners. He expressed a desire that “at some point someone from this Council whether it is the President or one of the Leaders should be on that board as well from Council”. Finally, he commented on an anniversary coming up for Carmen’s Pizza in the South End.

Cost also remarked on the vicious nature of the 2015 and 2016 campaigns. He finished by saying that the disagreements on Council are respectful and that he is “very proud” to serve with all of his fellow councilmen.

President Ellington noted the next meetings.

See you all next week. Thanks for reading.


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