Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ugh.

Is this a slow month or is it just me?  Are we all just waiting for the new year to start to get back into the swing of things?  Hey, could this be the magic of Christmas?  More likely the dread of cold weather.  Things should warm back up with new faces on Council and all at the beginning of the year.

And there’s always that tax issue that’s going to be on the ballot.

Again.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

*cough cough*

Some guy (the Honorable John Snow) had a speech the other day.  Here’s an excerpt.

In May 2003 when President Bush worked with Congress to enact the tax policy that lowered the rates on dividends and capital gains, there were many skeptics.  Critics of the proposal disputed our view that this reform would create jobs and spur economic growth.  One critic called the plan "tragic"; another leader said it was "reckless" and wouldn't create jobs.
 
But the past 30 months have demonstrated just how powerful those reforms were… and how mistaken our critics were.  The evidence that that was the right policy prescription for America stream in every day:
 
• 4.5 million new jobs created;
• unemployment running lower than the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s;
• GDP growth averaging over 4.0% annually;
• household wealth at an all-time high;
• federal revenues increasing;
• U.S. equity markets rising steadily;
• Dividends paid to shareholders – millions of whom are senior citizens and middle class – are up.
There are a lot of things you can say about these statistics, but neither "tragic" nor "reckless" come to mind.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

James Lileks' 2005 Retrospective

I heartily agree.

Linky linky

T & J's

If you haven’t taken the time to go down to the restaurant since its changed hands (again) it would be well worth your while.  The food is excellent, service is good, and prices are pretty much what you’d expect from a local restaurant.  I’ve also noticed that its been busy in the evenings, which is a great sign.  Keep up the good work folks!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Finally

After Thanksgiving, my wife having surgery, kids being sick, and the car breaking down, I think that things are getting back on track.  I hope to be able to get down to the Administrative offices in the next day or so to get some meeting notes/minutes and also get a list together of what Council did in the year 2005.  That will probably have to be done on my own time. 

And who knows what else is in store?

Monday, December 05, 2005

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Its Contest Time!!!!

Well, the Christmas season is in full swing, and people have been setting out some nice decorations.  Let’s have ourselves a bit of a contest, shall we?

House Decoration

Nominate any house in Windham Village or Township as the best decorated house in our community.  The home that I judge to be the best (campaigning allowed!) will win a $15.00 gift certificate to a local eatery (T&J’s, Stoneys, Sparkle…they’ve got chicken).

Best Picture of a Display

Send in your best picture of any display of Christmas lights (not necessarily local, but bonus points go to local home pictures).  Again, I’ll judge the pictures, and post all of them here so everyone can see them.  The best also gets a $15.00 gift certificate.

The end date for both contests is going to be on December 20, so there’s plenty of time to get things in order.  If no one gets involved in this, I’ll be having a nice meal on December 21.

Nominations and pictures can be sent to my email address, windhamite@gmail.com

Any further questions can be directed there or be made in the comments section here.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Good economic news

Sorry to the folks who continue to insist that things are going badly.

Cleveland Fed sees economic growth

Economic conditions across the region showed "gradual improvement across a broad array of industries" over the last six weeks, the Cleveland branch of the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Firefox, part deux

Firefox 1.5 was released recently, which smacks Internet Explorer around like a something or other.  Download it today and feel like a new person!

(Use the link on the right sidebar about halfway down)

Another video

And quite possibly, the greatest movie clip EVAH!

The Zombie explanation

I’ve been poking around on Google Video lately, don’t be surprised if you see a couple more of these in the next day or two.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Could you?

Since proficiency tests are a continuing subject, let’s all take one!

 

You Passed 8th Grade Math
Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Pilgrims and Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims’ Real Thanksgiving Lesson
Benjamin Powell – November 25, 2004

Source

Feast and football. That’s what many of us think about at Thanksgiving. Most people identify the origin of the holiday with the Pilgrims’ first bountiful harvest. But few understand how the Pilgrims actually solved their chronic food shortages.

Many people believe that after suffering through a severe winter, the Pilgrims’ food shortages were resolved the following spring when the Native Americans taught them to plant corn and a Thanksgiving celebration resulted. In fact, the pilgrims continued to face chronic food shortages for three years until the harvest of 1623. Bad weather or lack of farming knowledge did not cause the pilgrims’ shortages. Bad economic incentives did.

In 1620 Plymouth Plantation was founded with a system of communal property rights. Food and supplies were held in common and then distributed based on “equality” and “need” as determined by Plantation officials. People received the same rations whether or not they contributed to producing the food, and residents were forbidden from producing their own food. Governor William Bradford, in his 1647 history, Of Plymouth Plantation, wrote that this system “was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.” The problem was that “young men, that were most able and fit for labour, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.” Because of the poor incentives, little food was produced.

Faced with potential starvation in the spring of 1623, the colony decided to implement a new economic system. Every family was assigned a private parcel of land. They could then keep all they grew for themselves, but now they alone were responsible for feeding themselves. While not a complete private property system, the move away from communal ownership had dramatic results.

This change, Bradford wrote, “had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.” Giving people economic incentives changed their behavior. Once the new system of property rights was in place, “the women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability.”

Once the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Plantation abandoned their communal economic system and adopted one with greater individual property rights, they never again faced the starvation and food shortages of the first three years. It was only after allowing greater property rights that they could feast without worrying that famine was just around the corner.

We are direct beneficiaries of the economics lesson the pilgrims learned in 1623. Today we have a much better developed and well-defined set of property rights. Our economic system offers incentives for us—in the form of prices and profits—to coordinate our individual behavior for the mutual benefit of all; even those we may not personally know.

It is customary in many families to “give thanks to the hands that prepared this feast” during the Thanksgiving dinner blessing. Perhaps we should also be thankful for the millions of other hands that helped get the dinner to the table: the grocer who sold us the turkey, the truck driver who delivered it to the store, and the farmer who raised it all contributed to our Thanksgiving dinner because our economic system rewards them. That’s the real lesson of Thanksgiving. The economic incentives provided by private competitive markets where people are left free to make their own choices make bountiful feasts possible.

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor -- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be -- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks -- for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation -- for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquility [sic], union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed -- for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted -- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions -- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually -- to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed -- to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn [sic] kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord -- To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease [sic] of science among them and us -- and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York
the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

George Washington

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hiatus

I’ll be away for about a week unless something explodes in town.  Be back after Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Consideration

The Village Income Tax Committee released a three page recommendation of Issue 34 prior to the last election.  The fourth paragraph on the first page reads:

Why do we need this tax?  Village officials became aware in 2003 that vendors were reluctant to do business with the Village due to unpaid invoices.  A further investigation revealed that we were sitting on tons of umpaid invoices for services or goods.

A call has been made on the Discussion Forum for any charges that would give a reason for people to dislike Mr. Moore.  The above situation certainly applies.  Mr. Moore was Mayor for the Village of Windham from October, 1999 to December, 2003.  The Village Administration office is part of the Mayor’s responsibility in our Village.  It was the Administrative office that was negligent in reference to the “tons of unpaid invoices for services or goods”.  Some, if not all, of this took place while Mr. Moore was in direct oversight of the Administrative Office. 

In a business, when negligence is found in financial records, those who prepared those records are generally fired.  Also, those who are in leadership positions are held accountable for the negligence.  All of those in the Administrative Office, and the Mayor, carry some blame for the present financial condition of the Village.

The Village Council decided to give Mr. Moore a “second chance”, as it were, by appointing him to Council after being removed as Mayor by the voters.  During Mr. Moore’s tenure as Village Council President, he has worked to right the Village’s financial ship.  Now, two and a half years removed from the initial finding, we are not in much of a better position. 

These are marks against Mr. Moore.  Our hope is that his second round of Mayoral leadership is marked by better financial accountability and openness in all decisions regarding the Village.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Well, there's always a recall, right?

According to a decision made long before I ever arrived on the scene here in Windham, the plan of government for the village is called the “Federal Plan” the Village was set up under laws governing "Municipal Corporations".

This is important.

Under the federal plan Under the rules of Municipal Corporations, the line of succession upon the removal or death of a village mayor is one person long. The president/leader type of the legislative council, or in our case, the Village Council.

You guessed it. Mr. Moore is mayor again.

And after this took place in 2003 to boot:

WINDHAM VILLAGE MAYOR*

ONE TO BE ELECTED

C. JIM MOORE 194 47.90

JESS E. STARKEY 211 52.10

How did we get to this point? Its quite an interesting turn of events. First, Mr. Moore loses the Mayor's office to Mr. Starkey, and gives it up at the beginning of January. At that time, a member of Village Council decided it was time for him to resign his post, and the remaining Council decided that the most qualified member of the community to replace the resigned position was the man whom the voters had recently rejected for a government post.

So time went by, the Village voted down a few tax increases, the Council required landlords to pay the water bills after requiring them to put the bills in their tenants names a few years before, days turned to weeks turned to months.

Then the Mayor began to decline, and passed on to his reward.

Now we are in the situation of having a man whom the voters rejected in the same office from which he was expressly removed. Amazing. I have a feeling that the remainder of the new Mayor's term will not be the same as it was before. People just don't take that kind of thing lightly.

Consider the Record-Courier article from November 14. Mr. Moore speaks of the things which are upcoming for the Village. Let's consider those.

Sewer Line Construction

Here's something that's been needing done for years. The Water Department will save tens of thousands of dollars in water that leeches into the ground because of all these old tile lines.

Tax increase

Two things. One, you can dress up the tax increase however you'd like, its still a tax increase and people aren't going to be voting for it. A week ago the voters soundly voted against this increase, and just dropping another 1/2 percent to those who work outside the Village isn't going to influence the masses.

The second, and I really don't think I'm going too far out on a limb here, is considering the sentiment of some concerning Mr. Moore, any increase of revenue to the General Fund has the deck seriously stacked against it. There are those (not a majority I believe) who won't in any way, shape, or form, put their money into the hands of a man whom they feel they cannot trust.

Who knows what the next two years will bring? We have a new Village Council, a new/old Mayor, a new Village Council President. We don't know what is going to happen. I believe that we are at a major crossroads in the history of the Village, and the decisions that will be made in the next two years will impact our Village for many years to come.

Saying Goodbye

I had the distinct honor of attending the funeral service for Mr. Jess Starkey this morning.  Mr. Furl officiated the service and had many kind things to say about his friend of many years.  He spoke of deer hunting with Mr. Starkey in West Virginia, and how he would tell Howard, “Time to make the donuts” in the morning, though Howard didn’t understand what he meant for a while.  Mr. Starkey was part of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation”; a generation of men and women who lived through an awful World War, and are especially noted for their duty, honor, sacrifice, and accomplishment, each of which accurately describe Mr. Starkey.

Mr. Furl also discussed the Biblical passages John 11:25–26; 1 Corinthians 15; and Psalm 23.  In closing we described the deceased as a patriot, a hero, and a son of the Republic. 

It was a small service (surprisingly), but truly heartfelt by all in attendance.  Our deepest condolences go out to his family.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day

Today we offer our humblest thanks to those who have served and continue to serve our country.  It would do us well to honor them every day of our lives, but especially this day which has been dedicated to them.  November 11 marked the end of the First World War. 


In the news...

I like animals and all, really I do.  I think biting the heads off of birds is something that should be strongly discouraged.  Yes, even prosecuted at times.  But something about this for some reason doesn’t sit well with me.

Man jailed for biting off bird’s head Windham resident pleads guilty to decapitating friend’s pet

 By Marci Piltz
Record-Courier staff writer


WINDHAM - A village resident recently pleaded guilty to biting the head off a friend’s pet bird after DNA evidence linked him to the dead animal.

Cory Ledlow, 26, of 9859 Bright Drive, was fined $100 plus court costs and sentenced to 10 days in jail after pleading guilty to a charge of cruelty to animals, a first-degree misdemeanor, according to Portage County Municipal Court records.

Windham Police Chief Jack DeSalvo said the bizarre case was first reported more than six months ago, when a North Main Street resident called police to report finding her bird decapitated.

“The cockatoo’s head was just laying in the birdcage,” DeSalvo said.

He said Ledlow had gone to the residence after drinking at a bar one night in April. The pet’s owner and another person also were at the residence that night, DeSalvo said.

The next morning, the victim awoke to find the bird’s head detached from it’s body. The other person at the residence told the victim Ledlow had bit the head off the bird, but Ledlow denied doing so to police, DeSalvo said.

To check out the story, DeSalvo said police took DNA swabs from both Ledlow and the head of the bird. The samples were sent for analysis to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification.

“It came back that the saliva on the bird’s head matched the DNA of the suspect,” DeSalvo said.

Once those results were obtained, police issued a warrant for Ledlow’s arrest. He was arraigned on the charges in October and eventually pleaded guilty to the charge.

“This was a child’s pet bird, and naturally, they were upset that such a thing happened to one of their pets,” DeSalvo said. “This was just disgusting and cruel. It was a terrible thing to do to the family, and there was nothing to provoke him to do this from what we found.”
I shudder to think how much this whole ordeal cost the Village.  Last I heard, DNA testing can regularly cost over $1000, not to mention investigation time. 
 
Really, I don’t want to come off as callous about this or anything.  Its just…odd.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Wrap Up - Part Two

First, if you want to be elected to Council, make sure you get on the ballot.  As I understand it, Ms. Barrett did very little campaigning, yet garnered the most votes.  This can be attributed to having lots of friends, or simply being a name on the ballot that wasn’t already on Council.  The total amount of write-in votes trailed the lowest on-ballot candidate by nearly fifty.  This means that the last spot on Council could be filled by someone who received less than one hundred votes.  I’ll be interested to see the write-in breakdown.

Second, Howard Furl stands to be re-elected as a Township Trustee after a brutal campaign against him by the community, especially certain folks in the Village.  How this will affect relations between the Council and Trustees remains to be seen, but it can’t be a good thing.  There should be an automatic recount because of the number of votes separating him and Kevin Knight, but again, I’ve heard no certain statement in that direction.

The Village Income Tax increase failed again with nearly the same percentages as the last time the increase was proposed.  It seems that its not the fact that the increase is going up against various levies, but voters are speaking against the increase itself.  It is time that the Council look into alternative forms of funding the Police Department rather than primarily through the General Fund.

The Fire Levy passed by less than fifty votes.  It seems that this is the “OK, we’ll give you one last shot” voice speaking out from not only those in the Village, but also in the Township itself.  The Trustees and Council need to put aside their arguing and posturing and get to work for the people whom they represent.  If there is not a Joint Fire District in place (or a definitive reason for not doing so) by the time the next levy rolls around, that levy will fail.  Perhaps the Trustees can take a lesson from the Village’s reluctance to increase their own taxes for Police purposes.  This is about the will of the people, not which body or people maintain power and control.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Oh, and...

Issues 2, 3, 4 and 5 all failed.

Yeah, I’m smiling about that.

Results

For Windham Village Council 100% reporting:

RACHEL W. BARRETT32032.89%
SCOTT GARRETT28829.60%
MARY JO MINOTTI20521.07%
Write-in Votes16016.44%

For Windham Township Trustee 100% reporting:

DANIEL BURNS21622.62%
HOWARD FURL22723.77%
KEVIN KNIGHT22123.14%
DANN S. TIMMONS29130.47%

Windham Village .5% Income Tax Increase 100% reporting:

FOR THE INCOME TAX16431.72%
AGAINST INCOME TAX35368.28%

Windham Township 1 Mill Replacement Fire Levy 100% reporting:

FOR THE TAX LEVY54752.29%
AGAINST THE TAX LEVY49947.71%

Look for an automatic recount of the Trustee race in the next few days.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Wrap Up - Part one

Yeah, this is likely only the first one, but I’d like to get some things said before yet another blow up over something.

First, I’d like to thank all the people who’ve volunteered for their respective positions.  You’ve stepped up in what has turned out to be a spirited election season and have weathered the storm.  Later today, some of you will take those positions, some of you will not.  Likely  some of you will be a bit relieved by not taking those positions too, as it seems that there is going to be a lot on the plates of those who take elected office this term. 

I’d also like to personally thank all of you who kindly responded to my questionnaire a few weeks back.  Your responses helped me to make decisions as to my own votes, I appreciate your time.

To the supporters and opponents of the tax and levy issues on the ballot, vote your conscience.  I’ve stepped out and spoke about my own reasoning on things, putting my neck on the line I guess.  Whether we agree or not, I hope that in the future we can all work together for the best in the community.  Whether the issues pass or fail, tomorrow will not be the end of the world.  November 9 will come (ok, Lord willing), and we’ll pick up whatever pieces that lay on the ground and press toward a better community.

I also hope that no matter what happens with the election, that both the Village Council and Township Trustees put their past differences behind them and work toward what’s best (and I continue to think that’s some kind of Joint District of Fire and EMS combined).  I intend to be more involved in the process, so expect me to continue to be a thorn in the side, or the nicest guy in the world.

We are all concerned for the health of Mayor Jess Starkey, take a moment and remember him today.  Thoughts and prayers are always appreciated by those who are suffering illnesses and by the family of those also.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Of Levies and Agreements

I had the pleasure of being able to sit in on some of the “Town Hall” meeting this evening with the Township Trustees. It was rather interesting to see the dynamic between those in the audience and the Trustees themselves. There were some notables in the audience, namely Jim Moore, Marian Garrett, Jason DeBolt, and Danny Burns. There may have been others (I’m sorry if I’ve left you out if so), but I wasn’t able to mingle with those who gathered. “Stuff posted on the internet” was mentioned on one occasion, so I imagine that quite a few of our friends from the Discussion Board were there. Again, sorry I didn’t get to say hi.

A great deal was obviously discussed in light of the 1 mill levy that’s on the ballot next Tuesday. A couple of days ago, we stated that we could not endorse the levy. Look to this post to see the full reasoning, but briefly, it was to show the strong intent of the Village to press toward a Joint Fire District.

My position has changed.

It really wasn’t so much the candor between the warring parties (OK, I know they’re not warring, but that’s too much of a fun idea to let it slide). Valid points were raised on both sides about how things had been done. Time and again the past was rehashed until finally squashed by Dann Timmons, who was leading the discussion of the evening.

Two things changed my mind. First, it is apparent by the statements made by the Trustees this evening that they do have every expectation of forming an Exploratory Council looking into whether we have a need to form a Joint Fire District, and the pro’s and con’s of doing so. This this was the only with which I came away from the meeting, it would make my previous opposition moot, for that was the primary reason that I recommended a no vote on the levy. But there is a second reason also.

In the proposed Agreement of Operation proposed by the Trustees to the Village, there is ample opportunity for the Village Council to give the citizens of the Village a voice in many operations of the Fire Department. The Village would have direct voice in:

  • Selecting a Fire Chief
  • Contribution of funds above and beyond levied revenue
  • Rate of pay for fire and rescue personnel, chief and officers
  • Dispatching service
  • Large equipment purchases
  • Capital purchases
  • Policy decisions
  • Reviewing District business and setting District policy

The Village would also be required to have a representative at each of the regular Trustee’s meetings and would report back to the Village concerning regular business, thus “keeping tabs” on the Trustees to prevent them from making decisions without the Village’s knowledge. This representative would have the power to table any decisions that he/she believes should be presented to the Village.

There would also be quarterly meetings between the Township and Village (as was policy under other Agreements) to determine policy and discuss business (as noted above). The Agreement would automatically renew every two years unless one body desires to modify the Agreement, and they would have to provide six months notification before changing the Agreement. Hopefully this would prevent the current situation from happening again.

In many ways, this Agreement is an effective Joint Fire District, at least in the working of things. Perhaps there’s no “name on the sign” that would definitively point to such a body, but it is pretty much the case.

It is (now) because of these things that I can endorse the Windham Township Fire District 1 Mill Levy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Torn

Two tax issues are on the ballot next Tuesday that have a direct impact upon the Village of Windham.  While there are important tax levies concerning mental health and PARTA, we will lay those aside for the moment and consider the Income Tax increase (Issue 34) and the Fire District 1 Mill Replacement Levy.

The problem is that there are so many tangenial issues to both of these levies that its hard to make any kind of decision about one without taking the other into consideration at times.  There is no question that the Village and Township are inexorably tied together in many ways, the most important being Fire and EMS service.  The Village is dependent upon the Township’s service, and the Township is dependent upon the Village’s tax funds.  So where to begin?

Let’s start with the Income Tax increase.  Perhaps you’ve seen the “Please Vote ‘YES’ for Issue 34” papers that have been passed out around the Village recently.  If you’ve not, track a copy down or let me know and I’ll post a copy here.  Its a good thing to take the time to inform the electorate about the issues that they are voting upon, and these papers attempt to do just that.  In my estimation though, it raises more questions than it answers.

To its credit, the handout states that the “add’l tax will either be voided as of January 1, 2011 or will again have to appear on the ballot for a renewal vote.”  It also points out that the Village intends to continue the 0.5% credit for those people who work in another town and pay taxes in that town along with paying tax in Windham.  The Village is in terrible financial condition, even to the point that vendors with which the Village did business with “were reluctant to do business with the Village due to unpaid invoices.”  Council has tried to clean up the mess and are now current with regular monthly payments, but there is still much debt outstanding (though we never quite find out exactly what that debt entails).  No matter what happens with the tax levy, the Village “will continue to struggle with short funds” but that could be alleviated by passing this increase on April 15, 2007 when the tax increase will actually be paid on 2006 income.  The paper states:

Why should I vote for Issue 34?

1.  The most critical reason is to protect your children and property by funding adequate police protection (see Police Dept fact sheet)

2.  To avoid the State of Ohio declaring the village in a state of “fiscal emergency”! (The State comes in and forces cuts to be made regardless of the impace on our residents.)

Two other pages include a very basic financial reckoning of Village finances for 2004, though no records for 2005 are revealed.  The State’s ability to declare fiscal emergency is briefly discussed, pointing to a website for the State Auditor about Fiscal Emergency.  The third page discusses the ability for seniors who “feel guilty voting for a tax they will not pay” to pay into the Police Department’s “Crime Prevention Fund”. 

There are some distinct questions that are raised that aren’t discussed.  The Village “became aware” of the vendors’ issues in 2004.  Where was all our money going before that point?  Surely such a thing could be noticed in a Financial Report presented to the Village Council.  Even if it wasn’t though, there seemed to be plenty of money before the revelation of the bad financial state of the Village.  Remember, these things were discovered in 2004 while 2003 taxes were being collected.  At that point, we were three years into the economic recession.  We were not dealing with the late 1990’s economy with large income tax revenues, the bottom had already fallen out of the revenue at that point.  Where was all that money being spent before this?

The paper also directly states that the revenue collected from this increase will not show up until April of 2007.  It also states that we have to deal with short funds until that point.  What will we do until then?  The issue has been raised by the Mayor and Council that we should be considering pulling out of our deal with the Township for fire service if they don’t look into a Joint Fire District.  Is that money just going to magically appear for the Village?  I do believe that the situation is dire, but certainly the Mayor and Council realize that there is simply no way to jump into some other huge expenditure before resolving our normal everyday problems.  Why have they sought to use this tactic against the Township knowing that the Village is in terrible financial shape?  Do we have the full picture of what’s going on? 

I’m also disappointed that there is no record of our financial state in 2005.  The 2004 numbers are bad, without a doubt, but the most recent numbers should have been presented to give the Village a full picture of the state of the Village.  Again, all this does is leave another question as to what exactly is going on. 

On the third page, and yes, I realize that this is being picky, the income tax issue is stated to be a .05% tax increase.  That’s just flat out wrong.  The number is .5% or 0.5%.  If you’re going to put literature in the people’s hands, at the very least proofread the document. 

On top of all this, there is the issue of trust.  Has the current Council demonstrated that the electorate can trust them to make wise decisions concerning the finances of the Village?  Is there the hope that the future elected Council will make good decisions and lead the Village in the right direction? 

So now it comes down to it.  Should we vote for or against the proposed 0.5% Income Tax increase that will appear on the ballot.  For now, there are too many unanswered questions concerning the increase. 

We cannot endorse Issue 34.

Concerning the Fire Department’s Levy, it continues in the same vein in many regards.  Have the Township Trustees demonstrated that they are trustworthy concerning the finances that the Village is entrusting to them for lifesaving use?  To a degree, the answer to that question is yes.  The fire department and EMS service are doing very well in servicing the community as a whole.

Questions have been raised though over the recent court cases brought by the Township against some who’ve not been able to pay their service bill because of lack of insurance.  This issue remains open for many people, while resolved for others. 

There is a continued reluctance to actively look into forming a Joint Fire District, for no obvious good reason.  The statements of one Trustee has been trumpeted throughout the community, but there are three members of the Trustee board, and the issue remains unresolved.

The Fire Department is an excellent group of people who are willing to give of themselves for the betterment of the community, and the preservation of life and property.  For this reason alone, we should seriously consider the levy itself.

It is the opinion of many in the Village that a Joint Fire District should at least be considered by the Village Council and Township Trustees combined.  We as the Village electorate have no choice in whom is voted as a Township Trustee.  Our power lies in the passing or failing of Fire District levies. 

It is because of the reluctance of the Township Trustees to seriously consider the forming of a Joint Fire District that we cannot at this time endorse the Levy for the Fire Department.

Our hope is that the Council and Trustees will seriously consider the Joint District and take steps to resolve the issues between the two bodies.  It is also our hope that the Trustees will put another levy on the ballot in the next year to take the place of this levy.  If these two qualifications are met, we will happily endorse the levy proposed by the Trustees for these services in the next year.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

And as part of my continuing service to our community, I provide you a link to a valuable document that you should have every ghoul and goblin sign that comes to your door this evening.

Halloween Liability and Indemnification Agreement

Its a .pdf file, so it might take a bit for the page to load.  Protect yourself from the seedy lawyerly types!

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Village Council candidates respond

Below are the responses to the questionnaire that were delivered about two weeks ago to all the prospective Village Council members. Five candidates took the time to respond: Frances "Angel" Ballard, Jason DeBolt, Scott Garrett, Mary Jo (Jodi) Minotti, and Linda Rininger. Two of the candidate’s names appear on the ballot (Garrett, Minotti) and the others are write-in candidates (Ballard, DeBolt, Rininger). I appreciate them taking the time to think on these things. Their responses are listed in alphabetical order, with the first person to answer rotating with each question.

1. Why are you running for a position as Windham Village Council member?

Angel Ballard: Well I was appointed three years ago. I feel that the people of Windham needed a voice. No one seems to know or care to know what the people of the community think when they make their decisions. I like to think I can be that voice again.

Jason DeBolt: I am running for Village Council because I want to have a helping hand, on the reconstruction of a once proud village. When the residents take back there village I’ll be there.

Scott Garrett: I believe every citizen of Windham Village should serve a term on council. I feel people would receive an education on how local government works and understand some of the pressing issues that face Windham. On a more personal note I am trying my best to make Windham a good place to live and raise a family.

Jodi Minotti: I am running for council because I felt I maybe could make a difference. What most people here are going thru' I have been there done that. I started out really wanting to help change the water/sewer dictation. I think it disgraceful. Working where I do I see first hand what it does to poor people. And no I am not trying to get free water for the riff raff in Windham. I just would like to have it affordable for all. I am a citizen also and I do not like having to pay overcharges. I want to continue this work and feel being on council maybe I can do something. Not just men are created equal to me All PEOPLE are equal.

Linda Rininger: I am running for the Windham Village Council position for the following reasons: 1) I wish to be more involved in the community; 2) I will utilize my Portage County government experience and my belief in the sole interest of the people and community as an asset when representing the residents of Windham.

2. What do you think is the biggest short-term issue for our Village?

Jason DeBolt: I feel that at the present time our biggest short term goal should be the strengthening of our police force. Not enough funds and equipment has lead to a weak police force with increased drugs and crime in our village. I my self have been a victim of Buglery.

Scott Garrett: I am going to respond to question number four at this point as well, for I see the two as one and the same. Windham's largest short-term issue is the pressing need to pass a measure to increase the sales tax from 1 ½% to 2%. The tax increase will generate roughly $100,000 dollars. Windham residents who pay income where they work outside the Village will continue to receive a .5% credit on their taxes. This money is needed to keep the level of services that residents receive at this time. Most of our employees have not received a raise in three years. We have some very hard working, dedicated employees. Having said this, our financial situation puts a lot of pressure on our employees to look for employment in other areas. Our police force is the largest department we have and one that would come under attack if cuts have to be made. As I stated in question number one, a main goal of mine is for Windham to be a good place to raise your family. A strong safety force is a must in order for people to have a sense of security. Please vote yes on the upcoming tax issue.

Jodi Minotti: There is no short term issue in Windham. We have a long hard fight here and must all work togather if we defeat it. It is all the bicking amongst the leaders here.

Linda Rininger: The community needs to aggressively pursue a means to increase the revenue in conjunction with a village income tax increase to ensure the community maintains basic services.

Angel Ballard: There are so many, pay raises for the police department, enough employees at the water/sewer plant, and I think we have had our feel of the G.O.B. club (good ol’ boys) And why did council give themselves a pay increase as of Jan.1 but our employees haven’t had a raise in three years. We lost another police officer and we are not replacing him so where is that money going? This has happened three times now over the last 4 years.

3. What do you think is the biggest long-term issue for our Village?

Scott Garrett: Windham has several long-term issues that are vital to the growth and future of our Village. The infrastructure of our Village will need lots of attention in the future. The Village received some grant money in order to replace the aging water lines running down main street. The village must also take measures that will increase the efficiency with which we collect utility bills. I believe we must seek ways to increase the number of young families moving into Windham and look into extending water and sewer services in an effort to increase our customer base. I am also going to respond to question number six at this time. Bringing in new businesses and industries to our area is a must for the growth of Windham. The Village council is working with Portage County Rural Development in order to plan and develop a positive policy that will bring growth to the Village.

Jodi Minotti: Long term issues is getting the trust and respect of the citizens back for the leaders of this community.

Linda Rininger: The short and long term issues are the same. The Windham Village council must find a solution to increase revenue without forcing all the burdens onto the taxpayers.

Angel Ballard: Water bills when is enough, enough my water bill is higher than my electric. I don’t understand why it is so much here, but not in other small towns. An I don’t care what they do in Garrettsville. Rootstown is complaining about paying $33 dollars every THREE MONTHS, I think we need to find a better solution. People can no longer afford to live here.

Jason DeBolt: Long-term goals would be to increase the community strength by many community projects. (Community watches, met your neighbor day) items of this nature increase your potential for know who and whats going on in your community. With this kind of community and press coverage - Windhams bad word of mouth turns to good word of mouth, then comes the new businesses - increased revenue. More money for village projects. Less asking for tax increase every election and a happier, stronger community.

4. Do you support the Income Tax increase for the Village as proposed to the voters? Please explain your position.

Jodi Minotti: How I vote is my business and no one else's. But i will say this .This community is in deep trouble. It does not matter who put us there or how. Bad choices have been made but it is done so now is the time to take hold and do something positive instead of bicking and complaining. The council's hand are tied on a lot of issues. police have to tend to police business. We just read the facts. We want good police officers we can rely on and trust and respect. And we want them to respect us as citizens. After all we are the ones who pay them.

Linda Rininger: Yes, I support the Village income tax increase. Unfortunately, the cost of services and supplies have increased while the revenues from the government sources have decreased causing a strain on the Village budget. In order to keep the current village services, the income tax must increase.

Angel Ballard: NO! NO! NO! I think the people of the community should not be responsible for bad administration, you made the mistake NO MATTER how many times the public complained it fell on deaf ears until you were in over your head. But the people say no more. Let council give up their pay. Let the mayor give up his pay too. Tighten the belt and learn to live within your means.

Jason DeBolt: Yes, the Tax if for the General fund. I think they can ask the resident for a tax increase only because the cost of running a village has went up.

Scott Garrett: (From his answer to question 2) Windham's largest short-term issue is the pressing need to pass a measure to increase the sales tax from 1 ½% to 2%. The tax increase will generate roughly $100,000 dollars. Windham residents who pay income where they work outside the Village will continue to receive a .5% credit on their taxes. This money is needed to keep the level of services that residents receive at this time. Most of our employees have not received a raise in three years. We have some very hard working, dedicated employees. Having said this, our financial situation puts a lot of pressure on our employees to look for employment in other areas. Our police force is the largest department we have and one that would come under attack if cuts have to be made. As I stated in question number one, a main goal of mine is for Windham to be a good place to raise your family. A strong safety force is a must in order for people to have a sense of security. Please vote yes on the upcoming tax issue.

5. What is your position concerning the Village/Township Joint Fire District proposal and ongoing Operating Agreement discussion?

Linda Rininger: It is my understanding that the Village and Township have always had a fire agreement which means the Village has had representation. The residents of this village have the right to representation regarding any fire levies and the expending of those monies. I believe a Joint Fire District proposal is the correct action to ensure equal representation for the Village and Township. I believe a Joint Fire District is in the best interest of our entire community.

Angel Ballard: Well I’m so tired of this little boy’s pee’n contest between Jim and Howard. For years the fire department was fine until politics got in the way. The township file lawsuits they were not intitled to and made a lot of people mad. But the village cant manage their own money what will happen to the fire department if they have control? My solution is to get new trustees and a new negotiations committee. And start from scratch. But remember its not there for you to make a fortune off the people.

Jason DeBolt: I think every people who puts in a dollar for the fire department should have a say in how and when the funds are spent. Village/Township joint fire district. Yes! I feel this would be better for both parties, no dates exp. members for township and village on a board voting and making decision together.

Scott Garrett: First of all I believe that both Windham Village and Township would benefit from the council and trustees working together. I am in favor of a new operating agreement going into effect with a provision to form a committee to explore the possibilities of a joint fire district.

Jodi Minotti: We need a joint fire district. It is for the good of all. Without Windham Vilage there is no township and without township there is no Windham. This time it is not the village being a stubborn ass but the township. I am for this .

6. How can we attract and keep business in the WIndham area?

Angel Ballard: Why I do know that Mike Dye and Brian Everheart worked for two years to get burger king here. Why don’t we offer tax breaks to new business. Form a committee to work on grants and new business in the village.

Jason DeBolt: By having fire protection for everyone. By cleaning up the image of our village. Also a 5 year front load tax break for new business. Year 1-2 tax break of 40% Year 3-4, 25% and Year 5 15% and finally having enough police protection to make new and present business owners feel safe.

Scott Garrett: (From his answer to question 3) Bringing in new businesses and industries to our area is a must for the growth of Windham. The Village council is working with Portage County Rural Development in order to plan and develop a positive policy that will bring growth to the Village.

Jodi Minotti: Windham has no land to attract business for now. We cannot expand because of the arsenal. But we can stand up and be counted when something goes on here we do not want. Come to all meetings. speak your mind. We need businesses and without them a choice few get rich off you. We need competetion in this town . How to get businesses in here is a problem and a big one for Windham has the bad name. We are in the middle of nowhere. This we have to eliminate. Again working togather.

Linda Rininger: Windham’s location and available workforce are assets which will attract and keep industry and business in our community. I will work closely with the county, state and federal agencies to bring industry and business to our community.

7. What can be done by Village Council concerning the problem of drugs in our community?

Jason DeBolt: Have a new and revised community watch program (like on Nov 3 behind the police station) Bring in outside help - DEA. Also have everyone say "This is my home, it stops now!" and put the man power and time to once and for all clean up our town.

Scott Garrett: I feel that the Village's ability to fight a strong battle against drugs in our community is tied directly to the income tax issue coming on the ballot this November! Council has recently approved the chief of Police's request that we join a Portage County Drug Task Force. This involves several communities that tie their resources together to use an undercover force to seek out and remove drug houses in our community. The Village needs money in order to join positive programs like the county drug task force. The county has a great education program called D.A.R.E. that educates young people in our schools about the dangers of drugs. Both of these programs are needed in order to attack Windham's drug problem.

Jodi Minotti: By doing just what the council has decided to do is a start. If landlords are help accountable then they will hopefully start screening better before renting out to just anyone. This is the first step to maybe clearing out problems. People living on top of each other has always created problems but most towns will not tolerate what Windham has up to now. Clean up is another issue to rid some problem. I have been talking about cleanup of areas that are in disarray to down right shameful.

Linda Rininger: As a council member, I will work closely with our Police Chief and all local law enforcement agencies in an effort to help resolve the drug problem.

Angel Ballard: Well there are a lot of programs out there in talking with the Palmer Drug Abuse Program about maybe coming to our area they work with the kids, school, and parents. It has been very successful in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri. And they will help us get government grants for the programs.

8. What would you like to accomplish most while in office?

Scott Garrett: Before I leave the office of Village Council I would like to see some of the Village's long range goals get off the ground and moving in the right direction.

Jodi Minotti: Getting the administration on the right path. Regain trust and respect for the leaders. Better water rates. Safer place to live for our families. Windham citizens must stop placing blame and take charge to make change. Make Windham a proud place to live. So there you have some of it. I have a need to help . All of you are my neighbors. What affects you affects me also. Good or bad. I want to be a helping hand. Not a hated name on council. People who know me personally know who I am and what I stand for.

Linda Rininger: During my time in office, I would like to accomplish the following: 1) Recruit industry and business to our community; 2) Increase Village revenues and improve local services; 3) Keep Village residents informed and involved in our community.

Angel Ballard: First, I’d like to attack this water bill issue again, there has to be a better way. Find a way to hire more police officers. And look to the community for what they would like to see come the village. I can’t move mountains alone but maybe with a few new council persons we might make a change.

Jason DeBolt: Get rid of the drugs, or at least make a big dent in the problem enough to make the people doing and selling the drugs think twice before coming to Windham anymore.

Rachel Barrett, Roscoe Burkett, and Diane Mealey declined to comment.

The Trustee Candidates respond

Below are the received responses to the questionnaire that was delivered to each of the Windham Township Trustee candidates about two weeks ago.  Kevin Knight and Dann Timmons responded.  Those responses are listed beneath each question, rotating each time alphabetically.  I appreciate the time that these men have taken to fill this out.

1. Why are you running for a position as Windham Township Trustee?

Kevin Knight: There are many reasons why I decided to seek the position of township trustee. First and foremost I care about our community and the residents. I have four wonderful children that I hope will someday raise their families in our community. 

I believe that my job as a trustee would be to actively listen to your concerns, ideas and suggestions and to put your interests above my own. I have been going to the township trustee meeting for two years now and I do not believe that our current board actively listens and accepts resident’s viewpoints. An example of how our current board actively listens to the residents would be when the School Levy Committee, made up of many highly reputable township and village residents, approached the board of trustees wanting them to endorse the school levy. Before any real discussion could take place the trustees stated, " If you are here for us to endorse the school levy, we will not endorse it." Secondly was when the Windham Village approached the township trustees to discuss an operating agreement that was expired. Before any discussion the trustees said, "If you are here to talk about a operating agreement. We are not talking about an operating agreement Case Closed" How can you make an informed decision if you are not willing to at least listen to what your residents have to say?

I believe that we should be prepared for future growth and our zoning should reflect that. One of the ways to do this is to have open meetings to understand what the residents want and expect from our township in the way of growth, development and zoning. Then devise a plan to meet those needs. We need to plan for farmland preservation, green spaces, parks, housing developments, and even commercial and industrial uses. We can plan where, how much and if a certain type of development can happen in our township. Even if the growth is ten years away, we need to plan for it now, so we can manage it. I think we should be proactive instead of reactive.

I believe we need to be stronger in our efforts to enforce the zoning we currently have in place. Craig Alderman our zoning inspector is doing an outstanding job. However I think he often looks to our trustees for direction and does not get that from our current board. From the meetings I have attended I do not think we are consistent in enforcing our zoning. And I will work hard to be consistent.

I believe the health and safety of our citizens is a top priority. Our township’s fire and rescue services are very important. We need to make sure we have the proper equipment and training for our volunteers so they can continue to provide quality services to our residents. We need to have an emergency management plan in place. In the event of a major catastrophe we would have a plan for catastrophe headquarters, evacuation, communication and emergency shelter. And our residents need to be aware of the plan.

I believe we need to be fiscally responsible. Being a small business owner I have insight into cost-cutting and financial management methods. We just don’t spend money for the sake of spending it. And neither will I as your trustee. I will never finance or agree to purchase any unnecessary equipment or projects with your money. In the two years that I have attended the township trustee meetings I have never once heard any discussion about the finances or the financial status of the township. So I have to ask, how can you go to the voters and ask for tax renewals or replacement levies when you have never once discussed the township finances? How can you plan for the future when you have not discussed finances? Is that being fiscally responsible?

I believe elected officials should be honest. I sat at a trustee meeting when the current board of trustees decided they would ask the voters in the fall of 2004 for the replacement of the current fire department levy, which is 1 mill. At that time they also decided they would go to the voters again in February of 2005 and ask for an additional 2 mill operating levy. If you are operating in the best interest of the residents be honest with us and tell us exactly how much is needed for the operating levy and what the money will be used for and then put the issue before the residents? You will hear my opponents say no more taxes. Do they really mean it? I will work hard to make sure the residents of the township are aware of any issues or needs before they are put on a ballot.

I believe that a strong community is an informed community. When I asked for copies of a past township meeting minutes, our township trustees immediately passed a resolution to charge one dollar per page for the minutes. The resolution passed 3-0. According to the Ohio Sunshine Laws they can only charge for the actual cost to produce the copies, which is the cost of the paper and ink, they cannot charge for wages. As a taxpayer, living in the township those minutes should be free. Township residents should not have to pay to see what is going on in their township.

I am running for township trustee because I believe in this community and I care about the residents. I believe a good leader is honest, respectful and fiscally responsible. I am dedicated to making Windham Township a unique and special place to live. I will bring a fresh perspective and new energy to our township government.

Dann Timmons: I have always enjoyed serving my community. I have been a resident of Windham Township for 28 years and have served as a Trustee for nearly 5 years. Prior to becoming a Trustee, I served on the township zoning committee for 20 years. During my time as trustee, we, as a board have enacted more changes than any board in recent memory. If re-elected, there are some other projects I would like to explore as well as completing some of our ongoing projects.

2. What do you think is the biggest short-term issue for the Township?

Dann Timmons: We need to complete work on the operating agreement with the Village concerning the Windham Fire Department. In the next year, the Trustees need to begin the preliminary work for the new cemetery.

Kevin Knight: I think the first thing we need to do is to assess our financial situation and make a short-term and long- term financial plan. Then we need to inform and educate our residents on the township finances, explain what we have and what are financial plan is. The biggest short-term issue would be to bring stability back to our fire department.

3. What do you think is the biggest long-term issue for the Township?

Kevin Knight: With cost rising on materials, supplies and utilities, it is very important to be fiscally responsible by using our current revenue properly and not having to go back to the voters. With our current cemetery approaching capacity we need to plan for a new cemetery. The current site purchased for a new cemetery creates a challenge due to the location in relation to residential homes. We need to investigate all our options.

Dann Timmons: With the continuing prospect of less funding, the trustees need to continue the sound fiscal policies of the past to insure the residents continue to receive the best level of service. Secondly, our zoning commission has done an excellent job in working with the zoning resolution. As times change, Windham Township will experience continued development and we will need to continue to adapt the resolution to meet this challenge.

4. What is your position concerning the Township/Village Joint Fire District proposal and ongoing Operating Agreement discussion?

Dann Timmons: The Trustees have sent a proposed Operating Agreement to the Village officials and are waiting on their reply. The entire package includes a separate short-term agreement for a committee made up of Village and Township officials, the Fire Chief and some residents to gather information and make recommendations about a joint fire district. A joint fore district could be the best solution for the future, but I have expressed concerns about the financial drain at this time. If re-elected, I will serve on the exploratory committee and as agreed in our negotiations, will keep an open mind.

In the meantime, we need to get an operating agreement in place. The Township proposal shifts most of the day-to-day operations to the department. The people who serve know how things are done and the goal of our proposal has been to keep politics out of the fire station. Our proposal allows the Trustees to continue the more mundane tasks such as paying the bills in a timely manner and making minor purchases at the regular Trustee meetings. The most important part of the proposal involves the Township and Village working together on equipment purchases and policy decisions.

I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement soon since there are several projects on hold that we need to discuss, such as a storage facility for the department and a generator that could service both the fire department, Village Administration and the police department in the event of an emergency.

Kevin Knight: My primary concern is for the safety and well being of our residents. I want to ensure that every time there is a call for an ambulance or fire truck it will be there with skilled, well-trained, well-equipped fire and rescue personnel and with a short response time. Which would be better for our residents, an operating agreement with the village or a joint fire district? I have not decided yet. Since I have not seen a copy of the proposed operating agreement and the joint fire district is in the exploratory stages, I am being open minded about both. I have requested copies of all operating agreements and bargaining documents from both the village and the township in regards to the fire department, so I can get a better understanding of the issues.

I have just received the township documents and I am studying those. I am waiting on the village documents. (Please see attached request). I am contacting the local joint fire districts like Mantua, Newton falls and Garrettsville to get a better understanding on how they operate a joint fire district. I would like to get as much information as possible so that I can have a working knowledge of both options.

I would like to work together with all the trustees to get as much information as possible on all options, present the information to residents for their input and then put into place the best policy that affords our residents the greatest benefits. As a leader of our community it is our responsibility to always look for ways to improve.

5. Should voters approve the Township Fire District 1 mill 5 year replacement levy? Why or why not?

Kevin Knight: This levy is a heavy equipment levy. A 1 mill replacement-operating levy was passed last Nov. by the voters. I would never want to endanger the safety of the residents. Not knowing exactly what we are going to purchase and what equipment we need, makes it difficult to answer this question. Do we have the correct preventative maintenance schedule in place to protect our large investments? Again, here is another area we need to have a one-year, two-year and five-year plan in place to ensure our equipment is performing properly and we are getting optimal usage and life expectancy from each piece of equipment. I think we need to do an equipment inventory. We need to know exactly the condition of all our equipment, the issues with each piece of equipment and a comprehensive plan on how we will replace and repair the equipment. I think we need to aggressively pursue grants to help purchase equipment and take some of the financial burden off of the taxpayers.

Dann Timmons: The one mill levy that is on the ballot this year has been in place since 1965. Funds generated are for large equipment purchases and capital improvements and have nothing to do with operating expenses. If passed, the levy would generate about $51,000.00 per year with roughly equal amounts coming from residents of the Village and Township.

With the continued increasing costs of equipment necessary to serve the residents, the passage of the levy is necessary for the long term viability of the Department. We currently have over $200,000.00 in the equipment fund. From this, we have earmarked over $36,000.00 for the final two yearly payments on the rescue squad. While working toward getting an operating agreement in place, we have had some preliminary discussions with the Mayor and Fire Chief about our comprehensive plan to utilize the funds. It seems pretty much agreed that the top priority is a second rescue squad to replace the old squad which is a 1988 model. The Fire Chief’s car is a 1992 and the grassfire rig is from the 70's. The Fire Chief has brought forward a reasonable proposal to do away with both and replace them with a one ton truck with a crew cab that could be outfitted for fighting grass fires. The big problem looming in the future is the pumper. While our current pumper is still serviceable, it was purchased used and is showing some age. New pumpers can run in excess of $300,000.00 with a good used one, half to two-thirds that amount. We could cushion the blow now that Ohio law allows us to utilize lease purchase, as we did with the rescue squad, and spread the payments over several years, but we need to know that the funds will be available.

We were quite fortunate to receive a grant in 2004 that allowed us to purchase a new tanker for a little over $220,000.00 with only about $40,000.00 contributed from the large equipment fund.

Unfortunately it does not seem likely that grants will be available in the future. It will be a major challenge for the Township and Village, whoever is in office, to keep the fire department adequately equipped using the levy money over the next five years, but it will be virtually impossible if the levy does not pass.

6. How can Fire and EMS service be improved for the Township (and Village)?

Dann Timmons: I am very proud of the level of service the Department has provided to our residents. In January 2002, we received a letter from Community Ambulance that they would no longer serve Windham Township. At the same time, the Village was paying for Action Ambulance and receiving less than acceptable service and response time. This left us scrambling to increase our rescue service through the fire department.

Change has been slow but steady as our fire department has responded to about 85% of the calls over the past six months.

In order to improve, we need more people to serve as paramedics and EMT’s. We have appealed to residents of our community who are trained to join the department and give us some time. We have training available and a number of people have taken advantage. We would also like to see a more aggressive recruiting program in the high school. Any of you seniors that are 18 years old or soon will be, if you are interested in EMT training, let us know. It could give you a chance to serve your community, better yourself as a person and it looks great on a resume.

For the future of the fire department, the large equipment levy needs to pass. Beyond that, success builds success. As the Department is able to respond to more emergency calls, the billing revenue rises (as well as the safety of our residents) which lessens the chance of a need for more taxes or subsidies from the Village or Township.

Kevin Knight: I think our fire department is one of our communities’ strongest assets. We need a detailed study on what it would take to operate a 24/7 EMS Service. Then we need to do a root cause analysis of our strong points and weak points. Based on the data we receive from our studies we will make the right decisions to improve our EMS service.

7. What would you most like to accomplish while in office?

Kevin Knight: I would like to see our township operating at optimal financial efficiency. I would like to have a well-informed community, working together for the benefit of all residents. I would like to explore the possibility of a township park and recreation area through grant money. I would like to see the very narrow and dangerous bridge on Gotham Road replaced. I would like to work with ODOT to review and find ways to reduce the number and severity of accidents at the dangerous Mahoning Corners intersection. (St. Rt. 82 and Windham Parkman Road). For more information please visit my website at www.kknightfortownshiptrustee.com . I will serve with humility and respect, always remembering that I work for you. Thank you for time and consideration.

Dann Timmons: I would like to continue the sound financial management that has been the norm for so many years in Windham Township.

My 5 years on the board have been rewarding and I have enjoyed working with Howard, Brian and Jayme as well as the township employees, Mike and Rich. While we don’t always agree, and the Ohio Revised Code at times places limits on what action we can lawfully take, we have worked well as a team. Because of the years of sound financial management, Windham Township is in far better financial condition than many of our neighboring townships. We have some of the best township roads in the county and have been able to maintain them without seeking road levies like many other townships.

I remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the Village concerning the Fire Department. At this point, it seems that we are in agreement on most issues.

Some neighboring townships have created parks. Most were able to get started because of donations of land. Although townships currently can receive some grant money to develop a park, I am not sure this would be a prudent use of our money. I would like to see some type of joint effort with the Village to improve the Village Park possibly creating a joint park district that would allow us to obtain grant money. There have been some very preliminary discussions with the Mayor but more research is needed as to the legalities.

Since the Fun In The Sun committee is no longer active, I would like to see the festival replaced with more free summer concerts at the gazebo on the Township Green.

My personal project has been the newsletter that has been published now twice a year for four years. One of my original goals as a Trustee was to get more information to the residents about what we do and in a small way help build a sense of community. If re-elected, I plan to continue the newsletter.

Danny Burns and Howard Furl declined to comment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Once again

On “taxation without representation”… yeah, its something I talked about back when the whole Joint Fire District issue came up, but I’m hearing the term pop up now and again lately, so I think its time to revisit the issue.

Most often, the phrase is used in conjunction with any Fire District levy that is raised by the Township Trustees. The claim is that because those of us in the Village do not have representation on the governing body of the Fire District (the Trustees themselves in this case), we are being taxed without representation. The problem is that the phrase “taxation without representation” does not truly apply to our situation, because we are represented, though not in the way that is most obvious.

There is no question that the ideal situation would be to have a body guiding the Fire District with which both the Township and Village have a voice in directing. That is not our situation though. Steps have been taken by some (on both sides) to try to change our situation, but that’s an argument for another day. The Village’s representation lies in the fact that we have the ability to choose whether the Fire District levy will pass or fail. That’s right Village types, we are the ones who basically choose whether or not the Fire District (and the Township Trustees) gets that 1.0 mill.

Since 1999, the Village and Township have voted together at least nine times:

  • Windham Exempted School District Levy – November, 2004
  • Windham Township Fire District Levy – November, 2004
  • Windham Exempted School District Board of Education – November, 2003
  • Windham Exempted School District Levy – November, 2003
  • Windham Exempted School District Board of Education – November, 2001
  • Windham Township Fire District Levy – November, 2000
  • Windham Exempted School District Board of Education – November, 1999
  • Windham Exempted School District Levy – November, 1999
  • Windham Township Fire District Levy – November, 1999

(There could be more, forgive me, because there’s lots of numbers and my head already hurts.) First off, we need to disregard elections that fall on the National election cycle (2000, 2004) because of the inflated number of voters. Historically, off-year elections have weaker voter turn-out, and “off-year off-year” elections, such as this year, are simply dismal. Just to ball park a guess, it looks as if only about 40–50% of voters that voted in the National elections (for President and such) last year are going to return to the polls this year to voted in local elections.

In 1999, the Village counted 546 votes for the Mayor’s office (two running), 472 votes for the Clerk’s office (one running), and approximately 550–600 ballots for Village Council (three running). Those ballots could contain votes for either one or two Council Members. The Township counted 304 votes for Trustee (one running) and 269 votes for Clerk (one also). For the Board of Education, approximately 900–950 ballots were cast (three running, two elected). The school levy garnered 932 votes and the fire levy has 928 votes. Because we don’t have exact numbers of each precincts voters, we have to guess at about how many voters from the Village and Township were voting on the three combined elections. My guess is that about 550 Village members and 350 Township members participated, with another 5% just hanging in the wind, add them where you like. The Village accounted for about 60% of the voters; the Township the other 40%.

The 2001 election is a bit harder to figure, because there is less to go on, because of how the races were run. There were 399 votes for Village Treasurer, 392 for Village Council (one running), and approximately 275–300 for two separately balloted Trustee positions, of which one ballot could choose two Trustees. (Two regular Trustees were selected and another to fill a vacant spot.) Approximately 725–750 ballots were cast for the Board of Education. Of this number, my guess is that about 400–420 were from the Village and 300–320 were from the Township. The Village accounted for about 55% at minimum and 60% at maximum of the votes for the Board.

(I’m shortening the next one, because I’m tired of numbers, and you likely are too. If you really want them, beg.) In the 2003 election, the Village accounted for approximately 55–60% of the votes for the school levy and Board of Education.

In the upcoming vote for the Fire District levy, the Village stands to control 60% of the vote once again. This is a huge advantage for the Village in controlling whether the levy passes or fails. To put it simply, when it comes to the Village’s representation on the taxes that are levied on each of us, we have a great deal of control in determining whether those taxes are actually collected. What it would take is one concerted “get out the vote” effort in the Village for (or against) such a levy and it would pass (or fail) in nearly every election.

Simply because the Township puts such a levy on the ballot does not mean that we aren’t represented.

The Insert

This ain’t no love letter.

October 20, 2005

WINDHAM RESIDENTS

VILLAGE AND TOWNSHIP

The fall election campaign began with the Township Trustees newsletter to Township and Village residents in October. While two (2) of the Trustees are running for reelection, the spin in their newsletter makes it appear that everything will be okay with the Village on the Fire and EMS issues.

The Village Mayor and Council are not optimistic. Here are some reasons why:

1) We gave the Trustees our written proposals on August 18, 2005. The Trustees did not provide a counterproposal until October 7, 2005. Seven (7) weeks later. We wanted agreements signed in early September before the fall election campaigns began. It is obvious they are now dragging this out until after the election for political reasons.

2) The Trustees in their September 9th letter for the first time indicated that they may not want to sign any agreements until after the election.

3) Their proposal also did not address the EMS ambulance billings to residents and the use of those billing proceeds. Village Council wants an agreement on EMS billings separate from the operating agreement. The Trustees were taking residents to court that did not have insurance coverage.

4) Both sides seem to have agreed verbally to form an exploratory committee consisting of elected officials, Fire Department personnel and some residents to gather information concerning joint fire districts and report their findings to the Trustees and Village Council.

However, nothing has been signed and will not be signed by at least one of the Trustees who made the following quotes during our meetings:

"If you are coming to discuss a joint fire district, 'case closed.'" (July 7, 2005)

"I will not sign it either way." (July 28, 2005)

"I will never get elected again as a Trustee talking about a joint fire district." (July 28, 2005)

"I'm up for reelection and not a good time to talk about it." (July 28, 2005)

"I'm not voting for it. If the other two (2) Trustees want to sign it, do it." (August 18, 2005)

Since making these comments, that Trustee has not said he changed his mind. Therefore he does not intend to ever sign the agreement on a committee to explore a joint fire and EMS district. The problem has been that the other two Trustees have followed his lead.

It is futile to continue meeting at this time. The Mayor and Council will now wait until after the election to know who the Township voters elect.

The Trustees should have honored the terms of the previous operating agreement until renegotiated. Instead they refused to meet and negotiate for nineteen (19) months. Now it's election time for two (2) Trustees.

They have abused their power and control over the levy funds and the EMS billing funds to deny Village Mayor and Council equal representation for Village residents.

"Taxation without representation." This cannot and will not continue.

C. James Moore

Council President

(January 1, 2004 - December 31, 2005)

Former Mayor

(October 1999 - December 31, 2003)

Village of Windham

The letter closes with a quotation from Henry Clay:

“Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees and both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people.”

Oh, and this:

Paid for by C. James Moore 9348 N. Main Street, Windham, Ohio 44288

 

Monday, October 24, 2005

Irony

Curiously enough, if you search “pain in my side” on MSN, my blog comes up as the second hit.  Is Bill Gates trying to tell me something?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ohio Issue 3 - Show me the money!

Or not.

First off, how about a summation of the proposed Ohio Constitutional amendment, shall we?

 To adopt Section 5 of Article XVII of the Constitution of the State of Ohio.

In order to establish revised limits on political contributions, establish prohibitions regarding political contributions and provide for revised public disclosure requirements of campaign contributions and expenditures, this amendment would:

  • Establish the following limits on political contributions:

    Annual limitation on contributions by individuals: $25,000 in total to all candidates for state executive offices and member of the General Assembly, political parties, PACs, multi-candidate PACs, and small donor PACs.

    Contributions from individuals: $50 to a small donor PAC; $500 to a political action committee; $1,000 to a candidate for member of the general assembly, a multi-candidate PAC, or a county or local political party; $2,000 to a candidate for statewide executive office; and $5,000 to a national or state political party.

    Contributions from political action committees (PACs): $500 to a candidate for member of the General Assembly yadda yadda yadda for four more inches of text.

When the summation of an amendment is too long to post into some blogspace, it can’t be good legislation.  In short, this amendment cuts money out of elections.  Sounds like a great idea, right?

Well, not so fast.  While cutting some money out of elections, there is a bit of a loophole, creating something called a “small donor political action committee”.  Call it “Swift Boat Veterans Lite”.  These groups could pound money into Columbus, negating what those who want less money politics truly want. 

Not long ago, the General Assembly (those folks down in Columbus) raised the contribution limits, which has made some people very mad, because they don’t have the ability to generate huge amounts of money (read:  Democrats have a hard time raising funds in Ohio).  Just today, the Democrat group/website “ActBlue” agreed to send loads of donations to Ohio, through “viral fundraising”.  It is a clever way of raising money from all over the nation and diverting it to palatable races in Ohio, namely the Senate race next year.  One of the things that the lawyerly economic types do is find ways around campaign finance laws.  In nearly every election, there’s some new way to skirt the system that’s already in place, leading others in the months following to lead the charge for “reform”.  These reforms are pretty much just greater challenges, as if in some great game of campaign finance.  Come on down!  If this amendment is added, are the contributions of the Californian going to be stopped from reaching Ohio?  Doubtful. 

Also, is it wise to write into the Constitution an exact dollar amount that can be sent to politicians?  Think back thirty years.  How much has the value of the dollar changed?  How many years will pass before we have to go to the election polls once again to update this Amendment?  This is why we elect politicians.  They go to Columbus, write their laws, and make us happy.  If they don’t make us happy, they don’t last in Columbus all that long.  If you’re mad at your representatives for the laws that they are creating, put someone in office that will fix the problem.  Don’t rewrite the Ohio Constitution and let them have a free ride.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Questionnaire

I’m please to report that I’ve already received two responses to the questions that were delivered to all the candidates over the weekend.  A few of them were only delivered yesterday, but I’m hopeful to have the majority of the responses by early next week.  My plan is to collate all of the responses under each question, and post them together after receiving answers from every candidate (two separate groups:  Trustees and Council members) or on October 31, whichever comes first.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Hey, there was a vote in Iraq...

I’m sure no one had any idea about it, because it was barely covered by the newtorks.  You know, its great to be able to liberate a country.  Its nice to allow people to be free.  Does their election need to be scrutinized as closely as Florida in 2000?  Yikes.  They’re doing alright, I get it.  Anyway, I’m happy for them, but doesn’t the writer of this piece seem a bit put off that it went so well?

Sunnis Appear to Fall Short in Iraq Vote

Iraq’s landmark constitution seemed assured of passage Sunday after initial results showed minority Sunni Arabs had fallen short in an effort to veto it at the polls. The apparent acceptance was a major step in the attempt to establish a democratic government that could lead to the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Yes, those stinking Shiites just had too many people at the polls.  Journalism would have been so much more exciting if something else had happened.

You know, it could always be worse...

Memphis Police Bust Illegal "Drug Store" in a Home

Memphis, TN- Memphis police say brazen drug dealers are behind bars after a sting operation called "Operation Blue Crush". All is quiet at 3293 Rosamond. That's because the alleged gang members who took over the house are in jail. Police say the suspects were so bold they advertised the fact that this was a crack house. When they were open for business, they'd flip an address sign over that read "Crack house".

Yes, that’s brazen. 

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Firefly

Here’s a quote to live by:

 "When you can't run, you crawl, and when you can't crawl, you find somebody to carry you.”

Its from a great show, that was sadly cancelled a while back.  The movie Serenity that’s out right now is taken directly from the series.  I can’t wait to see it.

 

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Breaking news!

 

U.S. Declares War on Smurfs, Hundreds Dead in "Shock and Awe" Style Carpet-Bombing Campaign

Questions...

These questions are posed to the candidates in the upcoming election.  Letters are being mailed to each candidate on Wednesday morning.

To prospective Village Council members.

1.  Why are you running for a position as a Windham Village Council member?

2.  What do you think is the biggest short-term issue for our Village?

3.  What do you think is the biggest long-term issue for the Village?

4.  Do you support the Income Tax increase for the Village as proposed to the voters?  Please explain your position.

5.  What is your position concerning the Village/Township Joint Fire District proposal and ongoing Operating Agreement discussion?

6.  How can we attract and keep business in the Windham area?

7.  What can be done by the Village Council concerning the problem of drugs in our community?

8.  What would you most like to accomplish while in office?

To prospective Windham Township Trustees:

1. Why are you running for a position as Windham Township Trustee?

2. What do you think is the biggest short-term issue for the Township?

3. What do you think is the biggest long-term issue for the Township?

4. What is your position concerning the Township/Village Joint Fire District proposal and ongoing Operating Agreement discussion?

5. Should voters approve the Township Fire District 1 mill 5 year replacement levy? Why or why not?

6. How can Fire and EMS service be improved for the Township (and Village)?

7. What would you most like to accomplish while in office?

I’ll also happily note that in response to my request for help in coming up with these questions, an incredible number of people did respond.  The final tally was a whopping zero people offering advice.  Yay readers!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

FYI

On October 14, 2005, the Village of Windham will officially be another full-time officer short of what they need.  Unless things have changed in the last few weeks (and I don’t have any public documentation to convince me otherwise), the resigning officer’s position will not be filled.  The determination of the committee in charge is to wait until the final count on Election Day concerning the Village’s Income Tax levy. 

The determination was made in light of the “financial condition of the General Fund”.

Shhhhh

Be vewy vewy qwiet.  Nutting is happening hewe. 

Friday, October 07, 2005

Upcoming items of note

On the 13th of this month, the county Board of Elections will be showing off their spiffy new electronic voting machines (because what we’ve been doing for the last 50 years isn’t good enough anymore).  The demonstration is taking place in Village Council Chambers beginning at 6:00 pm and running until 8:00 pm.  If you don’t know how to use these things and want a heads up before Election Day, head down for what’s sure to be an exciting night!

Yes, that was sarcastic.  Thank you.  I’ll be here all week.  Try the veal.

Also, on October 19, the newest incarnation of the Neighborhood Watch Program will kick off with a meeting in those same Council Chambers.  The meeting will begin at 6:00 pm.  I think it would be a grat idea for everyone to get involved in this.  I’d be there, but of course, the Village schedules things when our church has Bible class.  Hmm, decisions decisions.  I’m picking church.  Of course, I’ll be happy to read notes that anyone would be kind enough to pass along.

Hopefully I won’t have to jump through hoops to get them.

And one more thing.  Can we get a new name for that room?  It just doesn’t feel like a “chambers” type of room to me.  It has more of a “bad gymnasium” ambience.  And the echo.  Oy.