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 . 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



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


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


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


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


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”.


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.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


To all the volunteer firefighters, not-so-volunteer firefighters, all EMS personnel, the dispatchers, and all who are involved with the Fire and Rescue Squads for our community.

Thank you.

Your continued hard work, though not vocalized nearly enough, is truly appreciated by many of us in the community. Some of us may not be here if it weren’t for your continued vigilance. May you have the ability to continue for many years to come, and may your work continue to be a blessing to all.


Is anyone else having problems getting to the Discussion Forum?

UPDATE: I can get in again. Perhaps it was the Y2K bug rearing his ugly head.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

On notes and minutes

We continue in our quest, noble as it is, to obtain the minutes from the September 13, 2005 meeting of Village Council.  A response was brought that was along the lines that “notes” of a meeting are not public record.  The thought is that they do not become official public record until they are approved by Village Council at the next regular meeting.  I respectfully refer you all to the 2005 Sunshine Law Book, commonly known as the 2005 Yellow Book

May a draft of a public record itself be a public record?

Yes, depending on whether the definition of a “record” discussed earlier has been satisfied. If the draft documents the organization, policies, functions, decisions, procedures or other activities of a public office, it is a “record.”  The Ohio Supreme Court recently held that a written draft of an oral collective bargaining agreement between a city and its union was a “record.”  According to the Court, the draft documented the city’s version of the oral agreement and the city submitted the draft to city council for its approval.

I believe that the notes that are taken by the Village Clerk document the organization, policies, functions, decisions, procedures, and other activites of the Village Council.  Unless I am mistaken (and my ego tells me I’m not), even the handwritten notes (or however they are recorded) are to be available for public inspection in lieu of actual prepared minutes.

I am no legal scholar, but it seems to be after a reading of the Yellow Book that after those notes are transcribed to computer, they automatically become public record, even prior to Village Council’s approval.  The law does state that the Council has the right to look over the minutes at the next regular meeting and adjust them to more accurately reflect the actions of Council.  That action does not preclude the fact that prior to approval, those minutes were actual minutes of the Village Council meeting and were public record.

This may seem like an effort in futility to some, because within a few days, these records will be approved by Council and there will be no argument over these things.  The main reason that I’m pressing on this issue is because I believe that a governmental body is more apt to function properly when that government operates in the sunshine (as the Attorney General’s site states).  We as citizens are better served when such records are open to public scrutiny.  For those of us who cannot attend the regular Council meetings because of other obligations, we should not be left out in the cold for a period of thirty days or more so that Village Council can be appeased.

Two new additions

First, you might notice the AdSense banner on the right side of the page.  Since I’m a rich, evil, conservative Republican, I’m always hungry for money money money and an ad banner is sure to bring in millions of dollars. 

Second, if you have Google Talk, you can reach my computer nearly anytime at my email address noted at the right.  For those of you that don’t have the time to move your eyes to the right, its windhamite at gmail dot com.  If you can’t figure out how to decipher that email address, please don’t attempt to message me.  Rush out right now and pick up one of the Internet for Dummies books or something.  The last thing I need is more spam in the inbox.  If you need an invite to use Google Talk, send me an email and I’ll invite you personally. 

Third.  There is no third.  You must not have been paying attention to the subject line of this post.

Another lesson in Ohio Revised Code

For your information….


To whom it may concern:

Ohio Revised Code 121.22(C)

All meetings of any public body are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times. A member of a public body shall be present in person at a meeting open to the public to be considered present or to vote at the meeting and for purposes of determining whether a quorum is present at the meeting.

The minutes of a regular or special meeting of any public body shall be promptly prepared, filed, and maintained and shall be open to public inspection. The minutes need only reflect the general subject matter of discussions in executive sessions authorized under division (G) or (J) of this section.

In attempting to receive the recorded minutes from the meeting of September 13, 2005, I was notified that public release of said minutes has been denied by notice of a representative of the Village Council. This denial is a clear violation of R.C. 121.22(C). All minutes of a regular meeting of the public body, in this case, Village Council, are to be “promptly prepared, files and maintained and shall be open to public inspection”. The actions of Village Council violate this statute.

R.C. 149.43 directs that all public records be presented to the public within a reasonable time. In State, ex rel. Wadd v. City of Cleveland, the City of Cleveland was compelled to prepare and provide access to motor vehicle accident reports within eight days after the accidents occur. I believe that minutes of all Village Council meetings should be held to the same standard. There is always a concern that minutes, prior to review of the Village Council, may be in error. This should not, and does not, preclude the fact that these minutes are to be prepared for public inspection. Village Council has the legal ability to change these minutes to more correctly conform to the actual events of the meeting to which the minutes refer.

Refusing to allow the public to review minutes of Village Council meetings only fosters distrust between the public and the Village government and should be staved off early. Allowing thirty days to pass before allowing the public to review minutes of a public meeting is unconscionable. I ask that you change your stance and come in line with what the Revised Code directs.


William Marmet

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


I find this to be kinda sorta right, but as with all online testing, it just doesn’t quite fit the entire bill. Its interesting though, hence the post title.

If you take the test, kindly post the results in the comments section below.

You are a

Social Moderate
(41% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(66% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Ohio State Issue 2

Here’s the official ballot language:

State Issue 2 - Certified Ballot Language
November 8, 2005

(Proposed by Initiative Petition)

To adopt Section 6 of Article XVII of the Constitution of the State of Ohio.

In order to expand to all electors the choice to vote by absentee ballot in all elections, this amendment would:

  • Provide that any person qualified to vote in an election is entitled during the thirty-five days prior to the election to receive and to cast a ballot by mail or in person at the county board of elections or additional location designated by the board. No reason for casting such a ballot shall be required. When a ballot is mailed to an elector, the county board of elections shall also provide a pre-addressed, postage pre-paid envelope for returning the ballot to that county board of elections.
  • An elector to whom a ballot has been mailed, but which has not been received by the issuing county board of elections prior to the election, may cast a provisional ballot on election day. If the elector’s first ballot is received by the tenth day following the election, the provisional ballot shall not be counted. A ballot which is received by the issuing board by mail no later than the tenth day following the election shall be treated as timely cast if it contains a postmark not later than the day of the election.

In short, the amendment gives any voter the ability to request an absentee ballot for any reason, or no reason at all, up to thirty-five days prior to an election. On the surface, this isn’t a bad idea at all. We all want to cast the largest berth in getting people to be involved in the election process. Why not just give ballots to folks who request them?

Consider a New York Times piece from September, 2004:

In the four years since the last presidential election, prosecutors have brought criminal cases in at least 15 states for fraud in absentee voting. One case resulted in the conviction of a voting-rights activist this year for forging absentee ballots in a Wisconsin county race. In another case, a Republican election worker in Ohio was charged with switching the votes of nursing-home residents in the 2000 presidential race. And last year in Michigan, three city council members pleaded guilty in a vote-tampering case that included forged signatures and ballots altered by white-out.

What must be weighed is whether the desire to have as many people vote is worth the possible wide-spread fraud that could take place. We have only seen small-scale fraud in most cases up to this point, thankfully. Perhaps is would only stay there. Perhaps not., no Republican site by a longshot, commented in the last election cycle:

Those who mail in ballots are very trusting souls. Here's how your trust is used. In the August 31 primaries in Florida, Palm Beach Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore (a.k.a. Madame Butterfly Ballot) counted 37,839 absentee votes. But days before, her office told me only 29,000 ballots had been received. When this loaves-and-fishes miracle was disclosed, she was forced to recount, cutting the tally to 31,138.


If we as voters are to widen the scope of absentee voting, I would hope that additional law would be put in place to safeguard the viability of those votes. This is extremely hard to do as there is no true assurance that the person to whom the ballot is sent is the person who is actually filling it out. This is the inherent failure in the system, and it exists today. What Issue 2 could do is make that failure in the system much more obvious.

Monday, October 03, 2005

In the Upcoming

I’m going to be putting together a questionairre for the various candidates running for both Windham Village Council and Windham Township Trustee.  If you would like to suggest a question or two for the form, let me know no later than 8:00 pm Tuesday evening, October 4. 

Questions will range from positions on Joint Fire District, Village Income Tax, past service and future plans for both communities.  I hope to keep it short and be able to post the results about two weeks before the election.