Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Crazy Council Chaos Part 2

I went to the Council meeting on Monday, awaiting for any residual fallout from the Friday session.

I wasn't disappointed -- I wish all Council sessions had this much passion not only by the members but also by the public. I can only imagine what it was like during the run-up to Issue 47.

But, before we do that, lets take a step back and review how and why we got to this point.

As I have said in the past and one of the reasons why I ran, is that the City of Lakewood is in a financial mess. The infrastructure is breaking down, tax rates going up and the Mayor sits somewhat passively in his chair doing the bare minimum. The people of Lakewood are starting to get frustrated by the lack of will within the City administration to start making changes.

The City of Lakewood currently has a very small cushion (some say $50,000)in the 2007 Budget.

In various parts of the City the streets are nearing the age of 20 years since they were last re-paved and the sewers are nearing the age of 50-80 years.

Now that is a bit of an oversimplification, of the issues, but it moves us to this point in time.

Woodford is a street in Ward 1 (the ward in which I live and just a few blocks away) it is a small street, approximately 1/10th of mile in distance. The residents on that street are trying to get it replaced. According the residents the street was last repaved in 1967 and has numerous water/sewer line breaks over the years. The residents were told late last year that that street was on the list to be reconstructed in 2007,well budget time came and the street repair list came out and low and behold Woodford was taken off the list and put in the 2008 project list. The residents were angry and began to call on the Council members.

The Gang of 4 finally decided that it was time for a new direction, so that these street swapping items would stop and basically hold the Mayor and his administration accountable.

They called for an Emergency meeting on Friday to replace Bob Seelie as Council President. As I stated in Part One, Seelie is seen as an obstructionist to the Council's agenda to hold the Mayor's feet to fire and begin to solve the City's problems.

So that brings us to the regular Council meeting Monday night.

Seelie was still out of town, so Micheal Dever served as Chair.

Nickie Antonio asked to find out if the Friday session was legal under the Ohio Sunshine laws. I checked the Ohio Attorney General's website and downloaded their Sunshine Law update, it appears that as long as notice was give 24 hours prior to the holding of the hearing, then the meeting was legitimate.

Mary Louise Madigan asked later on in the meeting about public comment during emergency session as a part of the Sunshine laws. More on this topic further down.

During Public comments,one citizen took the Council to task about the Emergency Meeting and the in ability to allow the public to speak.

Councilman Dever responded that this issue had been simmering for the past 18 months, and it was about the Leadership of the Council and how they handle problems that the City has not dealt with in the past 50 years. The four councilmen who called for the meeting felt it was needed to address this issue.
(as side note, according to the Ohio Sunshine Law, it only takes three members to call an emergency meeting)

Another Citizen stood and said that it was "an insult to the Citizens" that they could not be heard in this forum. Perhaps that it was time to "organize to create pressure to defend our constitutional rights"

Kevin Butler responded by stating that it was his belief that the Chair by ordinance has the discretion to withhold public comment. That statement set off the crowd, but in reading the Sunshine Laws, I see no reason to dispute Kevin's statement. I don't have the Lakewood Codified Ordinances to check the Council's duties and responsibilities.

Councilwoman Mary Louise Madigan stated that this was a "bad display of how we work". Also, she wants to change the language in the ordinances to allow for Public comment at all meetings.

Ed Fitzgerald stated that this issue will be debated probably several time during the week, between members.

Ryan Demro indicated to everyone that this issue is really about "how this Council functions" on the problems that face Lakewood. That right now, as deliberative body they are not functioning to the fullest capabilities.

Finally, one more citizen spoke out about the Council works for the Citizens and not the other way around. "Most Chaotic seen" ever on City Council.

Perhaps true, but all in all this is a tempest in a teapot.

What will happen in the end, same thing as before -- NOTHING

Seelie will be ticked off and become even less helpful to the Gang of 4 and Madigan and Antonio will left hanging trying to be the diligent listeners to the Citizens and there will be a new ordinace allowing public comment at all council meetings.
But, the problems facing will continue until we get a new Mayor or we go bankrupt!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Crazy Council Chaos

It has been reported that there was an Emergency Meeting held on Friday in Council Chambers at City Hall. The purpose was to remove Bob Seelie as President of Council.

So the story goes the meeting was called by Kevin Butler (Ward 1), Ryan Demro (Ward 2), Ed Fitzgerald and Mike Dever(At-Large). Seelie was not in town so was unable to make the meeting.

The reason for the removal is because Seelie is not moving fast enough to stem the budgetary woes of the City.

The reasoning about Seelie is nothing new, the timing of this is interesting as well as who called the meeting.

It also does not surprise me that Dever rescinded his support for the removal. The wind was blowing against him so he tacked towards the wind to sail out of harms way.

Not that it looks like a petty political ploy by Fitzgerald and Demro, Butler may get some out gas on this during the upcoming elections, but he should be fairly un-blemished.

Politically, the George supporters are loving this because it paints Demro and Fitzgerald in a bad light.

I am heading to the Council meeting tonight to catch some of the side show that might take place.

Update: Went to Council meeting - Separate post about it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Our Man Dennis Kucinich

David Letterman on Dennis Kucinich, if you turn up the volume, you can hear Dennis sing.

But, if you don't want to hear Dennis speak, then this is for you!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

From the Demro Rally

The scene is set, I arrived a little early to make sure I caught a glimpse of the people who were showing their support.

Suzanne Metelko opened the event talking about the youth movement in politics today, by stating the Younger politicians are more impatient with the system and are willing to upset the apple cart a little to get things moving.

Then she introduced Representative Josh Mandel.

Josh spoke off the cuff for a just a few minutes, he spoke about moving cities forward no matter which one you live in.

Cited the often used phrase so goes Lakewood, so goes the County.

Then it was Demro's turn to announce the secret that everyone in the room heard about several weeks ago. I had anticipated this back when I ran in 2005, so its no real surprise to me.

You can watch the whole speech in the post below. So I won't go into word by word.
The question remains for all three candidates, do they have enough support to run the table.
Is there enough dissatisfaction with the George administration to vote him out?
Is there a real hard record for Ed Fitzgerald to overcome either Demro or George?
Is Demro's youth going be a factor? Is his stance on the various issues he has championed going to be a plus or a minus?
The main question is, are one of these candidates ready to make hard financial choices to stabilize the budget?

Judging by who was at this rally I would say the dissatisfaction for Mayor George is apparent, it certainly was apparent to me in 2005.
As to Fitzgerald's record I believe to be satisfactory, but not an outstanding one, with being one of the more senior Council members you think it would be a longer list.
I guess we will see, this is going to be a long summer.
I also must say I really hate the election schedule again this year. Primary is slated for October 2nd and then the General 35 days later on November 6th.
I have a feeling that because of the compact election schedule, this going to be an expensive race, this will be one area which will separate the candidates.
The last 35 days will be occasional door to door, a lot of public appearances and a lot of mailers. As I said earlier, it will be question of support, can Demro bring out the Republicans and disaffected Independents, can Fitzgerald and George hold there supporters in line and hope to steal other votes.
Will the voters of Lakewood at the end of it all be sick and tired of the backstabbing that could very well take place with these three in the race.
Time will only tell.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Here is an opportunity to show your support for the Men & Women who protect us each and every day!