Wednesday, January 1, 2014

4 years comes to an end: I cared, I tried, I finished

As my 4 years come to an end, I want to thank so many of you who've supported, challenged, and (civilly) disagreed with me.  I have grown as a person and am better for this experience.

This blog.  In 2009, I committed to the idea of putting my thoughts, words, and deeds out there and am proud to say I've created a great time capsule of my experience.  373 entries later, I'm pleased with the result.

Some thoughts going fwd.  The Village is special.  We're lucky to live here.  While there are so many wonderful facets to Mariemont, we need to be ever mindful of a few significant issues that can unravel this great place:
1)Lack of Planning.  we react too often and turn our noses up at ideas that aren't self generated
2)Insufficient tree planting.  we are lulled into the tree canopy we currently have without appreciating that fact that our trees are overwhelmingly at the end of their useful lives and the next generation is woefully inadequate
3)Centralized power by the Mayor.  Decision making has been taken from the Council and usurped by the Mayor.  I wouldn't support 1 person making decisions even if those decision were thoughtful, moderate, strategic.
4)Tear downs.  We've seen multiple homes razed, and this is inappropriate for an historic village.  If unchecked, it will ultimately threaten our Historic designation by the Department of the Interior.
5)Eastern Corridor.  While it's encouraging to see the lull in State action, we must be vigilant to keep that highway out of the river valley, regardless of which municipalities it specifically runs through
6)Efficiency.  The Village can save many thousands of dollars annually:  electronic documents incl tax, standardized phone systems including mobile, LED conversion of street lamps, hybrid automobiles, reduced overtime, outsourced payroll, tax office moved to admin building.  An administrator could help manage these and other ideas.
7)Apathy.  I appreciate residents choosing to "lay low" and focus their energies on their own lives.  However, there's so much that can be done w the time, energy & experience of our residents.  Said another way, things don't change without people showing up.
8)Being good neighbors.  We are often disrespectful and insensitive to our surrounding communities.  We can do much together vs going it alone.

I wish Maggie P, the new Dist 4 Council person, success in the new year.

Thanks again.  Signing off.

Cortney Scheeser
Mariemont Council

Council meeting on 12/16

I attended Council on 12/16 and here's what I saw.

Trees for 2013. I'm glad we'll see additional trees but wish we were planting 2x or 3x the amount.  We continue to be at risk by planting so few trees every year, when our aging tree canopy disappears.

Overage on budget.  This vote was technically a procedural one, but it shows the risk we have going fwd.  Budget overruns will be all the more painful as the state subsidies come to an end (I think 2014 is the first time multiple state revenue funds go to 0)

Leash Law.  This is a mistake due to inconsistency and enforceability as I've stated in previous blog entries.

My last Council meeting.  It is bittersweet but right for me to step away.

I voted in the affirmative on all votes as all were procedural in nature.  Exceptions - leash law isn't appropriate.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Safety meeting 12/9

I attended the safety meeting on 12/9 and here's what I saw.

I stand by opposition to this piecemeal plan, but I offered up 2 compromises: 1) leash law everywhere all the time if dogs are in fact wild animals underneath as Dennis declared at Council.

2) make all parks open for off leash dogs. This makes it easy for residents to obey the law

These are suboptimal in my opinion but are better than what is being proposed.

Ultimately I was unsuccessful, so I voted no on the plan that will come before council.

As an aside, I have a copy of the audio tape from the meeting.  It's a great character assessment of those in attendance. If you'd like a copy I'm happy to provide.


Council 11/25

I attended council on 11/25 and here's what I saw.

Interest bearing accounts.  I'm glad to see energy put into investing here. Our balances are too big to not earn meaningful money on them.

FEMA plan.  I'm supportive of this since it's really only an administrative action. It positions us for help if we ever need it and doesn't require anything of us other than document submission.

Leash law.  I don't understand the fervor over this. Our law is aligned with Ohios, it was tweaked just 10 years ago (vs 50) and of the many people I talked with, no one saw need to change. I don't disagree there are issues from time to time, but when this happens, we ought to simply enforce the law as it stands.  Further, too chunk out the village into a few parks where off leash is ok but not in partial areas and not during ball games.  This is a recipe for confusion and arguably MORE safety problems, not less. Add in more signs and it strikes me as the wrong approach.  As an aside, I sit around a table of unabashed Conservatives, and this action is at a minimum, ironic.

I voted in the affirmative on all votes as they were procedural in nature. Exceptions: mutual aid agreement which is smart and can lead to savings.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

conversation with Police Chief Rick Hines 11/29

I chatted with Rick re my blog posting talking about OT.  I stand by my comments, but Rick informed me of a more concerning trend:  our police salaries have fallen behind neighboring communities.  This is in part the result of big belt tightening after the Great Recession.  I think to maintain a Village with better than average amenities, we need to pay our staff a competitive wage.    I would recommend the new Council consider a 3 or 5 year glide path to get back to average and then re-evaluate.  Prerequisite would be a Center For Local Government (NGO we belong to) survey of neighboring communities to see how far we truly have to go.  Also needed is a definition of our true "peer group".

While I don't care for non emergency OT, I think total compensation needs to be commensurate with our aspirations as a Village - to be a great community.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Sunshine Law problem

During 11/18's Safety Meeting, we didn't post notice of the meeting, as required by the Ohio Sunshine laws.  A mention in the Mayor's Bulletin, it turns out, is not sufficient to inform the public of a meeting.  I'm sorry to have been a part of this inappropriate action - I'm sorry to the residents, and steps have been taken to remedy for the 2nd half of the Safety Committee meeting, likely to occur in the new year.

This is a helpful reminder to the next Council to approach Sunshine from a belt and suspenders perspective.