Ohio law clear on judicial powers

The flurry over House Bill 218, Expansion of Judicial Duties Over Park Districts, is over for now.  The bill now lies dormant in the Ohio House of Representatives as the legislature will be in recess for the summer.  In recent months Geauga County Probate Judge Grendell has attempted to expand his powers by writing this legislation. Before there are any more claims or confusion, let’s take a look at what actually are the probate judges existing powers with respect to parks.

According to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, there are six references in the Ohio Revised Code to judicial authority and responsibility over parks that were created under Section 1545.

The Ohio Revised Code:

1)  Requires the probate judge to appoint successors to a park district board of park commissioners and to appoint additional members to the board if the board votes to expand the membership.

2) Authorizes the probate judge to remove a commissioner because of a filed complaint or the judge’s motion.

3) Requires the probate court to approve terms of donation of money or property to a board or of trust agreements between the board and a donor.

4) Requires the probate court to approve all sales of land owned by a park district.

5) Requires the probate court to approve annexation of territory into a park district and hold a hearing regarding the annexation.

6) Authorizes probate court to hear property owner appeals of assessments by a board and review and modify those assessments.

That is the extent of judicial authority over parks.

Barb Partington, Munson Township

July 4 event a success

On behalf of the Chagrin Falls Historical Society, I would like to thank everyone who helped make our Community Fourth of July a success. It was a wonderful way to celebrate our Nation’s Birthday. Even Mother Nature cooperated! This was the first year that the Chagrin Falls Historical Society was involved in planning the event.

I would like to give a special thank you to the following: The Molly Chittenden Chapter of the DAR, Molly Gebler and the Chamber of Commerce, Tod White, Mayor Bill Tomko, Chief Amber Dacek and the Police Department, Justice William O’Neil, John Bourisseau, Laura Gorretta, Jean Hood, Rev. Mark Simone, Jo Royer, Susie Truax, Joyce Gorretta, Patrick Sheehan and Boy Scout Troop 241, Girl Scout Troop 674 & 1366, Carolyn Sihler, Sally Hawkins, Dick Goldsmith, Jim Brosius, Janice Hill, Kathryn Garvey, Mike Predina, the Jaycees, the Popcorn Shop, The Fevered Dream Band, Kalaika, Frank Lanza, Crooked River Fife and Drum Band, PetPeople, Aris and most of all to the Veterans who make it possible for the American People to celebrate this day.

We hope to see all of you next year for another community celebration,

Jane Babinsky, Museum Director Chagrin Falls Historical Society

Moreland Hills needs voice

The Moreland Hills mayor and Master Plan Committee spearheaded a "yes" vote on Issue 70 last November. The Issue authorizes the development of a high density residential development, exempting our village’s 2-acre minimum zoning requirement for a 21 acre parcel of land on Chagrin Boulevard just east of the school board. The master plan committee recommended the zoning change. The placards favoring Issue 70, prominently displayed around the village, read “Preserve our character- yes on Issue 70.” I fail to understand how suspending our 2-acre residential zoning "preserves" the character of our village. And suddenly (some might say predictably) a developer has come on the scene, requesting modifications that threaten to undo the assurance that Issue 70 preserves the village’s character, involving larger buildings, more people, more traffic and less green space.

  I have lived in Moreland hills for over 25 years, and have observed many changes to the look and feel of this once sleepy, semi-rural village.  What was once a green, low-key garden nursery is now a newly minted restaurant in the form of a concrete and stucco French style king-sized chateau. Across the street from the restaurant/chateau is a gas station with two signboards that say "under new management," and illuminated and non-illuminated signage for ice cold beer and the lottery. 

  And now, adding to this encroaching development just a stone’s throw from the mini-mall, at least 59 residential new units are planned, entering and exiting on the small piece of Chagrin Boulevard, between the school administration building and the mini-mall.

 The entire village has 3,298 residents, distributed over 7 miles. The new development will likely add another 250 or so people (a 7.6 percent increase in population), coming and going  along a common access drive, opposite our schools and near the children trying to cross the street to the library.

 At the last public hearing, one of the residents noted that there was no traffic survey submitted with the plans for this development, and that there was a lack of information about storm water runoff management. 

OMNI Development Company is already asking for several modifications to the ordinances that regulate this type of development. Under discussion are allowances for three-story structures, with only 80 feet of setback instead of the required 100 feet; a common drive to run through the required 75 feet of landscaping; and encroachment into building setbacks, among other issues.

The vote is over and the exemptions to our zoning were accepted by the people of Moreland Hills. But the implications of that vote are only now becoming apparent. I believe that concerned citizens who value what remains of the semi-rural character of our village should contact our mayor and the Master Plan Committee now. If you believe that the modifications to those exemptions will create a template for future development, as I do, then advocate for the developer to adhere to the existing requirements intended by Issue 70. Let’s not back down on height restrictions, setback allowances, garage frontage restrictions, etc. With children so close, let’s assure that we have a traffic survey and let’s determine the environmental impact; due diligence that is long overdue. Let your voice be heard.

Jane  Birnkrant, Moreland  Hills

Will it be back to future?

What a sad contrast on the editorial page of last week’s issue. Gracing the bottom half, an uplifting reminder from Dr. Gary S. Smith of our nation’s heritage of faith in God and the foundation, though eroded, it continues

to provide for our government and country. Citing numerous quotes from our courageous founding fathers as well as our country’s more recent chief executives acknowledging this heritage (and he could have included

hundreds more), Dr. Smith inspired us to be truly grateful for God’s blessings on us and for the good and wise men who have led us.

Starkly at odds with this testimony to our moral moorings, at the top of the page was a pathetic reminder of how far we’ve drifted, in Ron Hill’s political (and slightly pornographic) cartoon depicting an open-shirted President Trump with very female-looking “man boobs.” Mr. Hill’s political commentary aside, transitioning directly from the decorum, bravery, and faith of our first president to a crude representation of our current one, who is about as diametrically opposite of George Washington as one can get, was like stepping out of the

DeLorean to find Biff in charge.

Time travel films like the “Back to the Future” trilogy are entertaining but strictly fantasy, as it seems self-evident that the past cannot be changed. Yet when we learn about the past, as Dr. Smith encouraged us, we

do, in a sense, travel in time. And though we can’t change the past, we can  change the future by letting history inform us on what is admirable and advantageous, as well as what is degrading and destructive, and

moving forward wiser because of it.

Of course, the advantageous and the destructive are not necessarily self-evident so good people will disagree on what are wise choices for a better future. A healthy familiarity with history certainly promotes wisdom, as well as a willingness to consider opposing views. But for many lately, both of these are so 1955.

Yet their decline is at least as threatening to our country as climate change, and I believe more.

So I’m wondering, if we had Doc Brown’s souped-up DeLorean and set it for July 13, 2047, would we find ourselves in a world unchanged in temperature but drastically changed in freedoms and repeating the disastrous failures history warns us of?

Predicting the future is an inexact science at best, but I think it’s safe to say that without a good grasp of the past and an even better grasp of the reality of God in our past, present, and future, it doesn’t look good.

Caroline Smith, South Russell

Scouting inspires youths

I am writing you to encourage kids to get involved in Scouting. I believe they should because it instills leadership. It also teaches scouts life lessons. Scouts also help in their community. I am a sophomore in high school and I have been a scout since first grade. I have learned many valuable life lessons in scouting. There have also been opportunities to go on campouts and do other fun activities.

 Our troop just got back from BSA SeaBase in the Florida Keys, a Boy Scout high adventure camp. We sailed, snorkeled, fished and kayaked for a week and learned about our marine environment. Scouts also help in their community. Recently, we have been working on an older scout's Eagle Project to add a sign to the South Russell Park.

Michael King, Chagrin Falls

Scouts help South Russell

South Russell Village would like to say thank you to the Chagrin Valley Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Brownies, their parents and families, scout leaders, and unknown community members who have helped the Scouts provide 16 Eagle and Gold Award projects to benefit the residents of South Russell.  We are the beneficiaries of hiking trails, park benches, phone book recycling, landscaping, blue bird houses, flag donations, flowers, decorative flower planters, kiosks, and a used American flag disposal container.The scouts raised the money, organized their fellow scouts to do the work, and completed the projects with pride and a sense of accomplishment.

When you see these scouts in the community please pat then on the back for a job well-done.  Thanks to Forrest Campbell, Dan Driscoll, Ian Dunegan, Nathan Ealy, Alex Goebel, David Herpst, Wyatt Kramer, Matt Lechner, Caitlyn Mariola, Max Mueller, Eddie Patton, Madison Russo, John Sullivan, Jon Van Wagoner, and Hannah Zaim.Special recognition to Junior Girl Scout Troop 71352 for planting a Monarch butterfly rest station in the middle of the SRV Park.  Additional thanks to long-time SRV park committee members Martha Bistritz, Ted Kruse, and Greg Pike for shepherding these projects to fruition.

With two more projects in the planning stages, scouting continues to provide our youth the opportunity to give back to their communities.

Bill Koons, Mayor, South Russell Village

Americans deserve health insurance 

The U.S. is the only first-world country without universal healthcare. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it is an excellent start. Millions of low-income people gained insurance, premiums increased at the lowest rate in decades, and the abortion rate decreased because women had access to affordable contraception. The Senate wants to take that all away and replace it with huge tax credits for Americans earning over $500,000 per year. The Senate's “repeal and replace” bill destroys all the ACA's progress (at least 22 million Americans would lose their insurance) and does nothing to help hardworking middle-income or low-income Americans.

I have family in Austria (Europe), so I know universal healthcare works. My aunt in Austria had her knee replaced the same year my mother in America had her hip replaced. My mother had to save money for years in advance, because even my father's generous employer-sponsored health insurance didn't cover enough of the multi-hundred-thousand-dollar procedure. My aunt's knee replacement was easily affordable. My mother was sent home from the hospital on day three, while her incision was still bleeding, and my father and I had to haul her up to our third-floor apartment with no help. Over the ensuing weeks, she had to drive herself to the piddling few physical therapy appointments that were covered.

By contrast, my aunt was able to stay in the hospital for two weeks, before being driven home by courtesy ambulance. She had two more weeks at home with her family before the ambulance returned to take her to a rehabilitation resort, where she had daily physical therapy and massages for the next six weeks. Yes, the Austrians pay for their healthcare in taxes--but even after taxes, my aunt in Austria has more money for family vacations than my mother in America does, and they're both middle-class.

I urge all my fellow Ohioans to call your senators every day until they deliver universal healthcare that truly covers all Americans at an affordable rate. Members of Congress get free health insurance for life--why don't the rest of us?

Madelaine Matej MacQueen, Beachwood

Councilman weighs in on logo issue

I want to give Solon taxpayers and residents my perspective of the city logo/marketing consultant issue that has been ongoing ever since city council made this discovery during Mayor Susan Drucker's State-of-the-City speech in March.

The majority of  City Council (five members) knew nothing about this and were surprised to learn that Mayor Drucker awarded an $18,000 sole source contract without following normal city request-for-proposal and accounting procedures. Instead, she had two councilmen (Bill Russo and Ed Kraus) sign off on the purchase order, although the document clearly states that three bids are required, or an explanation provided as to why they have not been provided.

At its April 3, 2017 meeting, a majority of council (6-1) voted to prepare legislation to terminate the logo/marketing consultant's contract and directed the administration to stop paying the $3,000 monthly stipend.  At the April 17, 2017 meeting, council again voted 6-1 and Mayor Drucker refused to sign the ordinance and let it become law without her signature.

Imagine my surprise after as series of public information requests to learn that the administration continued to pay this consultant through the end of April. I asked for the work product for this expenditure and Mayor Drucker replied at the last city council meeting that any benefit conferred via his purchase order "was all in her head".  She had no records of any work being performed for the month of April and no records of any meetings, telephone calls or emails.

She replied that the city had been using the same advertising for 15 years (she could have taken action during the first seven and one half years of her term). Instead, because of hearing constant resident complaints about the rundown look of Solon she decided to take almost unilateral action in an election year when she was still an announced candidate for re-election.

Regardless if pending legislation to recover this improper payment passes, residents have the right to be upset with this blatant waste of tax dollars after the administration was instructed both verbally and via formal legislation to cease and desist.

Residents should be even more upset that our lame duck mayor said she would serve as the first and best witness in the event that this marketing consultant decided to sue Solon for the balance of his contract.  Mayor Drucker went on to say she actually hopes he counters sues the city for the balance of his contract.

Imagine any other chief executive testifying for the improper use of tax dollars when the rules were circumvented on this sole source contract from the onset, and they were paid for work that was never performed?

It is sad that it has come to this in the City of Solon during the past seven and a half years.

Robert Pelunis, Solon Councilman Ward 2

Change would serve business interests

Through House Joint Resolution 2 (HJR 2) and Senate Joint Resolution 1 (SJR 1), Ohio House and Senate Republicans want to change the U.S. Constitution through a constitutional convention to serve the interests of big business and lobbyists--the primary forces behind a push to weaken the federal government.

This initiative seeks to cripple the government's regulatory and judicial state oversight and has been funded by corporate interests like the Koch Brothers. Introduced by Rep. Christina Hagan, who, like other supporters, is a recipient of money from companies intent on limiting the nation's ability to regulate clean air and water, safe workplaces, and more, the resolutions favor business over America's citizens.

Rep. Hagan and others have been members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a secretive organization and major constitutional convention proponent. ALEC allows corporate members to help create the content of boilerplate pro-corporate laws that spread across the country like a cancer. For-profit prison companies help create laws ensuring more people end up in prison, as happened in Arizona. For-profit charter school companies help shape laws concerning education.

Corporate dollars' influence contaminates the system, and, through these resolutions, threatens our democracy. Responsible representatives should reject them.

Michael Sepesy, Cleveland


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