Upkeep on observatory vital

A recent guest column by Geauga County Probate Judge Timothy Grendell employee Kim Laurie extolling the virtues of the good judge made me wonder why virtually all pro Grendell letters to the Editor /Guest columns were authored either by the good judge himself or employees of the court. 

     In a recent news article Judge Grendell blames "fake news" for park district problems.   Who is he trying to emulate, the Donald?    What comes next your honor?    Maybe "the media is the enemy of the people?”  Where have we heard that before?   At a tea party meeting not long ago the good judge made fun of naturalists interested in birding.    Not the sort of behavior one would like to see in one who is emperor of a park system.

       Let's look at the latest "Foo Pa" by the Geauga Park District that the good judge controls. Some years ago the district acquired a marvelous property in Montville that was owned by Case Western Reserve University.    An astronomical observatory (Nassau Observatory) was on site and the observatory/telescope along with the land became park property.     The Observatory/telescope was built in the late l940's early l950's as a research/teaching facility. It was one of Warner & Swasey's  finest with optics figured to great perfection by Perkin Elmer.   

      For several years now the park district has been working on altering and refurbishing the building/telescope for public use. Well over a million dollars is being spent yet a most important consideration, thermal problems with the building are being ignored. The thermal problems prevent good telescope performance under most circumstances. Aug. l9 from 6-11 p.m. will be the scheduled opening night for the refurbished telescope/observatory, so hopefully with clear skies citizens will be able to get a view through the 36 inch telescope. You might ask for a view of Saturn which should be low in the sky but still a stunning sight through a fine telescope.

Unfortunately folks will likely get a better view through the park district's donated 16 inch commercial telescope which I'm told will also be set up that evening.  The park district administration has ignored the thermal problems with the building and seems to be intent on turning the Nassau observatory into a tourist attraction. Better to look at than look through or actually use to good purpose.

     For a small fraction of the million plus dollars they spent for "an elevator and a bathroom" the park district could have configured the telescope for remote operation so disabled people, students doing research projects and citizens could have operated the telescope from their desktop computers.

     So go to observatory park on Aug. 19, look through the  36 inch scope, compare it to the view through the 16 inch Meade and 25 inch Oberle telescope and then shed a tear for an administration that does not seem to have  a clue. 

John G. Augustine, Parkman Township

Commons perfect for empty nesters 

I am a longtime resident of Moreland Hills and I am writing to voice my support for the proposed Moreland Commons Project as it is exactly what the village needs to move it forward into the future. I do not think that anyone would argue that Moreland Hills or the Chagrin Valley are not special places to live. That is precisely the reason that my wife and I have chosen to raise our family here over the past 35 years.

My wife and I currently live in a larger home in the village, where we raised our children who have recently moved away. All that extra space is helpful when entertaining once or twice a year but most of the time my wife and I do not use the majority of the home. As such, we realize that the house makes absolutely no sense for our current situation. So we are left with a choice: Stay in a home that no longer suits our present living situation or find something that makes sense for our current reality. It seems like there would be no choice at all, right? Find an equally nice, albeit smaller, house nearby so that we can maintain our standard of living, stay near family and friends, and have a footprint that makes sense for us. There is only one problem; there are almost no houses in Moreland Hills that fit that bill.

We could leave the village entirely and find something elsewhere but nearby. I do not want to leave the village. The fact remains that, but-for Moreland Commons; there is nothing in the village for people like my wife and me.

It seems like Moreland Commons will offer us a nice sized home that will have a nice level of finish and that will fit our needs. The arguments I have heard against the project are misplaced and unhelpful to our/the Village’s dilemma. People keep talking about the “semi-rural character” of the village. If you live on County Line Road you are absolutely correct; the village is semi-rural. The truth is that the area we are talking about is not “semi-rural”. It is on Chagrin Boulevard. It is either next to, or within a 1/2-minute walk, to the Senior Center, Library, Orange bus garage, the Pepper Pike Day Care, and the gas station at the corner of SOM Center and Chagrin roads, Orange High School and its massive parking lots and more.

The residents who attend these meetings and say otherwise are kidding themselves. Those same people, especially those who are my age and disagree that this project is a necessity, most likely just have not been confronted with the same realities that my wife and I have been. But they will. When they do, I am willing to bet they will look to see if there are any houses available at Moreland Commons.

Larry Kadis, Moreland Hills

Stand up for children’s rights

This letter is in response to recent letters to editors regarding Geauga County systems that are supposed to help children.  Finally, people other than myself, are writing letters about the children’s systems. Disappointingly, the chest thumping, bragging and accolade strutting does not address the problems within our children’s systems.

 Not surprising, because politicians, public employees and bureaucrats, often do not solve problems until they are forced to by changes in, and enforcement of, laws protecting rights.

 Again, I ask the citizens of this county, to demand that our county follow Ohio Law, which calls for children to be placed with family.

  Again, I ask that we stop abusing children in the name of helping them, institutionalizing them and cutting them off from the people they love, while pumping them full of dangerous drugs when they react to this sort of government oppression.

 Again, I ask people to contact their Ohio and federal representatives and senators asking for laws which require Rule 48 of the Ohio Supreme Court, which lists what Guardian ad Litems are supposed to be doing, to be an unambiguous checklist system.  Accountability is practically non-existent in the grievance process in Geauga County.

 Neither the Republican factions, nor the Democrats in this county are recognizing or solving the real problems.  The county is violating the human rights of children. 

 Robin Neff, Chardon

Council watching out for residents

I think Terry Uhl needs to understand that when you’re talking about getting the facts straight it is easy to blame members of Solon city Council, but he is not putting any blame on the one person who has created this whole situation.

Mayor Susan Drucker went forward with the marketing and logo redesign without all of the council members being notified, or the residents that the council members represent. Remember this is tax payer’s money we are talking about that is being spent here. Council members make up the voice of the people in their wards, and as a whole speak as the representatives of this community.

In response to Terry Uhl’s statement when he said, “This experience should serve as a strong warning to everyone about personal character of some current and former elected officials” he should look no further then the  mayor who went behind council’s back with this marketing plan. Had she brought it before council things may have turned out very differently, but you can’t blame council for doing the job that they were elected to do.

Council’s decision was that the intent was clear and that payments should have been stopped. I also agree that this money should be reimbursed back to the city. It’s bad enough when a mayor is encouraging more litigation on the city and I also agree with Councilwoman Nancy Meany when she said that Solon doesn’t need more litigation because it will probably cost the city more money than the $3,000 that was paid. Council has to look out for the city as a whole, and that there are two sides to every coin.

This is why I believe they are all right that we need to have the wishes of council followed, we also need to be cost effective. I just don’t think we should get the money back from Terry Uhl because he’s not the one who created this mess. I believe that Mayor Drucker should have the $3,000 withheld from her paycheck, and that money be reimbursed to the City of Solon for the payment that was paid.

There are always  two sides to a coin but there is also a thin middle between, and that’s where compromise comes in. I would say that next time Solon voters see the names of current council members on a ballot, they should think long and hard about how they are willing to stand up for the people in their wards, and look out for this city as a whole for all their residents, not just a few. They are willing to speak out with different perspectives, and not be mindless clones, and they work with each other, even if they do not all agree. These are leaders I want for the future of Solon and not a single leader who thinks their way is the only way. James Orosz Jr., Solon

 Fact checking needed for CASA history 

As a former employee of the Geauga County Probate Juvenile Court (1998-2015), I appreciated the letter to the editor that was lovely tribute to Judge “Chip” Henry written by another former court employee.

The inappropriate response to this tribute by Kimberly Laurie, a current court employee, was interpreted as a “passive aggressive assertion about the current judge” and resulted in a boastful letter to the editor about Judge Grendell’s accomplishments.

Judge Henry was not boastful, he would not have allowed the altered facts that appear in Ms. Laurie’s letter, and he would have insisted on giving credit where credit is due.

Allow me to explain some facts I have as the former program director of CASA for KIDS (court Appointed special advocates), a program of the Geauga County Juvenile Court that provides advocates (legal term is guardian ad litem) to represent the best interest of abused and neglected children involved in the court.

Ms. Laurie referred to a 30 percent operating expense cut for the juvenile court.  This is mostly due to the fact that the CASA program became fully financially funded by a federal grant in 2015.  This was made possible when an act of Congress – not an act of Grendell – increased the Victims of Crime Act funds that CASA for KIDS has been receiving since 1998.

Ms. Laurie stated that CASA has “consistently grown year after year, going from 50 volunteers in 2012 to almost 70 volunteers who contributed over 8,000 volunteer hours in 2016”.  In fact, the CASA program had 63 volunteers in 2012 and 79 in 2013 (you can find this information on the juvenile court website under annual reports.)  The credit for the increase in CASA volunteers starting in 2012 goes to the dedicated CASA staff who recruited, trained, supervised and supported more volunteers to cover the increase in abuse/neglect cases due to the opiate and heroin crisis.  CASA for KIDS was already a well-established, successful program (instituted in 1997 by Judge Henry) when Judge Grendell was appointed in 2011.

As one of Judge Grendell’s accomplishments, Kimberly Laurie lists the “2013 Roger Morris Helping Hand Award” given to the CASA volunteers by the Geauga County Board of Mental Health and Recovery Services. The nomination for this award was initiated and submitted by CASA staff.  Judge Grendell did not even attend the award ceremony.

In fact, in 2012 the CASA volunteers were also nominated by CASA staff and recognized by the American Red Cross as Hometown Hero’s.

The real accolades should be given to the 300-plus CASA volunteers who have advocated for and made a long term difference in the lives of over 2000 Geauga County children in the last 20 years.  I am forever inspired by the amazing CASA staff and volunteers who I had the honor to know during my time with the CASA program.

Christine Steigerwald, South Russell (Former CASA for KIDS program director)

In crossfire of council, mayor

I am responding to the article in the Solon Times that appeared on July 13 titled “Proposal demands consultant returns fees.” 

The article describes members of City Council going after Solon resident Terrence J. Uhl to return payments of $3,000 made by the city under a work agreement commissioned by the Mayor Susan Drucker in order to perform marketing to promote the City of Solon to outside businesses.  The work was commissioned with the knowledge and support of two members of City Council.

The back story is that certain members of council became quite angry with the mayor for authorizing this work without letting them know of it in advance.  They felt slighted.  But there was knowledge of what the mayor commissioned within council.

At the council meeting that I attended, Mr. Uhl, after showing his work to council, was grilled – near cross examined - by a few council members because he did not communicate the work to the entire council.  I understood that there was no provision in the work agreement for Mr. Uhl to report to the entire council, just to the mayor.

The article stated that there is a pending ordinance initiated by Councilman Robert  Pelunis via the Planning Commission that prepares to file a lawsuit against Mr. Uhl if he does not give back the money.

Mr. Pelunis made a legal public records request for work products (e.g. work deliverables) from Mr. Uhl’s efforts and Mr. Pelunis thinks that no reasonable work was performed by Mr. Uhl.

I worked at three major universities and at two fortune 50 corporations, as a ranking, large budget, senior program manager for highly regulated medical devices and I know that when there are questions about the quality of work, then it is time to go to your team and figure things out.

The core question is why did Mr. Pelunis file a legal public records request to get information when there are plenty of opportunities to meet directly with the mayor in order to get information and to express his point of view?  In fact, Mr. Pelunis could have also requested a meeting with Mr. Uhl to assess the work instead of filing a legal public records request.

It appears the actions of Mr. Pelunis, against Mr. Uhl, is simply to get back at the mayor for not personally informing him of the marketing efforts.

Mr. Uhl is an easy target for Mr. Pelunis, an attorney, and his records request appears to be a way to avoid talking with the mayor or Mr. Uhl about his concerns and is certainly not a way to act for the benefit of our city.  In all reality, Mr. Uhl was only doing his job as commissioned by his boss, the mayor.

I believe that if you are having problems or questions, go directly to the people involved to figure things out and not make a public display of it.

Mike Tuscan, Solon (Mr. Tuscan is a candidate for the Ward 2 council seat)

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