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Tonight’s council meeting

Posted on: 06/24/16

Here are my notes from tonight’s meetings:

Council Rules – Our meeting was brief tonight. We only had two business items. One was a proposed change in the council rules. In order to explain it, I will need to provide context.

Generally, city council works like this: A proposal is made by introduction into one of council’s five committees. The committee discusses it, analyzes it, sometimes amends it, and then holds a vote. Each committee has four members (except Committee-of-the-Whole, which has all 7 members). To advance a proposal through committee for a vote of City Council, it must obtain a majority (i.e., three out of four).

In the past couple months, Jim Costello used a procedure to avoid the committee vote and bring a proposal directly before the full council for a vote. The maneuver is completely legal. It’s specified in the existing council rules. But, frankly, it does fly in the face of what council has traditionally done.

Tonight, Bob Adaska proposed a change to council rules to prevent this so-called “circumvention” of the committees. I was not in favor of it.

My main concern with Bob’s proposal is that it would allow just two City Council members who are on a committee to shut down a proposal by preventing it from getting a majority vote within a committee. It would make a council minority more powerful than a minority in the U.S. Senate, which requires a 60% vote for cloture. Bob’s rule would require a 75% vote to overcome minority objections within a committee.

I think our council operates best when everyone gets a chance to participate. In my first few years on council, I was in the minority — a LOT. And I remember how it felt to get stifled on proposals I thought were legitimate. Although I never went so far as Costello did, I don’t blame Jim for using the rules to advance a cause he thought was important (in this case, it was a proposal to raise storm-water fees).

These complications were discussed tonight. To his credit, Bob withdrew his support for the proposal.

Shawn Porter – Please tune in on Saturday at 9 p.m. as Stow’s own Shawn Porter will be fighting for the world welterweight title against Keith Thurman. Thurman is the undefeated champion, and this is one of the most hotly anticipated fights of the year. To add a little context, this will be the first primetime fight on CBS since Muhammad Ali fought Leon Spinks in 1978.

Shawn is a friend, and one of the most humble, down-to-earth people I know, in spite of his fame and success. He has marched in Stow’s July 4th parade with me for the past couple years. Maybe he will bring the world title back to Stow on July 4?

Next Meeting – Council will meet next on July 14.


Last night’s council meeting

Posted on: 06/10/16

Here are my notes from last night’s meetings:

Fire Department Annual Report – In 2015, the Fire Department responded to 3,823 calls, which was a 3.44% increase over 2014. Of those calls, 74 were fires, and 2,776 were medical-related. The Department delivered to council its annual report last night. The report really drove home how elite our Department is. For instance, the average response time for calls is 4 minutes and 22 seconds. That’s just incredible. And, in those 74 fires, the Department was able to preserve 95.7% of the property value (i.e., only 4.3% of the property value was lost). This statistic speaks to the response time and the skill level of our firefighters.

School Board Lease – The School Board and Council held a joint meeting and toured City Hall, in particular the part of the building that is proposed to be leased to the School District. (I took video of the tour, which residents were able to watch live–as it happened–on my Facebook page. You can view the recording here.) After the tour, all five Board members expressed that they were unhappy with the economic terms of the lease. And a majority of the Board did not think the space was suitable for any amount of rent whatsoever. I asked Board President David Licate to come to a consensus as to whether the Board wants to move forward with additional negotiations. If not, this issue will be deep-sixed.

Next Meeting – Council will meet next on June 23.


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