Citizens For A Better Norwood

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Historical Society Holiday Open House

A December delight

When: Saturday, December 9th, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Where: McCullough House on Cypress Way, off Montgomery Road in North Norwood
(on the grounds of the Lindner Nature Preserve)

The folks at the Historical Society are busy getting ready for their annual holiday treat for everyone in our fair city. They are the most welcoming of hosts, and the beautifully presented array of appetizers, desserts, and refreshments for our dining pleasure is always something to behold. We’ll let you know once arrangements for entertainment have been finalized, but most likely, musical performers from area schools will be featured.

If all that isn’t enough, this is a wonderful opportunity to see the interior of the McCullough House, including some of the recent additions to the Historical Society’s collection of Norwood historical artifacts. Also, copies of the recently published pictorial history of Norwood, Christine Mersch’s fascinating “Images of America - Norwood,” will be available for purchase as part of the Historical Society’s fundraising efforts this year.

We’ll announce this again as the date gets closer.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Roast ham and sweet potatoes...yum

Nice to see a great review of the new locally-owned Bluebird Restaurant on the Pike. Anybody tried it yet? Have a great weekend - we'll be back Monday...or Tuesday, depending on what's happening in the 'wood.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Call 531-2848 for a good time in November

Victory Park Veterans want YOU and US to volunteer with other Norwoodians when the “The Wall That Heals,” the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial, comes to town November 9 through 12. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join our neighbors in support of this incredible event.

Call 531-2848 if you’d like to:

1. Set up and/or tear down
2. Assist visitors to the wall
3. Help provide 24/7 security of the wall

Here’s the where and when:

1. Dorl Field at Beech and Robertson
2. Setup on Wed., November 8
3. Opening Ceremony at 12 noon on Thurs., November 9
4. Veteran’s Day at 12 noon on Saturday, November 11
5. Closing Ceremony at dusk on Sunday, November 12
6. Teardown on Monday, November 13

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Enquirer praises Brown but endorses Kearney

How seriously do voters take Enquirer endorsements? Do they make or break a candidate's chances?

New police contract saves $1 million over 3 years

Last night, council unanimously approved a new 3-year police contract through 2008, which came highly recommended by Mayor Williams. In contrast to prior contracts with hefty 16% cumulative pay increases, this one provides no increase this year, 2% + 1% lump bonus next year, and a 3% increase for 2008, with the elimination of cost of living increases. Other terms:

1. Police will pay higher deductibles with their health insurance plan, a first, which should keep the city’s costs at the current level.
2. At least two high-paying positions, lieutenant and sergeant, have been eliminated without shorting the number of police needed on the street.
3. Minimum man/woman staffing has been reduced from 7 to 6.
4. Longevity pay and the clothing allowance increased.
5. Personnel can miss 4 days of work and still be paid 100% of unused sick leave.

Numbers crunched, the Mayor said the contract is worth $1 million in savings for the City. That’s one contract down, and two to go this year. Council went into executive session to discuss the status of the public works and AFSCME negotiations.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Attention Norwood taxpayers: BOE to discuss possible '07 levy

At the Thursday, October 26th BOE committee meeting, the school board will be discussing the possible need for a new levy on next year’s ballot. As most of us know, the Norwood School District produces five-year forecasts each year that must be updated. If the current forecast has been updated, this informal meeting could be chock-full of insights into the district's financial status and the BOE’s thinking on this matter. The meeting starts at 5:00 p.m. in the board room of the Administration Building on Williams Ave.

Monday, October 23, 2006

August '06 Norwood Police stats

A new monthly feature

We thought it might be useful and informative to start publishing numbers the NPD provides for their total call volume and some of the more serious incident categories they track. Unfortunately, the report is too lengthy to publish all of the categories; and without any prior historical data yet, it’s impossible to draw any conclusions by comparing. So here goes -

Total NPD calls received for August: 2,853 = 92 per day = 3.8 per hour

Partial breakdown:

Auto Accidents: 78
Criminal Damage: 58
Dom. Violence: 35
Fights: 40
Burglary: 34
Traffic Stops: 298
DUI: 6
Assault: 20
Noise Complaints: 50
Theft: 145
Theft/Motor Vehicle: 21
Rape/Attempted Rape: 4

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Rec. Commission hosting Open House

Mark your calendar for a great community wide event! The Norwood Recreation Commission is unveiling their new digs at the Norwood Community Center, 1810 Courtland Avenue, with an Open House on Wednesday, November 1, from 6:00 -7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served in the cafeteria. For more information, call 531-9798.

With the Recreation Commission's recent move to Courtland Avenue, the Community Center is an even bigger hub of diverse civic activities and programs . It’s also home to the Norwood Police Sub Station and Museum, Norwood Senior Programs, the Norwood Historical Society’s archives, and the YWCA HIPPY Program (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters).

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hold-ons happy to have keys back, unhappy about property damage

Anderson handing over the keys is the least of it.

In the coming days, negotiations between attorneys for the hold-ons, Norwood, and Jeff Anderson should resolve how several big-ticket items will be handled: how much of the property damage Anderson will fix, who will pay for restoring utilities (don’t think the Gambles et al. are in the running on this one), and whether or not Norwood and/or Anderson must pay for the Institute for Justice’s and other legal services on behalf of the hold-ons. Does Norwood still have that $3.5 million handy? Insurance maybe?

In today’s Enquirer, attorney Tim Burke describes Rookwood Partners' position on how they want the $1 million property valuation deposits handled. Is he still being paid by Anderson, or is he on Norwood taxpayers’ dimes now? Just who does he represent at this juncture?

Read all about it:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Anderson loses Norwood decision in July, pays the City $3.5 million in September, puts Rookwoods up for sale in October

Just a series of coincidences?

According to today’s Enquirer, Jeff Anderson wants to divest himself of two more of his shopping mecas, the Pavilion and the Commons + the office tower because “demands for these centers is strong right now.” Is Norwood about to lose the mega earnings taxes he and his Rookwood tower corporate office executives produce? Yikes!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Presenting Commissioner Phil Heimlich and his challenger David Pepper...

The last pair of November candidates we invited to appear here are Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich and Democrat David Pepper. Additional information about each of them is available at their respective campaign websites at and

We thank all the candidates who participated in this forum. As one of our commenters aptly pointed out, this blog hardly has the readership of major daily newspapers. We’re pretty certain the six candidates we approached probably surmised this as well, which makes it all the more impressive that all six of them accepted our invitation, albeit Tyrone Yates was a little late. Maybe, just maybe, they agree with us that reaching every voter possible no matter how small the venue is important because every vote counts.

And speaking of voting on November 7, no more excuses! We can all vote from the comfort of our homes now, if we want. Visit the Hamilton County Board of Elections website to get an absentee ballot and other important ballot information:

When companies default on Enterprise Zone Agreements after they move to other locations in Hamilton County, cities like Norwood experience the loss of revenue that was contractually guaranteed. What specific actions should a county commissioner take to enforce these agreements and thereby protect Norwood taxpayers from these defaults?

Phil Heimlich: The best way to answer this question is to use a real example.

In 1991, Hamilton County began a series of tax incentive packages with Convergys (at the time Matrix Marketing) that encouraged the growth of jobs in Norwood. The most recent agreement was signed in 1996.

Convergys played a vital role in the economy of Norwood until David Pepper and the rest of city council gave Convergys huge tax incentives to move jobs to the City of Cincinnati. The result of these actions was the loss of jobs in Norwood.

I know how important these jobs were. I recognized when the Convergys jobs left that it was essential to create new jobs in Norwood.

Cincinnati Bell has created new jobs in Norwood that replace the payroll of Convergys. I have supported an agreement guaranteeing that the combined payroll of Convergys and Cincinnati Bell meets or exceeds the total payroll agreed to in the 1996 agreement, ensuring that Norwood is no longer harmed by the Convergys move that my opponent supported.

If these obligations are not met, the Tax Incentive Review Council can find that Convergys is no longer in compliance and action can be taken to protect Norwood taxpayers.

I believe that County Commissioners should work to ensure that the terms of Enterprise Zone Agreements are upheld. Commissioners can enforce Enterprise Zone Agreements by reducing the tax incentive or seeking “clawbacks” that require the company in violation to pay back taxes for violating the agreement. It is important to hold companies accountable to the agreements they sign with the County.

David Pepper: I will do all I can to end the inter-jurisdictional warfare over companies and jobs. These fights don't help anyone, and run down our tax base. Of course, each jurisdiction should enforce their own agreements to the letter of the law.

Hamilton County residents, including Norwood’s, often tire of the inconvenience of having to travel to downtown Cincinnati to conduct business with the county. Do you support or oppose moving some of the county offices to a more central location like Norwood?

Phil Heimlich: I am certainly open to any effort that will reduce costs and increase efficiency in county government. In 2005, we held an important budget hearing at Norwood City Hall to make it easier for citizens from throughout the county to attend.

As commissioner, I have taken numerous steps that make dealing with county government easier. We have updated our county website and we now issue an annual county report card. We have also streamlined our building department to make it more user-friendly.

David Pepper: We should be constantly seeking solutions that would make County Government more accessible to all residents of this county. Too often, commissioners focus on one or two pet projects like the Banks and ignore the greater concerns of our many communities like population loss, economic development and quality of life concerns. As Commissioner, I will hold meetings throughout the county in order to hear from residents in Norwood and every community. I will also support conducting business in other parts of the county as long as it is economically viable and fiscally responsible.

Why should Norwood residents vote for you?

Phil Heimlich: Norwood residents should vote for me because I get things done while my opponent points fingers. As a Cincinnati Councilmember, I added 119 police officers, founded Citizens on Patrol and enacted a property tax rollback.

As county commissioner, I’ve sent overflow prisoners to Butler County, put Sheriff Patrols in Over- The-Rhine and championed the new jail.

I also saved Drake Hospital, which was mismanaged and on the way to bankruptcy. Now, Drake Hospital is serving fifty percent more patients and the Drake tax is going away.

Four years ago, County spending was increasing at 2.5 times the rate of inflation. Since I’ve been in office, spending has stayed under inflation.

I’ve initiated reforms in County government that save the taxpayer $11.6 million annually.

Lastly, I have cut property taxes by over $100 million with no reduction in services.

The voters need to decide if they want a leader with the courage to do the right thing or if they prefer someone who would rather criticize than get things done.

David Pepper: Because County government is completely failing Norwood and other areas, and I will fight to clean it up and change the status quo. All of Hamilton County has suffered long enough with political bickering, out of control legal bills, cronyism, and pay for play policies. The results? High crime and thousands of jail releases; wasted millions; and people moving out of most parts of the County. I pledge to end these destructive practices that have plagued our great county, and held all of our jurisdictions back. We need a county government that is as good as the people it serves.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Today's special feature: Rob Thornton, Republican candidate for Ohio's 33rd District seat

Incumbent Tyrone Yates missing in action?

Last Saturday, we announced that both Democrat incumbent Representative Tyrone Yates' and his Republican challenger Rob Thornton's answers to three questions we posed would appear here today. Mr. Yates personally accepted our invitation to blog, as did Mr. Thornton. Despite our having submitted the questions to him twice at several email addresses, we never heard either from Mr. Yates or his campaign again. So, folks, we are pleased to present Mr. Thornton’s responses and thank him for participating; and we are displeased, very displeased, not to have Mr. Yates' replies. Rob Thornton's campaign website is

Next Saturday, October 14, Commissioner Phil Heimlich and David Pepper will be featured as the last pair of candidates in our series.

Issue 2 on this November’s ballot proposes amending the Ohio constitution to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85 per hour starting January 1, 2007, and includes an annual cost of living inflationary adjustment. Please tell us 1.) why you either support or do not support raising Ohio’s minimum wage and 2.) whether or not raising the minimum wage should be done by amending the state constitution.

Rob Thornton: On the surface, this appears to be a very good thing for Americans working legally in the United States trying to earn a living. I think most would agree that it’s extremely difficult to make ends meet on $5.15/hour. However, the question over-simplifies the Issue on the ballot. The authors of the bill have included a clause that would make every worker in the State of Ohio wages, benefits, address, phone numbers and social security numbers PUBLIC information under the mask of “compliance and enforcement”. In addition, I would ask people to consider the big picture of global competition. More and more companies are forced to cut costs to compete against an overseas workforce that works for a fraction of our hourly wage. I’m certainly not saying it’s fair, simply stating a fact. By increasing the minimum wage, we run the risk of INCREASING unemployment by forcing the hands of those businesses already under pressure to reduce costs.

1.) While I fundamentally agree that it is time for an increase in the minimum wage, it is for the aforementioned reasons that I believe this is the wrong way to go about it.
2.) I agree that raising the minimum wage should be left up the states.

Health care costs are skyrocketing, and small businesses struggle to offer health insurance to their employees. While many people do have insurance, co-pays and deductibles are increasing. Some estimates put the number of Ohioans without health insurance as high as 1.2 million. What would you specifically do as a state representative to help all Ohioans have access to affordable health care?

Rob Thornton: My wife and I struggle with this ourselves and I will say it’s no fun. I whole-heartedly agree that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's Universal Health Care Legislation to provide insurance for all residents of his state deserves consideration. Ken Blackwell has endorsed this legislation as something he plans to implement upon his election to Governor of Ohio.

On 9/27/06 federal judge Susan Dlott ruled the Ohio law restricting the use of the abortion pill UR-486 is unconstitutional because it is vague, could jeopardize the health of women because it provides no exception for using the pill after the 7th week of pregnancy, and fails to set clear, reasonable guidelines for doctors to follow. What legislative provisions would you support in the future with regard to the availability and use of this abortion pill?

Rob Thornton: No legislative provisions are needed. The ruling needs to be appealed to a high court as the law simply requires the state to follow the rules outlined by the FDA.

10/12/06 UPDATE: We are pleased to now have Representative Tyrone Yates' responses to our questions, complete with an apology for being...well, tardy. We accept his apology and welcome him aboard. He posted his answers in the "comments" below. His is the 5th entry. Thank you, Representative Yates.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Bessie's COW report for October

Like last month‘s meeting, the financial recovery plan was the only agenda item. Mr. Moore has been putting it together, and it sounded like he's finished working on it if last week’s $3.5 million check from Jeff Anderson can be used to pay off what the city owes the fire and police pension fund. He said the recovery plan is being done to make the Auditor of State happy, and a big part of the plan is paying off the pension fund. According to him, doing this will take the city out of fiscal watch and then “we have a different perspective…there’s 5-6 years of pent-up needs.”

So what did the mayor say to this? Even if the feds say the $3.5 million can be used for general operating expenses and isn‘t restricted for community development uses only, the mayor “believes we should continue to reduce our operating costs…continue the same mentality of not overlooking every cost savings” because, otherwise, we’ll be right back where we are in 3 years. He hopes to bring the pension fund current through 12/06, and then his goal is to put $1 million away if there aren’t any restrictions.

Although Mr. Moore said he agreed with the mayor, he believes that instead of a financial recovery plan, the approach needs to change to considering plans for things like street maintenance and health care costs 5-6 years out. He stressed the need for long term planning and is hoping the proposed budget analyst will put together a comprehensive 5-year plan for every department.

So what did Mr. Schneider say to this? Well, he believes we still need a recovery plan and hates the notion of losing all of it. And he asked a lot of questions about the status of certain items like an energy audit by Duke, the fiscal committee the mayor was going to form and now isn't, the C-9 Trust, direct deposit for payroll, etc. He’s basically on the same page as the mayor - keep cutting costs no matter what.

Now, for the sexy stuff. Mr. Mumper said the city has $700,000 in a special fund for emergencies. And here’s a terrific deal: Mr. Geers said a $1,500 check is going to Matrixx (I’m thinking Matrixx Marketing) that will save us $60,000 next year. And best of all, soon our water meter reader will have a 2-3 pound, hand held computer to do our meter readings! It’s all good.