Citizens For A Better Norwood

Friday, March 30, 2007

Just in: Institute for Justice press release re: Gambles sell home to Rookwood Partners


March 30, 2007

Norwood Homeowners Carl and Joy Gamble Announce Sale of Home

Both Fighting Cancer, Gambles Reluctantly Sell Home of 35 Years

Arlington, Va.—Today, Joy Gamble, who with her husband, Carl, successfully fought before the Ohio Supreme Court to save their home of 35 years from eminent domain abuse, announced that she and Carl have agreed to sell their home in Norwood to Rookwood Partners, the redevelopment group spearheaded by Cincinnati-based developer Jeffrey Anderson. Carl’s serious health problems will not allow them to return to their home. The Gambles owned their home since 1969 but were forced out under the threat of eminent domain in February of 2005. Since then, the Gambles have been living in Northern Kentucky, first in their daughter’s finished basement, then in a small, one-bedroom apartment. Since late December of 2006, Carl has been hospitalized; he is being treated for, among other things, cancer and heart and lung problems.

Joy issued the following statement through her attorneys at the Institute for Justice, which represented the couple in their fight:

Continue reading here

NCS Levy Committee letter to Norwood Parents

Several days ago, Larry Parker, Treasurer of the NCS Levy Committee and also a teacher at Norwood High School, sent a letter to parents and guardians of NCS students promoting the upcoming $1.7 million levy renewal on the May 8 ballot. We are publishing the letter for informational purposes only to benefit our readers who will not be receiving it.

In his letter, Mr. Parker states, “We need your support - and VOTE - at the polls to ensure the Norwood schools continue to grow, attract and keep good staff members, and draw young families to our community.” We wonder what Mr. Parker means by “ensure the Norwood schools continue to grow.“ If he’s referring to growth in total student enrollment, we’d be very interested in knowing about any data that would support such a statement, since all published enrollment stats we’ve seen have shown yearly decline for many years. If he isn't talking about enrollment, just how are Norwood schools continuing to grow?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Rep. Steve Chabot hosting April 12 town hall meeting in Norwood

Republican Congressman Steve Chabot has scheduled two upcoming town hall meetings to hear from his constituents in Ohio District One. The first will be in Green Twp. on April 4, and the second will be here:

Date: Thursday, April 12
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Norwood Community Center, 1800 Courtland Avenue at the corner of Carter Avenue
Light refreshments provided
More information: 684-2723, Steve Chabot’s downtown Cincinnati office

We called Rep. Chabot’s office and were told he will speak for the first part of the meeting and then will open up the floor for questions from the audience.

WANTED: More and more online messages supporting new playground equipment at Burwood Park!!

If you’re reading this, why not write your note today?

So far, 65 Norwoodians have jumped in with online messages supporting the Norwood Recreation Commission’s request for $10,000 from the Hamburger Helper Co. to replace 30-year old dilapidated playground equipment at Burwood Park. 66 is an excellent start, but let’s knock it out of the park. We’re competing with many other communities for the same $$$’s. One way we can get a substantial edge is with high volume online notes that prove we’re solid hometown supporters of the cause.

Councilperson Vic Schneider is certainly doing his part to encourage community wide participation. He produced and placed about 300 promotional flyers on the Pike at Anna’s, Frisch’s, The Bluebird, and Busken’s. He also gave all the details about the effort, including the website where everybody can post their comments, at last night’s council meeting. Just click on My Hometown Helper, and you can add yours. And don't forget to either email this blog or The Hometown Helper page to your Norwood friends and relatives so they can post, too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Deer meets tragic end at Norwood Kroger's

May the poor deer RIP and may nothing like this ever happen again.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Biz Courier: JP Morgan buying both Rookwoods and the tower

Deal may close by end of March

Apparently, Jeff Anderson isn’t planning on leaving town after the sale, or as the Courier puts it, “is not about to flee town.” He’s mum about the sale price, but estimates put it around $165 million.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ohioans polled REALLY don’t like eminent domain

Majority doesn't support state using it for public projects

A front page article in today’s Enquirer reports the results of a March '07 Quinnipiac survey of 1,122 Ohio voters. Not only does an 82% majority of those surveyed not support the state using eminent domain for economic development projects like new businesses, 65% don’t support the state using it for public use projects like roads.

The article also reports we may see a statewide amendment on the ballot either this November or the next “that would eliminate cities’ home-rule powers on eminent domain.” Currently, the Ohio Constitution allows municipalities broad home-rule authority to pass ordinances that may vary from state law, allowing them to establish their own policies for taking privately owned land. If the amendment passes, the Ohio legislature would adopt one eminent domain statute that would apply to all government entities. We thought it might be interesting to see how our readers view cities having home-rule powers, so here’s another unscientific poll on that particular question:

Eminent domain question

Should Ohio cities continue to have home-rule powers of eminent domain?

Not sure

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another great free event - Norwood Tire Drop Off Day!

Bring your own refreshments, though.

The Norwood Health Department invites everyone to freely drop off old tires and simultaneously add $$’s to Norwood’s recycling fund.

When: Saturday, April 28th all day
Where: Dumpster will be located on Mills Avenue near Lawrence by the old Safety Lane Building and Victory Pool
Why: Norwood residents can drop off old tires in the dumpster for free to be recycled by Rumpke. The tires will be counted toward our recycling total tonnage.
How: Clean out the garage and get rid of those tires!

Monday, March 19, 2007

“The Norwood case supports my position.“ “NOT. It supports mine.” “No, MINE.”

According to today’s Enquirer, each side in a Cleveland case is trying to seize an argument from our eminent domain case to support their position. Doesn’t this all sound painfully familiar?:

“The property owners say the plan is solely for economic development and to help one developer profit. But attorneys for the port argue that the plan would benefit the public with new streets and utilities, housing, a park and a marina, plus end blight and pollution.

The arguments also hinge on what constitutes blight - a key point in the Norwood case, in which the justices said the city's definition was too vague.** The Flats property owners say the standards by which the city declared many buildings blighted are vague and arbitrary.”

Some clarification is in order here. It wasn't Norwood's definition of blight that was the issue. Judge Myers ruled several years ago the blight study done on the Exchange properties did not prove they were either blighted or the lesser deteriorated. That left Norwood’s attorney Tim Burke with only one argument to take to the Supreme Court: that the properties were “deteriorating.” In response to that claim, the Supreme Court decision states:

4. The use of “deteriorating area” as a standard for determining whether private property is subject to appropriation is void for vagueness.

5. The use of the term “deteriorating area” as a standard for a taking is unconstitutional because the term inherently incorporates speculation as to the future condition of the property to be appropriated rather than the condition of the property at the time of the taking.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Just in: Enquirer’s Peter Bronson speaking in Norwood 3/26

We’re all invited, and it’s free!

The Norwood Republican Club is putting out their big welcome mat for everyone to come to their March meeting and enjoy featured speaker Peter Bronson, the much praised, sometimes criticized, but always interesting top Cincinnati Enquirer columnist.

Not only do Mr. Bronson’s Enquirer thrice-weekly columns reach 300,000 readers, but now his most popular ones have been collected in his latest book, Cincinnati, for Pete’s Sake. He also authored BEHIND THE LINES: The Untold Story of the Cincinnati Riots in 2006.

Mark your calendar for:

Date: Monday, March 26
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: Norwood Community Center at the corner of Carter and Courtland Avenues in beautiful West Norwood.
Refreshments and snacks provided.
This event is free and open to the public.
For more information, call 373-9653

P.S. You might even get to meet some of the Republican candidates running for local city offices this year.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Norwood’s vicious dog ordinance up close and personal

Our beloved family pet Sally, who was loved by many of our friends and neighbors, passed away on March 5th at the age of 15. She was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Although no dog could ever replace our Sally, we felt that opening our home and our hearts to a new pet would be fitting. I called several shelters in an effort to seek out a pet that would best suit our family dynamics, but was dismayed and saddened when I was turned away from several shelters because of an ordinance known as the BSL or Breed Specific Legislation. A call to city hall confirmed that Norwood indeed has a BSL provision as part of its vicious dog ordinance. It identifies the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, along with any other dog that looks like a “pit bull,” as banned under the ordinance.

How could anyone classify my Sally as a vicious dog? In an effort to understand the ordinance, I did some homework. In a decision reached by the Sixth Appellate District Court of Lucas County, a resident sued the City of Toledo in an effort to overturn the city’s vicious dog ordnance. After considering testimony and evidence from 16 experts in scientific information and data about pit bulls, the court found that pit bulls are not, as a breed, more dangerous than other breeds. The court found no statistical evidence that indicates pit bulls bite more often than some other breeds. The court went on to say, “once the finding is made that a specific breed does not inherently present a greater danger than any other breed, a law that regulates that breed on the basis of mere ownership is arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory”.

With such a decisive ruling in the Toledo case, it's time for Norwood to strike the BSL language from the vicious dog ordinance. It’s arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory.

Carmen McKeehan

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

All Points Bulletin: Help get funding for new playground equipment at Burwood Park!!

It’s easy. Write a note, not a check.**

Jenny Wallace of the Norwood Recreation Commission is getting the word out how we can all help get funding to replace the 30-year old playground equipment at Burwood Park. Just click on My Hometown Helper and post your comment about why $10,000 should be awarded for this great cause. Email this blog to your friends by clicking on the envelope with the arrow in it below. Let’s see a blizzard of notes posted and nail this funding down TODAY! We can do it!

**That's not to say the Rec. Commission would refuse a donation. Write a check, if you prefer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Update on Norwood case fallout

The fat lady continues to sing

Attorneys for developer Jeff Anderson, Norwood, and the 3 victorious hold-ons appeared in Judge Beth Myers' courtroom February 28th to continue the hard work of sorting through the aftermath of the eminent domain decision. According to sources close to the action, it remains as true as ever that Ohio law lends nothing to the process of deciding who, if anyone, must restore the severely damaged buildings (estimates to repair just one of them is close to $100,000) to their pre-eminent domain condition; who, if anyone, must repair/restore the utilities to the properties; who, if anyone, must repair/restore the damaged streets. With regard to the latter, we’re told a high ranking Norwood official has said the best Norwood can do is bring in a hose and hose them down. One source tells us that without precedent to turn to settle these and other issues, because nothing like the Norwood decision has ever transpired in Ohio, the grueling legal work ahead makes everything leading up the Supremes' decision almost look like the easy part. And that’s saying something.

Regardless of which side anyone is on, perhaps all can agree on this one point: huge prices, monetary and otherwise, have been and are being paid for an Ohio Supreme Court decision that delivered a measure of private property rights’ protections statewide. Locally, with Anderson having taken Exchange development off the table, we will likely endure years of an 11-acre eyesore that now generates rock-bottom property taxes (see 2/21/07 blog re Anderson's "land values" only reassessments) compared to pre-e.d. times. For others, friendships/relationships have been strained or lost forever, finances damaged, health put at risk, images tarnished; and that’s the short list. Who knows what further toll will be exacted from what sources tell us will be a long and excruciating process with Judge Myers? Then there’s always the possibility of lengthy appeals if she makes rulings unacceptable to the affected parties. And here we thought the fat lady was close to finishing her song. From the sounds of it, she was just warming up.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

“We’ve Got Those Low-Down, Dirty Rotten Water/Sewer/Recycling/Garbage Bill Blues"

Cry Baby Network having a bawl...

We knew it was coming, but, man, oh, man, it’s something else to actually see those new $42+ higher quarterly totals we owe Norwood Public Service on the latest, harmless-looking, blue and white cards that came in the mail recently. Sewer rate is up 8.6%, and water is up 8%. The relatively smaller garbage fee increase starting 2/7/07 will show up on the next bill. What are real, live, not-rich, maybe retired and living-on-a-fixed-income homeowners trying to hang on to do? A moment of serious silence between sobs, please, for the truly struggling.

But wait…maybe hope is on the horizon. Maybe this will all wash out with a less than 8-mill levy renewal levy on the August ballot. So far, Mr. Schneider is on the record here against the renewal, and Mr. Moore at Tuesday’s COW meeting feels he's leaning towards lower millage for August. Keep it up, fellas, and let’s hope the rest of your colleagues head in your direction. A couple of self-proclaimed and pretty reliable local historians, whose collective memories predate ours, have always maintained the original 8-mill levy (passed many but an unknown number of years ago) was to pay for garbage pickup, which we’ve all been paying for individually for a couple of years now. If true, is it reasonable to expect the millage for trash collection to be rolled off completely? Those two local historians certainly think so, but then, how many of our current council actually remember or know the 8-mill levy history (assuming it’s correct) and will seriously consider axing this levy once and for all?

Still, let’s keep hope alive!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Bessie's COW report for February

Tuesday night’s meeting began with discussion about both a financial recovery plan and financial planning, including the city’s prospects for hiring a budget analyst to assist with all things financial. Mayor Williams said he’d met with Software Solutions, Inc., and once he gets their proposal, more will be known about the capabilities of their financial tracking software. Depending on what those are, he may favor applying the funding for the part time budget analyst position to any additional costs that may be incurred with the new software. Both Mr. Moore and Mr. Sanker strongly advocated hiring a budget analyst because of the long term benefits to the city.

Regarding a levy for the August ballot, Mr. Moore’s feeling, at this point, is a full 8-mill renewal won’t be necessary for daily operations, although more financial information is needed to accurately assess the city’s needs. As proof of some of the cost reductions put in place, he quickly ticked off 7 positions that have either been eliminated or not replaced during the last 5-6 years. And speaking of reduced costs, the city, specifically Mr. Geers, won a $93,000 reduction in insurance costs by playing hardball with the carrier! Add that to the $50,000 saved on Worker’s Comp. premiums reported in “Ward One Update,” and we’re talking a nice tidy sum.

Continue reading here

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Study says Ohio needs billions for higher teacher pay/training, longer sessions

Today’s Enquirer reports the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded a University of Washington study that “attempts to place a price tag ($2.4 to $4.8 billion) on the cost of providing a world-class public education to Ohio students.” It’s one of three recent studies on Ohio school funding Gov. Strickland and the legislature are looking at as they consider the state’s operating budget, which is to be presented next week. The article ends with, “Strickland has said the document is unlikely to contain his blueprint for repairing Ohio's school-funding, which has been deemed unconstitutional repeatedly by the Ohio Supreme Court for its over-reliance on property taxes.” Apparently, the constitutional amendment addressing education on this November’s ballot statewide will cost $1.8 billion over two years if it passes. And after that? Anybody know how these billions are going to be funded...or care to hazard a guess?

3/8/07 UPDATE: Food for thought: maybe a drop or two in the buckets of billions needed for school funding will come from money saved with Gov. Strickland’s freeze on taxpayer-funded meals in Columbus. Today’s Enquirer reports the single biggest spender/offender is the Ohio Department of Education, with $358,000 worth of meal expenses. ODE spokesman J.C. Benton defended the practice, in part, by saying all the expenses were previously approved by state budget officials. That's at least as comforting as when our former local BOE approved the $9,000+ Rider retirement parties a few years back and vigorously defended their decision, too. Even so, it's simply unimaginable NCS would ever again charge taxpayers for free meals for public employees and others after the furor over those two events.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Woody Allen’s comedy "Don’t Drink the Water' at Norwood Middle School

Performances March 8, 9, 10 - Curtain at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets $7.00 at the door; $6.00 if pre-ordered and paid before 3/8.

Reserve tickets at 924-2787

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Public hearing with FCC next Wednesday in Columbus

Opportunity to tell the FCC about the state of local media

A local media watchdog just alerted us that three FCC commissioners will attend this public hearing about the future of the media. Here’s a chance, after working hours, to go to the microphone and tell them what kind of job local media does covering stories about our community. Wish we had time to attend, but maybe some other local media critics who see this will go and tell on the Enquirer.

Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Time: 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Location: Broad Street Presbyterian Church
Address: 760 E. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43205