Citizens For A Better Norwood

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Baby Rookwood coming soon…

This baby has a pointe, too, as in Rookwood Pointe, a $10 million, 25,000 sq. foot medical office building scheduled to be completed this year at Edwards Rd. and I71. Norwood is becoming quite the medical mecca, isn’t it? Just hope we can keep our Rookwoods and our Pointes straight.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Institute for Justice wins one for free speech in Glendale case

Today, the 6th U.S. Circuit court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Glendale, Ohio resident, represented by the Institute for Justice, who challenged a village ordinance that could have put him in jail for displaying a “for sale” sign while his car was parked on the street in front of his home. IJ attorney Jeff Rowes said in today's press release, “The court today restored sanity to the First Amendment, ruling that the whim of government bureaucrats is not enough to justify censorship.”

The IJ certainly is racking up a nice win column lately in the Ohio and U.S. courts - private property is safer from eminent domain abuse, speech is freer. What's next?

Recent bomb and shooting, now armed robbery

At about 3:00 a.m. this morning, an armed "Bonnie and Clyde" duo robbed the Shell station on Williams Avenue. Thankfully, no one was injured. If memory serves, isn't that station loaded with surveillance cameras that could help identify the suspects? Is there a crime wave in the works here, or does it just seem that way because we're trying to pay more attention to what goes on around us? Of course, the police always warn that warm weather brings more criminal activity, but two gun-related episodes back-to-back is two too many.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Norwood down 2.2% per latest U.S. Census estimate

DETAILS: Population Estimates
Shortly after the 2000 Census, a "Count Question Resolution Program" was implemented to correct geographic errors and processing errors in Census counts. The Census Bureau has subsequently published annual estimates in July of each year. Most demographers will agree that a longitudinal look at population change is more significant than a sharp increase or decrease in a single year.

By The Numbers
LocationNorwood city
Census Geographic Summary LevelIncorporated Place total
Population Change
Percent Change, 2005-2006-2.2%
Percent Change, 2000-2006-9.9%
Annual Population Estimates
Census 2000 Population21,675
Census 2000 (adjusted)21,675
July 1, 2000 Estimate21,593
July 1, 2001 Estimate21,472
July 1, 2002 Estimate21,100
July 1, 2003 Estimate20,711
July 1, 2004 Estimate20,384
July 1, 2005 Estimate19,967
July 1, 2006 Estimate19,532

Four reasons homebuyers choose Norwood

Our conversation with Jordan Realtors

Recently, Mayor Williams asked council to think about allowing Norwood to advertise. He expressed his belief that the City has turned a corner and that the positives could be promoted to attract both prospective homebuyers and businesses. We don‘t disagree. His remarks, coupled with all the real estate stories in the press lately, including this Enquirer article two days ago, got us even more curious about the Norwood market and why buyers relocate here. We decided to take our questions to our local experts at Jordan Realtors at 3960 Montgomery Road, and they graciously agreed to answer them:

CBN: First of all, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We’re very interested in knowing what draws people to buy homes in Norwood. What "sells" prospective homebuyers on our community?

Jordan Realtors: The primary reason that comes to mind is affordable housing, getting more for your money, and the architecture of some of Norwood’s grand old homes is beautiful. Our central location and the close proximity to both I-71 and I-75 are very attractive to buyers. Also, Norwood is known to be a friendly town, and this certainly appeals to people. Lastly, the good reputation of Norwood schools attracts families to buy homes here.

CBN: The media is full of stories about the nationwide and regional downturn in the real estate market. How is the Norwood housing market doing?

Jordan Realtors: Well, we are seeing more active listings than in times past, but things are slowly changing . But I would also say that when a house is on the market for months and no one is coming inside, it’s usually because the price is too high. Buyers are more educated these days, especially with all the information they can quickly access on the internet. They do their homework and expect to get the best buy for the money .

Who could not be pleased about the perceptions of Norwood among people who invest in homes here? Maybe “safe” will make the list soon, with the positive media attention our COP Program is getting!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Channel 9 spotlights Norwood COPP

According to today’s 5:00 p.m. news broadcast on Channel 9, the Norwood COPP volunteers are learning how to use their new 800 Mhz radios and will soon be on patrol as “extra eyes and ears” for the NPD. The Fraternal Order of Eagles and Siemens each donated $4,000 towards the purchase of the radios. Bill Graff, both Chairman and Vice President of the West Norwood Neighborhood Association, and other volunteers have been working on donations for the past year. Congratulations to all for getting this program off the ground in our city!

Joe Sanker’s “forget about it” on increased Recreation funding

An ordinance changing 2007 appropriations passed during last night’s council meeting. Left unchanged for 2007, however, was the $85,000 budgeted for the Recreation Commission. This, despite Recreation’s 3/27/07 communication to the Finance and Audit Committee, which states, in part, “In 2003 the city was contributing $127,000 to recreation, in 2004 it was cut to $85,000 and we have been given the same amount since then despite inflation. This was a 32% cut that we have struggled with over the past few years as well as inflation just like all the other departments in this city have faced.”

Councilperson Sanker, chair of the F&A Committee, was obviously not impressed either with the Recreation communication or with Mr. Schneider’s urgings, during discussion of the appropriations ordinance, that additional funding be provided to cover the increase in seasonal payroll and operations costs. Mr. Sanker answered him by emphasizing there’s no reason to add funding until there’s a reason to add funding. Period. He stated, “If we’d put $150,000 in, they’d have spent it by now…if they’re out of money now, it’s a management problem, not a council problem.”

Guaranteeing that “none of those kids (seasonal employees) are going to go without a paycheck,” Mr. Sanker also stressed that while summertime is the largest spending time for Recreation, it is also the largest revenue-generating time, too. Mr. Schneider immediately asked, “Then the money for pools, the pool passes, goes into the Recreation Fund and not into the General Fund?” To that, Mr. Sanker replied, “Yes, that's the way it’s always been.”

So, anybody who’s hoping Recreation will get a dime to spend before it’s time can forget about it…that is, if Mr. Sanker has anything to do with it, which he does.

Monday, June 25, 2007

AOS and Norwood’s late health care reimbursements to retirees

Our source at the Auditor of State told us this morning they are aware of Channel 5’s broadcast last Monday regarding the City‘s late reimbursements to retirees (See 6/20/07 “City retirees claim Norwood is behind…” blog below.) but that state auditors don’t yet know the impact, if any, the delinquency will have on Norwood’s financial health or Fiscal Watch status. We were told years 2004 and 2005 are still in the “open audit” stage and that there is no known progress on or completion of the City Auditor’s late 2006 GAP report, which was due to the AOS 5/31/07. More information is expected to be available Friday, and if it is, we’ll do an update.

6/25/07, 2:00 p.m. UPDATE: Good news! Mike Allen, attorney for the City retirees, just returned our call and agreed to provide this update. He said that since last Monday’s Channel 5 broadcast, Norwood has paid everything due through the month of May. That leaves June’s reimbursements, which aren’t past due just yet. With the City’s quick attention to this matter, the retirees aren’t pursuing a meeting with City officials at this time. Mr. Allen complimented Finance Committee Chairperson Joe Sanker for taking on the cause by making sure funds were made available to make the payments. Law Director Rick Gibson also got some praise for letting it be known at City Hall that Norwood has a legal obligation to fulfill its contractual agreement with the retirees.

Mr. Allen’s experience with the media in his former role as Hamilton County Prosecutor tells him the Channel 5 broadcast had a lot to do with the quick, short term resolution of the retirees’ dilemma. He said ongoing monitoring is needed, however, so old patterns of delinquency don’t return after the “bright lights” of the media dim.

Free Computer Recycling Drop-Off through 12/28/07

Sponsored by the Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District

Acceptable Materials:
monitors, CPUs, hard drives, mice, keyboards, lap tops, docking stations, back-up batteries, power cords, speakers, modems, external hard drives, memory chips, storage chips, cellular phones, printers, scanners, and desk top fax machines

Hamilton County residents only!
Bring proof of residency, such as driver’s license or utility bill. This program prohibits the acceptance of computers from businesses, churches, schools, and non-profits. When dropping off materials, please remain in your car. Staff will be present to unload materials.

What happens to the computers?
Hard drives are either overwritten with Department of Defense approved software or shredded. Computers are disassembled and recycled or rebuilt and donated to non-profits and/or schools. Hamilton County is not responsible for the destruction of the hard drive and recycling of electronic equipment. Hamilton County is not liable for any data left on the hard drive.

When: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Closed Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day)
Where: Technology Recycling Group, 5139 Kieley Place,St. Bernard, OH 45217
1. Take the Norwood Lateral (Rt 562) to the Paddock Road (Rt 4) exit.
2. Go south on Paddock Road (Rt 4).
3. Turn right on Tennessee Avenue (Tennessee Avenue becomes Ross Road).
4. Turn right onto Kieley Place.
More information: 946-7766

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Just in - our roving reporter's account of Ward 4 meeting

A guesstimated 20-25 people attended Mr. Mumper’s ward meeting this morning at Linden Pointe. It wound up being held under a canopy outside the office building, rather than at the flatiron building replica. Among the city officials attending were Mayor Williams, Councilperson Joe Sanker, S/S Director Joe Geers, Development Director Rick Dettmer, and Clerk of Council Brian Mumper.

A representative from the developer Al Neyer, Inc. gave a presentation that included drawings of the project. It sounds like some of them came from this 12-page marketing brochure for the project, which we're linking to again for anyone who missed it in our earlier blog.

In a Q&A session following the presentation, concern was expressed about the impact a completed Linden Pointe would have on Montgomery Road traffic with Carthage Avenue being blocked off. A specific answer wasn’t offered by the developer, but he said he’s sure it will all work out. Regarding another concern, sidewalks around the development, there will be some around Phase I, but it’s too early to say about Phase II, which won’t start being built for a good long time.

So far, no tenants have signed up yet, but the developer thinks that will change now that Carthage Avenue is closed. Prospective tenants have wanted to actually see the closing before they would believe it.

Mr. Mumper was asked a question about businesses in Ward 4 that negatively affect the quality of life. One in particular, a roofing company at the corner of Quatman and Carthage, is one he said he’s been trying to get cleaned up since he was elected to council.

Mayor Williams remarked about a business at the corner of Montgomery Rd. & Slane Avenue the City has been successfully battling in court for several years. He’s looking at putting the owner in jail for about 6 months, if necessary.

That’s all, folks!

Hey, everybody, have you heard?

At this risk of getting fired, one of us just HAD to share this on a Saturday morning.

Friday, June 22, 2007

So, is Norwood a hot real estate market?

Today’s online edition of the Enquirer takes a detailed look at the Greater Cincinnati real estate market. Click here to compare Norwood’s 2006 average home prices and number of houses sold with other S.W. Ohio and N. KY neighborhoods. Then click here to find sales prices in your specific Norwood neighborhood.

The Enquirer’s research found that:

1. Between 2000 and 2005, equity in real estate turned out to be a surefire investment. In Greater Cincinnati, the average resale price of a single-family home rose 20 percent during that span to $191,225 from $159,125. In Northern Kentucky, the average price rose to $154,438, from $134,132, up 15 percent.

2. The mishmash of winners and losers produced a 5.9 percent drop in average resale prices in Hamilton, Butler, Clermont and Warren counties and a 1 percent gain in Northern Kentucky in 2006. For homeowners on the Ohio side, it was the first decline in home sale prices in more than 15 years.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ward 4 meeting to be at Linden Pointe’s reconstructed flatiron building

Ward 4 Councilperson John Mumper returned our call after he got back in town and left a message saying that this Saturday’s meeting (see 6/14/07 “John Mumper hosting…” blog below.) will most likely be in the flatiron building replica, which is the only finished building at the Linden Pointe development. Use the Ross Avenue entrance where there’s new asphalt. He’ll let us know if anything changes, and we’ll post it right away.

When: Saturday, June 23 at 10:00 a.m.
Where: flatiron building at Linden Pointe, Ross Ave. entrance
Light refreshments will be served.

Former invisible Allison principal trashes Norwood

Since when are we one of Ohio’s poorest school districts?

Thanks to a tip, here’s a gem of a story from the Dayton newspaper in which Kim Kappler, the former principal of Allison Elementary, states that Norwood is ranked 505th out of 610 schools districts in Ohio for median income. A quick look at the photo in the article shows Norwood isn't on either the top 20 or the bottom 20 list. Of course, this is not the first time we have seen reporting that doesn't jive with the stats. Fact is, the Ohio Department of Education website states Norwood spends $299 more per pupil on education than Oakwood.

Before the BOE finally kicked Kappler upstairs to an administrative position (wasn‘t it curriculum?), Allison Elementary parents were granted a meeting with Superintendent Collier and school board members Gay and Atwood. They voiced concerns about her condescending attitude, her inability to problem solve, her lack of elementary education experience before being named Allison principal, and her unusual behavior of telling students that when she was wearing her cloak, she was invisible. And who can forget her astonishing presentation to the BOE about “intelligences?”

Perhaps Ms. Kappler should stay invisible, or at the very least, silent. Her comments regarding Norwood residents/parents are inaccurate and, in the words of some Allison parents, condescending. Shame on her!

P.S. We had a little start up trouble with the headline link to the article. Please leave a comment if the link takes you to a registration page for the Dayton newspaper instead of to the actual article.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

City retirees claim Norwood is behind on health care reimbursements

Channel 5 investigation finds City officials finger pointing

We missed Channel 5’s Monday broadcast about Norwood allegedly not keeping its promise of late to reimburse 100% of the city’s retiree’s health care costs. According to their online transcript, when Target 5 started asking our officials about the matter, the buck seemed to stop nowhere with anyone. Finger pointing at City Hall? Who ever heard of such of thing? Come to think of it, though, it does kinda remind us of the time a certain unemployment claim…then there was the time a certain check…okay, enough of that.

Here’s a line from the transcript we found especially disturbing: “Retirees claim the city placed a cap on health care funding without their knowledge and that the cap means many of them will be out of medical coverage by the end of June.” A cap without their knowledge? If true, whose bright idea was that?

Apparently, since they aren’t getting answers from City officials, the retirees have retained the services of attorney Mike Allen, the former Hamilton County Prosecutor. Will we ever know who allowed the situation to get this bad, or will the fingers just continue to point?

C.O.A.S.T. takes jail tax fight to YouTube

If you’ve got a minute and six seconds to spare, check out this fast-paced anti-Portune and Pepper jail tax video. It’s pretty cleverly done.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

1900 block of Williams Ave. scene of 5:00 p.m. shooting

Fortunately, the 19 year-old victim, Anthony Lomboy, is expected to survive. Andrew Niehaus was later apprehended by the West Chester police and is expected to be charged with felonious assault. The NPD responded to a 911 call by the victim's mother. In Norwood, that means they might have gotten there in a couple of minutes, maybe even less. With such a quick arrest, it sounds like some great police work.

6/20/07 noon UPDATE: The Enquirer reports the shooting was the result of Andrew Niehaus’ botched home invasion. Obviously armed for the break-in, when he was surprised by the residents inside, he shot the 19-year-old. How many years can we hope this horrific crime is worth behind bars for Niehaus, assuming he’s the perp and convicted? Our hearts go out to Anthony Lomboy and his family.

March ’07 Norwood Police call stats

A monthly feature

The March NPD call report showed the highest number of total calls since we started this feature last August. We understand warmer weather can be a factor in higher criminal activity and call volume.

Total NPD calls:
August: 2,853 = 92 per day = 3.8 per hour
September: 2,688 = 89.6 per day = 3.73 per hour
October: 2,850 = 91.9 per day = 3.83 per hour
November: 2,407 = 80.2 per day = 3.34 per hour
December: 2,358 = 76.06 per day = 3.16 per hour
January: 2,546 = 82.1 per day = 3.42 per hour
February: 2,556 = 91.2 per day = 3.8 per hour
March: 2,927 = 94.4 per day = 3.93 per hour

Below are the number of calls for some of the more serious incident categories the NPD tracks. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to format with a chart. The first five sets of numbers below are for August through December ’06, followed by January through March ‘07 in this partial breakdown by categories of calls:

Auto Accidents: 78-78-70-75-74 - 2007: 69-80-69
Criminal Damage: 58-54-47-42-41 - 2007: 41-32-39
Dom. Violence: 35-34-39-20-27 - 2007: 25-24-30
Fights: 40-42-43-37-42 - 2007: 36-35-63
Burglary: 34-16-26-15-22 - 2007: 23-20-24
Traffic Stops: 298-184-317-287-189 - 2007: 248-208-324
DUI: 6-5-11-7-9 - 2007: 1-1-5
Assault: 20-26-29-14-14 - 2007: 22-21-17
Noise Complaints: 50-71-49-36-37 - 2007: 31-33-64
Theft: 145-102-139-125-105 - 2007: 106-80-96
Theft/Motor Vehicle: 21-12-14-7-12 - 2007: 10-10-12
Rape/Attempted Rape: 4-2-4-1-1 - 2007: 1-1-1**

**this number was in the “Sex/Crime” category. “Rape/Attempted Rape” category wasn’t in the March report.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Exclusive videos of yesterday's MIA/POW ceremony on YouTube

Unfortunately, the turnout for Rolling Thunder's MIA/POW Awareness ceremony at Victory Park was small, possibly because yesterday was also Father's Day. Our thanks to Rick for recording the event.

Clip A

Clip B

Sunday, June 17, 2007

We repeat ourselves: 16 Norwood COPP grads need 800MHZ radios!

In case any of our readers missed our 5/22/07 blog with the WNNA letter seeking donations for 800MHz handheld radios for the recent COPP grads, well, here we go again. Once these COPP folks hit our streets, scheduled for the end of this month, maybe their presence will dissuade miscreants from doing things like leaving fake bombs on residential streets for the sole purpose of causing community chaos and fright. But we need to make sure they’re armed with radios that will quickly summon the NPD to the scenes of suspected crimes they observe on their patrols. Donations for the cause are 100% tax deductible.

Donation information:

Make checks payable to: West Norwood Neighborhood Association COPP
Mail to: Mary Ann Teeter, City of Norwood Treasurer's Office, 4645 Montgomery Road,
Norwood Ohio 45212.
Mary Ann can be reached at 458-4580

Friday, June 15, 2007

11th Annual Norwood Citizens Car Show this weekend!

Maybe we need to get out more. We kept wondering when this year’s car show was scheduled. Finally, we called our local Quality Inn this morning to see if it was going to be held near their property like it was last year. We were told it’s this weekend at the Frisch’s parking lot next door. Just in case we weren’t the last people in Norwood know about the car show, here’s the event information:

Where: Frisch’s parking lot, 4765 Montgomery Rd.
When: Cruise-in and pre-registration tonight from 6:00 - 10:00 p.m. Dash plaques for the first 150 entries
Tomorrow, Saturday, all day starting at 8:00 a.m. for registration; 5:00 p.m. for awards presentations
Music will be provided by Warm 98

Our thanks to the Quality Inn for filling in the details!

Columbus Dispatch, not the Enquirer, reports on S.B. 117 passage

It shouldn’t be a suprise our searches of the Enquirer website keep netting a grand total of nothing on Senate Bill 117, but it is, at least, to us. So, we've provided the link to an article about it from today’s Columbus Dispatch in which the Ohio Municipal League’s executive director says the bill, just passed by the Ohio House, “doesn’t deal with maintaining institutional channels for government, schools and law enforcement.” The legislation is on its way back to Senate, where it will go to a conference committee if there are objections to the House version.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ohio House unanimously passed eminent domain legislation

What is it with Norwood and fake bombs?

Last November a bomb-like device was found on I71 near Edwards Road. Last night the bomb squad was called to blow one up found in the 4100 block of Floral Avenue. What the heck is going here?

John Mumper hosting Ward 4 meeting at Linden Pointe!

Opportunity for residents to preview the development

We were pleasantly surprised when a letter from Councilperson John Mumper announcing his upcoming Ward 4 meeting at the Linden Pointe development was read aloud during this past Tuesday’s council meeting. Although we didn‘t hear the phrase, “everyone is invited,” we’re guessing no one will be turned away.

The program will consist of a presentation by Doug Kramer who is with Al Neyer, Inc., developer of the project. There will be ample time for questions and answers following his presentation. To bone up on Linden Pointe in advance of the meeting, here’s a 12-page marketing brochure with interior and exterior renderings, an aerial view, etc. from the Neyer website.

When: Saturday, June 23 at 10:00 a.m.
Where: Linden Pointe, corner of Montgomery Rd. and the Norwood Lateral**
Light refreshments will be served.

**We have a call in to Mr. Mumper to get the exact location of the meeting on the site, even though we doubt anyone will get lost trying to find it. We'll post it if we hear back.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Latest Senate Bill 117 update

We just got the following good new/bad news email from Local Voice Ohio. From the looks of it, Norwood may continue to have three PEG channels for a few more years should the current version pass the House tomorrow. The funding looks shaky, though.

Dear Friends,

Well, the Public Interest took it on the chin yesterday in the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee.

We did make some minimal gains including:
1. A deadline of 60 days for video service providers to pay their franchise fees following the end of a quarter.
2. The Department of Commerce has been given enforcement authority over a limited set of customer service/consumer protection standards, with modest fines/penalties possible, collectible by court action.
3. Communities that have three or more PEG channels operating on January 1, 2007 can keep three of them on the basic tier. The rest go off to the digital gulag.
4. Video service providers have to accept PEG channel content and programming that at the least, meets the transmission standards of the national television standards committee in effect on the effective date of this section instead of in a format required by the company.
5. Video service providers must provide PEG transmission at no cost until the expiration date of a franchise agreement or until January 1, 2012, whichever comes first.
6. PEG funding still continues until the expiration date of a franchise agreement or until January 1, 2012, whichever comes first.

read more

9th Annual Rolling Thunder POW/MIA Awareness Run

This coming Sunday, Ohio Chapter 9 of Rolling Thunder will be assembling on their motorcycles for a one-hour, police-escorted ride through Norwood as part of their annual commemoration of our country’s soldiers who are still prisoners of war or missing in action. All cycle riders are welcome to join them on their ride, and everyone is invited to the Victory Park memorial service at the end of the ride.

When: Sunday, June 17
Ride starts: 12:00 noon at the Harley Davidson Store , 1799 Tennessee Ave.
Ride ends: 1:00 p.m. with a brief memorial service at Victory Park, Montgomery Rd. at Mills Ave.

Hometown hero Spc. Brandon Rork saves lives and his base

He says, “but I was just doing my job”

Today’s Enquirer recounts the dramatic story of how 24-year-old NHS graduate Spc. Brandon Rork saved Patrol Base Warrior Keep in Iraq and possibly every soldier in it from being blown to smithereens this past Sunday. Spotting a suspicious looking truck, he and a fellow soldier opened fire. It turned out the Iraqi driver was on a suicide mission, and the truck was loaded with 8,000 pounds of explosives. It’s hard to imagine these split-second, life or death decisions our soldiers have to make, but it certainly brings it into sharper focus when it’s one of our own averting disaster. We certainly join Spc. Rork's family, friends, and fellow surviving soldiers in celebrating his remarkable heroic deed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bessie’s COW Report for June

The 6/5/07 COW meeting kicked off with Chairperson John Mumper’s stunning announcement that he had just learned from Auditor of State official Dave Thompson that City Auditor Donnie Jones had missed the 5/31/07 deadline for submitting the 2006 GAP report. Fiscal Watch will stay in effect until this report is filed and reviewed by the AOS (see 6/3/07 “Fiscal Watch Watch“ blog.) According to Mr. Thompson, since Mr. Jones did not file for an extension, the state can apply penalties.

(Penalties? Horrors, just what we don’t need, more penalites! But it turns out they’re not as bad as some the City has suffered through. The AOS official I called a few days ago told me that if penalties are applied for Mr. Jones’ lateness, they will be in the neighborhood of $5.00 per day with a cap of $750. Not good, but not horrific, either, if the state decides to charge.)

Mr. Mumper said that he had also talked with Norwood’s Deputy Auditor and was told nothing had been done yet on the GAP report. In view of this, Mr. Mumper stated that it looks like it will be awhile before Fiscal Watch is over, which could hold up some development and several other things. He encouraged his fellow council members to encourage Mr. Jones to issue the report.

There was discussion about whether to pay an outside accounting firm to do the GAP report, which Mr. Jones had mentioned as a possibility to Mr. Thompson. Councilperson Moore opined that finding such a firm wouldn’t require a nationwide search and that at least a quote for the job could be obtained locally.

(Norwood, a city still officially in Fiscal Watch, pay an outside firm to do what we pay an elected official to do? Horrors, just what don’t need, more unnecessary expenses! It turns out this expense could be just as bad as you might imagine. I suspect if the $50,000 quote I got is anywhere near the ballpark, this particular option is surely off the table. Why, that's more than Mr. Jones' salary for his city position! My source at the AOS did say, however, that it is not unusual for municipalities to contract for GAP reports.)

Mayor Williams, who was sitting next to Chairperson Mumper, looked rather somber, I thought, throughout the discussion about Mr. Jones’ delinquent report. He stated that the situation has caused a lot of frustration. Mr. Thompson told him that the City Auditor had asked him if the state could do the report. They could, of course, but they would charge for it. The mayor added that the free AOS technical services are over until they receive the GAP report.

Other agenda items that were covered:

1. City newspaper - Mr. Mumper stated that he forgot to ask the clerk of council secretary to send notices to department heads to find out what they would want in a city newsletter.

2. Red light cameras - Mr. Sanker said that there’s some state legislation in the works, so nothing should be done toward purchasing cameras until after it’s enacted.

3. Front porches - Instead of the City going through the involved process of designating historical areas, the Building Department’s Dan Blye will post general guidelines/suggestions residents can review when they come into the department for permits.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hot off the press - NCS treasurer publishes comprehensive financial data

School treasurer Tony Wright, working with at least one BOE member we’re aware of, compiled an array of NCS financial documents in the form of reports, graphs, and links and made them available here on the school district's website at the end of last week. We haven’t gone through everything yet, but we’ve looked at enough of it to know we’re impressed with the effort. This is certainly an idea whose time had come.

Two letters from Donna Laake on 6/12/07 council agenda

Topics: yardwaste and high grass abatement

In a letter to President of Council Jane Grote, Norwood Health Commissioner Donna Laake asks to speak to City Council about local yardwaste collection:

“I would like to address City Council at the June 12, 2007 meeting regarding Rumpke yardwaste collection, ongoing problems and possible solutions. My presentation should only take approximately 10 minutes followed by discussion with council members. Thank you in advance for consideration of this matter.”

The topic of Donna’s second letter is her request to have City Council authorize the Norwood Health Department to get the grass/weeds cut at 23 individual Norwood addresses and bill the owners:

“The owners of the properties have been notified that high grass and/or weeds were present and were given orders to abate the nuisance. The owners have not responded. After posting for five (5) days, Norwood Codified Ordinances allow the City to abate the nuisance and to pass on the cost of performing such labor to the owner of the property. I am requesting that City Council authorize Norwood Health Department to take such action as necessary to have the grass and/or weeds cut and to bill the owner of the property, per Section 1759.03(d) of the Norwood Codified Ordinances.”

23 Norwood property owners didn't respond to an order to cut their grass. What's up with that? Doesn't it cost a fortune when the City has to do it?

Norwood Health Dept. participating in Mercury Thermometer Exchange

June 22 deadline to trade in for a free digital thermometer

We just checked, and the Norwood Health Department still has supplies of digital thermometers available for residents who bring in their dangerous and now outlawed mercury thermometers to exchange. Digital thermometers can cost upwards of $7 - $8 retail, so this is a terrific deal. Just make sure they’re doublebagged in sealable baggies, like Ziploc, when you take them in.

When: now through Friday, June 22; Monday thru Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Where: Norwood Health Dept., 2059 Sherman Avenue
More information: 458-4600

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Cincinnati Beacon is ground zero on jail tax debate

The folks at The Cincinnati Beacon are doing an outstanding job of documenting their reasons for opposing the jail tax Commissioners Portune and Pepper recently voted to impose, despite the rejection it got from Hamilton County voters last November. Quite a few of their readers are posting comments arguing just as vehemently in favor of the tax.

Regardless of which side of the issue you’re on, you'll find lots of in depth information and opinion at The Beacon, including a critique of a letter (“Tim Burke is Wrong!”) Tim Burke, Chair of the Hamilton County Dem. Party, recently sent to members telling them why they should support the tax and not sign the petitions that are circulating to put this issue on the November ballot. Especially interesting is this report by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections commending the ongoing upgrades at the very old Queensgate jail facility, which is scheduled to close under the new jail plan. Their review found the facility 100% compliant with 62 areas that were looked at.

If you want to sign the petition and maybe even help collect signatures for it, click here for the locations and contact info.

6/11/07 UPDATE:
Today’s Enquirer has a long article and two editorials about the jail tax issue:

1. Front page of Local Section: “Anti-tax petitioners organize”
2. Editorial: The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction commended the Queensgate jail facility. The Enquirer editorial board toured the jail and reports it‘s “a rotting corpse.”
3. Guest editorial by Ed Rothenberg, coordinator of We Demand a Vote, entitled “Sales tax increase should be put to a vote”

Friday, June 08, 2007

Just in: Local Voice Ohio urges weekend calls/emails on S.B. 117

Below is an email we just received from Local Voice Ohio updating the status of Senate Bill 117 and urgently asking for our help over the weekend:

Dear Friends,

All the good work that you have put forth on SB 117 may be being undone as we speak in the halls of the Columbus Statehouse.

At last word, a deal had been struck between AT&T and the Governor's office on amending SB 117. The problem is, many areas of the public interest have been left out including:

1. Unconstitutional contract opt-out by cable companies

2. Meaningful customer service standards
3. Keep cities whole on franchise fees
4. Reasonable audit standards for monitoring cable companies
5. Preservation of PEG Access as we know it
6. Maintaining local institutional networks and free service for schools.

We need YOU one last time to call the members of the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee, the Governor and your Representative with the message attached to this phone list.

Then we need you to go to the LVO Action Page and send a fax/e-mail to the committee, the governor and your representative.

We need you now more than ever.

Make those calls this weekend!
Send those messages this weekend!

If not YOU, then who?
If not NOW, then when?

Is your teenager obeying Ohio‘s new driving law?

Last week, two teenage girls died in a tragic car accident in Colerain Township. The 16-year-old driver and his other two teenage passengers were injured. Sadly, it appears most of these deaths/injuries could have been prevented. According to Ohio House Bill 343, which took effect 4/6/07, there were 3 passengers too many in the car:

Probationary driver license holders under the age of 17 will not be permitted to operate a motor vehicle with more than one person who is not a family member in the vehicle, unless accompanied by the license holder's parent, guardian, or legal custodian.

The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles website has all the essentials of the new law, including frequently asked questions about it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Senate Bill 117 Update

Thanks to lots and lots of phone calls from members of the public, House Public Utilities Committee members have changed course: instead of having amendments and a vote yesterday, they will accept more testimony and will work on 20 amendments this week. Another committee meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. where it is likely the bill will be amended and passed.

Without the pressure from the phone calls to state reps., the public interest would have been lost on this bill. But it’s not over yet. Local Voice Ohio continues to follow the situation in Columbus and advises there will be a need for more phone calling from the public, and we’ll let you know when that is.

Drake Planetarium: ongoing investigation of disturbing radio emissions

Public invited to join planetary exploration June 28

Planetary investigator Sam Snork and his assistant Elmo are hard at work trying to find the source of some disturbing radio emissions. For the price of a $6 ticket, we’re all invited to join them as they explore each planet in our solar system, including frozen Pluto, the ringed beauty Saturn, and, of course, our very own, very special Earth. Will Sam and Elmo solve the mystery of the radio emissions? Here’s how to find out:

When: Thursday, June 28, 7:00 - 8:00 p.m
Where: Drake Planetarium at Norwood High School, 2020 Sherman Avenue
Tickets: $6 in advance, $7 at the door
Pre-registration is required; call 396-5578

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

X.U. announces massive multi-use “East Campus” at Montgomery & Dana

Norwood Café owner sells, last call around June 24

Today’s front page Enquirer describes a nearly 20-acre “East Campus” Xavier University plans to build on a site bounded by Dana and Cleneay Avenues and Montgomery Road after it acquires remaining parcels, at least some of which are homes located on the south side of Cleneay. Although details are sketchy at this point, X.U. “envisions a combination of stores, entertainment and apartments to serve both students and the surrounding neighborhood.” The new campus will straddle both Cincinnati and Norwood.

Except to say that he is “enthused” about the project, Mayor Tom Williams referred questions to Xavier officials because “it’s their development.” Norwood Café owner Charles Becker, who sold his bar to X.U. last week, said he plans to close around June 24 and then retire.

6/6/07 12:30 p.m. UPDATE: We just located this 9/13/06 article, “The new-look east side,” in the online student publication The Xavier University Newswire. Check out the three renderings of the proposed East Campus, especially the one featuring a retail area at the corner of Montgomery and Cleneay. Xavier students who have been serving on university committees and participating in focus groups have suggested retail businesses like a coffee shop, bar, video store, and dry cleaner for the project.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

S.B. 117 Action Alert: Ohio House vote may come as soon as tomorrow!

As we’ve reported previously, Ohio Senate Bill 117 would take away long standing local control of cable franchises resulting in an uncertain future for funding of public, educational and government (PEG) access channels. Control over funding will be in the hands of the Ohio Department of Commerce, an organization whose mission is to promote commerce, not the public interest. The future of Norwood Community Television will depend upon a "use it or lose it standard," rather than having it available for community, government and educational purposes when the community needs it.

S.B. 117 is expected to be out of committee this Wednesday. It could be voted on as early as Wednesday, but probably Thursday. Here are two easy ways Local Voice Ohio has provided to let Ohio State Reps. know how we feel about this bill:

1.) Contact the members of the House Public Utilities Committee today on this list, and let them know the following:
a.) Substitute Bill SB 117 does not make cities whole and needs serious amending.
b.) Ask them to support all of the amendments proposed by Local Voice Ohio and other coalition members which will make the bill one you can support.
c.) Let them know that Local Voice Ohio speaks for you on substitute bill SB 117.

2.) Click here for the Local Voice Ohio Action Page, where you can very quickly send an email and a fax to our House Rep. Tyrone Yates opposing the bill.

18- Hour Relay for Life at Shea Stadium

The American Cancer Society’s 6th Annual Relay for Life gets underway at 6:00 p.m. Friday, June 16 with an opening lap by cancer survivors around the track at Shea Stadium. After that, the challenge is on for each of the many 8-15 member volunteer teams to keep at least one of their walkers on the track at all times over the next 18 hours as a reminder that cancer is constant and never sleeps, either.

If you’d like to register a team or make a donation to support a team participating in the relay, click here for all the info. To date, almost $34,000 has been donated for this local event:

When: 6:00 p.m. Friday, June 15 through Saturday, June 16
Where: Shea Stadium on Harris Avenue
Contact: Brandon Jackson @ or 513-332-8535
Mary Deaton @ 513-259-0076 (cell) or 513-763-8555 (work)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Fiscal Watch Watch...

It appears the City is inching closer and closer to hearing the death knell for Fiscal Watch and kicking out the state…sorry, we mean, bidding a fond farewell to the state auditors. As we all know, the Auditor of State has been providing Norwood free technical services these last 2½ years, not the least of which was the voluminous Performance Audit.

At last month's 5/22/07 council meeting, AOS officials Dave Thompson and Anna Mary Thomas gave a presentation centered around their examination of City Auditor Donnie Jones‘ 2007 forecast. Thanks in large part to developer Jeff Anderson’s $3.5 million grant payoff to the City, the forecast shows a positive cash balance, obviously essential to having the Fiscal Watch designation lifted.

According to our AOS source, the state needs only two more documents from the City before our collective financial nightmare is over : 1.) Auditor Jones must submit a 2006 GAP (General Accepted Principles) report to the AOS, and then 2.) the City must formally request an analysis. With regard to the former, Mr. Thompson told council that as of a month ago, Mr. Jones was looking at how he would accomplish the GAP report, and our source told us a representative from Mr. Jones’ office met recently with an AOS official to discuss the matter.

As we understand it, there’s no need for the City to request an analysis until Mr. Jones submits the 2006 GAP report. We certainly hope he's burning a little midnight oil if that’s what it takes to get the job done.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Eminent domain bill passes Ohio Senate, would have protected Norwood holdons

Today’s Enquirer reports that yesterday, the Ohio Senate approved an eminent bill with new protections for Ohio property owners at both the local and state levels. Gone is the ability for governments to seize property if the primary reason is for economic development. Attorney Tim Burke lost the argument for economic development in the Norwood case when the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Ohio’s constitution does not allow that to be the primary reason for taking property.

Next, the House must pass a version of the bill, and that could take months. At issue are what percentage of a neighborhood must be “blighted” before eminent domain can be used, whether or not legal fees must be paid to litigants whose properties are wrongfully seized for public road projects, and who must sign off on eminent domain actions.

Although the Senate also voted to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would assure the new eminent law would be applied uniformly across the state, Rep. Bill Seitz says getting the required three-fifths majority vote in the House will be difficult.