Citizens For A Better Norwood

Friday, August 31, 2007

Xavier to host 2nd Evanswood Festival in Spring of ‘08

As many of us will recall, a brand new event called the Evanswood Festival was hosted by Xavier University on their campus in September of 2006, September 30 to be exact. Our own recollection from the publicity, billed as an idea that came from the Evanston-Norwood-Xavier (ENX) Leadership Academy, was that the Evanswood Festival was intended to be an annual event. Hoping to get some advance information about this year’s schedule, we made a call to Xavier recently and were referred to a Mr. Picket Slater Harrington (a charming man whose last name is “Slater Harrington” without the hyphen) with X.U.’s Community Building Institute. He told us there will be another Evanswood Festival, but it has been delayed until Spring, 2008. No date has been established yet, but we will stay in touch with Mr. Slater Harrington to get details as they become available. Click here for all the activities the 1st Evanswood Festival offered.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Norwood joins challenge to July census estimates

The City of Norwood is joining twenty-two Hamilton County communities in a challenge to July census estimates. The leaders of these communities believe flawed methodology is used that results in undercounted population. U.S. Census figures affect a community’s ability to obtain grants and other kinds of funding.

On 6/28/07, we published this chart showing Norwood’s estimated declining population figures each year since the 2000 U.S. Census. According to the July, 2006 estimate, Norwood’s population was 19,532, down 2.2% from the 2005 estimate and down 9.9% from the 2000 Census.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Urology Center’s Prostate Cancer Awareness 5K Run/Walk

At last night’s council meeting, Mayor Williams announced the first annual Prostate Cancer Awareness 5K Run/Walk, sponsored by Norwood’s Urology Center. All proceeds from these two non-competitive events will be donated to Wellness Community, a non-profit organizaton:

When: Saturday, September 8, 8:00 a.m.
Where: The Urology Center, Wall Street, Norwood
Online Registration: Click here. Shirts are guaranteed if you register online today.
Packet Pick Up and Late Registration: Saturday, September 8, 7:00 a.m.
Contact: Beth Bunce or Sandy Cathey, The Urology Center, 4700 Smith Road, Suite M; ph: 366-3400; fax: 366-4001

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Enquirer: Norwood’s Mary Wineberg poised for Sunday gold

The Enquirer is reporting that 27-year-old Norwood resident Mary Wineberg has run fast enough at the track and field world championships in Osaka, Japan to be in medal contention and has all but secured a spot on the U.S. 4x400 relay team favored to win the gold medal Sunday. Run, Mary, run! We’re pulling for you!

Auditor Jones reportedly still delinquent on 2006 GAP Report

Maybe Deputy Auditor Laake get it done

As everyone knows, Channel 12 reported last week that City Auditor Donnie Jones has been working 900 miles away as full time Treasurer for the City of Orlando, Florida. In his weekday absence from Norwood, it appears his City Auditor’s office has been failing to deduct proper payments from city employees’ wages to the point that warrants will be issued for employees whose child support payments aren’t caught up soon.

Not mentioned in the media coverage is the fact Mr. Jones missed the 5/31/07 deadline for submitting a GAP (General Accepted Principles) Report for 2006 with the Auditor of State. As Bessie reported in this 6/12/07 blog, the AOS can apply penalties up to $750 since he did not apply for a filing extension. Yesterday morning, our source at the AOS told us he had no knowledge of the report being filed yet. Why is this report so important to the City of Norwood? Because until it‘s completed and filed and analyzed by the AOS, Norwood will remain in Fiscal Watch, a status that can, among other things, wreak havoc on potential development. Our 6/3/07 blog reported the following:

“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.”

Auditor Jones told the Channel 12 reporter last week, “I've got immediate access wherever I am in the world. I've got blackberries, cell phone, any kind of access I need.” If he has any kind of access he needs, why have payments been delinquent, and why hasn’t he completed the 2006 GAP Report and turned it in? Does his tardiness have anything to do with why council has a resolution on tonight’s agenda that seeks to extend the free technical services the AOS provides under Fiscal Watch through June 30, 2008? But for Mr. Jones, wouldn’t the City likely be out of Fiscal Watch now?

Unlike here in Norwood, things are fine on the Florida end of Auditor Jones’ employment, according to this Orlando TV station’s report. Let’s hope they’re fine here soon, too, and that newly appointed Deputy Auditor Robert Laake made some headway yesterday on getting those delinquent child support payments current so our police officers and other employees are no longer under threat of arrest. Then, perhaps as soon as he’s taken care of all the delinquent payments for all the city employees, he can dig into getting that 2006 GAP Report done.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Auditor Donnie Jones appoints Robert Laake Dep. Auditor

The following letter, dated 8/20/07, appears on tomorrow night’s council meeting agenda. It is from City Auditor Donnie Jones to Council President Jane Grote and City Council and announces his appointment of Norwood resident Robert Laake, husband of Norwood Health Commissioner Donna Laake, to the position of Deputy Auditor. Mr. Laake succeeds the recently deceased long time Deputy Auditor Janet Kennedy, and he is on the job starting today.

August 20, 2007

Dear Jane and Members of Council:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Robert “Bob” Laake as the new Deputy Auditor for the City of Norwood. His first day will be Monday, August 27th. As many of you know this has been a very trying time for our office over the past years, and the appointment of Bob Laake is the first step in moving our department and this City forward.

I, the Administration, and City Council have all identified the need to fully utilize the City’s enterprise wide computer system as the first and most vital step towards being able to better manage the City operations. The new Deputy Auditor has been charged with working together with all departments across all lines of authority to make this a reality. Bob Laake brings a wealth of knowledge and private sector experience to the job, but most importantly he brings honesty, unquestioned integrity, an old fashioned work ethic, and the sincere desire to do the right thing for all the citizens of Norwood.

Bob Laake is a lifelong resident of Norwood (except for two years in the Army, followed by 1 ½ year period saving to buy a house in Norwood). He attended St. Elizabeth School and graduated from Norwood High School in 1968.

He is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Army where he served his country from November, 1971 thru November 1973.

read on

Excerpts from the NPD 2006 Annual Report

A weekly series - 3rd installment

This week, we’re featuring excerpts from the 3-page letter Lt. Paul Cain wrote to Chief Schlie outlining the responsibilities of the 1st Shift, or 1st Relief as he calls it, as well as tips on how we can avoid being victims of certain crimes. Lt. Cain’s letter is so packed with interesting information that we’ve included most of it:

Dear Chief Schlie:

The 1st Relief of the Norwood Police Department, aside from normal patrol duties, handles most of the miscellaneous errands within the department. Vehicle maintenance, for the most part, is coordinated with the Public Works garage by 1st Relief. We also keep electronic equipment in repair through Camp Safety Equipment Company and Moibilcomm. Evidence from most cases, which requires transport to the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office or the Cincinnati Health Department for processing, is also done by 1st Relief…

Parking complaints other than hazards, such as blocked hydrants, blocked driveways, cars blocking traffic of violations on the expressway are held for 1st Relief. These complaints mostly involve abandoned vehicles left on the streets, which are chalked and then tagged after one day, generally after two more days, the vehicle is impounded. Most of the impoundments originate from either complaints from citizens or officer-initiated investigations and result in the removal of many junk cars from our City streets, and thus reduce the amount of eyesores in our community.

The 1st Relief also assists the Norwood Mayor’s court in security when detail officers are not available. We also retrieve prisoners from other jurisdictions and locations such as the Hamilton County Justice Center for hearings in our Court. We also transport prisoners to the Justice Center and our Criminal Investigation Section as required.

…We are, as are almost all communities, seeing more and more counterfeit money. A majority of it passes at stores where customers are in line and hurried. It is a crime in which we all lose. A bit more precaution at the cash register could drastically reduce the traffic of counterfeit money If you suspect a bill is bogus, call the police.

read on

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Beacon: DeWine answers Pepper’s answers on jail tax

This week, The Cincinnati Beacon’s front page features their Monday interview with Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper on the jail tax and Tuesday’s response from jail tax opponent Commissioner Pat DeWine. We’ve read both pieces, will reread them a few times, and certainly recommend our readers take a look, too. We applaud The Beacon and the Commissioners for taking the time to give voters, at least some voters, the opportunity to become better informed about both sides of this complex issue.

Meanwhile, back here on the Norwood ranch, we have not been successful yet in getting any elected official from the pro-8 mill levy side to respond to Councilperson Schneider’s 8/17 guest blog below. Two have refused our invitations, and one we invited weeks ago to blog about it has not replied. However, we did learn in conversations with one of the two that no committee will be formed to promote the 8-mill levy as was done 3 years ago for the 14-mill levy. The feeling seemed to be that it’s just simply up to the voters to decide. We take it that may mean no town hall meetings on the issue, either. While we as voters may see this as a missed opportunity to become informed about the renewal levy, our pro-levy elected officials seem to see it as airing dirty laundry. Nonetheless, our invitations remain open to them.

To our reader who left a comment stating it would be nice if City Auditor Donnie Jones and/or City Treasurer Tim Malony would guest blog about the 8-mill levy, we agree. However, we have usually had great difficulty making contact with them. Now that the media has reported that Mr. Jones spends Monday through Friday at his full time job in Florida as Treasurer of the City of Orlando, contacting him may be in the realm of impossible. However, if anyone has his Florida address, let us know and we’ll send him an invitation to blog…or should we just send it to his office address with the City of Orlando?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Five have filed to run for two BOE seats

Today was the last day candidates could file for this year’s NCS Board of Education race. Five Norwood residents’ names appear on the Unofficial Candidate and Issues List on the Hamilton County Board of Elections website:

Lisa Baur
Lynn Ellis
Debi Gay (incumbent)
Rick Guy (incumbent)
Cheri Scott-Geraci

Channel 9: NPD arrest armed man this a.m.

In yet another dangerous episode that likely involved alcohol, the Norwood Police arrested an armed man in a Williams Avenue home this moning. Apparently summoned to the scene because of a dispute, police officers found multiple weapons inside and arrested a male suspect.

May ’07 Norwood Police call stats

A monthly feature

The May 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
April: 3,210 = 107 per day = 4.46 per hour
May: 3,341 = 107.8 per day = 4.49 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 May ‘07 in this partial breakdown by categories of calls:

Auto Accidents: 78-78-70-75-74 - 2007: 69-80-69-68-80
Criminal Damage: 58-54-47-42-41 - 2007: 41-32-39-53-46
Dom. Violence: 35-34-39-20-27 - 2007: 25-24-30-34-31
Fights: 40-42-43-37-42 - 2007: 36-35-63-56-70
Burglary: 34-16-26-15-22 - 2007: 23-20-24-19-24
Traffic Stops: 298-184-317-287-189 - 2007: 248-208-324-373-466
DUI: 6-5-11-7-9 - 2007: 1-1-5-9-10
Assault: 20-26-29-14-14 - 2007: 22-21-17-23-39
Noise Complaints: 50-71-49-36-37 - 2007: 31-33-64-66-78
Theft: 145-102-139-125-105 - 2007: 106-80-96-132-138
Theft/Motor Vehicle: 21-12-14-7-12 - 2007: 10-10-12-12-9
Rape/Attempted Rape: 4-2-4-1-1 - 2007: 1-1-1*-1*-1

* This number was in the “Sex/Crime” category. “Rape/Attempted Rape” category wasn’t in the report for the particular month.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hot off the press - City Wide Street Sale Directory

The number of sellers' addresses in the directory for this week's Semi-Annual Street Sale is a fraction of the number that appeared in the directory for the sale this past May. Is this a function of the ordinance authorizing the sale not making it to council's agenda until 8/14/07, just 10 days before the event? No one can know for sure, but we agree with our reader who commented under our 8/16 blog below that someone at City Hall needs to keep a calendar so future yard sale ordinances are approved weeks and not days in advance. Obviously, this has left little time for the city to publicize the event and for sellers to prepare.

It's not too late to pick up a free permit from City Hall:

Dates: Friday and Saturday, August 24 & 25
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Free Permits: Monday through Friday, 8:00 - 5:00 p.m., City Treasurer’s Office, 1st floor City Hall, 4645 Montgomery Road

Addendum: We just noticed our 8/16 street sale blog and the reader's comment referenced above is gone. Yesterday afternoon, we successfully installed the blogroll we've been talking about. However, that success resulted in a mysterious and unwelcomed reformatting of the template and the disappearance of our Haloscan comments box, our logo, and a few other features. Miraculously, we were able to restore everything sans the blogroll but are postposing the blogroll project for another day. All seemed well until one of us tried to publish this blog this morning. That, of course, led to a frantic effort to correct that problem. It's fixed, but the 8/16 blog was lost in the process, which we think is a small price to pay considering the several malfunctions that occurred.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Just in: Jane Grote calls 3 Emergency Special Council Meetings

That's right, not just Special; these are Emergency Special

Oh, Lord, what’s happened now with the levy resolution? We thought it was signed, sealed, and nearly delivered. After receiving an email this morning from the Clerk of Council’s office canceling tonight’s Special Council Meeting since the levy resolution passed at last night’s meeting, we’ve just received another stating:

"President of Council, Jane Grote has called an Emergency Special Meeting of Council for tonight at 7:00 PM in Council Chambers. There will be two more Emergency Special Meetings - one for tomorrow night at 7:00 PM and one for Thursday morning at 8:30 AM. These meetings are being called in regards to the Tax Levy Resolution."

2:45 p.m. UPDATE: Per our phone conversation with the Clerk of Council's office, the levy resolution passed at last night's Special Council Meeting was rejected by the Board of Elections today because where the word "additional" appeared erroneously in the text, the word "renewal" should have appeared. The Norwood Law Director's Office is, once again, correcting their mistake, and a corrected version of the resolution will be presented to council tonight.

2:30 p.m. UPDATE:
Per NCT, tonight's Emergency Special Council Meeting will not be televised.

Enquirer: Ruling soon for Norwood case holdons

The Enquirer is reporting that by September 25, Judge Beth Myers will issue a written ruling settling the issues between Rookwood Partners and Matthew and Sanae Ichikawa-Burton. The couple, along with the Gambles’ and Joe Horney, were victorious when the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in the Norwood case last year.

Norwood Service League’s new youth mentoring program

Recently, we talked with the Norwood Service League’s Program Director Lisa Quintanilla to find out more about their youth mentoring program. For once, our timing was pretty good because it just so happens they’re rolling out the new Young Navigator Youth Mentoring Program, and it might be just the right fulfilling volunteer opportunity some of our readers are looking for.

Lisa tells us this new community-based program will be for 2007-2008 Norwood High School students. Individual volunteers from the community will be linked with 10th grade students to provide consistent support, guidance, and concrete one-to-one help to encourage students to continue their education and set positive goals for their young adult lives. Mentors are encouraged to make contact with their student once a week and expose the student to an educational-based or activity twice a month. They are asked to make a one-year commitment of their time listening, building trust, establishing a relationship, supporting and guiding the students.

If you’d like to make a huge difference in the life of one of our 10th graders this year, call Lisa at 924-2560.

We want to wish the Norwood Service League a very Happy 90th Birthday. Lisa said that rather than celebrating this milestone with a single event, they’ve been celebrating it all year with a big “90th” banner at events they attend.

Council passes 2nd required 8-mill levy resolution

With all 7 members present at last night’s Special Council Meeting, the rules were suspended with a vote of 6 - 1 so that council was able to have both the 2nd and 3rd readings of Resolution A. below. It passed 6 -1. The City must deliver both levy resolutions and Dusty Rhodes' letter certifying the levy to the Board of Elections by this Thursday, August 23.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Excerpts from the NPD 2006 Annual Report

A weekly series - 2nd installment

This week, we’re featuring 1.) excerpts from Chief William Schlie’s letter to Safety/Service Director Joe Geers in which he provides staffing and shift information and describes his role and goals for the NPD and 2.) 2006 Total Incidents Report

1. Excerpts from Chief Schlie’s letter

Dear Mr. Geers:

The following is the Norwood Police Division’s Annual Report for the year ending December 3, 2006. The staffing of the Division is as follows: one (1) Chief, one (1) Captain, four (4) Lieutenants, eight (8) Sergeants, and thirty-eight (38) Police Officers for a total complement of fifty-two police officers.

…In 2006, I discussed the possibility of going back to rotating shifts, as well as, restructuring the department with my command staff. The decision was made at the end of 2006 that starting January 4, 2007, the Norwood Police Division would go back to shift rotation. By going to rotating shifts we were able to distribute years of service evenly among the shifts, while also helping to balance out the number of officers in the specialized areas on different shifts. I feel rotating shifts give individual officers the ability to experience a wide variety of police activities as it relates to each shift.

As the Chief of Police for the City of Norwood, I constantly strive to ensure the Norwood Police Division provides lawful and impartial police service to all members of our community, manage the delivery of police services from special interest, interference of pressures and at the same time, remain responsible to the legitimate requests and directions of my administrative superiors and to the needs of the community. It is also imperative to manage the affairs of the Norwood Police Division to assure the highest degree of integrity, trust, and conduct in all aspects of my professional and private life…

2. 2006 NPD Incident Totals

Total Incidents Received For Dispatch* ……33,800

Total 911 Calls Received**…………………........17,688

Traffic Citations - Total Charges……………........1,784

Parking Citations - Total Charges……………..... 2,818

Total Adult Arrests - Charges………………….......3,691

Total Juvenile Arrests - Charges………………....... 595

Total DUI Arrests - Charged……………………........ 104

*Only reflects calls received for dispatch or Officer initiated. It does not reflect back-up Officers’ Totals.

** Non-emergency calls are not counted.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Presenting…Vic Schneider’s guest blog

We want to thank Councilperson Schneider for accepting our invitation to tell our readers why he has consistently voted against the 8-mill renewal levy resolutions, the subjects of 6 Special Council Meetings and two more next Monday and Tuesday. For the other side of this coin, we also invited a council member who has voted in favor of the resolutions and are awaiting a reply.

Guest Blog
Victor Schneider
Council at Large,
Former Norwood mayor

Why vote yes? Why vote no? Hey, it is always easy to be a yes man. Just nod your head and agree. This is the easy, non-disruptive way to go through life. No enemies and no real impact. That is not what I want out of my elected officials for the City of Norwood, and I can't be that guy. When elected to office, one of the main duties is to protect the public’s interest. At times, that is confusing. Do you want a person that will ask questions and try to understand, or do you want a person that can be led around and told how to vote?

Most recently, the hot topic is the request by the Mayor to put the renewal of a tax levy, first passed in 1986 (21 years ago), on the ballot so the voters can decide. It is peppered with, “Do you want your streets repaired? Do you want city services improved? We need a new ambulance and we need money in reserve.” But the real question is are we providing the City’s residents with good stable government? Do we have the systems in place to handle the money that is being requested?

No! Over the past few years, the current council has worked to cut spending. They have worked to eliminate anything that was not critically necessary. These are the same actions that took place when GM moved out of the city. These are the same actions that have taken place every time that the City hits a financial LOW. We hit them every few years, and that is when you hear politicians running around telling you that the sky is falling. It happened recently, and anyone who has been involved with the City for years knows that every few years the cycle repeats itself.

Let's get off of that bus. The bus that goes over the hills and through the valleys.

My reason for voting NO on the renewal is to ask everyone in charge to start working to remove the City from the pattern of highs and lows. Norwood needs good financial planning and leadership. We need people and systems in place to help make educated, well-informed, decisions about how the City finances should be handled. Do we need a levy of 8 mills, or do we need one of 2 mills? WE just don't know. There was no information presented. There was no data presented utilizing the current year-to-date information. How can you vote yes to taxes when you don't have all of the information? My NO vote was a vote for more information, for more financial planning and for more leadership from our Mayor, Auditor and Treasurer. These are the people that should be working hard at this time to make sure the City's financial recovery is not just another hill that we are sitting on as the bus rolls toward the valley.

No matter which way you think this should go, I think we all agree that discussion plays a critical role in government. As a community we do not always agree on one solution to a problem. I know everyone in the City would like to know that tax money is actually needed and being spent wisely.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Special feature tomorrow: Vic Schneider's guest blog

Council-at- Large Vic Schneider accepted our invitation to tell us why he's consistently voted "no" on two 8-mill levy resolutions.

Beware of scams - Norwood's Leonard Burns got burned

Leonard Burns, a 72 year old Norwood man, was scammed out of thousands of dollars when he agreed to help a stranger give money to the poor. Mr. Burns was approached at the Dollar General Store on Montgomery Road. The suspect said he was going back to Africa and wanted to give away two rolls of $50,000 worth of money to the poor since he could not return to Africa with the money. Mr. Burns was asked to withdraw several thousands of dollars from his own bank account to prove that he was not poor and would indeed give the money to charity and not keep it for himself. Mr. Burns handed over his money, but instead of two $50,000 bank rolls, he received shredded paper. Another woman was also taken by the scam.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Norwood loses Janet Kennedy, long time public servant

Janet Kennedy, Norwood's Deputy Auditor for many years, lost her long and courageous battle with cancer this past Saturday. Visitation will be this Friday, August 17, at Naegele, Kleb & Ihlendorf Funeral Home, 3900 Montgomery Road from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. with the funeral service at 7:00 p.m.

More Special Meetings ahead for 8-mill renewal levy?

We’re still processing some of the drama of last night’s council meeting. Could it be at least one more Special Council Meeting will have to be called in order for the 8-mill renewal levy to appear on the November the ballot? The corrected Resolution A. was passed at Special Meeting #6 last Thursday, 8/9/07. However, a second resolution to put the levy on the ballot, which we reported on 7/17/07 must be passed, attached to Dusty Rhodes’ letter certifying the levy, and delivered to the Board of Elections by August 23rd, got only one reading last night.

Why was that? Well, Councilperson Keith Moore was absent (he announced at a previous meeting he would be out of town this week), and the motion to have all 3 readings failed for lack of the 6 votes necessary to pass it. And why was that? By now, everyone should know why. Because Mr. Schneider voted “no”…again.

Prior to the vote for 3 readings, Mr. Schneider repeated his previously stated objections to placing the renewal levy on the ballot; and, as always, Mr. Sanker was the first to answer them. Practically every council member and Mayor Williams followed suit, each seemingly trying to appeal to Mr. Schneider to join the “yes” pack. But he remained unmoved by their arguments, voted “no” to the 3 readings motion and then voted “no” again to Mr. Sanker’s subsequent motion for the 1st reading, which passed 5 - 1.

Is there any way to get this second required levy resolution passed in time without at least one more Special Council Meeting? It appears not, since the next regular council meeting isn’t until August 28, too late to meet the Board of Elections' August 23rd deadline. Mr. Schneider said he’s doing what his constituents want him to do, dig deeper into the budgetary process his colleagues and Mayor Williams are claiming support the need for the levy revenues. If that’s the case, they can’t be disappointed. He’s digging with everything he’s got all by his lonesome, which must make for a very hot seat he’s occupying these days.

8/15/07, 1:30 p.m. UPDATE: An email just in from the Clerk of Council states that two Special Council Meetings were scheduled during last night’s meeting for the second and third readings of the levy ordinance. Obviously, we missed that part of the meeting (that'll teach one of us to leave the room during the broadcast!), but here’s the schedule:

Monday, August 20, and Tuesday, August 21, both at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers for the readings of:


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

2007 State Report Card: NCS stays in Continuous Improvement

The Ohio Department of Education has just posted the 2006-2007 Report Cards online. Meeting only 19 of 30 indicators, with a Performance Index Score of 90.6 out of a possible 120, and failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress, Norwood City Schools remain stuck in Continuous Improvement, the designation they’ve had continuously since 2001. And this certainly doesn’t look good on the district’s report card: the District’s Improvement Status is tagged “At Risk.”

Click here for the good news, though, to see the data on each of our six 6 schools. Four achieved Effective ratings. Only Allison Elementary and Norwood Middle School were rated Continuous Improvement.

This Enquirer article has detail on how Cincinnati Public and other area districts fared on the their Report Cards.

Two public hearings on tonight’s council agenda

Can any of our readers shed some light on Public Hearing #2 below? Have there been tax budget hearings annually in years past, or is this a first?

1. Public Hearing on Seven Story Properties
2. Public Hearing on City of Norwood 2008 Tax Budget

Two Norwood youth earn "License to Read" & win grand prizes

Michelle Staggs and Emily S. (Emily's last name was omitted from the list of winners.) were two of 31,392 kids and teens who participated in The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s summer reading program “ReadQuest 2007: License to Read.” The program was based on a spy theme that included student-produced podcasts accessible 24/7, a spy video that played on YouTube, and electronic messages that ran on the Fountain Square LED video board.

All 42 branches of The Public Library offered incentives for the program. After completing all four levels of the program, “spy agents” Michelle and Emily became eligible to be in the random drawings for the Norwood Library‘s two grand prizes. Michelle won the bicycle for the kid category, and Emily won a digital camera for the teen category. Congratulations to you both for completing the program and keeping your eyes on the prizes!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Excerpts from the NPD 2006 Annual Report

A new weekly series

If you haven’t seen it yet, next time you’re at the Norwood Library with a few minutes to spare, ask the front desk for the 60-page 2006 NPD Annual Report. It‘s a fast and informative read. Along with a number of short statistical reports, it’s loaded with riveting anecdotes about foot and car chases, undercover drug investigations, the SWAT team, counterfeit money, tasers, homicide and robbery investigations, and the exploits of K9 Axel, etc., all submitted by the various officers in charge of the NPD’s 3 shifts and special crime fighting units. At times, it has the feel of a print version of TV’s “Cops” show that featured the NPD last year.

Over the next weeks, we‘re going to publish some of the statistical data and the accounts we found especially interesting. Most of them relate the extreme dangers our police officers face 24/7. As Officer DiPietrantonio with the Canine Unit wrote, “It seems that almost everyone is carrying a gun these days.” Chilling, but something we all need to keep in mind, too.

This week, we’re featuring The Norwood Drug Task Force, which conducted 148 drug investigations last year that resulted in 83 arrests and a total of 204 felony charges filed. Along the way, $56,254 worth of illegal drugs was confiscated, with black tar heroin ($20,300), powder cocaine ($10,380), and crack cocaine ($8,645) representing the lion’s share.

A number of the NDTF anecdotes credit tips and complaints from Norwood residents for having started investigations that led to arrests. These really build the case for citizen involvement in making our community a safer place for our children and ourselves:

1. Based on several complaints from neighbors and Norwood High School parents, NDTF executed as search warrant at 2028 Elm Avenue. Two subjects were arrested and a 20-year-old male was charged with several counts of Trafficking in Marijuana; he was specifically selling small baggies of marijuana to Norwood students.

read on

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cincinnati Beacon: Should Cincy take over Norwood?

That would be quite illegal, wouldn’t it?

Today’s Beacon article asks, “If Norwood and St. Bernard (the only other Hamilton County cities) were created by corporations trying to stay separate from Cincinnati government, was that a good idea? Does it continue to be a good idea? Would it be more beneficial to all parties if these two cities stayed separate, or should Cincinnati engage a takeover?”

The last time we checked with a couple of local attorneys, one a former Norwood Law Director, the only way Norwood could become part of Cincinnati is if Norwood voters approve a ballot issue making it so. If any of our readers know differently, please leave a comment. Also, the Beacon would welcome comments from Norwood historians who can shed some light on the motives of those who originally incorporated our city.

As for whether or not it’s a good idea to stay separate from Cincinnati government, we'll start with this: what Norwood resident would like to have a Cincinnati fire truck show up when what you urgently need is a NFD ambulance with the current 3-minute response time?

Dusty Rhodes tells BOCC easiest way to save costs

Maybe they should seek Norwood’s advice, too.

Now, here‘s some common sense that works without fail every time: “The easiest way to cut costs is to stop doing the things you are not required to do.” So stated Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes in a letter to the Hamilton County Commissioners, published yesterday at the Cincinnati Beacon. Responding to the commissioners’ written request for his reaction to lists of possible cost-saving ideas, Mr. Rhodes was critical of unnecessary “feel good” projects and other nonessential spending: free police service to selected areas, emergency sirens purchased for selected communities, development of Cincinnati’s waterfront, employee tuition reimbursement, excessive costs ($12+ million over 6 years) for outside counsel, etc.

We’re all painfully aware of Norwood‘s rocky financial ride over the last 6+ years. Certainly our own elected officials know a thing or two about the good, the bad, and the ugly of trying to save costs. Maybe Todd Portune should copy the commissioners’ letter to a few of them.

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's official - council passes corrected 8-mill levy resolution

Last night's Special Council Meeting, the 3rd and surely the last in 2 rounds of Special Meetings to pass the 8-mill levy resolution, wasn't televised. We just learned from the Clerk of Council's office that all 7 council members were present and voted 6-1 in favor of the resolution, with Mr. Schneider voting "no" again. We have changed the ORC in Section 1. of Resolution A. from "Section 5705.21" to the correct "Section 5705.19(a)."

Blood donation at Norwood Joseph-Beth = ½ price ticket to Dracula

According to the 8/3/07 Playhouse in the Park press release, they, The Hoxworth Blood Center, and Joseph-Beth have teamed up to provide next week’s blood donors with half-price tickets to select September performances of the Playhouse’s season opener Dracula. Next Tuesday, August 14, the Hoxworth Bloodmobile will be in the parking lot near Joseph-Beth from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Dracula himself will be there adding a nice, scary touch to the occasion. Donors will also receive a 20% off coupon from the book store. If next Tuesday doesn’t suit to donate, maybe one of the other two dates/locations below will fit your schedule. Click here for more details about how to donate, online appointment scheduling, the ½ price ticket vouchers, performance dates of Dracula, etc.

Blood Drive Dates:
- Monday, August 13 at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
- Tuesday, August 14 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Pavilion
- Wednesday, August 15 at Deerfield Towne Center in Mason
Times: 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. (donation appointments available every 15 minutes)
Contact: Hoxworth Reservation Line: (513) 558-1287
- Appointments are strongly recommended

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cincinnati Beacon needs donations to help pay for new server

We want to let any of our readers who enjoy The Cincinnati Beacon as much as we do know they’ve outgrown their shared server and must now pay for a virtual private server. In short, they’ve been evicted for too high resource usage due to increased popularity, so they need donations in order to pay the rent on the new expensive server. Click here, then click on “Make a Donation” if you’d like to help out.

NHS Marching Band washing cars this Saturday

For the price of a donation, we can get our cars all cleaned up and support this NHS Marching Band’s fundraising effort. And get there early before the heat of the day sets in.

When: Saturday, August 11, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Where: parking lot at LaRosa’s, 4702 Montgomery Rd.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Building Cincinnati put us on their blogroll

We awoke this morning to find that Kevin LeMaster had added us to his Building Cincinnati blogroll, so we promptly emailed him a big thank you. We first encountered his wonderful blog on The Cincinnati Beacon’s blogroll but had no idea he was visiting us here in Norwood until he left a nice comment under our “Welcome to the second year…” blog below. Building Cincinnati was recently voted one of the ten best blogs in the Cincinnati Blog Contest. You’ll understand why as soon as you visit.

We don’t want to leave out Ryan Dlugosz, a Cincinnati freelance photographer, and his amazing RRD Photo blog. Ryan left us a nice message, too, and then mentioned us on his blog. Be sure to visit him, too.

As we said to Kevin in our email, we’re now inspired to start our own blogroll as soon as we (make that Rick) figure out how to do it. Let us know what local blogs you enjoy reading, and we’ll see if we (Rick) can add them.

8/9/07 UPDATE: On a related matter, we’ve just made another shocking but pleasant discovery - we’ve been added to a website named, which publishes top stories every day from 12 Cincinnati blogs as well as from our own about Norwood. (Very interesting…who submitted our blog? We’ll have to get our crack investigative unit on this. But wait, maybe this is a clue: we see Building Cincinnati is there, too.) There’s also another “top 10” blog named My Wine Education and a blog for Reds’ fans called The Reds Rockets. Plus, with the Price Hill blog, maybe we can start to know what’s going on in Price Hill besides what the Enquirer feeds us. We certainly see some candidates for our upcoming blogroll.

Norwood resident Mary Wineberg might be in 2008 Olympics

Calling herself “a late bloomer” as a runner, Mary Wineberg, a 2002 U.C. graduate, has improved her times so much that she qualified for the 400-meters and 4X400 at the world championships in Osaka, Japan at the end of August. This bodes well for her for next summer’s Olympics in Beijing. We’re pulling for you, Mary!

Levy resolution needs two more Special Council Meetings

That’ll be 6 total to get it right

Last night’s Special Council Meeting to consider a revised Resolution A. correcting the ORC reference in the original 8-mill levy resolution that passed 7/23/07 was excruciating to watch. It was so excruciating we just cannot fully describe it, but here’s a taste of how things unfolded for anyone who missed it:

Mayor Williams was out of town, so Council President Jane Grote subbed for him, and Councilperson Keith Moore presided in her place. Ms. Kelly was absent, Mr. Sanker was late, so an early motion by Mr. Mumper to have all 3 readings wasn’t put to a vote for lack of the requisite 6 council members being present to pass it. Then Mr. Barlow make a motion for a 1st reading, but there was no 2nd. Then Mr. Sanker arrived and made a motion for all 3 readings, seconded by Mr. Mumper, but it failed because the vote was 5 to 1 with Mr. Schneider casting the only “no” vote…again.

Mr. Schneider then set about explaining again why he continues to oppose the 8-mill levy renewal, and Mr. Sanker, as in meetings past, answered him. Finally, a resolution for a 1st reading passed, and finally, 2 more Special Council Meeting dates were nailed down. There still won’t be the 6 needed tonight to have both the 2nd and 3rd readings because Mr. Mumper won’t be present, and it certainly looks like Mr. Schneider will continue to cast “no” votes.

Mr. Mumper explained early in the meeting that our Law Director’s office wrote the wrong ORC reference into the original Resolution A. After council passed it 7/23/07 and sent it to the Hamilton County Auditor’s office for certification, that office caught the ORC error and rejected the resolution outright. Mr. Schneider’s take on this? “This clearly shows we need to have our house in order…we’re running into problems with not getting things done at a level they should be…” Amen, to that.

Next two Special Council Meetings:
1. Tonight, August 8, at 8:00 p.m.
2. Tomorrow, August 9, at 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

June 07 NFD Activities and Statistics Report

A new monthly feature

We thought our readers, like us, would like to know more about the Norwood Fire Department’s many activities and how they are tracked. We are all fortunate, indeed, to live in a community in which an ambulance or fire truck can be summoned and arrive in 3 minutes on average. This monthly NFD report is brief enough that we can publish it in its entirety, though we are formatting it just a little differently from the original:

A. Total of emergency responses for the month of June = 376

Medic Runs = 273

Fire Runs = 103 w/breakdown by incident type
Average Response Time on Runs = 3 minutes, 02 seconds (city-wide)

Number of incidents by type:
Fire Runs – 19 - (Building, Vehicle, Brush, etc.)
Overpressure, Explosion - 0
Rescue & Medic Unit Assists – 33 - (lock-in, extrications, traffic accidents, etc.)
Hazardous Conditions (no fire) - 9 - (power lines down, arcing, spills, etc.)
Service Call – 6 - (smoke removal)
Good Intent – 4 - (odor of smoke, controlled burning)
False Alarms – 28 - (false alarms, system malfunctions, smoke detector activated, etc.)
Special Incident - 4

B. Total Bureau of Fire Safety Inspections/Activities w/Breakdown = 648

1.) Bureau of Fire Safety Activities and Number of Activities:
Total Inspections – 107 (residential, schools, churches, businesses)
Total Violations – issued 286
Total Violations – corrected 143
Total Block Inspections 13 (Unit #1, Unit #2, Unit #3 – Rental & multi-family)

2.) Breakdown of Fire Division Events:
Fire Drill & Evacuation @ Cornerstone
Continuing Education
Safety Meetings
Hamilton County Fire Chief’s Meetings
Eastern Fire Chief’s Meeting
May Day Class at Reading
CPR Classes

Norwood’s Lauren Brady one of 3 UC students awarded $16,500

Lauren Brady, an early childhood education major at UC, was recently chosen by the College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services to receive the 2007 Pearl M. Wright Award. The award honors UC students in her major who “show a special talent and dedication to teaching the youngest learners.” The $16,500 Lauren will receive can be applied toward her senior year of tuition, fees and living expenses. If they haven't already, we suggest NCS start trying to recruit this promising future teacher soon so our own little ones can have the benefit of her special talent and dedication. Congratulations, Lauren, for being recognized with this major award!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Just in: Special council meeting 8/7 to fix tax levy resolution

We just learned from the Clerk of Council’s office that Council President Jane Grote has called a Special Meeting tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. prior to the 7:30 p.m. COW meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to present a revised version of Resolution A. that corrects the Ohio Revised Code section that was wrong in the version council passed two weeks ago on July 23rd.

PP&M’s Peter Yarrow coming to Norwood Joseph-Beth 8/26!

Now this is something to die for if you’re an old sixties folkie like one of…well, like some people we know. At long last, the endearing tale of Puff the Magic Dragon will live on in a picture book as well as the music Peter Yarrow wrote for Lenny Lipton's poem. It includes a CD, too, of Yarrow singing the song as part of a trio that includes his daughter. Here’s when he’ll be discussing the new book and signing it:

When: Sunday, August 26 at 1:00 p.m.
Where: Norwood Joseph-Beth at Rookwood Pavilion

Update on this Saturday’s cruise-in car show/car wash

Jami Mazza with Precious Chances, sponsor of this event, tells us the silent auction has been cancelled. New additions are a bake sale, cookout food, and a free raffle ticket for everyone who has a vehicle in the show. Hourly drawings will start at noon. A portion of the proceeds raised from the car show/car wash will help fund Halloween and Christmas parties for patients at Children’s Hospital.

When: Saturday, August 11; 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Where: Quality Inn, 4747 Montgomery Road
Admission: a donation
Car wash: noon to 5:00 p.m.
Extra’s: bake sale; cookout food and drinks for sale
More information: Jamie at 709-4151 or

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Something cool and refreshing to relax with in this brutal heat

Don't worry if it gets stuck in your head. It's not unpleasant and should clear up in a couple of days, maybe a week in some extreme cases.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Incumbent Rick Guy files for Norwood BOE race

Now there are two

The Hamilton County Board of Elections tells us current BOE President Rick Guy has officially filed for this year’s race. To date, the only other Board of Education candidate who has filed is Cheri Scott-Geraci, which we reported several weeks ago.

Click here if you missed our previous blog naming the candidates who filed for Norwood city offices.

Cincinnati Show Choir bringing Broadway to Norwood next Friday

Oh-our-gosh, this is really, REALLY going to be a terrific musical extravanza for everyone! Grace Church is having a Summer Family Show, and the Cincinnati Show Choir, directed by Chester Imhausen, will be singing and dancing their way through some of Broadway’s greatest hits. To get an idea what musical treats lie ahead, here’s the Show Choir’s current repertoire.

Won’t the kids just love this? And won’t at least one of us so-called adults just flip out if they do Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time” or “You’re the One That I Want?” This is not to be missed:

When: Friday, August 10, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Grace Church, 2221 Slane Avenue
Admission: Free will offerings accepted
Grace Church is handicapped accessible. For more information, call 531-3253

Thursday, August 02, 2007

38,000+ petition signatures put jail tax on November ballot

The Board of Elections will announce the exact number of valid signatures tomorrow at 11:00 a.m., but for now they have verified that more than 38,000 are valid. The number needed to get the 0.5 percent sales tax on the November ballot is 28,750.

Welcome to the second year of our web log!

A year ago today, we launched into the blogosphere with this first entry. Here we are a year later posting this, our 281st blog. Perhaps the biggest thing we’ve learned along the way is there’s usually so much going on in Norwood politically, socially, and otherwise that it’s impossible to blog about everything. That’s why we welcome the future city-produced newsletter council has been talking about, and we hope the new “Norwood Times” takes off. Norwood residents are overdue a variety of local media sources dedicated to sharing information, the good and sometimes not so good news about our community.

Speaking of information, we appreciate all who have supported our blog this past year by letting us know about local events and other newsworthy items. Keep ‘em coming by emailing us at Our thanks, too, to city and school officials and others for talking to us about local issues and for being willing, in many cases, to “go on the record.” And, of course, a big thank you goes to everyone who takes the time to stop by and visit. We hope you keep coming back.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Norwood's Jerome Dickson volunteers for Huntington’s disease study

Norwood resident Jerome Dickson, only 33 years old, has been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, the same disease that ended his mother’s life 6 years ago. He and his father didn’t hesitate to volunteer when the doctor told them about the study. Jerome knows the findings probably won’t help him, but they might help the next generation of people at risk for Huntington’s. What acts of selflessness. Our hearts go out to Jerome Dickson and his family for all they're enduring.

And don’t let the bed bugs bite…

We first heard about bed bugs making a comeback in New York last year. Now they’re in Cincinnati, but they’ve also debuted here in Norwood, too, according to one of our local Health Dept. nurses. They don’t just randomly invade homes or travel from house to house on a street on their own steam. Thankfully, bed bugs are fairly lazy, so they require free transportation into our bedrooms, often inside used mattresses, box springs, or upholstered furniture purchased at secondhand shops. They’re showing up in hotels, too, so even after you’ve done a thorough bed check, keep your suitcases away from the bed so you don’t bring them home. Call the Norwood Health Department at 458-4600 if you or someone you know has these unwanted visitors. Tell them you just got back from a week of Broadway plays and must have brought them home from the Waldorf-Astoria. We're kidding, of course. Always tell the truth, but it would be fun to see who would laugh first.