Citizens For A Better Norwood

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Minority Report fails, petition drive continues

During last night’s council meeting, Councilperson Steve Thornbury introduced the Minority Report for the September 25 Committee of the Whole meeting when Hamilton County Public Health officials presented their health services. Both Mr. Thornbury and Councilperson Michael Gabbard signed the report, which essentially asked that Norwood City Council pass a resolution affirming continued funding of the Norwood Health Department as well as recommend that the Norwood Board of Health be encouraged to hire a new Health Commissioner.

Following a lengthy discussion during which Democratic council members Keith Moore, COW Chairperson John Mumper, and Joe Sanker agreed that the process of examining the merits of whether or not to keep the Norwood Health Department intact should proceed, though more quickly, the Minority Report failed to be accepted by a vote of 4 to 3 along party lines. Prior to the vote, Mr. Mumper announced that he would invite members of the Norwood Health Commission to appear at the October COW meeting on November 4, Election Day.

It’s worth noting that Mr. Mumper announced during the September 25 COW meeting that he did not intend to produce a report of the proceedings, and he did not place one on last night’s agenda for a vote. The Open Meetings Act of the Sunshine Laws requires minutes be filed and maintained of all public meetings, defined in an Ohio Sunshine Laws publication as “prearranged gatherings of a majority of the members of a public body to discuss or conduct public business.” We just spoke with a representative in the Ohio Attorney General’s office who confirmed that the September 25 COW meeting when 6 of 7 council members were present met the criteria for the definition of a public meeting and therefore require minutes of the proceedings. The representative emphasized that minutes are required of all prearranged meetings when a majority of council members are present to discuss/conduct public business.

Later in last night's meeting during New Business, Councilperson Michael Gabbard introduced the petition residents have been circulating for the last two weeks. The petition asks council to continue funding Norwood Health Department and to encourage the Norwood Board of Health to start the process of hiring a new Health Commissioner. Mr. Gabbard announced that he was submitting more than 1,300 signatures to council on behalf of the residents and that he will present more signatures at future council meetings as the petition drive continues.