Citizens For A Better Norwood

Friday, April 29, 2011

March 2011 report for Keep Our Property Safe Program

A monthly feature

In March 2011 the KOPS (Police, Building & Property Maintenance, Fire and Health Departments) visited the following 26 properties that were selected by the Norwood Police Department as habitual offenders:

2422 Quatman Avenue
2424 Quatman Avenue
2000 Elm Avenue Apartment #3
2000 Elm Avenue Apartment #4
2000 Elm Avenue Apartment #5
2000 Elm Avenue Apartment #6
4413 Allison Avenue
3940-42 Spencer Avenue
4110 Lowry Avenue
4108 Lowry Avenue
4112 Lowry Avenue
4005 Lowry Avenue
4007 Lowry Avenue
1833 Elm Avenue #2
2318 Highland Avenue
27151/2 Harrison Avenue
4763 Woodlawn Avenue
5463 Montgomery Avenue
2132 Quatman Avenue
5312 Carthage Avenue
5315 Carthage Avenue
5310 Carthage Avenue
5308 Carthage Avenue
5354 O’Brien Place
2354 Norwood Avenue
2272 Norwood Avenue

These inspections resulted in all properties being issued orders.

Respectfully Submitted,

Gerry Stoker, Building Commissioner
City of Norwood

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rookwood Commons’ Charming Charlie robbed at gunpoint

According to this Enquirer article, women’s clothing store Charming Charlie next to Whole Foods Market at Rookwood Commons was robbed at gunpoint yesterday 10:30 a.m. Two men entered the store, displayed handguns, and then fled with cash. The men are described as black and 6 feet tall. One wore a black-hooded sweatshirt, and the other wore a red-hooded sweatshirt.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chief of Police Schlie to retire May 20th

During last night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Williams announced that Chief William Schlie is retiring May 20th after 43 years with the Norwood Police Department. He served as chief for the last 11 years. We thank him for his many years of service to our community and wish him well in his retirement.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Norwood awarded $234K from Clean Ohio Assistance Fund

According to this Enquirer article, the City of Norwood will receive more than $234,000 from the state’s Clean Ohio Assistance Fund to conduct an environmental assessment of the 6.5-acre site of the former American Laundry facility on Section Avenue. Neyer Properties has been assembling that land and surrounding cress for construction of a $13 million office campus called Central Pointe on the Lateral. Construction will begin this summer on the first of two 22,000 square-foot buildings on the northern section of the property along Ross Avenue which previously held the Norco manufacturing plant.

Once the American Laundry assessment is complete, Norwood will apply to the state for a Revitalization Fund grant to get that site ready to develop too, said Jeff Chamot, a developer with Neyer Properties. Neyer plans for two additional buildings of 50,000 and 30,000 square feet. The firm has already secured its first tenant, SRW Environmental Services, for 12,000 square feet in the west building on the Norco site.

Norwood students share their thoughts about NCS levy

Guest blog by Norwood Middle School students

Why We Are Worth It

We cried when we read the article “Superintendent Presents Case for Emergency Levy” in the March edition of the Norwood Star. We can’t imagine what school would be like without libraries or technology courses, or with less teachers and more students per classroom.

We are students from the Newspaper Club at the Norwood Middle School. We value our current class sizes and the teachers who have helped us with our education over the years.

Having visited a few other schools, we are aware that some school districts have more equipment and resources than we do (like smart boards in every classroom and computers that are much, much newer), but what we do have in our schools we very much appreciate. We hope that citizens in our community will vote for the levy. Please don’t allow our education opportunities to fall backward.

For less than the cost of one family trip to McDonald’s per month, voters can choose to keep what we have so that our education experience will not be damaged.

Our community was named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People in America because of the way people in our town work together to help kids have a chance in life. The levy is one of the times our community can pull together for a successful result.

We are not perfect, but we want to succeed. We (students) are the next generation. We impact safety and property values. A better education can help lower crime rates. When our community shows that they believe our education is important, it helps everyone in Norwood.

We need voter support. We love our teachers and we don’t want to lose them. We can’t learn as much as we’d like to with overcrowded classrooms.

We are 13 years old. We have dreams and goals for our futures. One day we will be voters like you, but for now we are kids trying to find our way. We are worth your time to vote and we will make you proud with our grades and accomplishments.

Please agree that we are worth it by voting “yes” on May 3.

Thank you.

Sara, Hannah, Briana, Talianna, and Alyssa

Monday, April 25, 2011

Developer to break ground on Rookwood Exchange this fall

The Business Courier is reporting that Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate, Inc. plans to start construction of Rookwood Exchange this fall. The company is within days of lining up its financing for the project. Included in the plans are a 146-room Courtyard Marriott hotel, a 16-screen movie theater, two upscale restaurants, and two parking structures totaling 1,800 spaces. Within 3 years, a second hotel, 2 more restaurants and up to 320,000 square feet of office space are planned.

Copper thieves caught on video

Do you recognize the two men stealing copper in this Channel 5 video? Norwood police say they burglarized Perry and Derrick at 2511 Highland Ave. and Metro Container 4927 Beech St. About $50,000 worth of copper insulated copper wire was taken. Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 513-352-3040.

This week at the Norwood Branch Library

Wednesday, April 27
Movers and Shakers Storytime
10:00 a.m., Ages 1-4 with adult

Preschool Storytime
10:30 a.m., Ages 3-6

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ham. Co. property values down 7.7%, Norwood down 9.81%

Click to enlarge and compare Norwood with surrounding neighborhoods

Yesterday's Enquirer announced (we can't get the link to publish) that the once every-six-year property reassessment conducted by the Hamilton County Auditor found that the county’s property is now worth $57.6 billion, a 7.7% drop or $5 billion less than the previous year’s assessment. Every city and township saw overall declines that will have huge repercussions for taxpayers, governments, and real estate buyers and sellers. According to the Enquirer, “For taxpayers, the lower assessed values may, ironically, mean higher tax rates - thought not necessarily higher tax bills. When voters pass levies for schools or police or roads those levies are for set dollar amounts. As assessed values fall, each property, on average, will have to chip in a higher percent of the home's value to ensure the levy brings in what it's supposed to. Those with properties whose value declined less than their neighbors will end up paying more taxes; those whose properties declined more than their neighbors will pay less.” Norwood properties are down 9.81% from last year.

Relief: Jospeh-Beth Booksellers at Rookwood to stay open

The Business Courier is reporting that Joseph-Beth Booksellers LLC and its affiliated entities sold their stores in Norwood, Cincinnati and Cleveland to Booksellers Enterprises LLC, a newly formed Lexington-based entity at an auction Wednesday. The auction was the result of Joseph-Beth’s November 2010 bankruptcy filing.

Kroger using reusable bags decorated by Norwood students

Eight criminal justice majors from Xavier University spent three days with students from Norwood View Elementary, Sharpsburg Elementary, and Williams Elementary, teaching them about Earth Day. About 350 students decorated reusable grocery bags for the Kroger stores in Norwood, Hyde Park and Clifton to bag groceries on Earth Day, April 22.

A gift from Xavier 1955 alumnus Dr. Robert McDonald, Jr. provided funds for this project. His gift is to assist Xavier University faculty in educating their students to “lead lives of solidarity, service, and success” through innovative opportunities to work in kinship with the less served.

“Recognizing that a first step in becoming a good steward of God’s creation is preserving nature,” says Gail Hurst, chair of Xavier’s Criminal Justice Department. “The Criminal Justice Club paired Xavier students with elementary students in Norwood to promote recycling, love of the land and nature and conservation of energy on Earth Day April 22.”

The Ruth J. and Robert A. Conway Institute for Jesuit Education at Xavier University is a center of distinction, assisting educators in transforming students intellectually, morally, and spiritually in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition, while appropriating Ignatian pedagogy and spirituality in today's world. The Institute reaches beyond the Xavier campus with pedagogical innovations communicated locally, nationally, and internationally.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Watch: US Playing Card water tower torn down

Longtime US Playing Card employee and Norwood resident H.H. sent us a link to this video showing the US Playing Card’s landmark water tower being torn down on or about April 14th. We can’t locate any local media about the event. Did any of our readers see any coverage of it? It’s sad to see another Norwood landmark gone.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beware charity scams

Guest blog by Capt. George Schneider

There is a company sending mailers to Norwood residents asking for donations to Firefighters Charitable Association. This appears to be an IRS 501 C (3) organization, but the mailer is from a paid mailing company that keeps 75% of money collected, then forwards the rest to the Firefighters Charitable Association in New York. They are not endorsed or associated with any firefighters I can find. Search Firefighters Charitable Association Scam and you will get many hits. Several local police departments are looking into this organization.

After talking to Chief Goodman, Local 445, and the Norwood Firefighters Association Charity, none have ever heard of the Firefighters Charitable Association or offered any endorsement. The Norwood Firefighters Association Charity is a 501 C (3) that supports programs in our area, focusing on Norwood. They can be found at NFA donates all earned monies back to the community; all workers are volunteers. The NFA has donated over sixty thousand to Norwood High school Scholarship foundation, yearly donations to the Norwood recreation Commission, a big screen TV to the Senior Center, WII game consoles to Children’s Hospital, replaced/repaired a stolen ramp for Norwood handicapped, and many more. The NFA has a Golf Outing 30 April, visit their web site if you are interested.

In closing, neither the Norwood Fire Department nor Norwood Firefighters has ever allowed any other organization to use our name or raise funds. If you wonder if donations are legit, please ask us by calling 458-4520.

Capt. George Schneider
Norwood Fire Department

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Alert: fake health inspectors

Guest blog by Pamela Walker-Bauer

We have received reports from our colleagues around the State of Ohio that food operations are receiving phone calls from individuals claiming to be health inspector/sanitarians. These individuals identify themselves as "health inspectors," request to schedule an inspection of the food operation, and attempt to collect personal information from the operators. According to recent news reports, businesses are targeted to both extort money and allow the scammers to set up fake identities via Web sites in order to fraudulently sell goods and services, possibly on Craig’s List.

The Norwood Health Department wants to inform our food operators the importance of verifying credentials of anyone representing themselves as an inspector/sanitarian. The Norwood Health Department has only two individuals, Joe Chalfant, RS and myself, who hold the appropriate state licensure to legally inspect a food facility. In addition, restaurant owners and operators should not give out any personal, private, or secure information to anyone without confirming the person’s identity. Please contact us if you have any questions at 513.458.4600.

Pamela Walker-Bauer, MPH, RS
Health Commissioner
Norwood Health Department
2059 Sherman Avenue
Norwood, OH 45212

Caleb Tate Fuller Foundation announces plans for the year

Guest blog by Joyce McDowell

The Caleb Tate Fuller Foundation is excited to announce plans for this year’s activities. In lieu of our traditional “Forget-Me-Knot” Walk in May, the community is invited to join the “Forget-Me-Knot” team to walk in several local charitable events in memory of Caleb or their own special loved one. On May 7th, the “Forget-Me-Knot” team will join the Cancer Free Kid’s, “Butterfly Walk” at Cottell Park in Mason. We will also host a Bid & Buy at this event. 100% of these proceeds will be given for cancer and hematology research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. This event is special since many involved with the “Butterfly Walk” knew Caleb during his cancer treatment at Children’s Hospital. On May 13th, the “Forget-Me-Knot” Team will walk in the American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” at Shea Stadium in Norwood. There, the “Forget-Me-Knot” team will also provide inflatable rides and concessions with all proceeds from these activities being given to the American Cancer Society. Caleb will be honored at the luminary memorial ceremony that evening.

Monetary gifts made directly to the Caleb Tate Fuller Foundation this year will be used to fund community programs for kids provided and hosted directly by the Foundation. Among these will be the Mad Cap Puppet show, a Mad Science event, Darkness to Light sexual abuse prevention, Money Matters ten week financial literacy course for kids, book scholarships for college bound Norwood High School seniors and financial aid scholarships assisting students in attending local Christian schools grades K-12. New this year, financial aid scholarship applications can be downloaded online for any local Christian school. Finally, we will wrap up the walking season on October 15th with the “Forget-Me-Knot” team at “Cincinnati Walks” sponsored by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital at Coney Island. These proceeds will be given directly to StarShine Hospice which serves children (and their families) who suffer from life threatening illness.

The Caleb Tate Fuller Foundation is a local 501c3 charity established to fulfill a young boy’s request that he “not be forgotten” made during his heart wrenching battle with bone cancer. His family honors Caleb’s request by serving the spiritual, social and educational needs of other children in his memory. Others can remember Caleb or their own special loved one through posting a photo or remembrance on our website, walking on the “forget-Me-Knot” team, making a contribution to the Foundation or by volunteering at one of our community events. For more details contact Dr. Joyce McDowell at 513-631-4377, email or check out our website. You can also follow Caleb on Face Book. Please consider joining the “Forget-Me-Knot” team for any of these events as you are able.

A special “Thank You” to the community for its kind support of this Foundation. Our commitment remains strong as we have reached our 5th year of preserving Caleb’s memory through service to other children. Any contribution you can make in support of this year’s “Forget-Me-Knot” programming is sincerely appreciated as are your suggestions and ideas for future events.

Joyce McDowell
The Caleb Tate Fuller Foundation

Monday, April 18, 2011

March 2011 Earnings Tax Report

A monthly feature

Individual…………….$ 112,160.97
Business……………….$ 63,936.38
Withholding………….$ 774,134.67
TOTAL………………....$ 950,232.02

Collections thru March 2011….……….....…...........$3,178,472.46
Collections thru March 2010..............................$3,678,907.84
14 % decrease in collections over 2010.……………($500,435.38)

Dots opened at Surrey Square last week

Women’s fashion retailer Dots opened its ninth local store last Thursday at Surrey Square. The company’s website says it operates more than 400 stores, primarily on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Has anybody checked it out yet?

(h/t to A.M.)

This week at the Norwood Branch Library

Monday, April 18
Monday Evening Book Club
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 19
Family Nite!!
House of cards contest, card tricks, card games, and a free deck of cards!!
6:00-7:00 p.m., All Ages

Wednesday, April 20
Movers and Shakers Storytime
10:00 a.m., Ages 1-4 with adult

Preschool Storytime
10:30 p.m., Ages 3-6

Thursday, April 21
Teen Advisory Board Meeting
Help plan teen services
4:30 p.m., Grades 6-12

Saturday, April 16, 2011

City Council passes fire & police contracts

City Council just passed the amended fire and police contracts. The fire contract passed by a vote of 5 to1 with Donna Laake voting no and Victor Schneider abstaining. The police contract passed 5 to 2 with both Donna Laake and Victor Schneider voting no. Council also passed the ordinance authorizing the use of Fund 28 to pay utility bills. That vote was unanimous. John Mumper thanked the police and fire negotiators, Mayor Williams, and fellow council members who helped get everything resolved. Council President Jane Grote canceled the rest of the Special Council that had been scheduled.

Friday, April 15, 2011

“Void” stamped on one Norwood firefighter’s paycheck

According this Channel 5 report, Norwood firefighters received paychecks today, but at least one of those checks was stamped “void.” Capt. George Schneider told Channel 5, “I got one that says ‘void.’ I’m not sure about that.” He said most of the other firefighters got at least partial paychecks. A radio station reached out to the firefighters by bringing food to them this afternoon, plus one man handed Capt. Schneider $20 to go buy the guys pizza.

Recreation’s annual Easter Egg Hunt tomorrow

Kathy with Norwood Recreation tells us tomorrow’s Easter Egg Hunt at Waterworks Park on Harris Avenue is completely paid for by donations from local businesses, organizations, and individuals. Among the many sponsors are Walgreen’s, Norwood Knot Hole, Buskins Bakery, Skyline Chili, and Angelo’s Pizza.

The event gets underway at 9:30 a.m. when a rep. from Walgreen’s will take a free picture of each child with the Easter Bunny. The first pic is free; more can be ordered from the rep. for a charge and will be ready for pickup at a later date at the local Walgreen’s on Montgomery Rd. The Easter Egg Hunt starts at 10:00 a.m.

Time change for tomorrow's Special Council Meeting

Jane Grote, President of Norwood City Council, has changed the time of the Special Council Meeting in Council Chambers tomorrow, April 16, to discuss the 2011 Appropriations and Contract Modifications from 7:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

2011 Budget passes, shorter police and fire contracts presented

Last night, City Council voted to add newly amended police and fire union contracts to their agenda as the first items to be considered before tackling the 2011 budget and an ordinance to allow Fund 28 to be used to pay utility bills. The previous 2 union contracts, which were to run through 12/31/13 and would save the City $1 million this year alone, were rejected by the Republican majority of 4 on Tuesday night. Steve Thornbury and Donna Laake, in particular, have voiced objections to obligating the City to the 2 ½ year extension because of declining revenues. The new contracts were shortened by 1 year to run through 12/31/12.

During the discussion that followed, Mayor Williams told council that in addition to the shortened term, both contracts contained “no reopener” clauses because both unions want protection from reopened negotiations being used against them in the future. He said both unions stipulated that the contracts must be passed at that very meeting. Mr. Thornbury asked the mayor if the clause would preclude the possibility of more negotiations if the City’s financial condition worsened. Mayor Williams replied that he believed the unions would continue negotiating if needed because they don’t want to destroy their employer, the City.

Mr. Gabbard thanked the bargaining units for their new offers and said he was pleased. Last week, he had asked for a shorter term of 1 year. Adding that he trusted the unions would come back and talk, he announced that he would vote for the contracts.

Donna Laake stated that she did not believe the City could afford the amended contracts this year because she didn’t see any pot of money on the horizon to pay for them. Mr. Mumper said he did not understand that kind of thinking since both contracts together would save $1 million this year, meaning, of course, that if council doesn’t approve them, the unions’ current contracts would be in force without the savings.

After rejecting Mr. Sanker’s motions for 3rd and then 2nd readings of the new contracts, council voted for the 1st reading, with Mr. Thornbury and Mr. Gabbard voting with the 3 Democratic members.

Next, a motion for the 3rd reading of the 2011 budget ordinance passed. During that discussion, Ms. Laake stated she would be voting for the ordinance so that City employees could be paid. Mr. Mumper said he could not understand how anyone could support passing the budget containing the $1 million police and fire concessions without passing those very contracts first. A motion to pass the budget passed 5 to 2 with Mr. Moore voting with the 4 Republicans.

A motion for the 3rd reading of the ordinance to use Fund 28 to pay utility bills passed, but Mr. Schneider’s motion to pass the ordinance failed 4 to 3 because the emergency clause it contained required a supermajority vote of 5. Ms. Laake asked that the ordinance be reintroduced without the emergency clause at tonight’s Special Council meeting.

Click here for Channel 19's coverage of last night's meeting.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Highlights from last night’s Special Council Meeting

Okay, there weren't any highlights in what might have been the shortest City Council meeting ever. The meeting adjourned as soon as two motions to have the second readings of both the 2011 Appropriations and the ordinance to allow the City Auditor to use Fund 28 to pay bills passed unanimously without a word of discussion. Council President Jane Grote issued a reminder that sounded more like a warning that there would be another Special Council Meeting tonight at 7:30 and every night thereafter until the 2011 budget is passed. Is anyone as surprised as we were that no one moved to have the 2nd and 3rd readings of each ordinance to try to expedite a final vote?

Channel 9 filed this report about last night’s meeting, and Fox 19 filed this one. Regarding the fact that City employees have been working since April 1 not knowing when they will be paid, Mayor Williams told Channel 9, "They're understanding They don't like it but they're understanding. I think collectively we have [city leadership] failed to get the job done." He said he is telling council members they have to find some way to work out an agreement, adding, "This won't be easy. I understand that. But you simply can't get everything you want. You have to give a little to get a little. Don't worry about next year until we get there. Let's get an agreement now for this year because that's the most important part.” The mayor told Fox 19, "There's a good possibility those offers {from the unions} could come off the table-- one Friday, and one Monday."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Norwood Rs ask for dismissal of their elections complaint

On 10/7/09, we posted this blog stating that the Norwood Republican Party had filed this complaint on 9/27/09 with the Ohio Elections Commission against 7 members of the Norwood Democratic Party for violating Ohio election law. Members of a Commission panel voted unanimously that there was probable cause that the mentioned members of the Norwood Democratic Party were in violation of Ohio election law and recommended a hearing before the full Commission. Following is the final determination by Order of the Ohio Elections Commission of the case from a public document we obtained:

On 2/3/2011 after careful consideration of the evidence, the Ohio Elections Commission adopted the following finding(s) in the above referenced matter:


City Auditor: can’t pay City employees this Friday

City Auditor Jim Stith told us last night that his office does not have enough time to prepare payroll for the last 4 days of March by this Friday. Those 4 days only are authorized by the previously passed temporary appropriations that cover January through March. He said preparing a partial payroll requires much more time than a normal payroll because deductions like child support, payroll taxes, etc. cannot be computed using the current software program. It will take a week or maybe longer to prepare the checks.

He also told us that Duke Energy has sent a shut off notice for one of the City’s accounts and that more notices are on the way. An ordinance authorizing use of Fund 28 to pay overdue Duke energy bills had only its 1st reading at last night’s City Council meeting (See blog directly below.)

Still no 2011 budget, police and fire contracts rejected

During last night’s City Council meeting, the Republican majority of 4 members rejected the 2-year police and fire contracts containing approximately $1 million in savings that are reflected in the proposed 2011 budget. The motions they passed called for rejecting each contract and asking the mayor to continue negotiating with both unions. Councilperson Donna Laake implored the mayor to allow a negotiating team in future discussions with the 2 unions. Mayor Williams seemed somewhat disinclined to do that when he responded by saying he thought he already done all he can do. He stated once again that he believed if council accepted the 2-year contracts, both unions were committed to continue negotiating throughout the year as needed to keep the City operating financially.

A motion to have all 3 readings of the 2011 budget failed, but a motion to have the 1st reading did pass. Until a budget is passed, the City Auditor cannot legally pay employees for days worked after March 31, 2011. Democratic Councilperson Mumper explained that he had come prepared to vote for the budget but only if council first approved the 2-year police and fire contracts containing approximately $1 million in savings that is reflected in the budget. He stated he thinks without that approval the two unions will withdraw their offers and file grievances to fill staffing positions they have voluntarily allowed to go unfilled until now.

Also failing to get a vote for 3 readings was a motion to allow the City Auditor to pay the overdue Duke energy bill from the $750,000 in the Development Impact Fund 28. The 2011 budget proposes using most of that special fund to pay expenses like utilities instead of using the general fund. A motion for the 1st reading only was passed.

The 1st of 7 scheduled Special Council Meetings to discuss 2011 Appropriations is tonight at 7:30 p.m. Council President Jane Grote said she will schedule as many Special Meetings on consecutive days as are needed to pass the budget.

Click here for the Enquirer’s coverage of last night’s meeting, and click here for Channel 12’s report.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Community Gardening in Norwood

Guest blog by Molly Robertshaw

Garden plots are now available for any Norwood resident at two area community gardens on the north and south sides of the neighborhood. If you’d like to grow your very own tasty and fresh veggies, herbs, or flowers, here’s your chance! To learn more about each garden and to download the applications visit the Norwood Community Garden and/or the NEXUS Community Garden websites.

Just interested in growing food or flowers in your own yard this season? Come learn more at the Think Spring! Begin Gardening Workshop THIS TUESDAY, 4/12 from 6:00 -7:30 p.m. at the Norwood Library. Brad Rogers master gardener and owner of Urban Harvest will present. This event is free and snacks will be provided. Come join us!

Molly Robertshaw, M.S.W.
Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice
Xavier University
Assistant Director, Service & Justice

Monday, April 11, 2011

7 Special Council Meetings scheduled

Jane Grote, President of Norwood City Council, has called Special Council Meetings to discuss the 2011 Appropriations and Contract Modifications. All meetings will be held at 7:30 p.m. and will be located in Council Chambers:

o Wednesday, April 13
o Thursday, April 14
o Friday, April 15
o Saturday, April 16
o Sunday, April 17
o Monday, April 18
o Tuesday, April 19

WNNA cancels Wednesday night’s meeting

We’ve just been informed that the West Norwood Neighborhood Association has canceled this Wednesday’s meeting at the Community Center. The main reason for the cancellation is that the Norwood Planning Commission did not meet this month; and, therefore, there is nothing new to report about proposed zoning changes.

March 2011 NPD Statistics Report

Last Monday, we published the first two NPD Statistic Report (see 4/4/11 blog below). In response to readers’ questions in the comment box, Lt. Williams sent the following explanation:

“To clear up some confusion on these statistics, the total number of incidents is all police activity for that month. This includes officer initiated actions such as traffic stops as well as radio dispatched runs. The total number of reports is the actual number of reports taken by our police officers for that month including non-criminal reports such as Aided Cases and General Conditions reports. As for the Part One crimes reported, a majority of these are thefts.

Plans are being made to begin mapping the crimes reported and making it available to the public. I will keep you updated on our progress. Finally, total arrests includes all arrests made in the City of Norwood. This includes people who are wanted by other agencies on warrants or capiases.”

March 2011
Total Number of Incidents: 3278
Total Arrests Made: 307
Total Reports Taken: 272

Crimes Reported:
Part One Crimes Total: 98*
Part Two Crimes Total: 169**

*FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Part One Crimes include Aggravated Assault, Forcible Rape, Murder, Robbery, Arson, Burglary, Larceny-Theft, Motor Vehicle Theft.

**Part Two Crimes include Simple Assault, Curfew, Loitering, Embezzlement, Forgery, Disorderly Conduct, DUI, Drug Offenses, Fraud, Gambling, Liquor Offenses, Offenses Against the Family, Prostitution, Public Drunkenness, Runaways, Sex Offenses, Stolen Property, Vandalism, Vagrancy, Weapons Offenses.

Lt. Tom Williams
Norwood Police Department
(513) 458-4545

This week at the Norwood Branch Library

Wednesday, April 13
Movers and Shakers Storytime
10:00 a.m., Ages 1-4 with adult

Preschool Storytime
10:30 a.m., Ages 3-6

Thursday, April 14
Eat Dirt!!
Learn about how the Earth's soil layers are formed and make your own edible soil!
4:00 p.m., Ages 8-12
Advance registration required

Friday, April 15
Friday Morning Book Club
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
10:30 a.m.

GED Practice Test
Determine if you are ready to take the Official GED test.
Call 369-4570 to register.
10:30 a.m. -3:30 p.m.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Highlights from last night's COW meeting

COW Chair Donna Laake asked City Auditor Jim Stith to explain financial information he had prepared for members. He said the projected 2011 total payroll is $18,031,000 out of total revenues of $19.6 million. If City employees would agree to a 5% pay reduction for the rest of the year, the projected payroll would be $17,336,000, and if employees would also agree to forego longevity pay, payroll would be lower at $17,230,000.

Mr. Stith said things are so tight right now that some bills are not paid yet. Anthem has a 30-day grace period for late premium payment before the company cancels health insurance policies. The February payment was delayed, but was paid in time with the March payment. The April payment, which is due now, has not yet been paid.

Mr. Stith also said Duke Energy has threatened to send shut off notices if the January bill isn’t paid soon. He delayed the payment because council was considering having energy bills paid from Fund 28, which would save money in the general fund. Mr. Stith said council must authorize energy bill payments to be paid from Fund 28, and his preference would be that it be authorized via an ordinance separate from the appropriations ordinance.

As for payroll that is due April 15, we understood Mr. Stith to say that employees can be paid for the last 4 days of March only because those days are covered under the previously passed temporary appropriations.

Referring to “the elephant in the room,” Councilperson Victor Scheneider had harsh words for Democratic members who seem to want council to approve the 2-year fire and police contracts that contain concessions that are reflected in the yet to be passed 2011 budget. He said we cannot afford the contracts but are nonetheless being forced to pass them, which is "ludicrous." After stating the meeting was not a meeting of compromise, and “that’s ridiculous,” he left, though not before Mr. Mumper pointed out that Mr. Schneider had previously voted for the 2011 budget with the fire and police concessions included.

Councilperson Joe Sanker immediately stated that the budget won't work at all without the police and fire concessions, but those concessions aren’t valid without approval of the 2-year contracts that support them. Without approval, both unions can walk away from their $1 million offer; the concessions must be approved so “we can move forward.” Otherwise, the City will be obligated to fund all police and fire positions per their current contracts.

Mr. Stith said the Law Director has told him it is legal to pass permanent appropriations that don’t fully fund all positions for the entire year, but council needs to do something soon so that utilities, payroll, and health insurance can be paid. He said he’s worried about meeting payroll as soon as June because of cash flow problems.

Mr. Sanker pointed out that Mr. Stith had previously said he would not sign off on a 2011 budget that was not fully funded because he considered it unethical to do so, but now it is okay. Regardless, Mr. Sanker said he is not comfortable with passing the budget with fire and police concessions that are not approved by passing their 2-year contracts.

In an effort to resolve council’s impasse on the budget, Donna Laake said she had contacted Liz Blume with Xavier’s Building Institute to see if they had anyone would could assist if a City negotiating team were assembled with Mayor Williams’ permission. Ms. Blume said that kind of assistance could be made available.

Mayor Williams responded by saying, “If I have this straight, what you’re saying is to go ahead and pass the budget and trust us.” He stated he doesn’t trust the situation and said in no certain terms that he had successfully negotiated concessions with the fire and police unions (worth $1 million this year alone) as council had directed him to do, yet the majority is unwilling to authorize them. He said in years past, both unions have made concessions that have saved the City money. He said, “I was asked to do something, and I did it…if you don’t want to pass it (the concessions), don’t pass it.

Ms. Laake restated that if a budget isn’t passed at the next council meeting next Tuesday, City employees can’t be paid for the full two weeks they will have worked. She said she believed council can pass a budget that doesn’t fund the entire year.

Mr. Mumper added that 6 years ago, council passed a budget that didn’t fully fund payroll, but Mr. Stith has previously said he wouldn’t allow that. He asked Mr. Stith if the Hamilton County Budget Commission could ask to see the fire and police contracts that support the $1 million in concessions if the budget is approved and the 2-year contracts are not approved. Mr. Stith replied that the commission can ask for anything they want.

In hindsight, Mr. Stith said he has started to conclude that the Finance Committee’s approach to funding positions was micromanaging, and that may not be the way to go. Instead, he suggested that perhaps departments heads should be allocated a block of money to be used at their own discretion. If they want to lay personnel offer sooner instead of later, they could. He told Mr. Mumper that he has reversed his previous position on funding personnel.

As we understand it, the meeting ended with agreement that both the police and fire contracts will be on next Tuesday’s night’s council agenda, along with the 2011 budget still containing the police and fire concessions, and whatever needs to be passed so that Jim Stith can pay Duke Energy from Fund 28 and meet Friday's payroll.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

NFD charges 11-year-old with arson in Norco fire

Fox 19 reported that the Norwood Fire Department filed arson charges again an 11-year-old in the December fire that destroyed the vacant Norco factory on Section Ave. According to the NFD, the boy and his 8-year-old brother admitted setting several fire in the structure. The younger child will not be charged because of his age. The Norco building had been vacant since 2009 and was slated for destruction before the fire hit.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

NCS losing 15% of state aid over next 2 years

Many thanks to two of our readers, A. and A., for sending us two Enquirer links to share with our readers. Click here for the first link to the Enquirer’s Data Center, which has the following information showing that the Norwood School District is losing 15% of Ohio school aid over the next two years. Next month, Norwood voters will decide a Norwood City Schools 8.61 levy.

The Ohio Office of Budget and Management released preliminary numbers on Thursday, March 24 detailing how much in state aid school districts will receive over the next two fiscal years.

Foundation11= basic state aid in fiscal year 2011
Stimulus11= federal stimulus money in fiscal year 2011
TPPcurrent11= Tangible Personal Property tax revenue in fiscal year 2011 based on current levies
TPPnoncurrent11= Tangible Personal Property tax revenue in fiscal year 2011based on non-current levies
PUcurrent11= revenue from public utility deregulation in fiscal year 2011 based on current levies
PUnoncurrent= revenue from public utility deregulation in fiscal year 2011 based on non-current levies

DistrictNorwood City SD
County Hamilton
Property valuation per pupil $175,571.31
Total resources $23,371,995.11
Foundation 2011 $7,153,574.08
Stimulus 2011 $538,400.41
TPP Current 2011 $2,205,909.43
TPP Noncurrent 2011
PU Current 2011 $254,836.31
PU Noncurrent 2011
Total 2011 $10,152,720.23
Foundation 2012 $7,187,088.23
Stimulus 2012 $-
TPP Current 2012 $1,738,469.53
TPP Noncurrent 2012
PU Current 2012
PU Noncurrent 2012
Total 2012 $8,925,557.76
$ change 11-12 $(1,227,162.47)
% change 11-12-12%
Foundation 2013 $7,328,826.83
Stimulus 2013$-
TPP Current 2013 $1,271,029.62
TPP Noncurrent 2013
PU Current 2013
PU Noncurrent 2013
Total 2013 $8,599,856.45
$ change 12-13 $(325,701.31)
% change 12-13 -4%
$ change 11-13-1552863.776
% change 11-13 -15%

Click here for a related Enquirer article describing Monday night’s meeting of the Princeton City School District Board of Education during which board members “voted reluctantly but unanimously” for layoffs because of budget shortfalls. Following is an excerpt:

Princeton officials say the cuts are necessary because of state budget cuts, especially earlier than anticipated reductions in state funds related to business and utilities taxes. (Superintendent) Pack and board members said that state legislators and the governor are violating promises made to schools, voters and taxpayers.

Pack said the district's $80 million operating budget will fall by $12 million next year and by several million more each year for the next 12 to 13 years. The district also expects to put a levy before voters next year.

COW meeting tomorrow tonight

Norwood City Council’s Committee of the Whole is meeting tomorrow night, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. in Council Chambers to discuss the following agenda items:

1. Current Expenses
2. Unpaid Bills
3. Budget/Appropriations

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Norwood Photography Exhibition this Friday

What: A collection of photographs of the Norwood community
Who: Melissa DeCapua, a senior photography major at Xavier University
When: Friday April 8, from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
Where: Xavier University Art Gallery at AB Cohen Center, 1658 Herald Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45207. Click here for map.
More information: 745-3811

Mayor Williams' letter to City Council

The following 1/6/11 letter from Mayor Williams to City Council was among several public documents we picked up at City Hall recently. We wonder if he still has confidence that Norwood officer holders “will work together and conduct ourselves, as we have in the past, to find solutions to the challenges that lie ahead” in the face of the current budget crisis, which has City employees coming to work not knowing when they’ll be paid.

January 6, 2011

Dear Madame President and Members of Council:

The City, going into 2011, is facing some financial difficulty. This should not come as a surprise to anyone. The surplus that we ended 2009 with was our saving grace. Now, with that surplus fund exhausted, we begin the task of navigating our way through the budget process to determine our course of action for 2011.

The first determination that must be made is the forecasted income for the City. This will be determined by the Treasurer’s Office and the Auditor’s Office. This, or course, will determine the amount that can be appropriated and spent.

At the beginning of the process, the information that comes forth may seem to be overwhelming and insurmountable. However, with that said, I believe as time goes on we will work our way through this situation and, once again, survive as we have in the past. This is not to say that it will be easy; quite to the contrary, it will be at times very difficult.

I firmly believe that the Administration, Council and other office holders will work together and conduct ourselves, as we have in the past, to find solutions to the challenges that lie ahead. This is not to say that there will not be differences of opinion; there will be, and that is conducive to finding answers. As I told Council during the last Council meeting of 2010, that not only as a mayor but as a citizen how proud I am of this City for the way we have conducted our affairs through these financially challenging times. Some local governments have, in my opinion, conducted themselves in, shall we say, a less than positive manner.

The City, as in the past, will continue to pursue new development. The CRA is an excellent incentive to not only retain businesses but to expand. Bringing in new business is a very competitive endeavor. We must not only compete with other local government entities but with other states as well. With the economy at the bottom, we continue to promote our City while pursuing new development. In August of 2010, we held a business summit at Xavier University ‘s Cintas Center. In attendance were the Economic Development Director from the State of Ohio, a Representative from the Port Authority, and the Hamilton County Development Corporation. Also in attendance were commercial real estate developers. The meeting was a success. Some conversation that took place will, I believe, translate into new business for Norwood. This, to my knowledge, was the first time the City has ever held this type of business promotional function.

We have been able to successively promote new development. The Urology Group began construction on their new 15 million dollar facility located at Sanker Blvd. And Section Avenue. Additionally, New Properties will be developing the NORCO site. Although I cannot go into specifics, I believe we will have additional development during the year 2011. It has been our policy not to discuss any potential development until the plans are final and the developer agrees to release the information. We continue to have discussions with potential developers to promote development in our City.

The Administration will continue to take every measure to not only save money but to reduce our operating cost while continuing to pursue and work with developers.


Thomas F. Williams, Mayor
City of Norwood

Monday, April 04, 2011

Enquirer reader offers solution to Norwood’s budget deficit

Until we saw the following comment by "COAST" under Saturday’s Enquirer article about Norwood’s budget problem, we had found nothing amusing about the crisis:

Clearly Norwood's biggest problem is lack of a streetcar. If they only had a streetcar, the clouds would part, sunlight would shine in, and dollar bills would rain down from the heavens to fill their vacant buildings with new residents and businesses. Streetcars are magical like that. They can even prevent crime; just ask a new urbanist.

Norwood needs to borrow a hundred million or so bucks and provide the kind of transportation choices that will motivate young creative hipsters to move into their community. If they did that, it wouldn't be more than a year or two later that they would be annexing Cincinnati. Streetcars are magical like that. They can even create jobs; just ask a new urbanist.

The other big problem Norwood needs to fix is their car-centric culture. What other suburb has a highway named after it? None. That's why Norwood is hurting. If they would just rename the Norwood Lateral, they would see some progress. Call it the St. Bernard lateral instead. Or better yet, tear it out within their city limits and convert it into a park or bike trail. What could be more progressive than that? They could even run their new streetcar through the park in homage to the Cincinnati Subway Boondoggle that never got built there. Even Portlanders would flock to Norwood then. Streetcars are magical like that. They can even solve the oil crisis; just ask a new urbanist.

Norwood needs to hire HDR to do a report detailing all the wonderfulness that will come from their new streetcar. Even if Norwood isn't a good candidate for streetcars, the HDR report will prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. All their reports do that, whether it's true or not; they have never come to any other conclusion.

At the end of the day it doesn't really matter whether Norwood has any cops or firefighters or trash collectors or pothole fillers at all; as long as they have a streetcar, everything will be fine. Streetcars are magical like that; just ask any new urbanist.

New feature: NPD Monthly Statistics Report

Last week, we were pleased to receive the following email from Lt. Tom Williams letting us know he would be sending us a new report to share with our readers. We are starting off with both January and February 2011, and Lt. Williams told us he will be sending the March report soon.

Lt. Williams' email:
The Norwood Police Department would like to start sending monthly updates on certain police activity in the city of Norwood. These are general statistics. We will submit this information on a regular basis so that your readers can see what the Norwood Police Department is doing for its citizens.

January 2011
Total Number of Incidents: 3110
Total Arrests Made: 316
Total Reports Taken: 226

Crimes Reported:
Part One Crimes Total: 96*
Part Two Crimes Total: 130**

February 2011
Total Number of Incidents: 2857
Total Arrests Made: 295
Total Reports Taken: 201

Crimes Reported:
Part One Crimes Total: 105*
Part Two Crimes Total: 112**

*FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Part One Crimes include Aggravated Assault, Forcible Rape, Murder, Robbery, Arson, Burglary, Larceny-Theft, Motor Vehicle Theft.

**Part Two Crimes include Simple Assault, Curfew, Loitering, Embezzlement, Forgery, Disorderly Conduct, DUI, Drug Offenses, Fraud, Gambling, Liquor Offenses, Offenses Against the Family, Prostitution, Public Drunkeness, Runaways, Sex Offenses, Stolen Property, Vandalism, Vagrancy, Weapons Offenses.

Lt Tom Williams
Norwood Police Department
(513) 458-4545

This week at the Norwood Branch Library

Wednesday, April 6
Movers and Shakers Storytime
10:00 a.m. Ages 1-4 with adult

Preschool Storytime
10:30 a.m. Ages 3-6

Thursday, April 7
Introduction to eBooks
Learn how to use your home computer to search, borrow, and download free eBooks
from the Library's website.
6:00 p.m.

Saturday, April 9
Lego Club
3:00-4:00 p.m., Ages 6-12

Friday, April 01, 2011

Channel 12 airing another segment about Norwood budget

The 12 Channel newsroom says another piece about Norwood is airing today at 5:30 p.m.

6:20 p.m. Addendum: Here the video of today's broadcast.

Auditor Jim Stith to City employees: stay home

Here’s the video from yesterday’s Channel 12 coverage of Norwood’s failure to pass a budget for 2011.

2:38 p.m. Addendum: Jim Stith has posted the following response in the comment box:

Dramatic headline, but not quite accurate.

What was actually said is that if Council does not pass appropriations (budget) I would tell my people to stay home. That goes for my employees. I do not have the authority to tell anyone else not to come into work.

Without Council passing appropriations I cannot pay anyone for time worked after midnight on March 31st. I have said this all along. No one has the authority to approve any payroll expenditures without appropriations and ours expired on March 31st. Time sheets are not valid without appropriations.

I did discuss the situation with the law director and we agreed that if Council passes appropriations before the next payroll and indicates that the appropriations cover hours worked between March 31st and the date the ordinance passes I could issue retroactive pay for that time period. Given this discussion I have told my employees they could continue working with the hope that Council will pass the appropriations but there is no guarantee of payment for these services.

Until this happens my office does not have the authority to issue any purchase orders or payroll, we are restricted by Ohio law. We can pay some debts incurred before March 31st. This is why payroll was issued on April 1st.

Jim Stith

February 2011 NFD Activities and Statistics Report

A monthly feature

A. Total of emergency responses for the month of February = 323

Medic Runs = 238
Fire Runs = 9 (Building, Brush, etc.)
Average Response Time on Runs = 3 minutes, 0 seconds (city-wide)

Number of incidents by type:
Fire Runs – 9 - (Building, Brush, etc.)
Overpressure, Explosion - 0
Rescue & Medic Unit Assists – 34 - (lock-in, extrications, traffic accidents, etc.)
Hazardous Conditions (no fire) -9 - (power lines down, arcing, spills, etc.)
Service Call - 10 - (smoke removal)
Good Intent - 11 - (odor of smoke, controlled burning)
False Alarms – 12 - (false alarms, system malfunctions, smoke detector activated, etc.)
Severe Weather - 0
Special Incident - 0

B. Fire Hydrant Activity
Hydrants winter strapping. Pumped as needed: 521

C. Bureau of Fire Safety Activities
Total Inspections – 111 - (residential, schools, churches, businesses)
Total Violations – issued 166
Total Violations – corrected 89
Total Block Inspection - Unit #’s 1, 2, 3 - Rental & multi-family: 0
Additional Activities: 99
Referrals to Health and Building Depts. - 3
TOTAL: 468