Sunday, January 25, 2009


Dear People: What a great week for democracy and the human spirit. The economy is in dire straits, the weather is frigid, and the last eight years have been a disaster on many fronts. But I went to Washington for this week's inauguration and experienced the warmth of standing on the Mall, next to the Washington Monument, having walked two hours to stand in the frigid air for three hours, with two million of my fellow Americans as we watched Barack Obama being sworn in as our 44th president. It was the single biggest, most uplifting, grand-scale, deeply joyous event I have ever participated in. (If you're interested, you can look at my inauguration pictures here. This 360 / interactive picture from the Washington Post, taken on the opposite side of the Washington Monument, captures pretty well what it was like from where we stood!)

In keeping with the spirit of being in a new era, tomorrow night we have our Village Council goals meeting (Bryan Ctr 7 pm); this is one of the most important meetings of the year, so I hope that you'll attend, bring your ideas and youur friends. I will as usual have my office hours in the Emporium on Monday at 12 noon.

All my fellow council members have turned in their goals for our packet this week, which is available on the village's website. I, however, was bowled over by the beginning of the school year and the inauguration, so I am the delinquent Council member. I therefore include my own goals below, which were written after I had received the goals of everyone else. So in my goals, I tried to indicate where I'm overlapping with other Council members' goals.

Here's the email outlining my goals that I sent to my fellow Council members today, as well as our Village Manager, Mark Cundiff, and our Clerk, Deborah Benning:
Sunday, 24 January 2009

To: Judith, Karen, Kathryn, & John

From: Lori Askeland

Dear fellow Council members: At long last, these are my goals, written with the benefit of reading your goals and having consulted with the EC, the PC, and other villagers. Thanks for your patience.

While assisting with our revision of our Comprehensive Plan, John Eastman provided these standard definitions to the Planning Commission, which I have found helpful and am striving to use here:

GOAL: suggests an idealistic or long-term purpose.

OBJECTIVE: implies that the end, or goal, can be reached, often within a specified time frame.

I have read all of your goals/objectives and tried my best, in this document to indicate where I'm in agreement, instead of re-inventing the wheel. I have also revised the language of a few of our last year's goals mostly as a matter of word-smithing to get more accurately at what I think is the spirit of each over-arching goal:

Lori Askeland's Suggested 2009 Goals & Objectives:

1. GOAL: Deepen democratic decision-making processes with active citizen participation and effective representative governance.


  • I agree with John's bulleted points here, regarding professionalism, inclusion in the Visioning process, and reaching out to historically disenfranchised groups.
  • I also agree with the emphasis that both Karen and Kathryn placed on youth.
  • Several of us mentioned continuing to improve electronic communication and use of our website. I have two specific suggestions:
  1. Make sure the online packet archive is complete for that last 6 months (back to August). [I believe the Sept 18th packet is not online as of now, but otherwise the packets are all up to date.]
  2. Make the online archives of Village Council minutes absolutely complete for at least the past year. [Many 2008 minutes are not posted in the Minutes section.]
  • I would like to ask staff to have those minutes and that missing packet up within the next month, if possible.
  • I agree with Kathryn that we need to be especially mindful of our Commissions and seek to better define their roles and relationship to Council. I'm not sure how best to do this, if a retreat is the best way, but it is something we need to consider.
2. GOAL: Strengthen the village as an excellent employer and provider of services within a responsible fiscal framework.

  • Carry to completion the service projects listed by Judith at the beginning of her document: WWTP, Morris Bean/Glen Helen sewer mains; water/sewer rate study.
  • From Karen's/Kathryn's list, special attention to Capital Improvement plan, the Tax plan (the end of the current levy), and Power Contracts.
  • In particular, I would like to see us strive to begin the goals/budget process in the fall (Sept/Oct) so that we do not have to do emergency budgeting at the beginning of the year.
  • Implement Phase I of the ESTF's recommendations with regard to improving distribution within our electric system.
  • Direct staff to actively consider diversity in subcontractor and consultant contracts with a goal of hiring diverse subcontractors (Here I agree with John).
3. GOAL: Be a welcoming community of opportunity for people of diverse ethnicities, backgrounds, orientations, identities, and incomes. [Note slight re-wording]

  • I support all John's/Judith's recommendations here, including funding for HRC, pool passes, transgender inclusion and a domestic partnership registry. I would like to be sure that we do provide domestic partner benefits to our staff.
  • I also support Judith's objective of joining the HUD program and passing inclusionary zoning legislation.
  • I also support Karen's and Kathryn's discussion of the Safe Routes to Schools and Sidewalk enhancements, which also fit with our energy-related goals.
4. GOAL: Establish a plan for improving the economic condition of the community that is in keeping with our identity as a vibrant, walkable/bikeable village rooted in a tradition of valuing diversity, the environment, and educational / artistic / technological innovation. [Note my suggested rewording]

  • Use the Visioning process to help us bring together the energy-jobs agenda put forth in the ESTF's Phase II report, economic localization ideas, and the retention and expansion of the current business, arts, and education communities. Transparency is key.
  • Poise ourselves to seek out and take advantage of the state/federal initiatives regarding renewable energy and conservation that are likely to arise in the coming year, and the development of the CBE (see Karen's ideas under land-use. My main question would be, is the marketing of that property our responsibility, or Community Resources'? Or to what degree is it our responsibility?).
  • From Karen, revamp EDRLF. Possibly consider changing it to a small business grant fund. Suggestion from a villager (Benjy Maruyama): hold a yearly contest for the best business plan; the winner receiving a grant of start-up or revamping (for current businesses) monies, rather than a loan which we have to then manage.
5. GOAL: Develop a comprehensive plan that seeks to reduce the carbon footprint of the community and encourages sound ecological practices throughout. [Note my suggested rewording, which comes courtesy of Tim Tobey of the Planning Commission.]

  • I agree with Kathryn and Judith that we should set aside money each year for the green-space fund. I would like us to commit at least $50,000 each year to this long-standing agenda in our community.
  • I agree with Karen and Judith about establishing the new ETF, with the involvement and participation of the existing Environmental Commission so that our initiatives can be coordinated—e.g., the current Green Pricing program through AMP-OH and the planned rate-study/possible increase proposed by the current ESTF. I would be happy to see up to $50,000 go to this goal as Karen suggested.
  • Direct staff to develop a standard procedure by which they consider lower-emissions / energy efficient vehicles and equipment when making new purchases/upgrades, even if their initial cost is slightly higher. (Here I'm pretty much agreeing with Karen)
  • On that note, can our building (internal and external) / street light bulbs be replaced by LEDs or other low-energy alternatives?
  • Encourage local industries to adopt state-of-the-art environmental protection measures, particularly as related to air pollution, but also water and ground pollution. The EC will soon be presenting a report based on our research into the proposed tire-burning at CEMEX (which we expect will be pressed again when the economic situation improves). We believe that Ohio needs much stricter emissions standards for all industries that burn coal, coke, or alternative 'fuels' like tires. The EC will present a letter to this effect to Village Council, with recommended courses of action.
  • Steven Conn suggests a "no idling" ordinance that would prohibit leaving cars running while parked within city limits.
6. GOAL: Develop a comprehensive land-use plan.

  • Complete the two major land-use projects currently underway: the CBE projects and the Friends Care Apartment PUD final approval.
  • Complete the update of the Comprehensive Plan by April. (I agree with Karen)
  • Fund and complete the Visioning and Planning process already begun, as promised, with a goal of producing a comprehensive land-use plan that will facilitate our goals as a village.
  • Karen's goals regarding sidewalks, Northern Gateway, and way-finding signs seem on point and do-able to me. I support them all.
  • The Planning Commission concurs with Kathryn's goal of seeking to write legislation for the protection of historical properties, without undue burden on property owners or those who would like to develop new, efficient buildings.
  • Here's what John Struewing said at our last meeting which seems to convey the spirit of the Planning Commission: "This is not a village that has design review; the eclectic nature of the village won't stand for it. We would just like people/developers to have to go through a process before they tear down historic structures." And we support the current work being done by Ed Amrhein's office in dealing with neglect of properties in the village. The Barr property did go through a process of consideration on this front, but it was both informal and ad-hoc; we believe it would be clearer and fairer to have a clear process—not one involving a new review board, but administered by the Planning Commission possibly with advisory help from local architects and historical commissions as the need arises. We plan to try to update the inventory of historic structures and begin creating proposed language for considering historical relevancy for adoption by Council.



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