Thursday, December 8, 2011

VC last Monday (delayed all around) and My Band Tomorrow Night!

< -- a kitten in the wilderness. Well, our backyard.

Dear People:
I know we are up against some heavy hitters over there in Clifton tomorrow night, but my band, Mack and the Rockets are playing tomorrow night at the Emporium (with possibly a surprising little extra women's trio that I'm part of for a little a capella song during the break....think Leadbelly, 3 part harmony...) 7-10 pm. (AND yes, we Mack and Rockets will be singing "Please, Daddy Don't Get Drunk this Christmas," for those of you who really like the traditional Christmas carols.)

Linda Fischer will be there collecting signatures against the hideous Republican-favoring redistricting that Kasich is proposing. So it would be great if a bunch of you would be willing to sign that.

MONDAY'S MEETING: (Here's the link to the packet). If you've seen this week's paper you know that last Monday we discussed the special revenues portion of the budget, including issues like the Green Space Fund, which has been serving a key goal of our village of protecting green space on our Western side, and which we had only recently decided to support with estate tax monies (which have just been taken away by Kasich and his awful, hideous cronies), and the overall bleak picture for the budget primarily due to the budget cuts at the State level (again, do blame Kasich and Co.).

We also really need your feedback about the water situation: Do read the article in this week's YS News. The bottom line: we have to decide whether to try to find grants, loans, etc. to upgrade our system OR we need to build a pipeline to the edge of Clark County, and let Springfield supply us. Springfield has water that is pre-softened with lime, not salt. The pertinent background info is on pp. 29-30 of the packet.

Here's my take:
while it is at least initially probably cheaper to simply upgrade our current system (although there are significant unknowns there), doing so could be, will likely be?, more expensive over the long term. Additionally, the benefits of non-salt, softened water are, actually, somewhat significant, given that our water is so hard and when we soften it, all those salts go basically right into the Glen. I am leaning toward simply upgrading our plant and maintaining control, but I would like to hear from you.


by Hart Crane

We make our meek adjustments,
Contented with such random consolations
As the wind deposits
In slithered and too ample pockets.

For we can still love the world, who find
A famished kitten on the step, and know
Recesses for it from the fury of the street,
Or warm torn elbow coverts.

We will sidestep, and to the final smirk
Dally the doom of that inevitable thumb
That slowly chafes its puckered index toward us,
Facing the dull squint with what innocence
And what surprise!

And yet these fine collapses are not lies
More than the pirouettes of any pliant cane;
Our obsequies are, in a way, no enterprise.
We can evade you, and all else but the heart:
What blame to us if the heart live on.

The game enforces smirks; but we have seen
The moon in lonely alleys make
A grail of laughter of an empty ash can,
And through all sound of gaiety and quest
Have heard a kitten in the wilderness.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Hi, People! Thanks again for your confidence in me on election day. Tonight we're going to be mostly focused on hearing Tim Tobey's report on the Parks Master Plan that he's been discussing--we may even just get a slight update to the old, unapproved plan that would at least be good information to have available to us. Second, we'll (very likely) be recommending approval of the annexation of the right-of-way on Dayton-YS St. that will allow entrance to the CBE (the Antioch-Midwest complex and any additional buildings).

Finally, we'll be discussing the request by the contractor for our new zoning ordinance, LSL, to:

1) identify up to 8 individual people (concerned with zoning?) to be interviewed--I need to get a better sense of what this means.
2) identify "user groups and selected person to particpate in each group" they suggest groups like "downtown business owners, neighborhood association reps, major employers and land developers."

We're also going to try to schedule a start up meeting with LSL and the technical review committee for the zoning code update as well as a village tour.

Let me know if you would like to be more engaged in this zoning project--I should be able to facilitate your involvement.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Dear People: Thanks to all of you for your warm words and support throughout my quiet campaign. I am proud to say that, other than the nominal, required registration fee ($30?), I spent $0. So this was a very efficient little campaign, and that's probably the most beautiful thing about it. Frank was supposed to be my treasurer, but we gave him NOTHING to do!

So, I especially want to especially thank Ona Harshaw who served as an unofficial campaign manager, and for recruiting Jen Reich to help with finding all the old signs and to both of them for getting them strategically placed around town. AND Ona had to fix a bunch of them, too, as they were old and falling apart. So, Ona: I know I owe you AT LEAST one six pack. Actually, I think the whole town owes Ona at least a six pack each. When you see her, buy her one! She also worked all day as a poll worker, and her human relations skills are second to none. Basically, I LOVE Ona, heart and soul. She's a rock in a hard place.

Thanks also to all those who wrote letters to the editor supporting me.

And, finally, I want to thank Jen and Barry for hosting a smashing little campaign party last night for me and Rick.

So, of course, a poem about thanks. And worms:

Aren't you glad at least that the earthworms
Under the grass are ignorant, as they eat the earth,
Of the good they confer on us, that their silence
Isn't a silent reproof for our bad manners,
Our never casting earthward a crumb of thanks
For their keeping the soil from packing so tight
That no root, however determined, could pierce it?

Imagine if they suspected how much we owe them,
How the weight of our debt would crush us
Even if they enjoyed keeping the grass alive,
The garden flowers and vegetables, the clover,
And wanted nothing that we could give them,
Not even the merest nod of acknowledgment.
A debt to angels would be easy in comparison,
Bright, weightless creatures of cloud, who serve
An even brighter and lighter master.

Lucky for us they don't know what they're doing,
These puny anonymous creatures of dark and damp
Who eat simply to live, with no more sense of mission
Than nature feels in providing for our survival.
Better save our gratitude for a friend
Who gives us more than we can give in return
And never hints she's waiting for reciprocity.

"If I had nickel, I'd give it to you,"
The lover says, who, having nothing available
In the solid, indicative world, scrapes up
A coin or two in the world of the subjunctive.
"A nickel with a hole drilled in the top
So you can fasten it to your bracelet, a charm
To protect you against your enemies."

For his sake, she'd wear it, not for her own,
So he might believe she's safe as she saunters
Home across the field at night, the moon above her,
Below her the loam, compressed by the soles of her loafers,
And the tunneling earthworms, tireless, silent,
As they persist, oblivious, in their service.

Source: Poetry (May 2003).


Sunday, November 6, 2011

VC tomorrow night! Note the highlights...

Dear People: Tomorrow night the main issues will be: Mark's position as a finalist for the manager job in Sidney, new solid waste rates, a tap-in request from Home, Inc., our endorsement of the MVRPC's regional strategic plan, the library building audit, the issue of the state's interest in collecting taxes, what to do about our water supply, and LJB making a request for a considerably greater funds for work associated with the WWTP. The packet can be viewed here.

In Paper Packet and On Line:

RITA re: State Control of Municipal Income Tax Collection Update (see item under "New Business")
Tom Clevenger re: Rescheduling of Energy Charrette for the BARR PROPERTY SENIOR HOUSING: on WED. NOV. 9th at 5:30 in the Bryan Ctr. Rooms A&B there will be a meeting with the developer lead, the project architect and the project consultant to the green enterprise community standards. If you are interested in the design of this building, particularly as it relates to energy efficiency, please attend this meeting.
Vickie Hennessey re: Fluoride Rinse Program
Mayor’s Monthly Report
Emily Seibel, YSHI re: Fee Waiver Request: (see resolution 2011-54 below)
Len Kramer re: Support for YSHI Fee Waiver
Fred Bartenstein re: YSHI Fee Waiver

E-Packet Only:
GCCOA re: Newsletter and Invitation
Greene County Environmental Services re: Free Nitrate Screening for Well-users: If you have a well, you might want this!
MVRCP re: PDAC Meeting
GCCOA re: Free Paper Shredding (in Beavercreek, NOV 15--RSVP required; also this is a "how to organize your papers" event, targeted at seniors. Look in the packet for more details--it's near the very end of the packet.)

We just received news that Mark is a finalist for a City Manager position in Sidney. He will be reading a statement about his decision to apply for this job (and this job only) due to long term connections to the city.

Ordinance 2011-27 Amending Chapter 1060 Solid Waste Rates: Since we signed the new contract with Rumpke, the following rates will now apply:
Tier 1 (Not more than 35 Gallons): $10.40 Per Unit/Month
Tier 2 (Not more than 65 Gallons): $11.40 Per Unit/Month
Tier 3 (Not more than 120 Gallons): $12.40 Per Unit/Month
[Commercial Services – Four Cubic-Yard Container: $55.00 Per Container/Month]
I will vote yes.

Resolution 2011-54 Home Inc. Tap-In Request: The amount requested is minimal--less than $20,000--which is less than the first year of taxes that will be brought in (about $25,000 per year), and the successful project will bring in $4.25 million dollars of tax credit equity. While they are continuing to look for other local support, they recently have become convinced that this support is vital for a successful proposal. It would have been better had this been a part of the original packet, and I am a little disappointed that it wasn't, but I will vote yes because I would have voted for this had it been a part of the original proposal, and I believe it is reasonable.

Resolution 2011-55 Supporting MVRCP’s Going Places Initiative: I will vote yes. The plan was strongly influenced by Yellow Springs and our Visioning process; the goal is to encourage smart growth and reduce suburban sprawl.



Library Evaluation Presentation: Ted Donnell was awarded a contract to do a building and energy audit. He's recommending a variety of upgrades that are either "high" "medium" and "low" priority. The most expensive high priority item is replacing the 1963 windows with energy-efficient ones (estimated at $150K.)


Water Supply Feasibility Study: Mark writes that likely will not have the information about likely rates from Xenia/Spfld by this meeting, in which case, we will discuss at 11/21 meeting.

State Collection of Income Tax Discussion: RITA, our current tax collector, is concerned about the State's interest in taking over the function of all municipal tax collection. I could not understand this, and asked that we discuss the issue. We have a long email on the topic that was written by the manager of Albany Ohio: the good reasons to oppose this move include a loss of local control and an extensive list of historical problems with state collections. I will likely vote that we bring a resolution to Council opposig this State move.

Discussion of Resolution 2011-50 Authorizing Payment to LJB for Additional Services Rendered: This is a request of, I believe an additional $45,500 from the original contract, for work completed during the first 10 months of this year. While we recently authorized paying for a manual that was not included in the initial bid, that's only $5,840 (so far as I can tell, but I find the memo unclear on this point. If I am reading the bill correctly, the estimated additional costs are $33,373.54 so far, plus $5,840, which added together are substantially less than $45,500. So I don't completely understand this billing statement and I am surprised to be getting such a big additional bill at such a late date when the additional fees had apparently been adding up since January or even late 2010. So I will look forward to clarification at the meeting.

Monday, October 17, 2011

VC tonight! Water (very important!), campaign update, trees, budget

To the left is a photo of the Yellow Spring by an artist named Tom Hock. When the leaves disappear and things become mostly grey, the orange of the spring and the last green moss can seem this intense.

Dear people--VC Meeting tonight and there's quite a bit going on. Our water treatment plant is especially on my mind, so I want to call your attention to that and ask for your response, see below.

Quick Campaign Update:
I know many of you have asked for yard signs, but I think I'm plumb out. Still, check your garage? We've found a few that people pulled off their own property after the last campaign and tucked 'em away. So make sure you don't still have one--and if you find one and you already have a sign, let me or Ona Harshaw or Jen Reich know, and we'll find a place for it.

The best thing you can do for me right now is to write a letter for me to the YS News!
Please consider getting one in TODAY if you have even 15 minutes, a half hour. Can be short! (Short is good!--Just think of the most important reason you support me, and say it in a sentence.)

Key issue tonight: The most important thing that I see on the agenda, and which I'd really love some feedback and thought on over the next few months, is the water feasibility study that we had LJB engineering do for us (John Eastman). It's included in its entirety in this week's packet (the first page of the study is on page 34) and I'd appreciate if a few of you took the time to read it and shared your thoughts--particularly if you have any engineering background.

The suprising finding: I've only read it quickly, but it looks like our cheapest option may be to update our current water treatment plant, cheaper than the status quo or getting water from Xenia / Springfield / Greene County or building a new plant.

YSAC re: Funding
YSAC re: BGSU Economic Impact Study
YSAC re: BGSU Arts Economic Study
Mayor’s Monthly Report
Jon Husted re: Information on Ballot Issues
Colin Altman re: 2010 Annual Report This is a really lovely report--take a look at it if you get a chance--it's at the very end of the electronic packet. The fire department is doing a great job of serving us--nice pictures and graphs that tell a very positive story.
Anne Whitaker re: Barr Project Support

E-Packet Only:
GCCOA re: Newsletter and Invitation
RITA re: State Control of Municipal Income Tax Collection Update: I actually read most of the documents about this (they begin on page 104), and I have a few questions. Kasich is apparently seeking to centralize muncipal tax collection at the state, which strikes me as bizarrely opposed to his normal mode of getting rid of decentralizing (i.e., offloading) state services onto municipalities; some say this is an attack on home rule for municipalities, I don't get it. If anyone does...I'm all ears.
Greene Co. Library re: November Programming
GCCHD re: Grant Obtained
MVRCP re: Going Places

Second Reading and Public Hearing of Ordinance 2011-26 Supplemental Appropriation Securing Funds Necessary for the Third Quarter: Normal housecleaning, for the most part, some due to recent decisions that have altered the budget.
Reading of Resolution 2011-52 Contracting with LSL/KKG for Zoning Code Rewrite: I will vote yes--this group is very professional and down to earth and I believe we will have good results. Their presentation was very concrete--they had already found many nitty gritty places where our zoning code contains out of date rules and contradictions; I believe they'll get us a code we can live with for many years to come.
Reading of Resolution 2011-53 Contracting with Arbor Care for Annual Tree Trimming: I will vote yes--Arbor Care's bid is a little higher than last year, because we are having them trim more. However, I will take the moment ask staff about the pretty egregious trimming that occurred on Spillan Road (perhaps some other places also). I believe that was done, however NOT by Arbor Care, with whom we had a long talk about the kind of trimming we were hoping for, but by the AMP contractors, whom we did not have a careful discussion with. The topped and mutilated trees on my street make me, well, ill.

Water Feasibility Report and Discussion: See my plea above for help and input!

Discussion of Budget Process for 2011 / Discussion of Goals Process for 2011: We are hoping to hit the ground running with the new council, so we are urging the current candidates to come for this discussion where we are hoping to set up a tentative calendar. Judith has written everyone a quick email about this, but if you see Shane, Gerald, or Dan, tell them to come on down tonight if they can!

New Council Orientation: We're hoping that Council can have lunch with the new candidates on the orientation date, which is yet to be established. Again, it would be great to have the candidates attend tonight's meeting.

This poem is the favorite fall poem of one of my favorite bloggers, Ta-Nehisi Coates.
He's a black guy who writes for the Atlantic and he's just a brilliant, wide-ranging reader and thinker. Ok, it's true that he loves a lot of my favorites, Frederick Douglass and Edith Wharton (!!!) for starters, and he was just totally into Jane Austen (of all people) last year, AND he also introduced me to great histories--James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom and Daniel Walker Howe's What Hath God Wrought and the absolutely devastating Slavery by a Another Name--which is still haunting me--by a Wall Street Journal reporter--seriously!--Douglas Blackmon about the "re-enslavement of black Americans from the Civil War to WWII." I mean, did you know that slavery was not criminalized until 1944! For Real! Ok. So, you should read Ta-Nehisi's blog, linked above, and below, and read anything that Coates recommends.

(Mostly, I just wanted to recommend Coates; I think I'm not quite as enamoured of this poem as he is--it does feel like more of a guy poem maybe to me?--but it may also grow on me. I do love poets who can rhyme and not sound amateurish.)

October by Frederick Seidel

It is time to lose your life,
Even if it isn't over.
It is time to say goodbye and try to die.
It is October.

The mellow cello
Allee of trees is almost lost in sweetness and mist
When you take off your watch at sunrise
To lose your life.

You catch the plane.
You land again.
You arrive in the place.
You speak the language.

You will live in a new house,
Even if it is old.
You will live with a new wife,
Even if she is too young.

Your slender new husband will love you.
He will walk the dog in the cold.
He will cook a meal on the stove.
He will bring you your medication in bed.

Dawn at the city flower market downtown.
The vendors have just opened.
The flowers are so fresh.
The restaurants are there to decorate their tables.

Your husband rollerblades past, whizzing,
Making a whirring sound, winged like an angel--
But stops and spins around and skates back
To buy some cut flowers in the early morning frost.

I am buying them for you.
I am buying them for your blond hair at dawn.
I am buying them for your beautiful breasts.
I am buying them for your beautiful heart.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

VC: Last night: Reorganization and Barr Property

Last night we mostly discussed and voted on "old business"--specifically the Barr Property plans being developed by Home, Inc., and Buckeye Hope, as well as the re-organization of the village administration.  Whereas our last vote on both was 4-1, this time, both passed unanimously, the former due to clarification of the process, and the latter due also to clarification of the responsibilities/roles of the position.

See last week's posting for more info about my stance.

Monday, September 19, 2011

VC: Reorganization and Barr Property

Dear People:  Mark will be out of town, so we're keeping the agenda relatively light, but still there are big issues that a great many of you care about, and as usual, you can always read more about everything on the agenda by examining our packet, here. I've highlighted a few things below:


In Paper Packet and On Line:
Housing Coalition of Greene Co. re: Support of Affordable Senior Housing
Chief Grote re: Beggars’ Night: SATURDAY, OCT. 29.  Chief Grote also responds to various criticisms of the event, including the charge that too many people come from outside the village, saying that people come because it's family friendly and feels safe, and it's not unlike 4th of July or Street Fair: part of who we are is about being welcoming to visitors. 
All Previously Received Letters Referencing Barr Property Proposal
Anna Bellisari re: Barr Property Trees
Alan Macbeth re: Barr Property Trees
Steven Bognar re: Support for Senior Housing
Suzanne Patterson re: Support for Senior Housing

Vicki Hennessey re: Forum on DEFEATING ISSUE 2 (SB 5):  THURSDAY! (this week!) Sept 22, 7:30 pm, YS Senior Center (227 Xenia).  Rudy Fichtenbaum (AAUP/Wright State), Aurelia Blake (YSHS); Ellis Jacobs (local attorney--will also address the opposition to HB 194--be sure to sign a petition opposing this bill.)  Please attend! This is the first event sponsored by a new groups calling itself Progressive Yellow Springs.

YS Arts Council re: Seat on Economic Sustainability Commission
: Requesting a seat for one of their Board of Trustee members.

E-Packet Only:
Greene Co. Library re: October Programming

Reading of Resolution 2011-48 Authorizing $40,000 for Operations and Maintenance Manuals for WWTP:  This should have been included in the original budget, it's necessary; I support it.  The funds will come from the loan that we are taking out to cover the cost of building the new additions to the WWTP, required by the EPA.  I will vote yes.
Reading of Resolution 2011-49 Adding Streets to the 2011 Paving Program: This is correcting a discrepency between documents, due to human error, rather than adding streets we did not initially intend.  I will vote yes.

First Reading of Ordinance 2011-24 Approving Amendment to the Village Organizational Structure:  I realize that this has been controversial in the village, and last week I shared Judith's thoughts on this.  I believe strongly that this new structure is both the appropriate model for our work in the village, and that it will better serve business interests to have the point person on economic development (who, yes, will have other responsibilities) be a full time employee, rather than a part time employee who is only in the office 20 hours a week.  I do not see this as a loss to the economic development interests of the village but as a plus.  I will vote yes. 

First Reading and Public Hearing of Ordinance 2011-25 Amending the Zoning Code to Permit a PUD-R for Barr Property:  I will vote yes for this project, urging the developers to save as many old-growth trees as they can.  But this is the right kind of project for our economic prosperity.  If successful, this is a $6.25 million dollar grant that will come into our community from the outside.  It fits with our goals of infill and re-development, and it serves the most frequently selected need arising from our recent visioning process: affordable housing.  Many seniors in our community are eager to move into these apartments, which would allow a life that is integrated into the community, near important amenities like the pharmacy and the grocery store, and down town shops. Finally, let's be clear: this is not a shortened process, but a lengthened one.  The developers have agreed to go through the whole, required process after we give our (initial) blessing for a project of this scale to be considered as they seek grant money, with the understanding that if there are significant problems with making the site work, based on engineering, they will have to re-plan.  I hear the concerns,  but I believe it will be a win for the village if we can help to facilitate it.  I will vote yes.



By Rainer Maria Rilke Translated By Mary Kinzie Read the translator's notes
After the summer's yield, Lord, it is time
to let your shadow lengthen on the sundials
and in the pastures let the rough winds fly.

As for the final fruits, coax them to roundness.
Direct on them two days of warmer light
to hale them golden toward their term, and harry
the last few drops of sweetness through the wine.

Whoever's homeless now, will build no shelter;
who lives alone will live indefinitely so,
waking up to read a little, draft long letters,   
and, along the city's avenues,
fitfully wander, when the wild leaves loosen.
Source: Poetry (April 2008).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

VC: 9/6 (late posting) Treasurer's Report, Reorganization, Arboretum Name?

Apologies for the delayed posting.  The fastest way to get these is to sign up for my email list--just drop me a note.  I post these after I send the email, but sometimes time is very precious and it takes me awhile to get to the blog.

Dear People:  And suddenly it's fall.  Our last meeting fell on the evening of my first day back to school, but the chill in the air since yesterday, following last week's blast of summer heat, and the encroachment of the dark on both ends of the days, says it's time for autumn rituals.  Maybe we'll finally deal with all those stacks of empty plant pots on the back porch, pick up the sticks that have fallen in the yard, roast vegetables, make stew.

But, the meeting tonight.  Here's the full packet if you're interested in any of the topics below. 


AMP re: Standard Solar Project Update:  The AMP solar project has been canceled (this is not the one that we are working with YSRE, Melink and SolarVision for here in town--see below).  There's the possibility of AMP-owned, "behind the meter" solar installations.
Ohio EPA: Approval of WPCLF Application (plans for Sewer Lift Station approved at Waste Water Treatment Plants)
AMP re: AMP Hydro Update: new budget available for viewing. 
Kathryn Van der Heiden re: Budget Concerns: Would like to hear more discussion of budget.
Suzanne Clauser re: Reorganization:  Opposes the plan.
Jeremy Chapman re: Solar Update: they are hopeful that a final agreement can be made with a major financer of the project soon, so that the final engineering contract between Melink and SolarVision can be signed and that a majority of the construction can still be completed by the end of the year.
Mayor’s Monthly ReportDave Conley re: Milling/Paving Schedule:  Happening this week.  Affected streets include: North College, Herman, Randall, Stafford, Greene, Xenia Ave..

Second Reading and Public Hearing of Ordinance 2011-22 Authorizing Village Manager to
Sign Addendum to the Trailside Museum Inter-Agency Agreement.   See last week's note.  I support.
Second Reading and Public Hearing of Ordinance 2011-23 Supplemental Appropriation for Flatter Hereford Farms (Glass Farm property--needed for Solar project).  See last week's note.  I support.
Resolution 2011-44 Accepting the Amounts and Rates as Determined by the Budget Commission and Authorizing the Necessary Tax Levies and Certifying Them to the County Auditor.  (Pro-forma, basically)
Resolution 2011-45 Authorizing the Village Manager to Enter into a Contract with Pavement Management for 2011: $18K for street sealcoating.  (Last year this was $50K--it is a way to make the new surfaces last longer).  I support.
Resolution 2011-46 Authorizing the Village Manager to Enter into an Agreement for Property Casualty Insurance for 2012. $52K. Rates are increased by $2K next year, partly due to increased property value out at our waste water plant.  For the last several years, our insurance has been through our membership in the Public Entities Pool of Ohio, which helps us to keep rates lower.  I support.
Resolution 2011-47 Resolution to (re)Appoint John C. Chambers of Coolidge Wall as Village Solicitor: Rate: $165/hour.  I am not sure what rate we paid last year--have submitted a query as to whether this is the same as last year.  In principle, I support this resolution.

Treasurer’s Report:  Our treasurer, Rachel MicKinley, has done a good job of getting our bank charges/interest earned back in order.  Earnings from interest and investments are extremely low.  The investments committee is looking at the possibility of retiring the bond debt on the Bryan Center, which is $650K and still costs us interest charges (although it's primarily principal payments at this time, so that makes it a closer call.)

Discussion of Reorganization of Village Operations:  We have received a handful of letters expressing concern about this plan.  I do hear the concerns expressed.  I still support this plan for reorganization.  Judith has written eloquently about this to a citizen expressing concerns, so I would like to share it with you:

"Thanks for your email regarding this important issue. I am writing to clarify my thinking, although I realize you may not be satisfied with my response. I have always supported policy and Village action based on what I believed was best for the village citizens, and at times they are difficult decisions. Also, I am very cognizant of the current economy. 

Obviously, this is a very difficult situation and it is not a case of just needing to cover the Village Manager for his vacation. We are a very small community with limited resources and as I'm sure you are aware, the State has cut our funding in a way which will make meeting the needs of our citizens that much more difficult.

And we have a village manager who needs support. That support is not there at the present and something needs to be done if we wish to be fair to our village manager and be able retain a village manager over time. If money were not an issue, we could just enlarge our staff. The new assistant manager position would be given the responsibilities for planning and economic sustainability while being someone that the village manager can also rely on for backup.

Lori, the VP of Council, and I have reviewed with Mark, our options. In spite of the unpleasant realities of this proposal, we believe Mark’s proposal is the best option.

I believe we have been compassionate leaders of this community. That compassion did not suddenly disappear with the event of this proposal. It is an awkward situation, and I am sorry that to address the needs of our community, we will negatively impact, at least in the short run, two of our staff members. However, I have been on the Village Council for six years, and I believe Mark’s proposal is the way to solve this problem while being fiscally responsible.

Mark has done a very good job. He is a workhorse. On top of the areas he oversees, which he has enumerated in his report, he coordinates and provides much of the staff support for planning commission. He has recently been asked to meet monthly with Community Resources to keep the Center for Business and Education project moving forward in a timely way. He is coordinating the work on a new zoning code. He is coordinating the work on the Barr Party proposal.

I've been reviewing in my mind the major projects he has lead during this calendar year.  Early in the year he presented and worked with the Village Council on our 2011 budget. We were then approached with a proposal for a solar farm, and he switched gears and put a huge amount of time into that proposal. He provided reams of information for the tax levy renewal. He made recommendations on sidewalk policy and any number of other smaller projects and decisions made and carried out by the Village. He is our HR department. He oversees our infrastructures, which include the water system, sewer system, electric system, and the streets and parks system. He is even the supervisor of our police chief making him the person Chief Grote turns to with problems and concerns. And he frequently is called upon to do much of the grunt work as well, to meet deadlines and needs of projects at hand.

He writes reports on every piece of legislation that comes in front of Council. He is our point person on all of the AMP legislation we have seen in the last many months. He oversees all the departments of the Village. He is the main person citizens want to talk with about the issues that they have.

This is way too much work for one person from day to day. It has been an ongoing problem well before Mark's arrival. It was also a recognized problem during the employment of Eric Swanson and the Interim Manager, John Weithofer.

Mark spends way more than 40 hours a week to barely keep his nose above water.  He also needs to be able to get away from time to time to refresh himself and spend time with family and friends, without all of the work he is responsible for, stopping until he gets back to mountains of unanswered emails, and snail mail and phone calls etc.

We are friends and neighbors of two persons who will be negatively affected by this change. Loyalty and friendship are powerful energies that run deep, and I know that many of us are unhappy about the negative impact on them. However, if there were another way to solve this problem, it would have been proposed.

I trust Mark, and he knows more intimately then anyone else can, the full picture of our staff’s responsibilities and what it takes to meet those responsibilities.  It can be a lonely and heavy responsibility and he has shouldered his responsibilities well. Therefore, I support his proposal.

I hope you will also read Mark's memo in the packet.  I will add that with no one able to back the Manager up and take on some responsibilities as needed, the potential for extremely costly errors or lost details goes way up, as does the potential for all-out burn out.  When our last manager left, we were faced with a fine of $80,000 from the EPA because work simply wasn't moving forward to deal with our sewage plant violations, and raw sewage was flowing into the Glen.  It is hard to find and keep a healthy manager, because right now there is too much pressure on this one position.  This is not an easy decision, partly because it's way overdue.  


Discussion of Purchase of Pole Setter for Electrical Distribution :  Dave Conley will explain the benefits of a model that he recommends.  Funds available in Electrical fund to pay for it.
Review of 2011 Work Plan:  Judith has created an overview of what we've done, what's ongoing, and what's still to do--including work specific to the Clerk, Manager, and the committees and commissions of Council.
Discussion of Naming of Arboretum at Ellis Park: Plan to honor Lloyd Kennedy for his work on this committee since 1967 by naming the Arboretum at Ellis Park after him, using Tree Committee funds to create a new sign.


In addition to a poem, I am going to link to a video of a commercial I remember from my youth--an old ILGWU (International Ladies' Garments Workers Union).  Remember when there were commercials for Unions on television?  I don't think I've seen one since the 1970s!  Take one minute to watch this--I bet you'll remember the song, "Look for the Union label, when you are buying a coat, dress, or blouse.  Remember somewhere our Union's sewing...")

And here's a companion poem by Robert Pinsky:


By Robert Pinsky

The back, the yoke, the yardage. Lapped seams,
The nearly invisible stitches along the collar
Turned in a sweatshop by Koreans or Malaysians

Gossiping over tea and noodles on their break
Or talking money or politics while one fitted
This armpiece with its overseam to the band

Of cuff I button at my wrist. The presser, the cutter,
The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,
The treadle, the bobbin. The code. The infamous blaze

At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.
One hundred and forty-six died in the flames
On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes—

The witness in a building across the street
Who watched how a young man helped a girl to step
Up to the windowsill, then held her out

Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.
And then another. As if he were helping them up
To enter a streetcar, and not eternity.

A third before he dropped her put her arms   
Around his neck and kissed him. Then he held
Her into space, and dropped her. Almost at once

He stepped to the sill himself, his jacket flared
And fluttered up from his shirt as he came down,
Air filling up the legs of his gray trousers—

Like Hart Crane’s Bedlamite, “shrill shirt ballooning.”
Wonderful how the pattern matches perfectly
Across the placket and over the twin bar-tacked

Corners of both pockets, like a strict rhyme
Or a major chord.   Prints, plaids, checks,
Houndstooth, Tattersall, Madras. The clan tartans

Invented by mill-owners inspired by the hoax of Ossian,
To control their savage Scottish workers, tamed
By a fabricated heraldry: MacGregor,

Bailey, MacMartin. The kilt, devised for workers
To wear among the dusty clattering looms.
Weavers, carders, spinners. The loader,

The docker, the navvy. The planter, the picker, the sorter
Sweating at her machine in a litter of cotton
As slaves in calico headrags sweated in fields:

George Herbert, your descendant is a Black
Lady in South Carolina, her name is Irma
And she inspected my shirt. Its color and fit

And feel and its clean smell have satisfied
Both her and me. We have culled its cost and quality
Down to the buttons of simulated bone,

The buttonholes, the sizing, the facing, the characters
Printed in black on neckband and tail. The shape,
The label, the labor, the color, the shade. The shirt.
Robert Pinsky, “Shirt” from The Want Bone. Copyright © 1990 by Robert Pinsky. Reprinted with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

Source: The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 (HarperCollins, 1996)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Of rights-of-way, loans, raises, reorganization, and summer's end

<--This is a Jafabrit picture of the sunflowers at Whitehall Farm. Soon they will be blooming again, with that painful joy of the refulgence of the end of summer.
Dear People: It's a lovely day! Hope you're out enjoying it as those on a semester schedule face "The End of Summer" (see poem below!). Ok, so there's a lot going on in this meeting, even though the agenda looks pretty light at first glance. I've highlighted the major items for discussion that I think people may have thoughts about. Do feel free to read the whole or parts of the packet by clicking the blue link above. So here goes:


First Reading of Ordinance 2011-22
Authorizing Village Manager to Sign Addendum to the
Trailside Museum Inter-Agency Agreement: We entered into an agreement in 2009 with the Trailside/Glen Helen Ecology Inst. to help them get a grant from the Ohio DNR by serving as a "pass-through" for the money (money had to go through a governmental agency); the project is now complete but the ODNR wants to be sure that the museum and restrooms will be open to the public when the museum is open. I support this ordinance.

First Reading of Ordinance 2011-23
Supplemental Appropriation to Flatter Hereford Farms for Fertilizer applied to Farmland: This is a result of the solar farm proposal. That land had already been leased to a farmer who had already applied fertilizer for the upcoming season--which is standard practice in industrial farming. Per contract agreement, since we canceled the contract, we will pay them $2,951.39 in reimbursement costs for their receipted expenses.

Resolution 2011-39 Adopting a Statement of Services the Village Will Provide to Territory Proposed to be Annexed (Dayton-Yellow Springs Rd. ROW)
Resolution 2011-40 Consenting to the Annexation of Territory (Dayton-Yellow Springs Rd.ROW) These two resolutions are regarding the annexation of 1.77 acres of land which currently is the right of way for the Dayton-Yellow Springs Road west of the village, a peninsula of land that is surrounded by village property on three sides. This will allow for construction of a safe entrance to the CBE (Antioch Midwest, etc.) and allow us to extend the 35 mph speed limit to west. (If it stays at 55 mph there, a whole new and much more expensive and larger intersection would need to be designed.) I support these two resolutions.

Resolution 2011-41 Approving Annual Wage Increases for Certain Village Employees We directed the manager at our last meeting to bring forward a resolution raising the pay of all employees by 2% (except the village mgr., clerk of council, village treasurer, and law director), as their annual cost of living raise, retroactive to July 3. This is in keeping with (actually a hair less than) the average raises for public employees in Greene County. I support this resolution.

Resolution 2011-42 Approving a Loan to Antioch Company, LLC I am reluctantly in support of this loan. I do not think it was ideally constructed, I'm concerned that the terms could have been better, and the process was not good. It seems very important and valuable to keep the kinds of excellent jobs that eHDS provides, so I am voting yes. I have heard serious critiques of this from community members, and many of the critiques are valid. I will vote yes.


Discussion of Planning Commission Recommendation to Council to Approve a PUD-R for the Barr Property
In his memo re: this discussion item, Mark explains the revised process that he and Brad Schwab (our planning consultant) proposed, and Planning Commission endorsed at our meeting on Monday, for the Barr Property PUD-R approval request. Staff is alerting us to the Planning Commission's recommendation that we "require that the preliminary plan be reviewed again once project financing is obtained," which is different from our ordinary process. Staff also asks Council to schedule a Public Hearing on the approval request for the Sept. 9th meeting. I support this process and this schedule.
Discussion of Purchase of Pole Setter for Electrical Distribution In our budget this year we approved $100,000 to buy a new pole setter. Kelley Fox, Electrical Distribution Supervisor, feels it's needed to access rear yards, where many power poles are located, without having to bring in trucks, which do much more damage. He found one that has a taller reach and better features, including a bucket attachment so that it can be used for maintenance as well as power pole setting. But it costs more--$124,441. There are adequate funds in the Electric Utility to pay this additional expense, so I tentatively support this, but I'm fairly ignorant about this kind of purchase so I will be interested to hear more.
Discussion of Possible Reorganization of Village Operations This is the most contentious item I suspect. Even before Mark's arrival, the structure of the village operations has been a concern--both of our previous managers during my tenure argued that the manager position has too many demands on it and this makes it likely that some work is done poorly or never attended to, and makes it virtually impossible for the manager to leave for more than a day or two. He has 8 direct reports, and has to back up most of them when they are gone, but there's no one to back up the manager when he's gone. If we could just hire more staff, the solution would be simple. We cannot afford that--and our budget is about to be reduced. The Manager proposes, and I strongly endorse, that we eliminate the full-time planning assistant position and the 24 hour per week economic sustainability coordinator position and combine them into one assistant manager position with a focus on both of those areas. The full package for this one position should cost less than the two positions combined (with all the attendant costs of two positions). The two people in the positions have been contacted and have offered to be of assistance in the transition.

Lots of information in his report about the CBE, the vandalism at Ellis Park, deduct meters (rules have been set, you should be able to get the rules and a list of approved devices, which a plumber needs to install, at the village offices), tree trimming, and the delays to street paving. Take a look!

POEM: Feeling melancholy as I enter this last week before classes begin, when the meetings really kick in. But the ABBA rhyming in this modern poem is lovely, refreshingly old-fashioned. I am glad there's a formalist movement in modern poetry, bringing back the old structures with some nice resistances, such as the 5th stanza below:
Sweet smell of phlox drifting across the lawn—
an early warning of the end of summer.
August is fading fast, and by September
the little purple flowers will all be gone.

Season, project, and vacation done.
One more year in everybody’s life.
Add a notch to the old hunting knife
Time keeps testing with a horny thumb.

Over the summer months hung an unspoken
aura of urgency. In late July
galactic pulsings filled the midnight sky
like silent screaming, so that, strangely woken,

we looked at one another in the dark,
then at the milky magical debris
arcing across, dwarfing our meek mortality.
There were two ways to live: get on with work,

redeem the time, ignore the imminence
of cataclysm; or else take it slow,
be as tranquil as the neighbors’ cow
we love to tickle through the barbed wire fence
(she paces through her days in massive innocence,
or, seeing green pastures, we imagine so).

In fact, not being cows, we have no choice.
Summer or winter, country, city, we
are prisoners from the start and automatically,
hemmed in, harangued by the one clamorous voice.

Not light but language shocks us out of sleep
ideas of doom transformed to meteors
we translate back to portents of the wars
looming above the nervous watch we keep.

Rachel Hadas, “The End of Summer” from Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1998 by Rachel Hadas. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1998)

Monday, August 8, 2011

PC: Barr Property Plans

<--Traditional Finnish sauna!

Dear People: This morning I turned in 80 signatures (I needed 35) for my Village Council nomination petition, two days ahead of the deadline (yahoo!). Thanks to all who signed and/or sent in good wishes. I find it's actually pretty heartening to speak to villagers. My experience is that even most people who have disagreed with me on a single issue or vote, or a few votes, are very appreciative of those of us who stick our necks out and try to fill this role to the best of our abilities and with integrity.

Thanks for recognizing our efforts, and don't be afraid to let me know your thoughts on any vote. I really do listen, and hearing your arguments--even if I ultimately disagree--is helpful as I try to have an awareness of the 'pulse' of the village. It may shape a future vote or project in future ways even if the immediate vote doesn't go your way.

Tonight the Planning Commission will be voting on the "Preliminary Plans" for the Barr Property being put forth by Home Inc and their partner for this project, Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, which we discussed conceptually at our last meeting. While I have some logistical concerns, I was impressed by the plans, in general, as was the rest of the Planning Commission, I believe. Home Inc and Buckeye would like to get initial approval for use, density, parking, and open space, and then be able to delay submitting more detailed preliminary plans until after they have secured the tax credits from the highly competitive process. Brad Schwab, our planning consultant, argues that this is a reasonable request due to the uncertainty of the tax credit process, and suggests we allow this. Additionally, as I see it, it allows for a little more time for us to fully digest the plans. I support a modified plan approval process.

Mr. Schwab also recommends that we suggest some design modifications to help make the building fit better with the neighborhood and to keep the units usable for seniors for at least 15 years. They seem reasonable, and I look forward to continued discussion tonight. If we decide on the modified process, we could focus on these kinds of details at a later date.

The only other item of significance on our agenda is Tim Tobey's work on examining the Parks and Rec Master Plan with local people who have a particular interest. I suspect that agenda item could be delayed if the Barr Property plans take a significant amount of time.

Watched a wonderful PBS film, "Steam of Life," about Finnish men in the sauna (available for free streaming until Nov. 1
) last night after our sauna. So I thought I'd end with a poem about women and sauna:

The Bodies

By Elizabeth Spires
Here, in the half-dark of the sauna,
the bodies of the women glisten ...

Naked, disproportionate, lush,
hung and burdened with flesh, they open slowly,
like orchids blooming out of season.

Sweat beads my forehead.
Heat rings my breasts, like circlets,
and I am my body, all shimmering flesh.

Secrets are whispered here. Stories told.
The bodies, alabaster, abalone,
relax, give up their pose, to ask,
How shall we be joined?
How shall we know each other?
By doors, by chains and linkages
through which we shall be
entered, touched, possessed.

I see them, row upon row, the rank and file
of generations moving without pause:
—the bodies of the young girls, the willows,
complete unto themselves, androgynous;
—the great bodies of the mothers,
circled by their little moons, adoring;
—the mothers of the mothers,
the old wise ones, ponderous and slow.
And in another room, not far from this one,
the restless bodies of men, searching
without knowing what it is they search for.
Body of the world! Body of flesh!
Leaving this room, I leave the orbit of women.
I dress and walk into the snowy night,
into the great body of the world,
cold, still, and expectant.
Bodying forth, I am taken by the dark.

What am I? Asked, shall I say:
Struck by a spark, I quickened
and was born to flashing
days and nights, a small significance
of one. I did not wish to change,
but changed, feeling desire and fear
and love, failing many times.
My meaning made, I died,
the windows darkening for the last time.

We move, we love, we cry out,
we hold or cannot hold to what we are
and finally wake to find ourselves
changed beyond all imagining.
Was it enough to have lived?
In that moment of still approach,
will it be given to us to know?

Elizabeth Spires, “The Bodies” from Worldling. Copyright © 1995 by Elizabeth Spires. Reprinted with the permission of W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Monday, August 1, 2011

VC: Short Meeting, Exec Session, Funny Poem

Hi, folks--Very short meeting tonight, so this will be a short email.


We're discussing only the decision we basically made last meeting to again issue a contract for our trash collection/recycling with Rumpke.

New Business: Raises for our village staff.
(We have a new system in place for determining raises, which we created last year on Mark's recommendation. He's recommending a 2% across the board, cost of living increase for all staff, which is in line (slightly less than) with salary increases for public and municipal employees in Greene County.

Executive Session:
Evaluation of Mark's work and contract negotiation, litigation.

By Tennessee Williams
After you've been to bed together for the first time,
without the advantage or disadvantage of any prior acquaintance,
the other party very often says to you,
Tell me about yourself, I want to know all about you,
what's your story? And you think maybe they really and truly do

sincerely want to know your life story, and so you light up
a cigarette and begin to tell it to them, the two of you
lying together in completely relaxed positions
like a pair of rag dolls a bored child dropped on a bed.

You tell them your story, or as much of your story
as time or a fair degree of prudence allows, and they say,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, until the oh
is just an audible breath, and then of course

there's some interruption. Slow room service comes up
with a bowl of melting ice cubes, or one of you rises to pee
and gaze at himself with the mild astonishment in the bathroom mirror.
And then, the first thing you know, before you've had time
to pick up where you left off with your enthralling life story,
they're telling you their life story, exactly as they'd intended to all along,

and you're saying, Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, the vowel at last becoming
no more than an audible sigh,
as the elevator, halfway down the corridor and a turn to the left,
draws one last, long, deep breath of exhaustion
and stops breathing forever. Then?

Well, one of you falls asleep
and the other one does likewise with a lighted cigarette in his mouth,
and that's how people burn to death in hotel rooms.

"Life Story" by Tennessee Williams, from THE COLLECTED POEMS OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, copyright © 1937, 1956, 1964, 2002 by The University of the South. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Source: THE COLLECTED POEMS OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2002)

Monday, July 18, 2011

VC tonight: Solid Waste and Creative Memories

Dear People: We have a light agenda for tonight's Village Council meeting. The main issue I would like feedback on is the issue regarding our solid waste (trash collection) contract--see yellow below. I also give thoughts about the Creative Memories deal, which I will endorse with some reluctance, as I explain below.

Second Reading and Public Hearing of Ordinance 2011-18 Amending the Zoning Code to Permit Internet Gaming Cafes as Conditionally Permitted Uses in the General Business District--I will vote yest. See my last VC meeting note.

Emergency Reading and Public Hearing of Ordinance 2011-19
Supplemental Appropriations. This looks like the standard shifting of funds midyear--it does look like costs are running a little higher than expected in some areas, but it's a little hard to tell--I will ask about this. (General fund budget is up by $30K, e.g., but it looks like we have more funds coming in to our Special Revenue sources--up by $35K; and quite a bit of small shifts in the Enterprise funds--but I'm not 100% sure what it all adds up to.)

Second Reading and Public Hearing of Ordinance 2011-20
Approving Transfer and Sale of Land to Peaches--I will again vote yes; see last VC meeting note from me.

Emergency Reading and Public Hearing of Ordinance 2011-21
Transfer from Electric Fund to Bond Retirement Fund--This is a transfer of $215.01 from Electric Fund to the Bond Retirement Fund. I will likely vote yes, because this is likely a minor blip--I'm not sure why such a small amount is even coming before us, unless perhaps it was inadvertantly left off the original budget.

Resolution 2011-26
Awarding Solid Waste Contract: We have competing proposals from Rumpke and Waste Management. The contract offers are very similar, with Waste Management's offer (probably) being slightly lower, although there are some variables that we can't be 100% sure of. Mark Cundiff, our manager, reasonably argues that the "intangibles" are arguably pretty equal, so he would suggest simply going with the lower of the two bids. However, I am leaning toward Rumpke because I'm hearing some positive feedback, they have been our provider for about 20 years, and they are a more regionally based company I would like to hear from you if you have strong feelings!

Resolution 2011-30
Approving Planning Services Contract with Schwab Planning Group LLC. This looks like a cheaper and more local source for Planning consultation; we've been working with Mr. Schwab for a long time through Woolperts, a national group, and he's now breaking off and becoming his own independent consultant--charging half as much as Woolperts. He's been a good consultant; I will be voting yes.

Resolution 2011-36 Waiving Section 206.01(b) Requiring Formal Bidding for the Purchase of a Police Cruiser. One resident is raising concerns about possibly getting a more energy-efficient alternative to the Crown Victoria cruiser (likely with a higher initial cost), which I hope we will have answers to, but on the face of it, this seems to be a reasonable request as a way to get the car we need and at a lower cost than our normal procedures.

Resolution 2011-37 Approving a Loan to Creative Memories: Pros and Cons: Here's the issue as I see it:

Pros: We need the tax revenues that the excellent jobs provided by companies like eHDS represent. Even if those employees do not live in town, and some of the do and will, we will get their municipal tax dollars by housing their jobs here. We know that good, beyond-minimum wage jobs are key to our sustainability as a community, and we are short on "A-1 office space"--office space that is in good shape, fully furnished, and ready for modern electronics and e-communication networks--of useable dimensions. This wall would create two such "A-1" spaces of a more useable size for most companies, and thus help to promote our economic growth. The forgiveness in the loan is contingent on CM's getting and retaining excellent employers in our community. Thus, there's incentive to getting both sides rented out. So on those levels, this is a reasonable loan.

Cons: I am aware, however, of the sentiment out there that Creative Memories is a big corporation that many would argue has caused pain and even damage to many residents of our community when it closed YS operations awhile back, and it seemingly could use its own funds to make the building more leaseable. The loan has had to be pulled together at the last minute and with some pretty major changes each time I received any new communication about it. So I am a little uneasy about it. I am also uneasy about whether this is good practice for the future--I believe we need better advice on these issues and it's hard to come by clear answers in economic times that are difficult--there's a "bidding wars" context for companies like eDHS between communities that can start to feel a little like blackmail--leadership from the state and national level on this would be helpful but is unlikely to be forthcoming. Finally, it seems frustrating that this is our current capitalist context in which the richest get the easiest access to funds, on the best terms, and those who are poor or just getting started have to go begging and can be easily reviled for any need for government support.

I will, with some concern and ambivalence, likely support this loan, but I am interested to hear your feedback.

I am going to go swimming now. In lieu of a poem, I give you a quotation from and link to the magnificent short story, "The Swimmer," by John Cheever, and urge you all to go read it now
, in some cool place:

"The sun was hot. Neddy Merrill sat by the green water, one hand in it, one around a glass of gin. He was a slender man—he seemed to have the especial slenderness of youth—and while he was far from young he had slid down his banister that morning and given the bronze backside of Aphrodite on the hall table a smack, as he jogged toward the smell of coffee in his dining room. He might have been compared to a summer's day, particularly the last hours of one, and while he lacked a tennis racket or a sail bag the impression was definitely one of youth, sport, and clement weather. He had been swimming and now he was breathing deeply, stertorously as if he could gulp into his lungs the components of that moment, the heat of the sun, the intenseness of his pleasure. It all seemed to flow into his chest. His own house stood in Bullet Park, eight miles to the south, where his four beautiful daughters would have had their lunch and might be playing tennis. Then it occurred to him that by taking a dogleg to the southwest he could reach his home by water. His life was not confining and the delight he took in this observation could not be explained by its suggestion of escape. He seemed to see, with a cartographer's eye, that string of swimming pools, that quasi-subterranean stream that curved across the county. He had made a discovery, a contribution to modern geography; he would name the stream Lucinda after his wife."

--"The Swimmer" by John Cheever


Saturday, July 9, 2011

PC meeting on Mon: Parks Master Plan and New Barr Property Plans?

<--Image from the Ohio Historical Society
Dear People-- The weather is gorgeous and the summer has suddenly become lush and beautiful. The Iowa farm girl in me noticed that the corn in the field just south of us on Spillan has grown at least a foot in the past week; it's now well over my head, I judge. When I was a kid I swear we could literally hear it growing on very hot, humid, still July nights--there's a kind of popping sound that I think is corn growing. (Although I just tried to verify this fact by consulting Dr. Internet, but I found nothing authoritative, just lots of wonderful anecdata....)

So, looks like we're in for another round of exciting Yellow Springs debate. There's just two things on our PC agenda:

In a nutshell: Home, Inc. and Buckeye propose to develop 37 units of "high quality energy efficient housing for independent seniors aged 55 and older in Yellow Springs" on the Barr property (321 Xenia, corner of Xenia and Limestone.)

This property has a long Planning Commission history, as many of you are aware. A couple of years ago PC and Council approved a plan by the Friends Care Community to build 30 units on that property (plus space for another building and with retail/community space and 4 more dwellings). This proposal has many similarities to that: it's affordable apartment housing for seniors located near the heart of town. It's a different size and shape--2 stories, not three, and the plan is less of a solid block so to me it is more appealing in several ways.

Assuming we can work out issues regarding storm water management on the property and some other problems, my initial inclination is to support this project. I suspect that some of you will disagree with this position, given the history of the last project proposal--hence my assertion that we're in for a debate.

Do let me know if there are specific questions you would like me to ask of the developers about this project.


Well, one of the three books I'm reading right now is John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. There's a whole lot of poetry and power in that book, with a verbal aesthetic that evokes the great graphic art of the 1930s, with noble, dignified workers standing larger-than-life in woodcut landscapes. Here's a few great, and timely, passages:

"Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshipped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank—or the Company—needs—wants—insist​s—must have—as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. ...
'We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man.'
'Yes, but the bank is only made of men.'
'No, you’re wrong there—quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it."
(from Chapter 5)

"For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments. This you may say of man—when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. This you may say and know it and know it. This you may know when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on the market place, when prisoners are stuck like pigs, when the crushed bodies drain filthily in the dust. You may know it in this way. If the step were not being taken, if the stumbling-forward ache were not alive, the bombs would not fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live—for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live—for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this you can know—fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe."
(from Chapter 14)

"And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. The money was spent for arms, for gas to protect the great holdings, and spies were sent to catch the murmurings of revolt so that it might be stamped out. The changing economy was ignored, plans for the change ignored; and only means to destroy revolt were considered, while the causes for revolt went on."
(from Chapter 19)


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

VC tonight: Internet Cafes, Land transfer (Peach's), Solid Waste, Affordable Housing, eHDS(?)/office space, Tree Trimming, Manager Eval.

Dear People--I saw many of you as I marched for Planned Parenthood in yesterday's parade. Thanks for the shout-outs! It was a feel-good experience for an organization that needs some feel good support. (If you want to support them in any way--time, treasures, or talents--talk to me! or go to
!) And ended with an amazing show of fireworks as usual by the Township fire fighters and the Lion's club. Thanks!

Wow--a massively big schedule for tonight.

First Reading of Ordinance 2011-18 Amending the Zoning Code to Allow Internet Cafes as
Conditionally Permitted Uses in the General Business District.
I will vote yes.
First Reading of Ordinance 2011-20 Approving Transfer and Sale of Land to Peaches, Inc. I will vote yes. This is a tiny, narrow "bowtie" of land that is part of the Peach's lot (it's the part of their lot that basically abuts the bike path, running the whole length of their property), that is technically owned by the village, which makes it difficult for them to expand their business. Peach's have spent $1800 having this property surveyed and appraised, and its value is only $600. This ordinance sells it to them for $1. I support this Ordinance.
Resolution 2011-26 Awarding Solid Waste Contract to Waste Management. The manager suggests ending our 20-year relationship with Rumpke and awarding this contract to Waste Management. This will likely change your trash pick up date (so beware!) but it is a lower cost bid than Rumpke, so it would save you money. I support this resolution.
Resolution 2011-28 Approving the Selection of Home, Inc. as the Development Partner for the Cemetery St. Affordable Housing Project I co-sponsored this proposal, and support this resolution. Home Inc has a good, achievable small-scale plan that will create revenue, eventually, and cost very little in the short term, for a needed goal.
Resolution 2011-29 Approving a Farm Lease for Sutton Farm I support this lease agreement. It covers 43 acres of village-owned land.
Resolution 2011-31 OEPA Planning Loan Application for I &I Elimination Inflow and infiltration--I&I is a problem that unnecessarily taxes our waste water treatment plant (wwtp) and system, and can lead to overflows. Storm water goes through the sewer treatment that should not be treated. This was part of why we had to do major improvements to our sewer system. This loan, if successful, will help us do the testing that will help us eliminate this problem.
Resolution 2011-32 OEPA Planning Loan Application for Sanitary Sewer Lift Station
As part of our EPA required improvements to our WWTP, and resolution 31 above, we also need to evaluate our lift station. I support this.
Resolution 2011-33 2012 Tax Budget This is basically pro-forma. I will ask some questions, but I will vote yes.

Important: In addition, in our paper packet was initially included a resolution (2011-34) regarding a proferred loan to eHDS, a local business that provides many well-paying jobs but that may move from YS as a result of lack of space. (See this week's excellent YS News article on the challenges.) This offer was rejected, so the resolution and loan offer were removed from the online packets. From my very limited involvement in this negotation, I believe it is likely that we may consider a revised proposal or at least a report of some sort tonight, but negotiations are on-going.

Due to the confusion of the process, I asked our legal Counsel to weigh in on whether it was proper to remove that legislation, by Sunshine laws. He saw no violation of Sunshine, and provided helpful counsel for how to approach our negotiations with businesses in keeping with the law and the rights of business owners.

I suspect this issue, including the broader issue of the lack of "A-1 office space" in YS will be discussed under New Business.

Chamber Marketing Plan for 2011-2012.
Report of activities and request for our support of $2400 for the Chamber's cooperative marketing of the village and local businesses.

AMP Tree Trimming Update
We are under contract with AMP's forestry division to do some major line clearance work (this is on top of our regular, annual line clearance in another section of the village, which would be done by competitive bidding). The AMP foresters have looked at the area south of Allen Street, and estimate $179,000 to do so. This would come out of the electrical fund, which has money to cover it. I will vote yes, because prevention is the best cure: the electrical outage problems that overgrown trees are creating, cost a lot of money and time and sometimes are even dangerous for people's lives.
Solar Farm Update The solar partners visited the proposed site on Thursday with staff and Council people Hempfling and Walkey. We will have a report on what they saw.

EXECUTIVE SESSION: We will be doing our annual review of Village Manager Cundiff. Feel free to send in input, as well as discussing pending litigation.

An immigrant's decision to love this country, painfully. Happy day after Independence!

Learning to Love America

By Shirley Geok-Lin Lim
because it has no pure products

because the Pacific Ocean sweeps along the coastline
because the water of the ocean is cold
and because land is better than ocean

because I say we rather than they

because I live in California
I have eaten fresh artichokes
and jacaranda bloom in April and May

because my senses have caught up with my body
my breath with the air it swallows
my hunger with my mouth

because I walk barefoot in my house

because I have nursed my son at my breast
because he is a strong American boy
because I have seen his eyes redden when he is asked who he is
because he answers I don’t know

because to have a son is to have a country
because my son will bury me here
because countries are in our blood and we bleed them

because it is late and too late to change my mind
because it is time.

Shirley Geok-lin Lim, “Learning to love America” from What the Fortune Teller Didn’t Say. Copyright © 1998 by Shirley Geok-lin Lim. Reprinted with the permission of West End Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Source: What the Fortune Teller Didn’t Say (West End Press, 1998)