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)

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