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Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 4:07 PM
WAYNESVILLE — The village council is meeting tonight to discuss - and possibly take a big step toward - asking voters for the second time to approve a street levy.
In November, voters rejected, 427-361, a proposed 3-mill street levy on a ballot also featuring a local school bond issue and police levy.
On the same ballots, voters approved, 427-361, a 7-mill police levy, as well as a 4.68 mill, 37-year bond issue by only seven votes, 1,241-1,234.
“That was 15 mills on the ballot,” Mayor Dave Stubbs said.
In May, the street levy could be alone on local ballots.
Tonight, the Waynesville council is to meet to consider asking the Warren County Auditor’s Office to calculate the projected proceeds from renewing an existing, but about to expire, 1 mill levy; and from a 3-mill levy.
By Feb. 7, the council would need to pass a second resolution designating the millage to go on the May 8 ballot.
One mill is “barely enough to fill a pothole” and 3 mills is only enough to pay for repaving of every village street once every 50 years, Stubbs said.
“We really need 5 mills,” Stubbs said, so that the village can continue to build up reserves, including more than $1 million in the general fund, for unanticipated emergencies.
Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 4:01 PM
Updated: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 4:23 PM
CENTERVILLE — Centerville police chief Bruce Robertson’s recent retirement came amid an ongoing investigation into allegations of criminal conduct, according to city officials.
“There were allegations of criminal conduct, therefore we’re following up with conducting an internal investigation into those allegations,” City Manager Wayne Davis said in response to questions from the Dayton Daily News/WHIO I-Team.
“At this time there’s no evidence of criminal activity, however our investigation is not complete,” Davis said.
Robertson retired Feb. 9 after working for the city nearly 40 years. His two-page letter of resignation cited “a serious medical condition” for the reason he decided to retire.
When asked whether the investigation was connected to Robertson’s decision to retire, Davis said: “Not from what was shared with me.”
Davis said the internal review is being conducted by the law director and started sometime after Jan. 24.
Robertson couldn’t be reached for comment.
The city of Centerville released a statement Friday saying, in part, “the city is not at liberty to discuss the details of the investigation at this time. The city will continue to cooperate with providing information as it becomes available.”
The chief’s personnel records do not indicate the reason for the investigation.
Records from the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in London, Ohio, show Robertson has been paid $32,294 to teach classes there since 2010, including $5,600 for seven training sessions in 2017. Davis confirmed the city is looking into whether Robertson was reimbursed for the same days he worked as police chief, getting paid twice for the same hours. He would not say whether those allegations are part of the criminal probe, however.
His most recent performance review in 2016 included positive reviews.
“He cares deeply about the men and women of the Centerville Police Department and strives to maintain the high professional reputation of the organization,” the review says.
But he was also given a formal, verbal warning in December and told to attend a course on harassment in the workplace because of an incident last August, according to the records. While talking with officers about preparations for a rally supporting transgender issues, Robertson jokingly asked a police officer “How’d your surgery go?” The officer complained and the comment was determined to be inappropriate by the city, the records show.
Robertson retired and was rehired in 2014. His employment contract in June 2017 was extended to January 2019.
Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 10:31 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 10:31 AM
A lawsuit filed by some unsuccessful applicants to grow medical marijuana in Ohio claims state regulators failed to follow their own rules last year when they awarded provisional licenses for growing facilities.
Several groups including CannAscend Ohio LLC filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in Columbus.
The lawsuit challenges the Ohio Department of Commerce’s process for awarding the provisional licenses to 12 companies for large-scale growing facilities.
The lawsuit alleges various failures in the licensing process, including “scoring errors, undisclosed conflicts of interest, and undisclosed loopholes in the security of information.”
» TRENDING COVERAGE: Medical marijuana dispensaries are more like bars than pharmacies
Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 12:47 PM
HAMILTON — Some people, when they’re sworn in to a new city government position, bring a few family members with them.
When new Hamilton Fire Chief Mark Mercer was sworn in on Wednesday, he brought a few … and a few more.
They all gathered at the front of Hamilton City Council Chambers for the swearing-in ceremony. There was even one from New York, and Mercer’s mother-in-law, Treva Wyatt, who herself worked 31 years in the city’s tax department.
After the new chief was sworn in, Wyatt announced that she was the one who set him on the path of firefighting for Hamilton 29 years ago.
“Because of me, he is a fireman,” she said. After he married her daughter, “I said, ‘Here’s your application.’ I got it when personnel brought it to me. ‘Fill this out.’”
“We’re lucky and happy to have you as our fire chief,” Mayor Pat Moeller told him. “He’s obviously a family guy.”
The graduate of Badin High School and the University of Cincinnati “knows a lot about technology,” Moeller said. “I think he’s going to advance our fire and (emergency services) in the technology area…. He’s also very responsive to my very stupid telephone questions.”
Mercer displayed his wit during the ceremony. When Moeller asked if any family members wanted to say something, Mercer quipped: “There are a few that probably we want to not.”
Published: Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 2:48 PM
WASHINGTON — During the 2016 election, the National Rifle Association and its donors gave Sen. Rob Portman’s campaign $9,900 — a drop in the bucket of the $25 million Portman raised and an argument against the notion that the gun rights group had “bought” the support of the state’s junior senator.
But three other numbers are also worth considering: $242,708; $1.55 million and $3.06 million.
The first represents the amount that the NRA spent on independent expenditures such as ads supporting Portman in 2016. The second represents the amount spent opposing Democrat Ted Strickland, who Portman defeated in 2016.
The third is what the organization has spent on Portman since 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The oft–repeated refrain from gun control advocates after mass shootings is that gun rights groups used political donations in order to influence lawmakers to oppose gun control measures.
But it’s a little more complicated than that. Instead, say those who monitor the NRA and other gun rights groups, the goal is to make sure that the seats are never held by anyone who might support new restrictions in the first place.
Matt Grossmann, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University, said “it’s mostly hyperbole that campaign contributions can directly buy votes in Congress.”
Instead, he said, the issue falls on strictly ideological grounds: Republicans rarely stray from the party’s stance of opposing new gun restrictions while Democrats — once far more divided on the issue – have dug in on the notion of additional restrictions.
“The debate is on clear party and ideological lines,” he said.
And while Democrats have become more vocal on the issue, it’s episodic. No one is shutting down the government over gun control.
“It’s not like it’s the number one issue in the Democratic Party,” he said.
» MUST-READ COVERAGE: Loaded guns showing up in younger hands at area schools
While money may not change hearts and minds, it does, however, help win seats. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, an organization that tracks money in politics, gun rights groups spent some $54 million in outside spending on the 2016 elections. Gun control groups, by contrast, spent about $3 million.
Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California Los Angeles and the author of the book “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” said while “money helps,” it’s how that money is spent that matters.
“The NRA is strong today not simply because it doles out independent expenditures,” he said. “The NRA is strong today because voters listen to the NRA.”
He also dismisses the frequent notion that pro–gun rights lawmakers vote that way solely because of campaign contributions.
“If you think elected officials are for sale to the highest bidder, then Michael Bloomberg (who founded Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group) should just spend more than the NRA does on the exact same candidates,” he said. “I would assure you that all the Republican candidates who got a huge contribution from Michael Bloomberg are not going to change their positions on guns…the NRA’s power comes from the fact that they can swing voters on Election Day and politicians know that.”
While polls taken as late as November 2017 indicate that 94 percent of Americans support requiring background checks for all gun buyers, for example, Winkler said, the gun rights advocates often have more power because they are more vocal.
“In a democracy, a mobilized and vocal minority can often win over a diffuse majority,” he said. “And that’s how it is on gun control. A lot of people support federal gun control laws but are not single issue pro-gun control voters, whereas people are often single-issue pro-gun voters.”
Asked about NRA contributions to her boss, Portman spokeswoman Emily Benavides said Portman supports Second Amendment rights but believes in strengthening the national background check system and working to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
“Rob’s priority is doing what’s right for the people of the Ohio and that’s what guides his legislative decisions in Washington,” she said.
She called the most recent mass shooting at a Florida high school — which killed at least 17 — “an unspeakable tragedy.”
“Senator Portman and his wife, Jane, send their prayers to the victims, their families, and the entire school community,” she said.