Husted fires Mont. Co. election board members

Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 @ 3:48 PM
Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 @ 4:01 PM

Secretary of State Jon Husted fired the two Democrats on the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Tuesday for rejecting his statewide early voting schedule, raising the stakes in a white-knuckle standoff between Republicans and Democrats over voting hours.

Husted, a Republican, dismissed Thomas Ritchie, Sr., and Dennis Lieberman in a letter Tuesday, saying they willfully violated state election law. Ritchie and Lieberman had voted to add weekend voting hours to those in Husted’s directive and refused to rescind their action as Husted’s office requested.

Husted wrote Tuesday, “Board members are free to express their discontent with any Directive or Advisory issued, but they cannot disobey them. Your dismissal is not about differing views; it is about you violating the law by not following a Directive. He concluded: “I find no pleasure in taking this action and I thank you for your service.”

Ritchie and Lieberman told the Dayton Daily News they weren’t surprised by the news and were meeting with attorneys to discuss legal action.

“He may have fired me, but he declared war on the Montgomery County electorate, on the people of our community,” Lieberman said. “We’re going back to the [Ken] Blackwell days.”

Blackwell was as an honorary co-chairman of the committee to re-elect George W. Bush at the same time he served as secretary of state in Ohio.

The executive committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Party has 15 days to meet and select replacements, and party Chairman Mark Owens said that process would start even as the party considers a lawsuit.

Husted said he would accept the party’s choices unless he found them to be incompetent.

“This board has a history of working together,” Owens said. “They’ve run elections well so I want to make sure we have more than competent people. Certainly they’re not going to have the experience Tom and Dennis had.”

Ritchie has been on the board for 17 years and Lieberman 10 years. Neither said he could remember another Ohio board of elections member removed during his or her term. Husted spokesman Matt McClellan said that observation may be factually accurate but former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, did not reappoint a Hardin County election board member after he failed to follow a directive.

Husted said his decision was based in part on findings by an independent hearing officer, Jon Allison, a Columbus attorney and former chief of staff for Republican Gov. Bob Taft. Allison recommended the removal of Ritchie and Lieberman in a report released Monday.

Husted and the two Democrats have clashed before. In 2009, Ritchie and Lieberman twice voted that Husted, a longtime Kettering resident, no longer resided in Montgomery County for voting purposes. Husted, who had just been elected to the Ohio Senate after serving as Ohio’s House Speaker, said he spent most of his time with his family in Upper Arlington but that his house in Kettering was his residence. The county elections board deadlocked along party lines on the residency question and then-Secretary of State Brunner broke the tie, ruling that Husted did not live in Montgomery County and his voter registration should be canceled.

Brunner’s ruling was overturned by the Ohio Supreme Court in October 2009.

Husted, who was planning to run for secretary of state at the time, said Brunner’s actions illustrated how a partisan secretary of state can destroy the credibility of the office.

In an interview last week, Husted said the residency dispute did not play into his decision to discipline Ritchie and Lieberman.

“That’s absurd that that had anything to do with it,” Husted said. “I don’t think about the two board members in question ever. I’ve moved on to try to do important positive things in life. I don’t hold grudges.”

New restaurants, retail shops coming to Oxford

Published: Friday, October 28, 2016 @ 2:25 PM
Updated: Saturday, October 29, 2016 @ 4:37 PM

New restaurants and retail shops are coming to a development on the former Walmart site in Oxford.

Bishop Square — a 50,000-square-foot mixed use development at 419 Locust Street that currently includes 272 units of student housing — is adding Marco’s Pizza, Tim Hortons, a Sprint retail store and a bank.

“The final stage is important because we’ll be building the outlots that sit along Locust, which will serve as the front door to the whole project,” said Josh Rothstein, of Blue Ash-based OnSite Retail Group, which is handling marketing and leasing for the project. “The retailers and restaurants are excited to open their locations here because being across from Kroger, TJ Maxx and Dollar Tree provides tremendous exposure, great visibility and easy access to the shoppers already passing through this part of town.

“It’s also easily in walking distance to not only the concentration of Miami’s campus, but also the off-campus housing population,” Rothstein said.

Two other storefronts on the site are being are in the process of being leased, he said.

Existing Bishop Square tenants include Oxford Lane Library, Mercy Health - Orthopaedics and Sports Rehabilitation, Great Clips and Cloud 9 Vapor Lounge. A second-floor above some of those tenants includes office space.

Alan Kyger, Oxford’s economic development director, said the community is excited to see the Bishop Square project moving into its final phases.

“In 2005, when Walmart moved away from this site, the abandoned building that was left behind was a large eyesore for the Tollgate Business District, as well as for the whole community,” Kyger said. “Developer Robert Fiorita is to be commended in providing such a good-looking redevelopment project.

“The addition of these merchants will provide the citizens of Oxford additional shopping options. I expect each of these new businesses to be very successful in this new development.”

Marco’s Pizza has 700 stores in 35 states, doubling in size over the last five years and on track to 1,000 stores by the end of 2017, according to the company. Area locations include Middletown, Monroe, Hamilton and Liberty Twp. in Butler County.

Tim Hortons has more than 4,400 locations in the United States, Canada and the Middle East. Area locations include Monroe, Springboro and Maineville in Warren County.

Unpaid tickets from red light cameras total in the millions

Published: Friday, June 24, 2011 @ 9:45 AM
Updated: Friday, June 24, 2011 @ 9:45 AM

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

DAYTON, Ohio -- Authorities in the southwest Ohio city of Dayton are ready to crack down on drivers who don't pay red-light camera tickets.

City officials say more than 46,000 tickets worth $3.89 million are unpaid. That's nearly half of all such tickets issued in the last eight years.

The Dayton Daily News says city commissioners could vote next week on an ordinance allowing the city to tow cars that have two or more unpaid tickets. Drivers would have to pay the fines to get their cars back.

Hundreds of U.S. cities now use the cameras, which take pictures of vehicles going through intersections with red lights. Drivers are mailed a citation. In Dayton, the fine is $85, but no points are assessed against the driver's license.

Report outlines problems with red-light, speed cameras

Published: Thursday, October 27, 2011 @ 3:56 PM
Updated: Thursday, October 27, 2011 @ 3:56 PM

A new research report released today outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to outsource traffic enforcement to red-light and speed camera vendors. “Too many cities wrongly sign away power to ensure the safety of citizens on the roads when they privatize traffic law enforcement. Automated traffic ticketing tends to be governed by contracts that focus more on profits than safety.” said Jacqueline Thomas of Ohio PIRG, the Ohio Public Interest Research Group. “That shouldn’t happen,” Thomas added.

The report, titled Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead; The Risks of Privatizing Traffic Law Enforcement and How to Protect the Public finds that approximately half of states have enabled the use of automated traffic law enforcement. Municipalities in these states contract with private companies to provide cameras and issue citations to traffic violators.

Citizens have often objected to privatized forms of traffic enforcement and many municipalities have found themselves in legal trouble when they attempt to change or update these contracts. Traffic engineering alternatives, such as lengthening yellow lights, are often the best way to reduce injuries from red-light running.

However, those solutions too often get ignored because contractors and sometimes municipalities are more focused on increasing revenue from tickets. “Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead raises critical warnings about revenue priorities overtaking safety concerns. This report is a must-read for city administrators in municipalities considering the addition of red light cameras, for authorities in communities that already have ticket cameras, and for motorists who are subjected to the privatized, for-profit automated traffic enforcement scheme known as red light cameras,” said Gary Biller, Executive Director of the National Motorists Association.

In Ohio, red-light cameras have been a contentious topic, with voters banning traffic cameras in Heath, Chillicothe and Cincinnati, paving the way for other communities to try to organize their own ballot initiatives. Columbus City Council has approved more red light cameras to be installed throughout the city, with the latest camera set to “go live” at 12:01 am October 27th, 2011, issuing citations to motorists caught running the red light at Olentangy River Road at Henderson Road.

State Representative Courtney Combs, R- Hamilton, introduced legislation in 2009 that would prohibit the use of red light cameras by Ohio State Highway Patrol, counties and townships. According to Representative Combs, “red light cameras are a money machine for political subdivisions to penalize their own citizens.” The report recommends stronger guidelines to ensure that automated traffic enforcement programs must focus on improving road safety, rather than ticket revenue.

Deals between local governments and traffic camera vendors should:

* Put public safety first in decisions regarding enforcement of traffic laws – this includes evaluating privatized law enforcement camera systems against alternative options without regard to potential revenues. * Ensure that contract language is free from potential conflicts of interest.


* Avoid direct or indirect incentives for vendors that are based on the volume of tickets or fines.


* Retain public control over traffic policy and engineering decisions, including cancelling contracts if the public is dissatisfied.

* Ensure that the process of contracting with vendors is completely open, with ample opportunity for public participation and each ticket listing where to find online data about automated ticketing for each intersection.

“We are lucky that Ohio hasn’t yet seen the controversy and lawsuits over red-light cameras found in states like California, Florida, Missouri, Texas, and Washington. Looking at the growth of this industry around the country and all across our state, we want to learn from problems elsewhere to prevent them in Ohio,” said Thomas.

For more information, read report here.

Four local teens qualify for Olympic trials

Published: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 @ 3:12 AM
Updated: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 @ 3:12 AM

InfoSource--Dayton Daily News

Patrick Mulcare (Springboro) and Cliff Goertemiller (Oakwood) set Ohio records and joined Dayton Raiders teammates Brett Mackenzie (Tipp City) and Colin Kanzari (Beavercreek) in qualifying for next year’s U.S. Olympic Trials during last week’s Junior National Championships at Stanford University.

Mulcare and Goertemiller both set their records in the 15-16 boys division. Mulcare was timed in 4 minutes, 26.30 seconds for the 400 intermediate medley. He placed eighth.  Goertemiller was timed in 15:44.69 to reset the state mark in the 1,500 free. He placed sixth.

Their efforts count as state records because they are registered as Ohio swimmers.

Also qualifying for the Trials at Omaha, Neb., were Mackenzie (4:30.24 in the 400 IM, 19th) and Kanzari (2:20.68 in the 200 breaststroke, 16th).

Other Raiders to participate in the National Championships were Jack Pohlmann (Beavercreek), Josh Quallen (Wilmington), Brock Turner (Oakwood), Alex Osterhage (Centerville) and Henrick Pohlmann (Beavercreek).