Sheriff keeping eye on game parlors
Summit County Council
By Kathleen Folkerth
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County’s sheriff is waiting on the courts to decide the legalities of “games of skill” operations that are sprouting up in the county.
“We are waiting on more rulings,” Sheriff Drew Alexander told members of Summit County Council at its April 2 meeting after Councilman Tim Crawford (D-District 7) asked him about the establishments.
“This is almost like a disease going through Summit County,” Alexander added. “There’s millions of dollars going into this.”
Crawford said he counted 12 to 15 game parlors in his district. Game establishments also are being operated in Merriman Valley.
Alexander said if the courts rule that the game operators are illegal, “we will start shutting the places down.”
Alexander also was asked about how the methamphetamine problem is in the county, now that it’s been nearly two years that restrictions have been placed on the purchase of products containing pseudoephedrine, the key component in making meth.
“We have cut down on the mom-and-pop labs in Akron dramatically,” Alexander said. “But the meth problem is still here. We do have meth here on our streets. It’s the most destructive drug we’ve ever dealt with.”
Also addressing Council at its meeting was state Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-District 44), who asked for feedback from members regarding a proposed increase in the hotel tax to fund improvements to the John S. Knight Center. The proposal is in the House’s Finance Committee.
“I’m generally in favor of it, but I want to get some input,” said Sykes, who noted that his constituents are the same as those of Council.
Also during the meeting, Council threw its support behind an issue currently in the U.S. Senate that safeguards the right of employees who want to unionize.
Before an audience of local members of various unions, Council unanimously adopted a resolution urging the Senate to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives March 1 by a vote of 241-185.
The act proposes to establish stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations. It also would provide mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes and allow employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.
Council President Nick Kostandaras (D-District 1) introduced the legislation, which was sponsored by Council of the Whole.
John Wagner, president of the Tri-County Regional Labor Council, spoke to Council following its vote. He said the act “restores balance to the system.”
“If we want to continue to have a middle class, we need to do something,” Wagner said. “Current labor law is profoundly broken. This is a historic chance to make sure America works the way it should.”
In other business, Council heard first reading of several pieces of legislation regarding grants that have already been budgeted for 2007: $100,000 for the Akron Community Service Center and Urban League, and $50,000 each for the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce and the All-American Soap Box Derby.
Members considered adopting the three on first reading, but Councilman Pete Crossland (D-at large) requested that the legislation go to committee so members can hear what the organizations are doing with the grants.
First reading also was heard of a resolution to renew the county’s contract with The Ohio State University Extension Service for 2007 in the amount of $140,300.
Summit County Council is scheduled to meet for committee meetings April 9 beginning at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St. in downtown Akron.