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Akron City Council gives retiring Lieberth send-off

12/13/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

Council also raises campaign contribution limits


DOWNTOWN AKRON — Members of Akron City Council took time during their Dec. 10 meeting to bid farewell to retired Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff Dave Lieberth.


Lieberth, a West Akron resident, retired Nov. 30 after 10 years in the position.


Numerous Council members expressed their appreciation for his work with the city, which most apparently included downtown initiatives and entertainment at Lock 3 Park, but, as Councilman Michael Williams (D-at large) noted, stretched into further reaches of the city, as well.


“You have continued to make a positive imprint on this city,” Williams said. “I know that you will continue to contribute because that is who you are.”


Councilman Marco Sommerville (D-Ward 3), who offered the resolution honoring Lieberth and wishing him well, said Lieberth was “like a little boy at Christmastime” when he presented downtown events, which, Councilman Mike Freeman (D-Ward 9) said, offered Akron residents reasonably priced entertainment in the city.


“Akron is a much better place today because of you,” Sommerville continued.


Councilman James Hurley (D-Ward 1) offered praise for Lieberth’s work ethic, saying, “When you put in the hours that you do, anything you do is going to turn out right.”


Lieberth said he first came into Council Chambers in 1970 as a reporter, before Mayor Don Plusquellic was even on Council.


“I’ve been hanging around these chambers for a long time, and it’s been enormously gratifying to come back as a city official,” he said.


He added he will maintain an office downtown.


“The mayor’s still got ideas, I think, for me to follow through on,” he said.


In legislative action, Council approved, by a vote of 11-2, an ordinance raising campaign contribution limits for candidates in municipal elections. Mayoral and at-large Council candidates may accept up to $650 in noncash and in-kind donations, an increase from $450, and ward Council candidates may accept $400, an increase from $200.


Per a 2010 charter amendment, contribution limits can be changed by Council action every two years following a public hearing.


“Two hundred dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to when you start ordering signs and campaign literature and robocalls and such,” said Council President Garry Moneypenny (D-Ward 10), noting Akron is still one of the only large Ohio cities with campaign contribution limits, and Akron’s limits are still less than Cincinnati’s and Columbus’.


“This is well within reason,” said Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Fusco (D-Ward 6).


There was very little discussion of the ordinance at the meeting, and no one spoke in opposition, but Williams and Councilman Bruce Kilby (D-Ward 2) voted against it.


Also at the meeting, Council heard a public hearing on a request for a conditional use to retain an auto repair business at 2265 W. Market St. According to city planning officials, the property is overcrowded with several nonconforming uses. Proposed conditions to granting the permit include adding landscaping and fencing, discontinuing rentals of U-Haul or similar vehicles, limiting the property to no more than 38 vehicles and not permitting used car sales, as well as keeping the property in good condition.


Len Stauffenger, an attorney speaking on behalf of petitioner James Irace, said it is integral that Irace’s towing business be permitted to continue, and the ordinance appears to prohibit towing as a permitted use.


“It would put him out of business,” Stauffenger stated.


Stauffenger asked Council for time to continue meeting with Councilwoman Marilyn Keith (D-Ward 8), in whose ward the property is situated.


Keith said she has received numerous constituent complaints about the condition of the business, which she noted is at a prominent location at the intersection of West Market Street and Sand Run Road.


“Mr. Irace, I just want you to know this is not to put you out of business whatsoever,” she said.


Council took time and will vote on the matter at a future meeting.


Also at the meeting, Council received a letter of resignation from Sommerville, effective Jan. 1. He has been appointed by Plusquellic as the city’s new planning director. [For more on that, see the Dec. 6, 2012, issue or visit the archives at www.akron.com]. A new Ward 3 representative will be chosen via an application process.


New Council President Moneypenny, elected last week, appointed members to a new Technology Committee that will be chaired by Councilman Russel Neal (D-Ward 4). It will be tasked with working with Chief Information Officer Rick Schmahl to develop a process for Council to go paperless.


The next Akron City Council meeting, the last of 2012, will take place Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, located on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings are set to begin at 2 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.


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