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County resolution on shutdown blame fails

10/10/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Also, residents express concern on Copley flooding

DOWNTOWN AKRON — A partisan political duel regarding the government shutdown led to a draw at a special Summit County Council meeting Oct. 7.

The meeting was called so Council could vote on a resolution that Councilman John Schmidt (D-District 2) said he proposed after hearing from a member of the Ohio National Guard who was not expecting to get paid due to the federal government shutdown that began Oct. 1.

The resolution “condemn[s] the actions of the Tea Party Republicans in the United States House of Representatives that have led to the shutdown of the Federal Government” and urged Congress to pass a budget and reopen the government.

“This isn’t about is the Affordable Care Act a good thing or a bad thing, or is the war in Afghanistan a good thing or a bad thing,” Schmidt said. “Fifty rogue members of the House of Representatives are holding the budget up. That’s what this is about. The effects of this are devastating.”

About 25 people attended the meeting, and many of them voiced their opposition to the resolution singling out members of the Tea Party.

Among them was Carl Buck, who said he voted as a Democrat until recently.

“This isn’t about 50 members of the Tea Party,” Buck said. “There have been three proposals to put the federal government back. You have to negotiate. If [the resolution] said ‘Congress,’ I would go along with it.”

Richard Bradner, of Bath, called the resolution a waste of taxpayer dollars.

“To claim that Tea Party patriots are the enemy … reeks of cronyism,” he said to applause.

Councilman Bill Roemer (R-at large) proposed amending the resolution to remove the reference to the Tea Party and instead call on all officials to work to end the stalemate.

“We can agree that the shutdown has a deleterious impact,” Roemer said. “In my opinion, there was partisan language [in the proposed resolution].”

A vote to amend the resolution with Roemer’s suggestions passed by a vote of 6 to 4. But a vote to adopt the amended resolution failed after the vote resulted in a tie.

Council members Roemer, Gloria Rodgers (R-District 3), Tim Crawford (D-District 7), Paula Prentice (D-District 8) and Frank Comunale (D-District 4) voted in favor of the amended resolution while Schmidt, Sandra Kurt (D-at large), Ilene Shapiro (D-at large), Tamela Lee (D-District 5) and Jerry Feeman (D-District 6) voted no. Councilman Nick Kostandaras (D-District 1) was not in attendance.

Audience members weren’t sure what the vote meant until Council President Feeman told them the tie vote meant the resolution didn’t go anywhere.

“Good job!” one of the audience members exclaimed.

Prior to the special meeting, Council met for committee meetings. During the Public Works Committee meeting, two Copley residents spoke to Council about their frustration with flooding in their neighborhood.

Faye Nicholson, who lives on Sunnyacres Road, said she lost everything due to flooding twice — from major storm events on July 17, 2011, and again on July 10 of this year.

“We’ve gone to our township to talk to them about servicing Ditch 38 which is at the beginning of our block,” Nicholson said. “They wrote a letter to the County Engineer’s Office. We would like [the ditch] cleaned out, researched, whatever could be done.”

Nicholson said the Engineer’s Office said there wasn’t much that could be done regarding the problem, and that there was a lack of funding to deal with the issue.

Nicholson’s neighbor Myron Long also told the committee about his frustration with the problem, which has led to him needing to replace two furnaces, two hot water tanks and two sets of washers and dryers due to flooding in the past two years.

Councilwoman Lee, who represents the Copley area, said Council is working on the issue.

“We hope to soon have something to bring to you,” Lee said. “We are doing everything we can and working with the Engineer’s Office to get answers that are satisfactory for the residents.”

During the Finance Committee meeting, members recommended Council adopt an ordinance that will allow the county to amend its policy on auctions of unwanted county property.

Jason Dodson, chief of staff for County Executive Russ Pry, said the change will allow the county to use a private auction to dispose of items valued at more than $15,000. Currently, the county’s ordinances specify that a public auction or sealed bids are the only ways for the county to unload property at that value.

The change is necessary, he added, because the Sheriff’s Office has about $23,000 in firearms that it would like to trade in with a retailer to purchase Tasers and Taser cartridges.

At question was where the guns came from and whether or not disposing of them would put them into the hands of criminals. Pam Murray, of the Sheriff’s Office, said the guns in question are court ordered as property, much like a seized car or cash. Dodson added if the guns had evidentiary value, they would not be part of the group, as those need to be kept indefinitely.

Council will not meet Oct. 14 due to the Columbus Day holiday. Council will meet Oct. 21 at 4:30 p.m. for caucus, followed by a regular meeting in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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