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County resolution on shutdown blame fails

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

Council also addresses site remediation agreement at Springfield location

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, members recommended Council adopt a resolution authorizing the county to execute a site remediation agreement with the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. for property on Loamshire Road in Springfield, an area that the company previously used as a landfill.

The county purchased the land in 1978 and on part of it is the Upper Tuscarawas Wastewater Treatment Plant. According to a copy of the agreement, in 1994 Goodyear entered into the Director’s Final Findings and Orders with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to undertake a remedial investigation and feasibility study of the site to investigate contamination.

Mike Weant, of the Department of Environmental Services, said in the short term the agreement means that the county and Goodyear will share the costs of site cleanup. The two entities also will submit a final feasibility study to the Ohio EPA.

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.

County 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, located at 175 S. Main St.

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