Loveland, Ohio info@lovelandheartbeat.org 513-443-2785

Golladay Warns Residents: Don’t Vote for Candidates Who Prevented Quorum

LACK OF A QUORUM

by Walter Golladay

Walter Golladay is a a resident of the Claiborne neighborhood in Loveland since 1989. He and his spouse, Peggy are proud to have raised a daughter who is a 1990 Loveland High School graduate, and their two grandsons are now members of the Loveland High School student body.

Mr. Golladay made the following statement to Loveland City Council following a scheduled public hearing that failed when no quorum was met. In summary, he warns, don’t vote for candidates who don’t show up for us. Loveland Community Heartbeat is proud to have Mr. Golladay as a voting stakeholder.

Golladay’s Address to Council, October 10th, 2017:

On 26 September, Loveland City Council was scheduled to meet on the 4th Tuesday of the month. Because a quorum of four council members did not happen, the meeting did not officially take place. For unknown reasons, Vice Mayor Angie Settell, and Council members Pam Gross, and Stephen Zamagias were absent without just cause from their appointed duty station. That being, City Hall, Loveland, Ohio, 7 pm.  Right here! These three council members chose to conduct personal business elsewhere, not for the benefit of Loveland residents, but for another business, another individual, or themselves.

 

This Loveland resident has the firm belief that these three council members chose not to appear in order to prevent a council quorum being established with the City Council members present of Kathy Bailey, Robert Weisgerber and Ted Phelps. For this one meeting, council members Kathy, Robert, and Ted would have represented the majority.

 

These three absent council members, Settell, Gross, and Zamagias, must be held accountable. In sufficient detail, they must explain to the Loveland residents where they were that evening, and why they could not attend a long established, regularly scheduled, council meeting date. They must also explain why none of them were available to attend alternate council meeting dates proposed of Monday, Wednesday or Thursday, the 25th, 27th, or 28th of September.

 

Why do I ask?  Because if they get away with this travesty, one or more of these three council members will do it again, when it benefits them and their clique, not we, the Loveland residents. These three council members chose to offend we Loveland residents by disappearing for the week and preventing scheduled City of Loveland business from being conducted.

 

Tomorrow, 2017 General Election absentee voting begins in the State of Ohio. Election day is November 7th.

Tonight, should any, or all, of these three council members not be able to offer a valid reason for their aforementioned absence, then we Loveland residents need to seriously consider not voting for them.

Thank you.

Where is the explanation for this group failure?

To date, Angie Settell, Pam Gross, and Steve Zamagias have provided no satisfactory answer to Loveland residents about their group absence from the September 26th meeting, which prevented a quorum from being met and stopped a meeting scheduled by the law of the Loveland Charter for 56 years.

Loveland Community Heartbeat endorses Neal Oury, Tim Butler, Ted Phelps, and Rob Weisgerber for Loveland City Council. Learn more about them here: www.lovelandheartbeat.org/candidates17 .

Paid for by Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee.

The Pam Gross Connection

by Halie S. Rebeccaschild

In June, Loveland Community Heartbeat exposed an illegal contract between our city manager and an economic development consultant. We also uncovered that Mark Fitzgerald, our now-resigned mayor, made an appointment to the CIC that was in blatant violation of regulations. At that time, we had more questions than answers as to why our city manager and mayor would do such things, and we hadn’t yet made the Pam Gross connection. (Who is Pam Gross? She’s a one-term Loveland council member. Read on to learn more).

Uncovering the Illegal Contract and the Regulations Violation

And Mark Fitzgerald, Angie Settell, Pam Gross, and Steve Zamagias were bent on maintaining Stansel’s contract, which was evident in the repeated attempts to find a way to get him paid. On June 23rd, I wrote here on this blog,

“Tonight at City Hall, Mark Fitzgerald’s majority on council will attempt to pass a resolution giving City Manager Dave Kennedy free rein to pay Rob Stansel an unlimited amount of money.”

The links provided in the blog post about the illegal contract mysteriously broke after its publication. We later learned that the resolution was pulled from the meeting agenda (against Council Rules) sometime prior to the meeting. We can see resident Sherry Hamlin address City Council on this violation of Council Rules here. 

 

The Un-Asked Questions

If  you’ve read the post “Who’s Rob Stansel? The guy awarded an illegal contract in Loveland, OH,” you’ll know that Loveland had been paying an illegal contract since 2015 to our previous economic development consultant. What you didn’t learn is why and how he got the hook up. And if you’ve read “Let’s Connect Some Dots: A follow up to Todd Osborne’s statement to council on 6/13/17,” then you are aware of the appointment by Mark Fitzgerald in 2017 of a non-resident, Karl Weidner, to the Loveland Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) in violation of CIC regulations. (Regardless of Pam Gross’s claims, it has never been proven to the public that Weidner operated a business registered within the city of Loveland when resigned-mayor Mark Fitzgerald appointed him to the board of trustees of the Loveland Community Improvement Corporation.) Up to speed? Great! Let’s take it a step further to the Pam Gross Connection.

With some simple research, it’s easy to discover these two Mark Fitzgerald placements worked together professionally, outside of Loveland. But why were they here working together in Loveland in ways that appeared created by Mark Fitzgerald for them? Good question. Of course, we can easily place blame on Mark Fitzgerald. But is everything all Mark Fitzgerald’s fault? According to his friend, the poor guy just can’t catch a break. No, we can’t place blame for everything going wrong in Loveland on Fitzgerald. Others have been here working aside him to further his agenda, including Council Member Pam Gross. And Loveland Community Heartbeat knew that Pam Gross had a conflict of interest around Stansel’s contract; we knew that because she recused herself from the original vote led by Rob Weisgerber at the May 9th meeting for City Council to terminate Rob Stansels’ contract.

Pam Gross also knew that she had a conflict of interest; yet, she has refused to even acknowledge publicly that the contract and the appointment were wrong. Instead she deflects and points fingers everywhere but at her. We should look at Tom Carroll! Wait; he’s gone, so we should look at past Council. She even gets other people to start pointing fingers for her under the guise of telling the truth. So many pointing fingers without any credible evidence. But we are not confused. Guilty people often point fingers at others rather than own their own failures. 

 

 Pam Gross wants us to look everywhere but at the Pam Gross Connection to the Stansel contract and 

Weidner appointment in violation 

of regulations, both of which occurred during her tenure on Council.

Spreading Falsehoods Much, Pam?

Council Member Pam Gross desperately wants to change the subject away from her, but all these accusations have been proven false by our city solicitor, Joe Braun. Why does she persist when it’s known to be a falsehood?

The Pam Gross Connection

Yes, Loveland, it appears that Pam Gross wants us to look everywhere but at Pam Gross for accountability. She works very hard to deflect public attention away from her by spreading falsehoods during meetings (see above video) instead of focusing on city business. We have to ask, why?

Campaign Finance “Statement of Contributions Received” report filed by Pam Gross for campaign contributions received during her 2013 campaign for Loveland City Council.

With the Rob Stansel contract and Karl Weidner appointment to the CIC fresh in mind, let’s take a look at two campaign contributions made to Pam Gross when she was running for office in 2013. The first contribution circled in red, “Robert Stansel,” indicates a contribution by Robert Stansel in the amount of $500 to Pam Gross’s 2013 campaign.

Why? Well, remember, Robert Stansel was the recipient of the illegal contract that was awarded in April of 2015, after Pam Gross was elected to City Council. One theory would be that money was exchanged for employment and access to our city development projects.

The second contribution circled in red, “Karl Weidner,” indicates a campaign contribution made by Karl Weidner to Pam Gross’s campaign in the amount of $100.

Why? Well, Weidner’s contribution to Gross’s campaign in 2013 came prior to Mark Fitzgerald’s appointment of Weidner to the CIC, in violation of CIC regulations. One theory would be that money was contributed to Gross’s campaign in exchange for a position on the CIC, granting access to our city’s development projects. Obviously, these are just theories, but let’s entertain them for a moment, as we look at Pam’s quick assent to vice president of the Loveland CIC. (See the sources here to view Pam Gross’s 2013 Campaign Finance filings in entirety. The original documents may be requested of the Hamilton County Board of Elections.)

Pam Gross Becomes VP of the Loveland Community Improvement Corporation

It’s noteworthy that Pam Gross is now vice president of the board of trustees to the Loveland CIC as a first-term Council Member. She’s an accountant, so surely she’s more qualified than others on City Council to be appointed by Mark Fitzgerald and then to take on this important role. Right? And how convenient that Mark Fitzgerald just happened to appoint Karl Weidner to the CIC, someone who contributed to her campaign. Surely, Weidner was not obliged to vote for Pam Gross to assume that lofty position! But he did. (I’ll scratch your back; you scratch mine, right?) Look at the meeting minutes below indicating that the recently appointed 5-member committee, including Karl Weidner, voted unanimously for Pam Gross to be vice president. See the minutes here.

Is that even legal? If you read these elections, it’s as if it was all planned out in advance of the meeting.

On 1/13/2017, the new appointees of the Loveland CIC, including Karl Weidner, voted unanimously for Pam Gross to be the vice president of the CIC. Also present, Rob Stansel.

With some simple research, it was easy to discover these two Mark Fitzgerald placements worked together professionally outside of Loveland. But why were these two Mark Fitzgerald placements here in these illegal and unethical ways? Maybe we should ask Pam Gross this question and demand that she answer it publicly at the next City Council meeting.

What Can Residents Do?

Two things. 1) If you are concerned about this or another possible ethics violation, contact the Ohio Ethics Commission to start a confidential investigation into the matter. At the very least, our local government needs an ethics review. All investigations are confidential, so no one will even know that you made a phone call.

And 2) If you’d like to help us on our mission to elect council members who will bring a higher standard of ethics to Loveland, please become a LCHPAC stakeholder. Finally, please consider voting for the four candidates endorsed by Loveland Community Heartbeat on November 7th. We’ve spent extensive time this year learning who works for transparency, ethics, and resident engagement on City Council so that you may have confidence in your vote.

Thank you for taking the time to research into your local city operations. Your fellow residents appreciate your time investment, and we promise that we are doing the same for you.

Halie Rebeccaschild, Secretary
Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee

See also Council Member Gross’s Waste of Police Resources and Our Time. Pam Gross is up for reelection in 2017. Loveland Community Heartbeat trusts that residents will not fall for Pam Gross a second time.

Paid for by Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee.

Loveland and the Lorax: Shanda Gentry’s Address to City Council

Dr. Seuss has lessons for Loveland City Council, August 22nd, 2017

Shanda Gentry is a wife and a mother of two teenagers and a 20-year resident of Loveland. She has worked in Compliance within the Financial Services industry for more than 15 years. She is a volunteer for the Loveland Girl Scouts, Montgomery Community Church, and is civically engaged in her community.

by Shanda Gentry

 

I am sure we all read Dr. Seuss as children, or had it read to us. In his book, The Lorax, the Lorax said,

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”

Over 2,000 residents of our city stepped up to be that someone and to show how much we care.  We care about our city, about the other residents and, importantly, about the children in this city.  The recall petition signatures obtained from Loveland residents were not obtained by deceit nor by stupidity, as our former mayor has suggested multiple times, nor was it a liberal conspiracy, as he also stated. The signers of the petition are a cross section of this city, all neighborhoods, all political affiliations, all ages, with one goal, that of honest,

transparent, resident-involved government. This action of circulating a petition is called democracy. And it’s a right that belongs to all citizens to stand up for what we care about. 

It is time to turn over a new leaf and to move forward. Council now has an opportunity to prove that they also care about the residents by listening and by stopping the vitriol coming from a few of the very people elected to serve our entire city. Council works for all of us.

The Lorax also said,

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”

The citizens are watching, and we have told city council with our signatures and with our attendance at council meetings that we want our City Council to become something different than it has been for the last two years. That means that it is time to have open discussions with residents, not one-on-one meetings in the dark of night. It also means that when we ask questions at council, we are asking for answers, not for the question to go into a black hole. And residents expect the city’s committees to have fair representation of all council members and residents, especially on the Community Improvement Corporation which must be increased back to 11 people and include the new Interim Superintendent of Lovel

and Schools. And that means that when residents are speaking, council members must pay attention. Residents take the time to prepare for these meetings, and we deserve to be heard.

Dr. Seuss knew how to help us move forward. He said,

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any

direction you choose.”

What do you choose, City Council?

 

Meet the candidates that we have endorsed for for Loveland City Council this year.
Paid for by Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee.

Loveland has 2 Public Relations Problems

by Tom Morris

Tom Morris’s Address to City Council, August 22nd, 2017.

Council, we seem to have two public relations problems on our hands that I’d like to address.

The first, and most noticeable, is that our town is currently an embarrassment. We are much, much better than we have been. The actions of this council in the recent weeks has been deplorable, unfortunate, and absolutely a joke. I hope the remaining members of the “Fitzgerald Four” know that when news broke that their scripted, middle finger to the city meeting last week was deemed improper, most of this town was literally laughing at you. As an aside, never try to feign surprise at something if you already have a prepared acceptance speech. We seem to be on the right track now and hopefully this problem will be solved with a few weeks of stalemates and then the replacement of some of those said laughed at members in November’s election.

The second, and almost as glaring problem is that we are still paying for a Public Relations Officer. The man over there getting paid more than twodollars a minute to just sit here in the room with us. This man was hired with the unenviable task of trying to improve the image of a mayor who acted as much like a discount movie villain as he looked. Thankfully the PRO’s failure to do so at all was our city’s success.

Instead of casting our city in a better light, we have paid over 10 thousand dollars to sign up for a few social media accounts. Congratulations, we’ve spent five figures and several months accomplishing what a 7th grader does in an afternoon.

Over 10 thousand dollars. I had to watch this council fight like toddlers over a similar amount for the city to maintain actual, tangible land and yet we seem fine to throw away that much money for me to be reminded to pay my already automatically withdrawn water bill. Thanks for that. $125 an hour to have lunch with a resident and receiving nothing in return? These actions are deceitful, duplicitous, and if not illegal, at the very least Grossly unethical.

Loveland’s Public Relations Officer tweeted at $125/hr to remind residents of our utility bills.

A good example is that on June 27th, we endured a hilariously embarrassing “a house divided cannot stand, so I’m going home now” council meeting. I hope the former mayor acted alone on that one, but if any of you had a hand in that, you are a disgrace to our city, though I digress. That meeting lasted 7 minutes and was a travesty. 7 minutes. And for that meeting we were charged $531.25. Almost $76 per minute of meeting. I like to think I do well for myself, but I could never bill clients like that since I was unfortunately imbued at birth with a conscience. Maybe it took more than 4 hours trying to shyster a positive spin on something so mind-numbingly dumb, but all we needed was the blurb that went through town of “grown man acts like child and is unfit for his position.”

We have a volunteer committee that can handle this. We just need to let them do the job they want to do. Besides, it’s not like we’re paying a premium for quality. I know the residents of this city can work together to get accurate, relevant, and most importantly unbiased information disseminated to the community.

Please, Council, I ask you to step up and end one of the remaining vestiges of the previous mayorship and move to end the agreement with the Public Relations Officer. I’m hoping that nobody is pulling at the your strings anymore so everyone can now form their own opinions, hopes to have a chance at reelection, realizes that this is a terrible deal for the city, and votes accordingly.

And if saving us thousands of dollars a month seems like too much work, I ask the residents of this city to not follow or visit any of the city social media pages until this problem is fixed. We don’t need them. We’re clearly able to get news out among ourselves.

 

Every senseless tweet, every ridiculous post from Loveland’s Public Relations Officer, is money down the toilet, Loveland.

There’s nothing of merit to be seen on the city’s PR pages anyway and maybe council will be less willing to give away our money to man that’s just screaming into the void of the internet without an audience. And certainly don’t post, call, or ask him anything. Every “who wrote this?” you put on Facebook and he responds to costs us around a penny per every single resident of Loveland.

We don’t need these public relations problems. Our city is much, much better than this and moving in an improved direction. We need to keep building on the positive momentum and end this PR agreement. It is not needed, it tarnishes our city’s name further, it’s fiscally reckless to continue it, and we need to correct it right away.

Loveland resident Tom Morris, address to Loveland City Council on August 22, 2017.

If this wasteful spending outrages you, Loveland, please contact Loveland City Manager, Dave Kennedy, to express your disappointment and desire for an end of this expense. Give him a call at (513) 683-0150 or email him at dkennedy@lovelandoh.gov .

Read more about this story on Loveland Magazine.

Paid for by Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee.

Council Member Gross’s Waste of Police Resources & Our Time


by Halie S. Rebeccaschild

What is the role of a Loveland police officer? Images of positive relationships between our officers and our residents come to mind. The LPD protects and they serve us. And in these roles, the LPD makes admirable efforts to curb local drug addiction and to promptly deescalate negative situations. Loveland is incredibly proud of our police, and rightly so. They do good works and have much work to do. Let’s not waste their time.

It seems common sense, not to waste police resources; yet, since March of this year, Pam Gross has asked our police to use quite a bit of their resources to support her claim that she is somehow under threat by residents. Let’s look at that claim. We can see the beginning of this in this video, “Lurking in a Truck.”

Lurking in a Truck

On April 11, 2017, Pam Gross called out resident Neal Oury at a City Council meeting about a man in a truck “lurking” near her after a previous meeting. She makes clear that she was with the city solicitor at the time, and it was later noted that an employee had just finished dinner.

You have to watch it to believe it. This accusation set up her theme for the year, a gross waste of police resources and our time.

“Next time, [they should] just identify themselves.” Pam Gross, Loveland City Council Meeting, April 11, 2017.

 
Loveland Community Heartbeat PAC, 4/11/17.

Since that meeting, Council Member Gross has appropriated a significant amount of resources from the police. In fact, she initiated “directed patrols” to drive by the Gross family home in the evening. All documents are available here for download and scrutiny or by public records request from the Loveland Police Department. Of course, if Pam Gross truly needs this kind of police coverage, we want to sympathize with her. No one wants Gross to live in fear, but this wasteful use of police resources is not the answer.

“Directed Patrols” by her home with instructions to knock

Count the total Directed Patrols to her address

Was that 38 times? Let’s hope they all did not include a Directed Knock order.

A Letter from Gross to her HOA explaining the heightened police presence in the neighborhood.
A Letter to her HOA explaining the heightened police presence in the neighborhood.
The Facebook Post that shut down a City Council Meeting = 28 Directed Patrols from 6/23/17 – 6/30/17.

 

 

 

 

The Facebook Post that warranted 28 Directed Patrols from 6/23/17 – 6/30/17.

“I am closing this case as unfounded.” Chief Dennis Sean Rahe, 6/23/2017.

Chief Rahe closed the case as “unfounded;” yet, the Facebook post was used as an excuse to literally shut down City Council on 6/27/17. The comments of Mark Fitzgerald channeling Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Abraham Lincoln were meant to be stirring, but they fell flat, as Mark Fitzgerald led Angie Settell, Pam Gross, and Steve Zamagias right out the door. An entire agenda and a room full of people were left sitting because of a Facebook post and Pam Gross’s appeal to public sympathy. Was this a Gross waste of our time and money?

Watch the former mayor shut down the meeting for Pam Gross here, which appears to be nothing more than a theatrical stunt and ploy to distract residents from serious matters at hand.


David Miller, Loveland Magazine via YouTube, 06/30/2017.

Where are all these dangerous residents that Pam Gross needs added protection from? If her one claim about a Facebook comment being a violent threat was deemed “unfounded,” then what is the justification?

Loveland Community Heartbeat PAC has sympathy for Ms. Gross, who clearly believes that residents are angry enough with her job performance on City Council to want to harm her. But that is no excuse for the misappropriation of the resources of Loveland’s finest or to shut down city business. We ask Pam Gross to cease and desist with this wasteful use of our police resources and our time.

Paid for by Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee.

2017 Timeline

Year in Review by Topic: 2017 Timeline

It’s been a tough political year for Loveland, Ohio; yet, residents have stood up to overcome corruption. And we have persevered. On request, here is a 2016 – 2017 timeline of the political challenges Loveland residents faced in 2017. Note: This timeline does not include every available media story; however, it’s a great place to start getting informed. Loveland Community Heartbeat encourages residents to come to City Council meetings and to get engaged. If you can’t, we hope this will help get you up to speed.

Pre 2017 (Loveland v. Chamber of Commerce)
January – March (Outrageous Fee Ordinance)

Residents and event organizers fought Pam Gross and the majority on an outrageous fee ordinance that would have pushed out special events and the Loveland Farmer’s Market. Rob Weisgerber, Ted Phelps, and Kathy Bailey worked with residents to remove prohibitive fees from the final ordinance. Click to review the gallery timeline.

April (Background Checks on Farmers and Artisans)

Residents watched our city pass background checks on our farmers and artisans.
Click to review the gallery timeline.

May – July (Transparency and Blatant Corruption)

Residents uncovered transparency problems, an illegal contract, and an appointment to our Community Improvement Corporation in violation of regulations. Click to review the gallery timeline.

May – June, 2017 (The Struggle to Ensure Resident Engagement on City Hall)

Residents fought to ensure we have input on demolition of the existing and construction of a new City Hall building. Click to review the gallery timeline.

March – July (Abuse of Power)

Residents endured intimidation, insults, and abuse of power by Mark Fitzgerald, while his majority Angie Settell, Pam Gross, and Steve Zamagias said and did nothing to stop him. Click to review the gallery timeline.

April – August (The Recall of Mark Fitzgerald)

Residents petitioned for the recall of our mayor, TWICE, which resulted in his resignation from elected office. Click to review the gallery timeline.

August Onward

And now, residents must remove those who propped up the reign of Mark Fitzgerald, by replacing his remaining majority (Angie Settell, Pam Gross, and Steve Zamagias) with candidates who will work FOR US, Loveland. Two of Mark Fitzgerald’s remaining majority are up for re-election, Pam Gross and Steve Zamagias, and we need them off of City Council to ensure these problems are behind us, Loveland.

Meet our Candidates.

 

Loveland: One Town Away from a Fitzgerald Train Wreck

by Halie Rebeccaschild

Today, July 11th, Mark Fitzgerald will ask City Council to pass an ordinance that would give our city manager, Dave Kennedy, the authority to spend as much as $50,000 without the need for City Council oversight or approval. This request follows Fitzgerald’s historical theatrics at the 6/27 meeting with fellow performers Angie Settell, Pam Gross, and Steve Zamagias. That night, he exclaimed,

“Loveland is on the precipice of great things. If we do not continue to move forward, our window of opportunity will close. The momentum created, coupled with the city’s economic growth, financial stability, and quality of life will be squandered. The city will begin to move backwards, and it could take decades to recover. If you really care about this city, then stop tearing it apart.”
(“Mayor’s Kumbaya Moment“)

Is he confused? From what I can see, Loveland is one town away from a train wreck, and Mark Fitzgerald is the engineer. But wait, let me explain. 

The city has not engaged with residents on comprehensive planning in eight years, but according to Mark Fitzgerald, greatness belongs to all of us, and he is the Messiah man to deliver it (think four-story city hall project and 370 planned residential units this year). Mark Fitgerald asserts that we should give the city manager even more money to carry out his Loveland agenda because he and his majority know what’s best for us so well that they don’t need to ask permission. And they don’t need to listen when we bring up concerns about traffic, high water bills, or a declining quality of life in the city. He knows best, right? But let’s take a step back from Fitzgerald’s psychotic narcissism to reality:

Reality #1: Mark Fitzgerald is a Mayor Facing Recall by Residents

Let’s remember that Mark Fitzgerald, mayor-under-recall, failed to disclose his prior employment at North College Hill when he ran for reelection in 2015. Remember the open civil suits containing fraud allegations by two whistle blowers while he was campaigning? Did he make a public disclosure of these allegations? Of course not. He denied your right to know. In fact, even this year, Fitzgerald tried to hide from public knowledge that these allegations of fraud even existed. Like these statements made regarding Loveland resident Neal Oury here,

It took Council Member Ted Phelps to correct this blatant lie by Mark Fitzgerald (Go, Ted!), an unfortunate event for Mark Fitzgerald.  We can almost feel a train wreck coming:

City Council Meeting Minutes, 3/14/17

Okay, so Mark Fitzgerald is a liar (see “Recall.”) Why should residents care if he wipes his butt with our money gives $50,000 to the city manager to pay Rob Stansel? I suppose that depends upon how much you value $50,000.

Reality #2: Loveland is One Town Away from a Fitzgerald Train Wreck.

If the fraud allegations from settled civil suits aren’t enough to make you pause, take a look at Ohio state audits of North College Hill financials during Fitzgerald’s tenure as their city administrator.

In May of this year, Dave Yost, Auditor of State, released “City of North College Hill, Hamilton County, Regular Audit: For the Year Ended December 31st, 2014.” The findings are clear: Mark Fitzgerald left behind a financial train wreck for North College Hill (See “Finding 2014-403, “Material Weakness” pages 34-37). Take a moment to consider the following mess for yourself.

Finding Number 2014-003, p 34.

Read on . . .

And on . . .

Material Weakness, Contd. p. 36.

Note the “Officials’ Response” to the Material Weakness above. The City responded that “The City’s financials have been corrected and procedures have been implemented as an attempt to prevent financial reporting inaccuracies moving forward” but when? Clearly Fitzgerald was not part of that solution. For example, take a look at column 3 here, to see whether material weaknesses from 2013 were corrected:

Schedule of 2013 Findings, p. 37.

Was North College Hill also on the “precipice of greatness?”

Consider this: Mark Fitzgerald was city administrator of North College Hill until December 31, 2015. He left without leaving an official resignation letter, which is noted by these North College Hill City Council meeting minutes from January 4, 2016. So not only did he leave behind a train wreck, he didn’t even say goodbye.

Will Loveland be next?

Loveland, we deserve so much better than Mark Fitzgerald and his majority (Settell, Gross, and Zamagias)! And the less they have to do with managing Loveland city money, the better. That includes pressuring David Kennedy to pay more money for an economic development consultant to do questionable deals without resident sanction. In fact, this ordinance wreaks of Fitzgerald failure, not any recipe for greatness.

(For these reasons, and more, residents are petitioning to put Mark Fitzgerald on the ballot two years early. Have you signed the petition to put him on the ballot? Text your legal name and county to 513-443-2785 for a prompt response).

To Mark Fitzgerald, residents do not sanction your ordinance to increase the city manager’s spending limit from $15,000 to $50,000. We do not sanction the manner with which you strong arm our city manager. And we do not sanction your aggressive development agenda. Please resign, and spare Loveland of the train wreck!

Acknowledgements:

Thanks are owed to Todd Osborne and various people at North College Hill for forwarding this audit to my attention.

Loveland, are you ready to boot Mark Fitzgerald and for residents to take a seat at the planning table? Take a stake in the future of our hometown by becoming a stakeholder of LCHPAC. Contributions are not tax deductible for filing purposes.

Paid for by Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee.

07/11/2011

Why Childish Theatrics? Is There Something to Hide, Mark Fitzgerald?

Why Childish Theatrics? Is There Something to Hide, Mark Fitzgerald? by Halie S. Rebeccaschild

On Tuesday, 6/27/2017, the majority council adjourned the City Council meeting at 5 minutes, 10 seconds. Mark Fitzgerald, mayor-under-recall, admonished minority council member Rob Weisgerber. Why? For failing to remove or condemn a reply on a Facebook post by a resident that suggested violence be carried out against Council Member Pam Gross (see “Facebook comment brings abrupt and dramatic end to Loveland City Council meeting“).

After this lengthy admonishment, the majority adjourned the meeting and abandoned an entire room full of residents and a full agenda with no apologies, suggesting that their behavior was quite all right because Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln were on their side. 

Of course, violence is not the answer; no one suggests it is, and LCHPAC strongly condemns both violent language and physical violence, neither of which have a place in civil society. Language does matter, and that’s why the majority council should have initiated a thoughtful discussion on how to respond to threatening language in social media. Mark Fitzgerald, Angie Settell, Pam Gross, and Steve Zamagias, had a great point, but instead of seeking solutions, they chose to silence any debate on this critically important topic. Their actions speak loudly that their intent was not to seek solutions to conflict but to create more conflict by silencing voices, and many residents were waiting to be heard and acknowledged at the 6/27 meeting.

This missed opportunity represents a monumental failure by our elected, majority council to actually lead. And this failure suggests that they had other reasons to avoid the meeting. 

The Real 6/27 Agenda: Avoid Resident Scrutiny at All Cost

Mark Fitzgerald, Angie Settell, Pam Gross, and Steve Zamagias staged a walk out, in their best attempt at defiant political theater, to deflect resident focus away from a growing list of conflicts of interest and questionable development deals that Loveland Community Heartbeat (LCHPAC) stakeholders and other Loveland residents are exposing. For example, Todd Osborne uncovered a Fitzgerald appointment to the Board of Trustees on Loveland’s Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) that violates CIC regulations (see “Let’s Connect Some Dots: A follow up to Todd Osborne’s statement to council on 6/13/17).

Look to the Hanging Agenda

On this note, residents might want to take another look at the 6/27 agenda to see what items are left hanging in the wind. Here is just one (of two) to watch for on the 7/11 City Council Meeting agenda.

See Item 9.B An ordinance to raise the city manager’s discretionary spending limit to $50,000.

(You need a little back story to fully understand the significance of this item. Remember Rob Stansel? LCHPAC wrote this blog to expose Dave Kennedy’s illegal contract, “Who’s Rob Stansel? The Guy Awarded an Illegal Contract in Loveland, Ohio.”)

Well, this ordinance would get Stansel paid by raising the city manager’s discretionary spending limit (per individual) from $15k to $50k!

Do the math.

We will pay city manager Dave Kennedy $107k + benefits this year, and on top of that, Mark Fitzgerald and his majority want us to pay Stansel up to $50k. Is this typical for municipalities our size? We don’t think so. It’s upon our majority council to demonstrate completion of a comparative analysis.

And since all of this political maneuvering surrounds the employment of just one person, here’s an interesting tidbit: Karl Weidner and Rob Stansel have a professional history together

Check it out here or just do a simple Google Search for “Property Development Associates Loveland.”

Okay, so Mark Fitzgerald brought a seasoned pair of development and real estate specialists to Loveland. No big deal right? Until we start looking at possible conflicts of interest, like that we found with Weidner and son (See “Let’s Connect Some Dots.”)

Is it possible that Stansel’s employment with the city and his relationship to Weidner on the CIC has created conflicts of interest that Dave Kennedy, Mark Fitzgerald, and Pam Gross as the Vice President of the CIC, have ignored?

All of these questions wait for Mark Fitzgerald and his majority to pass this $50K ordinance.

06.29.17

Let’s Connect Some Dots: A follow up to Todd Osborne’s statement to council on 6/13/17

by Halie S. Rebeccaschild

Do Mark Fitzgerald’s appointments to the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) need to comply with CIC regulations? Yes, it does. It’s a good thing that Loveland resident and past council member, Todd Osborne, has been paying attention. Given the high-dollar stakes around land transfers, TIFS, bonds, and everything else the independent “economic arm” of our city does, we need to check into Todd’s claims to ensure the CIC also meets the interest of residents.

On 6/13/17 Todd made some critical statements to City Council regarding CIC trustees and possible violations of CIC regulations and conflicts of interest. He did this without naming any names, and residents of the Butterworth Glen neighborhood have been asking me for more details. So I had to do some research myself to ensure the claims were correct before speaking or posting about it.

The following is a step-by-step verification process of Todd’s research for residents to follow. Now, it is up to Mark Fitzgerald to explain non-compliance. Want to better understand what Todd Osborne has found? Follow along.

1. First, confirm the regulations of the Loveland Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) regarding trustee qualifications.

Here for your reference is Article IV of the “REGULATIONS OF THE COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT CORPORATION OF THE CITY OF LOVELAND, OHIO.” See (A) and (B).

(see p12 of the January 13th CIC meeting packet)
(Available directly from p12 of the January 13th CIC meeting packet)
2. Then, identify CIC Board of Trustee members, appointed by mayor Mark Fitzgerald*

Here are the five newly appointed trustees (appointed in 2017 after the CIC restructured down from an 11-member board at the end of 2016): (trustee identity may be confirmed in the February 20th CIC Packet,*** where they voted themselves into offices):

Jay Stewart, President
Pam Gross, Vice President
Corey O’Donnell, Secretary
Kelly Flanigan, Treasurer
Karl Weidner

3. Next, verify that each of Mark Fitzgerald’s appointments comply with CIC regulations referenced above:

a) City-appointed or elected officials are easily verified because residents can find them on the Loveland city web site (links provided here for more information). So you can start by narrowing down the field.

1) Pam Gross is an elected City Council member (up for reelection on Nov 7th, 2017). This appointment complies with regulations.

2) Kelly Flanigan is the city of Loveland’s Finance Director. This appointment complies with regulations.

b) Residents, business owners, and landowners are a little trickier, so you may start by narrowing them down by checking public voter registration information:

Go to Ohio Voter Lookup (click here)
3) Enter Jay Stewart, Clermont County. You’ll find that Jay is registered to vote from an address within the city of Loveland. Mark Fitzgerald’s appointment of Jay Stewart complies with CIC regulations.

4) Enter CORY ODONNELL, Clermont County (His first name appears spelled incorrectly in the CIC packet. You must enter it exactly as it’s given here. Do not use the apostrophe for this lookup). (“Cory O’Donnell” also has a 2017 business membership with the Little Miami River Chamber Alliance under this home address.) Mark Fitzgerald’s appointment of Cory Odonnell complies with CIC regulations.

That Was The Easy Part. Proving Something Doesn’t Exist is Much Harder, But We Can Try

5) Enter Karl Weidner, Hamilton County
You will find a Montgomery address listed. It appears that Weidner does not live inside the city of Loveland, unless he has a temporary address. But this Montgomery address appears elsewhere in Google searches for Weidner and his family, with no other Loveland home showing up. If there’s Karl Weidner home inside the city, Mark Fitzgerald will need to provide evidence.

Does Mark Fitzgerald’s appointment of Karl Weidner comply with CIC regulations? Mark Fitzgerald is obligated to prove that it does, but we are stuck doing the research.

Mark Fitzgerald is being recalled, and residents have a right to verify he complies with all laws and regulations. So we continue.

A search of the Little Miami River Chamber Alliance Business Directory produces nothing. Weidner has no business membership with our chamber to check for a business with a city address.

A Google search results in:

A LinkedIn page where you can verify identity by comparing his photo to the CIC video and his business address: linkedin.com/in/karl-weidner-b146661. But where is that address registered? LinkedIn doesn’t say. You must keep looking.

A search for his business lands a Branch Hill address with a deceptive Loveland city and zip code, but we as council member, Pam Gross, has made clear at council meetings, we have to check the city map to verify whether a business is in or out, and Branch Hill Guinea Pike is clearly outside of the city. It appears that Karl Weidner pays no business or income taxes to the city of Loveland. Mark Fitzgerald, we’re waiting.

But what about property?

This one is trickier. To find property ownership, we need to search all public records from the time Weidner assumed his seat (January, 2017) to the present. It only takes five minutes and a bit of clicking to see that all of these searches bring up nothing:

1) Clermont County Auditor Search
2) Hamilton County Auditor Search
3) Warren County Auditor Search
4) Ohio Land Records  (Clermont County land records)
5) Hamilton County Recorder Website Search
6) Warren County Recorder Website Search

Mark Fitzgerald, What do These Empty Searches Mean?

As of Mark Fitzgerald’s appointment of Weidner and this writing, residents are not able to prove that Weidner 1) lives in the city, 2) has a business address in the city, or 3) owns property inside city limits. It’s up to Mark Fitzgerald to provide residents with the qualifying information. How was Karl Weidner chosen and how does his appointment comply with CIC regulations?

Wasn’t the restructuring of the CIC last year intended to benefit members of the Loveland community through representation? See Recall.

Why does Loveland make residents go through all of this trouble? Mark Fitzgerald, our mayor, appoints all CIC Board of Trustee members (and all other city committee members that play integral roles in facilitating development projects), forcing us to check in great detail to ensure that rules are followed and that Mark Fitzgerald, his majority City Council, and our City Manager, Dave Kennedy, (who also owns burden of proof), adhere to the highest standards of ethics. This is really about Mark Fitzgerald, the man under recall, his appointments, his domination of majority council, and his ethics, not about any particular trustee.

But Wait, Didn’t Todd Say Something About Conflicts of Interest?

Yes, Todd did mention a conflict of interest, which brings me to the last point that may concern residents, a possible conflicts of interest around the Christman property transfer to the CIC and its role in selling any city-owned land to facilitate the Butterworth Commons project. Follow these dots to discover more.

  1. A Google search for CIC trustee Karl Weidner also brings up this link with public records information. (See names of family members to look for possible conflicts of interest, all public, factual information to check.
  2. Now, hit this link. Refer back and forth to the last link to double check names as needed. (If you do a social media search for photos posted publicly as of today, you can confirm a close family relationship. I already did that, but you can do that on your own if you’d like. Again, the purpose is to fact check).
  3. Finally, hit this link, which is the portfolio for the Crane property, which is currently under contract by Drees for possible development of 56 condos on land that the city of Loveland plans to annex. (Over the last few months, the city has been discussing whether to transfer a large area of city-owned land to sell to Drees that would give them a public entrance way to this property.

    An ordinance that has been tabled as of the 6/13 meeting is all that stops Mark Fitzgerald and his majority on City Council from transferring the entire 10 acres of city-owned Christman property to the CIC. And the CIC made clear at the 6/19 meeting that development is the only option they care to discuss.) Once this transfer occurs, residents have no say.

How Do These Links Help to Connect the Dots?

If you haven’t put it together yet, check the name of the commercial real estate firm on the portfolio of the land sale. It appears there is a direct family tie between our CIC trustee and a managing director of the commercial real estate firm handling the sale of the Crane property. The two are father and son. Is that a conflict of interest? We do not know that the son has any hands on this deal or will benefit in any way from it. Again, this is not an attempt to cast judgement, only a statement that an investigation is warranted into the appointment and any possible conflicts of interest.

LCHPAC believes that the appointment and connection are worthy of investigation, especially given the reasons Mark Fitzgerald is being recalled back to the November 7th, 2017, ballot. No offense intended to anyone other than Mark Fitzgerald who made all of the CIC trustee appointments: The burden of proof belongs to Mark Fitzgerald:

Mark Fitzgerald, how does Karl Weidner’s appointment, comply with the regulations of the CIC, the economic development arm of the city of Loveland, Ohio?
Further, how will this conflict of interest look upon investigation by the Ohio Ethics Commission?

 

What Can Residents Do?

Two things. 1) If you are concerned about this or another possible ethics violation, contact the Ohio Ethics Commission to start a confidential investigation into the matter. At the very least, our local government needs an ethics review. All investigations are confidential, so no one will even know that you made a phone call.

And 2) If you’d like to help us on our mission to elect council members who will bring a higher standard of ethics to Loveland, please become a LCHPAC stakeholder. We welcome all Loveland residents to take a stand, and your non-deductible contribution will help us fund campaigns to unseat Mark Fitzgerald and his majority rule this November 7th, 2017.

Thank you for taking the time to research into your local city operations. Your fellow residents appreciate your time investment, and we promise that we are doing the same for you.

Halie Rebeccaschild, Secretary
Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee

*(As of this blog writing, I have been unable to find via the city web site any meeting minutes around appointments or the process for confirmation and have had to submit a request to Clerk of Council Misty Cheshire to provide direction to this information. This is yet another area in which the city could improve public relations related to transparency problems, saving Misty future work. Why do residents need to spend hours researching to find out who sits on committees and minutes around their appointments? I trust that Misty Cheshire will set me straight in short order.)

**As of this blog writing, the names of the newly appointed (2017) Loveland Community Improvement Corporation Board of Trustee members are found publicly available from the 1/13/17 meeting minutes posted from the city site inside of the 2/20/17 meeting packet but no where else on the city web site and no where on any independent web site). Residents must dig to confirm the names of those who “serve” on the Loveland Community Improvement Corporation, yet another public relations problem that promotes distrust.

***Given that links often seem to “break” after shared directly from the city website, the CIC packets have been saved on dropbox for the purpose of providing a stable link. Residents may go to the city site and search Public Meetings for the same packet, if they wish.

Paid for by Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee.

Butterworth Deal Pushed Prior to Recall Election

Steven Smith is a Loveland resident. He is a recognized expert in urban and rural planning and natural resource management. His clients range from the US government to local communities, and host governments. He has worked in Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean.

The Brandywine Land Transfer

The proposal is to transfer the city-owned, undeveloped land (Butterworth Property) to the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC).  The CIC would then sell 1.5 acres to Drees in order to open access. This would then allow Drees to construct an additional 56 housing units – 50 on adjacent property it owns but cannot build on due to lack of access, and 6 on the 1.5 acres. Drees would construct a walking trail and parking lot that all residents of Loveland can use. The intention is for the CIC to then return the remaining property to the city for use as a park.

The Questions

There are many important, unanswered questions regarding the Butterworth land deal. Have there been traffic studies to see how downtown Loveland will be impacted by additional cars on State Route 48? What will be the impact on our infrastructure and services – fire, water, sewage, trash, and electricity? Has this impact been assessed and if so by whom? If that analysis exists, how can citizens access it?

More, has an environmental assessment been done? Does the Butterworth land have unique value for the Little Miami watershed or for native vegetation? What is the value of this land as open space, meaning will keeping it open and developing the park concept add more value to the city overall than another housing development?

Perhaps the most important question is why is this the only resolution being proposed? And why must the sale of the access to the Butterworth land take place now, when residents are actively circulating petitions to recall Mark Fitzgerald, who controls the majority vote that determines this land transfer?

The Butterworth Commons Proposal will clear 10+ acres of green space for 56 additional homes in Loveland.

The Alternatives

Why have the residents not been engaged in a conversation about our vision for Loveland, its future, and what we value? Not everything of value comes down to dollars and cents; although, that is important. In fact, most things we value most have no monetary value and are irreplaceable – just like this land slated for development in our town.

Here is another option. Loveland doesn’t sell the land to Drees. Instead, Loveland purchases the land Drees is holding but cannot build on due to lack of access. Add that land to the Butterworth property and create a larger park. The City of Loveland develops the park for residents and visitors, creating significant value for everyone. More green space is protected in an area under enormous development pressure.

The City of Loveland and the CIC seem dead set on pushing through as many land deals as possible before the November election. Can it be that some on council are aware that opposition to their policies is building daily and they conclude as many deals as possible before November?

Notice of Public Hearing June 13th, 2017, 7 p.m. During City Council Meeting

One thing is certain; they are not making any more land. Residents need to make our voices heard clearly that the City of Loveland needs to stop all land deals until there is a genuine community driven process in place. We need a vision for Loveland, and that vision should be based upon what current residents most value about living here – the small-town feel, green space, and other natural resources.

Notice of Public Hearing, June 13th.
Learn more about the property transferred to the CIC.
Watch Steve on location talking about the value of the natural land.

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