Loveland, Ohio info@lovelandheartbeat.org 513-486-4708

We did it, Loveland! Now What?

Halie Rebeccaschild, founder and former secretary of LCHPAC, and Chris Burke, Loveland resident.

by Halie Rebeccaschild

We did it!

On November 7th, 2017, Loveland stood up and spoke with a landslide election of Loveland Community Heartbeat’s endorsed candidates, Neal Oury, Tim Butler, Ted Phelps, and Rob Weisgerber. The voices of Loveland residents could not have been clearer, we disapprove of the lack of transparency and the unethical processes of the past majority on council, and we want an elected city council that restores civility, function, and ethical integrity to city hall.

Now What?

Loveland Community Heartbeat plans to stay actively engaged in our local government through the upcoming transition to ensure that incoming City Council members fulfill their pledges to the residents of Loveland to increase transparency, ethics, and engagement. We believe that civically engaged residents are necessary to a truly healthy and flourishing city, and we plan to model that philosophy by staying involved.

We invite residents to join us at upcoming city meetings and in any opportunities that open up for residents to have an input on the development of a comprehensive master plan, a charter review, a parks master plan, city committees, budget planning, re-zoning, etc. Your input can make a huge difference to the quality of life of residents and to ensure that residents across the city feel like they are a part of the big decisions made, especially those involving public-private partnerships, changes to our city hall, or the type and amount of residential units added each year.

Stay Alert & Civically Engaged

Loveland Community Heartbeat stakeholders who attended the 9/26 “no show meeting,” a city council meeting in 2017 where three members of the previous majority failed to show up. Shown here, Carolynn Ceccopieri, Dianne Bomar, Pat Mays (former council member), Phyllis York, and Sherry Hamlin. In back, Neal Oury, Walter Golladay, and Steve Smith. Far back, Tim O’Grady.

So while it may appear that our work is done, getting our endorsed candidates elected, please do not make the mistake of thinking you can turn your backs now. Instead, why not make a small commitment to your city to stay alert, informed, and engaged? Believe it or not, WE the residents make all the difference ensuring city hall functions with ethical integrity of, by, and for the people. And we hope to see you continue keeping one eye on our city to ensure we move forward as one of Ohio’s Best Hometowns.

To those of you residents who stood up this year with your voices, your signatures, and your votes, Loveland Community Heartbeat salutes you! And to the team of residents who worked tirelessly to promote our messages to the residents this year, resulting in a successful outcome of a recall petition drive and the election of four endorsed candidates, I bow down to you with the greatest respect as the true movers of mountains.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” (attributed to) Margaret Mead

Thank you for standing up for our hometown, Loveland!

Halie Rebeccaschild is a traveling PADI SCUBA dive instructor, administrative professional, and community organizer who maintains residency at her childhood home in the Stoneybrook neighborhood of Loveland.

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.

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.

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

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.

Loveland Fails to Set Green Standard for Planned City Hall

Mike Meldon Jr. M.Ed Loveland resident and Social Studies Teacher, Oak Hills High School

Loveland, Ohio has a special relationship with Mother Nature.  The city is built around nature physically, economically, and socially.  In return, Loveland citizens have always shown their respect back to the environment through its Beautification Committee, the Farmer’s Market, the Little Miami Conservancy, and the numerous residents that take it upon themselves to give back through recycling, reducing, and reusing.  

Nature and Green space are central to Loveland’s identity as a city.  Loveland’s natural assets are its claim to fame that include the East Loveland Nature Reserve, the numerous parks and trails, the Little Miami River, and of course the Loveland Bike Trail.  All of these resources bring citizens to our Historic Downtown from all over the tri-state and beyond.  

Unfortunately, the trend over the last few years by our local government has been to disrespect this relationship through loss of green space, traffic concerns, population density, and construction.  The environment and its well-being has played little to no role in Loveland’s recent plans, and that needs to change.  

The most pressing issue currently is the proposed new City Hall building.  The group in charge of the initial planning of the new building, the CIC, has discussed all aspects of the project without mention of the building being energy efficient or environmentally responsible (you can view all of the meetings on Loveland Magazine online).  In a city such as ours, these green building techniques and guidelines should be priorities.  

We need to come together as citizens and demand that sustainable building should be the goal.  That means that from ‘planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition- the entire lifecycle of the building’- should be ‘resource responsible and energy efficient.’

The new Loveland City Hall building should stand as an example to all new builds in the city on how to build ecologically and demonstrate our city’s respect for Mother Nature, who has given us so much.

Mike Meldon
Concerned Loveland Resident

P.S.  If you have been following this new project, you know that there are many issues besides this that residents are concerned with right now.  The lack of transparency, CIC membership concerns, and the possibility of the new building being four stories are just a few.  All of these issues need to be focused on equally and we need to create a building that residents and the city can be proud of.  That means we do it with both resident input and respect for the environment.

LCHPAC Note: Cincinnati Business Courier’s 2017 Green Building List, seen here:

Greenest Tri-State Buildings, 2017
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