Welcome to Auburn Township in Beautiful Geauga County Ohio

News Stories and Events for 2016

News stories from years 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

Published December 30, 2016

The final Geauga County Commissioner meeting of 2016 saw the appearance of Department of Aging Director, Jessica Boldt. Ms. Boldt presented three motions, all of which were accepted by the Commissioners. The last and final resolution was an approval of a lease with Family and Community Services, Inc. (d.b.a. Chagrin Falls Park Community Center Corporation) for the period of two years from January 2, 2017 through December 31, 2018, in the amount of $48,000.00 The second resolution was the approval of a contract with Paige Food Services, Inc., for the preparation and delivery of meals to seniors from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2018 for a total amount of $760,964.00. Assuming an average price per meal of $4.40 [(4.23+4.58) /2] and dividing that number into $760,964, one can reasonably conclude that 173,940 meals will be delivered over the two-year period, or 86,970 meals per year delivered to senior citizens. Assuming two meal deliveries per day, the service may help 43,485 senior citizens; assuming three such deliveries, the service will assist 28,990 senior citizens. The question that comes to mind is “How many of the 95,000 residents noted in the 2010 Geauga County census are senior citizens aged 60 and over and eligible for assistance at county taxpayer expense?” Ms. Boldt noted that safety issues at some locations where free meals are delivered result in the need for policy to maintain safe conditions for contractors who deliver meals to senior citizens. Ms. Bold noted the mandate to report abuse, including self-abuse, that caregivers and attendants observe and the need to understand possible consequences as a result of lack of safety in homes of senior citizens.

The third resolution, which actually was the first that Ms. Boldt presented to the Board, was the approval of a Legal Services Agreement with Patricia J. Schraff of Schraff and King Company, LPA, for legal services offered to senior citizens through the Department of Aging for the year beginning January 1 and ending December 31, 2017. The contract provides for the availability of 775 billable hours of service to Geauga County senior citizens. Ms. Boldt noted that the normal billable hourly rate for the law firm is $275. The minimum billable rate under the contract is $100.42; the maximum rate is $125. Ms. Boldt noted, that in contrast to earlier years, seniors who are not on any financial assistance programs will be charged a nominal $25 for the legal services, while those on federal assistance programs will continue to receive the legal services free of charge. Is this new situation an indication that some participants have abused the system at county expense?

Published December 16, 2016

At the conclusion of the December 6 Geauga County Commissioners Meeting, brief mention was made about the expiration of two incumbent members of the Mental Health Board, as well as the expiration of three seats on the Geauga Planning Commission. All of these seats expire on December 31. As regards the first board, Brian Johnston is slated to fill the vacancy created when former Mental Health Board member Che Scott resigned this fall to comply with the request by Commissioner Spidalieri to do so.. Applications for all vacancies need to be submitted as soon as possible to be considered.

Published December 13, 2016

Attendees listened to Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri, in the presence of Planning Director, David
Dietrich, announce plans to create a new position. Spidalieri noted that there is a need in Geauga County for a “voice for residents and business” to oversee planning, zoning, and conservation projects.
Spidalieri referred to Mr. Dietrich as perhaps not being in his position long in spite of his youthful appearance of being twenty-six years old.

Acknowledging that the demands of his position are increasing and that he has had concerns about his responsibilities for some time, Dave Dietrich noted, “There’s a lot to be said for talking face to face” regarding the ongoing challenges and for viewing the present situation as a positive opportunity for the county.

Spidalieri announced his excitement about hiring an ombudsman by posting the new position. Defined by Miriam-Webster, an ombudsman is a government official who “investigates citizens’ complaints against the government” and who “mediates fair settlements.” Commissioner Claypool explained that other counties, such as Wayne County, enable different county departments to work together, apparently with the assistance of an ombudsman. The individual who is hired may be entitled to sit on the Planning Commission, which currently has eleven board members. The inclusion of an ombudsman would increase the board membership to twelve.

Calling for an executive session that included Commissioner-elect Tim Lennon in the absence of outgoing Commissioner Blake Rear, as well as David Dietrich and Walter Claypool, parties returned at approximately 10:06 A. M. after a deliberation of about 25 minutes. The resulting action was the decision to post for the position of ombudsman and coordinator until that position is filled.

Published December 11, 2016

The December 5, 2016, Auburn Township Trustee meeting found road superintendent Emerick Gordon presenting his monthly report. He noted that Auburn Community Park, formerly known as the Cathan Farm, had a surprise visit in late November, as recorded by the park video camera.
Was it a surprise visit? Yes, it was!

Was it a visit long after children were “safely nestled in their beds”? Yes, it was!

Were gifts left behind? Yes, indeed!

Was there a sleigh with eight tiny reindeer? Not exactly. . .

Without any of his poetic license or literary flourishes, Mr. Gordon noted that the video camera had recorded the following:

1) a light-colored “Jeep” of no particular color (gray scale)

2) no license plate

3) no other identifying marks

Of course, the discovery of the surprise visit occurred during “dawn’s early light.” There were tire tracks all along the cross-country track and over the bridge and into the woods, not on the way to Grandma’s house.

You know what they say in these parts: “If you build it, they will come.” Thanks for the report and the knowledge that township property is protected by video surveillance.

Published November 26, 2016

Juvenile Court liaison/financial officer Kimberly Laurie presented a half-hour update reflecting the views of Juvenile Court Judge, Timothy Grendell on November 22, 2016. Her presentation plus that of US Geological Service’s Martha Jagucki accounted for nearly three-quarters of the two hour Commissioners’ meeting.

Ms. Laurie began her presentation with discussion of ORC 2152.31(A) and (B), emphasizing that the location of the juvenile detention center must be a convenient distance from the residence of the juvenile offender. She acknowledged that the Portage County Juvenile Detention Home is not necessarily convenient for juvenile offenders in Geauga County. Section (B) notes alternatives to a detention facility as 1) a facility operated by another county and offered by contract, 2) a private agency, and 3) a foster home arrangement. In each case, the judgment regarding an individual juvenile offender’s placement is the sole responsibility of the judge who presided over the juvenile offender. Ms. Laurie also clarified that by virtue of ORC, juveniles under the authority of Geauga County Job and Family Services may not be placed in juvenile detention homes.

An additional part of the presentation dealt with the rationale behind the financial responsibility for juvenile detention home costs borne by Geauga County for Geauga County juveniles sent to the Portage County Juvenile Detention Home. Ms. Laurie explained that although Geauga County has recently been paying for 33% of the total cost of operation of the Portage County facility, the county’s financial responsibility in 2018 should be no more than 23% of the cost of operation because in 2016, Geauga County juveniles utilized only 23% of the beds during 2016. 2018 rates reportedly are based on Geauga County juvenile usage during 2016. The report noted that the use of ankle monitors on juveniles waiting for court hearings has avoided the use of the Portage Juvenile Detention Home to the tune of $195,000 that will be realized as a savings to Geauga County in 2017. Over the last ten years, Laurie reported, Geauga County has realized savings of approximately $7,000,000 because technically Geauga County owns 35% of the Portage Detention Home while paying for 33% of the financial liability. While Judge Grendell is willing to consider in-county alternatives to out-of-county detention homes, there is a fragile balance between saving money and the best case scenerio for the individual juvenile.

Ms. Laurie reported on the weekend detention program being implemented for Geauga County juveniles. Because juvenile case workers report every Friday on the progress of the juvenile offender, the juvenile judge can waive weekend detention as a result of the juvenile’s good behavior. This techniques permits the judge to help engage in behavior modification with the use of positive reinforcement.

Shortly after Ms. Laurie reported that a juvenile court judge can remand an out-of-county juvenile in the county juvenile detention home back to his/her home county, Commissioner Claypool noted that there are judges out of county that we (officials of Geauga County) can’t control. Claypool’s comment made it difficult to know if he was agreeing or disagreeing with or understanding her premise. At any rate, she was quick to respond that the placement of juveniles in any detention home is dependent on the level of crime committed.

Claypool interjected his admiration for the Geauga County Sheriff model for dealing with out-of-county criminal offenders. Ms. Laurie was quick to note that although the Sheriff’s program with adult criminal offenders is exemplary, there are different requirements in the juvenile system imposed by Ohio Revised Code. Thus, utilizing the Sheriff to house juvenile offenders simply cannot work. She acknowledged that for the Sheriff to be able to house juvenile criminal offenders, the Ohio Legislature and/or the Ohio Supreme Court need to amend the current requirements in the juvenile punitive system.

A discussion between Commissioners Rear and Claypool concerned the questionable savings that could be achieved with housing for juvenile criminal offenders and their impact on fixed costs to operate the system. Ms. Laurie’s quick response to the discussion was to remind the commissioners that any decision whatsoever regarding a juvenile’s housing arrangements requires the decision of the juvenile court judge. Should the commissioners desire more information, Ms. Laurie continued, it would be necessary for them to obtain separate attorneys. She quickly followed that comment with a return to her video presentation, the last part of which featured a television channel 19 report by Paul Orlosky featuring the Cuyahoga Juvenile Court system and its juvenile detention home. Orlosky’s report focused n disruptions within the Cuyahoga Juvenile Court system, such as the presence of gangs, the lack of physical control over juvenile offenders, the “back talk” tolerated in the juveniles, and the physical destruction of tangible property by those juveniles.

Commissioner Claypool interjected more information, especially the assertion that none of the commissioners is willing to tolerate violent behavior of out-of-county juvenile offenders who criminalize Geauga County juveniles through bad example.

Ms. Laurie went back to the presentation with the note that Judge Grendell has had conversations with other county juvenile court judges. As a result, it is known that Lake, Summit, and Trumbull Counties are probably too full of their own juvenile offenders to be willing to permit juveniles from Geauga County to utilize these out-of-county detention homes.

Coming at last to the conclusion of the presentation, Juvenile Court Judge Burger was shown talking about the chaos in his county detention home as a result of the presence of drugs, alcohol, sex, and gang activities within Ashtabula, Trumbull, Stark, and Summit County detention homes. Judge Burger was seen to extol the virtues of teachers that deal with juvenile offenders from highly dysfunctional families and of different ages and abilities. He noted on video that effective education of these juveniles can save $1 million per individual offender.

The end of the presentation found Commissioner Claypool expressing his intention to reach out to Judge Grendell and the Prosecutor’s Office for further clarification. He also reiterated his obvious preference for juvenile housing to be completed by the Sheriff’s Office in preference to the Portage County Detention Center.

Published November 25, 2016

Many of you may remember that the USGS and Geauga County water well monitoring were hot topics in the spring of 2016. USGS’s Martha Jagucki paid a visit to the November 23 Geauga Commissioners meeting.

Ms. Jagucki noted that USGS (United States Geological Service) is monitoring 30 Geauga water wells for depth of water. She reminded Commissioners that after an eight-month hiatus in service, USGS began to monitor the thirty wells in June 2016. Six of the monitored wells are under new owners, who have been or will be approached with regard to USGS gaining permission to be able to track water wells and observe water depths. Among other items on her bucket list, Ms. Jagucki wants to monitor well GE 1520 and GE 126.

Commissioner Claypool asked Jagucki to explain the loss of water depth. She responded that there is not enough information currently available to provide a scientific explanation. She noted that well GE 352, GE 136, and GE 119 are experiencing decline in water depth without a real explanation. GE 119 has been experiencing decline in water depth since 1980, with the largest incidence of declining well depth occurring between 1979 and 1994. This is the well whose decline in depth has been the subject of widespread detail as a result of the Carlisle factory. This is the factory widely rumored to have contaminated water running into Tare Creek. Ms. Jagucki claims to have asked for more detail, which apparently has not been interpreted fully as of this date. Additionally, Jagucki noted that the decline in water levels has been occurring since at least 2004. The water formationapparently inhibits restock of the pools. Well GE 119, close to the Geauga County Airport.

When Claypool speculated aloud that the drop in water-level may not be a significant event. Jagucki agreed with that theory. Jagucki noted that there are five wells actually declining in well depth for reasons other than declining precipitation, but appeared to cite only three: GE 349, GE 351, and GE 352. Regarding GE 352, Jagucki noted that Tare Creek may be a factor with the proximity to the wastewater plant. Additionally, the cone of depression is expanding with loss of depth.

In reference to plans suggested in early 2016 to have the Department of Water Resources collect data instead of the USGS, Jagucki noted that such a move would save only about 25% of the current cost paid to USGS by Geauga County. The largest portion of the cost results from recording data into the database and then analyzing that data.

You may remember that although USGS contracts have typically been completed with Geauga County during the third quarter of the year, the last contract was not completed until early summer 2016, causing a great deal of concern among elected trustees in some of the Geauga County townships.

Published November 18, 2016

A seven-minute dialog between a substitute for the Geauga County Transit Department director and the Geauga County Commissioners turned into a 35 minute discussion about how the department might better serve the employers and residents of Geauga County. Commissioner Spidalieri, in what appeared to be a painful gathering of his thoughts, three times mentioned that the time for his questions might be inappropriate but, nevertheless, that he needed to express his marketing concerns for the department. These concerns ranged from his opinion that, like the Geauga County Water Services Department of some four years ago, the Transit Department seemed overwhelmed by the hiring of part-time employees to the need to better serve Amish employment needs and to provide transport to residents who wished to participate in county events during times when the transit department was not operational. Commissioner Spidalieri’s communication seemed hampered by lack of fluid articulation.

Commissioner Claypool provided concrete examples of difficulties within the Geauga Transit Department. He addressed the example of an Amish county-appointee whose presence at important meetings has been consistently hampered by the lack of available motorized transport to the county agency. Additionally, he referenced the problem of Ohio Department of Transportation grant money that apparently hamstrings the operations by imposing requirements. Additionally, like Spidalieri, he referenced the unavailability of full time employees who might make possible the offering of more rides during the mid-afternoon. He also referenced the possibility of an improved outlook for Geauga Transport with the ability of the county to abandon membership in the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), the organization that coordinates the distribution of Ohio Department of Transportation moneys to municipalities in the five-county region of northeast Ohio.

County employee Linda Burhenne noted that part of the problem was that the Transit Department did not want to pay employees during time periods when rides were not in the greatest demand, although it might be strategically beneficial to utilize said employees to clean buses and do other manual labor during times of slow demand for public transportation.

Commissioner Spidalieri took control of the conversation again by noting that the transportation needs of Amish employees are compromised by the use of drivers who are “dirtballs” and “criminals” more properly deserving jail than positions of trust. Spidalieri made specific reference to the risk of safety and security to Amish “daughters” and to employees in Middlefield who have to deal with lack of punctuality because drivers who serve the Amish community do not have to meet the stringent requirements imposed upon the drivers for the Geauga Transit System. Although Spidalieri’s ideas were well-taken, he appeared to experience great pain in expressing his ideas smoothly.

The transit employee was patient and attentive, but he was obviously not in a position to be making department decisions. Spidalieri suggested a department meeting before December 31 to attempt to utilize these ideas and others to make the Geauga Transit System less dependent on constant hiring as a result of resignations.

The remainder of the meeting, with perhaps a dozen more motions, was completed in less than fifteen minutes.

Published November 16, 2016

The last agenda item for the Geauga County Commissioners was the unanimous approval by the three incumbents to permit incoming Commissioner Timothy Lennon to attend the December 4-6 Winter Conference of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO). That conference is held the first weekend during December each year. This year the Columbus conference will occur December 4 through December 6. As a result, the regularly-scheduled Commissioner meeting of December 6 is canceled to facilitate the presence of Commissioners Claypool and Spidalieri, as well as Commissioner-elect Lennon. Although not stated per se, the approved motion provides speculation that outgoing Commissioner, Blake Rear, is foregoing his presence at the conference for the benefit of Mr. Lennon, who is widely recognized as a neophyte to Geauga County politics and civic matters.
The regular meeting of the Commissioners is rescheduled to Thursday, December 8.

The regularly-scheduled post-Thanksgiving Commissioner meeting of November 29, 2016, remains in place.

Published November 2, 2016

At the end of the November 1, 2016, Geauga County Commissioners’ Meeting, Commissioner Claypool provided some updates to Geauga County Mental Health Board actions.

County Commissioners expressed the need to make new appointments when two county-appointed seats expire on June 30, 2017. The County Commissioners anticipate a month to fill those vacancies. Per motion unanimously approved, the Commissioners authorized the placement of advertisements in local publications to attract candidates to fill the noted vacancies. Although there are three current resumes on file, one has been eliminated as a result of not being from a Geauga County resident.

Alberta Chokshi, on behalf of the Mental Board of Health, provided a letter in response to a request for member absences by County Commissioners in excess of four within a period of a year,. This reporting is a requirement of Ohio Revised Code, although the Board of County Commissioners has not previously acted to terminate appointments of Mental Health Board members for excessive absence. Per Ohio Revised Code, the County Mental Health Board is responsible for reporting those absences to the Commissioners. In response to Member Jeff Kline’s inquiry on October 19 asking for the name of the individual who would be responsible for that report, Alberta Chokshi, whose term expires on June 30, 2017, accepted responsibility for the MHB.

The letter of October 27, 2016, identified a total of four members who had reached the plateau of four or more absences within the period of a fiscal year, which runs from July 1 of one year until June 20 of the following year. Three MHB members who had reached four or more absences during Fiscal Year 2015 were Nicole Randazzo, Jeffrey Kline, and former member Jim Pontau. During Fiscal Year 2016, only two members have missed at least four meetings: Che Scott and Nicole Randazzo. Che Scott resigned his position at the October 19 MHB meeting, creating a vacancy that needs immediate replacement. Ms. Randazzo’s term of service will expire on June 30, 2017.

Included with this update are attendance records for all MHB members for FY 2015 and 2016 as a result of a separate public information request made by this writer.

Published October 17. 2016

The public hearing announced in The Geauga Maple Leaf began promptly at 7:30 P,M.
at the Administration Building at 11010 East Washington. In attendance for the Zoning Commission were Alternate Member Todd Aznavorian, Vice Chair Don Simpson, Chair Beth Liff, and Dee Belew. Missing were Mike Guyer, Jeff Pulsford, and Albert Tien. The amendment had been approved on October 11, 2016, by the Geauga County Planning Commission with the reservation that the Zoning Commission take the precautions of understanding the complexity of enforcement of a noise control amendment.

The amendment generated a healthy conversation about the improvement of the amendment over ZC2014-01, which authorized the zoning inspector to lease equipment to record noise levels for the eight most active hours of the day. The conversation questioned whether the previous noise control amendment had in fact ever come into play or required the zoning inspector to have noise levels monitored for nuisance to neighbors. From the discussion, it was evident that reporting of possible violators had never occurred.

The second conversation regarded the complexity of accurately recording actual noise levels at the property line and the need for multiple recording of data before accurate logarithmic average could be accomplished. Todd Aznavorian and Beth Liff expressed interest in exploring the implications of new information presented.

The next meeting of the Auburn Township Zoning Commission will be Thursday, October 27, at 7:30 PM at the Administration Building.

Published October 14, 2016

Some readers may remember this website’s review of the Clean Ohio Act from about six months ago when the McDonald Farm did not receive the approval it expected to become part of the Ohio Farmland Preservation Program with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy as its sponsor.

Thanks to the approval of the Geauga County Planning Commission on Tuesday, October 11, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Geauga County Commissioners and the Geauga County Soil and Water Conservation District (GCSWCD) was presented at the October 13, 2016, Commissioners Meeting. This MOU will permit the McDonald Farm to present its application for acceptance to the Farmland Preservation Program through the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP).

The issue resulted in some negative attention from local activists, many of whom are also associated with a group known as Protect Geauga Parks. The McDonald Farm will join two other longtime agricultural entities which utilized Geauga County sponsorship about ten years ago. It is expected that the McDonald Farm, along with the other two Geauga farms, will continue as viable agricultural entities.

Published October 10, 2016

Back in 2010 when Wind in the Woods, an Auburn Township horse farm, graciously informed township Zoning Inspector Frank V. Kikto of the intention of installing a 10kw residential wind turbine with 1/20 of the power of the wind turbines granted to The Pond, a commercial ice skating facility, the farm owners learned the hard way that elected officials had no embarrassment over cheating, lying to, and stealing from the farm owners.

Three months after agreeing that the wind turbine was an acceptable use for a farm because Ohio townships are forbidden by ORC 519.21 to zone or regulate the land use of an agricultural entity, Auburn Township for the second time in two years stole farmers' property rights. Having done the same thing to the Auburn Twin Oaks Winery, a farm engaged in viticulture, in 2009 and lost the case at the Eleventh District Court of Appeals, Auburn Township officials apparently learned nothing from the first experience when they stupidly violated ORC again in 2010 with Wind in the Woods. In both cases Assistant Prosecutor Mary Brigid Matheney, with the approval of former Geauga County Prosecutor (current U.S. Representative) David “Just Dave” Joyce, went forward on behalf of Auburn Township, while fully aware of the constraints of ORC 519.21, which clearly forbids townships from any regulation of agriculture within their borders.

Wind in the Woods experienced the same miscarriage of justice in 2011 under the misguidance of Common Pleas Court Justice David Fuhry in 2011 until the Eleventh District Court of Appeals overturned Fuhry's decision the same way it overturned Fuhry in the Twin Oaks situation. Auburn Township apparently was in a phase of denigrating and depriving farm owners. The wind turbine was installed on October 8, 2015. Farm owners are considering the installation of a second turbine and expect that Auburn Township elected officials will wisely choose not to violate ORC 519.21 again, especially since both farms have been featured in repeated annual seminars at the Ohio Township Association's winter conferences. An internet search under “Jones v Auburn Township Board of Zoning Appeals” and “Schabel v. Troyan” will provide meaningful reading on the topic.

At the April 6, 2015, Auburn Township Trustee meeting, the guest speaker was Kelly Austin, Vice President for KLA Risk Management Company, an entity which visits the township at three year intervals to discover unnecessary risk and liability undertaken by elected officials and employees. Check out the very brief video featuring Ms. Austin, as she inquires about “the farm” with the wind turbine, a topic she apparently broached during her 2012 non-public meeting with Trustees Eberly, Cavanagh, and Troyan and then Fiscal Officer, Susan Plavcan, replaced in 2013 by appointee Frederick May, a member of the Auburn Board of Zoning Appeals who claimed that A Wind in the Woods was regulatable by Zoning Inspector Kitko on the basis of ORC 519.213 (wind farms consisting of multiple turbines), a theory erroneously supported and later recanted as an error by Judge David Fuhry.

Watch the video. Watch the face of Trustee Cavanagh as he explains to Ms. Austin in twenty seconds or less how “common pleas court ruled against the township and the wind turbine went in.” Watch the expression and composure of Trustee Mike Troyan, who was the first trustee to announce that the township might step in to steal the rights of the wind turbine back in June 2010 and then had to announce in November 2013 that “a wind turbine is an acceptable use for a farm.”

Too bad Mrs. (Matthew) Matheney could not invest in a two-minute reading of ORC 519.21. Do you think she would make a good judge for Geauga County? Think about it, “kids,” in the words of Trustee Troyan, who has claimed in public to have “passed the Ohio Bar Exam the first time out.”

Oh, really, kids???

Published October 5, 2016

On September 27, 2016, the Geauga County Commissioners voted 2-1 to seek removal of two Geauga Mental Health Board members, Al Cisan and Chris Randazzo. The letter seeking this action was forwarded to Prosecutor Jim Flaiz for his review. Flaiz made an appearance as a result of that letter at the October 4, 2016, Commissioner meeting to announce that he had talked to two different attorneys—one for each of the two board members. He noted that the two board members were entitled to legal representation at the expense of the county and that as a result of the conflict, he could not represent either side.

Flaiz added that one of those attorneys had announced the need to hear back from the Commissioners. He recommended that the Commissioners table a motion up for hearing at the meeting until the next Commissioner meeting at 9 A.M. on Thursday, October 13. The Commissioners agreed on this action.

Published September 23, 2016

This writer initiated a letter of concern to the Ohio EPA, along with several other state and regional entities, regarding the potential harm caused to area residents and Auburn Township employees in close proximity to the Auburn Township Road salt storage facility because of “concern for the health, safety, and welfare of all the parties listed.”

A dedicated engineer from the Twinsburg EPA notified this writer by phone call on April 1, 2016, that the agency had received the letter on March 30, 2016, and would be investigating possible negative impacts on Auburn Township drinking water potability in the immediate vicinity of the salt storage facility. Thereafter, the same contact provided updates by phone May 3, 2016; June 6, 2016; July 11, 2016; and August 8, 2016. During each of those conversations, the designated EPA representative was courteous, respectful, and informative about the progress of the investigations/finding. For instance, during the May 3 phone call, the representative openly provided notification of water sampling of five specific locations, all less than the 300-foot state-recommended distance from any salt-storage, on April 7, April 14, April 21, April 24, and April 25. Further, the Twinsburg office noted the involvement of both the Geauga County and Ohio State Departments of Health regarding test results for some of the water wells. Finally, the EPA identified upcoming conferences/conversations and provided phone contacts for other EPA experts involved in the investigation and copied on the final report. That document was identified as Work ID #66666864369 and was dated July 25, 2016.

On August 8, 2016, Liam McEvoy, Geologist III in the groundwater division at the Twinsburg EPA, contacted this writer by phone to arrange a face-to-face meeting with EPA Northeast Division Chief, Kurt Princic, for August 18, 2016, at Wind in the Woods Farm. Because of unanticipated conflicts, the meeting was rescheduled forAugust 25, 2016 at the EPA Twinsburg office. This writer was grateful to learn that at this time there are no serious negative impacts. However, there was acknowledgment that sodium levels in at least one sampling site, the Auburn Township Fire Department, were much higher than normal.

Both gentlemen expressed the need to investigate the situation, referencing incidents of past industrial contamination of residential drinking wells in Middlefield, with which this writer was already aware. Because the original “contamination plume” spread outward over time, residential wells in the vicinity of Carlisle and Kraftmaid Companies in Middlefield were contaminated beyond redemption. Likewise, the gentlemen acknowledged their original expectations that the elevated location of the salt dome could result in elevated sodium concentration spreading downwards to residential wells. The conference lasted about 1 ½ hours. This writer is relieved that at this time there are no serious health impacts for Auburn Township residents at this time. The situation, however, has the potential for negative side-effects if not monitored closely “for the health, welfare, and safety” of residents.

It must be noted that the subject of the EPA investigation became a topic for the September 7, 2016, Auburn Township Trustee meeting. Because Trustee Eberly and Fire Chief John Phillips noted that this writer's concerns were “groundless” and “false,” the written results of the Ohio EPA investigation, lasting April 1 to July 25, 2016, are included here for public reading. Although Mr. Eberly referenced the report as over 400 pages with “a copy in his office,” the entire report consists of ten pages of text dated July 25, 2016; three pages of text dated May 23, 2016; and 31 pages of graphs. This writer has highlighted some information in yellow. The full report is here.

Published September 15, 2016

Since the September 6, 2015, Auburn Board of Zoning Appeals appeal by Joseph Deserio, we have watched the progress of the Geauga County case known as 15A 000844. The judgment entry was submitted to Judge Forrest Burt on September 8 after a reading by Trustee Troyan during the Auburn Trustee meeting of September 7, 2016. Present for the meeting were Appellant Joseph Deserio, his attorney Roger Weiss, and property owner-seller, Audrey Stull, Trustee, and her husband.

This action must have been a long and tedious pursuit for Mr. Deserio and Mr. and Mrs. Stull. Thank you, both, for your patience and determination to resolve the barrier presented by Auburn Township zoning first noted by Auburn BZA member, Lewis Tomsic, Sr. Mr. Tomsic observed twice during the September 6, 2015, BZA meeting that Auburn zoning is broken.

Final note: Why is it so difficult to use land in Auburn Township? Could the litigation and its taxpayer expense have been avoided amicably?

Congratulations, Mr. Deserio, Attorney Weiss, and Mr. and Mrs. Stull. . .

Published September 8, 2016

The Auburn Trustees wanted to know why I sent the following letter to multiple agencies. They cited a “dead horse” on a neighbor's property from a period of five or more years ago, their words not mine see letter below. The Trustees planted many falsehoods and misconceptions in their dialogue. For example, John Eberly cited a 450 page EPA report, which is only 47 pages. It is for these reasons I believe it is necessary to publish the full content of the letter of complaint so the readers can draw their own conclusions as to the motives of the Trustees.

This letter is addressed to multiple agencies because no one agency appears to have jurisdiction over all facets of this complaint. The problems addressed in this complaint are due to a road salt storage structure belonging to Auburn Township 11010 Washington Street, Auburn Township, Ohio 44023. The salt structure is located at 10950 Washington Street in Auburn Township, Ohio 44023 on 7.19 acres, shared with the fire department and road service garage. The area cited on the Ground-Water Pollution Potential of Geauga County Map dated 1990 prepared by the ODNR indicates the site to be Hydrogeologic region 7, Hydrologicsetting Ba1, Pollution potential of 196, the highest in the township. This problem area for high pollution potential is also cited by the Auburn Township Comprehensive Land Use Plan, page IV-37.

It is unknown whether the salt storage structure has a concrete or other impervious floor. But what is known is the stack block walls are pervious. Aerial photos taken for the Geauga County Auditor do show salt spillage outside of the storage structure. It is not known where the trucks that carry and spread the salt are washed or what happens to that waste water.

The problems are that:
         1) The land is highly susceptible to being polluted.
         2) Against the guidelines of both ODOT and OWRC, the salt storage is located too close
             to drinking water supply wells of several neighbors listed below. Both agencies
             recommend a minimum of 300 feet. In reality, the distance from the salt storage
             to the wells is about 100 feet.
         3) The natural drainage of the acreage is to a riparian to the west and then the north
             across another neighbor's pasture where it has caused harm to her animals.

Affected parties, and distances from salt storage shed to drinking water wells are referenced to attached map from the Geauga County Auditor:

         1) Name omitted for privacy

         2) Name omitted for privacy

         3) Name omitted for privacy

         4) Name omitted for privacy

         5) The men and women who work at the Auburn Fire Department and at the Auburn
             Township Garage. 10950 Washington Street. Their water well is located on the site
             and is less than the required 300 feet. Actual well location undetermined.

I am writing this complaint with concern for the health, safety, and welfare of all the parties listed above. I believe that Auburn Township should be required to remove the current liabilities to the health, welfare, and safety of Auburn residents that it created and is exacerbating. It should be noted U.S. EPA recommended level of sodium in drinking water for people on a low salt diet is 20 mg/L.

Please confirm receipt of this communication and inform me of any plans to remediate the problems cited.

Thomas Jones

Published Thursday, August 25, 2016

Former City of Chardon accounting clerk Nancy Link pleaded guilty August 18, 3016, to stealing $92,977 from the City of Chardon during the time period of June 1, 2010 to February 26, 2016.

Link already had pleaded “not guilty” to one count of theft, two counts of record-tampering, and one count of money-laundering. All three of these offenses are third degree felonies in the state of Ohio. Nevertheless, Link, her attorney, and Prosecutor Jim Flaiz reached a plea agreement. Link pleaded guilty to theft in office and evidence-tampering, with the remaining charges dropped in the courtroom of the Honorable Judge Forrest Burt.

Sentencing is to be handed down at a later date.

Published Thursday, August 25, 2016

Following closely on the heels of the previous news item at this website is the legal notice submitted by Attorney Roger J. Weiss and appearing today in The Geauga County Maple Leaf.

The notice reads as follows:
“Please take notice that it is the intention of the Appellant, Joseph Deserio, and the Appellees, the Auburn Township Board of Trustees, in Case No 15A000844, in the Court of Common Pleas, Geauga County, Ohio, known as Joseph Deserio vs. Auburn Township Board of Trustees, et al, to file a settlement agreement with the Court in order to grant variances to Joseph Deserio to permit the operation of a landscaping and storage facility at 11594 East Washington Street (an area located in an area zoned B-1A, Auburn Corners Retail Business district), which request was previously denied by the Auburn Township Board of Zoning Appeals.

By Roger J. Weiss, Attorney at Law, attorney for the Appellant, 7732 Country Lane, Chagrin Falls 44023, 216-470-8889, Aug. 25, 2016”

Published August 23, 2016

Geauga County Common Pleas Case 15A000844 may be winding down for landscape business owner Joseph Deserio in a case he filed on October 30, 2015, after the Auburn Township Board of Zoning Appeals rejected his request for a variance for a landscape business (BZA-15-06v) he proposed back in August 2015 for Washington Street property owned by Audrey Stull, who now resides in Fort Myers, Florida.

Published this morning by the Lake County News-Herald is a legal notice that reads in its entirety,

“Notice is hereby posted that the Board of Trustees of Auburn Township intend to meet and consider and take action on a settlement agreement in the administrative appeal captioned ‘Joseph Deserio v. Auburn Township Board of Trustees” et. al. [sic] at their regular rescheduled meeting on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. at the Auburn Township Administration Building, 11010 Washington Street, Auburn Township. By the Order of the Auburn Township Trustees Fredrick May, Fiscal Officer
1101491/August 23, 2016”


Published August 14, 2016

Back in the fall of 2015 Auburn Board of Zoning Appeals member, Lew Tomsic, Sr., passionately announced that “Auburn Township zoning is broken,” but that Ralph Deserio could easily take his case to Geauga County Common Pleas Court and file “without an attorney” to get the “[Auburn] Trustees to listen and talk” to him. Fortunately, Ralph Deserio chose not to take Tomsic's advice literally; instead, he hired Roger J. Weiss to file Administrative Appeal 15A000844 to get his variance approved with the purpose of allowing another landscape excavating company to operate in the area of Auburn Corners. This website has written about the case three other times: November 1, 2015; January 11, 2016; and June 20, 2016. In the article cited for June 20, this writer noted that the judgment entry given by Judge Burt just prior to that date noted that Auburn Trustees were to discuss the case publicly at the first or second meeting in June. Instead, they chose to rush the second meeting in June to go into executive session to discuss 15A000844. When this writer read Judge Burt's judgment entry verbatim, John Eberly audibly sputtered his confusion, as demonstrated in the video clip provided from that meeting. This writer stayed in the parking lot during the whole Executive Session; as Prosecutor Brindle Matheney left in an abrupt huff at the conclusion of the Executive Session, this writer had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Deserio and his attorney, who indicated an expectation of having a judgment entry by July 31, 2016. July 31 came and went without the referenced judgment entry.

Lo, and behold, the wheels of justice do turn, albeit slowly on muddy ground with plenty of ruts in it. As a result of a third joint request for an extension of time in anticipation that a Consent Judgment Entry and Agreement has [sic] been agreed between counsel for the respective parties, which, if approved by the Auburn Township Trustees and approved by the Court, will resolve all material issues with respect to Appellant's Appeal.” This awkwardly constructed sentence composed by Brindle Matheney with Roger Weiss' approval inked in with her handwriting, indicates that the appeal is to be resolved, in great contrast to the apparent unwillingness of said trustees to even express willingness to talk to appellants, as noted by Counsel Matheney during the years 2009-2013, when multi-year litigation against Auburn Township resulted in reports of $1 million in Geauga taxpayer funds being expended by Auburn Township to pursue litigation at all costs against Auburn tax-paying residents.

In apparent response to Trustee Eberly's apparent confusion and lack of understanding of Judge Burt's previous judgment entry dictating that Auburn Trustees discuss the outcome of 15A000844, Brindle has further postulated that “[t]he Auburn Trustees is [sic] is expected to approve the 'Consent Entry and Agreement' at their next regularly scheduled meeting or at a specially called meeting for the express purpose of approving the Consent Entry and Agreement [sic] which meeting will be open to the public pursuant to public notice.” (Emphasis added)

In the Brief composed as Exhibit A by Brindle Matheney as counsel for the Auburn Township Trustees, Zoning Inspector, and Board of Zoning Appeals, the following information dictates the procedure to be followed: “Assuming final agreement is reached soon, publication of the settlement must be advertised in a newspaper of general circulation, which, in the case of the Township is 15 days prior to its public hearing and in the case pf the Appellant, 10 days prior to the Entry being submitted to the Court for final approval.”

The next regular Auburn Township Trustee meeting is Monday, August 15, 2016, at 7:30 P.M. The next two Auburn Township trustee meetings are September 6 (because Labor Day is September 5) and September 19. Assuming the requirement of publication “15 days prior to its public hearing,” we expect the appearance of a public notice from Auburn Township on or about August 19 in the usual “newspaper of general circulation,” i.e., The Geauga Maple Leaf (weekly media out on Thursday, August 19), or Lake County News Herald, a daily media.

We hope the Auburn Trustees are reading this commentary and are looking forward to discussing the Judgment Entry in 15A000844 in lieu of the very expensive litigation it undertook between 2009-2014 because in the words of Counsel Brindle, “The Trustees [did] not want to talk” to any appellants, Auburn residents or otherwise.

Welcome, Ralph Deserio, as a business owner in Auburn Township, where Auburn Trustees have often apparently chosen to act arbitrarily because they have done so in the past without negative consequences. Many thanks to the Honorable Judge Burt for facilitating the resolution of another thorny Auburn legal issue without costing Geauga County taxpayers another $1 million.

The latest filing CASE NO. 15A000844 filed August 9, 2016 follows:

Published August 13, 2016

As a result of receiving a petition with some 330 signatures of duly-registered Russell Township voters, trustees submitted that document to the Geauga County Board of Elections, whose research work resulted in a hearing held in the Common Pleas chambers of Judge Forrest Burt. Although, as of this writing the judgment entry is not yet available for viewing at the online docket, we expect that document to be included shortly at the Geauga County Clerk of Courts website under Denise Kaminski.

As a result of that August 11 hearing, the Russell Trustees held a public meeting earlier today to share with the public their next steps in creating a park district under their authority with a park board commission that may consist of three or five members with staggered terms. Trustees Mueller, Madsen, and Gabelain, along with Fiscal Officer Charles Walder, discussed the extensive list of possible Russell Park Commissioners. After eliminating five possible candidates because said individuals had expressed hesitation or raised the possibility of creating the impression of conflict of interest, the assembled group came to a consensus about the candidates of choice: Erich Gerard for a one year term, Betsy Rader for a two year term, and Roy Podojil for a three year term.

When asked if the logical next step would be submission of the formation of a Russell Park Commission and/or the commission members to the voting process in Russell, Trustee Madsen indicated that Judge Burt’s judgment entry is permitting the trustees to strive for the next step, though he expressed some hesitation about when that ballot initiative might occur. Since ballot issues need to be submitted to the county board of elections 90 days before the November elections, it seems clear that any such voter initiative missed the August 2 deadline. Presumably, the first possibility for Russell voters to cast their vote on the Russell Township Park Commission approved by Judge Burt would be November 2017. Nevertheless, until this writer has the opportunity to examine Judge Burt’s August 11 decision regarding the issue, the conclusion here, though logical, is not a foregone decision.

This writer wants to congratulate the Russell Township Trustees for the transparent manner in which they shared the information about the ORC 511 process with the public. Surprisingly, only two residents from Russell Township and a media reporter were present with us non-residents to hear the Trustees’ presentation.

Published August 4, 2016

Back on August 11, 2014, this website reported the results of the 2012 and 2013 state audits for Auburn Township released on August 8, 2014. Back then auditing entity Julian and Grube reported that 15% of all transactions in Auburn Township were not accompanied by proper appropriations by the township’s fiscal officer, Fredrick May. Two years later, in spite of mandatory training programs for fiscal officers implemented by the State Auditor’s Office, Auburn Township’s Fiscal Officer Fred May is still failing to insist on proper appropriations prior to paying invoices.

For the State Audit for the period ending December 31, 2015, Auburn Township accumulated six Findings identified as either Noncompliance with Ohio Revised Code or as Noncompliance/Material Weakness. Additionally, Findings 2013-001 and 2013-002 were not corrected , but repeated offenses identified as Finding 2014-001 and Finding 2014-002. Finding 2014-001 notes, “In general, an accounting and information system should be designed to provide management with accurate and timely information to enable well-informed business decisions to be made. The present system lacks fiscal oversight and approvals and fails to meet the above expectations.” In response, Fred May noted, “The Fiscal Officer will work to provide a sound fiscal environment for the Township and has implemented policies and procedures to help with financial statement presentation.”

That sounds admirable, Fred, but in the audit for the period ended December 31, 2015, Julian and Grube noted the SAME paragraph again, to which Fred May responded, “ The Fiscal Officer will work to provide a sound fiscal environment for the township and has implemented policies and procedures to help with financial statement presentation.” How nice, Fred, that all you have to do is repeat the same excuse and phony statement of purpose at the conclusion of the same finding of fault year after year. How many other jobs are there, Fred, outside of television weather reporter, where an elected official can make the same exact mistakes year after year and give the same lame statement year after year without recourse? Finding 2015-002 noted, “Expenditures exceeded appropriations” by about $697,000 (Julian and Grube 2015 Audit, page 31) on appropriations of $1,756,000, a deviation of more than 40%. How many employees who make 40% errors deserve to have employment??

Finding 2015-006 notes,
“In 2015, the Township’s appropriations approved in the minutes did not agree to the Uniform Accounting Network (UAN) system appropriations.

“By not correctly including appropriations into the financial software, it could become challenging for the Township to easily monitor its budgeted activity in comparison with its actual amounts. The Township is also at risk of overspending in excess of available funds, which could possibly result in negative fund balances.

“We recommend that approved appropriation modifications as evidence within the Board of Trustee’s [sic] minutes be incorporated into UAN by the Fiscal Officer in a timely manner.” (Julian and Grube 2015 Audit, page 34)

Read Fred May’s less than forthright and less than honest response: “The Fiscal Officer will work to ensure that current appropriations and other budgetary information are properly input into the UAN system.” (Julian and Grube 2015 Audit, page 34).

Auburn Township accumulate Finding 2015-007, far in excess of the Findings from 2012 and 2013. Nothing like getting better at the job as a result of more experience, right, Fred?

Fred May will present the 2017 Auburn Township Fiscal Budget to the Geauga County Budget Commission this month. Julian and Grube noted on page 29 of the 2015 Auburn audit that “[t]he Township had 26% of disbursements tested with an invoice that was dated prior to the purchase order, thus causing those disbursements not to be certified in a timely manner. In addition, the purchase orders were not consistently certified with the Fiscal Officer’s signature.”

With this kind of track record for the last four Auburn Township State Audits, we expect your presentation to the Geauga County 2017 Fiscal Budget Commission to be interesting and enlightening, to say the least.

One final comment: Calling all responsible Auburn taxpayers to consider running for the office of Fiscal Officer. Stay tuned here for further details as they become public.

To add insult to injury Finding 2013-001, which became Finding 2014-001, has become Repeated as Finding 2015-001. Ditto for 2013-002, which was repeated as 2014-002 and 2015-003. Do you belong to the Slow Learners of America?

Finding 2014-003 and Finding 2014-004, which were both NONCOMPLIANCE with Ohio Revised Code Section 5705. were repeated as Findings 2015-003 and 2015-004. respectively.

Published July 30, 2016

According to recent documentation from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency addressed to Auburn Trustees Eberly, Cavanagh, and Troyan and recently published at www.epa.state.oh.us ,
an Ohio EPA Environmental Engineer in the Division of Surface Water, as well as three other EPA officials, accompanied Auburn Township Fire Chief, John Phillips, and Roads Supervisor, Emerick Gordon, during an April 7, 2016, investigation. This development contradicts the statement of Roads Supervisor, Emerick Gordon, when he reported at the May 2, 2016, Auburn Trustee meeting that the project passed EPA inspection with flying colors. Please witness the video clip of Gordon’s very brief statement.

The Ohio EPA report, sent to Geauga County’s Soil and Water Conservation District, as well as the three EPA officials in attendance with the environmental engineer, noted multiple violations of the February 2016 permit as a result deficiencies “observed during the inspection”:

1) Failure to follow Part III.G.2.d of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit for Storm Water Associated with Construction Activities #OHR000004. The aforementioned section of the NPDES permit “requires that sediment settling ponds be installed within seven days of first grubbing and prior to grading the contributing drainage area.”

2) Further, Part II.F of the NPDES permit requires that “sediment settling ponds shall be dewatered at the pond surface using a skimmer or equivalent device.” Contrary to this requirement, the pond is being dewatered by “the permanent outlet structure.”

As a result of these two violations, the Ohio EPA has ordered Auburn Township to “install a skimmer outlet structure and ensure that the basin has enough storage capacity for both the dewatering zone and the sediment storage zone. “ Further, Auburn Township must provide written confirmation that the “basin will be providing treatment of the water quality volume for the existing disturbance as well as the new site improvements (that is, the new $2 million service garage financed by tax-free government securities underwritten by Geauga County’s Middlefield Bank).

3) The Ohio EPA cited Auburn Township for not installing silt fence “in a functional manner” or for not maintaining said silt fence according to the requirement imposed by Part III.G.2.h of the general NPDES construction permit (granted on February 11, 2016). This NPDES requirement demands that “[a]ll sediment controls must be capable of ponding runoff in order to settle sediment. Silt fence must be trenched, backfilled and connected by twisting the stakes together prior to staking them into the ground.” The Ohio EPA requires that the township “install additional silt fence and repair existing silt fence in accordance with Chapter 6.3 of ODNR’s Rainwater and Land Development Manual so that all appropriate areas are protected.” {Emphasis added by this writer].

4) The Ohio EPA has demanded in accordance with Part II.B and the general NPDES construction permit issued in February 2016 requires stabilization “be initiated within seven days of the most recent disturbance . . .or if the area will remain idle for more than 14 days.” Further, the Ohio EPA and the NPDES construction permit require the site to “be evaluated on a weekly basis to identify areas that must be stabilized to comply with these requirements.”

Now that Project Manager Dixon ( who receives 10% of the total dollar amount of the project to make sure that everything is in compliance), as well as Hummel Construction, appear to have been “paid off” for their services in constructing the $2 million Service Garage, the job of enforcing t the requirements of the Ohio EPA (Geauga County project 3 GCO 8430*AG) appears to rest with the State of Ohio.

Who will make Auburn taxpayers and bondholders of the tax-free municipal security to “finance” the project whole??

Editors note:
Thanks to our readers who found an error. Jim Dixon is paid $95,000, as reported here on November 16, 2015. See AUBURN CONTRACTS FOR PROJECT MANAGER AND ARCHITECT TOTAL $260K

The full EPA correspondence follows:


Published July 15, 2016

In what appears to be a “first.” retiring Common Pleas Judge David Fuhry and Common Pleas Judge Forrest Burt joined Clerk of Courts, Denise Kaminski, and the Geauga County Director of Maintenance as the Commissioners were presented with a motion to approve the Geauga County Courthouse Basement Rehabilitation project. Voters take note: Judge Fuhry's term expires December 31, 2016. He is to be replaced during the November 2016 election. Judge Burt is widely expected to retire at the end of his term, December 18, 2018, and to be replaced by a successor during the November 2018 election.

The Courthouse Rehab Project is subject to open bidding. Said project bid opening will occur on Wednesday, August 10, 2016, at 2 P.M. Commissioner Claypool expressed some concern about the importance of a total and complete job.


Published June 29, 2016

During a Commissioner meeting intended primarily to highlight the 2017 fiscal county budget, Item 8 generated great discussion. Item 8 read as follows:
“The Auditor's Office on behalf of the Geauga Park District is requesting the Board authorize the Geauga County Auditor to establish an agency fund for the Geauga Park District to be known as the
K-9 Donation Fund to allow for the proper accounting of revenues and expenses relating to monies
donated for their K-9 program.”

Noting that the paperwork for this item came to the Commissioners' office on June 24 and June 27, Clerk Christine Blair explained that the original letter of June 24 was addressed to Deputy Auditor Ron Leyde from the office of State Auditor Yost. County Administrator David Lair noted that the K-9 (Canine) Donation Fund , for the benefit of Geauga Park District with two canine members, has to originate with the Commissioners.

Commissioner Claypool expressed concern over approving a fund when there was no one from the Geauga Park District to explain Item 8. Following that statement, he noted his own enthusiasm and respect for the work of the Geauga Park District. When, however, David Lair attempted to answer Claypool's question (“What is this fund for?”), Claypool quickly interjected, “Are you guessing?”
Lair, attempting to clarify, noted ,”It's a K-9 Donation Fund from its title.”

Claypool added tersely, “If they [Geauga Park District] don't have enough respect [for this office] to show up and explain it to us,” the Commissioners could not go ahead and automatically approve that item of business. “The other two of you [Commissioners Rear and Spidalieri] can do what you think best.”

Claypool interjected, “My apologies to anyone on the park board,” followed by Lair's apologies for apparently “guessing” about the issue.

In the end, without any discussion, all three commissioners voted to table the item until a representative of the Geauga Park District could be present to explain the issue with knowledge and understanding.

Published June 11, 2016

At the conclusion of the Geauga County Commissioner meeting of June 7, 2016, Commissioner Claypool asked the other two commissioners for the authority to be a direct gateway to receive direct funding for highway projects. Claypool noted that all funding for highway projects comes directly to cities. Claypool added that Assistant Prosecutor Laura La Chapelle would be drafting a letter to facilitate Geauga County's direct receipt of funds for highway projects, in contrast to the current situation in which all awarding of funds for northeast Ohio highway projects is channeled through and by the Northeast Ohio Area Coordinating Agency.

Given the opportunity to comment, Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri indicated that he had no argument with Claypool's request. Commissioner Rear expressed his approval of Claypool's idea, explaining that the original establishment of NOACA about 1967 gave each of the five counties in the organization equal representation with three representatives ( the County Commissioners). Rear expressed his disapproval that somewhere within the 50-year history of NOACA, Cleveland managed to acquire 25 of the total 45 representatives in NOACA. “I have a problem taking money from one project and earmarking it for something else,” an apparent indictment of NOACA distribution of funds from the Ohio Department of Transportation. Rear stated that he was making a motion to approve Claypool's motion but noted that he did not want to state the entire motion.

Commissioner Claypool briefly clarified the language of the motion: “This is a motion for Laura La Chapelle to investigate changes in the NOACA constitution and to make Geauga County a gateway [to receive funding for highway projects directly]. The motion passed unanimously. This action appears to be the first step in bypassing Geauga County's dependence upon NOACA.

The meeting adjourned at 10:05.

Published June 7, 2016

Director of Geauga County Department of Water Resources, Gerard Morgan, discussed Item 10, worded as follows: “The Department of Water Resources is requesting the Board approve and amend the Auburn Township 208 Water Quality Management Plan converting parcel #01-072199 on Stafford Road 'Served by On-Site Systems' to 'May be Sewered', [sic] as requested by the Auburn Township Trustees. He noted that prior to several weeks ago, he had been under the impression that the above request was to facilitate the owner's reference to having a lavish “man cave.” Then he became aware of the fact that the parcel in question was quite large (180 acres).

Commissioner Claypool expressed his own concerns about a sewer tie-in for a parcel owned, not by a private individual, but an LLC, which predicts high-density population. Director Morgan chimed in, “If we approve this one, there will be others.” a phrase first uttered by Auburn Trustee John Eberly at two Auburn Township trustee meetings in May. Despite Eberly's concerns, the other two trustees (Troyan and Cavanagh) approved the resolution requested by the parcel's owner, BIP Auburn LLC, whose principal, Mitchell Bowlus formed the company in 2014 with Registration Number 201426201412. Attorney Dale Markowicz of Thrasher, Dolan, Dinsmore is the entity's treasurer, according to written documentation.

Although Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri appeared to be in thinking mode with his face resting in one hand, Commissioner Rear was particularly talkative. “There is no problem for me at this time, but it could be a 'camel's nose' or a crack in the dam. “ He claimed that he lacked enough information about the project to make an informed decision.

The motion to accept the recommendation of the Auburn trustees died. Instead, Mr. Bowlus will be invited to an upcoming Commissioner meeting to present his case.

Published on May 18, 2016

Putting his money right where his mouth has been, Commissioner Walter Claypool at the May 17 Geauga County Commissioner meeting responded to a query by Burton resident, Ed Buckles. Buckles asked the status of the groundwater controversy that has enveloped Geauga County for about the last six months. Claypool announced that the documented findings to his lengthy investigation were now in writing and invited Mr. Buckles to receive a copy. Taking Buckles' lead, we asked for a copy as well.

What follows is the entire report of Claypool's findings, which we find scrupulously thorough and admirably documented. Additionally, Claypool noted to Buckles that a bridge contract with USGS, though in the process of consummation to cover the remainder of the 2016 year, had not yet been received by the Geauga County Commissioners. When it arrives, the Commissioners anticipate approving the scientific relationship with USGS.

Water Monitoring Findings

The following is a brief summary of findings regarding the Water Level Monitoring in Geauga County. I have various documents and other information, available upon request. The following is provided to increase general awareness of the water level monitoring situation in Geauga County from my perspective.

Late last fall I became aware of the USGS agreement, which the commissioners might be asked to consider. In anticipation I began to review the existing arrangement. The following provides information from that review. Geauga County has contracted with the USGS to perform well level monitoring for approximately 20 years. During that period Geauga County also contracted for a one-time water quality assessment. Geauga County has spent approximately $500,000 over the 20-year period to conduct well monitoring. (The amounts from 2006-2016 are $300,000 and are documented; the 10 years prior are estimated to be greater than $200,000.) The vast majority of the monies were spent on well level monitoring in order to create a long term study. The purpose of the study was to determine if population and the development activities would have an impact on the ground water, which might present a risk. The study findings indicate that population has little effect on ground water aquifers. Over the test period the results have indicated stable aquifers and that any changes that did occur were attributed to seasonal, precipitation events, and an earth quake. There are a few exceptions to those findings in the Middlefield area. As a commissioner I began questioning the value of continuing a study that presented similar results from year to year. And, considering that Geauga County is the only county in Ohio conducting studies of this scale and scope, I felt it proper to validate the ongoing approach and determine the objectives.

I have asked questions of the county planning and health department for details about specific uses and for the water related data being collected. I felt it was necessary to understand how this information is necessary. I have not received specific and conclusive evidence supporting the need and the type of data used. A small group of township trustees have used the argument that the water level information is necessary to defend large lot planning. The following is what I have heard most often to justify the need for this ongoing program: I asked county planning and the health department specifically what data is used, and how that data was used. The following were sources of information that were mentioned. I will point out that well level monitoring was not referenced as the most important.
I also discovered that, as required by law, there are multiple water assessments conducted across the county by cities, villages, and the county, none of which are part of the county funded water level study. This data is NOT included in any decision process by the county health department, county planning organization, or the township trustees, even though data collected may provide a wealth of information. It seems to be a missed opportunity, when you consider tax payers are paying for this data and it has limited use.

In summary, the more questions I asked, the more concerned I became, because it appears that much of the data used to make decisions is quite old and of questionable value. And, it appears the water level information is seldom used. There is little water quality information available from the data collected and there are many well water assessments providing current data that is not maintained.

Due Diligence.
In doing my due diligence I have spoken to the Ohio state EPA, various County Trustees, various county commissioners (Medina and Ashtabula and those referenced in the following paragraph), and a water sensor vendor. Another important consideration is that there is no action policy or established procedures identified in response to an issue that is discovered. And there is no effort to educate county citizens about proper well management. I have also researched existing water related reports from the USGS and other related data e.g.; water flow information on county website.

A group of subject matter experts and stakeholders met May 5th. Those attending included myself (Skip Claypool), Dave Dietrich (Director of County Planning), Gerry Morgan (Director County Water Department), Bob Weisdack (County Health Department), Martha Jagucki (USGS Hydrologist), Carmela Shale (Geauga County Soil and Water), Lorrie Benza (Bainbridge Trustee), Christina Livers (Health Board Member), Katherine Whitright (Health Board Member). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss matters related to well monitoring, well related data, current approaches, issues, questions, and recommendations to improve the quality of the data being collected and the use of that data. The meeting was scheduled by the Geauga County Planning Commission at my request in order to build knowledge, to hear from the key stakeholders, and to attempt to explore areas of consensus. A key objective was to document the information gained for the benefit of the board of commissioners so that the board might be better informed as they make decisions on this matter. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation used to guide the discussion is available upon request.

During the meeting, we discussed the Water Level Monitoring program and its value to the County, other related water monitoring activities, and county planning from the perspective of each key stakeholder. There was general agreement on the following:
The following recommended approach was agreed to by the group. There should be a bridge agreement established with the USGS that would continue monitoring until September at which time we would create a new agreement. During the bridge period the county planning organization has agreed to lead an effort to evaluate the following enhancements to our existing well level monitoring efforts. The following are the findings and recommendations I would offer as a result of my evaluation and interpretation of data. To be clear, all the following thoughts have been discussed with various SME’s. That is not to say there is complete agreement on findings or recommendations, but rather that I made an effort to be comprehensive in completing the due diligence. It is my intent to be as objective as possible in my comments; therefore, I encourage those reading this to do their own homework.

FINDINGS There is another topic that bears mentioning because it goes to the heart of sound decision making by the commissioner’s office.OPINION
It is reasonable and responsible to have an honest debate on this topic. After my due diligence I am of the opinion that the current well monitoring program, as configured, is a feel good program that gives residents and local officials a false sense of security. I can find no evidence that it is cited, used, or even known across the county. This presents a number of risks. A false sense of security prevents us from truly considering meaningful efforts to determine what is important and what should be done. Old and questionable data is often used to make decisions and I am left wondering about those decisions. The one solace is that we have experienced knowledgeable people who can make up for the shorting coming of the data. From the discussions I have had, and the data I have collected, I believe that we can make meaningful changes that are relatively simple and cost effective to implement that would improve the quality of the data used and the decisions that are made. I also believe we should consider creating a situation where those who use the information have a financial stake in the game. This will vest them in the decision process.

Those who attended the SME meeting were in agreement on the following. The county planning office has expressed an interest in taking the lead. The following recommendations can easily be accomplished between now and September.

Published on May 13, 2016

At the conclusion of the May 10 Geauga Commissioner meeting, Ralph Spidalieri had a short commentary. He suggested negotiating a deal to monitor Geauga County's water wells so that there would be a contract in place for the remainder of 2016 and perhaps 2017 while the Commissioners do more research going forward on the best options. He noted that Planning Director David Dietrich was not sure whether a contract from US Geological Survey could be available as soon as the May 17 Commissioner meeting. Commissioner Blake Rear voiced his agreement with Spidalieri, noting that reinstatement of the USGS contract might be the best option through 2017 if there were no extra cost involved. He was concerned that the groundwater issue was “consuming a lot of county time.” Commissioner Claypool responded to Rear's observations with the statement that USGS is willing to move forward with the county, adding that the vast majority of Ohio counties do not even monitor their groundwater; those counties that do such monitor generally have only one or a couple of wells, unlike Geauga County. Further, Claypool noted that the data provided by USGS for Geauga County is out of date and just plain bad and may even provide a “false sense of security.” Geauga County Administrator entered the conversation by commending Claypool for the depth and breadth of his research on the groundwater issue. He suggested that the Geauga County Planning Commission undertake the issue with serious responsibility.

On a note of sarcasm directed toward Claypool, Rear added, “And you aren't driving this thing?
Claypool appeared compelled to respond to Rear about his perception that “the press has not reached out to us. They are engaging in tabloid journalism. . .Ask the Planning Commission, the Health Department, and Trustees if they have [correctly] used well-monitoring data. . . USGS utilizes old citations from 1990 to 2009. . . Trustees and the Health Department have no stake [in this issue]. I'm going to give more detail.”

The next meeting of the Geauga County Commissioners will be Tuesday, May 17, at 9 A.M.

Published April 17, 2016

Back in May 2015 at a public meeting convened by the Geauga County Central Republican Committee, the organization of precinct representatives elected every four years on a Republican primary ballot, chair Nancy McArthur chose to come over to the “public seating” portion of the room to address two registered Republican attendees of meetings and their familiar video camera, known for their presence at many civic activities including public candidate debates prior to November elections. McArthur informed the couple that she expected to review the resulting video before it was made available to the public via their civic website. The couple was noncommittal and received the advice from many individuals that a public meeting could legally be recorded, especially if the equipment was in a properly-designated location and did not cause a disruption, per an Ohio Attorney General ruling.

The Central Committee members in attendance, including the current Ohio State Senate and House of Representative officeholders expressed no concerns about the equipment during the course of the meeting. The former made a presentation about upcoming legislation and possible consequences for elected and appointed Geauga County officeholders for the video camera; as a public service, the videographer placed that presentation on the couple's public service website, the one you are currently viewing. Known to many in Geauga County for their public service to Geauga County for four years, as well as through favorable print-media coverage of their dedication and thorough investigation of matters, the couple seemed to attract both respect and credibility. Having heard Nancy McArthur announce the next meeting for August 15 as a public meeting, the couple took their role for granted.
The only unknown about the August meeting, it seemed, was to be the location. Previous meetings had been held at the Geauga County Republican Headquarters in Munson, perhaps most famous for its lack of air conditioning during the dog days of summer, when at least one exterior door had to be propped open to facilitate the circulation of air and to prevent unpleasant odors as a result of fifty or more sweating bodies all seated in close proximity to each other. For those known to prefer formal business attire to shorts and tropical-patterned shirts, the ordeal of being there was probably as much a teacher of patience and forbearance as hair shirts during the Middle Ages.

The reason why Republican meetings were no longer at Republican “headquarters” was another interesting highlight of Geauga Republican affairs. After 2012 county-wide elections, a reported audit of the party finances revealed that approximately $8000 had been awarded to two candidates, Mary Samide, a Commissioner who did not survive the Republican Primary contest of March 2012, and Frank Gliha, the then and current county auditor. As a result of the audit, it was more than common knowledge that the said $8000 had not been awarded with the knowledge or approval of a vast number of Central Committee members. With an absence of such a substantial amount of funding, much of it from fundraisers and donations of the party-stalwart, the Republican headquarters was among the first sacrifice. Hence came the need to arrange a location for each Republican Central Committee meeting and to pay a rental fee. Reportedly, GOP assets were about $8000, according to information from the party treasurer, seemingly half of what they had previously been.

As the anticipated August 15, 2015, meeting of the Geauga County Republican Central Committee loomed closer, it became apparent that the location was to be a public building on the grounds of the public Geauga County Fairgrounds in Burton. The two ostensible purposes for the meeting were to be the filling of vacancies on the Central Committee and discussion of by-laws, which are recorded in the very publicly-funded County Board of Elections office. In fact, many of those from the public who frequented Central Committee meetings so widely anticipated the “public” venue that they all converged upon the Geauga Fairgrounds that Saturday, August 15, 2015, where they were greeted at the double doors by Ms. McArthur and Jane Zimmerman to be told that the meeting was not public at all, but a closed session, about which the members had been informed. Unfortunately, regular attendees from the public had had no way to be informed that the current meeting was to be anything but public; non-members of the Central Committee were to leave when McArthur made the announcement of the need for a private session.
Ar least nine attendees from the public took the time and spent the gasoline to demonstrate their interest in the proceedings on August 15. Most of them left without comment or apparent concern when McArthur ordered them out. Although there was an announcement about the presence of a “Parliamentarian,” no opinions regarding the legal/moral ramifications of the exclusion of attendees by McArthur were ever rendered except for opinions of some Central Committee members objecting to exclusion of fellow Republicans who wished to be informed of both process and proceedings.

On August 31, 2016, Geauga Common Pleas Court action styled 15M000679 was filed by three members of the public contingency ejected by Republican Chairperson McArthur and the legally responsible Geauga County Republican Central Committee to seek clarification about the extent of the Open Meetings Act (Sunshine Law) in regards to entities whose members are chosen by the electorate. This is a topic which has elicited much legal clarification from common pleas and appellate courts, as well as the Ohio Supreme Court. In the case at hand, Common Pleas Court Judge Forrest Burt ruled at the end of January 2016 that the topic(s) of the August 15, 2015, Republican Central Committee meeting were “internal party business,” thereby resulting in a court dismissal without the benefit of a hearing. Nevertheless, Judge Burt opined that the plaintiffs' argument was by no means frivolous and certainly well-intentioned.

A Central Committee meeting following the August event resulted in McArthur's demand that the elderly couple in need of the restroom facilities at the Republican Central Committee at the Metzenbaum immediately be ejected from that county-funded facility when Nancy McArthur verbalized frustration at not being able to find Ed Ryder, a former Central Committee chairperson from Auburn Township. Unable to find that individual, McArthur next appeared with Geauga County employee, Metzenbaum Center Director Don Rice, who verbalized McArthur's demand for her and resulted in the ejection of members of the public, who were well-enough respected to sign several petitions of candidates seeking election in the upcoming March 2016 Geauga County Primary, Since then, however, no Republican Central Committee meetings have been enforced as “for members only,” especially when the Central Committee wanted to provide an opportunity for public voters to hear the campaign rhetoric of the party's “own” in anticipation of the March 15, 2016, Republican Primary contest. In fact, several video cameras, including that of the same couple, were not only present, but also welcomed for publicity purposes.

The March 15, 2016, Primary contest drew a huge vote from the public. Several primary contests involving challenges from candidates whose petitions had been distributed and signed by Nancy McArthur as circulator, resulted in the victory of the incumbent Central Committee person. McArthur herself lost in a three-way race for Commissioner to incumbent Ralph Spidalieri. Sadly, in some of the Central Committee races, the defeated candidate endorsed by McArthur were to be appointed at the April 11 Reorganizational Meeting of the Republican Central Committee to the Executive Committee of the Republican Party (along with an individual who allowed himself to be ejected from the August 15 Central Committee meeting as a mere member of the public without any comment). Also interesting for its lack of logic was the initial motion at the public Reorganizational Meeting to forbid “video and/or audio recording” at the said public meeting in stark contrast to previous Attorney General rulings regarding the recording of so-called public meetings.

The Reorganizational Meeting, in addition, drew the comment from Chair McArthur, apparently for the first time, that the party had won its position in Geauga Common Pleas Court Case 15M000679, “but now we have another one.” This comment elicited clarification from retired attorney and Auburn Township Precinct A Central Committee person, Ed Ryder, who clarified,”Do you mean that there is an appeal to the first case?” Although the said appeal was filed two months earlier, on February 8, 2016, Geauga County Central Committee members were first hearing about it at the April 11 meeting, perhaps because an answer was due from them within fourteen days. Consequently, although Republican Central Committee Treasurer was heard to say that the entity's assets totaled $1000 at present, McArthur asked for a vote to approve an expenditure of “less than the first time” at $3500-4000. McArthur reported to the group that the attorney would not be demanding her payment anytime soon and that the party had been and was continuing to accept donations to pay for the legal action that had resulted from actions taken by the party during the August 15, 2015, Central Committee meeting, an event widely perceived to be a public meeting.

Although several Central Committee members verbalized the need for the plaintiffs to withdraw the legal action, they respectfully, quietly, and cordially explained why such action was not presently possible as a result of their perception of Ohio Revised Code.

Published April 15, 2016

About the end of March, as featured at this website, the Geauga County Veterans Service Commission sent an angry note to the Geauga Commissioners for more money and stated the need to be represented by counsel in order to get the extra funding they demanded. In response Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri opined that it might be better to give in to the Veterans Service Commission demands than to spend money on legal action.

Lo and behold, the topic came up again at the April 12 Geauga Commissioners meeting, wherein Prosecutor Jim Flaiz made an appearance to explain that the whole nasty scenario was moot. Flaiz referenced the application he had made to get a common pleas court order to appoint outside counsel to represent the Veterans Service Commission. In the meantime, shortly after the arrival of the referenced letter to the commissioners, that body decided to fully fund the Veterans Service Commission's budgetary demands.

In so doing, Flaiz noted, the Commissioners rendered moot the need to appoint outside counsel for the Veterans Service Commission. When Flaiz referenced the position of the commissioners vis a vis that of the Veterans Service Commission as “adversarial,” Commissioner Walter Skip Claypool clarified that the two entities had differences of opinions. “Sometimes differences in opinion lead to an adversarial situation.” Additionally, as noted by County Administrator David Lair, the funding demand of the Veterans Service Commission was actually 220% more than the entity had ever spent in one year.

Added Commissioner Blake Rear, “About 10% [of the Veterans Service Commission's budget] went for vets' services;90% went for overhead.” He noted that although a veteran himself, he would refuse to contribute to any organization with such a spending record.

Flaiz noted that the Commissioners' decision to fully fund the Veterans Service Commission's financial demands resulted in the decision to eliminate the need for outside counsel.

Published March 31, 2016

On March 16, 2016, Chester resident, Judy K. Zamlen-Spotts, by and through her legal representative, Mitchell J. Yelsky, filed legal action 16P0192 in Geauga County Common Pleas Court. Judge Forrest W. Burt has been assigned the case, which seeks at least $50,000 in compensatory financial awards against Bainbridge Township resident, Joy Keco. The legal action alleges that “[a]fter the April 14, 2015 Geauga Park District public meeting, while Judy K. Zamlen-Spotts was exiting the Meyers Center at 9160 Robinson Road, in Chardon, Ohio where the public meeting had just concluded, she was viciously attacked, assaulted and battered by Defendant Joy Keco, without any provocation from Plaintiff. Joy Keco brutally lunged at Plaintiff, and beat Plaintiff's head, arms, and torso causing serious and permanent physical and emotional damage and injury to Plaintiff.”

“At no time did the Geauga Park District Ranger on duty to provide security at the April 14, 2015, public meeting, come to Plaintiff's assistance or in any way attempt to restrain or stop Joy Keco from her brutal and unprovoked attack, and assault and battery upon Plaintiff.”

“Also as a direct and proximate result of Defendant Joy Keco's unprovoked and brutal attack and assault and battery, Plaintiff was caused to incur emergency medical expenses and follow-up medical expenses, for necessary medical care and treatment, and with reasonable medical certainty Plaintiff will continue to incur medical expenses into the indefinite future.”

“Despite the ever-increasing disruptive behavior by Protect Geauga Park members at the Geauga Park District public meetings, the Geauga Park District knew or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known that invitees to regularly scheduled and noticed Geauga Park District public meetings were at risk from the vocally disruptive members of Protect Geauga Parks who also attended Geauga Park District public meetings. As such, it was foreseeable that invitees to Geauga Park District public meetings were at risk of harm, and at all relevant times the Geauga Park District had a duty to protect the public meeting invitees from foreseeable harm including particularly from the Protect Geauga Park members who also attended Geauga Park District.”

Public records from Case 16P0192 demonstrate that Defendant Joy Keco signed for the summons on March 28, 2016, and state that she has 28 days from the date of her signature to present an answer to the court or lose the case by default. Additionally, Exhibit A submitted with the case shows the homepage of Protect Geauga Parks dated Sunday March 13, 2016. That page beseeches viewers to file judicial complaints against Probate Court Judge, Timothy Grendell with the Ohio Supreme Court, file complaints with the Ohio Elections Commission, sign the Protect Geauga Parks petition to the Ohio Legislature “to remove Judge Grendell from office.”

No briefing schedule for the litigation has been determined by the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas as of this writing.

Published March 29, 2016

In a meeting following the regular Geauga County Commissioner Meeting of March 29, 2016, County Commissioners Walter Skip Claypool and Blake Rear met with members of the County Commissioner Association of Ohio (CCAO) and members of Palmer Energy from Toledo in order to seek more information and possible follow-up to arrange a contract with the latter in order to receive a projected $6000 per month electric bill reduction. Members of the Palmer Energy group predicted that a hotter-than-usual summer would generate increased electrical costs and that a cooler-than-usual summer could generate decreased electrical costs. The next step, presumably is for the Geauga County Prosecutor's Office to iron out language that might create or exacerbate legal conflicts. The meeting ran from 11 A.M until noon. Commissioners anticipated a 1 P.M. follow-up meeting in Commissioner Chambers.

Printed March 22, 2016

Some weeks back at a Commissioners' meeting the topic of The Clean Ohio Act, first voted into approval in Ohio in 2000, became a topic riveting enough for me to research. In the course of the research, I realized on that there are many Ohio counties which have chosen to avoid the incentives provided for Ohio farmers according to this legislation, perhaps because there is no free lunch and because the land conservancies who broker the deals for farmers may have a very lucrative financial opportunity to charge fees and to have undue influence over property rights.. I even managed to compare the topic to a Stephen Vincent Benet short story that implied farmers making such deals might be making deals with the devil.

Lo, and behold, the topic came up again at a commissioner meeting this week when Item number 3 on the Geauga County Commisssioners' Agenda for March 22 covered the McDonald family of Hilltop Farm in Munson and its desire to be sponsored by the Geauga County Commissioners in an apparent deal with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy to apply for a financial remuneration of up to $2000 per acre for nearly 60 acres of land. That arrangement amounts to nearly $120,000 to be awarded by the Ohio LEAP program. That $120,000 represents the sale of development rights in exchange for cash right now to keep the property in farming, perhaps specialized farming or farming limited by the terms of a contract with WRLC, for perpetuity.

At the Commissioners meeting were Gordon McDonald, Gary McDonald, Gary's son Nate McDonald, other members of Nate's family; Chris Zell, a representative from the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, serving as a sponsor to facilitate the acceptance of Hilltop Farm and the McDonald family into the LEAP program for the 2016 cycle; and Munson Trustee, Irene McMullen.

First to speak, Gordon McDonald explained that his grandfather had been born shortly after the Civil War and was the founding father of the farming McDonalds. Jack and Vivian McDonald, parents of Gordon and Gary, farmed the area bounded by Bean, Auburn, and Route 322 in the 1950s. producing maple syrup. Gordon explained that his work as a farm extension officer in Columbiana and Crawford Counties had taken him away from the family farm; his residence in Delaware, Ohio.

Gary McDonald, Gordon's brother, is actively involved in the farm product of Hilltop Farm. In fact, the agricultural products produced today at Hilltop Farm are hay, beef, and maple syrup.

Nate McDonald, though an attorney by training, is principal of a local Montessori school. He also assumed the role of chief family spokesman during the Commissioners' meeting. Nate explained that it is the McDonald family's intention to keep the sixty-acre farm on the tax rolls of the Geauga County Auditor. He explained that the application to be eligible for the the program must be received by April 15 in Columbus.

Commissioner Claypool had a question almost immediately. “Why is there the need for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy easement?” When Nate McDonald explained that the resulting funding will keep the sixty acres together as one parcel, Claypool expressed both surprise and disbelief.” You own the property,” he said, “You don't need this conservancy. You don't need to protect the property.”

Nate responded, “ Our farming options will not be limited as long as we don't misuse good farming practices. Our goal is t o continue this practice for decades. This is a way to guarantee succession. Easements may be different. Easements are designed to maintain agriculture.”

With what appeared to be annoyance with the questions of Claypool, Commissioner Rear reported, “the program was approved by Ohio voters in 2000 and 2008.” In fact, the Clean Ohio Act established by this voter approval required the modification of the Ohio Constitution, the first Ohio initiative to do so.

Zell: “We [Western Reserve Land Conservancy] serve as local sponsor for seventeen counties. The easement is a state easement. We hold different kinds of easements. Language is generated by the state agricultural program.” When asked by Claypool what benefit will accrue to the Western Reserve Land Conservancy as a result of sponsoring the 60-acre McDonald, parcel, Zell remarked tersely and perhaps evasively, “We have not discussed it with the family yet.”

Claypool noted that county-owned parcels that are in the Western Reserve Land Conservancy are not usable for anything. “I'm talking to a farmer who can't sell property in a land conservancy. The best way to protect property is to sell it to a farmer. “

In a burst of apparent emotion, Rear raised his voice. “It's not going to be controlled by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. They [the farmers?] have rights, too. Skip is right and everyone else is wrong.”

Munson Trustee Irene McMullen noted, “The Munson trustees got public input. Maintaining this farm is a value to Munson. Rural property preserves the rural character of Munson.”

Gary McDonald chimed in, “There are finances here to help buy Gordon out The community will benefit. If Gordon and I decide to split up the property, then that is possible. The state requires that we have a farm plan. There is no reason the government doesn't want this property to be agricultural.”

Addressing Commissioner Claypool without identifying himself, attendee Ed Buckles called out,
“You have an illogical inconsistency in your argument.” Responding, Claypool explained, “We're being asked for tax dollars. There are a lot of factors. They [the McDonald family] are free to do what they choose, but they are involving us [Geauga County]. . . [With regard to my own property] I don't want anyone over my shoulder. You [McDonald family] are now subservient to the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.”

Nate McDonald: “We will still be the property owners. Voters of the state have helped farmers to maintain agriculture.”

Gary McDonald: “I understand your [Claypool's] concern. We know we are losing value. . .I want to see it continue as farmland. Each owner will realize that it has to be farmland. I am not afraid to put a restriction on Robin [Gary's granddaughter].”

Nate McDonald: “Democracy is a beautiful thing because it is flexible enough to correct over time. . . I am 40 years old. Munson needs to maintain the rural nature of Munson, the rural ambience. We have to involve a state program.”

Claypool: “I wish you could do this without the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.”

Nate: “If we could work with another agency, we would. . . “

Commissioner Spidalieri: “What's the priority, the money or the farming? You could put a deed restriction on the property yourself. Do I like the Western Reserve Land Conservancy? No! I don't agree with the control. You are an attorney. You can do this yourself. . .”

Nate McDonald: “This program allows the commissioners to recommend this property for application.”

Gordon McDonald: “I'm very much with you philosophically and politically, Mr. Claypool. If I live to be ninety and Gary and I don't do Western Reserve Land Conservancy, we have a family farm trust. Probably none of us will come back here. We have eight grandchildren to divide the farm among. . .I would rather have a vehicle to use estate planning without putting my kids through the decision-making process.”

Claypool: “You don't need taxpayer dollars. You are in complete control. You can decide to gift the parcel. This program [Western Reserve Land Conservancy] is not required.”

Spidalieri: “Once you make this decision, Western Reserve Land Conservancy manages the property.”

Chris Zell: “We ensure the terms of the easement.”

Spidalieri: “I can't make a decision today. I will need to see a contract. This issue just came on the agenda yesterday.”

Gordon McDonald: “There is no contract.”

Rear: “If we don't pass this resolution to allow you to apply, the deal is dead.”

Chris Zell: “The easement is basically pro-agricultural.”

Rear: “The monetary cap is $2000 per acre. If this generated the maximum, the maximum value would be $114,000. This won't generate more or less for the auditor.”

Claypool: “Why is the Western Reserve Land Conservancy involved?”

Nate McDonald: “We are not here to make this a political issue.”

Spidalieri: “Neither are we.”

Gordon McDonald: “We have reviewed the 20 page template. You have helped us understand the implications for the future.”

Claypool: “There are restrictions on the Weedon farm [a Geauga County farm involved in the Ohio LEAP program since about 2003).”

Gordon McDonald: “This is a tool which gives us the financial ability to do estate planning.”

Gary McDonald: “Munson Township needs produce. I envision local products.”

After about one and one-half hours of discussion, the issue was tabled for the Commissioner meeting of
March 29,2016.

Published March 24, 2016

Referencing a letter dated March 4, 2016, from Michelle Pemberton, Director of the Geauga County Veterans Service Office/Veterans Service Commission, Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri at the conclusion of the March 22 Commissioner Meeting noted his concerns and expressed his reluctance about the necessity of hiring an outside attorney using county taxpayer funding to resolve another funding dispute. Veterans Service Director Pemberton notes “a good faith dispute as to budget of the Veterans Service Commission for Fiscal Year 2016. . . . [I]n view of the Prosecuting Attorney's letter indicating he has a conflict over this dispute, it is necessary now to request that you initiate the process for securing representation of the Veterans Service Commission by a special prosecutor under R.C. Sec. 305.14 subject to the approval of the Common Pleas Court. . . . “

Commissioner Claypool indicated willingness to engage in negotiation with the agency to resolve any conflicts.

The letter was also sent to Michael Moses, Attorney, whose position in regards to any special counsel chosen as a result of Prosecutor Jim Flaiz's action at Common Pleas Court cited above is currently unclear.

Published March 11, 2016

A week ago we shared the first video about the Republican Primary ballot of March 15 in hopes of making Republicans' voters count. We published an update a few days later, but because there is still so much confusion, we were pleased to find a second video, Part II of the video shared on March 4. If millions of Ohioans' votes are not to be squandered, it is imperative that we get this debacle right. The leadership of the United States is at stake. Please share this video widely on social media and with direct links. We are hoping that this latest update is the last one we will need, but at this point we have no guarantees of anything.

Published March 8, 2016

There were more appointments named to advisory councils today by the Geauga County Commissioners. Last week the names of four Geauga residents were given as possible appointees to the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) but were tabled until today. Two appointees who apparently wished to be considered for appointment, Jim Dvorak and Ed Buckles, showed up in person, the former to present three packets of his resume to the Commissioners and the former to be able to ask a question. In addition, Commissioner Rear provided a real bucket list of possibilities, which in the end were dumped down the deep end of the well.

Last week when Commissioner Skip Claypool suggested the names of four appointees to both the County Planning Commission and to NOACA, Commissioner Blake Rear was visibly agitated. Today when the topic of nominees to NOACA's “Rural Advisory Board” came up, Claypool announced that the four nominees would be John Oros, Bob Rogish, Cathy Cotman, and, as a replacement for Michael Petruziello, the name of John Ferguson, who is an elected trustee of Parkman Township.

In return Blake Rear announced his choices: Bog Rogish, Ed Buckles, former Geauga Park District Deputy Director, Keith McClintock; Tracy Engle, David Short, Kevin O'Reilly, Jr.; and Jeff Leechak. About this point in time, Burton Trustee, Jim Dvorak, President of the Geauga County Township Association; marched up to the Commissioners' table with three copies of his lifetime achievements.

Shortly thereafter, Ed Buckles, more well known for his attendance at Geauga Park District meetings (today's GPD scheduled meeting was announced canceled last evening), asked why Commissioner Claypool apparently committed an oversight by not authorizing payment of the U.S.G.S. Survey of Depth of Geauga Water Wells. Commissioner Claypool in the course of addressing the “oversight,” emphasized that Buckles question dealt with the quantity of water measured by the U.S.G.S., not water quality. Claypool assured Buckles and all present that there is “lots of surface water in Geauga County,” although lowered water depth in Middlefield wells may necessitate the need to frack the wells in question. Furthermore, according to Claypool, the contract with U.S.G.S. is available if Geauga County needs to restore it, discussion is ongoing, other trustees in Geauga County are aware of ongoing monitoring besides the U.S.G.S., Geauga County Water Engineer Jerry Morgan is compiling all the data, and the EPA is testing many of the monitoring wells, in addition to the work undertaken by U.S. G.S. We may need, concluded Claypool, to live-monitor the wells in Middlefield or at least monitor them less expensively than Geauga County has done in the past.

In a tone that suggested sarcasm to this writer, Jim Dvorak, having freely distributed his data, now stated,”Permission to speak.” What would he have done if said permission had been denied? Instead he added, “Wells are tested every ten years for quality. It was last done in 2009.” The conclusion this writer draws from such a cryptic statement is that the county has until 2019 before it has to make a decision about monitoring via U.S.G.S. Dvorak's final statement was to express that “what I'm expressing is that there is some time to make decisions.”

On an anti-climactic note, the four representatives to NOACA's “Rural Advisory Board” are Cathy Cotman, John Ferguson, John Oros, and Bob Rogish. Spidalieri and Claypool voted to approve those appointees. Rear voted no.

Published March 7, 2016

More commentators are ranting about the upcoming Republican Primary. Tom Zawistowski of We the PeopleConvention.org. On the evening of March 4 he announced, “John Kasich and the Ohio Republican Party have succeeded in their goal of denying as many as one million Ohio Republican Voters their right to vote for the Republican Presidential Nominee of their choice in this year;s Republican Primary. . .The deck is so stacked against them [Trump, Cruz, and Marco Rubio] by the ORP [the Ohio Republican Party] and John Kasich that they all have no choice but to concede the state. All those Cruz voters and Rubio voters who are so excited about their candidates, thanks to John Kasich and the Ohio Republican Party, their votes just don't count this election. Both candidates are way behind in the polls because they decided as early as last June not to campaign in Ohio.

“In the ultimate irony, Kasich and the Republican Establishment, by using a 'contrived' win by Kasich in Ohio and 'ideally' another winner-take-all win by Rubio in Florida to force a 'brokered convention,” will have a second opportunity to invalidate tens of millions of votes by Trump, Cruz, and Rubio supporters by picking another candidate as their Presidential Nominee at the Convention!

“This type of manipulation of the electoral process is why 75% of Republican voters on Super Tuesday said in exit polls that the Republican Leadership had betrayed them. In order to avoid this double jeopardy at the hands of John Kasich and the Ohio Republican Party, we urge Ohio voters to do two things in this primary. First, voters need not vote for John Kasich, but vote for Trump, Cruz, and Rubio to prevent Kasich winning the Primary.

"Second, go to www.OhioCitizensPAC.org and locate the endorsed Ohio Republican State Central Committee member in your Senate District and vote for them, so that citizens can replace the corrupt leadership in the Ohio Republican Party who implemented this plan that denied you your opportunity to vote in this primary.

"Last April 22, 2015, at Kasich's and the ORP's request, the Ohio House voted 23-10 to change the Ohio Primary from proportional to 'winner-take-all.' "

Published March 4, 2016

We have just spoken to a member of the Franklin County Board of Elections, who saw our Facebook message and provided his phone number to explain what is happening on March 15.

See sample ballot for Auburn precinct B HERE

First off, there are two rounds of balloting, early and later. Originally, there was an intention for the Ohio Primary to occur early in March, like March 5. The state ballots thus far completed, including any on March 5, allow for proportional delegates, like the outcome in Texas, where Trump got the majority, but other candidates did get some state delegates to the RNC. Because Ohio's ballot is nor March 15, it is a "Winner Takes All," so that the candidate with a simple majority of the total 66 delegates from the State of Ohio, gets all of those votes. Any of the states participating in a later ballot (i.e., March 15 or later), like Ohio and Florida, will not have any split delegates.

Secondly, notice that the list of names in the first column is not perfectly the same as the names in the second column because the name of Rick Santorum is missing from the second group. There were two separate rounds of petition-signing from each of the candidates. What happened, apparently, is that Santorum ran out of steam or interest in getting his name on the ballot as a DISTRICT candidate from the 14th U.S. House of Representatives.

Long and short of this is that there are 66 total Ohio delegates to be spoken for at RNC in August in Cleveland. There are 15 delegates to be determined from the state delegates (first column), 48 delegates (3 each from each of the 16 U.S. House of Rep. districts), and 3 delegates at large (State RNC chairman, State RNC Vice Chairman, and one other individual). In the end, though, whoever wins the majority of votes on March 15 gets all 66 delegates at RNC. Although the voter can cast his/her vote for the same candidate twice (once only for Rick Santorum), he/she can also vote for two different candidates. Logically, if one has strong feelings about a particular candidate, he/she would vote for the same candidate twice to create more opportunity for that candidate to win the majority and then take all the representatives.

There is still some confusion about the three remaining delegates and how their votes would be counted: i.e., will those three votes automatically go to the candidate who otherwise is the winner, will the “winner” receive 63 of the 66 votes, or are those three delegates mavericks who can cast their votes to anyone they choose The other thing to consider is the question of how many ballots the pledged delegates have to cast their votes according to the outcome of the election: just one ballot or more?

We hope this explanation helps. We hope we got it exactly right. The Franklin County Board of Elections is getting tons of inquiries from Franklin County voters. The board member we talked to has offered the Franklin County Bd. of Elections phone number for further explanation:
614-5242-6686. He also offered a website he identified as BallotPedia, which answers all kinds of questions. We have not yet had a chance to check that website out, but we look forward to doing so.

Published February 18, 2016

Full two hour video of the Republican Party candidates running in the Geauga County March 15 election. This is a presentation of the Young Republican Club at the Geauga branch of Kent State University in Burton.

Published February 17, 2016

Philip C. Richter, Executive Director and Staff Attorney for the Ohio Elections Commission, has sent notification on behalf of the eight-member entity of its intention to hear evidence regarding allegations of violations of election law by Chardon mayor and candidate for Geauga County Commissioner, Nancy McArthur. The two notifications were dated February 12, 2016, The alleged ORC violations concern 3517.10(A), 3517.10(B)(5)(b) and 3517.13 Both complaints, styled 2016G-004 and 2016G-005, are scheduled for review in March with three possible outcomes: 1) Finding of no violation,
(2) Finding of a violation, or (3) Setting a date for a hearing if the Elections Commission wishes further testimony.

Published February 16, 2016

Geauga County Commissioner typically authorize a $23,000 annual payment to the US Geological Service to monitor specified township wells in Geauga County. This year, however, the January renewal date passed with no renewal commitment by Commissioners. At a January dinner meeting of the Geauga Township Association (GTA), President Jim Dvorak announced his intentions to establish a groundwater committee.

In print media across the county Russell Fiscal Officer Charles Walder announced that the meeting of the “groundwater committee” would take place at the Russell Town Hall on the evening of Tuesday, February 16. He indicated that representatives from all sixteen townships had been notified of the meeting.

When the Russell meeting commenced on February 16 at 6:30 P.M, a number of individuals from the community, not representatives from townships, showed up. Township representatives present for the meeting were Jim Mueller, Gary Gabelain, Justin Madden, and Chuck Walder (all of Russell Township), Jim Dvorak of Burton Township, Laurie Sass Benza of Bainbridge Township, Michael Petruziello of Chester Township, and P.J. Cavanagh of Auburn Township. Unrepresented were the townships of Hambden, Chardon, Mountville, Munson, Claridon, Thompson, Huntsburg, Newbury.
Most conspicuously absent were representatives from Middlefield, where USGS data have reported the groundwater depth to be significantly lower than the water levels of twenty years ago. Some have attributed this phenomenon to the excessive use of water by Middlefield industry, where there is no zoning.

The meeting started off rather rockily when a few of the “representatives” present made critical remarks about the Geauga County Commissioners, attempting to characterize that body as uncommunicative. When, however, Geauga County Commissioner stood up to introduce himself, Russell Trustee, Justin Madden interrupted and appeared to characterize him as trying to be the center of attention and a negative distraction to the meeting.

When Heather Albert, of the Chagrin River Watershed Partners, acknowledged that her organization was not trained to study groundwater because it specialized in the study of surface water, the tone of the meeting appeared to become less raucous. It was Albert's contention that Ohio Farm Bureau was the logical organization to deal with the issue, but she noted that CRWP was prepared to make a small contribution toward resolution of the issue(s), once those in charge determined what the issues might be.

At that point Russell Trustee, Jim Mueller, known in Geauga County to demonstrate environmental concerns consistent with the Democratic Party, noted his preferences to stay with the US Geological Service monitoring of Geauga wells and to involve the Geauga County Health Department.Although Geauga Health Department Director Bob Weisdeck was not present, Health Department employee David Sage stepped forward to sit at the table.

Trustee Cavanagh referenced the USGS-monitored well in Auburn Township, as well as several other wells monitored by EPA. He appeared quick to express his own reluctance to have Auburn Township be involved in township-shared payment of USGS costs because “townships are financially strapped.”

Commissioner Claypool introduced Jerry Morgan, the Director of Geauga County Department of Water Resources. Morgan noted that county officials should be asking if we are monitoring our water supplies the right way. Further, he noted the importance of township and county officials working together to come up with a solution. Why is the well-monitoring thought to be a crisis now when twenty-seven years of monitoring has demonstrated that the aquifer in Geauga County is in stable condition. Nevertheless, county commissioners and county departments concerned with ground water, have not completed their due diligence.

Mike Petruziello of Chester Township asserted that there are multiple data already available about the aquifer, which has been identified as the most plentiful in the state. Further, he said, commissioners are examining the available data to make certain that there are no redundancies or repetitions of information at needless cost to the taxpayers.

Commissioner Claypool made the effort to tone down an element of panic evident in the township representatives seated at the table. He stressed that the groundwater issue is not a crisis. Nevertheless, he stressed the importance of having written data or at least a strategy to measure the outcomes. What is the right thing to do, he asked. None of the comments that followed answered that question.

Russell Trustee Gabelain, first to speak after Claypool, attempted to point a finger when he inferred that there had been a lack of communication from the top. Bainbridge Trustee Benza appeared to pick up that thread, wondering aloud whether the county leadership had communicated its intent to the USGS. Has any of that communication been shared [with trustees], she asked.

Claypool candidly announced that he “probably dropped the ball” back in December. He asserted his willingness to work with the assembled group to achieve the common goal of safe and plentiful water for Geauga County.

Russell Fiscal Officer Walder noted that USGS was expressing a sense of urgency. “I'm all for options, but it is foolish to give up a payment cycle while exploring other options. There is a $11,500 increase. We could have renewed [at lower cost] and then made a change at the next renewal period.”

Still dealing with the communication issue, Benza noted that she only became aware of the groundwater problem when she perceived that the county was in crisis over groundwater.

Health Department rep Sage noted that the biggest users of water in the county were industry, agriculture, and high density housing. Then he noted that the Geauga County Health Department is not equipped to monitor any wells then asked Water Resources Director Morgan if that department were prepared and/or equipped to monitor wells.

At the urging of many present the group agreed to meet in about four weeks, approximately March 15 to monitor progress.

AN OPEN LETTER TO NANCY MCARTHUR                            January 30, 2016
Published February 14, 2016

“Leadership is creating a culture of high moral values, where placing those you lead before yourself is the standard, while working together to achieve a vision through motivated, inspired and supported individuals which leads to a sustainable competitive advantage.” (Hope Dropp).

Madam Chair,

Would you agree that a leader has an obligation to work with all people, some of whom may have different opinions and perspectives than you or I on the same issue?

As you know, I have the honor of serving as trustee of Chester Township and the privilege of serving as a precinct representative for the Geauga County Republican Party for the past four years. Chester used to be the laughingstock of the county with the board of trustees unprofessional conduct and behavior. Thanks to the voters and my fellow trustees (with whom I often disagree), we conduct ourselves as responsible servants of the people. As it should be.

I would like for you to explain to me why, as Chair of the Geauga County Republican Party you felt it necessary to go behind my back and personally recruit an individual to run against me for the precinct committee position?

Before your involvement, the individual you solicited had signed my petition for me to run for this position. The individual you recruited also attends Chester trustee meetings, having observed my conduct serving as chairman for the past two years, and for the first time in 38 years, allowed a political sign in her yard, my sign.

You recruited this person without fully disclosing the dynamics or what she was getting in to. Once she figured out what happened, that she was now a candidate for the same office I am seeking, she was worried all night and called me the next day. We met, and I explained to her the ongoing shenanigans within our party and your conduct.

She did the honorable thing and voluntarily sought to have her name removed from the ballot. I don’t blame her, and others, who have given up on this organization, given the dysfunction and divide. A major portion of that responsibility rests with you Ms. McArthur.January 30, 2016

Not telling the whole story may be good politics, but it is not good government, and certainly is not good leadership. For years I have said how you conduct your business is just as important as the business you conduct. This is especially critical for any public official.

Before you sought the position of Geauga County Republican Party Chair, Ms. McArthur, you asked me if I would serve as your vice chair. I was honored to be considered, but declined, given my obligations as a small business owner and township trustee. At the time, given these demands, I felt that I could not serve the Republicans of Geauga County to the best of my abilities, and I respectfully declined. I now regret that decision because I feel that maybe I could have influenced your behavior and conduct which would have improved our organization, not further divide it.

Now, for some reason known only to you, Ms. McArthur, you have taken it upon yourself to have me removed from my position within the party. Have I changed, or is it your unbridled quest for power and control that has destroyed your ability to be objective and serve as a leader to all of the people within the Geauga County Republican Party?

As a county commissioner, you have an obligation to not only work with your fellow commissioners, but also all individuals within the county government and local governments as well. As the chair of the Geauga County Central Committee you have personally traveled the county seeking individuals to run against incumbent Central Committee Republicans with whom you disagree on some issues. We should be working together on things we agree on, not working against each other on those few matters that we disagree. That is a leadership responsibility.

Can you tell me why the voters of this county should support you as county commissioner given your recent conduct as Geauga County Republican Party Chair?

Yours in service,
Ken Radtke, Jr.
Chester Precinct C Republican Central Committee Member

Chesterland, OH 44026

  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -
Response to Mr. Radtke

Published Feburary 14, 2016

I want to set the record straight on Mr. Radtke's recent email. His "open letter" is attached for your reference.

Here are some facts for your consideration:

1. When I was selecting a GOP leadership team in June 2014, Rich Dobre was my first and only choice for Vice Chair of our party. I never spoke with Ken Radtke about being Vice Chair.

2. On July 25, 2015, Chester Twp resident Dave Welty (appointed to the Mental Health Board on July 21, 2015 by Commissioners Skip Claypool and Ralph Spidalieri) informed me that he had been asked by Skip Claypool and Mike Petruziello to run for Twp Trustee against Ken Radtke, and wanted to know what I thought. I asked Dave if he had a problem with Ken as his Trustee or with his record; Dave said he didn't know Ken. I gave him Ken's contact info and encouraged him to speak with Ken. Dave decided not to run. I believe Dave Welty to be a honorable and intelligent man. Should he ever choose to run for public office, he would make an excellent representative.

3. In early December 2016, Ken Radtke and others (Mike Petruziello, Ralph Spidalieri, Lisa Cavasinni, Linda O'Brien, etc.) signed petitions for Tim Lennon (see attached) to run against Republican incumbent Commissioner Blake Rear. When asked why he did so, Ken's answer was that he would sign anyone's petition who wanted to run for elected office; in other words, anyone should be able to run. Tim Lennon filed his petitions on Dec. 15th; at no time prior to that did Ken (or any other signers or circulators) inform Blake of Lennon's intent to run against him.

4. Central Committee and other elected seats are open to anyone who desires to represent his or her precinct on behalf of our Republican Party.

What I ask of you is to consider the facts that I have shared, and to search your hearts and heads for your own answers. Once we are past the March primary, I also ask that you join with me and our Geauga County Republican officers in unifying our Party and in supporting ALL of our Republican candidates on November's ballot, as our Committee By-Laws and the oath we take require us to do.

Recently, my peers on Chardon City Council elected me Mayor. I have served for over 6 years on Council. We don't always agree on everything, but I believe they elected me to lead them because they know that I respect and value their opinions, I do what's best for our residents and businesses, and I get things done. I have been a Republican my entire life voting for my first President, Ronald Reagan, in 1980. I've worked hard for years to help elect other Republicans and I ran twice (2012 and 2014) against incumbent Democrats in our state legislature.

I make no excuses for my commitment to my community, my county, and my Party. If you have any questions about my ethics, my integrity, my leadership as your party Chairman, or my candidacy for County Commissioner, please call me at 440-226-1724 and ask me anything. If you want to know why I'm running for County Commissioner, visit my website www.nancymcarthur.com to find out.

The voters will decide who they want for representation on March 15th. That's the democratic process that makes the United States of America the most exceptional country in the world. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

To the best in all of us,
Nancy McArthur

  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -
               February 7, 2016
Published February 14, 2016

Dear Ms. McArthur,

Thank you for your attempt to ‘set the record straight’ in your recent email. Also, thank you for
confirming for all of us what many of us already know: that you are unable to conduct yourself in
a manner that is necessary to competently serve as chair of the Geauga County Republican Party
(GCGOP). Regarding your email response:

1. VICE CHAIR: You are either forgetful or being untruthful. Your forgetfulness is probably the result of wearing too many hats (job, city council, now mayor, precinct person, GCGOP chair, and candidate for county commissioner) or you fear that admitting the truth might cause you political damage. Since I did not record the call, this will just remain a ‘he said/she said’ disagreement.

2. CHESTER TRUSTEE: The content and questions in my open letter to you have nothing to do with this topic so I don’t know why you chose to include it in your response. Is this your attempt to divert the focus away from your conduct onto other irrelevant matters or an effort to further divide us? Fortunately, I have the ability to function objectively and realize a debate on this matter does nothing to move the GCGOP forward and so I decline to engage.

3. PETITION SIGNATURES: It is clear from your response that you wish to limit and control which Republicans should participate in the political process. Isn’t it the job of the chair to encourage Republican involvement in our political process, not hinder or discourage it? A prominent Chester resident asked me the same question and I told him that if an individual is seeking the honor and privilege of public service, enabling him/her to get on the ballot by my signature does not infer whether I favor that candidate or not. It allows the voters to decide. Nancy, I would even sign your ballot petition if asked. Again, this is not relevant to the topic of your ability to serve as chair, but is further evidence of your inability to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.

Competition by and amongst the members of the GCGOP is appropriate so we can find the best candidates to support our Republican values and beliefs. Personal conduct by the chair of the GCGOP to replace incumbent Republicans is not, and should not be tolerated.

4. CENTRAL COMMITTEE SEATS: What offends many of us in the GCGOP, is the lack of transparency in the process for proposing candidates to fill Central Committee positions. A confident leader would send a communication out to all members of the GCGOP informing us of the openings, asking if any of us knew of some potential candidates, have them send a letter of interest to us, invite them to a GCGOP meeting and have them say a few words(#). If there is more than one candidate, the members of the GCGOP would decide by voting (you know, that democratic process you’re so high on). Secretive actions to propose your hand chosen candidates without the courtesy of advance notice to us on the Central Committee is merely an attempt to consolidate your power. Requiring loyalty and allegiance to you first before they are given an opportunity to serve is a disservice to all our Republican Party constituents.

(5) I suggested this option to you on August 27, 2015 at 8:58 am in an email but chose to ignore that advice because it would not benefit you personally.

Your ongoing efforts to mislead and divide the people of the Geauga County Republican Party are unfortunate. Disagreeing with someone does not make them an enemy. My hope is that more people recognize this failure and are willing to do something about it.

As a reminder, if do you wish to respond with specificity to my questions, they are presented below:

I would like for you to explain to me why, as Chair of the Geauga County Republican Party you felt it necessary to go behind my back and personally recruit an individual to run against me for the precinct committee position?

Can you tell me why the voters of this county should support you as county commissioner given your recent conduct as Geauga County Republican Party Chair?

If you truly desire the position of county commissioner, the honorable thing to do would be to step down as chair of the Geauga County Republican Party. If you wish to remain as GCGOP chair, the honorable thing would be to withdraw your candidacy from county commissioner. Given your conduct, I doubt we will see either honorable act coming from you in service to the Republican Party and the people of Geauga County.

Yours in service,
Ken Radtke, Jr.
Chester Precinct C Republican Central Committee Member

Chesterland, OH 44026

Published February 10, 2016

A Burton Township resident who purchased property in that location only after being assured by a township zoning inspector that he could install an accessory building to store agricultural equipment learned the hard way that what is promised by township officials can also be taken away. Bill and Emma Mae Hershberger made financial decisions as a result of the promise from the Burton Township Zoning Department. The rescinding of that promise resulted in the filing of litigation known as 14A000590 in August 2014. The story that follows recounts the legal events and the judgment by Judge Forrest Burt to dispense blind justice.

On February 19, 2014, Burton Township residents Bill and Emma Mae Hershberger received a certified letter from the Assistant Burton Township Zoning Inspector that a previously awarded zoning certificate was being revoked. According to the legal brief filed by McDonald Hopkins legal firm on behalf of the Hershbergers, the Burton Township Board of Zoning Appeals granted the Hershbergers a “variance under section 402.7 of the Burton Township Zoning Resolution, but refused to do so under section 402.6A.” The minutes for this BZA action became official on June 4, 2014. .As a result, Hershbergers filed an appeal in Common Pleas Court on October 15, 2014, requesting a reversal of the BZA's judgment. The property is located at 14608 Georgia Road. Hershbergers' legal brief notes that before the purchase of the property, Burton Township Zoning Inspector, Bill Varga, gave oral confirmation that Hershbergers could build an agricultural storage building. As a result, Mr. Hershberger purchased the parcel and then applied for and received a zoning permit for the proposed 40x80 foot storage building. Said permit 1234-13 noted no restrictions except the 3200 square foot area.

When Zoning Inspector Varga entered the property on February 2, 2014, to perform the final zoning inspection, he suggested that the building be moved from the property line to forty feet from each side yard after learning that the proposed building use was storage of agricultural supplies. Thereafter, Varga informed Hershberger that he could proceed with the building. Hershberger accordingly began excavating with a valid permit in hand.

While Varga was on vacation, however, Assistant Zoning Inspector, Joanne George, revoked the permit on February 19. 2014. because of “a lack of proper side-yard setback, pursuant to section 402.7 of the Burton Township Zoning Resolution.” Nevertheless, the revocation did not cite a zoning violation. The Board of Zoning Appeals granted one variance but denied another variance. Consequently, “Appellants challenge[d] the revocation of Appellants' zoning permit on the basis that it does not comply with [resolution] 402.6A. . .Section 402.6A provides that 'single family dwellings may be erected on building[s] altered to accommodate one-family or a residence in (a) R-5 District with a lot width of not less than three hundred feet at the building front line, and shall have a sixty minimum frontage as measured as the road right of way line.' Appellants' brief argued that the resolution did not mention any regulatory size for accessory structures and therefore section 402.6A does not apply to their proposed accessory building for agricultural equipment [emphasis added]. Appellants further cited testimony from Zoning Inspector Varga that he die not believe that section 402.6A even applied to out buildings “that were not residences or family dwellings.” Finally, the brief noted that “the BZA decision to uphold the revocation of Appellants' zoning permit on the basis that it does not comply with 402.6A is unsupported by the preponderance of substantial, reliable and probative evidence. Using section 402.6A to deny Applicants their structure was done after the fact when it appeared there was a simple resolution regarding section 402.7. . .[T]he Assistant Zoning Inspector's revocation was in error and so was the BZA's decision to uphold the same.”
We are delighted to report about this case that Common Pleas Court Judge Forrest Burt requested and received the entire Burton Township Zoning Resolution. On September 29, 2015, according to the Geauga County Common Pleas online docket, Judge Burt ruled that the Hershbergers' case be remanded back to the Burton Township Board of Zoning Appeals for a different judgment, one that “is consistent with this Court's decision.”

We are thoroughly pleased that in this particular case, the Geauga County Judicial System was looking out for the welfare of tax-paying property owners who did not act in any irresponsible manner to merit the yanking of a permit that was promised them. In fact, it is our passionate belief that a building permit should not even have been necessary because the tax-paying property owner was/is engaged in agriculture and therefore exempt from township zoning regulations.

We implore believe the Geauga County Judicial System to continue this kind of thorough scrutiny of all township zoning regulations and all Administrative Appeals in opposition to arbitrary Boards of Zoning Appeals decisions to guarantee the property rights of all Geauga County property owners.

Auburn Township Official Website is Broken
Published February 10, 2016

On February second I wrote about the Township Official Website being broken much like the Township Zoning. It is now seven days later and we think we know why the website was broken.

It would appear the website was partially taken down so the public and one of the parties in the February 9th BZA case known as 16.0a - 16.16a would not have access to vital information. This information included dates of meetings and the online Zoning Resolutions & Maps, as well as a full description of the allegations as stated in the public notice published in the News-Herald.

Today February 10, day after the BZA hearing, the website is up. But still missing is “a full description of the allegations at auburntownship.com.” printed at the end of the published “NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING” in the News-Herald.

In an effort to follow through with due diligence I have placed a public records request with Fiscal Officer Fred May for the missing information. This on-again, off-again, on-again with the Official Website has to stop, especially since it was designated by the trustees as a source of information equal in weight to the posting of information in the News-Herald and Geauga Maple Leaf at the organizational meeting on January 4, 2016

Integrity: being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness, honor and principled. (Merriam-Webster’s)
Published Febuary 7, 2016

            [EDITORS NOTE An Open Letter to Republican Chairman, Nancy McArthur. The text
             of the following letter consisted of one sheet of paper. We have included the
             signatures of the Republican individuals who agree strongly enough with the
             premises of the letter to sign their names for all to witness.]

We the undersigned believe that the Geauga County GOP should maintain the highest level of integrity and moral principles. Republicans across the nation are angry as they see a lack of integrity in the political system. Many of us have become politically active since realizing that our republican Party at the national, state, and local levels has let us down. How did this happen?

The vast majority of the local Central Committee members are good people with personal conservative values, but it appears they are not willing to step out and stand up for the founding values of the Republican Party. Apathy, a lack of conviction and political correctness has led to corruption that serves the interests of a select few. The Central Committee is a “good old boy/girl” club. Those who speak up are shut down.

Recently leadership changed and many of us had high hopes. Our new Chairman promised that she would work to end the divisiveness within the party; she promised an outreach effort, and inclusion. We have experienced just the opposite. Under Nancy’s leadership we have experienced:
These actions can be described as self-serving and not serving the interest of our Party and/or the Republican constituency. We believe that honor, character and integrity matter and that the Central Committee leadership should demonstrate those values in order foster trust within the Central Committee and with the public.

So we ask you - what is important to you? What do you believe? Do you think that the Republican Party should uphold the highest level of integrity? Do you think we should have a Party that welcomes open and honest difference of opinions and a Party that is strong enough to embrace our differences to create a greater good? Do you think we should have a leader that is able to build on our common strengths and overcome those things that divide us? Do you think the Chairman should serve the Central Committee or that the Central Committee is there to serve the Chairman?

To those on the central committee, the citizens who elect us are watching. We have a choice. Our actions will communicate your values. We ask that you join those of us in who wish to change from the destructive path we are on. If we do not, make no mistake, we will lose our County and our Country. If you agree that integrity matters, then ask for a change. Ask our Chairman to step down for the common good. Let’s agree that integrity does matter and let’s start demonstrating that to each other and the public.

            [EDITORSNOTE the signers of this letter are Republicans who wish to show their
             support for the argument expressed in the letter. Please excuse spelling errors on
             the signatures.]

David Hippely          Chris Hippely        Linda J. O'Brien       
Stephenie Snook     Cary Brocman       Peg Hunt          
Bob Hunt                Elsie Tarczy         Michael J. Petruziello  
Skip Claypool          Christie Hall          Tim Lennon
Kim Hopkins            Virginia Hzble?       Bruce Mahler       
Ruth M. Mahler

Published February 4, 2016

At a meeting poorly-attended by the public, Geauga County Commissioners upgraded job descriptions and awarded pay rates commensurate with those new descriptions within the Geauga County Building Department following a public meeting about two weeks ago. During that meeting commissioners expressed high praise and appreciation for employees of the Geauga County Building Department. The action, which followed an executive session called during the February 2 meeting, followed a similar upgrade within the County Department of Aging enacted during 2015. This action also permits speculation that other county departments will be undergoing similar upgrades in job descriptions and pay scales in an apparent move to discourage county employees from seeking employment outside Geauga County. The approval occurred at approximately 10:30 AM after commissioners and County Administrator David Lair returned from an executive session.

During the same open session Commission President, Walter “Skip” Claypool announced that appointments had been made to a Rural Advisory Board authorized at the behest of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA). The most recent NOACA meeting occurred on Friday, January 27, 2016. The latest development undertaken by NOACA is a 63-page plan entitled NOACA's Water Quality Strategic Plan. Page 5 of this draft document states, in part:

“NOACA is the 'areawide' agency responsible for air and water quality and subsequently prepares plans (e.g. Clean Water 2000 Plan(208 Plan)) to support federal, state and local government solutions to associated environmental concerns.

“. . .The NOACA Regional Strategic Plan is fundamentally not a transportation planning document, but an organizational development document. It is less concerned with the demographic, economic and environmental trends that will shape the region over the next 20 to 30 years. . . Plans like the. . .208 Plan are tools that NOACA uses to carry out its mission—to carry out transportation and environmental planning under local direction and in accordance with federal and state mandates. . . A strategic plan . . identifies strategies for how to allocate resources—money, staffing, and Board and stakeholder activities-- in pursuit of the agency's goals. [Emphasis added]

“While the NOACA Regional Strategic Plan is very helpful in guiding the organizational development of staff and agency activities, a separate plan focused on water is critical. Balancing the competing interests in a diverse region, ranging from compact urban neighborhoods to sprawling suburbs and productive agricultural lands, has always been a challenge for NOACA. . .[Emphasis added] . . . NOACA's Water Quality Strategic Plan (WQSP) is a guide for NOACA staff to support the excellent promote tools and best practices to foster a stronger regional perspective on the health of local water resources.[Emphasis added]

Having read the NOACA Regional Strategic Plan in its entirety, this writer is dumbfounded that in the course of identifying “stakeholders” among “those who lead, operate, and are served by the organization,” this writer concludes that a number of “stakeholders,” among whom are the Ohio Farm Bureau, the Ohio Farmers Union, and the national organizations of those entities,” the plan appears to condone the rationing of clean, potable water from areas fortunate enough not to have pollution, that is, Geauga County, to areas of dense population, that is, Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties. Consequently, we have informed representatives of the organizations named earlier in this paragraph of the problem in a hope that these organizations will actively seek to provide input to NOACA.

NOACA, termed a municipal planning organization (MPO) utilizes,funds derived from the gasoline taxes that consumers pay at the gas pumps to “reward” selected cities within the MPO with selected projects that are deemed by the Ohio Department of Transportation to have some sort of “redeeming value.” In exchange, each of the five counties within NOACA pay an annual membership fee “to belong.” Our last information is that Geauga County pays an annual membership fee of $25,000 for n annual return of about $3000. Perhaps the most noted achievement within the last two years was the funding by NOACA of a bicycle path through the city of Chardon (population less than 6000 individuals). You may also be aware of legislative action to increase gasoline taxes at the gas pump. These may have great impact upon reversing the effect of the lower gasoline prices that Northeast Ohio drivers are enjoying as a result of the publicized “surplus” of available gasoline.

Commissioner Claypool noted that the Geauga County Commissioners have identified four prominent Geauga County citizens to be representatives of the Geauga County Rural Advisory Board to attend workshops and sessions beginning this month under the auspices of NOACA. The four individuals are Cathy Cotman from the Geauga County Planning Commission, Michael Petruziello from the area of local trustee government, Bob Rogish from the agricultural community, and John Oros from the area of conservation/conservancy. Claypool was emphatic in expressing that “someone behind the scenes” is determined to undermine possible actions by the Geauga County Rural Advisory Board. Furthermore, he clarified, the individuals recommended by the Commissioners can be disqualified by action of the Board of Director of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency. The long-time executive director of NOACA is Cleveland resident Grace Gallucci.

For those interested in learning more, check out the website of Northeastern Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency. Search under NOACA's Water Quality Strategic Plan or contact Executive Director Grace Gallucci.

Published February 1, 2016

The January 30, 2016, Republican Central Committee meeting was noticed as a public meeting for the purpose of appointing several vacancies in Central Committee executive offices and for permitting primary candidates to provide political speeches in anticipation of the March 15 Republican Party Primary. In spite of several absences and the presence of a former Central Committee member who was no longer qualified to vote from her former precinct, members of the public, including print media, at least one Democrat, and several youthful members of a newly-formed Young Republicans Club, risked the possibility of ejection, as reportedly practiced in earlier 2015 Central Committee meetings to assuage their curiosity and their vision of observing or participating in the political process. It is the “openness” of the political process which sets this republic apart from other countries which overtly deny their voters the privilege and responsibility of becoming politically educated.

In the course of this meeting, two Central Committee members, Lisa Cavasinni and Linda O'Brien, openly protested what they perceived to be unorthodox methodology on the part of Board of Elections nominee, Edward Ryder, in the selection of at least one opponent to a seated incumbent. It has been already noted, not necessarily by the operators of this website, that at least seventeen Central Committee incumbents are facing opposition, at least some of which may have sprung from actions by the Republican Party Chairman, currently Chardon Mayor, Nancy McArthur.

The focus of Saturday's protests revolved around the legitimacy of opponents who have no known voting record as registered Republicans. Linda O'Brien, incumbent precinct representative from Russells's Precinct B, noted that her opponent, Mark Hederstrom, was not a registered Republican.
When O'Brien notified the Geauga County Board of Elections of the problem of a possibly non-qualified opponent, the body told her that she had missed the deadline for reporting a voting violation. Likewise, Lisa Cavasinni (the long-haired speaker in the video) pointed out that a review of the Secretary of State's website revealed no voting record of Mr. Hederstrom.

Although Ed Ryder of the Geauga County Board of Elections and Nancy McArthur provided “explanations” as to why the Hederstrom petition passed muster with the Board of Elections, the explanations appeared to raise questions of legitimacy on the part of the gathered Central Committee members.

Watch the video.

Published January 29, 2016

Greg Sasse (pronounced Sass-ay with emphasis on the long a at the end) is a Conservative candidate for the 18th District State Republican Central Committee. At the March 15 Republican
Primary voters will determine one male and one female representative for the 18th State Republican Central Committee. Russell resident Linda O'Brien is one of two female candidates running for the 18th District.

On the evening of January 30 at the West Geauga branch of the Geauga County Library in Chester Township, Mr. Sasse presented a talk of about ten minutes, too long to show in its entirety. What is included here for your enlightenment is his description of our incumbent US Representative from the Fourteenth District of Ohio. Mr. Sasse recounted his attendance at the Lake County (Ohio) Republican Central Committee Endorsement on Saturday, January 16. At that event “Just Dave” Joyce received the official endorsement of the Lake County organization over Conservative challenger, Matt Lynch of Bainbridge, Ohio.

The video presented is highly informative as well as entertaining to the 70+ attendants who listened to Mr. Sasse urging them to vote in the March 15 Republican Primary for Matt Lynch as their 14th US District Representative.

Published January 28, 2016

Having attended public meetings of all sorts during our twenty-year residency of Geauga County and having faced practices on the part of “officials” that violated Ohio's Sunshine Law, it became critical for us to provide video of those events so that there could be a permanent record for Geauga voters to reference and witness. In the process of offering these services cost-free as a give-back to our community, we quickly became aware of behavior, particularly on the part of Auburn Township and Chester Township Trustees that deprived attendees of their rights. From time to time we faced intimidation by elected officials, who, apparently because of their own diminished self-esteem, thought that belittling and threatening behavior to us in public might induce us to react in an uncivil manner.

As many knowledgeable individuals in Geauga County can attest, we two old farmers with the video camera demonstrate quiet respect of others' rights. We have been determined to present the whole story with documentation since July 2011. We have been fortunate to demonstrate that we value our ability to live and demonstrate the importance of our principles and integrity. When our property and civil rights have been trampled by “officials” who disregard Ohio Revised Code or the Ohio Constitution, we are willing to take our concerns to the courts. It appears that we have been patient and determined enough to realize vindication for the laws enacted by Ohio legislators.

Although we much prefer to follow our vision of working with the land and the animals of our farm, we have faced and expect to face challenges from individuals who have become comfortable at skirting the responsibilities established by Ohio Revised Code. We learned this week about the out come of litigation filed against Geauga County Republican Chairman Nancy McArthur and the Geauga County Republican Central Committee, which she purports to represent with what we believe are unilateral directives based on self-interest. Judge Forrest Burt, whom we sought to replace with an outside judge with no ties to Geauga County Republican affairs, decided on January 26 to dismiss our complaint on the basis of “failure to state a complaint upon which relief can be granted” without providing a forum to present the complaint. In addition, the legal representative of the Republican Central Committee represented the complaint as frivolous, demanding that the body be reimbursed its legal expenses. Judge Burt, though he permitted no forum, wrote, “Plaintiffs' Complaint is supported by a good faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal of existing law; and, alternatively, is supported by good faith arguments for the establishment of new law.”

Though we believe that we were denied our time in court, we concur in part with the Honorable Judge Burt's quotation. Consequently, because we have always been motivated to follow the law and to act legally within our rights, we are pursuing an appeal of the proceedings to the Eleventh District Court of Appeals.

In the meantime, Republican Central Committee meetings are and should be in the public interest and party leadership should, we believe, welcome the interest and participation of civic-minded individuals in the community. We reference the Lake County Republican Central Committee meeting held at Lakeland Community College on Saturday, January 23. The organization skillfully welcomed over a hundred members of the public, who took time from their private agendas to learn more about the political process. It was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the political process, which should seek the highest and noblest solutions to issues regarding representation of the electorate.

Consequently, the final part of this communication is to announce that the Geauga County Republican Central Committee will conduct a meeting on Saturday, January 30, 2016, to name two representatives to the Geauga County Board of Elections. It is our understanding that such function is in the interest of the public. Consequently, we will attend this function with our video camera to make the content of the program available to interested members of the Geauga community. Many in the community have lauded us for our interest, vision, and dedication to the civic process and have urged us to see the current problem to its conclusion.

We welcome your attendance at this Central Committee meeting . In spite of past behavior on the part of Republican leadership which to us clearly demonstrates disregard and violation of the Open Meetings Act, the Geauga County Republican chairperson still has the opportunity to recognize and demonstrate transparency. Without support from the public the organization faces genuine difficulty in preserving its financial, moral, and ethical future.

Tom and Diane Jones
A Wind in the Woods Farm

Published January 27, 2016

Resolution 16-005 authorized the expenditure of numerous items approved January 21 and January 22. Among the payments recorded was the award of more than $124,000, the subject discussed at the January 20, 2016, special commissioner meeting. That dollar amount was transferred from the General Fund to the 2016 Probate/Juvenile Court Fiscal Budget.

Citing references within the Supreme Court Handbook about the need for line items in a budget to be filed within a timely period “in the manner prescribed by the administrative body [Geauga County Board of Commissioners]” Commissioner Claypool referenced an apparently unorthodox request for funding that has resulted in the Commissioners being “challenged to determine the reasonableness and necessity” of their funding decisions.

In the midst of Protect Geauga Parks de facto leader Ed Buckles' accusation that “perception in the community that this is all an act” and demand for a mandamus to limit the actions of Probate/Juvenile Court Judge, Timothy Grendell, Commissioner Claypool identified Grendell as “a good judge and court” with “the right to run his court.”

Identifying difficulties with the inability of the Office of the State Auditor (David Yost) to provide proper leadership and guidance on the difficult issue, Claypool added, “It doesn't make sense fiscally to defend. We've done as much as we can do.” Referencing “the financial game” and the court order issued to the Commissioners by Grendell to provide more funding, Commissioner Rear noted that “the answers we need are above this board. Most of us have asked for help. I reluctantly make the motion on the financials.”

In a statement that appeared to be a distancing from Grendell for political reasons, Commissioner Spidalieri voted no on the motion to accept the financials, making the outcome an approval of 2-1. “ I think there should have been some presentations,” referring to the absence of Probate/Juvenile Court Fiscal Officer, Kim Laurie to appear before the Commissioners on the morning of January 20.

In a rare moment of agreement, both Claypool and Rear expressed their sense of being tortured by the financial conflict presented in Judge Grendell's court order. Presenting a stack of documentation approaching the height of eighteen inches for meeting attendees to observe and ponder, all three Commissioners appeared resigned to resolving the conflict and moving on. After the meeting, County Administrator David Lair explained that the resolution of the conflict had saved Geauga taxpayers from spending an additional $70,000.

Published January 22, 2016

As one of sixteen Geauga County townships with GTA membership extended to trustees and fiscal officers in an attempt to promote knowledge, collegiality, and community improvement, Auburn Township found itself hosting the January 21, 2016 meeting at Adam Hall, still resplendent in lit Christmas decorations. The menu selection was exemplary, starting with the green salad with pecans and grapes, the buffet-style offering of the main course, and the home-made pie selection. There were approximately 120 attendees, all full-time and associate members of the GTA. GTA has been involved over the last several years in funding scholarships to Geauga County students pursuing their educations at the Geauga campus of Kent State University. Of interest was the noticeable absence of many regular attendees. Auburn Township Trustees, perhaps to fill the vacancies on a cold, cold winter night, paid $500 (at the underwriting of township taxpayers) to provide its trustees, fiscal officers, entire Board of Zoning Appeals membership, two zoning secretaries, one office administrator, one road superintendent, and zoning inspector and spouse to the festivities. Next week, during the four day interval of January 27-30, 2016, trustees and fiscal officers, as members of the Geauga Township Association, will be attending the annual Ohio Township Association meeting. All fees from that experience (including reservations for seminars and travel and lodging expenses) will be reimbursed by the township taxpayers. It would, it seems, be beneficial for such elected representatives to share the knowledge gained and the experience from OTA's Casino Night with their constituents.

Published January 19, 2016

Probate Court/Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Grendell continues to be at odds with the Geauga County Commissioners regarding his perception that the courts have been underfunded for 2016. At odds earlier in January about legal bills incurred in his role over the Geauga Park District, Judge Grendell noted in the January 7, 2016, Chagrin Valley Times, Grendell stated, the court simply does not want to waste any more time dealing with you on this matter.”

Judge Grendell has followed up with a Court Order filed on January 6, 2016, in Juvenile/Probate Court and delivered the same day to the Geauga County Commissioners. In that communication, which has been provided to us by public information request, Judge Grendell wrote, “The Board of County Commissioners misappropriated an excess of $194,274 to the Court's CASA fund (Auditor number 2051), which is not needed due to the VOCA/SVAA grants obtained by the Juvenile Court, and so those funds were not requested.”[Emphasis in original document] Moreover, “[w]ithout explanation or justification, the Board of County Commissioners failed to adequately fund the Juvenile Court (Auditor number 1001-007) its reasonable and appropriate request by a shortage of $124,732.34.” According to Grendell, [t]he Court is restricted from using the funds appropriated to CASA (Auditor number 2051) for Juvenile Court (Auditor number 1001-007) operational expenses.”

The communication further notes that the Court's Budget/Fiscal Director brought the alleged misappropriations to the attention of the Commissioners during the week of December 14, 2015; December 30, 2015; and January 4, 2016, but “to date [January 6, 2016]. no explanation has been provided to t he Court.”

Grendell stated that “the Juvenile Court's appropriations request for FY is $274,718.44, or 13%, less than the Court's budget for the previous year. . .” with the result that [t] simple correction of the Commissioners' misappropriation will result in the county actually receiving the $69,541.66 surplus funds appropriated back from the Court.” [Emphasis in original document] Commissioners are “obligated to appropriate the requested funds, unless the board can establish that the court abused its discretion by requesting unreasonable and unnecessary funding. ” [State ex rel Hague v. Ashtabula Board of Commissioners, 2009 Ohio 6140; State ex rel Wilke v. Hamilton Cty. Bd. Of Commrs, (2000), 90 Ohio St. 3d; State ex rel Avellone v. Lake Cty. Bd. Of Commrs. (1989), 45 Ohio. St. 3d

“IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED,” Grendell concluded, “that the Board of County Commissioners correct said misappropriations, over payment and underpayment within 14 days, and align the Court's 2016 appropriations with its original request submitted June 15, 2015, by de-appropriating CASA funding of $194,274 and appropriation juvenile court funding a total of $1,212,356.34, which is a $274,718.44, or 13%, decrease from last year's budget.” [Emphasis in original] The end of the fourteen-day period is Wednesday, January 20, 2016.

Having called a special meeting at 8:30 AM this morning in the Commissioners' Chambers to discuss the court order presented by Grendell, County Administrator, David Lair, noted, “The burden is on the Commissioners to determine fairness [of the funds requested by Grendell]. . .It is impossible to determine without line items” supplied by Grendell's office. Without the line items, the Commissioners simply cannot establish the accounts to receive the requested funds.

Heidi Delaney, who is responsible for county budget, noted that in late September, Grendell's Budget/Fiscal Officer, Kimberly Laurie, had ex[ressed willingness to work with the Commissioners. Lair added that carryovers on January 1 determine the supplemental funds that can be granted to the various Geauga County departments, including the courts. According to Commissioner Claypool,without line items the Commissioners cannot determine the legitimacy of any financial request. Those requests must be determined to be both and necessary. Claypool further noted that he was “sad” that the court had communicated by e-mail this morning /that it would not be present for the special meeting this morning. Citing Chapter 98, the Separation of Powers, in Administrative Code, Claypool noted the need for Judicial and Administrative branches of government to “help one another.” Further, “the public might say that the court is fully funded.”

Claypool added that there have been numerous requests to Grendell's office for clarification while “not criticizing the courts. . . We can't just put the money into the 'court account' “ in response to the court 's directive that the commissioners could put the money anywhere they wanted because 'we [the Grendell court] will move it' to the areas of financial need. “Our best information is that $194,000 should go into [the court's] general fund. . .Without further explanation from court, we can't act. The court order expires Wednesday, January 20.”

Commissioner Spidalieri expressed personal frustration with the situation, Grendell, and the Probate/Juvenile Court. “I think we are wasting our time. We can't take any action.” Commissioner Rear reiterated Spidalieri's comments: “We take no action on this situation. If we don't comply, what happens next?”

Claypool responded. According to legal counsel, he noted, the courts don't do anything, the courts hold the commissioners in contempt, or Probate/Juvenile Court could file a mandamus action, demanding that Commissioners perform a necessary action, such as the funding noted in the court order.

Rear noted, “This meeting this morning, as well as invitations to the court indicating our willingness ro work it out, indicate that we don't have control over the courts, but we do have power of the purse. It doesn't make good sense to roll over and play dead. Somebody has to come in and help, the Supreme Court? $124,000 will disappear in a month without solving the problem [if attorneys are involved].”

Claypool: “Motion for action is a letter indicating that there is not enough information. We express willingness for further talks about $124,000 and $194,000. . .We will continue to reach out to the courts. The courts have the right to stipulate their funding. I do not think the court recognizes our authority. At the end of the day, let the people judge. Just give us a number [to provide the court]. If they [representative(s) from Juvenile/Probate Court] had just shown up, we'd have been done in ten minutes.”

Having noted that Judge Timothy Grendell was currently out of town, the Commissioners adjourned the meeting at 9:15 AM Administrator Lair will send the letter to Juvenile/Probate Court today in the hopes of achieving positive outcomes.

Published January 17, 2016

With the resignation of Phillip King as Mayor of the City of Chardon, Councilwoman Nancy McArthur assumes dual duties of Mayor and President of Council, effective January 15, 2016. McArthur has the most notoriety as Chairman of the Geauga County Republican Central Committee, composed of elected precinct representatives chosen during the primary elections during a year of a Presidential election. McArthur was elected GOP chairman in late fall 2014. McArthur is herself running for consideration as precinct representative in the March 15, 2016, Republican primary amidst reports that she is responsible for the recruitment of 17 candidates to be considered for election in multiple precincts throughout the county after voicing her intention to challenge any elected precinct representatives who have disagreed with or questioned her actions/opinions.

In addition to her own Central Committee campaign, McArthur is a declared Geauga County Commissioner Candidate in the same primary in a three-way race with incumbent Geauga County Commissioner, Ralph Spidalieri, and former Burton mayor and Geauga Park District Commissioner, Nicholas Fischbach. The winner of that contest will face Democratic Commissioner Candidate, Ron Wiech, in the November 2016 election.

There is widespread concern that should McArthur be elected Commissioner, her position as mayor of Chardon City will create irreconcilable conflicts of interest, necessitating her vacating one governmental office.

Published January 16, 2016

In a 2 ½ hour meeting open to the public, Lakeland Community College Auditorium was filled with 91 members of the Lake County Republican Central Committee and about 100 members of the public interested in witnessing the electoral process as the March 15 Republican Primary election approaches. A large segment of the public consisted of supporters of Matthew Lynch, a Bainbridge attorney challenging incumbent David Joyce for his seat from the 14th US Congressional District. Many wore buttons or tee-shirts or waved Matt Lynch signs, all affirming support for their candidate.

Given three minutes to speak to the gathering, Matt Lynch, the challenger, spoke first, addressing examples of behavior that attributed “below the belt” tactics from his opponent. Lynch finished well before the four minute buzzer. David Joyce spoke to his ability to “look you in the eye,” focused in on President Obama as the enemy and US military troops as the heroes and found no reason to stop talking when the four-minute buzzer should have been the signal to end his talking points.

Next to speak were the two Ohio Supreme Court candidates. Eleventh District Court of Appeals Justice Mary O'Toole utilized her familiar “right tools for the job” slogan and finished handily ahead of her four-minute limit. Cincinnati Judge Pat Fischer made a personal appeal to his conservative endorsements from state agencies and also finished within his four-minute deadline.

Present at the meeting were two Lake County Commissioner candidates. Jerry Cirino attested to the loss of jobs from the relocation of three large and promising corporations from Lake County to out-of-state locations. Challenger Kimberly Laurie did not speak; her personal philosophy is to reject the endorsement of the establishment Lake County GOP, chaired by longtime veteran Dale Fellows and seek the grassroots approval of the electorate.

The meeting was interrupted and members of the public politely invited to wait in the hallway for the casting of votes, which took approximately 45 minutes to complete and tabulate. Ninety-one ballots were counted, with one over vote. The results were as follows:

For US Representative to Congress, 65 votes were cast for Joyce and 26 for Lynch, with the endorsement of David Joyce.

For Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, 46 votes for Judge Pat Fischer, 40 votes for Judge Colleen O'Toole, and 3 abstentions, with the endorsement of Fischer.

For Lake County Commissioner, 75 votes for Jerry Cirino, 16 blank votes, with endorsement of Cirino.

Published January 7, 2016

In the first public meeting of 2016, Auburn Trustees removed any doubts that taxpayers have turned their township into a cash cow. The Social Security Administration has announced that there will be no cost-of-living raises for SSA pensioners. Following suit, Trustees Eberly, Troyan, and Cavanagh announced 0% cost-of-living raises for township employees but then awarded 2% raises across the board. Most notable of all the employee promotions was the elevation of Emerick Gordon to Road Supervisor overseeing a staff of four: Mike Ludwig, Mark Sturm. John Szoka, and the newest employee, Mr. Fenstermacher. The first three, by virtue of their 2% raises, all earn $21.15 per hour with standard benefits. Additionally, all five in the Auburn road department get reimbursed $50 per month for using their cell phones, ostensibly for dealing with township road emergencies. Mr. Fenstermacher received a 6.25% raise, raising his $14.70 hourly salary to $17. New Road Supervisor Gordon's 2% raise handily lifted his hourly salary from $21.40 to $23.56. Ludwig, replacing perennial sexton Susan Plavcan, who retired for “personal reasons,” assumes that office without experience to officiate, presumably on Saturdays, when he is not being paid Monday through Friday for the Auburn Road Department, at a monthly stipend of $321.54, the rate enjoyed by Plavcan.

Zoning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals appointees receive $45 for every meeting they attend, a rate created by trustees in January 2015. Scott Brockman, a BZA member before experiencing issues in Chardon Municipal Court several years ago, was named an alternate after a hiatus lasting several years, and newcomer Scott Camineer was likewise appointed an alternate to serve a one-year term. Brian Stewart, Chester Township Road Superintendent, Rob Pealer; Lew Tomsic, Laura Bellar, and Mr. Freebairn remain as the full members. The Zoning Commission consists of Jeff Pulsford, Don Simpson, Mike Guyer, and Beth Liff. Albert Tien and Mr. Asnavarian are alternates with one year terms.

Office employee Nancy Dolezal's 2% raise lifted her hourly salary to $17.69, while Zoning Assistant, Jane Hardy, now earns $17.71 with an additional salary for being perennial BZA Secretary, the fixture of all BZA meetings.. Zoning Commission Secretary, Dee Ballew, showed up at traditional first and only trustee meeting of the year, perhaps to hear her new salary, which is $14.78 per hour, thanks to her 2% raise.

Zoning Inspector Frank Kitko, who helped enrich the township coffers with the processing of 121 zoning applications at a rate of $400 each, appeared pleased to learn that his 2% raise puts his monthly income for a part-time job which requires office hours from 3-5P.M on Friday afternoons, puts him at $1787.83. As a result of previous employment, Mr. Kitko collects retirement benefits from both State Teachers' Retirement System and Social Security. If during his 32nd year he decides to retire as Zoning Inspector, he will additionally collect an ample retirement from Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.

Although Auburn trustees made no mention of the fact, they will each receive 5% pay raises, thanks to legislation passed in 2015 by the Ohio Legislature. Each of the trustees received about $21,000 in 2015. A 5% pay raise increases each of their salaries in 2016 by $1050, to be followed by a 5% raise in 2017, also arranged by the Ohio Legislature in 2015, so that Troyan, Eberly, and Cavanagh will each receive $23,152.50 for part-time employment (Source: Ohio Township Magazine).

In other news, Jim Larsen of Larsen Architects received payment on December 31, 2015, of $8376, termed by Fiscal Officer Fred May as the first monthly draw for his role of designing the 100x200 foot service garage to hold seven Auburn Township road vehicles and to provide lift space, lockers, conference room, etc. At a cost of $1,995,000 to be financed by a municipal bond underwritten with the help of a leading attorney and Middlefield Bank, it seems fair to label the 200,000 square foot project as the Auburn Taj Mahal.

Perhaps Christopher Hitchcock, Geauga County Treasurer and financial adviser to the Geauga County Commissioners for the investment of Geauga County assets, may find the 3.6% interest rate appealing, since many of the mutual bonds in which county monies are invested are returning only 1%, to the delight of the Commissioners. Do you think the Commissioners would be pleased to receive the 3.6% interest by purchasing the Auburn Township municipal bond to finance the 20,000 square foot Auburn service garage, aka Taj Mahal?

Nearby communities have installed brand new service garages at considerably less expense, but they are not Auburn Township, which has apparently become accustomed to seeking and getting the Taj Mahal with or without the approval of taxpayers. In its first draw for its role as the contractor who will construct the Auburn Taj Mahal, Hummel Construction was paid $8650 in warrant 2793. This is just the beginning of the monthly handouts.

Happy Days Are Here Again. Rip out the bubbly, boys, and let the residents pay for the banquet-- perhaps at Mangia Mangia?

Published January 6, 2016

According to reliable sources, Judge Timothy Grendell, in his role as Geauga County Probate Court Judge, named a new appointee to finish the term of Jeffrey Orndorff. Grendell removed Orndorff from the appointed office of Geauga County Park Commissioner in the fall so that the Park Board has functioned with only two members, Bill Gertz and Mary Ruth Shumway, for the remainder of 2015.
According to these sources, Jackie Dottore, an elected member of the West Geauga Board of Education, was named earlier today to finish Orndorff's term and is expected to attend her first meeting on January 12, 2016. In the last few years Ms. Dottore gathered much notoriety for her school board activities in connection with West Geauga Board of Education's Open Enrollment policies.