Last night’s council meeting

Here are my notes from last night’s city council meeting:

Bike legislation – My effort to repeal unnecessary bike laws passed by a 7-0 vote. Among the laws repealed:

  • Requiring riders to exercise “extreme care” on the roads. This may sound normal. But “reasonable care” (not extreme care) is the standard that pedestrians and motorists are held to. If there was an accident between a bike rider and a car, an attentive lawyer would exploit Stow’s “extreme care” provision to give the driver an unfair advantage, under a concept called negligence per se. We changed the standard for cyclists to “reasonable care,” so everyone is on a level playing field in court.
  • Requiring anyone riding a bike on public property (sidewalks, side roads, bike paths, etc.) to obtain a license from the city–no matter their age or frequency of riding. Prior to repeal, failure to obtain a license carried a minor misdemeanor.
  • This is the most absurd part: Anyone who wants to race a friend/neighbor on bikes or to have an “endurance contest” must obtain the Police Chief’s permission. (Our chief was devastated to see this grand authority be taken from him. Kidding, of course.)

Committee assignments – President Riehl assigned me to become Chairman of the Planning Committee. I have some strong opinions about city planning and economic development.

First, I believe in the rule of law. If someone has a property right, we don’t violate their rights, no matter how big of a mob shows up to oppose them. But, we also must be proactive in changing zoning patterns that were OK in 1970, but not OK in 2019.

Second, I believe in competing for jobs–but not in corporate giveaways. There’s a distinct difference between putting together a competitive package of incentives to attract jobs (on the one hand), and giving away free money to businesses that already had their minds made up (on the other hand).

The biggest test this year will be to link up with a developer to create Downtown Stow. Behind the scenes, I’m working diligently with Mayor Pribonic and his team to find a developer who shares our vision. There is a lot of enthusiasm in the industry about our project.

Stow Court budget – Over the past few years, City Council has anxiously awaited payments from Stow Municipal Court at the end of the year–to see if they would have an operating deficit (which the City of Stow is responsible for, by Ohio law), and to see if they would be able to pay their debt on the $9 million building (which is actually the City of Stow’s debt). Happy to report that, in 2018, the Court was in the black, and the Court paid $437K toward the debt, which is about what we expected.

Leaf pickup – It was a chaotic fall for our service employees, whose leaf-pickup season was shifted much later in the year. They finally finished last week, having made 3 full trips around the city, plus one more cleanup round. Hats off to our employees and managers who worked tirelessly to adapt to the unexpected weather.

Seasons Road exit – Finally, on Monday, we are getting the Seasons Road traffic signal online. No more rush-hour pileups on that southbound ramp!

Next meeting – City Council will meet next on January 24.


Filling the council vacancy

Last night, city council met to fill the at-large council vacancy, created when John Pribonic was elected Mayor in November.

We had more than 2 dozen applicants. President Matt Riehl decided each councilperson could nominate one applicant to be interviewed. We had 5 interviewees last night, each with impressive credentials:

Jim Costello – His resume includes 15 years on city council, 6 months as (interim) mayor, and a career in the Navy.

Sindi Harrison – She has been an attorney in the private sector for 11 years. She has served on Stow’s Parks Board for the past 5 years. She was the person I selected to be interviewed.

Jeremy McIntyre – He has worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation and currently administers road construction projects in the private sector. From 2005-2014, he served in the Army. He received a Purple Heart for his service in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Tom McKinney – He is Mr. Stow in many ways, having been the head golf pro at Fox Den from 1978-2013 and past President of the Stow-Munroe Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Doug Herchick – He served 6 months on city council, when Costello moved from Ward 2 to the mayor’s office. Residents gave us good feedback about his level of service during this time.

Jim wanted to serve at-large, so he could continue representing the entire city, as he did as interim mayor. Serving at-large also gives Jim and his wife to find a house outside of Ward 2, and he is actively hunting for a house.

For me, this wasn’t about politics. Although he’s a Democrat, Jim is the most qualified and it wasn’t close. I also believe he earned the “promotion,” by stepping up to serve as mayor, when no other councilmember could do so. Jim received a 3-2 vote (Jim himself did not vote, Lowdermilk and Adaska voted no).

Our job wasn’t done. Appointing Costello created a vacancy in Ward 2. Three of the interviewees are also Ward 2 residents (Herchick, McKinney and Harrison). Herchick held the job in Costello’s absence last year, and did a good job. McKinney would be a solid councilman, without question. I pushed for council to consider Harrison.

Why? She shares my values as to the importance of infrastructure. She is a fiscal conservative. She is a lawyer, who can help protect the city’s legal interests (a role I have served in the past 9 years). The motion to appoint Sindi passed by a 4-1 count (Adaska voted no). I think she’s going to make a fantastic addition to our team.

Council will meet Jan. 2 for our organizational meeting. The next regular meeting is Jan. 10.

Meeting Notes

Press Releases