My thoughts on the Stow Twitter controversy

Our government has never been run with more efficiency or ingenuity or cohesiveness. Mayor Sara Kline gets credit for a lot of that. She’s a Democrat. I’m a Republican. Still, I don’t have a problem saying that.


But things aren’t always roses in politics. In the past 24 hours, a controversy has brewed about the Twitter posts of Rob Kline, the husband of Sara Kline. Rob has stated some very nasty and disgusting things about President Trump and his family. I will refrain from re-posting Rob’s tweets, because they are definitely Rated R or worse. If you’re really interested, you can see some of them here: http://www.thirdbasepolitics.com/stow-ohio-the-new-home-of-democrat-vitriol/ . Suffice it to say, Rob Kline has been appropriately called on the carpet for these tweets, which have a definitive tone of misogyny, racism, and violence.

Residents have asked me to comment. Originally, I did not think a comment was necessary, because it is so obvious that Rob’s posts are outrageous, vile, and perverted. But this has become a major issue, so there should not be any doubt among Stow residents: City Council wholly rejects these tweets.


Ironically, today, Bob Dyer of the Beacon Journal wrote a column about the vile nature of political arguments nowadays. His timing was apt. Here’s the article, which I reposted on my Facebook page today.


My take is simple: What our nation needs, more than anything, is love. Jesus loves. Hippies love. Farmers, bankers, and (even) lawyers love. Jews, Muslims and atheists love. As humans, it’s our universal language. Why do we lose our love when we talk politics? If you love your neighbor, you will respect the places her life has taken her, and the path that led her to her political conclusions. If you love your neighbor, you will listen to him and seek common ground.


My hope: For my generation (millennials) to start a movement to identify and stop personal attacks. The merits of an argument should not be weighed so long as they are presented in an uncivilized manner.


But back to the Kline discussion … Sara originally posted a comment on her Facebook page that defended her husband’s right to free speech. Factually true, but it badly missed the mark. Since then, Sara has written a message to city employees that makes clear she does not condone her husband’s comments. I’ll conclude by posting her message for the rest of the community to see:

As you may have seen on social media, or heard from other sources, my husband posted some very inappropriate tweets earlier today. I do not condone his language or the way he expressed his feelings about some political issues. I love and support my husband but we strongly differ on this issue. He has apologized to me, our daughters and is sincerely sorry that his emotions got the best of him. As we work through this family matter, what also concerns me is the well being of our organization and all of you.
Unfortunately, this has become a matter of discussion on social media sites and the local media. For that, I apologize to all of you.
In no way do I wish to cause embarrassment or concern for any of you. Should you be contacted, please direct people to me. I will handle any and all concerns from citizens as this is solely my responsibility to deal with.
I cannot express how much the City of Stow means to me and how I truly love our organization. I sincerely apologize that a misstep on the part of my family member may refelect poorly on our our organization and the good work we do every day to improve people’s lives.
If any of you would like to talk to me directly, please feel free to email, call or stop by my office.
Thank you.



Ohio Auditor Report Shows that Stow is on Firm Financial Footing

Not much happened at last night’s meetings. We gave out a handful of proclamations to worthy recipients, but did not really discuss anything meaty.

Instead of giving you a rundown of those items, I will blog to you about something with more substance…

In January, the state auditor released a report on every Ohio city, identifying their strengths and weaknesses from a financial perspective. The relevant data is from 2015 and it includes assets, condition of assets, liabilities (debt), revenue from income tax, revenue from other government sources, and cash position. Click here to see the report: Final – 06C55-FHI-2015 .

I have great news to share: Generally speaking, Stow passed the tests with flying colors.

Of the 17 statistics that the auditor reviewed, Stow received high marks on 14 of them. On the other three, the auditor only issued a “caution.” But the full picture shows that Stow is also in good shape with those other 3 statistics:

  1. Change in unassigned fund balance (category 2) – If the number is falling, the auditor will issue a caution. Stow’s fund unassigned fund balance fell in 2015, but just barely. And this was after two previous years of terrific growth. It’s not a concern.
  2. Percentage of general fund revenue that exceeds general fund expenditures (category 8) – The auditor wants to see revenue from the general fund exceeding expenses by at least 5%. In 2015, Stow’s general fund revenue exceeded expenses by about 3%. But if you look only at the general fund, you do not get a full picture of the city’s finances. Instead, if you take a look at all revenue and all expenditures (on a government-wide basis), Stow has met the 5% threshold for the past four years (see category 9).
  3. Ratio of debt service expenses to total revenue (category 12) – In order to avoid a “caution,” the auditor wants this ratio to be less than 10%. In 2015, Stow’s ratio was 12%. But, as you know, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. This is a statistic, and it does not take into account the fact that Stow has been paying down debt at a rapid rate, in order to ease the tension on its balance sheet. In fact, since I was elected in 2009, we have reduced Stow’s total debt by 40% (if you wish, compare this with the federal government’s debt during the same period). Stow is exactly where it should be, from a debt position. You can’t hold it against a city for repaying debt. That’s like saying your household budget is better off with more restaurant dinners instead of an extra mortgage payment.

It may be useful to compare Stow with its neighbors. Stow had 3 caution marks with zero “critical” problems. Meanwhile, Hudson had 3 cautions and one “critical” issue. Tallmadge had one caution and one critical. Munroe Falls had 4 cautions and 2 criticals. Tip of the cap to Cuyahoga Falls and Kent, which had zero cautions and zero criticals.

Indeed, there is a lot of good news for Stow taxpayers in the report. It’s even more noteworthy when you compare it to where Stow was positioned as recently as seven years ago. I can assure you, the picture was ugly then.

But when I was elected, we began a campaign to improve the city’s balance sheet — while keeping in tact all of the services that residents rely on. We urged the repayment of debt. We pressured non-performing assets to make a turn-around or be cut free (courthouse, Fox Den). We emphasized the importance of economic development and a business-friendly regulatory and tax environment.

The auditor’s report is proof that the plan has worked. But we must remain vigilant, because history has shown that big spenders will seek to spread their wings after fiscal conservatives have righted the ship.

Council will meet next on February 23.

Meeting Notes

Press Releases