President of Council Marjorie Harlow called Council to order on December 7, 2011, at 7:00 p.m.

    The governmental body and those in attendance recited the pledge of allegiance.

    Mr. Vanover took roll call. Present were Council members Diehl, Emerson, Hawkins, Mr. Knox Squires, Vanover and Harlow.

    The minutes of November 16, 2011 were approved with six affirmative votes. Mr. Knox abstained.

    Mrs. Harlow said the December 1st minutes are on the agenda but are not available at this time.

    COMMUNICATIONS                     -     none

    COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE   

    Mr. Ron Pitman, 579 West Kemper Road just wanted to bring Council and the Mayor up to date. As everyone probably knows, yesterday we had my issue with the garbage cans and my street. I appealed that to the Board of Housing, Building and Fire Appeals Board which met yesterday evening. At the meeting the board pretty well confirmed the position of the City that it was fine, my things were in compliance and screened as it is now so they didn’t think a whole lot of it. During the process of this hearing (this was the first time I’ve ever gone to this Appeals Board that is set up by Charter that if someone has a problem with either one of the departments), they can appeal to this board for relief. They can overturn it or affirm it. I attended a lot of meetings as Mayor and in the real estate business I’m always meeting with the County Commissioners and everybody in different places. I have never seen a board so inept in my entire legal profession. I’ve been associated with the law for forty-four years and I’ve never seen anything as bad as this particular board. Just to make a comparison, the people on it are probably okay, but I don’t think there is any training. There is no experience in this board. They took direction from the Building Department as to how to proceed. If it had not been for Bill running this thing pretty well, they wouldn’t have known what to do. They have no chairman, took no minutes. It’s something you would not see anywhere. I’ve never seen a board this bad anywhere I’ve gone. Planning Commission is good here, BZA and most of the City’s are good but this particular, I would have expected to have somebody from the Law Director’s Office or somebody here to try to show them how to do it and what to do. Obviously that was not the case. I can tell you that the city really needs to look at this and give some direction to these folks. Just briefly looking at it, there were so many violations of law that I could see in procedure, civil rights violations. Where would I send that to, the attorneys for the U. S. Attorney’s Office or to Deters. There are so many different things I didn’t even know where to start. That’s my point of the thing. It got what was just a small thing that has sort of mushroomed into something. The City needs to look into it. Poor Bill McErlane, he’s between a rock and a hard place. If he hadn’t been there trying to help them out, they would never have gotten through the evening by themselves. He puts himself out and leaves the City liable for some action from somebody else from the public. It’s something Council needs to look at and Administration needs to look at and follow up on. Talk to Bill McErlane and you’ll hear a pretty good story from him too, I’m sure. I just wanted to alert Council and the Administration.

    Mrs. Harlow said I did not catch the name of the board you are referring to.

    Mr. Pitman replied it’s the Building, Housing and Fire Appeals Board. Most folks in the City don’t know it exists, I guess.

    Mrs. Harlow stated we’ve heard your comments and I’m sure that Administration will look into this.

    ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS

ORDINANCE NO. 47-2011
TEMPORARILY MODIFYING EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES REGARDING THE CARRY OVER OF ACCRUED VACATION TIME AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY

Mr. Squires made a motion to adopt and Mrs. Emerson seconded.

Ordinance 47-2011 passed with seven affirmative votes.

RESOLUTION R14-2011
A RESOLUTION IMPLEMENTING A VOLUNTARY WORK FURLOUGH PROGRAM

Mr. Squires made a motion to adopt and Mr. Hawkins seconded.

Mayor Webster said the key word is voluntary. If someone wants a few days off without pay they’re entitled to have that. The City saves money, the employee gets additional time off but there is nothing mandatory about this.

Mr. Squires said I am assuming that it’s going well.

Mr. Parham stated in 2011 thirteen people participated. Seventeen employees participated in 2009. In 2010 there were only four employees who participated but that was the year that we had the mandatory furloughs and other cost containment measures.

Mr. Parham said the guidelines that were presented as part of the pending legislation report, are the same ones we have used each year. We simply adjusted the number of days from ten days in the first year to fifteen the last two years that Council has authorized the program.

Resolution R14-2011 passed with seven affirmative votes.

RESOLUTION R15-2011
CONFIRMING THE MAYOR’S APPOINTMENT OF CAROLYN GHANTOUS
AS A MEMBER OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION

Mr. Knox made a motion to adopt and Mr. Squires seconded.

Mayor Webster said resolutions 15, 16 and 17 all deal with Planning Commission. I am proud of the performance of Carolyn Ghantous, Don Darby and Marge Boice. Mrs. Ghantous has been on the board about two years and she’s just getting her feet wet. Mr. Darby has been chairman of the commission for the last year and had spent many years on there previously as did Mrs. Boice. I urge confirmation of all three of these requests.

Resolution R15-2011 passed with seven affirmative votes.

RESOLUTION R16-2011
CONFIRMING THE MAYOR’S APPOINTMENT OF DON DARBY
AS A MEMBER OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION

Mr. Squires made a motion to adopt and Mr. Hawkins seconded.

Resolution R16-2011 passed with seven affirmative votes.

RESOLUTION R17-2011
CONFIRMING THE MAYOR’S APPOINTMENT OF MARGE BOICE
AS A MEMBER OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION

Mr. Knox made a motion to adopt and Mr. Squires seconded.

Resolution R17-2011 passed with seven affirmative votes.

RESOLUTION R18-2011
CONFIRMING THE MAYOR’S APPOINTMENT OF LYNN JONES AS A MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF HEALTH

Mr. Squires made a motion to adopt and Mr. Hawkins seconded.

Mayor Webster said these comments apply to the next three resolutions. Mrs. Jones is a retired nurse and has been on the board for sixteen years. Mr. Kellner is retired from the Cincinnati Health Department. He worked testing samples, etc. Mrs. Mocsny is a retired nurse, teacher, counselor, very well rounded lady in public nursing. All three are valuable members of the board and I would certainly urge your adoption of all three ordinances.

Resolution R18-2011 passed with seven affirmative votes.

RESOLUTION R19-2011
CONFIRMING THE MAYOR’S APPOINTMENT OF GEORGE KELLNER AS A MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF HEALTH

Mr. Squires made a motion to adopt and Mrs. Emerson seconded.

Resolution R19-2011 passed with seven affirmative votes.

RESOLUTION R20-2011
CONFIRMING THE MAYOR’S APPOINTMENT OF NOREEN MOCSNY AS A MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF HEALTH

Mr. Squires made a motion to adopt and Mr. Knox seconded.

Resolution R20-2011 passed with seven affirmative votes.

Mrs. Harlow said Resolutions R21-2011 and R22-2011 are for two seats on Planning Commission. I thought it would be best to take nominations for anyone who is interested in Planning Commission, pass out ballots and do a vote. That person will take one slot that is vacant. Then we’ll do Resolution R22-2011 and you can bring in additional names and also those that were nominated in the first go round. The top vote getter in both rounds will be appointed to the two open spots.

Mr. Hawkins nominated David Okum. Mr. Okum has resided in Springdale for thirty-five years. He has been a member of the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission since 2006. He has been on Planning Commission for the City of Springdale from 1989 to 1993 and again from 1995 to present. He served as vice-chairman on Planning Commission from 1995 to present. He has also served on the City’s Board of Zoning Appeals since 1995 to present for sixteen years. He has been on the Hamilton County Conference Committee and Planning Partnership. He’s also been certified as a renovator by the U. S. Government and also has been certified as a Planning Commissioner. His current job as Chief Operations Executive for the Platinum Restoration Inc. often has him familiar with commercial and residential properties including types of land use in most communities in the region in regards to Planning. He has also served as a City Councilman for fourteen years.

Mr. Vanover nominated Rich Bauer. Mr. Bauer is currently in an expiring term. He has been there four years. He was the Operations Manager of the Bearcat Village Fifth Third Arena/Nippert Stadium remodel at the University of Cincinnati. He has done a yeoman’s job on Planning Commission this far and I expect to see him carry on.

Mr. Knox nominated Reverend Wilton E. Blake. Dr. Blake has many achievements outside of his theological accomplishments. He has a Bachelor of Science degree and a Masters of Business Administration. That expertise combined with his theological achievements is used in his clinical specialty of chemical dependency and grief counseling. Locally he ministers as police chaplain and fire chaplain for the Middletown Fire and Police Departments and for the Cincinnati Veteran’s Administration Hospital. For the work for the latter he received from the Secretary of Veteran’s Affair, the award for excellence in chaplaincy. More to the point for Planning Commission, he’s the past president of the Walnut Hills Community Council, past member of the Springdale Board of Zoning Appeals and a past member of the Springdale Planning Commission. He is proud to have been a veteran of the United States Army. He has a wide range of experience and I’d like to recommend him to the board.

Council voted by secret ballot. The result of the vote was: Okum 4, Bauer 3.

RESOLUTION R21-2011
APPOINTING DAVID OKUM AS A MEMBER OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION

Mr. Knox made a motion to adopt and Mrs. Emerson seconded.

Resolution R21-2011 passed with seven affirmative votes.

Mrs. Harlow opened nominations for the second position on Planning Commission.

Mr. Knox nominated Wilton Blake.

Mr. Vanover nominated Rich Bauer.

Council voted by secret ballot. The result of the vote was: Bauer 4, Blake 3.

RESOLUTION R22-2011
APPOINTING RICH BAUER AS A MEMBER OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION

Mr. Squires made a motion to adopt and Mrs. Emerson seconded.

Mrs. Harlow asked Mr. Hawkins to notify Mr. Okum and Mr. Vanover to notify Mr. Bauer.

Mrs. Harlow said I spoke with Mr. Bob Weidlich who has served on the board and would like to continue so I will put his name forth. There were no other nominations and Mr. Weidlich was appointed by acclamation.

RESOLUTION R23-2011
APPOINTING ROBERT WEIDLICH AS A MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS

Mr. Knox made a motion to adopt and Mr. Hawkins seconded.

Resolution R23-2011 passed with seven affirmative votes.

Mayor Webster said Jane Huber will be reappointed to Board of Zoning Appeals and Mr. Joe Ramirez will move from Parks and Recreation to Board of Zoning Appeals.

Mrs. Harlow stated I talked to Mr. Potts and he is interested in continuing on the Civil Service Commission so I will bring his name forward and accept other nominations.

There were no other nominations and Mr. Potts was appointed by acclamation.

RESOLUTION R24-2011
APPOINTING TONY POTTS AS A MEMBER OF THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION

Mr. Knox made a motion to adopt and Mr. Squires seconded.

Resolution R24-2011 passed with seven affirmative votes.

Mr. Vanover nominated Teresa Pardieck for Charter Revision. There were no other nominations.

RESOLUTION R25-2011
APPOINTING TERESA PARDIECK AS A MEMBER OF THE CHARTER REVISION COMMITTEE

Mr. Squires made a motion to adopt and Mrs. Emerson seconded.

Resolution R25-2011 passed with seven affirmative votes.

    OLD BUSINESS
   
    Mr. Parham said no one showed up for the public hearing and that’s a good thing since we were not able to have the public hearing. We placed the advertisement with the Tri-county Press, unfortunately, they did not place our ad in the paper and so we were not able to make the required 10 day notice and thus unable to have the public hearing tonight. As a result, I want to confirm again that the public hearings for the electric and natural gas aggregates are scheduled for December 21, 2011 and January 4, 2012. Our consultant, Mr. Don Marshall with Eagle Energy will be present for both of those meetings.

    Mr. Parham said when Duke Energy was here to inform us about the smart grid program they did offer an opportunity to stop over at their Duke Envision Center which is located in Erlanger, Kentucky. Mr. Thamann and I had the opportunity to tour the facility about a year ago. The center shows you just how the smart grid process could possibly work when it’s all working to its total capability. There is a regular size house that you walk in and they show you how your energy could be monitored. In fact, the gentleman who provided us with the tour was able to demonstrate online how the program was working for his own residence. He was able to track it from that location and demonstrated how we would be able to do the same. Duke has sent an invitation to the City so if anyone is interested in touring the center, let me know. It is on a first-come, first served basis and there is no charge.

    Mr. Parham stated we received notification from Hamilton County concerning the Community Development Block Grant program. They indicated that our Home Improvement Program that we’ve had over the last three years is being recommended for funding for 2012 through 2014 for $20,000 each year. None of our other programs were recommended for funding. It now has to be adopted along with the list of other programs by the Hamilton County Commissioners.

At the same time, we were notified that we were also successful in receiving funding for the Merchant Street Rehabilitation Project. If you recall, in a previous application the City’s contribution would have been 30 percent with a 70 percent grant. We increased our contribution percentage to fifty-fifty. As a result of the increase, we have been awarded funding for the project. The City is scheduled to receive $195,000 in grant funding and must contribute at least $195,000 as our share. The total cost estimate for the project is $390,000.

The Fire Department was also awarded a Fire Prevention Grant provided by the Factory Mutual Insurance Company in the amount of $2,500. Factory Mutual Insurance Company is a company that has taken a liking to risk management and prevention. They provide financial incentives to fire departments around the country. We intend to use the $2,500 to provide smoke detectors to the residents throughout the community.

    Mr. Diehl said I have been in contact with Duke and have cancelled our energy contract. It was a painless process and I did not have any problems.

    Mr. Diehl asked, are the Home Improvement Loan qualifications the same as before?

    Mr. Parham replied yes.

    Mr. Squires urged residents to cancel their memberships with other companies and to see what the City can do.

    Mrs. Harlow said I’m concerned because I finally got through on their telephone line. Then yesterday we got another announcement from Duke so I will have to follow up again and make sure the lady I talked to actually did cancel my agreement with Duke.

    Mayor Webster said mine didn’t cross in the mail because I did mine the day after I read the letter to Council, November 18. I got another letter in the mail yesterday and I guess the tone of my voice told the young man on the other end of the line that I was not a very happy camper. He checked and said yes, it was canceled. I asked why they sent me another letter and he replied they just wanted to give me another chance with the program. This morning I get an e-mail asking me if I want to continue and telling me how much I had saved. They are making an all out push and I feel sorry for some of our elderly citizens who get confused about it.

    Mr. Parham said I would like to encourage as many residents as possible to come out to the two public hearings. I think you will be able to gain quite a bit of information. I’ve attended a number of meetings with other jurisdictions as we are all working with Don Marshall of Eagle Energy. Mr. Marshall has been very informative and helpful. The majority of these communities already have programs in place and have had them in place for some time. Three of us were just recently approved by their electorate. One of the things that Mr. Marshall shared with us is that Duke Energy has been approved by PUCO for their new agreement to develop rates. Secondly, the rates we anticipate will not be identified or known until around December 15 because they are going to auction on the public market. I believe it is seventy-five percent of their rate will be based on Duke’s internal numbers and information. The balance will be determined by the public market. We hope by December 21st the rates will be known and we’ll have better information.

Mr. Parham pointed out that Duke sends out a flyer in the customer’s bill. The flyer tells the customer/resident that if you do not wish to be solicited by other suppliers, notify Duke and they will place you on their list. Once you are placed on the list, you will not be solicited by others. Even when we put our program in place, your name will not be included with our group, only those names that have not taken some action to be removed from the primary or main Duke Energy list. That’s the type of information we hope to share with residents on the 21st and again on January 4th. We encourage you to come out and ask whatever questions you have.

    Mr. Squires said if you don’t cancel your contract now it may be too late because you will be charged something to get out of it later. I don’t know what the fee is. I’ve heard as much as $25.

    Mr. Diehl said besides letters they are going door to door and they do not have a permit. They have left Beacon Hills twice because of my conversations and follow up with the police.

    Mr. Knox asked is there a specific office you call at Duke or is it the general number?

    Mrs. Harlow replied it is not their general number. It is Duke Retail. It is a separate phone number. Did you sign up with Duke Retail and do you need that number? Mr. Knox said I’m not sure so I need the phone number.

    Mr. Hawkins said my wife spoke with the individual who was trying to solicit services. It may have been Duke Retail or some other energy source. He was very persistent.

    Mr. Squires asked don’t they have to be registered with us to solicit?

    Mr. Parham said in order to solicit in the City if you are a not for profit, we cannot regulate your activities. If you are for profit you are to stop by the Municipal Building to receive authorization. I would encourage any resident who has someone stop by their home trying to solicit them for business, contact the Police Department and get as much information about the solicitor as possible. I think right now it’s a pretty hot market and everyone is trying to get their foot in the door.

Mrs. Harlow said the opt out date for Duke Retail is December 15. We won’t be having our public hearing until December 21. If we do have residents who have questions or concerns, who should they call at the City to get their questions answered?

    Mr. Parham said Mr. Thamann and I can speak to them. I asked the same question of Mr. Marshall. If you signed up for a program, it goes until December 31. In the last meeting that we had with other municipalities I raised the same issue. His plan was to contact PUCO and asks what is the requirement. Can Duke Retail require that I am automatically renewed with them since the program is called Customer’s Choice? He felt that PUCO would say no, they cannot just automatically renew you and the next question was what is our recourse? I sent an e-mail today to remind him to find that answer. Right now, unless you want to fight the fight, I would suggest, if you plan on leaving Duke Retail that you contact them and leave them now.

    Mrs. Harlow said I would hope that our residents would want to opt out of any energy resource that they have and give the City a chance to bring forward a program because the more residents that we have the better the rate we’re going to get.

    Mr. Parham said residents will always have the opportunity, but as Mr. Squires pointed out, if you are in one of these programs and go beyond the renewal period, there is a potential of a penalty you have to pay in order to leave them at a later date. If you leave them now you are supposed to revert back to the home base, Duke Energy and you will enjoy whatever rates Duke Energy has up until such time as the City puts this plan in place. If you join the City’s plan there will be no fees for you to leave or join the program.

    Mrs. Emerson said, back to the door-to-door solicitors, if someone is coming to your door to solicit and they have gone through the City to get the permit, should they not have some kind of identification so residents would know they are allowed to go door-to-door.

    Mr. Parham replied yes, I believe there is some license that they have. But at the same time they must have their own identification. The other thing is at any point in time, whether they are for profit or not, if you choose to not have solicitors, you can always place a small sign out that says “No Solicitation”. They are not to approach you at that point. You do have another recourse to keep even not for profits from harassing you.

    Mr. Vanover said I got a cancellation letter and I am going to fall back to Duke until the program starts up at 8.6 cents per kilowatt hour which is an increase. I’m banking that we’re going to get a healthier break.

    Mr. Parham said Duke’s existing rate is 9 cents. We’ve been having discussions that some of these are going to come in around 6 cents. The other day, we saw on the web page for Springfield Township that they signed up with First Energy as part of their aggregate. I believe their number is 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour. Those who have left Duke Energy will probably see some increase because as part of the settlement, Duke was given the authority to add on an additional $100 million costs to their distribution side. If you stay with Duke Energy, you will see your rate decrease from 9 cents to 8 cents or 6 cents. For those of us who were with Duke Retail or one of the others at 6 cents could see an increase in your costs. Our professional will be here and be able to address those details in much more detail than I can.   
   
    NEW BUSINESS

    Mrs. Harlow said this evening we have some Council appointments we need to make. I think we’ve all had a memo from the Mayor in our mailbox in regards to his boards and commissions. For Parks and Recreation he appointed Gene Burt, Julie Wright, Katherine Russell, Carmen Daniels and one to be named later. We have done the resolutions for Planning Commission and the Board of Health and his appointments to BZA would be Jane Huber and Joe Ramirez.

    Mr. Thamann said at the last regular Council meeting in November, Council approved an extension agreement or G11 agreement in regards to the negotiations with our police officers. That allowed, if a conciliator made an award of a wage increase, that increase may be retroactive to January 1, 2012. As we are going forward with the fire negotiations, the firefighters asked if they could also have a G-11 agreement between the City and them for their wage negotiations. I am requesting Council to approve that as they did for the police officers.

    Mr. Vanover made a motion to extend the G11 agreement with the firefighters’ collective bargaining unit. Mr. Squires seconded. The motion passed with seven affirmative votes.

    Mr. Squires nominated Ed Knox to Board of Zoning Appeals. Mr. Knox accepted and was appointed by acclamation.

    Mr. Vanover nominated Robert Diehl. Mr. Diehl accepted and was appointed by acclamation.

    Mrs. Harlow said as you recall our Rules of Council, we are going to be staffing additional boards that we have not staffed in the past so that we have people in those positions in case we do need to schedule meetings. I’ve tried to make this workload as fair as I could and not give any one person too many. I tried to distribute the number of committees and boards out the best I could.

    Mrs. Harlow said I asked Jim Squires to remain on Board of Health. I’m asking Mr. Ed Knox to be a member of the Tax Review Board; Bob Diehl and Holly Emerson to the Volunteer Firefighters’ Dependent Fund. For the Finance Committee, Mr, Diehl as chairman and Mr. Hawkins and Mrs. Emerson on the committee. Our Housing Committee has always been made up of our three at-large candidates. That would be Mr. Diehl, Mr. Squires (chairman) and Mr. Knox. I am asking that you have a quarterly meeting. That has not been an active committee in the past and I would like it to be active.

    Mrs. Harlow said with Council’s concurrence I would like to close the Veteran’s Committee. Mr. Parham, do you see any need for that committee to go forward?

    Mr. Parham replied no. I believe all the funds have been deposited with the City and our forces are maintaining the facility.

    Mrs. Harlow said Mr. Galster was the lone remaining committee member in case we had any additional work to be done and then we were going to turn it over to Parks and Recreation to maintain.

    Mr. Parham said the Public Works Department maintains it. Parks and Recreation handles the activities.

    Mrs. Harlow asked if anyone objected to closing the Veteran’s Memorial Committee.

    Mr. Vanover asked if we want to add a statue or something would that fall under Capital Improvements or Public Works.

    Mr. Parham responded if someone made a sizeable donation to the City directed specifically to the Veteran’s Memorial, Council decides what they want to do and we put it under the Capital Improvement Program.

    Mrs. Harlow said we could always open this committee again. With Council’s concurrence we are going to close that committee.

    Mrs. Harlow said Mr. Hawkins and Mrs. Emerson will be on Rules and Laws.
We are going to staff Public Works but I don’t see a lot of activity, Mr. Knox and Mr. Squires (chairman). We haven’t used Public Utilities in a long time but with the gas and electric aggregations we may need to have some meetings so Mr. Vanover (chairman) and Mrs. Emerson please sit on that committee. Mr. Knox will be on OKI. Mr. Diehl as chairman and Mr. Knox will be on Public Welfare, Safety and Education. Capital Improvements will be Mr. Vanover (chairman) and Mr. Squires. Public
Relations will be Mr. Hawkins as chair and me.

    Mr. Diehl said we have all these committees that haven’t been staffed in a long time. How do we know what to do, are we getting any training, etc.?

    Mrs. Harlow said I can tell you that Public Utilities, Public Welfare Safety and Education have not been active for many, many years so I’m sure if we do bring it forward and make it an active committee then we’ll seek Administration and Mr. Forbes’ help to set guidelines for the committees.

    Mr. Diehl asked who do I talk to about Public Welfare and the Volunteer Firefighters about what to do here?

    Mrs. Harlow replied the Volunteer Firefighters’ Dependents is a one time meeting. There is a form that Mrs. McNear will provide for you that needs to be filled out. There will be some volunteers on this committee from the Fire Department as well as Mr. Broenner. That meeting needs to be done by the end of the year and Mrs. McNear can help you with that.

    Mr. Hawkins said I would be more than willing to speak with you as I was chairman of that committee last year. Also, with the newer committees and boards we haven’t been using recently, if you look to our Rules of Council and more importantly, to our Charter, that will give you some guidelines on what those boards and committees are supposed to do. There may be some educational pieces to that we can look towards Administration and Mr. Forbes for but that will at least give you an idea of what that’s supposed to be about.

    Mr. Parham said the Fire Chief and Assistant Fire Chief are on the Volunteer Firefighters Dependency Board by virtue of their position.

    Mr. Vanover said I think it was the Center for Local Government that had training sessions you could attend. I know they are there for Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals.

    Mrs. Harlow said we also want to have resolutions at the next meting for our outgoing board members and Council member.

    Mrs. Harlow said we just extended the firefighters’ G11 and we are also in negotiations with the Police Department. Negotiations with labor relations are strictly an administrative issue, not a legislative issue and any and all contacts should be directed to Mr. Thamann and Mr. Parham.

    Mr. Forbes stated as long as we are doing housekeeping and re-establishing committees that haven’t been active before and this is the first meeting of a newly seated Council, I would like to give everyone a snapshot look at the sunshine law. It applies equally to Council and committees. I always say sunshine law but that amounts to two main components; the public record and the open meeting. I tell all public officials as far as public records go, just remember, the general rule is that all the records of the City with a few exceptions are public records. It doesn’t matter what form they are in. It can be paper, video or audio from a meeting or e-mail. If you create a record, chances are it is a public one. I also remind all elected officials, as the new term starts the public record law requires all elected officials or their appropriate designee to attend public record training that has been approved by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. We satisfy that by having a designated staff member or administrative member to attend that. Secondly, all meetings of all public bodies; Council and its committees, have to be open to the public. Again, there are some exceptions such as executive session, but all meetings of Council and committees have to be open to the public and they have to be posted, publicized so that the public has the opportunity to attend. The law is very clear about what constitutes a meeting and that is any pre-arranged discussion by a majority of the members. Any time a majority of this Council is going to pre-arrange a discussion, that’s a meeting and has to be open to the public; the same with committees.

    Mr. Parham said I don’t know how many of you are familiar with internet sweepstakes cafes. They have become very popular in the northern part of the state. They are facilities that have been open for what we believe may be gambling, although we’re not quite sure if the State considers it gambling or not. Of course, gambling is illegal. They use machines that you play card video games. In some establishments you may pay a fee and you will get a phone card or some sort of instrument that you use to play the machine. Although they will tell you it’s not a game of chance, if you have the opportunity to play a game and the amount that you started with has the ability to increase or decrease, to me that’s a game of chance which may constitute gambling. However, the State hasn’t quite defined whether that is the case. A number of jurisdictions have been approached by these establishments. We have received telephone calls where they would like to set them up in the City of Springdale. Some jurisdictions have established a moratorium until such time that they can determine whether these are legal or not legal; whether or not you can come up with an appropriate zoning if it’s determined that they are legal, and how you would regulate them. We would propose that Council adopt legislation that would force a moratorium for about 180 days or six months while we make a determination whether these are legal or not legal, and if they are determined to be legal by the State of Ohio, how would we regulate them. I believe that there is legislation before the State legislature. I don’t know if it’s been on hold but it has not been totally addressed. There is one community that has adopted a moratorium until such time that the State put something in place, but according to Mr. Forbes and other legal minds, that’s not the most defensible. We would recommend that we put a time frame in place as we investigate and make a determination as to whether or not this would be best for the community.

    Mr. Forbes said the concept of a moratorium is an accepted legal practice when local jurisdictions need some time on a new, unique situation to investigate it to see how best to regulate it, if to regulate it all. I will say one of the keys to making a moratorium defensible is to establish it for a specific period of time rather than open ended. Mr. Parham is correct that a bill has been introduced at the State to initiate regulations of this type of establishment. It’s been introduced and referred to committee but it hasn’t gotten out of committee yet. That’s why we are suggesting that the City consider a moratorium so that we can investigate it and also see what the State does with its regulations.

    Mayor Webster said I would like to support this moratorium concept. I think it would be somewhat foolish for us to try to go on our own and try to create zoning to prohibit this and end up getting two or three of these parlors in our community and be stuck with them regardless of what the State code says. I think the prudent way would be to hold it in abeyance for six months and see what other communities do and find out more about these parlors.

    Mr. Vanover said I know in Kentucky and Alabama there have been cases where something very similar to this has been going on. Is that similar?

    Mr. Forbes said these kinds of establishments are in other states. Some of the initial research I have done shows there are companies out there that provide equipment to these establishments. They are the ones who have done all the homework. They’ve identified the states where they feel this type of equipment fits within the gambling or gaming laws of the states and they’ve gone to those states and tried to sell their equipment. The last year or so is when it reared its head in Ohio and as Mr. Parham stated, it really started up around the Cleveland area and it is very quickly making its way across the state.

Mr. Hawkins asked is there anything in our code now that addresses this specifically?

Mr. Parham said I believe we have language that speaks to gambling but right now the Attorney General hasn’t determined that this is, in deed, gambling. There is nothing that addresses the internet sweepstakes cafes. It’s our position that they are not permitted but if we determine that at some point they would not be seen as illegal, and we deem that it would be best if we identify a zoning regulation where we would direct them, at that point we institute other regulations. There are a number of jurisdictions that have adopted legislation, first on a moratorium, second on zoning location and third, how they will regulate them. We want to make sure that we have the appropriate time to prepare ourselves and get things proper and assess whatever fees that may be necessary.

Mr. Squires asked is the name of the organization internet sweepstakes café?

Mr. Parham replied it’s not an organization; it’s an industry. They will try to tell you that this is no different than when you go to McDonald’s and you try to win a prize by tearing off the little sweepstakes because it’s pre-determined.

Mr. Squires asked is six months sufficient for the moratorium?

Mr. Parham replied based on Mr. Forbes’ research, six months should give us the appropriate time. We’ve been having discussions. We know what some of the jurisdictions have done. I think Liberty Township has totally banned them. I’m not sure that will eventually work because the State has not determined that they are gambling. Most jurisdictions we have found have permitted them but have identified where they can be permitted and then assessed a license structure.

Mrs. Emerson asked can the six months be extended if we need more time.

Mr. Forbes responded yes. What I generally say is six months is a generally acceptable amount of time. If we are approaching the end of that time and it looks like the State is on the cusp of doing whatever they are going to do, or we’ve found new information that would give us reason to extend our investigation, you can always extend it, but again you have to be careful. There has to be some basis for extending it.

Mr. Knox stated I assume there is no skill involved in this, ala the poker rooms of Garden City, California, etc. My real question is if you do gain and your card starts building up, can you get money for it or anything of real value?

Mr. Forbes said as part of some of my initial investigations of this industry, I took a trip to one of these establishments. You go in and you buy something, generally you buy a phone card and you say I want a $10 phone card and they give you a card with $10 of long distance time on it. No matter what you do that day, when you leave you have a card that has $10 of long distance time on it. You have purchased something of value and you get to take it. As an incentive to get you to buy that card, you are given a sweepstakes entry. At McDonald’s you pull the tab off and you know what you’ve won or didn’t win. The way these work, you could just ask what you won from your sweepstakes entry. But what they tell you is don’t just do that. Go over to the machine, swipe the card and you can play games. At the end of that it will tell you what you’ve won. The argument of why this is not gambling is that the outcome of your sweepstakes entry is pre-determined. Nobody knows what it is exactly. You can swipe the card and play what looks like poker, black jack, a slot machine. They will tell you that the software of the computer you are playing on has already pre-determined what your outcome will be. Because it’s a pre-determined outcome it’s not a game of chance which is what the state law prohibits. When you’re done, the way I understand it is, you can leave with cash. Most of these places have in the front window a giant sign that says win $20,000. I asked the establishment I went in if anybody had won the $20,000 and she said no, not yet. That’s the issue here. It’s gone to court in a few jurisdictions and we’ve gotten different results. Some say if it’s really pre-determined, then it’s not a game a chance and it’s legal. Other courts have said you have to prove to us that it’s really pre-determined and that it’s not a game of chance, but as we look at it, it appears to be gambling so they have been found in violation. That’s part of what the regulation process the State is considering and I know some local governments are considering, a way of checking the software or equipment being used to determine if it really qualifies as pre-determined or not. The State has proposed in the bill that has been introduced is that it’s not gambling but it will be under the control of the new Ohio Casino Commission and they will establish third party vendors who can check the machines. In order to use the machine you have to have a license and part of that licensing process is to have a third party vendor examine or test it to make sure it meets the non-gambling law.

Mrs. McNear asked would it be appropriate to make our moratorium until the State completes their research and announces their ruling.

Mr. Forbes responded I know of one jurisdiction that did that. All I can tell you is that came up in a roundtable with other law directors in the area and the idea of doing a moratorium until the State takes their action received laughter. That’s too open ended to survive a challenge. My advice is if you are going to do a moratorium, make it for a specific amount of time.

Mrs. Harlow said I’m not sure if I mentioned the Review Board. We have Mr. Coleman, Mr. Goins and Mr. Potts. They serve by virtue of their position. I would like Mr. Vanover to chair that and ask Mrs. Emerson to be a member of that. This is a committee that is not often called to meet but I didn’t want to overlook anything.
       
    MEETINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

    Board of Health                     -     December 8
    Finance Committee                     -     December 8
    Planning Commission                     -     December 13
    Board of Zoning Appeals                 -     December 20

COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE    -     none

UPDATE ON LEGISLATION STILL IN DEVELOPMENT

Final Appropriation and Transfer             -     December 21
Temporary Appropriation                  -     December 21
Part time and seasonal pay                 -     December 21
Adopting annual appropriation /estimated receipts    -     January 4

Presentation of Budget                 -     December 21
Public Hearing on gas and electric aggregates    -     December 21

RECAP OF LEGISLATIVE ITEMS REQUESTED

Moratorium on internet sweepstakes cafes        -     December 21
Resolutions for outgoing board and Council
Members                         -     December 21

Council adjourned at 8:42 p.m.

                        Respectfully submitted,



                        Kathy McNear
                        Clerk of Council/Finance Director
Minutes Approved:

Marjorie Harlow, President of Council

__________________________, 2011