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Editorials from years 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015

published January 17, 2015

Thank you Unfortunately most voters have no idea how an incompetent judge can wreak havoc on innocent peoples' lives

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Letter to the Editor
Published December 13, 2015

We viewed the video of the August 24, 2015 Budget Hearings on your site, "Auburn Township in Beautiful Geauga County".

In all honesty, I could not say that I was surprised to see David Lange's recent editorial about conservation groups in Geauga County. Over the past two years, the Chagrin Valley Times has blindly supported the erratic group known as Take Back Geauga Parks and Protect Geauga Parks.

My husband and I viewed the Budget Hearing video for August 24, 2015 and what Prosecutor Flaiz said in his response to the letter he received from a small group of extremists who seem to be rooted in hatred.

Prosecutor Jim Flaiz responded to their request not to suspend the 2012 levy collection. Prosecutor Jim Flaiz told them that the Geauga Park District misled the residents in 2012. The late Judge Charles Skip Henry was the judge in control of the parks at this time. Under Judge Henry and his park board commissioners and staff..., our research shows that the following persons were board members and staff of the parks at this time: Jim Patterson, John Leech, Tom Curtin and Keith McClintock. Under their "leadership" the people of Geauga County were lied to in order to gain support in passing of the levy.

John Karlovec was at this hearing. He did not write a word about this. And this is important, the people of our county deserve to know this. The Geauga Park District under Judge Henry, Jim Patterson, John Leech, Tom Curtin and Keith McClintock, misled the voters in 2012 and Karlovec did not write one word about it. This is hypocritical.

Joe Koziol, a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times was also in the room. Not one word was printed about this horrible act that was committed by the Geauga Park District under Judge Charles Henry.

I remember reading about this 2012 park levy in the paper that Frank Gliha, County Auditor, stated that the levy campaign was misleading. The Park District, under Henry, Patterson, Leech, Curtin and McClintock told voters that the levy would decrease their taxes. Frank Gliha said this was misleading. But it wasn't until August 24, 2015, at the Budget Hearing, that we were informed that the park district gave misleading financial numbers as well.

The zealot nature group known as Protect Preserve Geauga Parks would call for the hanging of Judge Grendell if he even blinks wrong in their opinion. But not one word of criticism or admonishment about Judge Henry, Jim Patterson, John Leech, Tom Curtin and Keith McClintock misleading the residents of Geauga county! The Geauga Park District in 2012 misled the voters and the zealot members of Protect Geauga Parks do not say one word? That's extremely hypocritical.

These are the same group who did not write one word of complaint when an estate vehicle was buried on park property, under Judge Charles Henry, Jim Patterson, John Leech, Tom Curtin and Keith McClintock.

I read articles written by members of Take Back Our Parks,now known as Protect Geauga Parks, complaining about a tether ball in the parks, but they are okay with the burial of a car on park donated property? How is that in keeping with their support of conservation?

There were reports that the park district, under Judge Henry, mishandled the donation of the Felkin estate. Where is the report for the criminal investigation for the mishandling of the Felkin Estate? Under Judge Charles Henry, Jim Patterson, John Leech, Tom Curtin and Keith McClintock, the park district inherited the Felkin Estate and we read news reports about missing guns, property, drills, etc., from this estate. If not for the good Nick Fischbach, we would never have heard of this. Where is the outrage for the mishandling of the Felkin Estate?

There is no outrage from David Lange, Joe Koziel, John Karlovec, or the environmental zealots known as Protect Geauga Park and Take Back Geauga Park.

Obviously, they don't really care about conservation. They just seemingly hate the presiding Judge, the park commissioners, and the staff of the Geauga Parks.

I read letters to the editor stating they disapproved of the appointment of the Executive Director. They wanted Keith McClintock to be appointed as Executive Director of the Park. Curtin and Keith McClintock are responsible for misleading the voters in 2012 and for burying a car on park property.

The people of Geauga County were misled in 2012 by the park leaders, and the same staff mishandled (criminally in my opinion) the Felkin Estate.

And not one word from the extremist members known as Protect Geauga Park/ Take back Geauga Park. Not one word. This is entirely hypocritical.

We were surprised to see the former Judge Mary Jane Trapp as a member of Protect Geauga Parks, and we will never vote for her again.

Mr. & Mrs. Sternower, Middlefield, OH

Confessions of an internet troll
Published December 10, 2015

I admit to following many internet chats. I do so to keep up with what is going on in my community. There is one chat board used by Protect Geauga Parks and hosted by Google Groups that I find particularly disturbing. A major contributor to the conversations is Sandy Buckles. In my opinion her comments incite others to corrupt the processes of the Geauga Park Board.

I could draw on months of emails but to keep it simple, I will concentrate on just two. The first talks to how to skew the park survey. The second email addresses PGP's indignation over the dismissal of the survey by the Park Board. I believe the Park Board must also have known of the cheating that took place on the surveys.

Note the following two excerpts from the email record:

“Wed, Feb 18, 2015 8:23 am
Subject: Re: Protect Geauga Parks - Park survey online
Supporter contacted us and said they were able to take survey 6 times using different devices with different IP addresses in their home. ”

“Dec 7, 2015 8:59 am
Subject: Protect Geauga Parks - We need you there!!!
YOUR SURVEY results have been put in the board's and Judge's trash bin. PGP supporters, we need to see you there.”

I am grateful the Park Board has worked with transparency to provide free and open discussions of the issues before the Board. I am hopeful the Park Board will continue to provide an open form to the public to both witness and comment on park business. The board needs to be commended and supported for protecting the parks and growing the number of people the parks serve in the county while at the same time being fiscally responsible with taxpayer monies.

PGP could be a constructive force for improving the parks if they could abandon the “my way or the highway” attitude I have observed both at the meetings and in their emails.

Dear Auburn Township in Beautiful Geauga,
Published December 9, 2015

I want to thank you for the wonderful reporting you do on your well-organized site. My generation was never permitted to speak up the way you do. Maybe I am afraid to speak up, I see what happens when you do. People in this county harshly criticize those who speak their minds.

And I would say that I am not strong enough to speak up. It's the way I was raised.

But I want to thank you for the work you do. We need more people to stand up to the families in Geauga County who have been taking advantage of citizens for years. There are some trustees in Geauga County who have been serving in Montville for more than 40 years. Of course he has no opposition, no one is permitted to run against these people. They feed shameless at the public tax trough.

I just wanted to thank you for giving a voice to many who cannot speak up for themselves. Things seem to be changing, and I think you are very brave.


McArthur claims erroneous
Published August 10, 2015

I regret very much having to write this letter, but the July 24 article in the Geauga Times Courier titled, "'No winner' in legal case, McArthur says," and July 23 in the Chagrin Valley Times, titled, "Grendell's legal battle with McArthur to cost taxpayers," compels me to write. To say that I am profoundly disappointed vastly understates my feelings.

I, therefore, am sending this letter to set forth certain matters appearing in the article that are factually untrue. I do so with the hope and belief that you will correct the erroneous public record caused to be made by Nancy McArthur.

As you are aware, I had the honor and privilege of serving as a justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio from 1985 to 2002. As a retired justice of the court, I still consider myself to be bound by the Code of Judicial Conduct where applicable. Thus the code provides: "Although it is not a duty of judicial office ... judges are encouraged to participate in activities that promote public understanding of and confidence in the judicial system."

In accordance with this admonition, when I was contacted by several persons and made aware of the very public dispute involving Judge Timothy J. Grendell and Nancy McArthur, and I was requested to see if I could assist the parties in resolving the dispute, I reluctantly agreed.

Both parties sought and agreed to mediation. Pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code, the parties agreed that the "matter shall be confidential and all things said and not said or done or not done at the mediation shall be absolutely confidential to the extent permitted by the law."

Up until the time of the publishing of the newspaper article, there had been, to my knowledge, no discussion in the public that mediation had taken place and, certainly, no mention of me as a mediator. I was delighted that all persons involved were keeping their commitments, given the contentiousness of the matter.

Notwithstanding that the agreement has been breached, at the least, by Ms. McArthur, I am still bound by the agreement not to disclose the proceedings conducted during mediation. I do, however, have an obligation to the parties, and now to the public, to be sure that any part of the mediation that is disclosed by one or more parties presents an accurate picture.

Operating within the confines of the revised code and the confidentiality agreement, I am constrained as to what I can say. However, I believe I am permitted to assure "county taxpayers" that Ms. McArthur's statement that the taxpayers "may also be responsible for the costs of a special mediator, retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andrew Douglas, who was brought in last week to conduct a 7.5-hour session on the matter in Geauga County Common Pleas Court," is not accurate or truthful.

Ms. McArthur knows, or should know, given the office she now seeks, that such costs should not be paid by the county but rather are generally shared equally by the parties. However, even more striking is that she knows I have not submitted, nor do I intend to submit, a fee bill and, given the statement of her attorney Nancy C. Schuster that I was a volunteer -- a statement I agree with -- she knows that I did not intend to charge a fee for the services that were rendered. In fact, I had overnight lodging expenses, mileage and other expenses, all of which, without complaint then or now, my firm, as a public service, has absorbed.

The newspaper should clear up this error forthwith. In addition, without revealing any of the mediation proceedings, the public should know that there were other emails written by Ms. McArthur, and, in the interest of good journalism, the paper maybe should take a look at those.

Finally, there was no challenge to Judge Grendell's attorney, and, because I cannot elaborate further, suffice to say that the account presented to the newspaper was done so in false light.

This has been a difficult matter for the community, the parties and me. I believe it now to be at rest where it should reside in peace.

Andy Douglas, Crabbe, Brown & James LLP, Columbus

Rising CAUV taxes
Published August 1, 2015

I read Joan Demirjian's interview with Auburn Trustee Cavanagh on page A11 in the July 30th edition of the Times. I, like Mr. Cavanagh, participate in the CAUV program. I would like to point out an error in the report. To participate, a farm of less than 10 acres must show $2500 of gross income from the farm. Farms over 10 acres have no such reporting requirement. The majority of farms in CAUV are less than 10 acres.

CAUV is Ohio’s most effective tool for preserving farmland. CAUV was created by the Ohio Legislature to stop the loss of farmland to development. For property tax purposes, farmland devoted exclusively to commercial agriculture may be valued according to its current use rather than at its "highest and best" potential use. Green space preservation in the townships has been a valuable side effect of the program. Without CAUV many small farms would not be financially viable.

Each year, the Ohio Department of Taxation sets current agricultural use values (CAUV) for each of Ohio's soil types. In general, I only hear the large farms complaining about the changes in tax rates. I get very tired watching my fellow farmers with their hands out, always asking for more. All taxes increase over time. Farms enrolled in CAUV are no exception. Suck it up! Pay your fair share of taxes like everyone else.

Thomas Jones
Wind in the Woods Farm
Auburn Township

July 17, 2015

Dear Prosecutor Flaiz,
Diane and I have read your Township Training Manual cover to cover. What your staff has omitted should be cause for a revised edition. I am referring to the manual's lack of comment on ORC 519.21. Auburn Township, between 2008 and 2013, twice ignored the provisions of 519.21, resulting in the need for two farms to take legal action against the township at the 11th district Appeals Court to get relief. I am referring to Schabel v Troyan (Auburn Twin Oaks Winery) and Jones v Auburn Township Board of Trustees (A Wind in the Woods Farm), filed by Diane and me.

Your manual avoids any mention whatsoever of the fact that townships cannot regulate agriculture through zoning. Absence of discussion would be appropriate given no violations by any Geauga townships. However, the blatant disregard of 519.21 by Auburn Trustees is an issue of such great importance that it is covered at the Ohio Township Association annual meeting in Columbus and by Peggy Kirk Hall at Ohio State University. Both cases are widely cited on the web as precedent-setting. Although these two cases are not the only examples of township abuse of ORC 519.21, they are the most well-known.

The lack of knowledge or perversion of the law's intent has cost not only the two farms, but also the taxpayers of all sixteen Geauga County townships as well as all the townships in the Ohio Township Association Risk Management Authority, who are sharing the cost of litigation. Even though the two farms won at the appellate level, there is no recourse to recover damages because the trustees and township have immunity, the proverbial Catch 22.

Principles are important. Consider, however, the many who cannot afford to pursue their principles. The injustice only serves to embolden some trustees to act in ethically and morally irresponsible fashion. Such violations of property rights by elected officials speak to the fragility of our constitutional form of government. Failing to stress the importance and relevance of ORC 519.21 in the Township Training Manual implies that the Prosecutor's Office is less interested in the need for all government officials to honor the law of the land than to protect the status quo of those who feel entitled to misuse the power granted to them by the voters. As another election draws near, you may understand your clarity of purpose well enough to ensure the property rights of all Geauga County residents.

Thomas Jones
Wind in the Woods Farm

Restore Ohio wind-energy provisions that benefit local students: Jeff Snyder
Published Monday July 6, 2015

The largest taxpayer in our county -- Van Wert County in northwest Ohio -- is a wind farm. The wind farm has helped our school district provide every student with a
Jeff Snyder
Jeff Snyder Jeff Snyder is superintendent of the Lincolnview school district in Van Wert in western Ohio.Jeff Snyder
 computer – laptop or tablet -- and has assisted in starting two new high school courses for next year.

However, the Ohio legislature decided to add onerous restrictions on wind-energy development that have essentially made it economically and logistically impossible to develop more wind turbines in our area and many others.

The planned wind-energy development that this law has halted could have enabled us to provide even more services to our students, such as more educational programming, new infrastructure, and possibly providing funds back to our district residents in the reduction of taxes.

By turning to wind power, the Lincolnview Local Schools have added a new revenue stream of $400,000 annually. If we could obtain another wind project to our district through the wind-energy tax incentives, it would include another $600,000 per year — in total, around $1 million dollars in additional revenue.

A common-sense bill could give communities back the power to decide on their own whether to allow wind-energy development.

House Bill 190 would empower county commissioners to decide whether to use the previous regulation requiring wind turbines to be approximately 540 feet away from a property line or to use the new regulation that requires a setback that is more than double the previous law at approximately 1,300 feet. Then local communities can decide on a project-by-project basis what works best for their residents.

In Van Wert County, we have encountered no major issues that would have required this extreme setback expansion. Wind-energy companies have told us that this statute change makes it impossible for them develop more wind energy that can bring jobs, tax payments, and additional economic development to our communities.

wind turbine nose cone
Dan Litchfield, a business developer for Iberdrola Renewables looks inside the cone unit that will hold three blades of a wind turbine being erected by Iberdrola Renewables near Van Wert.
In addition to the direct economic benefits of wind projects, they can also have indirect economic benefits. Major companies such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft are also seeking to locate in areas that provide clean, renewable energy, and restricting wind-energy development could put us at a disadvantage for further economic development in Ohio and especially in northwest Ohio. Ultimately, those companies end up providing long-term and stable careers to people in those communities, thus creating economic development to our fine state of Ohio.

For example, Amazon is currently investing $1.1 billion in central Ohio over the next three years with a goal of being powered 100 percent by renewables by 2020.

Meanwhile, our students reaped the benefits of additional funding for our schools at no additional cost to our local taxpayers. The tax payments of over $400,000 a year from Iberdrola Renewables have been a huge help. We didn't have to go ask our community to pay more in taxes. Instead we took advantage of the natural wind that has always blown in our own backyards.

With new electronic devices for our schools, we are using new instructional techniques and practices every day in the classroom, such as differentiated instruction and inquiry-based learning. Our schools are buzzing with excitement from our students, teachers, and parents about this new upgrade.

We would have never considered such a large academic shift or change in our district, without the financial support of the wind turbines. We also would not have been able to look for more opportunities to develop a well-rounded graduate for years to come as we can now.

We are looking at implementing two new academic programs -- pre-engineering and biomedical -- as part of our academic portfolio this academic year. We are also hoping that some our students will use these new academic programs to better prepare themselves for the immediate workforce in our community or to enhance their preparation for college.

House Bill 190 will be the difference between more services for our students or less. I urge lawmakers to let our community decide for ourselves whether more wind energy development is right for us.

Jeff Snyder is superintendent of the Lincolnview school district in Van Wert in western Ohio.

POOR FLAG ETIQUETTE a letter from a concerned citizen
Published July 1, 2015

Auburn Township Trustees
Michael S. Troyan
Patrick J. Cavanaugh
John A. Eberly
Auburn Township, Ohio 44023

Dear Gentlemen,
I think it is wonderful that the Township is being so patriotic with their display of flags along Washington Street, in front of the Town Hall, the Administration Building, and the Fire Department Buildings. Thank you for replacing the tattered Flag at the Town Hall.

I wish to make two points with my letter, with the hopes that the situations can be remedied proficiently:

The street light on the corner of Auburn Road, and Washington Street has been dark since December. I have stopped into the Administration Office three (3) times, first in January, second in April, and today, to request that the light be replaced. Today I was told that I should contact First Energy, since the Administration apparently does not have time to call and personally speak with someone themselves. The light on the front peak of the Administration Building that lights the front of the building is burned out as well, making the intersection very dark, and the flags without light. The light by the side door (west side) is and has been on 24-7 for months.

This brings me to the second and most important point, Flag Etiquette; I will quote the American Legion web site which answers the question: “Is it proper to fly the flag at night?”, in which the reply was: “The Flag code states it is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flag staffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness. The American Legion interprets proper illumination as a light specifically placed to illuminate the flag (preferred) or having a light source sufficient to illuminate the flag so that it is recognizable as such by a casual observer”.

When I stopped into the Administration Building today to express concern about the lack of etiquette, I was told: “I don’t think any other municipalities take theirs down, and I should write a letter to the Trustees”! I checked with other municipalities, and their flags are placed on poles with working street lights above them.

Please see that the Township sets an example for, and maintains Flag etiquette standards.

Monte J. Sherman
Auburn Township, Ohio 44023

Published June 21, 2015
un "nature"al signs

Judge champions property rights
Published May 27, 2015

Say what you want about Geauga County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Timothy J. Grendell. I've written a few things myself. But he is not now nor has he been in favor of drilling for gas and oil in the county's park system. As the authority responsible for appointing the three-member board of commissioners for the parks, the judge took a lot of criticism in connection with a revision of bylaws early last year that permitted such drilling.

Where that harebrained idea came from isn't exactly clear, but Mr. Grendell had something to do with the provision's subsequent removal. Granted, he continues to take the brunt of anger directed at other changes in philosophy regarding the park district.

The judge, who previously served in the Ohio House and then the Ohio Senate, has a long record of fighting for citizens' property rights, notably his vigorous opposition to the collaboration between state politicians and the deep-pocketed gas and oil industry to undermine them.

When the enemies of property rights passed Ohio House Bill 278 in 2004 and steamrolled local zoning regulations that had protected many residential neighborhoods, Mr. Grendell fought them every inch of the way. He was back on the warpath this month against Ohio House Bill 8, which, if passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, would take away property rights of citizens who own regional park systems like the Cleveland Metroparks and the Geauga Park District.

HB 8 would clear the way for the gas and oil industry, with the apparent indiscriminate approval by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, to force park systems and other public lands -- except state parks -- into mandatory pooling. Like other landowners, who similarly lost their property rights through state mandate in 1965 and had them stomped upon by HB 278, the parks' owners -- you and me -- could be compelled to join in land-pooling compacts that enable mineral extraction.

"This proposed taking of the subterranean mineral rights of public land, such as our county's park property, is unprecedented and not in the best interest of protecting and preserving our wonderful county parks," Judge Grendell wrote in a cautionary letter to park commissioners.

Mr. Grendell and I go back a long way. In the mid-1990s, after a local developer's legal action nullified a referendum vote by the citizens of Bainbridge who wanted to block rezoning for an office complex, I argued that the First Amendment right of the people to petition the government's action came before property rights presumed in the Fourth Amendment. It was the first of many times that the lawyer Mr. Grendell informed me to the effect that I "write without knowledge of the true facts."

In 2006, Ohioans for Concealed Carry enthusiastically endorsed then-Sen. Grendell's unsuccessful candidacy for Ohio attorney general, citing his extraordinary support for gun rights, including passage of the state's concealed-carry law in 2003.

Citing that law, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the citizens of Clyde in Northwestern Ohio could not prohibit concealed weapons in their own city parks. That ruling applies to every municipal park in the state. Apparently, in Ohio, the Second Amendment right to bear arms supersedes the Fourth Amendment's property rights.

We might wonder where the champion of property rights and defender of public parks stands on that abrogation.

Published April 24, 2015

This week I had to make a very difficult decision and step away from my role as a CASA GAL (Court Appointed Special Assistant, Guardian Ad Litem), a volunteer position that I have been dedicated to since 2005. As a result of my experience at a recent Geauga Park Board meeting, I will not be able to meet the rigors of a case that requires great time and consideration.

I want to thank the CASA staff for their amazing support and dedication. And I want to thank Judge Timothy J. Grendell for his outstanding devotion to our CASA children.

I thought I was a pretty good CASA until I stood before Judge Grendell, and then I learned I had much to learn. As hard as I worked, thinking I had covered all of my bases, our Judge Grendell would bring up aspects of the case that were insightful and life-changing for my CASA Child. He is devoted to the best interest of the children.

Sadly, the county of Geauga spends more money cleaning up park trails than they do supporting the men and women who care for the most vulnerable in our community, children who are neglected , abused and delinquent.

It is my fervent hope that our County Commissioners would perform a salary comparison study and increase the salaries of our JfS social workers, therapists and their administrative and support staff, and especially our CASA program staff.

Most of all, I want to honor Judge Timothy J. Grendell; he is a hero for our CASA children.

Judy K. Zamlen-Spotts

Published April 16, 2015

I did attend the Tuesday, April 14, 2015, Geauga Park Board meeting and as I was leaving, I was viciously attacked by a member of the Protect Geauga Parks group.

The actual meeting was wonderful. The commissioners did a superb job of leading the program and responding to all issues and questions. Pat Leech spoke and shared such a precious story that really made a tremendous impact on everyone in attendance and especially me. I think I understand so much better the message she has been trying to convey. John Augustine was one of my favorite speakers. He made excellent points and brought great insight to the meeting. Ed Buckles spoke well and set the tone for the meeting, it was a tone of consensus and working together.

However, as I was leaving the meeting, a woman came rushing up to me and grabbed me by my arms, pulling me so hard that she injured my right arm. I wasn't sure what happened, but it felt like my shoulder was dislocated. I tried to break free of her, but she kept shaking me and when I did break free, she started hitting me. There were members of the Protect Geauga Park in the area, watching, and they did nothing to help me. I was begging them to please get the ranger, I called out for the ranger but nobody came to help me. At no time did I hit or strike this woman, I only tried to break free and protect myself.

I had to struggle to get away from this brutal woman, and when I did, I ran to my car and went home to call the Rangers. I do not have a cell phone, but called as soon as I got home, minutes after I had left the park. The Geauga Park District Ranger contacted me immediately and came to my home so I could report the attack. I did go to the hospital the same evening and had to go again the very next morning as I was treated for complications from the concussion and dislocated shoulder.

Judy K. Zamlen-Spotts

April 11, 2015

Responding to Rob Allen's Letter to the Editor of April 9, 2015. Allen's diatribe exactly fits the definition of "libel" which is defined as ”the act of publishing a false statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of someone". In his words, Allen besmirches the names of elected officials, Judge Tim Grendell and Geauga County Commissioner Skip Claypool with unfounded accusations. He doesn't stop there. He characterizes a lcouple of dedicated Geauga citizens as being uninformed dupes ignorant of the sinister agenda he imagines. Tom and Diane Jones are inarguably among the MOST informed and involved citizens in Geauga.

As a member of the Geauga Republican Central Committee, Allen's dismissal that concerns over what Geauga will look like when NOACA/NEOSCC Goals for 2040 are implemented is troubling. Readers who choose not to remain in denial as Allen does need only to view the unrecognizable future Geauga County by googling "Vibrant NEO 2040" ask yourself, "Is this the county you want to leave for your children and grandchildren"?

The Geauga Commissioner's decision withdraw funding from the Geauga Growth Partnership was a wise one and should be commended as responsible government. As laudable as the work of the GGP is, to continue funding a venture that benefits only 7% of the existing 1700 businesses in Geauga would have been a stark example of the cronyism delusion Allen sees in the decision.

Also troubling is Allen's acceptance of the media's characterization on who and what the TEA Party is and what they represent. American politics is burdened by big money from lobbyists and special interests with an undue influence on the peoples’ representatives. Americans should ask the question made famous by TV shrink Dr. Phil, "How's that working out for you?" Are you satisfied with the direction politicians are moving America?

The grassroots TEA Party movement is seen as a threat to the entrenched political parties Republicans and Democrats alike and thus is the continual target of smear campaigns and misrepresentation of its ideals.

The Geauga County TEA Party defends "Faith, Family and Freedom". We recognize the U.S. Constitution as the supreme law of the land and believe it must be adhered to without exception at all levels of government. This includes the Bill of Rights and other Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and their provisions designed to protect states’ rights and individual liberties. It would be enlightening to learn, as an elected member of the Geauga Republican Central Committee, which of the TEA Party goals Allen disagrees with. We are a peaceful movement. We respect other's opinions and views even though they do not agree with our own. We stand by the TEA Party beliefs and goals and choose to focus our energies on ensuring that our government representatives do the same. To find more about who we are please visit our website by googling "Geauga County Tea Party" or attending one of our monthly meetings or special events.

Finally, Allen should be cautious about whose tactics he is employing when defaming other hardworking Americans concerned about the country we will leave for our children and grandchildren. Saul Alinski in his book "Rules for Radicals" that was dedicated to Lucifer (satan) in Rule #5 states, “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. Should an elected Republican official be using Alinski's Rules in civil discourse?

Denver Sallee

Published March 29, 2015

Dear Senator Eklund,
Thank you for taking the time to visit with us at A Wind in the Woods (Windt im Wald) Farm on Friday, March 27.

We were very proud to show our 10K Bergey wind turbine, the result of over three years in court (10A001299) with final resolution in May 2013 as a result of the 11th District Court of Appeals reversal of December 24, 2012. Since ours is not the only example of Auburn Township's violation of ORC 519.21 (Schabel v Troyan, 10G002953, 10G002954, and 10G2955, involving Auburn Township's erroneous attempts to zone and to dismantle the Auburn Twin Oaks Winery, a clear case of viticulture as agriculture), it begins to become more than a bit evident that Auburn Township has disregarded and circumvented the Ohio Legislature's considerable ongoing efforts to protect Ohio farms and farmers from unwarranted attacks on civil liberties and property rights. We were therefore gratified to be able to discuss the erroneous use of Geauga County taxpayer dollars by the Prosecutor's Office and Assistant Prosecutor Bridey Matheney to violate our property rights and ultimately to cause the loss of a $30,000 Department of Development grant that was awarded to us through our very diligent efforts.

It is imperative that you be aware of this kind of disenfranchisement when it comes time for retiring judges Fuhry and/or Burt to be replaced with a Republican Central Committee member. As we are all aware, Matheney was appointed a member of the Central Committee by Nancy McArthur. It is important for the good of Geauga County that injustices created as a result of a legal involvement by Matheney follow her and come to bear, as she reportedly aspires for lucrative appointments at the county level of government.

We were pleased additionally to bring discussion on several other topics:

1) Your introduction of SB 118, which we were pleased to read. We were pleased that enactment of this bill would provide tremendous financial relief to Geauga County residents. Nevertheless, it is important to realize that, depending on the age and quality of septic systems tested (i.e., those systems over 40 year old), failure of these systems can likely bring success results beneath the mandatory 90%. Perhaps there is a way to deal with that conflict by adding a phrase or clause which might help provide a contingency in a year when the testing of many very old systems threatens removal from the benefits proposed by SB 118 and its companion bill hopefully to be introduced in the Ohio Senate.

Secondly, the language of the bill currently provides no way for Geauga County to regain its status of exemption from state septic regulations once its success rate falls below 90%. It would be beneficial to have a clause that provides for remediation practices that permit the county to return to the privileges of exemption from the state septic regulations in effect on January 1, 2015. including language in SB 118, such as the use of five- or ten-year running average (for demonstration of valid and reliable test outcomes) of septic results, would be of great benefit to Geauga County homeowners faced with the onerous burden of prohibitively expensive replacement septic systems.

2)Our concerns about conscientious and responsible manure management by "small" and "large" ag alike remain very important to us. We have engaged in responsible manure management for twenty years and have been fortunate to use our own carefully aged manure for our own crops. We are fearful that negligent practices of other farmers, including some local Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations (CAFOs) might result in our being sanctioned for no other reason than we, like the big operations, are "farmers." Responsible manure management for the purpose of conserving and protecting our natural waterways is imperative for all of us and for the future generations to whom we leave the legacy of Planet Earth.

3) Income tax versus sales tax as a source of income in Ohio remains an important concern. Thank you for addressing those thoughts.

4) The Heartbeat Bill is of vital concern to many Ohioans. We thank you for your initial politeness in listening to the comments, although it was later disappointing to hear you indicate you did not want to hear any more. As an elected official, you many encounter many thoughts that you do not personally agree with, but listening to the inputs of voters may be of critical importance to determining your final decisions in an election year. This may wind up being a more important issue than you realize as you embark on Town Hall meeting format in your targeted phone campaigns.

5) The issue of Common Core is a rallying point for many voters in Geauga County. As a former teacher who still stresses academic excellence and the promulgation of critical thinking as foundations for the well-being of Ohio within the Republic, Diane, as well as the others present share the concern that the continued existence of Common Core raises more questions and creates more problems than it resolves. We
definitely need your clarification on this issue before your election campaign.

One of the topics that we did not get to discuss was Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County-based Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) that currently controls Lake, Lorain, Medina,and Geauga Counties for distribution of federal funds by ODOT for road and bridge projects. As you may be aware, a large number of Geauga residents are most aware of the outrageous annual expense for Geauga County to belong to an organization that provides a pathetic distribution for Geauga highway projects. We would like to talk to you again about ways in which it is possible for Geauga County to leave NOACA in search of a venue that would provide a better opportunity for Geauga residents to improve highways, especially roads in the Amish community. As you may be aware, there have been many accidents on roadways in Amish areas that have destroyed horses as well as human lives. Knowing our commitment to our farm and our horses, most of whom we have bred ourselves, perhaps it may be easier for you to understand our commitment to our Amish neighbors' way of life and their reliance on their equine transportation.

Members of our contingency hope to visit you in the near future in Columbus, where we can present these and some other ideas. Those of us you met at A Wind in the Woods are part of a larger Geauga contingency who are passionately dedicated to bringing long-needed improvements to governance. For way too long Geauga County voters were unfairly subject to the whims of appointee after appointee in your Senate district with no opportunity to impact any outcomes for our well-being. We are grateful for the good start that Friday's meeting initiated. We look forward to continuing this mission.

We wish you and yours a blessed Easter season.

Diane and Tom

Governor Kasich’s budget 2nd largest in state history

Governor Kasich’s last Biennial budget was 62 billion dollars, and the 2nd largest in state history. The revenue to achieve this pork laden budget was siphoned away from townships, cities and school districts. Local governments lost half of their local government fund. Many school districts faced cuts of 20%.

Ancient history would reveal that a decade ago the 2005 state budget was 51.3 billion dollars, and at the time the largest in state history. Currently Governor Kasich would like appropriations to be 72.3 billion dollars, and have actual spending at 69.5 billion. For those counting, this is nearly a 40% increase in state spending in a decade!

Local governments and school districts across Ohio are “Levy tired”. Governor Kasich’s tax and spend proposals have tax payers turning 50 shades of purple trying to follow his budget shell game. What is really fiscally irresponsible with the Governor’s latest Robin Hood logic? If you support your local schools by supporting tax levies, you lose state funding to those school districts that don’t pass levies.

Governor Kasich is good at spending other governments’ money and then lecturing them to suck it up. Here’s a better suggestion: Cut your bloated state spending by practicing what you preach.

Sagamore Hills Township Trustees
Paul Schweikert (330.467.4970)
David DePasquale (330.908.0520)
John Zaccardelli (330.468.3532)

Published January 1, 2015


In answer to Mr. Leech and others who are shocked and very angry about the termination of Tom Curtin as the executive director of Geauga Park District, I say that you should get your facts straight.

The park district Board of Commissioners chose not to renew his contract when it expires on Dec. 31. He was placed on paid administrative leave through the end of his contract; he was not terminated.

In the year that I have been a park commissioner, my eyes have been opened to several examples of wrongdoing, some of which may have happened under Mr. Leechs watch.
I attempted to get to the bottom of one such matter when I opened an investigation into the handling of the Felkin Estate by the executive director. I had begun to hear what I thought were wild allegations about cars being buried and firearms misplaced.

None of the storied added up and I suggested that the board should have an impartial, independent investigation done by someone outside the county who had no vested interest in the matter. The investigation yielded astounding information and was a large factor in our decision not to renew Mr. Curtins contract.

Some of the findings were that a car with its tires still on it was ordered buried by Tom Curtin at the Felkin property on Bradford Drive in Munson Township. The Felkins personal property, which was left to the park district by Donald and Dorothy Felkin, was never probated and the estate could have been contested. Firearms, including a Thompson submachine gun, that were part of the estate were negligently mishandled and to this day have not been adequately accounted for.

The park districts legal counsel advised the director to rectify the probate issue in 2008 but was ignored. Federal, state and local laws, as well as park regulations, were broken.
This happened several years ago and was not corrected until after the investigation was just recently completed. Mr. Curtin did not feel that any of these issues were serious, but two of the three park commissioners did.

After much thought and consideration, Mike Petruziello and I voted not to renew Tom Curtins contract after its expiration, as we felt it was in the best interests of both the park district and Mr. Curtin himself to end our relationship.

Mr. Leechs opinion that there were no grounds for this action is ridiculous. Public officials must be held to a high ethical standard. As park commissioners, it is our duty to uphold these high standards on behalf of the taxpayers of Geauga County and not try to simply sweep such issues under the rug.

Nicholas Fischbach
GPD Commissioner

The only things shocking about the letter from John Leech, a former Geauga Park District commissioner, in last weeks paper is Mr. Leechs failure to tell your readers he is the president of an organization that is seeking to receive over a $100,000 fee from the park district. That sum is quite an incentive to want to keep a friendly park director. One wonders how much Mr. Leechs other organization received of taxpayers money when he was sitting as director of both boards at the same time?

Mr. Leech served on the Geauga park board, but did nothing when the park district under Tom Curtins leadership illegally buried a car on park property and converted private property without going through the probate court, as required by Ohio Law.

Also, while Mr. Curtin was director, the park district wasted over $400,000 of Geauga County taxpayers money on a mishandled employment matter, with much of that money going to attorneys. Isnt Mr. Leech a lawyer?

Former Park Commissioner Leech, where were you when all this happened? Didnt you, as a watchdog for the people of Geauga County, have a duty to supervise Mr. Curtin more closely?

At least the park commissioners appointed by Judge Tim Grendell are doing their job and protecting Geauga County taxpayers from these types of shenanigans.

From the Geauga taxpayers perspective, it looks like the two commissioners who voted not to renew Mr. Curtins one-sided contract of well over $100,000 including benefits made the right decision.

Robert and Esther Laczko
Chardon Township