Menu

Waterworks Park and agriculture run off big topics at Redfern town hall meeting

Redfern speaking at a previous town hall meeting.

On March 17 at 10 a.m. Ohio State Representative Chris Redfern held a bi-monthly town meeting at the Ida Rupp Public Library. Two Port Clinton city council members, a Portage Township trustee, and a school superintendent and treasurer were just a few people in attendance at the open forum meeting.

The first topic for discussion, a widely known hot topic for Port Clinton residents, was Waterworks Park and the development of that area. Redfern said that he and Senator Randy Gardner have had discussions about the project and they agree that something needs to be done to further the future of Port Clinton just as surrounding places such as Huron and Sandusky have done.

“We are here to help you with what you need,” said Redfern. “There are programs out there to help fund these projects. We are here to back you.”

Redfern did heed a warning about the project, though.

“If we apply, we ought not to walk it back,” said Redfern. “We might not get a third of forth chance at this.” He continued, “Personal feelings aside, you went before and got this money and then didn’t use it. If you go back again, you better have your act together.”

Another hot topic and growing concern was discussed; agricultural runoff. Redfern said that next week the house is voting on legislation that would strengthen the Department of Agriculture and farmers’ relationship towards education. Anyone who purchases fertilizer in bulk will have to go through an education program.

“This will not change overnight,” said Redfern. “The Lake Erie watershed is thousands of square miles, it will take time. There are 300 different types of soil in Ohio. Each ditch, every tributary needs to be treated with the upmost importance. Lake Erie doesn’t just begin down the river in Oak Harbor, it starts at the watershed: Upper Sandusky, Canton, etc. Everything north from the watershed flows into the lake.”

The controversial wind turbines along the lake shore were another topic on the table. A resident brought up that the guidelines for citing of wind turbines are voluntary. She wanted to know what action could be taken to make these guidelines universal across the board so this kind of situation can’t happen. 

“The project has been halted,” said Redfern, “because not only the state government but, more importantly, the federal government spoke up saying that the turbines could hurt protected species.”

There was also discussion about the projected Canadian nuclear waste site along the shores of the Great Lakes. The resident who brought up the topic also pointed out that a crack was found in the concrete of the reactor. She said that the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) was not holding a public meeting about the subject and she just wanted to keep the Great Lakes free of nuclear waste.

“I can see no reason why FirstEnergy or anyone wouldn’t want to have a public meeting on the subject,” said Redfern.

The resident reminded those in attendance that the NRC takes calls from citizens suggesting they have a public meeting.

The last subject discussed at the meeting was Common Core in schools. Common Core is the guidelines every school has to follow to ensure students are all reaching the curriculum suggested for their grade level.

The discussion led to the conclusion that maybe the one test standard isn’t the best way to judge a student or a school’s accomplishments.

“We should be able to question authority,” said Redfern. “I am worried about support for teachers… and not financial support.”

Other topics briefly discussed were state taxes, Ohio’s Sunshine Law, widening State Route 2 between Camp Perry and Toledo and the condition of the viaducts under the railroad tracks in town.

Chris Redfern holds town meetings throughout his districts, Erie and Ottawa Counties, so he can listen to constituents’’ ideas, questions and concerns.

Read more...

Developing Waterworks Park is like casino gambling

On March 11 Port Clinton City Council was presented with an impossibly optimistic economic impact study for the proposed Waterworks Park development. The Ottawa County Improvement Corporation and FirstEnergy made a presentation based on a computer software program called IMPLAN®, data from the area and the project was fed into a computer and out popped the numbers. 

According to the numbers fed into the IMPLAN® software the city would collect, after time, $7.8 million dollars in property, sales, income and bed taxes per year. The State of Ohio, after time, would collect $4 million dollars in taxes. Now that seems like a lot of taxes, but they surely won’t be coming from the supposed 585 people making an average yearly income of $18,803 because they don’t pay very much in taxes, nor will they have any money to spend the new development. This sounds like the “rich get richer” from our Waterworks Park and to quote former Judge Moon “we are all the poorer for it”.

“You can use all the quantitative data you can get, but you still have to distrust it and use your own intelligence and judgment,” Alvin Toffler.

Mayor Vince Leone asked if the software was proven in other communities, if there were examples of other projects showing its reliability. Councilman Aukerman identified the “poverty level” incomes of the new jobs created and asked if the study could tell us what additional costs there will be to support our community. Councilman Snider unfortunately said the wrong thing,”earliest possible timeframe” which sounded like a rush to judgment. Our newest at-large councilman, Lisa Sarty, loved the “black and white” information. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy and we may all be seeing red if you make the wrong decision.   

In theory people are rational and they make complete calculations to reach the right and wise decision. In reality people make decisions with personal biases that find a way into the process of decision-making. City Council needs to recognize and avoid these personal biases--the selective search for evidence, the premature termination of search for evidence, source credibility bias, selective perception, prejudice, wishful thinking, optimism, choice-supportive bias, incremental decision making and escalating commitment, underestimating uncertainty, the illusion of control, group think and peer pressure.

“A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.” Plato

According to the March 7 News-Herald article “Casino Revenues Fall Short”, during  Ohio’s first year with four operating casinos, revenues are $1 billion dollars short of campaign promises, leaving county and school officials with significantly smaller tax payouts. (Hope Port Clinton City Schools was not relying on that money to build a new school). Alan Silver, a gambling industry expert and Ohio University assistant professor, said there was nothing nefarious about casinos’ promises. Predicting revenue for a new industry is simply difficult to do, he said. “Anytime you do studies, you’re shooting in the sky,” Silver said. Rob Walgate, vice president of the anti-gambling American Policy Roundtable thinks what “we’ve seen is a lot of false promises here. They can’t hit the numbers that they promised. They lied.”

The State of Ohio in its desire for a better economy made decisions based on quantitative data to allow gambling in the State. According to the American Gaming Association, the gaming industry relies on the well-known and widely used IMPLAN® Model for economic impact studies.

So developing Waterworks Park is a lot like casino gambling if you’re betting on the numbers. The message to Port Clinton is the numbers don’t lie, they just fall short.  

Victoria Clemons
C.O.R.D. 
Citizens Organized for Responsible Development
www.savewaterworkspark.org

Read more...

Special meeting of council held for presentation by Washington Properties

On March 6 at 6 p.m. a special meeting of council was held in the city council chambers for a presentation by Mike Rose of Washington Properties. All members of council were present (Ron Aukerman of Ward 1, Jerry Tarolli of Ward 2, Margaret Phillips of Ward 3, Gabe Below of Ward 4, Nicole DeFreitas council at large, Lisa Sarty council at large, and Mike Snider council at large) except President of Council Linda Hartlaub and Clerk of Council Leigh Sprenger who were out because of illness. City Auditor Cole Hatfield acted as clerk and Mike Snider acted as president. Mayor Vince Leone was also present at the table for the meeting.

“This is a hot topic for the city of Port Clinton,” said Mayor Leone as the meeting was starting. “Due to input from the community the rendering (of the plan) has changed.”

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed