The Regular Meeting of the Eastlake City Council was held at Eastlake City Hall, 35150 Lakeshore Boulevard. The Meeting was called to order by Council President
Mr. D’Ambrosio at approximately 7:01 p.m.
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
Members of Council in attendance were Mr. Hoefle, Mr. Licht, Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins, Mr. Evers, Ms. DePledge, Ms. Vaughn and Council President Mr. D’Ambrosio. Also attending was Council Clerk Mrs. Cendroski.
Those attending from the Administration were Mayor Morley, Law Director Klammer, Finance Director Slocum, CBO Menn, Service Director Rubertino, City Engineer Gwydir, Police Chief Reik and Fire Chief Whittington.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Regular Council Meeting– October 28, 2014
MOTION: Ms. Vaughn moved to approve the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of October 14, 2014. Mr. Licht seconded.
ROLL CALL: Yeas: Ms. Vaughn, Ms. DePledge, Mr. Licht, Mr. Evers, Mr. Hoefle,
Abstain: Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins
Motion carried. The minutes were approved.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
COUNCIL PRESIDENT’S REPORT – Mr. D’Ambrosio
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Its difficult being here this evening knowing what is happening to our City and knowing what is happening to our employees. I am disappointed in the outcome of our proposed income tax increase and that only 44% of the registered voters came out to vote.
So, now we need to make cuts and lay off employees and 15 good people are going to lose their jobs. I have been told we need to bring in more business to our City and I agree with that statement. But, if our residents are not willing to support our City and rejected the last 10 levies why should any business want to move into our City and call this home?
I have been told we need to pick up leaves regardless of the vote. Well, that is an Administrative decision due to the layoffs that are occurring and for the limited manpower we are going to have and I do support that decision. Leaves will be the least of our problems, especially picking up the leaves. Wait until a real emergency takes place. Our safety forces are going to be crushed and crippled by the loss of jobs and yes, someone may lose their life because we are not going to have enough people to be in place where they need to be.
I know this to be a fact and we did our best to get the word out to our residents. Gazette articles as far back as July stated the severity of our financial position and every month until that mentioned it. There were also phrases such as “devastating cuts” used in those articles.
I realize being a member on Council that I have a duty and responsibility to the City. I also realize I have a duty and responsibility to our residents. 44% of our registered voters voted and 60% of them made it clear for the 10th time that a tax increase is not an option. Though I disagree with the decision I do respect the vote and I feel we need to abide by it at this time.
I would like to thank you for listening and coming tonight. I would also like to thank all veterans. It is Veterans’ Day today and I thank all the veterans who made the sacrifices for our country and for our freedom. It is people like you who made life easier and simpler for people like me.
The next Council-as-a-Whole Committee Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. The Regular Council meeting will be convened immediately following the adjournment of the Council-as-a-Whole Committee meeting.
COMMUNICATIONS & PETITIONS
Fee waiver requests were received from Eastlake Girl Scout Troop #70471 for use of the Community Center on Sunday, October 19th from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and the Eastlake Women’s Club for use of the Community Center on Sunday, November 30, 2014 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for an Evening with Santa.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: First of all, the Eastlake Women’s Club mistakenly filed. They need no fee waiver because it is a City event – a Christmas Party. Everyone in the City is welcome to come. As far as the fee waiver for the Girl Scouts – I have a difficult time granting a fee waiver at this time. We are laying off people and while I support the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and every other organization like that I feel it is best not to grant any fee waivers at this time. If someone during Committee reports wants to make a Motion to grant the fee waiver you are more than welcome to do that.
Mr. Licht: I would like to make the Motion.
A liquor license request was received from Moran Foods, LLC dba Save a Lot, 33693 Vine Street, Eastlake.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: There were no objections from the Administration – if there are no objections a Motion will be made during Committee reports to approve this.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: No Committee meetings were held:
Fee Waiver Request
Mr. Licht: I am of the belief that this had already taken place – it was prior to the election – and while I somewhat agree with Mr. D’Ambrosio’s analogy that it should not be passed because of the cuts we have to make I also think this would have passed if they had asked for it before the election. I would like to see it go through.
Girl Scout Troop #70471
Mr. Licht moved to approve the fee waiver request from Eastlake Girl Scout Troop #70471 for use of the Community Center on Sunday, October 19th from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins seconded.
ROLL CALL: Yeas: Mr. Licht, Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins, Ms. DePledge
Nays: Mr. Evers, Mr. Hoefle, Ms. Vaughn, Mr. D’Ambrosio.
Motion fails. The fee waiver request is denied.
Liquor License Request
Mr. Licht moved to approve the liquor license request for Moran Foods, LLC dba Save a Lot, 33693 Vine Street, Eastlake, OH. Mr. Evers seconded.
ROLL CALL: Yeas unanimous.
Motion carried. The liquor license request is approved.
FINANCE COMMITTEE – Ms. Vaughn, Chair
Ms. Vaughn: I would like to let everyone know that we will be having a Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at which time we will be discussing the current budget to see where we stand for the rest of this year.
PORT AUTHORITY – Ms. DePledge, Liaison
Ms. DePledge: The Port Authority will be meeting tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m. They have two vacancies that will open up at the end of the year so we are looking for appointments to the Port Authority. If anyone is interested submit your resume to the Mayor, City Council or Mr. Sima, President of the Port Authority and your application will be considered to join the Board.
ECONOMIC & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL – Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins, Chair
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: I would like to take the opportunity to thank our veterans – all the ladies and gentlemen who have served our Country in so many ways. Thank you. An Economic & Community Development Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
RECOGNITION OF THE PUBLIC
Mr. D’Ambrosio recognized the public input at this time; he reminded the speakers that there is a 3-minute limit for their comments; all comments are to be directed to the Chair and not include any personalities or individuals.
Ted Taubert, 371 Northcoast Point, Eastlake
Mr. Taubert: After what I have heard so far I don’t know whether I can ask for anything. It does not sound good. I would like to know if the City has any plans to clean and maintain Corporation Creek since it is the storm sewer for all the properties on Erie Road. I also wonder why the City would issue building permits for units with basements when the property is only a few feet higher than Lake Erie. That is why the condition of Corporation Creek is so important. It is a sewer and if it was any other kind of sewer than a creek I am sure it would be cleaned out but it just happens to be a stream that needs attention.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Mr. Taubert, I know you have asked us to address this over the last few months and that is great – we thank you for coming. I know that Service Director Rubertino has talked to you on occasions where we have gone and cleaned out certain areas of Corporation Creek. We will try to continue to do what we can. As you know there will be significant cuts in personnel especially in the Service Department. CBO Menn, maybe you can address the permits Mr. Taubert mentioned.
Mr. Menn: I am assuming he may be talking about the original developments that were built quite a ways back.
Mr. Taubert: Yes. That was in 2002.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: We would have to look into records, Mr. Menn, to see what you can get on it. If you could get back to Mr. Menn during the week he may have some information.
Mr. Taubert: The builder had building permits.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: I am sure they did.
Mr. Taubert: The buildings were never inspected.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: We will check to see if there is record of that.
Mr. Taubert: I know that.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Thank you for coming. And, thank you for serving.
Tracy Collins, 34424 Euclid Avenue, Willoughby
Ms. Collins: My name is Tracy Collins. I am not an Eastlake resident but I work in this City and I pay 2% of my gross earnings to the City of Eastlake, and I was certainly willing to pay the extra half % had it passed. I’m here tonight to address the subject of revoking the reciprocity practice in order to save the City services that last week’s levy defeat has jeopardized and therefore left all the residents voters or not–endangered. I understand there is hesitancy to revoke the reciprocity practice because in some minds it might be thought of as an additional tax. I have been of service to public sector payrolls for the better part of 30 years and am fairly well acquainted with the practice. Briefly, I’d like to offer the Mayor and City Council a different perspective regarding the reciprocity itself.
City income tax reciprocity was designed as a bonus, granted to the residents of a city that had a healthy budget and a solid tax base, as was free garbage pick-up, curb recycling, and free ambulance service. Eastlake offered those services and local tax reciprocity during another time in Eastlake’s economic history; and again, were perks, not entitlements for the residents who work outside of Eastlake. In the present, it is blatant that Eastlake does not have a healthy or solid economy. Garbage pick-up, recycling, and ambulance services are now paid for outright, and Eastlake can no longer afford to grant the luxury of a tax reciprocity program.
Another reason for hesitancy may be the idea that as Ward/City wide representatives, it is thought that of the residents that voted last week, 60% of those voters don’t want to spend another cent, and you as their designated representatives feel you must honor their wishes. That is certainly understandable and noble. However, this is not for a new pool, or playground toys or luxury items, additional things. If that were the case then yes, the people have spoken and in ordinary circumstances that’s the end of it.
But the average resident may have failed to realize that it is the preservation of basic life saving services, police and fire response, street maintenance & plowing, that a revocation of the reciprocity practice will ensure. Yes, the seven Council seats and the Mayor have a responsibility to represent their electorate. However, the top priority of each and all of our City leaders is the health and welfare of the entire population of Eastlake—voters or not–without which there would be no residents and no need for elected officials. Just as when one has a sick child who wants to avoid the doctor and a shot at all cost; the responsible party takes the child to the doctor for the shot, and even if the child holds a grudge for the duration of childhood, the fact is that because of that shot that child is alive and well and able to hold a grudge.
“Government is instituted for the common good for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people and not for profit, honor, or private interest of one man, one family, or class of men.” President John Adams spoke those words over 200 years ago, and they are just as true today as they were in the 18th century.
In closing, may I say that even if I didn’t know what was best for me and my city, I would hope that my city council would put aside any fears, aspirations, and inner conflicts however warranted they may be, and have the courage and vision to do what is vital to protect and preserve my city—even if it’s from me!
Christine Ball, 907 Center Road, Eastlake
Mrs. Ball: My name is Christine Ball. I reside at 907 Center Rd. I have been a resident of this City for 10 years. I also happen to be an employee of this City. Along with 14 others, I lost my job yesterday.
As it has been explained to me, only 10% of the population ever requires the help of our fire or police departments. I happen to be one of that 10%. 5 ½ years ago my 50 year old husband died of a massive heart attack in our home. My 10 year old son and I were distraught and in shock. I called 911 – fire and police were there in minutes to help and comfort us. This past week I’ve been wondering will they be able to be there in time for me the next time I need them? Will they be able to be there for you or your families?
I was terrified at the thought of being alone in my home as I had never been alone before and I had a little boy to take care of. Both Larry, Ted and their men assured me that I never had to worry – if I called they’d be right there. From that time on I began to grow safe and secure and feel good about being on my own. I was okay. In this past week, that feeling of safety and security has begun to slip away. This feeling of uneasiness is not new to me. It’s how I felt before I moved here from Collinwood. I was a victim of theft and vandalism on more than one occasion. My son could not play outside. I was constantly afraid. My husband and I wanted our son to grow up in a safe and secure city. Failure of this levy has now taken that feeling of safety and security from all of us.
What will we do not if – but when the next flood, extreme snow storm or other natural disaster occurs? Who will clear our roads? Who will be there to clean up the mess and maintain our equipment to do so?
How will we be able to attract any new business to this City without adequate police and fire protection or the support of a service department?
I know that the Band-Aid that has been slapped on this problem is not the solution. Terminating jobs and devastating the lives of good, honest, hardworking people is not the answer.
I am praying that each and every one of you have the wisdom and more importantly – the courage to make the decision that is necessary to help save this City. Popularity, personal agendas and aspirations need to be set aside. You need to do what is right for the residents and the employees of this City. It is your responsibility as elected members of Council to do so. I thank you for your time.
Michelle Harth, 1282 Hulett Avenue, Eastlake
Ms. Harth: My name is Michelle and I recently got married and live in the City with my husband and our three dogs. I work as a Victims Advocate in the Police Department. I became familiar with the program when I completed an internship in 2010. Once my internship was finished I knew I wanted to help people for a living because growing up I was in similar situations. February, 2015 would mark my 2 years in the Department and I have to say it has been some of the best years of my life. Unfortunately I will no longer be employed due to cuts on November 30th from the job I absolutely love. I want to thank my bosses, volunteers and fellow employees for doing the absolute best at spreading the word about the levy on their days off in the cold. The truth is in the end we are a family. I feel blessed to have gotten the opportunity to work for the City and most importantly help it. I will never forget the people here and how hard everyone works to keep the City doing its best. It was an honor to work with such amazing people and I hope maybe one day I can reunite with everyone and continue to help this Community. Thank you.
Barb Bard, 1290 East 343rd Street, Eastlake
Mrs. Bard: I was employed here and will be for the next two weeks I guess. I really want to understand one thing about this whole ordeal. That is how is laying off the lowest paid and probably hardest working employees will save this City any kind of money? Are there people who could possibly retire and who are probably at higher salaries? Why the little people? I know a lot of it is because of Unions but it has been done time and time again that people who have been in Unions and are of retiring age have been laid off. I am not sure exactly what the little people – this little thing – is going to do for you guys or for the City. Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins, you have been talking…
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Let’s try to keep personalities…
Mrs. Bard: What I am saying is you want to save money – how could you save money laying off the lowest paid people?
Mr. D’Ambrosio: You did hit on some of it. I know the Unions have a scale they have to go by. Mayor, do you have a comment. I know the Departments decided…
Mayor Morley: Unfortunately, the bulk of the budget – 70% – is in the employees. So when we have to reduce costs it is unfortunately the employees.
Mrs. Bard: The lowest paid ones.
Mayor Morley: We are going by the Union rules as to how people will be laid off. Over the last so many cuts it have always been Police, Fire and Service. That is all that has been done. Whether people agree with the way I have asked the Directors to look at their Departments – I understand not one Director agrees with these layoffs – we understand that. We are looking at an $800,000 – $1 million deficit in 2015. These employee costs that we are reducing are almost $900,000 for the 15 employees. I understand the employees have been talking that we should put the reciprocity in. We have a democratic position of having people vote. Whether we agree that only 44% came out and voted – the vote is the vote unfortunately and the vote was no for the 10th time in a row. I understand what people are saying – you need to just do it – the residents need to be helped because they do not understand. We had approximately 90 people for 4 town hall meetings. My phone calls all week were that we were not telling people anything. As the Council President said we have been telling people for 4 months. We said what we were going to do. Everyone said it was a threat. I put out a letter – it was a threat. People told me they voted no just because of threats. These cuts we said we were going to do – we are going to do. That is what we have to do. I am sorry for that. Since we announced the layoffs and have looked in the employees faces – I get it. But, the people voted and basically you want us to overturn want people voted for – they said no. For us to say you voted no but we are going to reduce the reciprocity. At this time I don’t think so. Everyone knows what I have said. We go the year. People are saying we need to put the levy back on. I don’t want to put the levy back on. They told us no. Willoughby Hills does not have full reciprocity, Willowick does not have full reciprocity but I feel to put it in right now after a vote is – we are trying to get the City of Eastlake government some credibility and that will destroy the credibility of this City even more than it already is. I know our employees do not understand that but the people have spoken whether we agree with what they said or not – it is 10 times in a row that it is no. That is where I am coming from. I apologize for that. I apologize to every employee I have to talk to about the layoff. But, unfortunately, when the budget is 70% salaries that is what we have to do and I am sorry again.
Mrs. Bard: But there are people in the City that are not in a Union or at the top of the Union who can retire.
Mayor Morley: I can’t force…
Mrs. Bard: You are not answering my questions, Sir.
Mayor Morley: We can’t force people to retire. It is against the law.
Mrs. Bard: How about Karen …
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Please don’t use people’s names.
Mrs. Bard: I am just saying you have done it before so you cannot stand here and tell me you haven’t.
Mayor Morley: I have not done that. I looked to try to go across the board this time and that is what I did. I understand it is not favorable. I understand that.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: No one is happy about this.
Mrs. Bard: I know. I have lost my husband in the last 4 years and am losing my job at 60 years old and I am also losing my house because you are laying me off. There are other people who can be laid off and asked to leave who make a lot of money and you are picking on the little people. Thank you.
Ms. DePledge: I am not really sure if I am speaking out of turn. This is a little unusual. First, I would like to thank you all for coming. I am wondering where you were a year ago when we needed you. If you are surprised in this room it is on you because every person on this panel has known for years that this was coming and we have done everything we can to try to avoid it. 10 levies. They have said no. You want to know how to make change? You want to know how to change our opinions? Go out. Get a petition. Get 4,000 voter signatures and bring it back here to us. Override what the voters who showed up on Election Day did. But, that is on you. We have done time and time again – put everything out there. The budget is online – meetings are online. The cuts that we made in 2010 – this should have been a huge wakeup call. That was a horrible day. This is a horrible day. I am concerned because now our safety forces are in jeopardy. Before they were thin but now they are at risk just for doing their jobs – greater jeopardy. It is horrifying to me. It should be horrifying to everyone. It should motivate all of you to try to do what we have been trying to do for the last two or three years. You should not be surprised. Thank you.
Tracy Collins, 34424 Euclid Avenue, Willoughby
Ms. Collins: In answer to Council’s statement just now I would like to say – and I am not specifying this Council – but had Council itself 5 Council’s ago shot down reciprocity we would never have had the layoffs in 2004 and 2010. So, I understand we should work our butts off again and I agree but it is all because 7 people not necessarily you 7 or any of you. You did not do this years ago when it should have been done and now we are in the jackpot. So, yes I do agree we have to work our butts off again but it is not all on us. Thank you.
Ms. DePledge: We are in this together. I did not mean for anyone to think otherwise. We are in this for you. We need you. We need you. Now is the time.
Mr. Taubert, 371 Northcoast Point, Eastlake
Mr. Taubert: I was at the service this morning at the Blvd. of Flags. I have been too many such services over the years whether it is the 4th of July or whatever. There is a very noticeable absence of citizens of Eastlake. If it was not for the VFW, the American Legion and a few motorcycles there would be practically no one there. Something needs to be done to get the people of this City enthused about their City so they come out to these functions and make it noticeable.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: If I could just say one thing about the reciprocity and maybe this would address something you said Ms. Collins. I was elected in 2005 and I attended Eastlake’s Council meetings for 5 years before I decided to run. I believe it was in 2002 because I had Mrs. Cendroski look for the minutes – but in 2002 reciprocity was put in place at .25% for one year and in 2004 we laid off 12 people anyway. So, I don’t know if that was the answer then but I don’t think it is the answer now. I wanted to bring that up and I am sure you probably knew about that – that did happen back then – it was for a year and was for .25% and we still ended up laying off 12 people which was difficult.
Ted Beres, 36706 Lakehurst Drive, Eastlake
Mr. Beres: In the midst of bad news I have some good news. We have a new grandma in the house. Jeannie and her husband Jim became grandparents for the first time and they have a beautiful granddaughter. And, Phil, Jeannie’s father is a great grandfather for the fifth time. I am sure Jeannie will want to show you pictures after the meeting. I just wanted to say congratulations to Jeannie, Jim and Phil.
Sharon Poole, 912 Center Road, Eastlake
Ms. Poole: Ms. DePledge, what do you want us to do?
Ms. DePledge: Go get petitions. Go get signatures. Go get voters. Bring it back to us. Make it a mandate. People change government every day. You have the power to change what is going on here. We have a responsibility to the people, we have a responsibility to the voters, and we have a responsibility to everyone in this room. And if you think that any of us are happy here tonight you are mistaken. Go out. Get a petition. Get 4,000 signatures and bring it back here. People change government every day. You have the power to change what happened.
Ms. Poole: And I will do that. You know that.
Ms. DePledge: I will go with you door to door and I will answer every question that every resident has and if I don’t know the answer I will get it for them and I will go back the next day to get the signature on the petition. That is how important this is.
Ms. Poole: I walked Stevens Blvd…
Ms. DePledge: I will walk it with you – I will walk with anyone.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Count me in – I will help.
Ms. Poole: Thank you.
Ms. DePledge: I will get a petition together. I will get it together and draft it and copy it on my office paper so I won’t use a City dime. I will make sure it is appropriate and if we get 4,000 signatures and a citizen presents it to Council and the Mayor and we will go from there. It may not be the right answer but it will be persuasive. It starts with the people.
Mr. Rubertino: I am not sure if I am out of place or not. I would like to address the situation that the people who are here tonight are out there and have been out there struggling to get this passed. So, these people – 90% of them are employees of this City and residents of this City. Every one of them has been out fighting to get their friends and neighbors to pass that levy. So, to insinuate that they did not come out in the past is not fair. They have been out there. Are they at the Town Hall meetings – no because they know what is going on. They are out there fighting for it and they have fought for it. So, in that respect I respect every one of them who are here tonight because I know for a fact they have been out on the streets fighting to get that levy passed. And unfortunately again we are losing employees. That is the downside all the time.
Katie Havel, 1738 Mayfair Blvd., Mayfield Heights
Mrs. Havel: My husband Anthony is one of the laid off firemen. This is the third time we have gone through this process in 10 years of his career. He started in another city five years ago and we had two babies. Ted Whittington saved our family almost five years ago by offering Anthony this job when he was facing a layoff. Now we have three kids, Abby is 6, Meg is 4½ and Allison is 2. I can’t tell you how much they adore the fact that their father is a firefighter. What a lot of people don’t understand about firefighters is that you don’t just lose a job and you walk into another office and apply for a second job. Some of these men and women are losing their careers. There are age restrictions and some of them, most of them, are under the age of 35 and my husband turned 36 last week. This is devastating to our family. These men and women have been working so hard to get the word out to you public but at the same time our government has a responsibility to work for change as well. You are elected, you are asked to make a change and yet you are throwing the responsibility back on the citizens who I will be honest are not all educated about this. What they see is a number that goes from 2% to 2.5% and they don’t understand the details in what you are asking. And for you to sit up there and tell us that we need to go back and work hard you don’t realize how hard these men and women are. I see these comments on Facebook about – these guys should take cuts – they should cut the fluff – the Unions should give up… do you know how much these men – these men give up everything to save their brothers from being laid off. They give up so much. And it kills me to sit here and watch so many of you say it is your responsibility to handle it. Well they are working. It is your turn to work. Give them that reciprocity – repeal some of that for a short time. You did not ask the voters about reciprocity. You asked them to increase the percentage of the tax. And with all due respect, Mayor, that is a totally different subject to put on the ballot. They have worked their tails off. They put their lives on the line every single day. We are expecting snow this week and God knows we all know it is coming this winter. What happens when those streets aren’t plowed and those accidents are going and these men and women are out their taking care of people and they have five guys on duty – five guys. Please consider being the change that is needed for the City. Consider putting on the ballot repealing some of the reciprocity even if it is for a short time to get us through this. It is a completely different issue. Be the change the people want to see. Thank you.
John Marn, 272 Heather Lane, Eastlake
Mr. Marn: My wife and I definitely voted yes for the percent increase but the hard time I was having with people is everyone is so down on that stadium still – they just can’t get over the stadium and I don’t care if I talk until I am blue in the face. They just keep slamming the stadium back in our faces. That is the problem I have trying to convince people to go ahead and accept this which I see you all needed. We live here and we definitely wanted it. I know what it is like because I work for Willowick. Even if we could do anything to help which I don’t think it could be worked out I would be willing to hand out some time too. But, I don’t think you can get around Union contracts or that kind of stuff. I would be willing to do anything I could to help out because I live here and we love it here.
Stacey McQuigan, 36260 Valley Vista, Eastlake
Mrs. McQuigan: I was not planning on talking at all but because I feel like you guys are getting beat up and I am feeling very frustrated because I did feel as a resident that it was my responsibility to go out and talk and broadcast and make myself available to have discussions with people about facts and not B.S. I understand people have jobs and lives. No one wanted anyone to lose their job. Part of the reason I moved back to this City and I take pride in this City is because of the people who work here and because of the people who keep us safe and because of the passions when both Chiefs stood up during the Town Hall meetings and answered questions anyone had – so did the Mayor and the majority of Council. So did Mr. Slocum, the Service Director, the CBO – everyone was available at all times – here is my number – here is my email – here is my address. If you can’t come to my house I will come to your house – you are not available right now? The majority of you all made yourself available. You put the information out there – you asked us to take accountability as Ms. DePledge said a long time ago. Now that this is happening – now that this really sucks for lack of a better word – now everyone is feeling it. It is no surprise. I wanted to offer the majority of you support – for your transparency when I had a questions and for answering. I called the Mayor the morning of the first Town Hall meeting and said “Are you out of your mind? You are just going to stand there and let people belt questions off at you? How do you know what they are going to ask? How do you know what they are going to say?” He said, “I don’t. None of us do but we have nothing to hide.” The information is readily available for all of you to hear – good, bad or indifferent. The sad part is sitting here now after sitting in a Town Hall – and people were not happy go lucky there – people had things to say – they were unhappy about this or that but there were discussions and people talked about facts and how to make it better. When I look on social media which is obviously what is going on in my generation the residents in this City have amazing ideas – amazing. However, they have to step up – they have to vote – they have to make sure these things happen and yes, you are our elected officials but at the same time the vote did not fail by 10-20-30 votes it failed by 1,100 votes. It wasn’t close. So, obviously your residents spoke. I am sorry you have to see people and we all have to see our residents suffering and losing their jobs – losing their incomes and livelihoods but that is on us. Thank you.
There was no one else who wished to speak.
LEGISLATION PROPOSED – First number will be 2014-070
There was no Legislation Proposed.
There was no Legislation Pending.
There was no Unfinished Business.
There was no New Business.
MAYOR/SAFETY DIRECTOR – Dennis Morley
Mayor Morley: Welcome residents. Welcome employees. First of all I would like to thank all our veterans for their service. As the Council President said without your service we would not be able to assemble here and have these discussions. I would also like to thank everyone for passing the Fire levy renewal. I think that sort of got lost with the Issue 4 on the tax levy. We thank you for the right to keep up and purchase apparatus for the Fire Department. My calls since Wednesday of last week are about – all the calls – have been about the discontinuance of leaf pickup. I listen to everyone and I listen to the employees and understand the Fire Department will have less people; the Police Department will have less people but what we have been saying for the last four months are that we would. The questions are – you are just punishing us – penalizing us – it is in the budget. We do not have a line item for leaf pickup in the budget. It comes to employees. Mr. Rubertino’s Department as of November 30th will lose another five employees. We have other items to do before the layoffs. That is the only reason. There is no punishment. I understand everyone thinks it is a punishment. Everyone believes we blindsided them in not picking up leaves. We are trying to get more signs up throughout the City. We have been saying it. I have been saying it and I don’t want to keep repeating myself – the word severe – I don’t know what the residents believe that the word severe means. Every month since we voted to put it on the ballot we have been trying to tell. I understand the employees. I understand about the reciprocity. We don’t have to go to the ballot on reciprocity. We can reduce that at any time. I believe right now is not the time. What we would be telling our residents who did take the time to vote that your vote does not matter. I told the Directors – and none of them are happy, none of the employees are happy, none of the residents are happy – I understand that. I am here and I will take full responsibility for everything. I do not lay it on Council. I don’t lay it on my Directors. I lay it on me. I did not get the job done because I did not get the word out to our residents to believe the government that we really needed something. So, it is all on me. It is not on the seven of them. It is on me.
Ms. Vaughn: No, it is not you.
Mr. Hoefle: No. We support you. The majority of us.
Mayor Morley: I did not get it done. I did not get it to enough residents. The only thing good that came out of the 90 people who came to the Town Hall meetings is the people who came in as a no were a yes on the way out. So if I could have got 3,500 people to come to the Town Halls this would have passed. We asked all the people who came to the Town Halls to go out and talk to their neighbors and tell them what they learned. As Mrs. McQuigan said – we were available. I would go to someone’s house. The door was open to Mr. Slocum. Even those calling in – no one believes anything I am saying to them. I had residents telling me we were double dipping them on garbage – that the City charges for garbage and then they pay Republic Services. She said it best – Facebook was not our friend. We went on Facebook and put something on the Police website about what the cuts were. They were not threats – it said this could happen – I did not even say this will happen – this could happen because we had the hopes that the levy would pass. I stood at the polls all day and by 4:00 p.m. I told them all maybe this thing will pass. A lot of people were coming up saying the City is changing – you are all working as a team and getting things done – you are getting roads repaired, catch basins, sewers – you are getting done all the important things. I told these guys I never get a complaint about the Police and Fire. The calls we get every day are on Service and Building. We will lose another five employees in Service. The leaves are the first issue that will wake people up. The second will be the snow plowing. We have 4 less people who will be snow plowing this City. I don’t know what more to say. I believe in the voting. If I did not believe in the voting it would be easy for me and the seven of them to say – “Fine, let’s reduce it from 2% to 1.5%.” And the other thing on that which we have not talked about is if we reduce it and as I am hearing on the revolt about the leaves that they will just not pick up the leaves and leave them in the street for the City to deal with – we can’t force people to pay a tax we put in. You don’t want to call it a tax but it is. We reduce it from 2% to 1.5% we are installing a tax and people can say they will not pay it and we can go through the Court system and try to get it in two years but we will still lay off people. Because if we predict we will get $1.1 million by reducing the reciprocity and people say “We did not vote on it – we aren’t paying it” we will still have to lay off. I have told everyone in City Hall this. So, we can reduce it and will still have to lay off people because if we are predicting one amount and half way through the year only collecting $250,000. Some of the Directors say they will pay their taxes but we see too much every day on what we certify right now on the $6 fee and the garbage fees we certified this year. We have certified over $100,000 that we had to send to the Auditor for people who did not pay their garbage fees. Mr. Slocum, what was the number on the $6 fee?
Mr. Slocum: We started with 1,900 accounts and will probably certify somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 accounts.
Mayor Morley: So we certified over 1,000 accounts for the $6 that was not paid. What makes everyone think if we say you are paying us .5% more and they told us – no – that they are going to flock in with the money? I understand. It is painful. Unfortunately in my lifetime I lost three jobs in ten years. I had 24 years at LTV Steel and lost it just like that. I feel for all the employees. I feel for the residents that do not have any money. I feel for the seniors I have been talking to since last Wednesday. But, the vote unfortunately is the vote. As an example if Mr. D’Ambrosio would run for office and he loses but I like him and I say even though they voted him out I am keeping him because I am the Mayor – I don’t want the person who ran against him. That is the way I look at it. Whether you understand or believe it that is the way I look at it. Again, I am sorry. I really am. We will lose another 15 employees spread across the Departments. I am not going to name them to spare them but if people want to talk to me after the meeting do so but they have enough pain.
I met today with the Mayors if Wickliffe, Willowick, Willoughby and Willoughby Hills and the Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce to try to get a consortium of our end of the County to see what we can do in working as a group of Mayors to try to get more businesses into our end of the County. It was our second meeting and went well. Eastlake, Willoughby and Wickliffe are the only ones with tax incentives so we are looking at them to see if there is something we can bring back to the Councils. The Eastlake Women’s Club is having the Evening with Santa on November 30th from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. I am on a Committee with different Chambers, the Republican and Democratic parties, business owners to try to get information out there to try to get things for the Republican Convention. We talked about using the stadium and the Croatian Home. The Radisson has already blocked out rooms for 2016. We are looking to see what else we can do to try to get things here. We have another new company coming in January called Federal Gear. They will be on Lakeland Blvd. We have had a good year with businesses coming in. Over the last few months we have had a good amount of machine shops coming in. That is what we need. We need to get the businesses with jobs and good payrolls. We had one with almost a $2 million payroll. Federal Gear has a ½ million dollar payroll and we have another machine shop with a $1.5 million dollar payroll. This is over the last 10 weeks. We will continue to work to try to get more businesses. This concludes my report and I am open for questions.
There were no questions of Mayor Morley.
FIRE CHIEF – Ted Whittington
Chief Whittington: Like most of you I am disappointed and saddened that once again as a Community we find ourselves eliminating employees and reducing services. Unfortunately this is becoming a pattern that is quite unfortunate. I know Councilwoman DePledge was trying to make a point but I would like to say this on behalf of my people – since we started having problems the Fire Union has really taken the lead in this City to try to do its best. They have made concessions to keep people working and during any negotiations they never bring things to the table and they most certainly take on the responsibility of any other increases they may be burdened with. As far as this levy goes it was the Fire Union that took the lead on this. I know the Council woman was trying to make a point but I think as far as the record goes the Fire Department has been very active in trying to make things better in this Community and I wanted that to be on record. I will be losing three guys. I think that is something I am not afraid to say and I think the focus of my attention over the next couple of weeks will be working with them and their families to try to help them navigate through this tough time. I will also begin to make Administrative and operational changes to reflect the reduction in that staffing. The one thing that is a blessing to everyone here is that place is staffed with very highly dedicated and trained people so when you cut us we work very hard to keep providing a good service. That is the blessing you can take with you. I hear a lot about the 44% of the people who voted and that of those 44% 60% voted no for the levy. Unfortunately I do not have the luxury of taking care of only those 3,000 who voted no. I have an obligation to the 18,000 people who live in this City. I have an obligation to the countless number of people who visit this Community and the people who own businesses in this Community. So, reduction in my people is a reduction in those people also. I hear people say this is what people wanted. We are only focusing on a small group. I think if you talk to business people they are not looking for a reduction in fire service. Their insurance is based on my ability to provide services for them. I also think as elected officials you need to solve this horrible problem because the reduction of personnel and services is a finite solution. You can only do this so many times. I know that the thing about the 10 levies failing should let you know that you need to focus your attention on different ways to improve or change this problem. Again, you can only come to us so many times to reduce people. Someone has to steer the ship. Someone needs to repair the ship. Someone needs to take care of people when they get sick on the ship. Regardless of how many people you cut that still exists every day in this Community. I think that this time around as a divided Council you sent a very strong negative message to our people in this Community. We are all supposed to be working together on this and we are supposed to be moving forward as a group but when you are divided that most certainly hurts us to get things done in this Community and you looked out to the audience and us and said we need to make this work. I am turning back to you now and saying you need to solve this problem and you need to be unified in any resolution you come up with. This concludes my report.
There were no questions of Chief Whittington.
POLICE CHIEF – Larry Reik
Chief Reik: I have never been as well spoken as my counterpart and I will not reiterate a lot of the stuff he brought up about the gutting of the Departments. We do not have the ability to say no we can’t go when you call 9-11. The guys will continue to take bigger pieces of the pie. I concur with the Fire Chief on everything he said. I do appreciate the people who came out and voted for the levy –both the Fire and the City levy. I have received quite a few calls and people have come up to me on the street saying that they supported us and I try to keep my focus on the people who did go out there and support us and make their decision for the City to hold on to the situation we were in. As I was handing out literature and talking to people on the streets I started getting some pretty good feelings about the comments I was getting. I thought we had a vocal minority out there who would say no to anything. As it turned out I greatly misinterpreted the pulse of the Community on this. The hate and attacks and vitriol that you see on Facebook was so disgusting. We opened our Facebook page years ago and the City did one to try to get more information out there. Everything was put on there with specific ways of how to get your questions answered and instead it was 200 comments an hour with 190 of them being horrible. 150 of if those were people outside the City. As many email addresses and phone numbers I put on there and private messages so it would be on Facebook but not public and had not one reply – in all the months not one person called, emailed or sent something on Facebook to say I don’t get it – explain it to me. One lady said at one time that she had tried to reach the Finance Director and they would not call her back. I greatly would argue that point and I was actually working that Sunday and invited her to come in and she never showed up. Once we informed the people what the actual problem was we had some good responses. But if people are going to talk about my $120,000 salary or the Mayor being overpaid and not want to figure out the truth and they want to talk about the average salary of a Service guy or Fireman and compare it to a non-fire, service or police officer it would be a tough comparison to make – we struggle with that type of attitude. I am asking for no pity for any of us. The Mayor has his opinions and he can take care of himself. This is a guy who signed on to try to lead this City knowing the trouble it was in. We have been on this downward roller coaster for a while and some people were thrown off at the end of it. Now I have a lot of great ideas. You don’t need to pity any of us but when people say the Mayor should reduce his salary and not be aware that he started at $20,000 less than has ever been the case – willful information is the problem. This proud City continues to blame a decision that was made four Mayors ago. None of us were here. None of us had any part in that. Most people if not all totally agree with the sentiment that this was wrong and it should not have been done but it was not us. I don’t know how many girlfriends it takes before you stop blaming the girlfriend from high school for what she did to you. You can’t just keep beating up the same people. Ms. DePledge mentioned a grass roots effort – that is what is needed. People do not believe us. They don’t care what I say or Chief Whittington says. They definitely don’t care what the Mayor or Council say because they are all in the pocket or whatever. They believe what their neighbors tell them. I know a lot of you have already worked hard and a lot of employees have already worked hard but it will only be a group from within that will change the attitude of this City. It has been said before and I agree that this Administration is as healthy as it has ever been. In my 23 years here there has never been a group on the same page as we are today and it is unfortunate that the trend keeps taking us downward because we have a lot of good people in place and even greater employees to get that job done. The Departments are greatly understaffed and the employees continue to do the best job they can. The Mayor and Council know my feelings on reciprocity. I know it is a tough call but it is good for the people and the public to let them know how they feel – the 44%, the uninformed and people who didn’t vote to understand how important it is. Let those voices be heard and I think a grass roots effort is the best way. You have people who keep saying to throw this group out and get new people in there. Shortly after the new group comes in they learn the information and understand the situation and ask for money and then they become the new problem. I don’t know how many Mayors, Council, Police Chiefs we have to go through before people finally understand that if we want to be a city like Willoughby, Willowick or Wickliffe those residents pay different amounts. We see five levies go up and this is not to disparage the library – the library is staffed double what the Police Department is. Think about that. There are twice as many people at the library which I will not ask for a show of hands what was the last time anyone here was at a library and that levy passed by 66%. They just “click” hit the lever and move on. The money is going to the County and so many other things. Not to disparage one group or another but do people even realize and I don’t know how to get that message pounded in any further. We will be looking at our services to try to provide the best we can with what we have and I do pray it does not take a tragic event for this City to finally come together and rally around something to arise from within. I am open for questions.
There were no questions of Chief Reik.
CHIEF BUILDING OFFICIAL – David Menn
Mr. Menn: I have nothing to report.
There were no questions of Mr. Menn.
SERVICE DIRECTOR – Nick Rubertino
Mr. Rubertino: Good evening everybody. I am not as strong as the other ones here. I have sentiments. I am losing a guy who has been here 15 years and gives his all – all the time. I am not discrediting what Councilwoman DePledge said. I know every one of you worked hard – they all worked hard too. They are here because they have a need too and we are losing them because of a few votes that have turned against us. And we can’t get that vote. The moral of this City has never been better since this Administration came on here in my 24 years here. And you can go back to the days when Dan DiLiberto was here and everyone loved him. But he also put a dent in us. This Administration and this Council did not create this problem. And I know everyone of you just like everyone of us has worked hard to get this resolved. But again we are losing employees. And for the last few days the biggest problem I have had is from the residents who call and complain because their leaves are not getting sucked up. I am losing 5 more employees. That is 38 employees over 15 years. It is allowing us to get work done that has to get done. I have a $15,000 quote on a sanitary sewer that broke that had these employees been out sucking leaves we would have had to pay to get that sewer fixed. By doing it in-house we saved approximately $11,500. So is that $11,500 better than sucking up leaves? I am appalled at the calls I get and I have been called every name in the book as I am sure the Mayor has in the last few days. I did not take this job on to be abused. I can’t call anyone here and abuse them – call them every f-ing word in the book – every name there is in the book. I am a big, tough guy – I am not. I did not sign on for this. This kills me again that we have to sit here as employees and we are the ones paying the price. And the residents are just not getting it and I apologize to Councilwoman DePledge. I did not mean to insinuate that she did not respect the guys out here. But every one of them has gone out there. Every one of them has talked to their friends and neighbors. The residents do not get it. There only concern is whether I suck up their leaves over the employment of people here. We have a snowstorm coming. I have 12 guys. I had more complaints last year – and compliments. I have people who call and say we never went down their road. We know for a fact that is not true. The problem is I can’t get down your road ten times because I have a limited amount of people. Now I am going to 12 guys. The most they can put on the road is 12 hours plowing. They have a mandatory and much needed rest period of 8 hours. We had guys coming back last year with less than 4 hours because we do not have the people. But we have the dedicated employees – firemen, police and service employees as well as the office personnel – who put everything they have into this City and the respect we get is nothing. So, when this snowstorm comes up this week or this winter and it snows for 25 hours we will get the calls that we did not plow a road but we will know it is a blatant lie. It is getting old. We cannot afford more employees. I cannot afford to give up the 4 I am giving up. And yet we will come to work every day just like we do and the ones that are still here will do our job above and beyond – not what we shouldn’t but that is what we dedicated ourselves to. I took on this job and put a lot of thought into it and discussed it with my children. It is a chance I took. I question my thought process. I don’t know if this was the right thing to do. I know I have to come to work – not only am I stressed out from doing four Directors jobs that I chose to take on but I have people who call me every name in the book and think they have the right to call me on the phone and disparage everyone here and criticize what we do and the bottom line is they do not come out and see what we do. It is only whether or not I put a check on a piece of paper or a computer. It is a sad situation. I gave you a list of what we have done since we have not done leaf pickup. We have 5 miles of roads, parks, buildings. We have to make sure the Fire and Police Departments get there. People just don’t get it. I apologize. I am a sentimental person. I don’t know where to go with it. It is a tough situation. The residents who voted against us put us in a very, very hard position. But they will be out there calling when that street is not plowed or the leaves are not picked up. They are more concerned with that than people’s livelihood that have children as we heard earlier – 3 kids – their father dedicated his job and they have timeframes for these jobs. I am going to go home and have my job. But it is not right for everyone. It is a shame we have gotten to this point when the moral this whole Administration has brought on here including Council and the employees has never been better since I have been here – I have been here 24 years. And everyone had the right idea and the right direction. Now we have stress, arguments amongst us, bickering amongst us and we did not ask for it nor do we deserve it and the residents of this City need to get on and find out that is what is going on. And I don’t know how to tell them because we have tried to tell them. I appreciate you listening to me. I am open for questions.
There were no questions of Mr. Rubertino.
CITY ENGINEER – Tom Gwydir
Mr. Gwydir: I have no report this evening.
There were no questions of Mr. Gwydir.
FINANCE DIRECTOR – Mike Slocum
Mr. Slocum: I have no real report but I do believe we need to recognize the people who will be leaving us – they are losing their positions not because of the job they did because these people all did a damn good job and they are all damn good workers – and we are having to say goodbye and it is horrible what we have to do. What is even worse is for the people who have to stay behind. Just like last week I got called and was asked why we don’t write more grants and I said a couple of years ago we laid off 4 secretaries. The gal said that secretaries do not write grants. I said she was right – who writes the grants – who takes care of the secretaries work when the secretary is no longer there? Ask Chief Whittington. He lost his secretary and spends a third of his time filling in for the job he lost and that has happened to all the Directors – to Mr. Rubertino, to me, to CBO Menn. The people who have kept this City running the last 5 years I can speak to are all hard workers and I recognize and respect each and every one of them. I think we are in such a horrible position and I don’t think the people of this City appreciate what they actually have. I am open for questions.
There were no questions of Mr. Slocum.
LAW DIRECTOR – Randy Klammer
Mr. Klammer: I am not sure there is a lot the Law Department can say but to me what hurts the worst is this idea that everyone should hate and distrust their government. Maybe there is a place for that where that should happen or is appropriate. But for a City like Eastlake the government is all these people who are losing their jobs. For those people who voted no on the levy because of a distrust for their government was implying a distrust for those people and to me that hurts more than anything. These people are my friends just like everyone else and I am sad there is any bit of that left in the public discussion – a hatred and distrust for their government especially at the local level like Eastlake. I am open for questions.
There were no questions of Mr. Klammer.
Mr. Licht: I have sat here and listened to the residents, Directors, Mayor and Council. When I ran for City Council it was because I thought I could make a difference at the local level – something that I don’t think happens at the State and Federal. I did this because I thought I could impact this City. I am real big with recreation and coach a lot of youth sports. I wanted to see more recreation. The City I believe under this Administration has started to move in the right direction. We have had Safety Town come back and the pool open for the first year in a couple of years. To me we were doing all the right things to bring Eastlake back to a City of prominence. It is unfortunate I hear that 44% of the residents came out to vote and it was 60% to 40%. I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as we have 12,195 registered voters and of those only 26% voted against it and 17% voted for it. That leaves about 55% of registered voters who did not vote for whatever reason – whether they are not informed or don’t believe in their civic duty. I don’t know the reason they did not vote but we as Council – and I believe this whole heartedly – we are responsible for all of Eastlake and all the people of Eastlake – not just the 3,000 or 5,000 people who voted. We tried to be as transparent as we could. Unfortunately there were some unrealistic solutions to a very real problem that were given out there misleading people I think. I keep hearing about the stadium. It is here and it is not going away. We all need to learn to live with it. I think we have an obligation to the entire City. I do not want to sit back idle and watch the City I love and I grew up in fall to pieces. I am not opposed to reducing the reciprocity. I would like to make that a topic of discussion at our Tuesday Finance Committee meeting. I ask that the Finance Director provide some numbers as to the amount generated from a reduction of .5%, 1.5% and 0% so we can look at this because I think we owe it to our residents. If it was a majority of the voters – if it was a majority of the population I would have a different feeling. But for whatever reason 55% of the registered voters did not vote and I think it is our responsibility to make that decision for them.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Ms. Vaughn, if you have no objections we could place this under the miscellaneous section of the Finance Committee agenda.
Ms. Vaughn: That is fine.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Mr. Slocum, could you have our Tax Administrator Mr. Miller attend the meeting?
Mr. Slocum: Yes, he will be there.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Thank you to all who came this evening and for your comments.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:26 p.m.
JOE D’AMBROSIO, COUNCIL PRESIDENT
DEBORAH A. CENDROSKI,
CLERK OF COUNCIL