Electric Bill Refunds; Stroller Bans; Bill Transparency

Here is a recap of the Newark City Council meeting from last Monday, March 23, 2015.

The good news is, two small restaurants were granted the right to sell alcohol. Wood Fired Pizza and Mediterranean Grill will surely enjoy this liberty.

The pity is the restaurant owners had to sit through three hours of nonsense at the meeting to get to their agenda item.

Each year, Newark’s Council examines the past years electric rates. If the rates are found to have been too high, some of the excess money is returned to the residents.

This year, it was determined that roughly $1 Million in excess money was collected.

It has been standard practice to keep a $1.5 Million reserve to withstand a temporary electric rate spike.

So, with a $1.1 million existing reserve, the City should have returned $600,000 and properly met their $1.5 Million reserve goal.

However, that simple process was bypassed by a 5 to 2 vote.

Luke Chapman, Marge Hadden, Polly Sierer, Stu Markham, and Todd Ruckle decided to fuel the City Administration’s greed and keep ALL of the money.

We just went through a similar scenario with the “Ruckle Parking Meters,” where residents are being robbed of money that goes unused.

When a credit card is swiped, it defaults to the maximum amount of time, regardless of how long a customer intends to stay.

And to this day, despite your phone calls and public pressure on Todd Ruckle, that decision has still not been reversed!

The City of Newark even provided a report on the first few months of parking revenue since the Ruckle ‘smart’ parking meters were installed.

The report effectively demonstrated that the City is collecting much more money with these meters, due to ripping off its customers.

Council has the ability to make the meters work for the residents by changing HOW they work. Yet no one has chosen to step forward and set this straight.

Finally, a bill was up for 1st reading last Monday to modify the policies for City parks.

Some people have been bringing temporary ramps to the skate parks. The City, fearful of a lawsuit, wants to end this practice.

However, the bill was written so poorly that, as passed, people would not be allowed to bring soccer goals, tennis rackets . . .

. . . or even strollers into the parks!

How can politicians mess up this badly?

Several residents highlighted this issue, and recommended the bill be removed, and re-written better.

A motion was made to remove this item, but the motion was defeated 5-2.

Guess who voted to keep this bad legislation as it was poorly written?

You guessed it: Luke Chapman, Marge Hadden, Polly Sierer, Stu Markham, and Todd Ruckle.

Do those names sound familiar?

And to add insult to injury, the Council did what it tends to do all too often.

Instead of simply throwing out a poorly written bill and rewriting it, they spend endless wasteful hours trying to re-write and amend the bad bill — on the fly.

This is what continually leads to excessive lengthy meetings.

But yet, some Council members want to blame the public participation on the lengthy meetings and recently tried to silence the public in the name of shorter meetings.

Guess who they were?

Luke Chapman, Polly Sierer, Stu Markham, and Todd Ruckle!

So now you understand why we feel so bad for seeing the owners of Wood Fired Pizza and Mediterranean Grill sit through this — just to be able to conduct their business!

There was one positive highlight of the meeting.

Councilman Mark Morehead started a discussion to start requiring meeting agenda items to have a sponsor.

It’s a novel concept of transparency; giving the public knowledge of who is behind certain ideas.

This fits right along with Morehead restoring the public’s right to comment on all agenda items, not just the select few as it was a few years ago.

Let’s hope the five other council seats change their behavior in the positive direction after the elections are over.

In Liberty,

Jeff Lawrence
Newark Local Coordinator
Campaign for Liberty

P.S. The City of Newark Council continues to work for the Administration, and not their constituents.

Marge Hadden, Todd Ruckle and three others voted to withhold at least $600,000 of the residents’ money for no reason.

They also voted against removing a poorly written bill banning strollers in the parks, guaranteeing that a lengthy discussion will be required to amend the bill during the next meeting and dragging out meetings to labor over a bill that needs to start from scratch.

Meanwhile, Mark Morehead started a discussion that will further the transparency and accountability of the City government.

At least one of them seems to understand that his job is to serve his constituents, not to betray them!