Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Silence from Dover lawmakers not so golden

Originally published in the Tuscarawas County edition of the Bargain Hunter.

One of the more curious aspects of the request of voters by Dover City Schools for a new high school is the deafening silence of Dover City Council and Mayor Richard Homrighausen.

One would think that the town’s leaders would jump on board on a project that, if approved, certainly would speak volumes about the worth of the city well into the future.

Through the grapevine I’m told that City Council members Council President Timothy W. Tarulli, Tony Korns, Don Maurer, Joe Parolini, Greg Bair, Shane Gunnoe, Sandy Moss and Bob Mueller – actually support the Dover bond issue request but have made some sort of secret pact to remain quiet.

If that’s true – and I have no reason to doubt my sources – it underscores the narrow-mindedness rampant in the area that has been fueled by venomous online comments from people who have nothing better to do than make us question the line between free speech and intolerance.

Are Dover City Council members worried about the backlash if they were to actually go on the record supporting the Dover High project? Are they worried about irritating people who otherwise would support their re-election bids? Is this more about adding to their public pension credits than leading the city?

Some history: Representatives of the school district initially went to City Council to discuss the possibility of locating the new high school on land adjacent to Dover Middle School but immediately were rebuffed without a promise of discussion because, well, that land belongs to Dover City Park and apparently is untouchable even for a new school.

There are many advantages to clustering schools, creating a campus-like atmosphere that provides adequate parking and plenty of green space. A good example is the Highland Local School District in Medina County that has located its new high school ($31 million in 2004) on Rt. 94 adjacent to its middle school and one of its elementaries.

I know most of the folks who serve on Dover City Council. They’re good people. But by stepping away from the Dover High initiative, they forfeit the opportunity to be remembered as visionaries. Homrighausen, meanwhile, has voiced support for the project, but that’s about it.

I can only imagine that challenger Tony Korns wishes he had a second chance with the questions our local daily newspaper asked him and incumbent Mayor Richard Homrighausen to answer as part of its pre-election coverage.

The paper apparently provided the candidates with questionnaires rather than conduct face-to-face interviews with them. Homrighausen took the opportunity to expound on his accomplishments and initiatives, while 

Korns provided short and sweet answers that didn’t necessarily result in complete sentences.

Here’s an example:

Newspaper: What are the two major issues facing the city in the next four years?
Homrighausen: Dealing with all the reductions in income coming back to the city from the State of Ohio that Dover, and all communities across the state, will have to deal with. And the definite possibility that the northern end of the city will grow more rapidly than our projections have planned for.

Korns: Jobs and overall city growth.

OK, the mayor’s grammar might be lacking, but you’d have to give him the nod on that question. It didn’t get much better than that in the follow-up questions. Here’s some free advice to future candidates: To avoid “gotchya” moments like this, hire one of the many former journalists in the area who could help formulate answers that might actually make you look smarter than the incumbent.

To be fair, I think Korns has at least a 2-1 lead over Homrighausen in the yard sign competition.

Grand Theft Grandma: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an outright theft of a campaign commercial like the “Vote Yes on Issue 2” people pulled off when they copied and pasted the video image of the “Vote No on Issue 2” great-grandmother into their own commercial.

Certainly the campaign to keep the collective bargaining law could have found its own great-grandmother to use in its commercials. Heck, it found its own former firefighter (Toledo Mayor Mike Bell) and a school teacher (Fairfield County Republican Chairman Kyle Farmer, a wannabe lawmaker).

I actually expected a better advertising campaign from the “Yes on Issue 2” campaign.

OK, here’s a prediction: Issue 2 will be defeated and as a result Senate Bill 5 will be repealed. It’s just plain wrong to go around stealing grandmothers. People don’t like that.

At least that’s what I’m thinking today.

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