election

Renewal levy targets child and elder abuse, neglect

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County is on its way to setting a grim record for 2017, as the numbers of child abuse and neglect cases continue to grow. That makes passage of the 1.3-mill renewal levy for Human Services even more critical, according to those trying to meet the needs. “Without it we would have to reduce staff which would be catastrophic because we are seeing record numbers,” said Dave Wigent, director of the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services. Since 1987, the Children’s Services and Adult Protective Services portions of the agency have relied on the 1.3 mills to support their work. The 10-year levy generates $3.7 million a year, and costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $36 a year. The funding provides for child abuse and neglect investigations and, if needed, placement of children in foster homes or other settings. The levy also supports elder services, such as home health aides, homemaker services and investigations of elder abuse and neglect. Since the levy was last passed 10 years ago, Wood County has seen six deaths of children under 3 years old due to abuse. Five suffered from head trauma, and one was smothered. The needs of the protective services at both ends of the age spectrum continue to increase. Following are the statistics for 2016: 894 child abuse investigations. 260 elder abuse investigations. 212 of the child abuse investigations involved drugs. 142 of the investigations were child sexual abuse investigations. 59 children were placed in substitute care such as foster care or group homes. And the numbers look even worse for 2017. The reasons may be two-fold, according to Sandi Carsey, administrator of Children’s Services. In recent years, the opiate crisis has led to more cases, and there has been a real push for the public to report abuse and neglect concerns. “Last year in September, we had 35 children in foster care. This year we have 50,” Carsey said, adding that her office is currently trying to recruit more foster families. Meanwhile, the number of elder abuse and neglect cases is expected to pass 300 this year, she added. “You don’t control your workflow,” Wigent said. “Whatever comes at you, you have to deal with.” While Wood County is seeing record child and elder abuse and neglect, it continues to get little funding from the state, Carsey and Wigent explained. Ohio is 50th in the country for state funding to child abuse programs. “Even if they doubled it, we would be 50th,” Carsey said. Unlike many counties in Ohio, Wood County Job and Family Services only collects the levy taxes when necessary, Wigent said. If the agency does not need the funding for a particular year, it is not collected. “We’re the only JFS in the state that…


Accusations fly at council meeting over charter amendment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Supporters of the Bowling Green Charter Amendment on the Nov. 7 ballot accused their opponents Monday evening of engaging in “smear politics to sway the vote.” But one of several Bowling Green City Council members opposed to the charter amendment called the proposal “an attempt to legalize anarchy.” The charter amendment proponents spoke first at Monday’s City Council meeting. Lisa Kochheiser said the amendment purpose is “expanding rights of people to protect their families and community” against environmental harm. She spoke of the Nexus pipeline route that is proposed near the city’s water treatment plant, and said that a second pipeline by the same company is in the works. Wood County is “caught in the crosshairs” of many pipelines since it is located on the natural gas route from southeast Ohio to Canada. Kochheiser accused city leaders of knowing two years in advance about the Nexus project, but not telling the public. She asked when the city was going to inform the public about the second proposed pipeline. Though city council denied an easement for the pipeline, that was the only action taken to stop the project, she said. City council “refused” to take formal action against the pipeline, did not pass an ordinance against the project, and would not file complaints about the proposal. “The city refuses to support the rights of the people,” she said. Kochheiser was also critical of multiple council members who have stated that the issue does not belong in the city charter – that it would “sully the pristine charter.” “Seriously people. Who are you protecting?” she asked. Kochheiser accused the opponents of “spreading hysterical rumors” and of engaging in “smear politics to sway the vote.” Next to speak was Brad Holmes, who said the charter amendment proponents were forced to petition for the change because city council would not act. He said the document allows citizens to “peacefully demonstrate” against pipelines and other environmental threats without the risk of being arrested. Then Sally Medbourn Mott spoke of her concern about the city not having an ordinance to keep oil and gas operations out of the city. Without such language in the City Charter, the city is “powerless” to keep such operations out, she said. At the end of the meeting, council member Bob McOmber added to his criticisms against the charter amendment that he voiced last month. At that time, he spoke primarily about how the amendment had no place in the city’s charter which focuses solely on the mechanics of local government. “Even if this was good legislation, it does not belong in the City Charter,” McOmber said. “But it is not good legislation. It is terrible legislation.” This time, he took on the charter amendment’s wording. “My biggest objection to the proposal is…


Middleton Twp. asks voters to support levy for new fire station

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Middleton Township has outgrown its fire stations. Fire equipment has steadily gotten larger, and the aging stations are bursting at the seams. “We literally have a couple inches,” between pieces of equipment, Middleton Township Fire Chief Steve Asmus said. “I always say we have to grease them to get in,” Middleton Township Trustee Penny Getz said. So the township is asking its voters to approve a 3-mill levy for 15 years, to build a new centrally located fire station for fire and EMS. The levy would generate about $456,480 a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $150 a year. The township’s fire and EMS equipment is now divided between four buildings – the fire station in Haskins, the fire station in Dunbridge, the EMS station near the intersection of Ohio 25 and Ohio 582, and the new township administration building on Route 25. The Haskins and Dunbridge stations were both built in the 1950s. “We have equipment spread out all over,” Asmus said. “We would like to have it in one location. We have no place to put the equipment right now.” Township officials would like to have a centralized location that has room for the equipment including six truck bays, space for training, an area for decontamination, and a system to rid the building of exhaust emissions. The proposed station, which would sit just to the south of the new Middleton Township administration building at 21745 N. Dixie Highway, would cost an estimated $6 million. Since township officials believe it’s only a matter of time before 24/7 fire coverage is needed, the new fire station would include living quarters. Plus, they realize the current stations will not comply with new fire rules and regulations. “We’re trying to be proactive,” Getz said. The site next to the new administration building was selected because of its centralized location and the fact that the township already purchased the land years ago using estate tax revenue. “We own the ground,” said Laurie Limes, Middleton Township fiscal officer. “It’s been earmarked for years for this.” But it’s the location of the proposed station that has some township residents concerned. The largest community in the township is Haskins, and just over half of the Middleton Township volunteer firefighters live in that village. There is a concern that moving the fire equipment out of Haskins will slow the response time to runs in that community. In response to those concerns, the township trustees have said that one fire truck will remain in the Haskins station, until the township has round-the-clock coverage. “There’s no intent to close Haskins,” Limes said. The fire station in Dunbridge would close, as well as the EMS station which would be sold with the money going into the fire-EMS fund….


“Mike Olmstead believes he is above the law”

Voters in the upcoming Perrysburg mayoral race have been exposed to baseless attacks by incumbent Mike Olmstead against his opponent Tom Mackin. Mr. Mackin has not stooped to Mike Olmstead’s low level by responding in kind, which speaks to the dignity and respect with which Mr. Mackin will treat the Office of Mayor if elected. Mr. Mackin has served honorably on the Perrysburg City Council, the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Government, the YMCA Board, and in numerous volunteer capacities in Perrysburg. Unfortunately, this means that a serious issue in the race has not been raised: Mayor Olmstead’s unpaid back taxes. The Perrysburg Messenger Journal has failed in its responsibility to report on this issue, despite repeating Olmstead’s attacks on Mackin. Mike Olmstead has treated the citizens of Perrysburg with great disrespect. Mayor Olmstead owes unpaid taxes to the IRS, the State of Ohio, and Perrysburg. He could use his personal holdings to pay off his debt. Instead, the IRS has liens against Mayor Olmstead and the state is garnishing his mayoral salary. Put simply, Perrysburg taxpayers are unwittingly paying off Mike Olmstead’s unpaid tax debt. Not paying Perrysburg Schools taxes, not to mention those owed to the state and federal governments, sends a loud and clear message: Mike Olmstead believes he is above the law and the rules that apply to us don’t apply to him. We expect more of our elected officials. Neil Englehart Perrysburg


“It’s clear that now is the time to invest in new school buildings”

Voters will be asked on November 7 to support a bond request to construct a new consolidated elementary school, as well as to significantly renovate the high school.  Much thought and study by our school leaders, as well as considerable citizen input, have gone into this request, and it is not being made without good cause.  Although a cursory drive-by of our current elementary and high school buildings might suggest that they are in acceptable shape, a closer examination – even a brief walk through any of the buildings, for example – will demonstrate that this is far from the case.  The buildings have long outlived their usefulness, and in their current condition are not conducive to teaching and learning.  Our teachers and students have done a good job of making due with patch worked buildings for several years now, but we have reached the point of diminishing returns.  The current buildings have become like that old car many of us have kept a little too long – in dire need of repair after repair, with no end in sight.  And just as we know when it’s time to trade in that old clunker that is nickel and diming us to death, it’s clear that now is the time to invest in new school buildings. Bowling Green voters have long displayed a strong commitment to education.  This support has produced an outstanding school system that benefits all of us, whether we have school-aged children and grandchildren or not.  A strong school system with up-to-date facilities attracts individuals and businesses to the community and keeps them here, and it enhances property values for everyone.   But if we allow our buildings to deteriorate, this will no longer be the case.   The bond request on the November ballot represents an opportunity to continue our proud history of investment in community schools.  Needless to say, no one enjoys paying taxes, but we know they are necessary if we are to provide essential services.  Education is certainly an essential service, and I hope you agree with me that tax dollars in support of education is some of the best money any of us can ever hope to spend.  Please join me in showing your continued support of Bowling Green schools by voting YES on the school bond issue. Steve Cernkovich Bowling Green


Park district takes step toward renewal levy next spring

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District will be going back on the ballot next year – but the board won’t be asking for any additional funds. The county park board voted Tuesday afternoon to start the levy process by asking the Wood County Auditor to certify the current valuation for the park district. The board then plans to place a renewal of its 1-mill, 10-year levy on next year’s spring ballot. “I believe that will suffice to serve our financial needs for another decade,” Board President Denny Parish said. Wood County voters have a history of supporting their parks, and will appreciate the district’s decision to not ask for more money, Parish said. The current levy brings in a “pretty steady” amount of approximately $2.8 million a year. “I believe we can operate for another 10 years on the same millage,” Parish stressed. Board member John Calderonello mentioned that some voters may still be stinging from issues on this November’s ballot. But Parish said the park district can choose between spring and fall of 2018. “We can’t wait till 2019,” he said. And board member Bob Dorn reminded that if the park levy fails in the spring, it can be repeated in the fall. Parish said many residents of Wood County don’t realize how the park district if funded. “There’s a misconception that we get funded by the general fund of the county commissioners,” he said. The park district first passed its 1-mill levy in 2008. Since then, the district has made several improvements and acquired much more property. “It’s all been done with prudent management with available funds,” board member Bob Hawker said. Parish noted that some school districts and other agencies in the county are finding it necessary to ask for increased millage. “That will shine a nice light on Wood County Park District,” he said. Also at the meeting, the board was introduced to Bob Callecod, who will be acting as levy chairman. Callecod, of Bowling Green, is a former county park commissioner, is active with the park district, and helped get the first levy passed. “It’s a cause well worth working for,” Callecod said. The Wood County Park District currently has sites throughout the county, including Adam Phillips Pond, Baldwin Woods Preserve, Bradner Preserve, Beaver Creek Preserve, Black Swamp Preserve, Buttonwood Recreation Area, Carter Historic Farm, Cedar Creeks Preserve, Fuller Preserve, William Henry Harrison Park, W.W. Knight Preserve, Otsego Park, Reuthinger Memorial Preserve, Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve, Slippery Elm Trail, Rudolph Savanna Area, Cricket Frog Cove Area, Wood County Historical Center, Zimmerman School, and the park district headquarters.


Sandy Rowland “consistently expresses her support and caring for all residents of Bowling Green”

I submit this letter to express my support for the re-election of Sandy Rowland to an at-large seat on the Bowling Green City Council. It is my opinion that Sandy has the qualifications, the experience, and the dedication to continue to be an outstanding councilperson. During her first term she has been highly visible and involved throughout the community. I have full faith that she will continue in this manner during her second term. The following are specific examples of Sandy’s hard work and efforts that have me planning to cast my vote for her on November 7. First, Sandy consistently expresses her support and caring for all residents of Bowling Green. Her opinions on issues are developed on input from residents, not solely on her personal beliefs or opinions. She understands the diversity of our citizens and seeks to understand the ways council decisions will impact a wide variety of individuals. When she casts a vote, she is well informed and well versed on community reaction and opinion.  Second, Sandy understands and demonstrates how important it is for a council member to be visible within the community. She attends a wide range of meetings and events going on in the community. She has been particularly involved in the meetings addressing the support of the Bowling Green City Schools. She has been clear that every child in this community deserves the best education possible.  Sandy is firmly committed to ensuring that every Bowling Green resident feels welcome and at home in this community. She is actively involved in the plan to re-vitalize the east side of BG knowing that the success of this plan will attract more diverse living and cultural options to families and professionals.  I appreciate the hard work Sandy Rowland has done during the last four years. I know Sandy wants to continue in this fashion. Please join me in giving her the opportunity to continue to work for  on-going improvements for the residents  of Bowling Green. When you cast your ballot on November 7, please vote for Sandy Rowland. She is a proven leader who is fully committed to this community. Tim Carr Bowling Green


BG candidates talk rentals, roundabouts, schools & streets

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green council candidates were asked to take stands on substandard rental housing, roundabouts, the school levy, streets and more Sunday evening. This year’s election is crowded with 12 candidates for Bowling Green City Council. So the candidate forum, sponsored by the Bowling Green League of Women Voters, gave some city residents their first glimpse at those on the ballot. They are: At-large council – Six are running for two seats: Holly Cipriana, Nathan Eberly, Beverly Elwazani, Carolyn Kawecka, Gregory Robinette and Sandy Rowland. Kawecka was not present. First Ward: Daniel Gordon and Hunter Sluss. Sluss was not present. Second Ward: Kent Ramsey and John Zanfardino. Ramsey was not present. Third Ward: Michael Aspacher is running unopposed, so he did not participate in the forum. Fourth Ward: William Herald and Scott Seeliger. Following are the answers given by candidates to citizens’ questions. Cipriani, a Democrat who works as an academic adviser at Bowling Green State University, believes she can be a voice for residents of the city. She said she can offer a “fresh perspective” on issues and isn’t afraid to take action to solve problems. Cipriani said she is “very passionate” about the Complete Streets program as a way to promote safety for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists. She would like to use already conducted research to identify areas of the city were bike lanes can be added. As for the city’s budget difficulties, Cipriani wants to make sure state leaders realize the impact of the money cut to local government budgets. The city needs to focus on improving neighborhoods, infrastructure and schools in order to get families to stay here, and attract new families to come here. That would help grow local revenue, she said. In response to the question on rental unit requirements, Cipriani said before buying her home, she lived in several different rentals in the city. “I see how some of these issues can drive people out,” and lead them to look for housing in Perrysburg and Maumee, she said. Cipriani supported putting regulations in place for rental housing. When asked to voice their stands on the school levy and the city charter amendment, Cipriani said she realized the school levy would be a significant tax increase, but it will be worth it to stay competitive with other districts. As far as the charter amendment, Cipriani said while she supports the intentions behind it, the city charter is not the right place for it. On the topic of roundabouts, Cipriani said she supports the city’s use of them on East Wooster Street. Studies show they cause less wear and tear on the roads, so while they may be more expensive up front, they will be an investment in the future. Roundabouts also lead to fewer head-on and T-bone…


Mailers sent out anonymously on school bond issue are incorrect

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The 8,400 mailers sent out by a Bowling Green man opposed to the school bond issue include incorrect tax numbers. The Wood County Auditor’s Office said today that the school bond issue taxes were calculated incorrectly on the mailers that Bowling Green School District voters are receiving in their mail. The mailers portray the taxes as much higher than they actually are, according to the auditor’s office. Though the mailers were sent out anonymously, Bowling Green businessman Bud Henschen has acknowledged that he sent them out. He said he wanted to make sure people were aware of the bond issue and of the effect it would have on their taxes. But improper calculations resulted in the incorrect information going out to 8,400 potential voters. The mailers state that for the owner of a $200,000 home, the new levy would cost $420, and would add up to total property taxes of $6,365 a year. That number is nearly $2,500 too high. Using the correct calculations, for the owner of a $200,000 home, the new levy would cost $420, but the total taxes would add up to $3,928, according to the county auditor’s office. “We can’t really speak to what he did. We’re just going on what we know is fact,” said Becky Graber, deputy auditor. Henschen said he was just trying to get information out to potential voters. The 6-mill, 37-year bond issue is unaffordable to the average person, he said. Henschen initially denied using inaccurate numbers on his mailer. “I’m not inflating these,” he said. But the county auditor’s office staff said they had explained how to calculate the tax to Henschen and pointed out to him that he was using the wrong figures. “I told him, you use the effective rate, not the full rate – which makes a big difference,” Graber said. After speaking with the auditor’s office this afternoon, Henschen acknowledged the calculation error on the mailings. “That is a blunder,” he said. The inaccurate mailers have Superintendent Francis Scruci in clean up mode – trying to get out the correct information before the Nov. 7 election. “This is scaring people,” the superintendent said this morning. “This is lying to them.” The voters should be able to decide how they feel about the bond issue based on facts – not fake news flyers, he said. Scruci spoke about the mailers Monday evening at a Bowling Green City Council meeting. “I hope when you and your neighbors get this, you put it where it belongs, and that’s the trash,” he said. “It’s not worth the paper it was printed on.” “We’ve been transparent from day one,” said Scruci, who has been making almost daily presentations about the bond issue. “You can mess with me, but this is messing with the…


Scruci responds to anonymous mailer about bond issue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci has been talking himself hoarse about the school bond issue on the November ballot. Monday evening he took the pitch to Bowling Green City Council. In the audience were several teachers and school board members showing their support. But in addition to explaining the 6-mill bond issue, Scruci also had to spend time dispelling what he called untruths in an anonymous mailer being sent out to district residents. The mailer criticized the school district for not being open about the tax issue, and for not being honest about the costs to taxpayers. Scruci did not hold back. “I hope when you and your neighbors get this, you put it where it belongs, and that’s the trash,” he said. “It’s not worth the paper it was printed on.” “We’ve been transparent from day one,” said Scruci, who has been making almost daily presentations about the bond issue. The superintendent said the numbers printed on the mailers were false – painting a far worse picture of how much taxpayers will owe if it passes. That’s just not right, he said. “You can mess with me, but this is messing with the kids,” Scruci said. Though the mailers are from an anonymous source, a few people in the City Council audience believed Bowling Green businessman Bud Henschen may have been behind the material. When called after the council meeting, Henschen said that he was the person who sent out the 8,400 mailers. His motivation was simply to alert the public about the school bond issue, he claimed. “A lot of people didn’t even know there was a school issue coming up,” Henschen said. “That was the intent.” “Everybody who owns real estate is going to get hit by this thing. Let’s let everybody know about it,” he said. When it was mentioned that Scruci has held many meetings about the issue, Henschen said that city folks were getting the information, but not the rural residents. Scruci just held an open meeting last week to explain the issue and answer questions from the farming community. Though school officials felt otherwise, Henschen said the mailers were not negative toward the bond issue. “They didn’t say ‘vote yes,’ and didn’t say ‘vote no.’” But Henschen acknowledged that he will likely vote against the bond issue. “Personally, I’m probably not in favor of it.” The $72 million 37-year bond issue is unaffordable to the average person, he said. Henschen denied using inaccurate numbers on his mailer. “I’m not inflating these,” he said. However, City Council member Sandy Rowland said she had just calculated what her tax would be, using the county auditor’s formula, and it was much lower than the number listed by Henschen. Henschen said he wouldn’t sit by quietly and accept the…


Scruci fields questions from farming community on bond issue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci faced a tough crowd Monday evening – members of the local farming community, looking for information on the school district’s 6-mill bond request for buildings. The bond issue could be a hard sell to farmers, since owners of large amounts of acreage will be among those most affected by the property tax on the November ballot. This was the third time the superintendent has met with members of the farming community. And each time he has not pushed for them to pass the bond issue. Instead, Scruci has suggested they ask themselves two questions. “Does this help move the community forward and is it good for kids?” Then came the tougher one. “Can you afford it?” “We know there are people in this community who can’t afford it,” Scruci said. And they have to cast their votes accordingly. That doesn’t mean they are against the school district or the students, he added. But the district cannot wait until everyone in the district can afford new schools, he said. “This community will never grow and our kids will not get what kids in every other district in our area are getting,” Scruci said. The superintendent fielded questions about why the district can’t use an income tax, which wouldn’t hurt local farmers as much. An income tax cannot be used to pay for a building project, he explained. What about an increase in sales tax, someone asked. The schools have no way to increase sales tax, Scruci said. One man said the length of the bond issue – 37 years – poses a problem for smaller farmers. “Can we sustain it, with our current income? It’s highly unlikely,” the farmer said. Another farmer questioned why BGSU students, who are temporary residents in Bowling Green with no property tax responsibilities, would be allowed to vote on the school bond issue. “College kids are allowed to vote on it? That ain’t right,” he said. “There’s a lot of problems with the way schools are funded,” Scruci said. One woman in the crowd thanked Scruci for being transparent. “I don’t feel like you’re trying to trick us,” she said. Scruci also explained why Bowling Green was not using state help on the project. The state formula for aiding building projects ranks Bowling Green as an affluent district based on the number of residents and the size of the district. However, the formula fails to take into account the number of college students and the amount of farmland, Scruci said. Consequently, the state would only give Bowling Green 12 percent of the building costs. That compares to 80 percent for Elmwood and 55 percent for Otsego. Once the state gets involved, it takes over the project, Scruci said. “It’s not worth it,” for…


Two sides at odds over proposed BG charter amendment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Words matter. The proposed Bowling Green charter amendment is intended to give the community rights to a healthy environment and livable climate. But while that may be the intent, critics say the words go far beyond those reasonable rights. The wording of the charter amendment may be difficult for voters to digest. The supporters interpret it as giving citizens a right to peaceably protest projects such as the Nexus pipeline that is planned near Bowling Green’s water treatment plant. But others see the wording as so open to interpretation that it goes far beyond what most city residents would want. It hardly seems possible the two sides of the Bowling Green charter amendment issue are talking about the same two pages of text when they describe the proposal. Lisa Kochheiser and Brad Holmes, of the Bowling Green Climate Protectors, see the charter amendment as a way for citizens to intervene if the city does not adequately protect its citizens from harm to their environment. “We’re not trying to overthrow the government. We want to strengthen our government by adding to citizen rights,” Holmes said. The majority of people don’t want pipelines in or near their communities, he said. “This is going to be the most tangible way of people legally protesting.” City attorney Mike Marsh doesn’t want pipeline in the city either. And if there were a ballot issue to not allow Nexus on city land, he would support it. But the charter amendment goes far beyond that, he said. “It’s a far reaching, almost anarchy type of proposal,” Marsh said. “It allows citizens on their own to take actions they deem necessary to protect the environment. It’s up to anybody’s interpretation.” Kochheiser said the charter amendment will allow citizens to protest a pipeline or other threats to the environment by peaceful protests, like a sit-in or forming of human chains. “This gives us the right to do it without the threat of being thrown in jail,” she said. “We’re not going to be throwing rocks. We’re not going to be looting,” Holmes said. But the charter amendment draws no lines at the types of “non-violent direct action” that would be allowed. If people found the transportation of fuel tanker trucks to be a threat, “you could have a sit-in on I-75,” Marsh said. “That would be non-violent, but it would create chaos.” And if a citizen doesn’t approve of a neighbor’s use of fertilizer on their lawn, they would have the right to flood their neighbor’s lawn. The charter amendment prohibits the police from stopping such actions, he said. “I don’t believe the proponents we see every week at city council are aware of the ramifications,” Marsh said. “I think they’re well meaning people.” But there is a definite lack of…


Anti-pipeline charter amendment now in limbo

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The legal battle to get an anti-pipeline charter amendment on Bowling Green’s ballot has come down to two sides – those who want to stop the pipeline and those who would want the jobs building it. On Thursday morning, the petition submitted by citizen activists worried about the effect of Nexus pipeline on the city’s water plant was challenged by a Bowling Green man who is a member of the local plumber-pipefitter union. The Wood County Board of Elections took information from both sides and will come back with a decision. Last week, the Wood County Board of Elections voted to allow the November ballot to include the controversial charter amendment. However, then a Bowling Green resident, David W. Espen, filed a protest with the board of elections about the charter amendment. Espen was not present at Thursday’s hearing, but was represented by the Columbus law firm McTigue & Colombo. Espen’s objections cite two possible problems with the charter amendment petition – one questioning the number of valid signatures, and the other questioning the authority of the city to grant the power requested in the petition. The complaint zeroed in on five specific signatures. Normally, that might not matter if a handful of signatures were found to be invalid. However, the pipeline petition had only one more signature than required to appear on the ballot. A total of 1,230 signatures were collected on the petition. By law, to make it on the ballot, the petition needed 714 valid signatures. It had 715. The five signatures in question are from Bowling Green State University students who live on campus and therefore have dual addresses of their residence halls and of street addresses. Terry Burton, of the Wood County Board of Elections, testified that the board cross checks street addresses and dorm addresses, and allows either for students when they register and cast ballots during elections. The Ohio Secretary of State appears to support this process, according to Terry Lodge, attorney for the citizens behind the petition. However, Donald McTigue disagreed. “The law requires you to put down your street address,” not university residence hall, McTigue said after the hearing. “The law clearly requires that they have the legal street address.” On the second challenge, McTigue said the charter amendment exceeds the city’s role allowed in the Ohio Constitution. The protest claims the issue goes beyond the limits permitted to municipalities. Lodge said the Wood County Board of Elections already considered the constitutionality argument, and decided the issue should go on the ballot for voters to decide. Last week, the board of elections voted with three in favor of the charter amendment being placed on the ballots. John Cuckler, Dick Newlove and Mike Zickar voted in favor, while Mike Marsh recused himself since he…


Pipeline charter amendment faces another challenge

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The effort to get a pipeline charter amendment on the ballot for Bowling Green voters is facing another challenge. Last week, the Wood County Board of Elections voted to allow the November ballot to include the charter amendment, which was petitioned for by people opposed to pipelines that could negatively affect the city. However, this week the charter amendment faces a new challenge. A Bowling Green resident, David W. Espen, has filed a protest with the board of elections about the charter amendment. Espen’s objections cite two possible problems with the charter amendment petition, according to Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton. First, Espen claims the petition did not have a sufficient number of valid signatures. His complaint questions five specific signatures. Normally, that might not matter if a handful of signatures were found to be invalid. However, the pipeline petition had only one more signature than required to appear on the ballot. A total of 1,230 signatures were collected on the petition. By law, to make it on the ballot, the petition needed 714 valid signatures. It had 715. Second, Espen is challenging whether or not the charter amendment exceeds the city’s role allowed in the Ohio Constitution. The protest claims the issue goes beyond the limits permitted to municipalities, Burton said. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday morning at 8:30, in the fifth floor hearing room of the Wood County Office Building. Espen is being represented by the Columbus law firm McTigue & Colombo. The group supporting the petition will be represented by Toledo area attorney Terry Lodge. “The Charter Amendment belongs on the ballot,” citizen activist Lisa Kochheiser said after the latest challenge was filed. Burton said if the decision on this challenge is appealed, the issue will go straight to the Ohio Supreme Court. Last week, the board of elections voted with three in favor of the charter amendment being placed on the ballots. John Cuckler, Dick Newlove and Mike Zickar voted in favor, while Mike Marsh recused himself since he is the city attorney for Bowling Green. “This board has traditionally, philosophically had a tendency to put things on the ballot and not keep them off,” Newlove said prior to last week’s vote. Prior to last week’s decision, Kochheiser urged the board to let Bowling Green citizens vote on the issue. “I speak for the people of Bowling Green who want to protect their community from corporations, like Nexus pipeline,” Kochheiser said. Kochheiser said the charter amendment gives city residents a right to “peacefully enforce these rights.” That means, according to Kochheiser, giving people the right to hold sit-ins or put up blockades on roads to prevent deliveries. “We’re talking about peaceful demonstration kind of stuff,” she said. “To try to stand up for our…


Pipeline petition cleared to appear on BG ballot

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Board of Elections voted this morning to let Bowling Green voters decide the fate of a pipeline charter amendment. It may then be up to the courts to decide of the amendment is constitutional. The board voted with three in favor – John Cuckler, Dick Newlove and Mike Zickar. Mike Marsh recused himself since he is the city attorney for Bowling Green. “This board has traditionally, philosophically had a tendency to put things on the ballot and not keep them off,” Newlove said prior to the vote. After the vote, Newlove said a new state law (House Bill 463) does add some complexities to the process since it asks local entities to decide if ballot issues are constitutional. In this case, it charges the board to determine if the charter amendment is asking the city to give citizens rights that the city has no authority to give. “The new law does kind of put us in a difficult position,” Newlove said. “Our attitude was to let the voters decide.” Zickar agreed. “They did all of the work collecting signatures and meeting deadlines,” he said. “We wanted to let the people to decide.” Ultimately, however, it may be up the courts to decide if the charter amendment is constitutional. Prior to the decision this morning, citizen activist Lisa Kochheiser asked the board to let Bowling Green citizens vote on the issue. “I speak for the people of Bowling Green who want to protect their community from corporations, like Nexus pipeline,” Kochheiser said. Kochheiser told the board of elections that they had no legal standing to keep it off the ballot. Since they are not elected officials, “it is not legally possible for you to tell us what is best for us,” she said. “Is it legal for a pipeline like Nexus to poison the people of Bowling Green,” she said. “You will be denying our right to protect our community. The Bowling Green charter amendment belongs on the ballot.” Kochheiser warned that organizers would take the petition to the Ohio Supreme Court if the local board of elections rejected the issue for the ballot. Sally Medbourn Mott also defended the ballot issue. “I just hope you guys will let people vote on the issue,” she said, reminding the board members of their commitment to “government for the people, of the people, by the people.” After his morning’s meeting, Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections, said the ballot language for the charter amendment may be exactly as worded in the petition, since it is so complex. The language of the proposed charter amendment is difficult to wade through, so the organization that filed the petition addressed each point in simpler terms. The petition calls for: Right to…