City Asked To Reconsider Street Closure
To the Editor:
Am I the only one who thinks putting parking spaces alongside St. Joseph Church on Conant Street and then closing off West Harrison Street to right-hand turns is a very bad idea?
Where will these cars go when they leave? Across the bridge; and if they live in Maumee, find their way back across the bridge and add to the backup.
There is absolutely no reason not to allow right-hand turns onto West Harrison. At the “Quality of Life” meeting, I was told only 6-7 cars used West Harrison a day, so they didn’t think it was necessary to keep it open. Tell that to the people who will park in those spaces. (After a while, no one will.)
Mayor Carr and Mr. Burtch spoke at the meeting of the possibilities of several businesses, mostly restaurants, coming to the Maumee area. That would be good. Please reconsider permanently closing off West Harrison Street.
Waterville Could Communicate Better
To the Editor:
Regarding communication with the city of Waterville:
My December water bill contained an increase of $0.70 in the refuse and recycling rate. I checked the water rate chart on the city website and verified the December rate was to be the same as November. I sent an email to (Waterville) town hall asking for verification. Two days later, the chart was changed; no one contacted me. I obtained a copy of the legislation authorizing charges and learned the rate charged was accurate. However, the rate change was to take place on June 1, 2022, not in December. An email describing this situation was sent to the administrator on December 31, 2022; as of January 12, 2023, there has been no reply.
Obtaining official legislative information is inconsistent. There is easy access to the municipal code on the city website. However, on the website, the municipal code is current to August 27, 2018, and council meeting minutes are available for 2022. This gap requires a review of the records at the municipal building. Updating the code and/or posting more minutes would eliminate this gap. Maximum posting of current documents (on the website) would go a long way toward eliminating speculation, reducing reliance on social media, and provide prompt, useful feedback. Perhaps an update of the 10-year-old records request policy would be helpful, if done with resident participation.
At the council meeting on January 9, 2023, in opening remarks, Mayor Tim Pedro said citizen comments are eventually going to be limited with the individual goal of two minutes and the combined total not to exceed 10 minutes. These limits are described in 121.02 but have been generously overlooked in past meetings. Perhaps a change in regulations or procedures is appropriate.
Reader Criticizes Officials For Uptown Traffic Decisions
To the Editor:
I read with interest the article in the December 15 copy of The Mirror concerning the Conant Street traffic flow on the Ft. Meigs Memorial Bridge. It seems the Maumee administrators have a rather naive opinion of why motorists don’t merge into their intended lanes prior to their approach to Broadway Street.
The particular article was addressing the use of temporary cones to funnel traffic into a single lane as it approached Broadway Street. One statement read, “The logic behind the funneling of traffic was to hopefully prevent collisions or pedestrian accidents caused by inattentive motorists making last-second lane switches as they reached Broadway and realized that their only option in the right lane was to turn right onto East Broadway Street.”
Does some of that occur due to inattentive drivers? Certainly, but let’s be honest.
The majority of the high-volume traffic occurs during the morning and evening rush hours. The addressing of this traffic as being “inattentive motorists” is, for the most part, inaccurate. The drivers who are proceeding in the right lane and then diving left into the through lane are acting with one intention in mind. They are not going to wait their turn, in the long line, with the other courteous drivers. It’s because they are better than the rest of us and their time is far more important. Therefore, they must race up as far as they can in the right lane and force themselves into the left lane in front of some overly generous soul who feels sorry for them and gives them a break. So, why do these drivers do it? It’s because they can, and they are entitled people.
Those discourteous drivers do this every day and always find someone to let them in. Certainly, they experience days when there is no forgiving soul to let them in immediately, and they are left with forcing their way into the line. The administration had better be prepared for this behavior to continue forever after the project has been completed, cones or no cones, I-475 construction or no construction.
The city can conduct its traffic study if it wishes, but the morning and evening rush hour traffic will not change. Funneling traffic with cones merely moves the merge zone farther back.
The sad fact is that the federal government agreed to participate in the construction of a new Maumee-Perrysburg bridge with four lanes to alleviate traffic congestion and contributed millions of dollars toward that 2003 project. I knew the Federal Highway Administration engineer for our region and, if he was still alive today, he would be absolutely livid to see what is occurring. Had the city left in use all available four lanes through town, there would not be a need to “funnel” traffic on the bridge, now or ever in the future.
The Mirror article was titled, “Traffic Flow On Ft. Meigs Meigs Memorial Bridge Is Restored To Full Capacity.”
A Waterville Christmas To Remember Has Volunteers To Thank For Success
To the Editor:
Last week, hundreds of families and friends flocked to downtown Waterville to celebrate “A Waterville Christmas to Remember.”
The event included live musicians, lights, a live Nativity, crafts, face painting, food trucks, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, horse-drawn wagon rides and a photo booth. Magic was in the air!
This event was a team effort that started last February as we obtained funding from the city to replace and refurbish decorations for the downtown area. Thank you to all of the volunteers who worked endless hours throughout the year and to all who joined to help even in the homestretch. This includes Christie and Nate Bolton, Terry Rousseau, Heather Duvall-Foote, Josh Wagy, Julie Wiley, Rev. Steve Bauerle and Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mayor Tim Pedro, Kaleigh Gray, Elaine Parrish, Sue Utterback, Emily Martin, Wes Martin, Brenda Dodson, Ronda Moore, Tom Gray, Katie Rose, Adam Foltz, Amy Gelsone, Terri Massucci, Sehnaz and Irem Aksoy and Regina Moore.
And thank you to all of those who came out to support our event and show that our community stands strong together!
Waterside Monclova – An Unfulfilled Dream
To the Editor:
After serving with some great residents on the board and various committees, I find it rather difficult but necessary to write a negative letter about Waterside Monclova.
Waterside is a HOPA community primarily governed by community documents, federal regulations and Ohio Revised Code, and it seems every one of them has been broken or circumvented by the board.
Protecting voting procedures, fiduciary responsibility and freedom of speech are fundamental in any community. Using some examples, I will attempt to describe the failures of this board and manager in protecting those rights.
There was some interest in building an addition to the clubhouse and there was a $55,000 limit on board expenditures. The vote did NOT pass the number required in our documents, but the board in a private meeting dissolved the spending limit and decided to spend $750,000 on a clubhouse addition contrary to the will and vote of the residents. This action severely depreciated a significant reserve account. Also, a non-elected finance committee was dissolved and never re-established as promised.
Since the spending limit was abolished, the board continued spending on various projects with debatable value. The Ohio Revised Code states that planned communities must retain reserve funds to cover the cost of “repair or replacement of assets,” however, the board spent the reserve fund monies for new projects. After many challenges and years later, the board is making a meager attempt to replenish those funds, which at best will take considerable time.
Most newspapers have pages of opinion allowing different viewpoints to be heard – not in Waterside!
There are two outlets for resident information and communication. They are the NABR network, a website, and Harbour Lights, a monthly newsletter. Both are paid for by the residents’ assessments but controlled by the board and manager. The board uses these to promote its positions and does not allow any dissenting comments arbitrarily controlled by the manager.
An excellent example of the board’s egregious use of these sites was the castigation of a very experienced CPA and board member who was challenging the board’s accounting procedures and spending habits. Since these revealing postings were not allowed, he was doing his best to keep some of the residents informed through a members-only Facebook group. About the same time, an auditing firm and accounting firm both decided they did not want to do business with Waterside any longer. The board stated in its public article that these firms exited due to comments made by the CPA board member that were negative to their firms. Not true. The statements were made especially about Waterside’s accounting practices. An attempt was made to reach out to these firms, and they declined comment.
The atmosphere has been so divisive that there are three seats open on the board and zero candidates. Imagine that with 602 homes and 900-1,000 residents
I believe most residents want an inescapable spending cap limit (maybe $25,000) on spending without a vote by residents. Once again establishing an oversight finance committee, freedom of opinion in the resident-funded newsletter and overall true transparency where all questions can be asked and answered.
Last but not least would be getting more residents involved and some political and legal support from our surrounding communities.
Maumee Annexation Threatens Partnership
Dear Maumee Council:
Zac Isaac, former executive officer of The State Bank & Trust and president of Isaac Property Company, petitioned the Board of Lucas County Commissioners to annex property from Monclova Township to Maumee on June 1, 2022, and Maumee City Council approved the annexation on June 6, 2022, without even a phone call to Monclova.
On August 30, 2022, Commissioners Gerken, Wozniak and Byers granted Isaac’s petition to annex property located near Fallen Timbers Mall just behind the Waterside subdivision in Monclova. Isaac has stated that he intends to annex additional property located off Black Road.
In 2010, Monclova Township with the cities of Maumee and Toledo (“MMT”) negotiated Joint Economic Development Zone (JEDZ) and Cooperative Economic Development (CEDA) agreements to cooperate in regional development and to retain and create job opportunities for the welfare of all in the region. The JEDZ was approved by the electors of Monclova.
JEDZs and CEDAs are forms of partnerships prescribed by statutes and are created among units of local governments. CEDAs can encompass a range of agreements for cooperation and revenue sharing but are not taxing authorities. A JEDZ is an entity formed by contract to create revenue through an income tax in commercial areas. A JEDZ allows a municipality to expand its tax base without annexing township territory and provides additional funds necessary for a township to serve growing commercial areas by receiving a share of income taxes. Typically, JEDZs and CEDAs minimize annexation disputes between townships and municipalities, often facilitating the development and delivery of utilities to development properties, which is consistent with the original intentions of the MMT agreements.
JEDZs and CEDAs are good for business since a portion of the income tax collected can be made available for improvements to properties serving the JEDZ area. The most recent and notable example of the MMT JEDZ is the agreement of Toledo to contribute a portion of its share of JEDZ revenue to the local cost for the I-475/US 20A Interchange.
But now the JEDZ and CEDA partnerships are being undermined and Monclova Township is under attack. The “no annexation” agreement in the CEDA was intended to cover all of Monclova Township and no territory of the township would be annexed by the cities without consent of all three parties. Recognizing that annexation issues would arise, the contracts provide a mechanism to allow annexations when the parties agree it to be appropriate.
If Isaac’s development plans proceed, purchasers of those homes should be forewarned as they will be subject to both Maumee city tax and Monclova’s taxes and levies. The annexation statute provides that the territory annexed into Maumee will not be excluded from the township and remains subject to the township’s real property taxes.
These historic agreements are now in jeopardy. After years of working together to promote the JEDZ, Maumee City Council, administrator Patrick Burtch and Mayor Rich Carr disregarded the contracts. There is no right of a landowner to annex; the municipality has the final word. In this case, even though Maumee had agreed not to exercise annexation without consent of its partners, they chose to neglect that commitment.
When partners selectively choose to ignore the terms of a contract and disrespect its partners, then there is little purpose, value or trust behind them.
Monclova Township Board of Trustees
Maumee Mayor Issues A Response
To the Editor:
On June 1, 2022, Isaac Land Investments petitioned the Board of Lucas County Commissioners to annex property from the township of Monclova into the city of Maumee. Both communities, Monclova Township and the city of Maumee, were served the very next day on June 2, 2022, with notice of the petition having been filed. The annexation petition filed does not exclude this land from the township.
The Monclova Township trustees stated in their media release that “even though Maumee had agreed not to exercise annexation into Maumee without the consent of its partners, they chose to neglect that commitment.” The Monclova Township trustees, by their failure to object to the petition, in fact did consent to the annexation.
The Monclova Township Board of Trustees had the statutory right to file with the Board of County Commissioners an objection to the petition. The Board of Lucas County Commissioners specifically found that the Monclova Township Board of Trustees failed to file a timely objection to the petition; therefore, under the laws of the state of Ohio, Monclova Township was deemed to have consented to annexation of the property into the city of Maumee.
The Lucas County Commissioners were very thorough in making certain that all requirements for annexation set forth in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) were strictly followed. Neither the Board of Lucas County Commissioners nor the city of Maumee should be criticized by the Monclova Township Board of Trustees for the trustees’ failure to object to the petition, which by law forfeits their opposition to the annexation.
The Monclova Township trustees have chosen to publicly criticize the city of Maumee through a media release. The trustees apparently have chosen to respond to their failure to file a timely objection, which resulted in their legally being determined to have consented to the annexation petition, by attempting to shift blame to the city of Maumee for the petition being approved. The Monclova Township Board of Trustees’ failure to object to the petition directly resulted in the approval of the annexation, not any action by the city of Maumee or its elected or appointed officials.
Monclova Township trustees declaring in a media release that they are “under attack” by Maumee is not only perplexing but completely unfounded. Maumee officials are always interested in finding common ground with our Monclova Township neighbors, which is why Maumee did not initiate this petition for annexation in any way. However, a private developer did file the petition and could not be ignored by the Maumee City Council. At no time in the past 12 years has the city of Maumee even discussed the annexation of Monclova Township property.
It is apparent that Isaac Land Investments has determined the necessity of annexing approximately 27 acres of property they own in Monclova Township next to Fallen Timbers Mall into the city of Maumee for specific business or personal reasons.
I am certain that Mr. Isaac is willing to publicly discuss the reasons for his decision to annex property from Monclova Township into the city of Maumee, the same as the Monclova Township trustees have determined a public forum is the best manner in which to proceed. I believe that it would be enlightening for both residents of Monclova Township and the city of Maumee to understand what caused Isaac Land Investments to choose this avenue to facilitate its private property and developmental rights.
Isaac Land Investments’ consideration of the economic health of surrounding areas should be applauded by all those who believe Fallen Timbers should continue to provide retail, commercial and other housing opportunities for surrounding community residents in Waterville, Whitehouse, Waterville Township, Maumee and Monclova Township as well as provide additional revenue to both the Maumee and Anthony Wayne school districts.
It might very well be the saving grace for the Fallen Timbers property, which we can all agree is a step in the right direction.
Online-Only Tickets Cause Hardship
To the Editor:
I just recently found out that in order to attend an event at Anthony Wayne schools, you need to get your tickets online. As I don’t have any way of doing this, I think it is a terrible way of doing business. It not only causes hardship, it causes you to pay more because you are paying a processing fee to some company. If it’s going to cost more, I would rather pay it to the school. If it’s for a security purpose, that’s no better – someone, if they want to do damage, can get in by buying a ticket online just as easily as buying at the gate. To the school board or whoever made this choice, I would wish you would change the policy.
City Should Reposition Roadwork Sign
To the Editor:
The work on Conant Street and the bridge in the right lane is unnerving right now. A simple solution would be to move the roadwork sign back, closer to Perrysburg. As people come from Perrysburg, heading to the bridge, the right lane is closed, and traffic backs up in the left lane. The sign saying “Closed” or “Roadwork Ahead” is placed at the bridge and halfway across the bridge, but if they would just move it back a little, all those cars that fly down the right lane and try to merge into the already long line of traffic in the left lane might know better. The sign really should be as far back as the light/intersection at SR 25 and Front Street, so drivers see it and start merging then! Just seems like an easy and common-sense solution.
Please Return Conant Street To Drivers
To the Editor:
A new overhead sign should read, “Welcome to Upscale Maumee. Speed Limit Zero.” Making Conant Street traffic back up for blocks? Brilliant. Leaders wanted left turns. A simple fix would be to remove “No Left Turn” signs. When Conant Street was reduced to one lane from Perrysburg at West Boundary, there was a left-turn arrow. Then, Maumee “retimed” the traffic signals and eliminated the left-turn arrow. Brilliant. Soon, a bicycle path along the Anthony Wayne Trail will be the quickest way through Maumee. Maybe the new divider at Harrison Street could have a buffet with a salad bar. There is plenty of time to choose while being stuck in “upscale” traffic.
Rib Off Was Great, Traffic Was Not
To the Editor:
I try not to complain, but after going to this year’s annual Rib Off, which was great – I try to go every year – I waited for 45 minutes to get out of the parking lot after the musical event on Friday. That was sitting there, not even moving yet.
From what we could tell, there was no one directing traffic onto Key Street.
They could have some people turning right only, which would have had the traffic going a lot faster. Also, there was no back exit onto Michigan. Could that have been another option? Maybe some ideas for next year.
Conant Street Property Deserves Our Attention
To the Editor:
In the July 28, 2022 edition of The Mirror, a Letter to the Editor titled “Revisit Uptown Greenspace Proposal” took me by surprise. In 2014, the idea for a park was brought to the city by a group of citizens. Unfortunately, the proposal, while approved, never moved forward. Four years later, in 2018, commerce became another option. Lacking a Master Plan, having land use restrictions and the prior plan of a park never realized, the land was sold as an addition to our uptown commerce district. I remember asking if a small remembrance “corner park” could be made as part of the final plans. I really did believe they would make that property shine. Unfortunately, we are at the four-year mark again without visible progress and the citizens are once again looking for action on that same beautiful piece of property in uptown. Before we start diving back into a conversation of “what,” we need to ask “why” and “how.” WHY is a prime piece of property in our beautiful uptown still sitting empty after all this time? Eight years of interested parties and years prior to that, the space still sits empty, still undeveloped. Years of conversation and controversy only for an entire uptown revitalization project to happen around it; its fate still hanging in the balance. If a group of citizens was able to finance a park project and it was approved, WHY wasn’t it ever realized? If a piece of land was sold to a community-based business, WHY has the process taken so long? Much like other improvements in the community – utility billing upgrades and streaming meetings being a few – the plans never seem to make it to the finish line. If a greenspace proposal is viable, if commerce is still on the table, if another option comes to the table, HOW will we know this is the final conversation? HOW will we know the plan will be realized this time? The community deserves to move on from this conversation and to see thoughtful, forward-moving progress from its leadership.
City Urged To Improve Utility Billing
To the Editor:
I recently attended a Maumee City Council meeting on Monday, July 17. I had two objectives to present at the end of the meeting for community comments: 1.) The 3-percent senior discount on Maumee residents’ water bills. With the ongoing increases of gasoline, food prices and other living maintenance, this 3-percent discount is just not keeping up with all the expenses that are increasing. The recent increase of a minimum of 6,000 gallons of water per household on the water bill has caused my one-person household’s costs to climb from $89.00 per quarter to $159, which inevitably is charging me for water I do not use. Three percent of the $159 is $4.77 and is absolutely lame if you ask me, and I am sure if we asked the seniors of Maumee, they would agree as well, especially after White House government officials have repeatedly said how this is the time to start paying more attention regarding how to help our seniors and deal with mental health issues within our communities. I was rather hopeful that a percentage increase for seniors on the water bill would be taken into advisement. Council president James MacDonald made mention that the request would be reviewed. 2.) For the city of Maumee to review how nonfunctional its website is for customers making payments on their utility bills. The way the system is now, a person using this to pay their bill is not permitted to see past bills and past payments on the system. I petitioned council to consider a software that would allow the citizens to be able to do so. Again, I was rather hopeful to hear that the city has recognized that this is a problem, and I was reassured to hear that they already have something in the works to begin a change, per comment from Maumee Finance Director Jennifer Harkey.
Blocking Harrison Streets A Hasty Decision
To the Editor:
In response to the permanent blocking off of East and West Harrison streets, it is a hasty solution for a temporary problem. Why would someone turn illegally onto East Harrison when they could turn legally onto Broadway? Perhaps better signage that it is one way is needed. The biggest problem is the temporary closure of the left-hand turn lanes on Conant Street. I can understand making it illegal to turn left on West Harrison, but to block it off permanently would affect making right-hand turns going south on Conant. I, and others, use that route to go to the St. Joseph parking lot. Imagine the traffic on Allen Street trying to get into the Allen Street entrance. If necessary, block off East Harrison (permanently if necessary) and block off West Harrison temporarily until after the project is done and the left turn lanes are open. It would be nice if there were short turn arrows. As anyone who uses or crosses Conant Street knows, the intersections are often blocked. Many people are upset with the Conant Street project and making decisions without thought will not help. Save money by blocking West Harrison temporarily if necessary until the project is done. All the side streets are seeing more traffic. Should we close all of them?
Revisit Uptown Green Space Proposal
To the Editor:
Approximately 14 years ago, I spoke before city council about transforming the area along Conant Street between East Broadway and East Wayne streets into an open green space as an enhancement to the uptown Maumee area. Fast forward to 2014. Council received a proposal from the Quality of Life Committee to keep that area a green space. In the July 10, 2014, issue of The Mirror, there is an article stating, “Council voted unanimously to send the proposal to the Buildings and Lands Committee for further review.” This was in reference to the proposal submitted by the Quality of Life Committee. The proposal included benches, walkways a low decorative wall and a water feature. Students from BGSU submitted plans for this proposal and the Buehrer Group Architecture and Engineering firm helped with the finalizing of the preliminary plans. Eventually, the property was sold to Marc Monnette so he could build a market. Many years have passed since this sale and the end result is that a Monnette’s market will not be built on that site. That land still sits vacant. The city now potentially has another opportunity to develop this land into an open green space with enhancements such as benches, a fountain and flower gardens. Now, more than back in 2014, developing this land as a green space makes more sense. With the ongoing transformation along Conant Street from four lanes into a two-lane road in order to slow down traffic in the hopes that more people will notice businesses in Maumee and stop to wander the streets, creating a green space would be a complement to the current changes taking place. I am sure that residents and visitors to the city would enjoy a welcoming area in a well-designed green space to sit with their ice cream from either Jacky’s or the candy store. I ask that council once again consider making this parcel of land into a well-developed open green space. It would make the uptown area much more inviting and appealing to go along with the current changes being made to uptown. Keep the momentum going with a positive change to this parcel of land. I would bet that Marc Monnette would be more than willing to sell this land back to the city.
Criticism Seems Unfair To Monclova Trustees
To the Editor:
In a July 14 letter to the editor, Jeremy Rands criticized Monclova Township trustees for being unresponsive to residents during a July 5 township meeting.
This surprised me, as I have generally found our trustees to be receptive and respectful in my interactions with them. (That is not to say we haven’t had a dispute or two over what we believed to be in the best interest of our community).
A few days after reading Mr. Rands’ commentary in The Mirror, it resurfaced in my postal mailbox – this time sealed in a Monclova Road Baptist Church envelope postal-stamped “nonprofit organization.” It confused me. Was this mass mailing to residents coming from a local resident or had it become an official church matter?
Upon giving it a second reading, something else seemed a bit off-kilter. Pastor Rands noted that this was only the second trustee meeting he had ever attended. Was this small sample size enough for him to be calling into question our trustees’ overall fitness to serve?
In order to resolve some of these questions in my own mind, I went to the Monclova township website and listened to the archived audio of the July 5 meeting in its entirety.
These were my takeaways:
The township trustees and fire chief are currently engaged in the process of determining how to best provide 24/7 fire protection to township residents.
At the July 5 meeting, a trustee explained to residents that this matter did not appear on that night’s agenda due to the fact that our fire chief had just submitted his proposal for upgrades prior to the start of the meeting. Furthermore, additional time was needed to evaluate any forthcoming proposals from neighboring fire departments. This process is not at all unusual. In the past, Monclova Township decided to turn over policing to the sheriff’s department and refuse pickup to a private provider.
Residents were then encouraged to send emails to the trustees with their questions and concerns and given assurances this matter would be given top priority at the next scheduled township meeting, with plenty of time set aside for comments from the public. The archived audio from the July 18 township meeting indicates that is precisely what happened.
A number of July 5 meeting attendees nevertheless insisted they be given time to speak that evening. As tension on both sides escalated, the trustees relented and granted two minutes per person for public comment. Seventeen speakers came forward. When it was Mr. Rands’ turn, he engaged the trustees for 10 minutes.
In his letter, Mr. Rands alluded to “unhinged tyrants drunk with power,” who “silence the voices of citizens with intimidation.” Was this his objective assessment of our trustees’ behavior at the July 5 meeting? It surely wasn’t mine.
Elected Officials Must Serve The Citizenry
To the Editor:
“We are in a crisis.”
On July 5, I found myself sitting in the front row of a standing-room-only trustees’ meeting at the Administration Building in Monclova Township.
Rumors had been circulating for weeks about the trustees’ secret intentions to outsource the township’s fire services to Springfield Township’s fire services. It was because of these rumors the residents came out in large numbers to give the trustees an opportunity to address the issue and share the truth.
As the trustees walked into the crowded room, one of them nervously said, “This is going to be a short meeting tonight.” I had a suspicion, based on this comment, that she was not going to provide the necessary leadership to calm the rumors and concerns that the residents brought to this meeting.
As I sat through the meeting, I was taken aback by how condescending one trustee was to their fellow trustees. Their tone was sharp and aggressive. This trustee controlled every conversation. This was only the second trustee meeting I had ever attended, and I sat disappointed as I witnessed this behavior. I felt it was rude and unbecoming of a servant leader. Then, as quickly as the meeting began, it was over. When it came time on the agenda for public comments, the residents were told, “Because of the amount of people here tonight, we will not allow public comments.”
My suspicion was proven to be correct; she had no desire to hear from the residents that evening or to calm the concerns that they had. She was going to send them away, and it appeared she didn’t care.
As the residents quickly realized what was happening, they began to speak up. They were firmly told to be quiet, and the tension in the room became thick. I could not believe how the residents were being talked to and treated. I was in shock! It became very apparent the trustees felt that the residents were out of place and needed to be put back in check. The next hour was sad. I witnessed an out-of-control trustee attempt to silence the residents’ free speech, interrupt, roll her eyes, get red-faced and even speak down to her fellow trustees when they disagreed with her. She portrayed disdain and disrespect to the residents she was elected to serve.
Sadly, we are witnessing this same scenario played out in town hall meetings, school board meetings, city council meetings and trustee meetings across America. Some politicians who get a taste of power become drunk with it. They forget that they were elected to work for the people and to represent the people in their community. Whenever they feel challenged, they attack those who have questions or opposing views. They attempt to silence the voices of the citizens with intimidation. It is appalling to see those who should be servant leaders become so arrogant in how they treat the citizens that they were entrusted to serve.
As I pondered this disappointing event that took place within my township, I did what a leader should do. I sought solutions. This should never happen. Citizens should never be treated this way. Elected officials should be servant leaders, not unhinged tyrants. So, what can we do? Allow me to encourage every citizen with the following solutions.
First, let your face be seen at every meeting. We need to be present at the meetings each time to remind the elected officials whom they are elected to represent. Our democracy only works when the citizens stay informed and do not relinquish the community’s best interests to the self-serving interest of politicians. We need to call out unhealthy behavior. When our elected officials become drunk with power, we must be there to demand humility.
Too many meetings take place in empty rooms. Citizens must be engaged. We can no longer afford to have short-term memories. When elections come around, we must use the ballot box as a performance review of not just officials’ accomplishments, but their bad behavior as well. When tyrannical behavior is allowed to go unchecked, it will only get worse, and the community will eventually pay the price.
Secondly, we as residents should always be looking for leaders in our community and encourage them to run for public office. Far too often, elected officials get power hungry because they go unopposed during elections. They remain in power far too long. No incumbent should ever run for re-election unopposed. We do not need a law passed to put term limits in place for elected officials, we just simply need to actively engage leaders within our communities and support them to run against every incumbent, every election cycle. There should never be an easy path to re-election for any elected official.
I welcome your thoughts and would enjoy hearing your comments. I hope that we can connect, and together our voices can make change and bring solutions because “we are in a crisis.”
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rev. Jeremy Rands