What to know about the two coalitions

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If you didn’t realize it, there are two coalitions fielding candidates in the City government races. 

Is there an advantage to backing one of the coalitions?

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I thought I would offer my thoughts.

The first thing you should know is that Richard Shaw and Glenn Otto both have two years remaining on their current terms for their current positions.  Though it may make sense that someone would want to hold the title of Mayor because it looks better on a resume, I believe the reason Mr. Otto is challenging the Mayor in this election, is because Mr. Otto is often in the minority, and the majority does not play good with those that don’t tow the line. There is no reason other than to displace Nancy Byrge for Richard Shaw to run for the at large council position. 

Voters need to know that if Glenn and Richard win their races, that will mean that there will be two open seats on Council starting Jan 1st..  These positions  will be appointed by council.  The replacement process means that the next council will appoint two council members instead of them being elected by residents.  I am disappointed that the Otto/Shaw coalition has not addressed this head on and given us insight on who they are looking at as potential members to fill these positions.  In the off case that this coalition sweeps, I would highly recommend they appoint Vincent King to the Council at Large position.

For those that don’t read long articles, here are simple bullet statements to the positive and negatives I see for each of the coalitions.   I follow the bullet statement with an expanded explanation. 

  1. This coalition is made up of a bunch of independents
  2. You can be reasonably assured the things Otto/Wiley/Kitchen and Marrero say are what they know and their intentions
  3. This group is more inclined to do business in public
Things to work on:
  1. Presenting information that shows they understand the fiscal aspects of government
  2. Presenting information that shows they understand local government
  3. Developing strategic plan and goals

  1. The intelligence and knowledge Mark Campbell brings
Things to work on:
  1. Discussing issues and making decisions in public
  2. Providing all relevant information necessary for the public to understand and contribute to decisions
  3. Proper budgeting of City resources
  4. Stopping the deceptive spin that lead residents and outside observers to consider Huber a pay to play city

Delving into the thoughts that went into the bullets.  The greatest argument for voting for the Otto/Shaw/Wiley/Kitchen/Marrero coalition over the other coalition is that the Otto/Shaw coalition is made of eclectic individuals that will be willing to have their discussions in public. If all nine members of council fit this description, you get lively debate and a greater opportunity to have many of the possible options examined and considered.  You need that kind of public discussion to get good decisions with our tax dollars.  If all five, Otto/Shaw/Wiley/Kitchen/Marrero win their races, we would have to hope that the two members that are appointed are also independent individuals.  I would be leery of that hope being fulfilled if the choice was totally up to Shaw and Otto.  But it won’t be, and the likelihood of Wiley/Kitchen/Marrero/Web and Lyons helping to push that selection to an independent individual is high. 

The current status quo coalition of Gore/Campbell/Byrge/Baker/Web/Lyons/ are all happy with not having public discussions on issues and projects.  In the past four years the city has gone back to those days when council was quick to tell you everything they planned in secret was great; that council told us we were getting a new golf course, then they harped on all the benefits of the public private partnership of Carriage Trails while skipping crucial facts about where the public supplements were coming from.  They had multiple announcements on the Heights Shopping Center.   However, the reality was some of those things were never successful and those things, like Carriage Trails, the Aquatic Center and the Music Center that are now successes, only became that way after we started discussing the true costs in public. 

Some of you probably remember that the announced cost of the Aquatic Center, when we first heard about it, was $6 million dollars.  However, the resulting Aquatic Center, one that did not have as many amenities as was first revealed, actually cost $10 million.  You might also remember council published a news letter stating that because of the huge success of the Aquatic Center’s first year, they were able to spend the $100,000 profit on buying two new police cruisers.  The problem was the Aquatic Center actually lost $30,000 that year.  It was because we forced council into a public discussion, that future years turned out to be revenue neutral.  The Music Center had a similar story.  Incredibly, the City Manager sent out a press release that said we made $300,000 the first year.  When in fact, we actually lost $100,000.  Correcting that false information put management on notice and led to the success we accomplished in the following years. 

We see the same things happening now where Gore/Campbell/Byrge/Baker/Web/Lyons/Hill are making decisions in the back room on the same scale as the golf course community.  Then they pat themselves on the back because nobody is making them tell the public about all the costs.  This gives the impression they are wildly successful.  To let them continue unchecked is a danger to our fiscal well being. 


NOTE:  All members of Council, Gore/Otto/Campbell/Byrge/Shaw/Baker/Web/Lyons/Hill  were responsible for the depletion of General Fund dollars staff is warning about in this video.   

A question you might ask, “why not go half and half with the coalitions”?  The problem with half of council being willing to have open public debates while the other does their decision making behind the scenes is that those that debate in public give the appearance of bickering while the other coalition avoids that perception.  Of course, there is always give and take in negotiations.  The group that does it in public should not be penalized because of a false perception that they have trouble working with people, while those bickering in the shadows appear angelic.  We need those discussion in public because it gives residents the opportunity to get Council back on track if the 4 or 9 people on Council head off in the wrong direction.  When decisions are made in private, it is reasonably easy for one talented personality, whether right or wrong, to control the decisions of the group.
What are the drawbacks of voting the Otto/Shaw/Wiley/Kitchen/Marrero coalition over the Gore/Campbell/Byrge/Baker/King coalition?  That would be the lose of the intelligence and city knowledge that Mr. Campbell brings to council.  Otto and Shaw cannot compete and there is not enough knowledge to absolutely know that the other three combined with Otto and Shaw could reach his level.  I have had a number of conversations with Frank Wiley over a number of years to know that he has the potential to significantly improve Shaw and Otto’s decision-making process.  Also, I have seen a few posts from Marrero that talk about neighborhood revitalization that show an understanding that is above normal.  Whether the five of them together could match the same cognitive level as Mr. Campbell would be close. 

However, the biggest strength of the Gore/Campbell/Byrge/Baker/King coalition is also its biggest weakness.  Mr. Campbell is the biggest proponent of both having conversations in private and telling the public information in a deceptive way.  In the past, this has led to expensive decisions both in terms of actual dollars and development time.  The supplements to the developers of Carriage Trails lasted much longer than could be justified.  Those are actual dollars that should have been saved to pay for the high-pressure water zone and water softening projects that have caused our water bills to go up.  I have no doubt that the efforts to create “The Heights” has delayed development in that area of the city.  Not only did they designate the wrong company(s) to head the effort, there are special assessments and fees imposed by the City on many of those properties that make them unattractive to potential buyers. 

Consequentually, although Mark Campbell increases the total knowledge level of council significantly, the decisions he makes with that knowledge, offsets that benefit.  It may be in the best interest of residents for Ms. Marrero to get the opportunity to combine her knowledge with the knowledge provided by residents to make better decisions than Mr. Campbell makes without the help of residents.   

It is late and I have run out of time to write out the entirety of the things I consider important as we go to the poles.  I think it would probably take four or five more pages and 4 or 5 hours to complete.  As an alternative, lets see how many bullets I can get written down in the next 10 minutes:

For Ward 5 it would be great if Ms. Marrero won over Mr. Campbell.   The City has been lucky that it could recover from the golf course and Heights shopping mall debacles but until Mr. Campbell changes his political philosophy to one that recognizes the value of public contribution to these big decisions, we will always be one mistep away from needing higher taxes. 

For Council at Large, I will be voting for Mr. Shaw.  This is painful because Mr. Shaw has never apologized to the City for advocating for the Charter Change that removed the requirement to have multiple readings of resolutions.  I will cast this vote despite his support for this Charter change (of course Nancy Byrge support this change as well).  Because of this change we now have the environment that made it acceptable back in November 2019 for City council to spend $3.7 million dollars to purchased 51 acres of property twenty minutes after telling us about the project for the first time.  However, having Mr. Shaw defeat Ms. Byrge would help correct the worst mistake I made on behalf of the City.  It is the reflexive rejections of any proposal by “those on the other side” that makes Ms. Byrge a hinderance to progress in the city.  Though some of Mr. Shaw and Mr. Otto’s suggestion are off target, some are not.  If Ms. Byrge showed any inclination of evaluating objectively before rejecting there might be some benefit to keeping her.   She is really the only one of the old gaurd that will provide her thoughts about projects in the open sessions of council.  She also has a few proposals that could be honed into something positive.  However, she cannot look at other proposals with an open mind, so her losing her seat would benefit the city.  For instance, she proposed building a sidewalk in Riverside so residents could shop at businesses in Riverside then rejected a compromise proposal of improving the already existing sidewalk that runs from Kitridge down into Thomas Cloud park.  This compromise would have made Thomas cloud more assessable while still providing a safe path to those Riverside  businesses accross the road.  So in the evaluation of the Shaw versus Bryge race, Shaw's insights and contributions to the business community is significantly  more beneficial to the city than the occasional proposition by Ms. Bryge that could be honed into a proposal that benefits the city.     

For Ward 3 Frank Wiley is definitely the better candidate.  Kate Baker has shown nothing during any public meeting that contributes to the debate or improves decisions.

For Ward 4, I don’t get to vote but I like both candidates.  I think it would be a positive if Anita won this race and then Vince got appointed to the At Large seat.  That only happens though if Glenn wins the Mayor’s race.

For the Mayor race, I have not yet decided.  You can see the first two articles I wrote on the election talk a lot about the Mayor’s race.  Here are a couple things that I haven’t written yet.  I definitely, have lowered my rating on how well Jeff understands complex issues.  We have had a number of discussions and I have looked into more of his statements at council meetings to realize he probably is only a couple of points ahead of Glenn on the ability to understand the finer details of an issue.  On the other hand, I was coming back from base the other day and saw that the county was moving the guard rail for the North bound exit ramp of the new Rt 4 bridge exit at Chambersburg.  I could not help but assign him even more leadership or get it done points. 

For awhile today, I had convinced myself that voting for Gore would be ok even if I now rate both candidates as essentially equal.  Then I thought, well if they are equal, maybe I would not vote for either.  Finally, my wife decided a couple days ago that she would visit family in SC.  She always votes, but it generally isn’t a high priority.  However, when I told her this morning that she was going to miss voting Tuesday, she made the decision that she needed to early vote today to make sure if Glenn needed one more vote she had done her part.  She did not get to vote because early voting did not open before we needed to leave for the airport.  If I actually made the decision to not vote for either candidate, she would want me to vote for Glenn to make up for her vote.   I probably won’t make up my mind on this one until Tuesday. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if one or the other candidate could do something that shows they are willing and capable of correcting some of the things that make it hard for anyone that shares my priorities, fiscal responsibility and transparent government to fully back either of these candidates. 

Mayor Comparison Articles:  Part 1Part 2

For those that are a member of the Facebook Group, Anything and Everything Huber Heights, here is a link to one of the discussion Mayor Gore engaged in.  It is an interesting read.