Saturday, December 6, 2014

City Council Round- Up: Road Kill, Trailer Ordinance and ResidencyRequirement

Fort Thomas city council. FTM File. 
During what must have been one of the quickest meetings ever, road kill was discussed and several ordinances were read with some being the second reading and passing. Jay Fossett was not present due to a conflict.

DEER-RELATED ACCIDENT CREATE COLLATERAL DAMAGE
Fort Thomas resident Mari Beth Sensel addressed council about a deer that was on the side of Memorial Parkway during Thanksgiving weekend. The deer was located 100 yards from the entry of Stardust Point. "This is now my third meeting that I have been here for road kill. Meeting one was a year ago in December."

In previous meetings it was explained to Sensel that Memorial Parkway is a state road and parts of it are in Newport and Bellevue. This sometimes makes things difficult. She argued that the perception is it's Fort Thomas and it looks bad on the city.

Sensel asked why  the smaller animals are usually removed so quickly but the deer tend to stay around for a while. "I would like some answers tonight."


"As far as smaller animals, we can easily dispose of them in a dumpster," said Don Martin, city administrator adding that deer are a little harder to dispose. In an email to Fort Thomas Matters, Martin would later claim that "…the deer carcass in-question along Memorial Parkway was not located in the City of Fort Thomas, but in Newport.  Therefore it was Newport's responsibility to address, not Fort Thomas'."  

However, the city of Newport disagrees.

"We didn't receive any notification that the carcass was in the city of Newport and we typically are called right away if there is roadkill on the small stretch of Newport on Memorial Parkway," said Newport Community Services Director Doug Roell. "If it were in Newport, we would have been notified and would have had it taken care of."

Martin said the police and city employees will report dead deer on state roads to the Kentucky Department of Transportation but it was delayed due to the holiday weekend. It was called Monday morning and the deer was removed.

"I appreciate your concern and we will try to do better," Mayor Mary Brown said to Sensel.

TRAILERS
An ordinance was passed prohibiting trailers to park on streets within Fort Thomas city limits for more than 48 hours. Trailers can only be on the street during those 48 hours for loading and unloading.

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT OF KEY EMPLOYEES
A lot of discussion took place at the last council meeting about a residency requirement for the city administrator, fire chief, fire captains and police chief. There was a Fort Thomas residency requirement for those positions that was discovered this summer by a resident. It was then brought up by Martin in a meeting to eliminate that requirement Martin and the fire chief do not live in the city.

At that point it was sent to the Law, Labor and License Committee for discussion. The committee, with a 2-1 vote, recommended that council keep the requirement that allowed for council to wave the requirement for the administrator and for the administrator to wave it for the chiefs and captains. The issue seemed to be dropped as a result of the committee recommendation, but reappeared on the agenda to the surprise of some council members.


It came up again at the November 18th meeting (read round-up here). Councilman Jay Fossett, chairman of the Law, Labor and License Committee, requested council to hold off on the first reading at the last minute since he knew he couldn't be at last night's meeting where the vote would take place. His request was not granted and the first reading took place. "After I saw that this issue was on the agenda for tonight, I sent an email once again requesting that the vote be delayed until the next meeting, when I would be present," Fossett said Monday afternoon. "Ken Bowman and Lisa Kelly both sent emails agreeing with my request. I have not heard from anyone else."

In an email to FTM after the meeting, Martin suggested that Roger Peterman, Eric Haas, and  Tom Lampe did not respond because Fossett's request via email violated Kentucky's Open Meetings Act, which mandates that all council proceedings be held in a public forum.

"This type of email communication by council members concerning a legislative matter under consideration by the council, likely violates the Kentucky Open Meetings Act," said Martin to FTM.  "All council members have been cautioned by me and by our city attorney to not originate nor engage in emails to a quorum of council such as Jay's email.  If a council member desires to engage a quorum of council members in a conversation regarding a legislative matter it must occur in an open meeting where the public has an opportunity to observe the deliberation."

However, Fossett, an attorney of 27 years and former full-time solicitor for the City of Covington for four years disagrees. "My email did not request council action or discuss public business but simply requested that he/the mayor to change the agenda to delay the vote on the ordinance so I could discuss this publicly discuss this issue at a city council meeting." 

Laura Ross, managing counsel for member legal services with the Kentucky League of Cities, agrees that Fossett's email did not violate any laws including the Kentucky Open Meetings Act. "This is a typical and difficult situation for city legislative bodies who are trying not to risk being considered to  having a public meeting via email so that might be why they didn’t respond," she said. "I do think because it’s an administrative question about postponing, as long as there was no discussion, they could respond and just say the very basic yes or no." 

When asked about the email and postponing the vote before the meeting, Councilman Roger Peterman said "I have considered it (Fossett's request). We are voting tonight." Councilman and Mayor-Elect Eric Haas said "it's not going to change the outcome of the vote anyway," implying that the vote would be 3 to 3 and the mayor would break the tie in favor of getting rid of the requirement.

Councilmen Lampe, Haas and Peterman voted in favor of eliminating the requirement while Kelly and Bowman voted in favor of keeping it, per the committee's recommendation.

"I'm disappointed," said Bowman adding it could be a safety issue. He said the fire chief currently living in Cold Spring isn't an issue but a safety issue could occur if the chief and captains chose to move to Mason or even further away.

The next council meeting is scheduled for December 15 at 7 p.m.

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This article was updated to correct Fire Chief's Mark Bailey's address from Highland Heights to Cold Spring and additional information regarding the deer and residency issues as well as additional comments regarding the residency requirement.

14 comments:

  1. Business as usual in Ft. thomas. To not give the courtesy of your fellow members is a disgusting, self-serving act. There is more to this. Sahe on you Peterman, Haas and Brown.

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  2. This regime has an air of dismissiveness about it.

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  3. Thank you Ms. Sensel for taking the time to raise the deer issue with council. You weren't the only one who noticed the deer was there for unreasonable amount of time. Excuses regarding holidays or the size of the animal are not satisfactory. The city had no problem getting the X-mas tree in place at Inverness on Monday before actually removing the deer that had been there for days.

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  4. Don Martin should be a resident. I find in offensive that he lives in another city and is not even impacted by the decisions of this administration. Yet again, a questionable move by Brown/Martin and Company.

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  5. They mayor was going to break the tie anyway, and she was going to vote to remove it. Like Eric Haas stayed, the vote would not chamge the result. Furthermore, why only limit yourself to the talent just in Fort Thomas? There is a very good chance that someone outside of Fort Thomas is more talented. A year ago no one even knew about this. If you find it offensive, where were you a year ago?

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    1. Just because Mary Brown was going to break the tie doesn't mean ANYTHING. The fact of the matter is that another meeting (where Fossett was present) would have brought to light the sneaky nature in which this was done.

      As far as limiting yourself to talent in Fort Thomas, that is absolutely moot. The current ordinance stated that outside hires were permissible, but that the city admin would have to make plans to move to Fort Thomas. And WHY WOULDNT ANYONE WANT TO LIVE HERE?

      Especially making 6 figures, with a car and supreme benefits. This whole thing reeks of cronyism.

      Why was this post taken down for a day or so?

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    2. Limiting talent to people who have to move to Fort Thomas.

      As far as your claim of the vote being "sneaky" in nature. Well the councilmen could have attended the meeting. Also, the result would have been the exact same whether he was there or not.

      I hear people stating that they want the administrator to live in Fort Thomas, but I haven't heard a good reason why they believe this.

      Lastly, just because you like Fort Thomas, doesn't mean it is the best situation for all people.

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    3. I think the 2 most important reasons I think the city administrator should live in the same city he/she administrates to are: 1) they would be a fellow tax payer 2) the decisions that they would make would effect them as well.

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  6. Soooo, this vote already happened? Wow. Way to slide that in there city council. How many are lame-duck and were they the ones who jammed this in there?

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  7. How did EricHaas know that the vote was not going to be changed? Sounds to me as if some discussions were taking place before the meeting. I'm sorry to say it sounds like Don Martin has the new mayor under his thumb....just like he had the previous mayor. When is someone going to stand up for what is right and quit all this cronyism? I am sick to death of this town being run by a select few who, because of their money, believe that they can influence certain members of city council!

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    1. I'm saddened by the lack of seeming transparency and integrity as you pointed out.... When you lose your integrity, you are not worthy of public respect or regard.

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  8. Don Martin is a manipulator. Mary Brown is is just a bad mayor. Always has been. Eric Haas does not have enough time to effectively be the mayor and give the position the time it deserves. Roger Peterman should have retired from council this year. He has no interest in researching topics on his own. Lisa and Ken Bowman might as well be the same person. Tom and Jay are both OK but are leaving.

    At the end of the day, Don Martin runs this city and doesn't have to live here. That's bad for Fort Thomas, especially when we have a weak council that doesn't do the due diligence they should.

    Martin is milking this city for a lot of money and Eric, Roger, Tom and Mary are fine with this. GOOD RIDDANCE.

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  9. Typical Don Martin... sneaky, smarmy, and dismissive. He needs to go... simple. No one with this little integrity should be affecting the public in the way he does. The term bully, comes to mind. This isn't name calling by the way, they are facts as I and many others perceive them. I had higher expectations form the Ft. Thomas city government.... shame on all of you.

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