Clarksburg City Council Candidate Public Forum at St James Gym in North View began Tuesday evening at 5:30 and continued on until nearly 10pm.
Chad Sigmon, Martin Shaffer, Justine Scott Marino, Nathanael Herrod, Gary R Bowden, Curtis W. Edwards were all in respectful attendance. Once again, Cathy Goings, and Dan Thompson failed to show as did Margaret Bailey, without so much as a RSVP from any of them. I was informed that Tuna would not be able to attend due to prior obligations.
The vibe of the citizens reverberated around the gym with a zing. It was obvious that we, the people, were there to engage and interact. Passion has been rekindled in Clarksburg. I am proud to be among such people and call them my community.
Videos from last night
Photos from the Forum – https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.368826979984420.1073741850.287417801458672
The Forum was opened by our lovely moderator Susan Kelly, explaining how the forum would work.
First to take the floor was Chad Sigmon. He informed us more of his own background and history more built upon a resume style introduction, his personal experience and achievements, and finally reminded us he is #8 on the ballot. While Martin Shaffer expressed how he was experienced in business, well traveled, and seeking out of the local box ideas to solve our problems – invested his own cash to advertise the forum. Justine Marino was grateful for such an attendance, expressed how she was invested in family, our local area, the future. She focused upon communication between she and the community. Nathan Herrod came out expressing his desire for evolution and change alongside his own ideas to grow. He touched on a variety of strong points that later came out in the questions from the public. His finger is on Clarksburg citizens’ pulse. Gary Bowden explained how he had been here for 40 years, married for 39, and how he has been invested here in Clarksburg – member of a plethora of local boards and worked with WBOY for 20 years. Curtis Edwards explained how he was born and raised here in Clarksburg, is a teacher and coach because of his desires to work with kids. Edwards brought praise to public works and said how we would be able to change things working together. The empty seats were, of course, dead silent.
I am disappointed in our elected officials for not attending. Denise Binion would have gladly rescheduled if they had only bothered to get in touch with her.
Low-income housing NEEDED, instead of demolishing housing, can they not be rehabbed –
Martin Shaffer was the first to answer expressing rehabbing over destruction. Explained a demo sign is equal to a sign that says “come and rob me”, because the houses are broken into to strip anything of value from them. I agree with rehabbing homes entirely. I myself have worked with deconstruction, rehab, and demolishing through Habitat for Humanity. It CAN be done. Nathan Herrod explained how it all works, or rather FAILS. The very same money that funds the demo program could just as readily fund a rehab program in Clarksburg. He wants to see people be able to remain in their houses vs being made homeless by the city. Money is there free of charge, in FUNDS – explained a woman from the crowd, in detail. Gary Bowden then stood to answer. He brought up AFFORDABLE housing, NOT low-income housing. Going on to explain how the process works, or again DOESN’T. Responsible owners vs irresponsible owners are what the city looks upon to make the decision. I saw an elderly woman’s home taken from her before Christmas. I only wish I was ignorant of how things are done. Curtis Edwards was the next up explaining how he has had rental properties forever. Then wanted to STOP tearing houses into multiple units so we can keep neighborhoods FAMILY oriented. DISLIKE. Justine Marino explained how she agreed with all that had been expressed, but she wanted to find ANOTHER solution to this ever growing problem. All these families working nonstop and STILL cannot afford to live here. I was able to tell the candidates about Nazareth Farm, an alternative to demolition.
Cleaning up the neighborhoods in Clarksburg.
Chad Sigmon was first up, introducing Debbie and explaining how he has dove into commUnity efforts with neighborhood watch, especially in Stealey. He wants the people to be able to contact CPD officers so that the smaller more persistent dealers can be arrested. We are not being aggressive enough fighting the drugs and he wishes to make things better for the children.
Nathan Herrod explained how we have taken community away from Clarksburg. He challenges people to drive through North View and Stealey. Closing the park instead of running the dealers off? PREVENTION – resource officers into schools and BEAT COPS building rapport with our community members.
Curtis Edwards has been involved with Neighborhood Watch since the 80s. Beat Cops are unable to be there due to the lack of POLICE. More patrols, let the cops know if you are leaving the area on vacation. He wanted people to ATTEND the parks – United Church Park relationship. Churches are the go between.
Martin Shaffer stepped up to tell us he remembered when Clarksburg was 38,000 residents and only had 36 officers and now we are budgeted for 46. We need more undercover cops and police we can actually speak with. While we need neighborhood watches, we also need a DISCREET means of tipping off. Cops ARE being told, yet cops do NOTHING. They are being hog tied – cops are EQUALLY frustrated. We need cops driving through these communities to be MORE HANDS ON.
Justine Marino felt it was essential to bridge the interdependence of all of our problems locally. The Domino effect is obvious and rippling across our city for both good and bad things. The police need to feel supported and has their back. The community needs to feel supported by the police. It becomes a SERIOUS communication issue. We need positive communication flowing.
Gary Bowden was also uncertain about beautification or crime. He shifted the blame upon the community members, didn’t feel as though it was ALL to fall onto city hall for beautification issues and responsibility – outside of an elderly woman example where we should become a community. That is how communities become communities again. Yet, I can recall my own great aunt and great uncle being fined for their grass being too high when she was hospitalized and my uncle stayed with her at the hospital.😦 Then he expressed how the police are stuck in their situation. Not enough of them vs the work needed. But there are more patrols running now than we have in “many many years.” I would like to believe he is simply unaware, but I have attended TOO many meetings and I simply know better. I have spoken on the issue myself. Why can’t we get those working in Code Enforcement receiving a paycheck for sitting on their duffs to step up and assist the elderly and handicapped with their grass, given the city reduced the height from 8″ to 6″.
Martin Shaffer explained how the drug rehab works in reality vs how most people believe it works. This will be a LONG term struggle for addicts, it isn’t 30 days CURED. They need community – druggie friends will drag them RIGHT BACK DOWN. We need a LONG term solution. Resource officer is needed in EVERY school.
Gary Bowden stood and acknowledged the drug problems. We cannot rehab our way out of it. Education angle is the best way to handle this. GUESS we all miss Michael Daughtery right abut now?! EH!? Growl I am still angry that happened.
We have to do the education the rest is failing our children and thusly our collective FUTURE.
Curtis Edwards explained how Jr High is TOO late. Too many kids have already lost hope by then, sadly he is correct. EDUCATION – Churches, neighborhoods, and schools. City council cannot fix this problem, but it will take all of us to SOLVE this. It’s like a puzzle we all have independent pieces of and it will never be solved without each being involved. ((My surmise of his dialog))
Nathan Herrod spoke of prevention and intervention – Shop Mentored kids so they could learn job skills in a DRUG FREE environment. Giving them something OTHER than hanging out and getting wasted. Incarceration is the best option for ALL Dealers. He doesn’t believe Jr High is too late.
Chad Sigmon explained how he had a face to face meeting with Chief Hilliard. No officers want to be in schools as Resource Officers – none of them have the personality for the job. We need to hire the right people for the job. We need recreation centers and activities for our kids. He has lived in other states and recognizes how limited we are here in Clarksburg. It is a SAD SAD thing.😦 He has traveled and it led him to his current life path. Back to Michael Daughtery being LOST thanks to poor losers. Yes, that is how I see it.
Justine Marino said we need an open dialog with our kids from the time they walk into a school, despite the possibility of it being uncomfortable for the parents. We need to prosecute the dealers, yes. But throwing addicts into jail is WRONG. We need to focus on SERIOUS drugs, not marijuana. This will allow our police force to focus upon the BIG problem of heroin, prescription pills, and meth. I AGREE. Use the tax revenue for drug rehabilitation.
I ask you to take the time to read this article I wrote in 2011 if Justine Marino’s proposal about legalizing Marijuana bothered you or set discomfort within your mind. As always, I do my research!
UNFUNDED LIABILITIES –
Martin Shaffer explained what unfunded liabilities are, how they work, and the politicians refuse to recognize it’s DEBT!
Gary Bowden stood to explain how it is being addressed. We do NOT have the largest unfunded debt in the state, thank God for tiny miracles. He used the Post Office as an example, saying he didn’t see a lot of city employees retiring all at once. It was extremely unlikely.
Nathan Herrod explained how he went into the unfunded liability 3 years ago. 14% interest? REALLY LOW. It has brought it up to 16% and will be up to 17% by next year. These people will retire at the same time, 30+ years in and they can retire anytime they want! We have a MOUNTAIN of liabilities – thanks to the demo scam. We ARE going to lose money because of the legal fees. **TOM JACQUES will be the very FIRST millionaire due to this gross incompetence.**
Justine Marino explained how we need to handle our city $$ as we do our own PERSONAL funds. Trim the FAT! There is a SERIOUS lack of fiscal responsibility – We NEED to address this. Spending like “blindfolded monkeys.” Hah We need to view the budget line by line to find what can be done to be more responsible.
Curtis Edwards explained how it is being Looked at. He went back to how we need to deal with those who have experience. He harps on that – GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT. I can tell you now, this will not make him popular with low-income folks., that is painfully obvious to this poor woman writing this article.
How can you justify the city manager a 5,000 pay raise when we have lost 2 high ranking police officers for covering up the Lopez assault and the suspension of those code enforcement officials.
Bowden voted for a raise because of the skillsets and multiple goals he felt that performance was such that they were comfortable making that call.
Shaffer is NOT comfortable giving them a raise given all this illegal activity has been happening. 35,000 pages of docs were reviewed before the case was taken BY the fire commission. He put a FOIA request in and it took over a MONTH. Most of the things he asked for were NOT even included. He refuses to do his job. Of course he did this so that the info will come out after the election.
Marino stated how tough it was to sit up here with what Gary given she is diametrically opposed to what he says. She believes he cares for Clarksburg, however she doesn’t see how the city is falling down around our ears – touching on all of those aforementioned points RATHER elegantly. If they wanted to give him a 1 year extension is one thing. However she feels we the taxpayers were bumped over.
Edwards – he wasn’t on council so he cannot comment for certain. Had any of the top officials come up for a raise he would have voted NO! He wanted to give a raise to the public works, NOT the top dogs.
Herrod doesn’t understand the extension let alone a raise. He was so shocked he left speechless, THAT should tell you all something given he is never at a loss for words. These code enforcement tests are OPEN BOOK and take over 2 hours. We are So top heavy that he is one of the highest paid city manager in the state. So is the Asst Manager. ((Justine inserted a joke)) The fat DOES need cut, given these legal issues ARE the hugest fiscal hit we are taking. It is unacceptable to see that he has done all this and is STILL among us.
The Lopez issue being covered up.
Herrod went to speak to Hilliard and learned it was another matter in regards to another city employee. Clarksburg PD should NEVER have been called in. We know now the city manager Howe was in on making phone calls that night. IMPROPER chain of command is SERIOUS. What was the motivation? It was obviously a poor intent or this wouldn’t have happened. We need to move away from the good ol boy system “It is unfair to everyone!” and this cost two decent men their jobs. IT HAS TO STOP!
Shaffer explained how a metro police dept would be a GREAT thing. Removing how many bosses the police must answer to would be a relief for the CPD. One police officer testified how 17 calls led to NO police reports. WE GOT ISSUES FOLKS! 2009 before the election, the city had him falsely arrested – said he conspired to break a law that was no longer in existence. NOT SURPRISED.
Bowden explained how the police chief did not lose their jobs for the actions of that night and he agrees that they were NOT handled well. It isn’t a law that the CPD must turn it over – it is only a policy. Which means it is open to be abused. snarl face It needs to be handed off! Two police officers lost their job because they were accused of lying and not giving full and accurate info about the events that night. GOOD OL BOY SYSTEM – The public did NOT react well!
Marino explained how she cares for all involved. She will NOT be a “Zeke puppet.” I have ZERO worries about that. She wants a GOOD STRONG City manager in place, as they will be left apt to make a call to the police chief to break the chain of command. PROFESSIONALISM is non-existent. Our manager needs to be able to set strong ethical boundaries. She is correct! No lying down and saying “ok!”
Sigmon read a blib about successful communities vs dying communities. We need to put differences aside. Accept things as they are and will be. Strategy. And set a strong rapport and goals that can be shared mutually. MUCH of these things are in the past and he wants us all to move FORWARD!
Code Enforcement being suspended.
Shaffer explained how those in code enforcement officers didn’t feel they needed to take those open book tests mentioned above. The city demanded Howe be grandfathered in with his necessary credentials. The citizens were IGNORED by city council, then went to the attorney general and finally the governor. WOW. NOT one single cert in ten years? Seriously?
Marino then explained how those very same people are STILL present – retitled and shifted however they don’t work. They do collect a PAY CHECK, but they do NOTHING. She is 100% behind code enforcement, but we NEED real credibility. Our charter calls for a professional engineer running our code enforcement office. TRIM THAT FAT! I agree – STRONG POINT!
Herrod has even seen the city fuss with the budget to help hide the mess in code enforcement. 39 houses are still on the demo list – despite the attorney general offering them to review them with a CERTIFIED code enforcement officer. 2 cannot even work within code enforcement because of their games. Clarksburg is responsible for every house on the demo list because of THOSE individuals.
Edwards explained how the city manager and the city council NEED to communicate more effectively. He guarantees that all the decisions he makes will we agree with, but there will be a LOGICAL reason for each and all.
How does transparency impact all of this?
Herrod explained the lack of transparency has caused this disaster. This FOIA request Nathan put in was PUSHED and PUSHED and PUSHED! We need to learn how to report FOIA request violations obviously!! The city doesn’t want you to know the city was tearing down houses for profit.
Shaffer said transparency will NOT hurt the city so much as evidence will be revealed due to a LACK of transparency. He then explained how one of the federal judges refused to dismiss the impending charges but she mentioned the possibility of bringing RICO against the city – RACKETEERING! This is totally out of control!! Why haven’t we settled with the Attorney General vs pushing it? Exposing us to a GREAT DEBT and EMBARRASSMENT as if we need any more. We already lost the company Stockmyer was going to expand here, not now.😦 Thanks to the prison facility moving in.
Bill Ramsey then asked, “Why kind of birds don’t fly?”
Are you aware that Chief Hillard turned down a K9, $12,000 dog to be donated to the CPD? *Article incoming*
Herrod has explained how the chief has turned down MULTIPLE offers to drug officers. He explained how it was not all Hilliard’s fault, it comes down to the City Manager yet AGAIN. Notice the theme here? When your boss is telling you NO NO NO, it’s not possible to say yes.
I don’t agree personally, I perceive Hilliard as Howe’s yes man.
Marino explained she was unaware of the entire above ordeal. She feels she has a strength with insight given her husband’s position in the city. He could retire tomorrow if he so wished. She sees a LOT given that unique position. She feels the officer making the request makes ALL the difference, given there is a uneven bias within our dept. Fairness is NEEDED.
Edwards explain the lack of morale in our police force. He knows a LOT of officers and this isn’t their fault. It all comes down to problem with the TOP! Changes are REQUIRED. He is unaware of how much rapport a K9 can bring to an officer.
Sigmon stated there was always two sides to every story but it was obvious he was MIFFED. He found it unacceptable. He then brought up the LPR – Licence Plate Recognition – $30,000. It helps with stolen vehicles, perps, etc. That piece of equipment was unable to be used due to a computer frying itself. He learned we have another coming in any day! I don’t blame him for wanting to research the facts. But, when I bring up something of this nature, I have already done my homework.
Shaffer is bringing up the charge cards at city hall – p cards. Maybe an audit is required? Amazon.com is always a VIABLE option. $5,000 pay raise could have been used!! 10,000 license plates an hour for Amber Alerts. We use it for tracking down criminals.
Nancy Scardina explained how Buchannon city is having problems with their own LPR, it wasn’t living up to expectations, and they are doing away with it. She wanted Chad to be aware, he wasn’t up to date to being at the Forum.
Bowden isn’t aware of the problem. Due to tech issues the mic has screamed and they push the mic back. We aren’t able to HEAR the council members. He will gladly take it to council.
Herrod has made them aware of the transparency issues, he found funds to pay for it. YET, the city manager said NO! The transparency issue starts at the top. I admit, it is dramatically difficult to hear even on my recordings. ALL PUBLIC MEETINGS NEED BROADCASTED!
Sigmon explained how the open meeting act works. Public comment periods is ALL that is required. We need to push towards MORE transparency. He came across as an apologist.
Part of the Open Meetings Act Sigmon read – Are governing bodies required to allow members of the public to speak at a meeting?
No. The purpose of the Open Meetings Act is to allow citizens to observe the governing body for purposes of promoting transparency. However, governing bodies are encouraged to have a public comment period. A governing body may adopt rules which impose restrictions upon public comment periods such as the amount of time which will be allocated to each speaker.
Marino doesn’t care if the rules of ethics require them to speak or not they should WANT to hear from their constituents. When it comes to having to have people like Michael Brown and I – “Vigilante Journalists” show up to INCLUDE the public. She is right! We aren’t Press-titutes! We will bring you DEAD HONESTY & BRUTAL FACTS. Clarksburg’s transparency is HORRIBLE. She wants to focus upon that when she is elected.
Shaffer has to abide by rules. When a citizen speaks they aren’t supposed to answer them due to that same Public Meeting Act. It becomes a slow jerk around that we NEVER hear back from those who claim they will reach back out to us. FACT. I have never been emailed nor called by ANYONE at city hall about those things I have taken before city council. BOCA is STILL illegal. We NEED to televise our council meetings. NECESSARY! Answering FOIA requests on a timely basis is part of that.
Edwards explained how we can have all the transparency we want with tech but what good will it do without accountability?
He is Correct.
John Pohera stood once he was acknowledged, wanting to direct his question to Mayor Goings. “What is more important than meeting with the citizens/ taxpayers?” You are our mayor, “why are you not meeting and answering the voters questions”? He was quite the character and I enjoyed his personality and spunk a great deal.
Debbie Rhineheart stood and spoke, explaining a lot. 8K of her own $$ has gone into neighborhood watch. There is a video.
WHY did you run? What was the moment that made it SNAP!?
Herrod literally was at a drive in theater watching the Lorax. He was laying in the back of his car and shortly before that Code Enforcement showed up to a job site and tried to arrest him. He had that in his mind when he made the decision.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
-Dr Seuss, The Lorax
Sigmon grew up in stealey, he moved away and when he returned he learned a METH HOUSE was busted in his own home neighborhood. He never expected that! His girlfriend is also a runner and she runs up town and his girlfriend made him aware of the prostitute problem. She said a prostitute yelled at her to “GET OFF HER TURF!!” Unreal to me!! He never thought there would be meth houses, hookers and heroin on the streets of Clarksburg. He is here to make a POSITIVE CHANGE.
Shaffer came to this decision because he was at the Glen Elk festival when Fazio walked up and asked why 6 police cruisers came into his neighborhood. He had to explain it was a drunken councilman assaulting a woman in a bar, in which the police covered it up.😦 I am never amazed, only irked when enlightened at things such as these. The truth will set you free, but first it will tick you off!
Marino spoke about this for so long and her sister took her to register on the VERY last day. Because she is NOT a politician and she isn’t good at masking her thoughts, feelings, etc. She had been sick over the decision, her sister pushed her and said if you win you win, if you lose you lose. Are you afraid to lose? She said no she was afraid to lose initially because it is SUCH a hefty responsibility. Silent suffering people DESERVE better and she will give those people THAT voice. There are people who cannot speak up for fear of retaliation if they own houses or are city employees. She is running for those people who put their faith in her.
Bowden’s 2nd go round is his OWN FAULT. (huh?) The first go round he was called and they wanted to see different leadership for the city. He said he wasn’t a politician and he finally accepted the idea that being real and full of concern for Clarksburg was more important. Now I get the comment, watch the video.
Edwards discussed it with his wife FIRST. Secondly he spoke with his friends who said they recognized all of his skills and ideas would be vital to the town of Clarksburg. He wants to give confidence to those in the community through working hand in hand together with teamwork. He would only be one voice on council but he promises he will listen and represent the people as they deserve.
Citizen Larry then stood and asked his question. Back in the 80’s when Anchor Hocking was closed and he remembers when one of the members said that’s alright people will just shop in Bridgeport. He patronizes all the small businesses in Clarksburg. He asks how many of you do that?
Edwards stated he ALWAYS keeps local businesses in mind. He wishes to KEEP them by patronizing them regularly. He isn’t going to go to Walmart, he would rather go to Rokiskys and other local businesses.
Herrod recalled when he ran M&F he ONLY shopped locally where ever possible. It has to be a priority. It needs to come down to a feeling of personal responsibility within our elected officials also. LOCAL MONEY STAYS LOCAL.
Marino – “Being that our family are small business owners and you learn quickly you do business with those who do business with you.” She has become a DIE HARD local shopper. Once upon a time when her children were young she shopped at Walmart, NOT ANYMORE. She even keeps her doctors, dentists, and vets LOCALLY. If you don’t support local business they cannot survivein this economy. Those are facts!
Shaffer was the chairman Whitehouse conference of small businesses. Therefore he supports small owned businesses he hates seeing it. They are the BACKBONE of Clarksburg. He went to purchase a toilet and purchased Mansfield vs American Standard. Because Mansfield are MADE IN THE USA, right in Ohio. We must support one another or else we will be our own undoing. There is no where else in the state that has as many local restaurants as we do. Martin loves restaurants. His comment, not mine!
Bowden cringes when people purchase vehicles OUTSIDE of Clarksburg. He is one of the few people who still uses our phone book due to the local businesses being awarded there
Marino admitted her lawyer was from Bridgeport. ((Moved because of $$))
Signmon purchased all of his signage from Clarksburg Blue Print because he wanted to SUPPORT them together. He kept his $$ local.
Cheryl Fain Mehaulic stepped up and said what about the benefits of being a CITY COUNCIL MEMBER? As far as the benefits – Part of why Lopez fought so very hard to stay on council. This ensured he kept his Insurance, medical, optic and dental and his retirement. The retirement only comes into play when you get another Gov job – Centra Board could have been his golden ticket. He gets to take his HIGHEST pay at 70K which would have given him 25 years 50% of that $$. It counts a FULL year – 10 months of real human time. Most who take advantage of the system become lifetime council members. The refuse to fund the firemen or the police. Learned that portion AFTER the forum.
Sigmon explained how the girl scouts NEED a new fence but have no means of getting the funds.
Is anyone talking about bringing REAL jobs into the city, with REAL wages. – Mr Washington
Shaffer explained how Dominion was willing to donate the building to Clarksburg and he suggested getting the aforementioned business BACK into Clarksburg by allowing them to come into the building. Nathan’s former job exported to Germany and that would be another incentive.
Then the P-cards were being used to go to bars. It is being abused incessantly – alcohol being purchased.
Marino is FULLY in favor of trimming the fat. THAT is part of the fat. If she can get 4 votes to eliminate, she is all about doing away with it. ((Insurance, p-card, etc.)) She is in favor of removing it.
She feels that is one of the things that is SERIOUSLY missing here. She looks forward to the challenge of economic development and not just servers, minimum wages, and opening your own businesses.
Mr Washington explained how some of the basic workers have FAT CAT pay and he is disgusted.
Marino explained how she had 3 boys, herself and her husband in a 3 bedroom house and she felt the pains of being an underpaid employee. She feels it would be NICE to get a pay increase of 5-10K like others, but who wouldn’t? She referred back to the TOP HEAVY issues in candidacy. 80% of our budget is spent in wages.
Mr Washington respects what she is saying however council is always worried about MAIN ST only. Get out of downtown and look into OTHER options.
The Forum then ended, sadly. Thank you Susan, you rocked it AGAIN! I know our lil city could have it’s own soap opera. It was a very interesting and educating event which provided a great deal of insight. I suggest watching the videos that I am uploading! It will bridge any gaps that I may have missed in this LONG article of mine. As I upload the videos, I will link them for your viewing capabilities.
VOTE in this upcoming election! Let’s see amazing things happen here in Clarksburg!!