Medical Marijuana Ban

The Journal News recently added an article discussing Middletown’s ban on medical marijuana.

The article is below and the link is provided.

Middletown approves medical marijuana ban with 5-0 vote

http://www.journal-news.com/news/middletown-approves-medical-marijuana-ban-with-vote/YNDf8nqLTIXimojI9proWN/

Members of Middletown City Council on Tuesday approved an indefinite ban on all medical marijuana operations within city limits, with a 5-0 vote.

 

Although there was debate about the issue on social media, nobody from the public showed up to council’s 5:30 p.m. meeting to speak for or against the ban.  Council on Tuesday held a first and second reading of an ordinance that places a ban on cultivators, processors or retail dispensaries, and makes it a fourth-degree misdemeanor to violate the legislation. City Manager Doug Adkins has told council the city can always lift the ban after September 2018, when state rules take affect, to see if they mesh with the desires of city officials.

 

This ban does not keep people from using medical marijuana, but it does provide a ban on growing, processing, and retail selling establishments in Middletown.

On June 6, Governor Kasich signed into law House Bill 523, guiding the legalization of medical marijuana in the State of Ohio. The new law specifically authorizes municipalities to take certain actions to limit the location of marijuana dispensaries and cultivation operations.    The law went into effect initially on September 8, 2016, ninety days after the governor’s signature, and it authorized the limited possession of medical marijuana and established the regulatory bodies necessary to govern the new law.

The remainder of the law phases in gradually over a two-year period.  Currently, there are no state regulations issued governing either dispensaries or cultivation and processing establishments.

On September 9, 2016, Council adopted Resolution R2016-35, which issued a six- month moratorium on the licensing of medical marijuana cultivation or distribution in the City. Since issuing the moratorium, City staff convened from the following departments:  Law, Planning, Zoning, Public Safety, Health, and Economic Development.   We researched the possibilities moving forward and all appropriate regulations available at this time.

One City concern is that the State of Ohio has yet to issue any regulations or rules governing these businesses. Some draft rules regarding dispensaries were made available for public comment on December 15, 2016.  According to the most recent information available from the State, the goals for implementation are as follows:

  1. May 2017: Develop/Adopt Rules for Cultivation
  2. September 2017: Develop/Adopt Rules for Processors, Testing Labs, Dispensary Rules, Patient and Caregiver Rules, as well as Physician Rules.
  3. September 2018: Full Implementation of Medical Marijuana related businesses

Because of this implementation schedule, there is no guidance currently on what state regulations or operating restrictions will be put into place for these businesses.

Given the nature of the issue and the lack of guidance in regulation, it was the joint recommendation from City Staff that Council enact a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries,  cultivation and distribution.   This prevents any businesses from operating at this time, but will preserve all options for future review once the regulations regarding how medical marijuana will operate in Ohio are enacted.

As the regulations are completed over 2017 and 2018, we will take another look at this issue and determine if, under future regulations, we should lift the ban and allow any portion of this to operate in our city.

In the mean time, if someone has a legal prescription for medical marijuana under the new law, they can follow the law and we have no issues.  For the moment, you can’t grow it, process it, or sell it here until we learn more.  I understand that this stance will not please everyone, but I think it’s important to first see the regulations and then loosen the ban later if appropriate.  Right now, there are no rules governing who and how to grow, sell, and distribute this new legal product.  Reigning in nonconforming businesses later is much more difficult than getting it right on the front end.

 

 

 

 

 

Live Streaming of City Council Meetings

Over the past few months, we have replaced the outdated audio and video equipment in City Council chambers to improve the quality of the picture and sound and to upgrade to modern technology. One of those changes included the ability to stream our City Council meetings live on the internet.   We’ve been training and experimenting with that capability over the past couple meetings, and with successful streaming completed, we are ready to go public with the service. 

There are two URL’s that can be used to access the stream.  http://www.cityofmiddletown.org/live, and you can also use the direct link http://www.youtube.com/user/cityofmiddletown/live.  We will continue to post completed council meetings on our YouTube channel as well.

Watch us on your phone, your tablet or your desktop live!

Have a great week.

 

 

City Council Deliberations

I’m sometimes asked why Council seems to rubber stamp whatever I put in front of them.

It may seem as though there is no consideration given when the actual vote is taken, but let me explain how we get to Tuesday night’s vote at each Council meeting.

When I interviewed with City Council to take this position, I laid out for them a five year plan which I’ve talked about extensively in this blog.  I proposed a style of government, and changes in policies and strategies to return us to sustainable revenues by 2020.  The plan covered almost every aspect of City government.  City Council liked the style of the plan and its concepts and I got the job.

As I’ve moved through my first two years, everything I’ve put in front of City Council has been consistent with the five year plan I outlined when I took the job.  So… as long as I’m putting things in front of them that are consistent with what I told them I was going to do and what they told me that wanted me to do, that immediately takes care of one level of scrutiny.   What Council votes on looks like Doug’s duck, smells like Doug’s duck, so it’s probably Doug’s duck.

Next, City Council each year passes an annual budget a couple hundred pages long that lists by fund and by line item what I am proposing to spend in the next year.  That budget is passed each November for the next year.  When I bring an item to City Council, we let them know if this is part of the budget and the projects in the budget that they have already passed.  If it is, then again, there is reduced scrutiny needed because they have already approved the spending and the matter before them is the actual contract for the project and for spending that they have already approved in the annual budget.

Third, we have bidding requirements set by state law and local ordinance.  If the matter before council requires bidding, we include information showing that we followed the appropriate bidding process and why we selected the vendor chosen.  If project was in the budget and the money is appropriated for that project, and we followed the bidding procedures, then less scrutiny is needed.  The matter is consistent with the five year plan, in the budget, and properly bid.

Finally, we have items or opportunities or problems that come up unexpectedly during the year.  The burden is on city staff to provide City Council with enough information ahead of time to make educated decisions on unexpected events.   Grants are notorious for having a small window to apply for  and then spend the funds provided.

For example, we recently were awarded a grant from BWC for two power cots to assist in lifting patients into ambulances.  The funds were released quickly and the window to order the cots and spend the money was less than the 60 days normally required for two readings and 30 days to take effect.  So that one was an Emergency.

For each item to be taken before City Council requiring legislation, I have the relevant department head prepare a staff report that explains why the legislation is needed, where the funding will come from, which project this relates to, etc.   Those staff reports are due about two weeks before the actual council meeting date.

I review and approve the staff reports two Thursdays before the actual meeting.  For the February 21 meeting, I approved the staff reports on February 9th.  After approving the staff reports, I send City Council information letting them know the tentative subjects of the upcoming meeting and the general nature of what will be coming before them.

If there is something unusual, I try to provide more thorough information earlier so that they can think about the issue and ask preliminary questions.  When one council member asks a question, I answer the question and send the information to all Council members for review.

On the Wednesday before the City Council meeting, or in this case,  February 15th for the February 21 meeting, I have a senior staff meeting and we review the entire agenda and staff reports and finalize the next week’s meeting.

At that point, the final agenda and the workbook for the meeting is sent to each Council member with all  staff reports and documents needed to be ready to vote on Tuesday for the meeting.  This is the agenda and workbook that are posted on the City web page for public review.

City Council then has from about Thursday afternoon the prior week to the council meeting at 5:30pm on Tuesday night to review the detailed information provided and ask any final questions before the meeting.

My policy has always been that City Council can ask anything about anything on the agenda up until Tuesday night.   On Tuesday night, I want them to come to Council with all of their questions answered and with a full understanding of what I want them to vote on.  The only question Tuesday night should generally be whether or not to pass the legislation presented.  They should fully understand what we are proposing and why we believe it is in the best interest of the city to pass the requested legislation.

If there is a serious problem with what I have proposed, generally it would have been raised by City Council two weeks ago when I first told them what was coming on the agenda.  At that point, we can either answers questions and provide information sufficient to resolve their concerns, or we can pull the items from the agenda before we finalize the meeting because City Council is not ready to move forward with whatever the issue is in its current form.

So theoretically, Tuesday is a pretty mundane experience.  All questions previously and completely answered.  All information previously provided.   City Council makes a fully understood and educated decision on each piece of legislation.

Don’t be upset that your council doesn’t ask a lot of questions on Tuesday night.  You should be confident that a mundane Tuesday night means that your City Council has done  their homework and had all of their questions answered, documentation provided, and that they are making informed decisions on each item presented.

Most of the time, that’s exactly how it goes….

 

 

 

Middletown Income Tax Assistance

Please see below information from the Middletown Tax Department:

Income Taxes are due 4-18-17.  It is important to note that tax forms were NOT sent out by mail this year.  This was done as a cost-saving measure due to such a small percentage of our residents completing their returns on the forms we mailed out in prior years.

Post-cards were sent out instead.  Generic forms are accepted.  You can call the tax office at 513-425-7862 or email itax@cityofmiddletown.org to request a form, or you can use the fillable PDF available on City’s website – print it and sign it, and mail it in with your attachments.

The fillable PDF can be found here:  http://www.cityofmiddletown.org/tax/taxform.aspx.

You can download all other tax forms from the City’s website at this link: http://www.cityofmiddletown.org/tax/forms.aspx.

You can come into the tax office with your W2s and federal schedules and we can prepare your return for free.  The tax office is located on the 2nd floor of the City Building.

The Tax Department’s Extended Hours this tax season will be:

Saturday 4/8 – 8a to 12p

Thursday 4/13 – 8a to 6p

Friday 4/14 – closed (holiday)

Saturday/Sunday 4/15 & 4/16 – closed (weekend)

Monday 4/17 – 7a to 7p

Tuesday 4/18 – 7a to 7p

The Tax Department will also have a few employees at the Robert “Sonny” Hill Community Center Saturday, February 18th from 10a to 3p in conjunction with the Community Center’s “Tax Day”.

Please note the following information for Saturday’s Community Center event:

  1. Anyone specifically coming for tax prep MUST REGISTER, please call (513) 425-7866
  2. Other fun events will take place such as face painting, games, story-time, for kids (open to community, no registration needed)
  3. Computers will be available for individuals who self-prepare (tax assistant available) first come, first served
  4. Life Span on site for financial questions
  5. Volunteers still needed to serve as greeters, screeners, hosts, reviewers, certified tax preparers

Event begins at 10:00 a.m,  activities conclude by 2:00 p.m.

Remembering Judge Wall

Part of the job of being City Manager is that you are always “on” duty.  Even on vacation.   I took Friday off this past week and took a long weekend trip to Gatlinburg to unwind for a few days.   As I’m walking along in the Island in Pigeon Forge, my phone rings and it’s Chief Muterspaw, who knows I’m on vacation and that I shouldn’t be contacted unless something terrible has occurred in the city.

Something terrible had occurred.   Judge Wall had died.

The paper has done a nice job of laying out his accomplishments.  He was a Vietnam war veteran.  He did great work with local military groups and public organizations.

I worked with Middletown Municipal Court to help hundreds of residents get their driver’s license restored by the State of Ohio in the Driver Intervention Program.   As a former veteran, Judge Wall had a veteran’s docket that served vets who had come into contact with law enforcement and he connected those returning veterans with services needed to help each person get whatever help they needed to come back to society in a productive manner.  As heroin made a raging comeback, he was one of the first municipal courts in the state to introduce a vivitrol program to help heroin addicts beat their addiction.  He routinely offered community service through a diversion program when a person needed a break and not a conviction for lesser offenses.

My relationship with him, however, was a little more personal.  I considered him a friend and mentor.

I became an attorney at age 40.  I worked two  years as a staff attorney for the U.S. Department of Labor in downtown Cincinnati.  I didn’t like the drive to downtown Cincinnati, and so in 2005 I applied to become a Prosecutor for the City of Middletown.

I had never set foot in a courtroom as an attorney before.  Judge Wall was patient and understanding as I got my courtroom feet underneath me.  On the bench, he’d offer his rulings in a way that told me that I got it right or that I should have done something a little differently to get the result I was looking for.  Off the bench, he was generous with his experience.   He made me think through any situation.  “I had to overrule you on that motion, but how could you have laid a different, better foundation to get the evidence into the trial that you wanted?”   He made me think… and learn.

And I wasn’t the only one.  So often, there was a knock at the back door of the court and some Butler County attorney would ask if the Judge was available for a few minutes.  He was generous with his time and his wisdom.  People sought him out for guidance on the law, for help in making career decisions, or for an understanding of local politics.  He mentored an entire generation of Butler County attorneys.

As I moved on to Community Revitalization and then City Manager, we talked from time to time about the ills of the city and how we could work together to make Middletown a better place.  He loved this city and he loved the people that came into his courtroom.  He saw the person, not the crime, and he saw the good, not the bad that each defendant had in their hearts.

The City has lost a strong supporter and advocate for the best Middletown possible.  I’ve lost a mentor and a friend.   Rest in peace Judge.  I’ll miss you.

 

 

Free Heart Screenings in Middletown

This is important enough to copy from our friends at the Journal News and to give more eyes to events being held by our partners at Atrium Medical Center.   The City of Middletown values your health, so take advantage of these free services when they are available!

The Journal article can be accessed here and the info below is directly from the Journal News article:

http://www.journal-news.com/news/free-heart-screenings-middletown-mason/lk8b8ZahYFjY2tbL6pqZFK/

During February, which is American Heart Month, Premier Health will offer free cardiovascular screenings that help identify the risk for heart disease.

“Regular screenings are important because they may help to find risk factors in the earliest stages, when they can be treated appropriately,” said Dr. George T. Broderick Jr., a cardiologist with Premier Health Associates. “The treatment could include lifestyle changes and medications, as determined by the physician.”

 

The heart screenings will be available at the following locations and times:

  • 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 13 at Atrium Health Center Mason, 7450 Mason-Montgomery Road, Mason, second floor, Center for Women’s Health and Wellness
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 23 at Atrium Medical Center, Professional Building, One Medical Center Drive, Middletown, fifth floor, Auditorium A

Premier Health’s screenings will include blood pressure testing and non-fasting fingerstick readings for total cholesterol, HDL (good cholesterol), and blood sugar.

Walk-ins will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, but participants with appointments will be given priority. Call 866-608-3463 to schedule a screening appointment.