Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Clarity & Clean up

I think that I may have been confusing at the Council meeting about the status of Bill Kluetzman, Doug Landphier and Bob Zapotocny. Let me try to provide you with more clarity. Allegations of wrong doing were brought to my attention, and I had no choice but to place them on administrative leave pending an investigation. Administrative leave is not discipline. An investigation is underway. Based on the results of that investigation, there are several things that can happen… they can be reinstated to their previous positions, they could receive formal reprimands, or if discipline is necessary, charges could be referred to the Police & Fire Commission. Fire fighters and police officer discipline is always handled by the Police & Fire Commission… not the mayor or City Council. We need to step back and let the investigation proceed and allow this to run its true course.

The 4th of July was a very uneventful celebration in the park, but as Interim Police Chief, Dennis Weiner reported, it was quite a different story downtown. Patrons exited taverns with beer bottles in hand and then smashed them in alleys and streets. Fireworks were set off inside one bar, and very close to the back of another building. The police cracked down, and will continue to monitor and ticket bars and patrons to make sure they are complying with the law. When police officers ticketed folks for open intoxicants, they responded that this was a “tradition in Columbus”. I certainly don’t support that tradition. On Monday the 7th of July I walked around the downtown area, and I was appalled to see a very large number of broken beer bottles and empty beer cans littering the alleys and streets. Columbus is a clean, tidy town where almost everyone has neatly cut lawns and well maintained gardens. Downtown businesses must be appalled to have to deal with this trash and illegal activity in their midst. The police have been instructed to uphold the law, and you will notice a much stronger police presence and more ticketing in the downtown area. I believe that the citizens of Columbus support a law abiding community where it is safe to walk and conduct business.

And one more cleanup topic… as of today, almost everyone has power restored and is back in their homes after the flood. FEMA continues to get inquiries and applications for assistance. The City is putting together our damage estimates and will be turning them into FEMA later this month. I’d like to report that Columbus did a phenomenal job with sandbags. We filled, delivered and later removed sandbags. We provided about 2,000 filled sandbags to Beaver Dam when they encountered an emergency with their dam. I have not heard of another community that provided this service to their citizens. Many communities either had nothing, or residents could come to a site and pick up sand and sandbags that they would need to fill and haul home. Almost every community has required residents to pay for sandbag disposal after the flood. We found a way to serve the citizens at low cost. Most of our sandbags were delivered by the National Guard and filled using inmates from the Department of Corrections. The inmates treasured this opportunity and were on the best of behavior in our city. This benefited Columbus by providing a labor force to do heavy work, and gave the inmates an opportunity to give back to society. This is one lesson great lesson learned from the flood.

It looks like we have a wonderful summer weekend coming up. I hope that you have the chance to get out and enjoy the warm weather!