Loveland, Ohio – This acrimonious, City Council debate may have brought to close the months-long debate over fees the Loveland Farmers’ Market and other groups planning public events in the City will have to pay. It will almost certainly not bring to end citizen debate about future vision for the City.
The debate at the Council meeting on April 11, angry and loud at times, was over the last piece of legislation regulating public and private events. The Transient Businesses and Vendors, Mobile Food Vendors and Food Trucks ordinance was approved. The last contentious provision was that people and businesses supporting public and private events in the City will be required to undergo fingerprinting and background checks. The ordinance also regulates vendors going door-to-door selling goods and services.
“The majority’s unilateral decision to welch on the deal is nothing short of outrageous.” – Kathy Bailey
Councilwoman Kathy Bailey said that after many hours negotiating what she thought was a compromise agreement that Council would vote on, a different ordinance was placed on the agenda. Council members, Rob Weisgerber and Ted Phelps also were surprised that the replacement ordinance appeared. Bailey said she did not know where it came from or who wrote it. The ordinance passed with Bailey, Phelps, and Weisgerber opposed. Mayor Mark Fitzgerald, Vice-Mayor Angie Settell, Pam Gross, and Steven Zamagias voted, “Yes.”
Gross did not agree with Bailey’s assessment of a compromise, saying, “I have no idea why you think there was an agreement.”
“Bailey said, “The blue line version that was distributed on March 28th represented the compromise reached between the majority and the minority, with Ms. Gross and myself representing each respectively, with Mr. Braun acting as an intermediary.” Joe Braun is the City Solicitor.
“You can’t renege on something no one has ever agreed to.” – Pam Gross
Bailey said that everything in that version had been previously agreed to by all parties. The major changes from that version versus what the majority surprised us with in the April 11th packet have to do with the fees charged. According to Bailey, the agreed-upon version capped fees for special events. “The version sprung upon us by the majority removes that language. I thought the blue line version represented a fair compromise and would like to have seen that passed. If the majority disagreed, the time to raise the issue was during our many hours of discussion and negotiation, not two weeks after agreeing to the blue line version.”
Bailey said that she was encouraged that, despite all the recent turmoil, the majority and minority were able to come together, albeit through an intermediary, and engage in a dialogue to reach a compromise. But added, “The majority’s unilateral decision to welch on the deal is nothing short of outrageous. The majority’s nonsensical explanation that there was no deal is patently false, and does not bode well for future collaboration, as without trust there can be no meaningful dialogue.”
In the end, Bailey was able to push through two amendments. The ordinance now says the event organizers, instead of City staff, will be responsible for ensuring individual vendors, or the event itself, has suitable insurance. The event organizers will also now be responsible for the background checks.