“We are the few willing to make a serious sacrifice to address corruption head on.”
– Halie Rebeccaschild
Loveland, Ohio – In the former Loveland mayor’s resignation speech at Tuesday’s council meeting, he made some blistering comments towards his political opponents. There was no open forum on the agenda for the meeting Mark Fitzgerald called to discuss his political future.
The Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee was particularly targeted in the speech so their spokesperson, Halie Rebeccaschild was asked if she would like to respond on the pages of Loveland Magazine.
You can view Fitzgeralds speech at the bottom of this page.
“Look Out for a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” said Mark Fitzgerald. This statement from him came at the end of a long, accusatory speech at the end of his unfortunate political career here in Loveland, Ohio. Residents signed a petition for Mark Fitzgerald’s recall election twice this year, the last time driving by the hundreds to sign at a remote location; yet, Mark Fitzgerald still does not get the big picture. And on 8/14, residents were treated to his pathetic attempt to discredit those brave enough to dare question his history of fraud allegations. He belittles both us and our demands of honesty and integrity from him and our elected City Council. And he would have residents believe that holding our elected public servants to a high standard of accountability makes us, the informed and politically engaged residents, the problem. But let’s take a look at a couple of his points to see if they hold merit.
First, Mark Fitzgerald accused the Loveland recall committee of having a singular origin of a small group of people. False. Loveland Community Heartbeat was only one organization of two behind the recall. Neighbors for Loveland, also supported the recall campaign (https://www.facebook.com/groups/NeighborsforLoveland/), and together, with other unafilliated residents around the city, we comprised more than thirty resident circulators who span the political spectrum. More, the recall committee takes no singular position on “growth” other than fiscal conservation, and we do not yearn for nostalgia, unless dreaming of a time when politicians served the people who elected them. Instead, the recall committee focused on the unethical behavior of Mark Fitzgerald, and in doing so, we collected over eighteen hundred signatures on the final petition.
Second, In addition to misinforming residents about the members of the recall committee, in his lengthy diatribe, Mark Fitzgerald acted coy about any reasons for recall. Of the complaint stated on the recall petition, he mocked, “What does this mean?” Of course, the reasons for recall, were posted since April on the website, www.lovelandheartbeat.org/recall, with links to primary sources revealing the nature of the fraud allegations brought forth by two whistleblowers during his employment as city administrator in North College Hill, and more recently, the disastrous Ohio state audit of North College Hill during his tenure (http://lovelandheartbeat.org/train_wreck/). The fact that Mark Fitzgerald failed to inform residents about the two fraud allegations during his 2015 campaign for City Council is at the basis for recall. This singular lie-of-omission is enough; yet, Loveland residents may also point to abuse of power, exemplified in the following third point.
Third, Mark Fitzgerald accuses the resident-stakeholder organization driving the recall, Loveland Community Heartbeat, of having no platform. False. Loveland Community Heartbeat advocates for resident engagement. We have promoted a resident-led master plan (http://lovelandheartbeat.org/about/masterplan/) and have addressed City Council in the past year to promote the positive benefits of residents at the table to determine the future direction of our city. Yet, our addresses to City Council repeatedly fell on the deaf ears of Mark Fitzgerald, Angie Settell, Pam Gross, and Steve Zamagias. We can see this in action when looking to the votes around the 4-story city hall project. Although, Rob Weisgerber advocated for residents’ concerns by motioning for interactive conversations with residents prior to any public hearing, his motion was shot down by the majority four. As a public hearing was the final step needed by law before the project and land would be turned over to the Community Improvement Corporation where it would be out of residents’ hands, Weisgerber’s motion could have led to resident engagement around the city hall project. Instead, the majority blocked such engaged discussions and have gone silent ever since (https://youtu.be/Z8215klQaAg).
Mark Fitzgerald doesn’t want to talk about the 4-story city hall project, and he certainly doesn’t want you to know that the mayor he voted into office on 8/14, Angie Settell, defended a 4-story city hall building as “among the most original and creative business decisions the city has made” (Cincinnati Enquirer, 12/16, http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/loveland/2016/12/20/loveland-get-new-city-hall/95706160/)
And if Rob Weisgerber, Ted Phelps, and Kathy Bailey hadn’t blocked the vote for the public hearing required by law before setting that project in motion, residents would today be looking at a demolished plot at 120 W. Loveland Avenue with two years of construction smack in the middle of Old Loveland. Did Mark Fitzgerald, Angie Settell, Pam Gross, and Steve Zamagias do their job as public servants to speak with residents across all neighborhoods before pushing to a final vote? It appears not, as the project was politically unpopular and failed miserably under resident scrutiny. Loveland Community Heartbeat was there to slow this project down until residents can be at the planning table.
Finally, Mark Fitzgerald threw around some interesting conspiracy theories to discredit our resident movement. He made veiled threats to reveal all the dirt on our identities, our past employment, our financial histories, you name it. Yet, nothing about the identities of Loveland Community Heartbeat stakeholders is private. By law, our contributions and identities are made available for anyone willing to take a drive to the Hamilton County Board of Elections, so why all the veiled threats? Does Mark Fitzgerald feel powerful by insinuating that residents who don’t appreciate his service are horrible people with histories and lives more scandalous than Mark Fitzgerald’s himself? The truth is, Loveland residents don’t care about the intricacies of stakeholders’ lives. Loveland residents just want an honest and ethical local government. Mark Fitzgerald just doesn’t get it.
But to momentarily entertain this unprofessional personal attack, I’ll say, Loveland Community Heartbeat comprises the voices of residents who are brave enough to take a stand against Mark Fitzgerald and this corrupt majority regime who claws with all their might to keep a stranglehold around our necks. And we are the few willing to make a serious sacrifice to address corruption head on, risking such personal attacks as seen here by Mark Fitzgerald. We are not a small group of residents, and we will grow even larger as we talk with our neighbors about the scandalous abuse of authority on display at the 8/14 Special City Council meeting. Residents should be outraged by Mark Fitzgerald’s political manipulation to place his chosen majority in power with a vote from him before he resigned from City Council. We would have residents ask, was that vote even legal?
This coordinated and pre-planned theatrical display by Mark Fitzgerald, Angie Settell, Pam Gross, and Steve Zamagias, (not unlike the staged majority walk out https://youtu.be/rZkh0LpYxt4) with their families present to witness, makes crystal clear their repeated and brazen violation of Sunshine Laws. Loveland just moved to settle a Sunshine Law suit; yet, it’s clear the majority City Council Members, including our new mayor, Angie Settell, care nothing about the law or the tax payer dollars spent to fight their corruptions of power.
Mark Fitzgerald, in his effort to cling to power, wants residents to look everywhere but at him to see the wolf in sheep’s clothing. He wants us to fight among ourselves and to blame each other for the problems that he repeatedly creates for Loveland. He wants to claim the high road, with a resignation letter that doesn’t recognize the legal outcome of our successful recall petition but claims he’s resigning out of respect for non-existent term limits. Loveland, we are much better without Mark Fitzgerald, and we can, and will, do much better than those who propped him up. We will continue our good work by voting out this majority power on November 7th, 2017.