“Why is this so?” his voice cracking, almost reaching falsetto. “Why can’t there be civil discussion instead of personal attacks?
– Loveland Mayor Mark Fitzgerald
by David Miller
Loveland, Ohio – Mayor Mark Fitzgerald called the June 27 Council meeting to order. He led those gathered in the Pledge of Allegiance. In unison, everyone said, “Indivisible.”
The Mayor quoted Dr. King saying, “We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”[/quote_box_left]
He asked for a roll call and found that all Council members were present. He quoted the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and asked why the love for the community often turns to hatred on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. “Why is this so?” his voice cracking, almost reaching falsetto. “Why can’t there be civil discussion rather than personal attacks?”
Then, he laid into the audience and Councilmember Rob Weisgerber.
He said there were community agitators infiltrating the City and spreading lies.
THE FACEBOOK POST THAT PROMPTED PAM GROSS’ CALL TO THE POLICE:
You dont [Sic] have to give her anything. Thats [Sic] a violation. Does she have a subpeona [Sic] ? She can request all day long. Lol who does she think she is? Trying to pull another fast one with intimidation. She nerds a good old fashion loveland [Sic] ass kicking 80s style lol.
He said vitriolic rhetoric had taken an “even darker turn” when a post (Read the post below) appeared on Weisgerber’s Facebook page where a threat to Councilmember Pam Gross could be found. He said that Weisgerber had made no attempt to admonish the person who wrote the comment. At that point, Weisgerber asked City Solicitor Joe Braun for a “point of order” where Council rules would dictate that Fitzgerald yields the floor to the Solicitor so he could address the “point of order”.
“Point of order,” could be heard at least ten more times during Fitzgerald’s four-minute barrage of charges leveled at Weisgerber and the community. Councilman Ted Phelps joined in asking for a point of order.
Fitzgerald to Weisgerber, “You are contributing to this misinformation and innuendos throughout our City. And, you routinely impugn the reputations of our citizens who volunteer their time and unselfishly serve our City.”
“False. False,” Weisgerber told the Mayor who was not deterred from finishing his speech without interruption.
Fitzgerald to Weisgerber, “You have created and fueled a toxic environment in our City – spawning threatened violence”
“At the minimum, you should be sanctioned,” Fitzgerald said waving his hand toward Weisgerber. “All this talk about resignation, you’re the one who should resign,” he continued with another wave of the hand in Weisgerber’s direction.
“Then, give me a chance to explain,” Weisgerber pleaded.
Fitzgerald continued his prepared speech – his speech pattern unbroken and gathering speed.
Fitzgerald only yielded the floor when as he finished his speech, he looked toward Vice-Mayor Angie Settell who had practiced the next line. In a fraction of a second she said, “Mayor, I move to adjourn.” Gross knew the next line and immediately seconded the motion, twice nodding in the direction of Fitzgerald, making sure he saw the ball coming back in his direction.
Weisgerber said, ‘Point of order” one more time.
The City Solicitor finally got a chance. He said, “There is no discussion on a motion to adjourn.”
The Mayor, who can count to four, called for the vote on the motion to immediately close the meeting.
Fitzgerald, Settle, Gross, voted, “Yes.”
Weisgerber said a defiant, rather loud, “No”
Kathy Bailey voted, “No.”
[quote_left]Phelps’, “No,” was said emphatically in comic disbelief.[/quote_left]Phelps’, “No,” was said emphatically in comic disbelief.
The 3-3 tie vote was broken when Stephen Zamagias cast the deciding, “Yes.”
Down came the Mayor’s gavel, placing the 14-minute meeting in the history books, enshrined in the official City Journal.
Zamagias and Gross had already packed their belongings in a neat stack before the motion was made. Gross had already grabbed her handbag from the floor and leaving her seat before the vote was tallied by the Clerk. She was through the side door within eight seconds. The other “Yes” voters quickly followed Gross’ exit out the side door, leaving the three “No” voting Councilmembers stunned. The three had expected to go through the full agenda of City business.
The dazed, angry, audience responded, “Boo! Who do you work for? Wrong! Who do you work for? Who do you work for people?” At least three of them had wanted to use the open forum portion section item on the agenda to speak of their community concerns.
Weisgerber, remaining in his seat, calmly stating his case for not deleting the Facebook comment. He also told the audience about the conversation he had with Sean Rahe, the Loveland Police Chief the next day. Rahe got involved after Gross called him to investigate, according to Weisgerber’s account. Weisgerber also said that he was told by Rahe that the comment didn’t rise to the level of a threat and Rahe had also consulted with the Clermont County Prosecutor for a second opinion. According to Weisgerber, the Prosecutor was not convinced the post constituted a threat.
In an email to the Police Chief that Weisgerber sent about seven hours before the council meeting, he said, “I understand Pam’s concerns and I am strongly against hate or threatening speech yet I will not censor free speech. Having said that, I don’t see what was said as a threat but that is not my call.”
Rahe responded by saying, “Rob, thank you for your time, and this response. I understand your position. Sean.”
While the Solicitor was still in the room, former Councilmember, Todd Osborne rose and said, “As a taxpayer, I asked the City Solicitor… We have not had a meeting. This meeting has not been adjourned properly. It has to be adjourned correctly, and, there has to be public business.”
[quote_left]Hearing this, Mays crumpled the meeting agenda she was holding. Resident Patti Sandmayr Horton , ripped the agenda in half then placed it at the empty spot where Pam Gross had been sitting a few moments before.[/quote_left]The solicitor returned to his seat, was about to speak, but just shook his head as if to say, I don’t know when he realized the microphone had been turned off? When a member of the audience asked, “Are they coming back, he simply said, “No, they adjourned. They adjourned.”
Pat Mays, a former member of Council was sitting in the audience, she held up the meeting agenda and asked, “So, this is mute, so, none of this is going to happen?
The Solicitor answered by saying, “The meeting was called to order and it was adjourned.”
Hearing this, Mays crumpled the meeting agenda she was holding. Resident Patti Sandmayr Horton , ripped the agenda in half then placed it at the empty spot where Pam Gross had been sitting a few moments before.
After the meeting, Bailey went on camera to respond to what had happened. She said Fitzgerald’s prepared statement, “Was really nothing more than an attack on Councilmember Rob Weisgerber.”
Bailey described the meeting end, “As soon as he finished his speech, in clearly what was a practiced and rehearsed and already decided move,” the meeting was adjourned. “So, all of us council members, the staff, dozens of citizens that were here – all for nothing because they took their ball and went home.” Bailey [quote_right]Bailey said it was clearly practiced and rehearsed.[/quote_right]said they had a full agenda for the meeting, including working on a collective bargaining agreement that, “Has to be dealt with in the next couple of days or we have a problem.” She said the four majority members who closed the meeting had no concern for the business of the City or for the citizens or anyone else who showed up.
Fitzgerald, Gross, Settell, and Zamagias had left the meeting room, so were not available for any rebuttal to Bailey’s allegation of a scripted shut-down of the meeting.
The next regularly scheduled Council meeting is in three weeks on July 11. The “second” Tuesday of the month.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Loveland Magazine sent an email the next morning to the Councilmembers who voted to shut down the meeting asking for their response regarding Kathy Bailey’s accusation that the abrupt closing down of the council meeting was pre-planned. None have responded.
The post on Rob Weisgerber’s Facebook page on June 21 at 9:50 PM ·that Fitzgerald and Gross say condones violence towards Gross
To all my friends out there and especially for those who have spoken out against Mark Fitzgerald and Pam Gross on Loveland City Council. Pam Gross today submitted 9 separate public documents requests for all emails and documents between me and a host of private citizens. The magnitude of the list of names is very disturbing. She had also made the same request of Ted Phelps and Kathy Bailey included in those 9 requests.
I will be clear that her request looks to be so broad and ill defined that no one can respond. Legal council now has to be involved to resolve. Pam is costing you the residents of Loveland by wasting your tax dollars on petty requests.
The depth Pam Gross is willing to stoop to for her campaign is embarrassing
(Name Redacted by Loveland Magazine) You dont [Sic] have to give her anything. Thats [Sic] a violation. Does she have a subpeona [Sic] ? She can request all day long. Lol who does she think she is? Trying to pull another fast one with intimidation. She nerds [Sic] a good old fashion loveland ass kicking 80s style lol.