Loveland, Ohio – Sharon Scovanner went through the legal channels to be permitted to speak for 10-minutes at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Even though she followed the rules, Mayor Kathy Bailey refused Scovanner’s request to be “Placed on the Agenda”.

She wanted to speak about the annexation into the City of the Graville property.

WOW! If Mayor Bailey doesn’t want to hear from the citizens of Loveland maybe being mayor of Loveland is not for her.”Sharon Scovanner

Not being deterred, Scovanner went to the meeting and signed up for “open forum” which would allow her 5-minutes to speak.

As soon as the 5-minutes was over, Scovanner was interrupted mid-sentence by Bailey and told that her speaking time was over. Scovanner immediately left the podium.

You can watch Scovanner speaking last night in the LOVELAND MAGAZINE TV video below and also read her entire statement to see what she was not allowed to say.

Also below is a post-meeting LOVELAND MAGAZINE TV interview with Scovanner being asked how she felt the meeting went and Mayor Bailey’s response to the accusation of suppressing free speech.

City council

I’ve spoken with numerous members of council recently including Mr. Oury, Mr. Bateman, (at my house) Mr. Blair, and Mr. Butler (at the committee appreciation dinner) about some really important issues recently.  There has been debate and at times we have agreed to disagree.  Disagreement is not a negative, but a way to understand each other’s point of view.  I have also had productive meetings and discussions with Dave Kennedy, Tom Smith and Mark Medlar.  The best results are always when there is dialogue, each person defending their positions.  That’s how democracy works, when it is working well.  Governing bodies succeed when there is open sharing of facts, discussion, deliberation and at times, compromise.           

A couple of weeks ago all the city council candidates were invited to attend a meet the Candidate forum after our neighborhood’s annual HOA meeting.  Mr. Butler, Hart, Phelps and Ms. Lukens attended.   At our meeting there was spirited debate about the development of Blossom Hill, annexation of the Grail property, the proposed parking garage, all of which significantly impact TRAFFIC congestion in DT Loveland.  Mr. Phelps and Hart took a lot of tough questions, as the residents were concerned about the disproportionate detrimental effect each of these developments would have on the residents of Warren County.  Hopefully they heard the collective and heartfelt voices of the residents.  Mr. Phelps stayed after the meeting and talked further about these issues which was most appreciated.  He suggested that I add my name to the agenda of the next city council meeting for further discussion.  I attempted to do so. 

Rule 19 of the Loveland City Council rules (five-day rule) states “Any person, group or delegation wishing to be placed on the agenda to appear before council shall direct a letter to the clerk of council so it is received by the clerk no later than 12 noon on the Thursday preceding the regularly scheduled Tuesday council meeting,….

Rule 19 was followed, despite this, On Friday, I received an email from Misty, the clerk of council.  It read, “Sharon, Mayor Bailey has DECLINED your request to be placed on the October 26 agenda and suggested that you speak during open forum.”  WOW!  If Mayor Bailey doesn’t want to hear from the citizens of Loveland maybe being mayor of Loveland is not for her.  

According to rule 19, the mayor has no authority what so ever to deny a request to appear on the agenda.  Just because the mayor does not like what a citizen has to say, does not give her the right to try to silence them.     

If you look at the organizational chart of the city, one and only one group is at the top, it isn’t the mayor, the city council, businesses or developers.  It’s the citizens.  

Allowing active participation of the citizenry should be the goal of any functioning democracy and should be insisted upon by all who are in positions of power.    

In 2017, a group known as Loveland Community Heartbeat, lead by Neal Oury (our community advocate, as per his political sign) initiated a recall of Mayor Mark Fitzgerald.  The grounds for removal were as follows.
1. Conducting city operations and meetings in a manner which prohibits full participations by all council members, resident involvement and transparency and

2. Willfully and flagrantly exercising authority and power without the consent of the resident electorate or city council

2017 was a dark time for the city of Loveland and Mayor Bailey is returning us to those same dark days.  Over the past few months Mayor Bailey has prohibited full participation by all council members and resident involvement by
1. denying my request to be on the agenda to limit my time for speaking, after I was invited by Mr. Phelps to be placed on the agenda.

2. telling another Resident he could not speak (Dave Stanton), only to be admonished by the Law Director because she overreached her authority. 

3. voting in favor of taking a sitting Council Member off the agenda to limit his speech.

4. denying a sitting Council member’s request to be on the agenda to limit his speech. 

5.  trying to limit members of the press from access to meetings and taking pictures.

6. showing favoritism to one member of council by allowing him more times to speak, while denying that same right to others council members.   

7. Earlier this year, she voted to change council rules to limit the time any one topic could be spoken about by residents in one meeting to 20 minutes. 
So, if an issue comes up that brings 100 people to open forum only 4 people can speak?  Council has an obligation to listen to all the residents who take the time to prepare and come to speak to council, regardless how long it takes; its what you were elected to do. 

These are only the things that I know of, who knows who else has been denied the right to speak?   This is all very alarming and needs to stop.     

Suppression of speech undermines the very core of any democracy.  

The recent actions of Mayor Bailey serve as a wakeup call for the citizens of Loveland, members of council and to those who spoke so loudly against Mark Fitzgerald 4 years ago.  

We can and must do better.  

I welcome your questions and comments