Inform, Educate, Entertain:
The proceedings of a village council meeting
Wednesday, December 22, 2010 6:55 AM
My news coverage beat is Ottawa and Leipsic. That means everything "newsy" that happens in the villages of Ottawa and Leipsic is my responsibility to cover.
Twice a month I attend village council meetings and because of the regularity of the meetings you get to know village officials and council members pretty well.
The one meeting that I always leave smiling is the Ottawa village council meeting and one of the reasons is because of Dean Meyer, the sports fanatic, council president.
Because Meyer is council president his name has its place on the regular agenda allowing him to bring any items he has to the table.
In the short time I've covered these meeting, not one meeting has gone by where his item is not sports related. He cracks me up!
"HOW 'BOUT THEM BROWNS!" He bellered out one night while sitting as acting mayor. It just so happened the Browns brought home their first victory of the year beating a pretty good NFL team.
During football season he commented how proud he was to be a Titan.
Just last night his comment was, "O-G Basketball is alive and well...If that don't make your ticker quicker nothin' will."
Council meetings can be full of legal mumble jumble but it's funny to me how council members try to be light hearted and turn boring situations into funny ones.
Don't get me wrong, some of the meetings are full of objections and sometimes can be, at times, be full of heated discussions. Just bring up the subject of lawn mowing to anyone on Ottawa's village council and you just might get an ear full.
Leipsic's council is not immune to these same scenarios.
Sometimes, Leipsic's council is full of fun and laughs, other times they can get down to business and there are heated times as well.
Their hot topic seems to be streets and allies. Council members are currently working on an ordinance or some type of formality residents can follow when they want to close a street or ally.
Village council meetings can also become a lesson in the judicial system. Councils are forced to follow the law and abide by the sunshine laws just like any other public body.
The sunshine laws, otherwise known as open meetings laws are a set of instructions laid out by the Ohio General Assembly and were enacted in 1954.
Any governing body is required to follow the sunshine laws and is one of the reasons each village council has a solicitor. The village solicitor is there to make sure the laws are being carried out when villages want to pass certain things like ordinances and resolutions.
The difference between an ordinance and resolution is simple, an ordinance is a local law that is passed by a legislative body and signed by the mayor then enforced by local government.
A resolution is a non-binding statement made by council and is used in persuading other legislative bodies to adopt legislation that is out of the hand of the local government.
Council members then must vote on each resolution or ordinance brought to the table. If the voting results in a tie then the mayor breaks the tie. For a longer description on that just ask Jack Williams, Ottawa's Municipal Director who also teaches at the University of Findlay. I'm told he teaches judicial law and has proven it to me on one occasion.
Earlier I mentioned lawn mowing as Ottawa's hot topic, a vote regarding contract renewals ended in a tie during a meeting last month. Usually the mayor can break the tie but he was not at the meeting that night. Williams explained three different scenarios to me the next day, I think I left more confused than when I came. Thankfully, council members worked their differences out and voted unequally at the next meeting. (It made for a good story in the paper though).
Over all I look forward to the village council meetings every Monday night. One week I'm in Ottawa and the next I'm in Leipsic. The two groups are equally friendly, lighthearted full of sports fanatics.