City council president terminates comments

EAST LIVERPOOL — A father and son planning to address City Council during its regular meeting Monday night had their comments terminated by President of Council John Torma, who cited city regulations for his decision.

At each council session, Torma announces at the beginning of the public portion that only residents or those who own a business may address council.

Brian Stowers of Annesley Road came to the podium first and when advised by Torma of the rules, Stowers said, “I called specifically and asked if I could speak.”

Stowers, the brother of Councilman Craig Stowers, said he asked Councilman Ernest Peachey and was advised he could address council. Peachey told Torma, “I thought he could.”

Torma told Stowers he could have the woman with him speak, and Marge Burson of Globe Street came to the podium saying two weeks ago, Stowers received a citation from the city for working on her roof.

“He didn’t charge me a dime. I’ve known him since he was little. It was his brother who (reported him),” Burson claimed, adding, “There has to be money exchanged and this boy, cross my heart, didn’t charge a penny.”

Stowers was charged by city police with failure to have a contractor’s license after Service-Safety Director Brian Allen issued a complaint about him working on a roof.

Torma said Stowers would have to state his case to Allen, but Stowers complained, “He’s the one who wrote the ticket.”

As Stowers continued to comment, Torma told him his time at the podium was terminated.

Stowers was followed by his son, also named Brian Stowers, who does live inside the city on Oliver Street, who began to voice displeasure with the mayor and others “slandering people’s names” on social media.

Torma advised the younger Stowers that his dispute is with the administration, not council and that “everyone has a right to put what they want on social media,” advising him, “This is not city business” and terminating his time at the podium.

Although Councilman Stowers interjected, Torma told him to reserve his comments to the portion of the meeting set aside for council remarks, but he then did not bring up the subject during that period.

In legislative matters Monday, council approved six ordinances and one resolution under suspension of rules, including the temporary budget for 2018 totaling $15,628,528.

Originally presented last week to the finance committee, the budget totaled $15,584,773, but a $43,750 grant received for opioid treatment purposes had to be added last night, resulting in the amendment.

The grant was reported several weeks ago by officials, who said the money will be used to reimburse the Family Care Ministries for drug rehab programs.

Ordinances establishing Farmers Bank as the city depository; adjusting appropriations; paying vendors; amending the codified ordinances; and authorizing a contract with Warren Fire Equipment for purchase of self contained breathing apparatus were also approved.

A resolution establishing a Pet Smart spay-neuter grant fund was also approved at the request of Auditor Marilyn Bosco, who said it is required by the state in the event the grant is awarded to the city.

Upon a recommendation from Mayor Ryan Stovall, council appointed Jeff Cartwright-Smith to the unexpired Civil Service Commission seat vacated by the resignation of John Fisher.

Stovall reported that new fencing was installed around the Orchard Grove playground over the weekend with a grant received through the Make a Difference Day program, and he commended those who helped, including Northside Church and Lee Cain Fence.

Asked about the status of the St. Clair Avenue closure, Stovall said, weather permitting, the street is expected to be opened by the weekend. He said the second phase of the project, removing a crumbling wall on Garfield Street, is pending signing some paperwork.

Councilman Bill Hogue reported the Environmental Protection Agency had responded to a letter from council regarding Heritage Thermal Services on St. George Street.

The letter lists several websites containing enforcement and compliance history as well as previous Freedom of Information Act requests regarding the company.

Hogue said he attempted to read the compliance history but his computer would not allow it to come up and said he left messages for the letter writer in an effort to find out why and to obtain more information.

Clerk Patrick Scafide reported that the non-profit group RIDE, composed of local manufacturers engaged in bulk hauling, has sent another $50,000 check to the city.

The group voluntarily agreed to help fund road improvements after city officials began discussing the possibility of a tipping fee for companies serviced by heavy trucks.