Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Is this odd or what? UPDATED 2X

President of the commission, Dave Brumfield, is not running for re-election again. Yay. The Democratic candidate running in Ward 4 is Craig Grella. Craig is on the PA Democratic Party staff as Digital Operations Director. It is a paid position.  http://www.padems.com/party/staff/ Does anyone see that as a problem?

Craig's professional website www.craiggrella.com is now being used for his commission race. His professional website was more like his LinkedIn profile

A couple of things I noticed about Grella's website. His committee address is not in Mt. Lebanon as indicated (15228) but in the city. While I appreciate his sense of humor, his website is being paid for by Friends of Craig Grella, the website which previously was his professional website.

Craig's vision for Mt. Lebanon is admirable. Our schools provide an education second to none, and Craig wants to do everything in his power to keep it, as well as other things, that way. However, Craig is running for commission, not school board director.  He has no magic fix for Mt. Lebanon, but seems to be running on the "unity" platform.

I find it unusual for a staff member of the PA Democratic Party to be running in the commission race here in Mt. Lebanon. Is that another conflict of interest that Mt. Lebanon voters are presented? I'm not comfortable with it, but I am not faced with that dilemma, only the residents of Ward 4.

Update March 29, 2017 4:51 PM Now, it is getting really odd. Craig Grella's non-profit Orgspring Inc in Pittsburgh has never filed a 990.  I see that since income is less than $25,000, filing is not required. But here's the oddest part. Craig Grella is declaring ZERO income. Source: nonprofitfacts.com And before the trolls start attacking, yes, I see the small print on this website. "Use at your own risk."

Update March 29, 2017 9:35 PM A non-profit with less than $50,000 in receipts can file a 990-N. It’s just an e-postcard with basic information on it. Guidestar does not list 990-N’s. Orgspring is up to date on their filings.

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

Initial thoughts about Grella's vision statement.

1. Why is the "i" highlighted in red in his logo?
2. His page reads "Here in Mt. Lebanon, we have an embarrassment of riches; amazing schools, beautiful homes, great municipal services, and an uptown area with a good mix of local businesses."

"Embarrassment of riches"?
Is anyone embarrassed by what their hard-earned tax dollars pay for.
Most of us worked hard to get here and willingly pay for the Lebolife, schools and safety as long as it is managed in a fiscally responsible manner.

3. "We don’t always agree with each other, and often our ideologies are far apart, but we always come together for the betterment of our community, and this has sustained us. The point is – we do it together."

Craig must have missed the school board meeting when primarily Ds ridiculed and snickered at Elaine when she presented 4,000 signatures opposing the $113 million HS project.

He must have missed all the divisiveness over the deer culling, the spending and lackluster results.

Then there are the issues like the newcomers tax, artificial turf, millions spent on land like Twins Hills and McNeilly.

Craig may indeed be a great candidate, but so far his vision statement offers little on how he will address specific items.

Hopefully we'll get some really defining insight into Craig.

Anonymous said...

Wonder where Craig stands on transparency, the Sunshine Act and RTKs?

Jason Margolis said...

I have a request in for an interview with Craig for my May Behind the Bubble piece. I am hoping he says yes, and that this insight will be provided in the article.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Craig even lives in Mt. Lebanon? If he does, how long has he lived here? He seems to have come out of nowhere.

Anonymous said...

Well, this certainly is odd. The address for his campaign is on East Warrington Avenue in Allentown. Huh?

E. T. Gillen said...

He says he lives in Sunset Hills, but not anything more than that. He may be renting.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure he has been here long enough for his (rented or owned) address to have shown up on on-line searches. He probably doesn't know a thing about Mt. Lebanon and read up on the school district in the local propaganda. Mystery Man.

Anonymous said...

He's cofounder of a nonprofit who provide free websites. Why are his friends paying for his ?

Anonymous said...

Apparently, he is 40 years old and last lived in Homestead, PA.

Anonymous said...

2:44 you don't need to live anywhere long to sing Kumbaya.
When he gets down to filling us in on his vision for specific issues like PAYT, deer culling, brick streets, artificial turf, PIO NY field trips, service fees, parking fees, newcomer tax we'll get a better idea of whom candidate Grella is.

This isn't picking on the guy, I'd want to read a republican's or independent's view of issues specific to our community.

If voters want to vote in a candidate on generic pablum, shame on them.

Anonymous said...

https://www.whois.com/whois/craiggrella.com

Anonymous said...

One of the things that is disconcerting about Crella's resume is her work for the Bernie Sanders campaign.
If he subscribes to the Sanders socialist philosophy this would be completely at odds with the history of Mt. Lebanon and how it became the community it is today.
Hopefully that isn't his vision for Mt. Lebanon's future.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't he disclose on his campaign page his place of employment?

Anonymous said...

5:08, you got his name wrong and I think you're being a little ridiculous to suggest that one commissioner will turn Mt. Lebanon into a socialist city. I might also point out that Bernie Sanders has been Senator of his state for how long? And they are not yet socialist. Relax.

Craig Grella said...

I did receive an email from Mr. Margolis regarding an interview request. I'd be happy to meet with him at an agreeable time and discuss the commission and the issues facing Mt. Lebanon and our residents.

To E. T. Gillen: I appreciate your comment "before the trolls start attacking." I was the founder of OrgSpring, which is a volunteer-run organization that maintains its nonprofit status in accordance with tax-exempt regulations. OrgSpring has filed 990's via the postcard method. I'm not familiar with the 'nonprofitfacts' website you reference and thus can't make a statement as to how they present information. Perhaps a better indication of the status of OrgSpring can be found on the official IRS tax-exempt website here:

https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/pub78Search.do?ein1=455142615&names=&city=&state=All...&country=US&deductibility=all&dispatchMethod=searchCharities&submitName=Search

OrgSpring was incorporated in PA in 2012. We immediately applied for nonprofit status, which was later granted in 2013. If you remember, at the time, the IRS was embroiled in scandal, and it was unusual that a simple nonprofit request would take 18 months to complete - as it did with OrgSpring. I had written to Rep. Tim Murphy, several times, for his assistance in the matter. One of those articles was published in the Almanac here: http://www.thealmanac.net/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130521/OPINION02/130529984.

If you and your readers would participate, I think an open forum would be a fantastic way for our residents to discuss some issues and put forth a few ideas on tackling them. Perhaps the informal setting may make for a freer exchange of ideas than what is possible at a typical commission meeting. Maybe we could arrange that. I'm not sure I'll be able to check this website with great frequency, but I'll discuss that idea with Mr. Margolis during out meeting.

Anonymous said...

Yes, thank you 6 am I did get 'his' name wrong. Sorry.

Never said one individual would change Lebo into a socialist city, only suggesting that his political bent may indicate where he might stand on issues.

I'll be glad to read your opinion on how we evaluate the candidates so that we may choose the best ones.

Anonymous said...

http://www2.county.allegheny.pa.us/RealEstate/GeneralInfo.aspx?ParcelID=0140K00198000000&SearchType=2&SearchStreet=Meridian&SearchNum=454&SearchMuni=926

E. T. Gillen said...

Thank you for that information, Craig. Just wondering, Craig, did Tim Murphy help you? I have been seeing the "Where's Tim Murphy?" signs and chuckle. You can usually see him in front of the camera at the joint session of Congress.
Elaine

Craig Grella said...

Good question Elaine. He did not respond directly to any of the letters I sent him or dropped off at his office. His press secretary called me after the article ran in the Almanac. I submitted information to him. Rep Murphy wrote a rebuttal in the Almanac. I submitted additional information he requested. I never got a direct response from Rep Murphy, but I did get a call from someone at the IRS a few months later, and shortly thereafter the tax-exempt status for OrgSpring was approved. Hard to say if it was related.

Anonymous said...

Okay Elaine - thats fine about the nonprofit. But what about Mr. Grella in a paid position for the Democratic Party ? That stinks !

Jason Margolis said...

Craig, I look forward to our interview and am very pleased to hear of your open-ness to an informal forum. That already, in my book, puts you ahead of many of the current cast of characters.

Please reach out to me via email so we can schedule an interview for mid-April.

Anonymous said...

That is certainly a refreshing attitude that Mr. Grella is exhibiting and one that hopefully should he win he'll promote with his colleagues on the commission and municipal staff.
Watched the televised commission meeting yesterday and the attitudes directed towards their constituents were appalling, especially from the municipal manager. IMO he needs an attitude adjustment.

Anonymous said...

I think electing some new people to local office here in the "bubble" is probably a good thing. I hope he brings some innovative ideas. Also, maybe he wont be in the back pocket of the staff/administration like so many others seem to be.

Anonymous said...

Does Craig know that the commissioners don't run the show in Mt. Lebanon? I wonder.

Richard Gideon said...

Commission votes affect all Mt. Lebanon residents, regardless of the Ward they live in. The personal political philosophies of candidates running for office are a reasonable indicator of how they will approach their duties if elected. That being said, and given that Mr. Grella seems remarkably open to addressing people on this Blog (to his credit!), I have the following questions for him:

1. You worked for Bernie Sanders; are you a socialist? If so, which "brand" of socialism do you support (and please explain so that those unfamiliar with the concept can understand it)?
2. Bernie Sanders said quite clearly that he wanted to raise taxes on everyone and expand middle class entitlements (such as "free" college). This is in line with socialist theory that says high taxes equal high standards of living and economic activity. Do you agree?
3. I believe that Mt. Lebanon is a relatively highly taxed community. What level of taxation do you think would be appropriate (i.e., what millage and EIT percentage would you like to see)?
4. Would you be open to using eminent domain if necessary in order to create a "public benefit," as opposed to limiting it to "public use?" (For Blog readers, "public benefit" means, for example, the municipality could take the private property of one person and give it to another person, if in doing so higher tax revenues will be achieved. See the US Supreme Court decision in "Kelo vs. New London." Under "public use" eminent domain can only be used for projects such as roads, schools, dams, etc.)
5. What is your ideal demographic makeup for the community?
6. Using tax money to "turf" sports fields along Cedar Boulevard was sold to the community as a way to improve property values, attract new families into Mt. Lebanon, and expand public use. Do you believe the municipality has achieved those goals?

I look forward to reading your replies.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Richard for expressing the point of my comment at 5:08. Good questions.

And yes Mr. Grella is to be applauded for entering into the conversation here.

Craig Grella said...

Richard,

There is alot of information here and I dont think answering it in an unformatted blog comment would be the best place for this. As I mentioned in a previous comment, I think it's time we hold a forum with residents present. I enjoyed the unity rally a few months back, but that was not meant for back and forth interaction, and the cold made it hard to stay out for long.

There is no perfect way to do these forums, but we'd need a good space, like a church auditorium. In that setting, however, we may have limited time to answer all questions. Perhaps we could do a mix of write-in Q&A and then Q&A from the crowd that attends. It might be good to do a series of these - maybe 2 or 3 of them in successive weeks or months. Arrange the topics into segments that are related, and then do the forums on-topic.

I will attempt to answer a few of your questions in a blog post on CraigGrella.com - While some of them I believe are more relevant to governance on the federal level, the philosophy of how I would tackle those questions is very relevant to governance of a community like ours. I'll have that up in the next 48 hours.

I'd like the opportunity to expand upon these at a later time too - because I think most of these questions warrant that. Also, please do not assume I am avoiding a question (or answer) if I do not answer something thoroughly here or there. I do believe a few of these questions need a longer response than what I'm comfortable typing.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the R (if they have a candidate for Ward 4 commissioner) and D parties could arrange a Q&A at Howe.

Richard Gideon said...

Thank you, Mr. Grella, for your reply. I'll stand-by for the post on CraigGrella.com.

Anonymous said...

I think 10:07AM is dead on about the need to get some new people involved. Look at some of the School Board candidates. Remely is running for a FOURTH term. Birks for a THIRD term. Cappucci is creeping back to run for a FOURTH term after quietly getting her kid a dream job with the District. Fresh perspectives are really needed.

E. T. Gillen said...

I agree, but let's stay on topic. Any other comments about the school board go under a different post. Thanks.
Elaine

Craig Grella said...

Mr. Margolis and I spoke via phone to schedule a time for us to chat as an interview for this blog. That will likely happen some time mid-april. Forthcoming updates to my site will hopefully add a few answers to questions posted here and other positions on issues that have been under discussion by our commission.

E. T. Gillen said...

Craig, will you provide Lebo Citizens readers a direct link to your forthcoming updates? Will it be a blog, under news, or a new page on your website?
Elaine

Craig Grella said...

There will be an issues section that will be accessible via main menu, and i'd be happy to post a few follow up links here as well. Also, I left a message with school board facilities rental to discuss renting a room in Howe for a community meeting. I'll post an update on that as soon as I hear back.

Anonymous said...

Here's an issue for Mr. Grella and any other Commission candidate.

What do we do with the McNeilly property?

This plot of land was purchased several years ago for about $1,000,000 and the terms were that it had to be used for recreation. Does anyone in Lebo use it for that aside from a few archery hunters. Does anyone want to?

Had the forward thinking commissioners at the time ignored the sports cabal, that property would have remained on the tax rolls generating revenue for the municipality and school district. Perhaps it might have been developed generating even more revenue, but nooo we had to buy it and now it sits undeveloped and bleed money rather than generating revenue.

Does Mr. Grella or any other commission candidate have any suggestions to turn this anchor around the municipalities neck into something useful?

Enough with the kumbya rhetoric, will need real municipal fiscal management!

Craig Grella said...

We would need to look into the exact restrictions or covenants that might be on the property - and the detail of those covenants. Free of those, we then look at any rules that might be in place for usage or sale of municipal property in general - our solicitor/attorney can provide an opinion there. That gives us a list of things we can do, procedurally.

From there, I would work outward - weighing the viability of each option, assigning a value in terms of real dollars, and a timeline for likely development. That would require some input from the engineer, possibly a few developers, though in that stage I don't think we'd need to open any formal bidding process. For the public/community use, I would request input from community leaders and members of the public to bring in some ideas.

Then we should open it up to the community and get some input on the best path forward. Its likely we'll not have perfect consensus, but then the commission can make a vote based on input from the community before the process even gets started. That would be with the understanding that the next phase would be to assess economic viability and that may (very likely) bring the project back around for more discussion and another vote(s).

Whatever is decided, we must have an understanding of the baseline economics. Public use means likely adding cost to our budget, as opposed to a sale or lease which would add income and the loss of some control in the final product.

What I would hope we could avoid are the people who complain about every option without offering their own suggestions or those who refuse to engage in the process with an open mind.

That's how I'd tackle it. Hopefully that's not too "kumbya" for you, anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Grella. I understand the McNeilly property is not a problem of your making, but it is still a debt albatross that provides nothing as it sits right now either in recreation or revenue.
Rather than burdening taxpayers with higher taxes, hopefully our commission will get rid of should we call it dead wood.

As for the kumbya, I'm sorry, I don't think it's our elected officials responsibility to teach us how to get along. If you've been brought in Mt. Lebanon or have become educated and employable enough to afford a Lebo home you should know how to get along with people of all creeds, colors and economic situation.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Grella, thank you for your response. I especially liked your point "What I would hope we could avoid are the people who complain about every option without offering their own suggestions or those who refuse to engage in the process with an open mind."

Although I would add to that hopefully people will hear out others' suggestions and avoid branding those contributors as racists, cheapskates, bigots, idiots and kid haters or whatever "anti" name they can come up with for people that disagree with them.

We've seen too much of that on the HS project, turf, and deer issues. Kumbya is all well and good, but it hasn't been practiced much by our current public officials. Hope that isn't too difficult for you to understand.

Craig Grella said...

We cannot accept racism, bigotry, sexism, agism...ever. It should be a baseline for us. And I mean that in deed as much as we try to practice it in words.

It seems our voices are becoming more polarized these days either in stark support or opposition to measures - and that's happening across the board. I heard a great podcast this week from David Axelrod (liberal-D) who interviewed John McCain (conservative-R), who longed for the days when the two parties collaborated much more often. It was a great interview and podcast.

There is so much energy out there now it would be a shame not to harness it for the few points where some of us disagree.

There's nothing wrong with voicing opposition. But at some point, we must come together after decisions are made. We can still work against a measure, or against an official or his/her policies, but we must be careful not to make it personal. It's hard, and no one is perfect, but we must try. I work in various Democratic volunteer groups and the question I hear often is "Do these calls and letters make a difference?" Well, it's hard to tell if our officials change their mind after reading the first letter or the 500th, but I know they work. I see it almost every day.

If you write a letter and it gets ignored. write another and another. If you write 10 letters and they're all ignored you check to make sure you're not mis-spelling the person's name. If they ignore you after that - shame on them. Then you get a group of friends and show up at their office. If they ignore you still you get more friends and you visit them at the polls on election day. if still you lose you chalk it up to a good fight. You don't get mean or sore. That doesn't mean you stop fighting, but you can't make it personal - even when it's personal to you and your family. I don't care if that person is a D, R, or subscribes to any other party. Same goes.

I stand next to Republicans on the soccer field and at gymnastics class for my daughter and we don't get into fist fights there. My neighbor, a retired marine, and I shared a drink and took a picture with him in his Trump shirt and me in my Bernie shirt. But we are still friends. He works his groups. I work mine. We both know these issues are important to our families, and though we disagree on just about everything (literally everything) we remain close friends.

What I have been practicing for the past few years is bringing people together to discuss issues. If we do that often enough and publicly enough we all know where each other stands and we can begin work first on what's important to people.

Those are my two cents, and that's probably all they're worth.

Anonymous said...

Did I hear you say soccer.field. Lemme guess...you want more artificial turf in Lebo.

Anonymous said...

"We cannot accept racism, bigotry, sexism, agism...ever. It should be a baseline for us. And I mean that in deed as much as we try to practice it in words."

OK, got it, but is this really an issue pertinent to the commissioners race? First pretty sure 99.9% of candidates for our local offices and a large majority of voters would agree with the above statement. Second, can commissioners really impose rules regarding sexism, bigotry, etc., etc?

What voters need to know is where the candidates stand on issues that the office holder really will have control over like taxes and municipal management IMO. Like 6:22 ask for instance, does candidate Grella want more artificial turf? How about PAYT? Brick or asphalt for streets?

Anonymous said...

You bet 8:36! What will be your pet project Mr. Grella? More turf, less deer, higher taxes, more spending, more bricks, higher rain tax, more staff, more salary increases.......


Anonymous said...

Yep 10:20, those are the questions I have for any of the commission candidates.

We can't control whether my neighbors are racist, homophobes, misogynistic
or misandristic nor can a commissioner so why even bring it up in a campaign.

Now voting for artificial turf or raising the storm water fee for instance, those are thing the commission controls and I want to know where the candidate stands on them.

Do they want to spend thousands on ineffective deer culling?

Craig Grella said...

As I've tried to point out in previous comments, there are not always black and white or binary answers for these questions, and anyone who attempts to pin someone into such an answer I suspect doesn't actually care about the answer or process for arriving at that answer - only that someone agrees with his or her position.

The commission's job is not just to vote on issues of taxation and development, or deer and road maintenance. Our home rule charter gives the municipality fairly broad powers of self-governance. So in short, yes, rules can be made to address nearly anything that the PA Constitution doesn't disallow.

Just a few years ago a state rep from HD-40, John Maher, sponsored a bill which became law that allowed the state government to overrule local municipality zoning. This was done to allow fracking companies to enter municipalities like Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon, where development or local rules have prevented those practices. That portion of the law was later struck down as unconstitutional and removed from the code.

I'd like to see the commission put in some critical thought on issues like that - and on rules that might serve to further protect our community.

I did plan to post comments here on PAYT, and brick maintenance, but the comment box here allows for only so much space. So i've placed those comments on my site. You can find them here:

CraigGrella.com/issues

I've got a few more i'm adding over the next few days. I'll address questions on bricks and road surfaces and taxes and other municipal services.

Also, as an update, I have the form ready to submit for a community forum at Howe. I'll put that in for last week in April and update the group on then final date here.

Anonymous said...

Oh Craig...you just lost my vote. "anyone who attempts to pin someone into such an answer I suspect doesn't actually care about the answer or process for arriving at that answer - only that someone agrees with his or her position."

E. T. Gillen said...

I read what Craig posted under "Issues." I have to say that I would not vote for Craig because he is for firing lethal weapons in Mt. Lebanon. I have gone through quite a process for arriving at that answer. Lebo Citizens readers are very much aware of that journey!

The topic of turf is always avoided.

We have not heard from Bob Fischer publicly, but I know through our conversations, Bob is tired of all the money that is being wasted here.

Craig will win the Primary. Bob will win the Primary. Charlotte Stephenson will win the Primary. They are running unopposed. November is when it will truly matter. However, Steve Silverman has competition. Bob Lee, former head of the MLDC, is also running for the Ward 2 commission seat. I would love to see Bob win that one.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

Elaine - Mr. Grella's position on deer management is contradictory. The heading Keeping Mt. Lebanon Safe is followed by not opposed to lethal culling methods.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Grella, don't want deer in your yard ? Rent a house that isn't across the street from fruit trees !

Anonymous said...

Sorry Mr. Grella, but you're beginning to lose me.
Sometimes there are issues that are black & white... take artificificial turf. The EPA mandates that we pay to properly dispose of our used tires so that means they consider them either hazardous to our health or to the environment... maybe both.
So it's pretty black & white, are you in for protecting the environment, saving money, and more important our kids health or are you more concerned about appearances and a few more hours of play time?

Anonymous said...

Just visited Mr. Grella's web site and like his position on PAYT.
Along those lines, I'd like to hear his and his opponents views on the regressive MTL storm water tax (a fee is a tax).

Do they believe, for example, a Ward 4 homeowner with a 1/4 acre lot should pay the same storm water fee as a Virginia Manor homeowner that may have a full acre or more. The Virginia Manor homeowner is "generating" four times the stormwater runoff as the the 1/4 acre homeowner. Shouldn't they pay four times more, candidates?

Craig Grella said...

Re: Anonymous from 8:32 am: are you suggesting publicly that the municipality is improperly disposing of hazardous materials or that the materials used for turf are listed on the EPA's or PA DEP's hazardous materials list? If that is the case, have you reported that to proper authorities?

Re: rain tax - I believe the commission's previous assessment on the stormwater fees was well researched and implemented. The fee is based not on the size of a lot but the size of the impervious area of that lot. The median impervious area used represented 75% of the samples taken. That is an effective way to sample a community the size of ours and is used by many other municipalities in our state and across the country. That is also consistent with my experience as a civil engineer - in designing, constructing, and refitting stormwater plans in communities here in PA and around the east coast.

I do favor tax credits for different types of stormwater catchment and remediation, for commercial and residential properties. I've ha conversations with neighbors about rain barrel and rain garden usage. I would imagine rain gardens are not applicable for many of our residential properties, but I think we could do more in the way of responsible stormwater management and incentivize residents for using such methods.

State Senator Fontana has proposed a bill SB-334 (and 2 other bills) that would allow municipalities to tap into federal and state funds and receive grants for stormwater replacement and also to help citizens pay for private laterals and water lines. These are fantastic bills and we should support them and push our own state senator to support these bills as well. Being able to tap into additional federal and state funding for stormwater replacement helps to reduce municipality stormwater cost and could help mitigate the fees we see here.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Grella, seems there is quandary with the EPA and DEP. For us citizens the used tires are an environmental hazard which we are forced to pay a fee to dispose of them, for now the jury is out on whether the tires are hazardous once they are ground up into pellets and distributed on sports fields. It is redivulous that if we paid to dispose of the tires safely, why on earth would we want to buy them back and have our kids play on them?

As for impervious areas regarding stormwater fees. A 5,000 sq ft house with 2,3,4 car garage and long driveway has a lot more impervious area the a 1,600 sq ft house with a 1 car garage and short driveway. Convenience isn't an excuse for sticking it to people.

As for federal and state grants, great, where do you think they get their money. Can you say taxes?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Grella: Your post at 2:23 indicated your wanting to include the community's input in regards to the McNeilly Property and as such any other issues that affect we taxpayers. The problem is that the taxpayers have been shut out of any negotiations in this community for too long. It is not a matter of the "R"s versus the "D"s, but rather addressing the oppressive, bullying attitudes from the Comimissioners towards the taxpayers in our community. This is the root of the problem. We taxpayers have no voice whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

9:14: Commissioners.

Craig Grella said...

9:14 - I emailed Elaine and Jason tonight about moving forward with a community meeting in the 4th ward. I'm not sure we'll have enough room to do a lebo-wide community meeting, but it needs to be done I think. I attend Bower Hill Community Church and we have a large fellowship hall that could easily fit 200 people. I'd have to check the fire code numbers before you can quote me on that number for sure. The churches up on Washington have nice basement rooms as well. The high school can be very expensive to reserve enough space - as much as $2,000 I believe.

My goal for the 4th ward meeting would be to let people air the issues, and then have some critical discussion on preferred solutions to those issues. I think a 2 hour meeting should suffice. As I said in a previous comment, there is a difference between voicing opposition and complaining for the sake of complaining. We all know there are people who do the latter and do not attempt to offer solutions to the conversation.

While I suspect some of that is unavoidable at a community meeting, I would hope we could keep it to a minimum and get out into the open the real issues we face, maybe prioritize them, get some consensus, and plan ahead. I think we must also be realistic. We're not going to find solutions to every issue in one night. But perhaps we can create a place online where meet again to discuss those issues moving forward, or perhaps we could create citizen committees for certain issues.

There have been times in my life where I have taken up opposition to policies, and have rallied literally thousands of people to the cause and can say I've changed the mind of my elected official. There have been times where I've rallied in opposition and found myself to be the only one screaming about that issue. Those times are tough - because you realize no one cares about that issue as deeply as you do, or you think that no one is understanding why it should be important to them too and how that issue can impact their life. That's frustrating. Being ignored by our elected officials is very frustrating.

I can promise you, and everyone reading this comment, I will approach each issue with an open mind. Those are not liberal platitudes - you don't have to go too deep into the 4th ward to find someone who knows me or my work and can speak on my character.

My experience and my education will of course sway my decision on certain topics, but I'm not close-minded on anything. If someone makes a strong enough case and shows a significant benefit for something I might vote against or have actually voiced that I would vote against, I'd be willing to meet with that person and talk it out. I am not willing to meet with, engage with, or otherwise have a dialogue with anyone who seeks only to cut me (or anyone else) down, to ridicule or complain without offering suggestions, or to throw personal aspersions.

Anonymous said...

So far this reader hasn't seen any personal aspersions cast at anyone.

IMO the questions have been specific as to trying to get a handle on the candidates for Ward 4 and Mr. Grella is to applauded for being available and for welcoming input. If he maintains that stance should he win he'll be light years ahead of some current officials.

I will say though Mr. G, that I do think you're being a little unfair in suggesting that people complain but offer few solutions.
Hundreds of people took an active role on the HS renovation, Sablegate, turf, newcomers tax, McNeilly, bricking streets and lastly, deer culling.



E. T. Gillen said...

11:00 PM, many of the issues you listed were before Craig moved here. I would like to add stormwater, PAYT, turf at the high school (school district), allowing dogs in parks and/or dog park, smoking in parks, the Zamagias properties, zoning, parking spaces, one way streets, private roads, sidewalks, the swimming pool, cat ordinances, inspections, signs, personnel, the magazine and public information office, the parks, (including Twin Hills and the golf course) and incurring debt.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

Yes, Elaine, many of the issues Grella may not have lived through so he may not be aware that many residents while opposing/favoring a specific issue did offer options, recommendations or alternatives.
One example appearing on your blog was saving money by combining the two public information offices. MTL spends $850,000 on the municipal PIO while USC spends less than $350,000 on their combined school/municipality PIO.

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that a number of people offered alternatives to the artificial turf down at the "Crown Jewel."
Some were very viable and substantially less expensive than what the commissioners opted for.
Certain influential circles wanted turf at the Cedar location and that is what they were going to get come hell or high water.
Now they're working on another million dollar turf on the HS practice field and in spite of the district's budget short fall they get it, Mr. Grella.

Anonymous said...

If you want more of Brumfeld, then vote for Grella. Its that simple. Another politician.

Craig Grella said...

11:00 pm - your note is fair.

If I'm picking up the gist of what you and a few other commenters since are saying is that there has been ample discussion and that residents have offered alternative solutions and that they are frustrated because they believe those suggestions are being summarily ignored. Is that right?

That's a tough one. I can read minutes of past meetings, see videos, and have conversations with residents and commissioners on PAST events. Which I've done. But that doesn't give me insight into how the residents really feel on certain issues.

Without rehashing specific examples, I believe there were situations where the commission took public comment, evaluated it, and made a decision. Then after, some were unhappy with that decision. I would imagine some people accepted that and moved on and others felt they were ignored when their idea was not adopted. Then of course, there may have been some ideas actually discounted or ignored for one reason or another. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, or that it actually happened, but people may have felt it happened - and we may need to address that.

What I would be careful to do is make publicly know WHY I am voting the way I am voting, which would include a personal statement of the considerations I made, a statement of what I believe to be the most important factor(s) in that decision, and what (if any) opinions I may have discounted. As often as I could, I would try to make that known on my own blog, which will be maintained, before the vote so that if there is public comment required on that opinion it might happen before the actual vote.

Some people who occupy higher elected offices have been good about using such a system of early notification and I always feel that is a good way to better understand and also to invite early comment.

Does that sound fair?

Anonymous said...

Yes Mr. Grella, that sounds very fair.

I'll give you an example of where I believe the divisiveness really came to the fore front in our community.
It started with Sablegate, but things really got bad with the HS renovation. Sides formed up, BOSNians against Lebocitizens. We had numerous citizen get involved in both sides even down to the point of 12 building professionals (CAC) drawing up plans for a less expensive renovation. A 4,000 signature petition asked the SB to rethink the projection. The board said thet had more than 4,000 pro supporters though never offered any evidence supporting their claim. To the CAC one of the board project leads responded to the CAC that they had no intention of revisiting the project design.
That design they insisted on came in about $24 million over budget, which the CAC warned.

So Mr. Grella the mistrust (?) between officials and resident has only gown. It'll take one helluva of a politician to bring us back together.

Anonymous said...

Grella says absolutely nothing in that long statement at 4 PM. I don't think he knows the first thing about Mt. Lebanon.

Anonymous said...

Elaine: I would also like to see a forum that includes all three announced candidates for Ward 2 Commissioner. Silverman has been running around all week with his expensive yard signs. Each one make me want to vomit. Of course these signs are in yard of one-issue voters. They know that Silverman doesn't care about guns being fired in our very dense community. He doesn't care about anything.

Anonymous said...

11:20, I think Mr. Grella has the best intentions when he writes: "What I would be careful to do is make publicly know WHY I am voting the way I am voting, which would include a personal statement of the considerations I made, a statement of what I believe to be the most important factor(s) in that decision, and what (if any) opinions I may have discounted. As often as I could, I would try to make that known on my own blog, which will be maintained, before the vote so that if there is public comment required on that opinion it might happen before the actual vote."
The question though becomes, will he be able to stick to his guns if he's elected?