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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Politics at their finest

Some Mentor council members and some who would like to be were upset this week when Councilman at large Ron Micchia got front-page exposure when council approved creating a Community Reinvestment Area for parts of the Old Village area.

The CRA is intended to encourage development and redevelopment in an area that isn't terribly conducive to such projects, partly because of lot constraints. Critics hammered Micchia (and the paper), accusing him of grandstanding at election time (He is running for his old Ward 4 seat).

Micchia made it into the story - and the accompanying video - because he proposed amending the ordinance to expand the CRA in the future. That would only be possible if the city commissioned a housing study of other areas of the city and sent it to the state for review.

Micchia's opponents point out that Scott Marn was behind the CRA proposal and that Micchia has an anti-development reputation.

"You may recall this is the same councilman who fought to turn down a neighborhood upgrade on Lakeshore Boulevard that would have replaced an aging and nearly vacant shopping center with a Sheetz," Councilman at large Ray Kirchner said. "This also put the city in the crosshairs of a lawsuit that I question whether we will be able to defend. He is also one of the councilmen who fought against the Center Street rezoning that would have propped up that corner with new housing."

Ward 4 challenger Erik Bednarcik had this, among other things, to say: "There are three other candidates for that seat who are all unhappy with The News-Herald's decision to offer free advertising for Micchia ... I am, personally, appalled and disappointed."

Former Ward 4 candidate Janet Dowling also took issue with "giving" Micchia  a "headline story," calling it unfair to the three others running. "For him to now be touted as Mr. Economic Development is reprehensible," she said, adding, "... thanks to Micchia and his 'friends,' it took us 13 years to get a couple of toilets down at the Lagoons.' "

Marn noted that, "The ENTIRE city could have been in the CRA, but this would take away tax dollars from the schools. Why would language have to be added to work better for the whole city? Answer: Campaigns and taking credit for something he didn’t do." One might wonder why nothing of that sort was said at the meeting. Is everyone playing nice now? Kirchner quietly and politely tried to point out the ramifications (or lack thereof) of the amendment, which council approved unanimously.
For the record, this reporter doesn't publicly endorse or oppose any candidate and Micchia was the second choice for the video interview. The story was covering what happened at a public meeting, not what goes on behind the scenes.

-- Betsy Scott,


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