Over the last nine months, I have truly appreciated the opportunity to serve as your mayor. I had the good fortune to meet quite a few of you during my term as a councilman and during last fall’s campaign. Notwithstanding the pandemic, I have also been able to engage with many of you as mayor, although more often on “Zoom” than face-to-face. All of these encounters have enhanced my understanding of our city and what makes it work. Kirtland is a community of great tradition that is enriched, and even thrives, as we depend upon and pull together with each other in the pursuit of common goals.
I have enjoyed every day as mayor and am proud of what the entire team at City Hall has accomplished. But we are not done. We have made many difficult decisions by consistently focusing on my highest priority of spending every taxpayer dollar wisely. Streamlining our service department and consolidating our dispatch operations with Willoughby are just two significant examples. I understand that’s ruffled some feathers as we have toppled the status quo and made “business as usual” a thing of the past. However, the failure of past leaders to confront our spending problems, while continuing to seek more revenue from the taxpayers, is no longer acceptable. We must be credible and responsible fiscal stewards before we dare seek additional revenue and I believe we have begun to establish that trust with our residents with the actions we have taken so far.
Speaking of ruffled feathers, I think it is important for me to address some of the inflamed rhetoric which has recently appeared on the internet and social media concerning our city government. I wouldn’t normally respond to banter on Facebook and the like, but I believe you deserve a response from your elected leader when unsubstantiated statements or insinuations are published alleging illegal actions, abuse of power, intimidation, and many other things far too numerous to mention, all seemingly arising out of recent local commercial development.
I understand that frustration can occur when things don’t go as quickly or smoothly as someone would like as they seek a permit or approval from the city. However, the fact is that city officials are bound to follow the law, be it federal, state or local. Although cutting corners or doing an end run around legal requirements may expedite the issuance of an approval, it is the city and its residents that bear all of the risk of any such shortcut. Kirtland Hills and Willoughby are but two recent examples of municipalities suffering severe economic consequences when local developers engaged in illegal work in the Chagrin River. Closer to home, the failure to understand the significance or pervasiveness of wetlands regulation resulted in the wasteful purchase by the city of property on Route 6 which has virtually no value whatsoever.
Taxpayers are always stuck with the bill when a city becomes embroiled in litigation or disputes over alleged failures to comply with or understand regulatory requirements in the course of economic development. The city’s resources provided by our residents are too precious to squander, no matter how many irresponsible and egregious threats are made or how much of a bitter, confrontational uproar is created by those who don’t get their way.
I assure you as your mayor that I am totally supportive of creating economic opportunity in our city. But I will not do so by risking taxpayer dollars. I am incredibly appreciative and proud of your City Council, Planning and Zoning Board, Law Director and City Engineer, who have each faithfully discharged their responsibilities in full compliance with all legal requirements. I can confidently state that we stand in unwavering solidarity in our refusal to be intimidated or bullied to serve any interest other than the collective good of the residents and taxpayers of Kirtland.
I also want to make sure that everyone understands that I will not sit idly by while our faithful public servants are assailed by insidious attacks on their character, honesty and integrity merely for representing the best interests of the city, protecting its resources and following the letter of the law. They have my full support in continuing to carry out their responsibilities in a professional and responsible manner. Quite frankly, I find it difficult to comprehend why anyone would think that hurling insults and spewing invective is a winning strategy for accomplishing their goals. Nevertheless, the city and its officials will continue to treat everyone with respect and fairness no matter their attitude, be they cooperative or antagonistic.
As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments at 440-429-0293. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you again for the privilege of being your mayor.