Category Archives: city council

Why Would City Council Even Consider Adding Fuoride to Xenia’s Drinking Water

By Daniel Downs

During the last meeting, Council President Dennis Propes proposed an ordinance that would authorize the city manager to fluoridate Xenia’s drinking water. Most council members still remember the community voting down this proposal three times in the past. So why reintroduce it?

In the past, city officials sold water fluoridation as a convenient way to lower the cost of treating water, prevent tooth decay, and build stronger bones. It also is true that fluoride is a natural trace element. Medical studies have supported the belief that consuming water supplemented with fluoride does result in increased bone density or stronger bones. Besides all of those benefits, most, if not all, of neighboring cities and regions fluoridate their water.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, J.V. Kumar of the New York Health Department reported that the state spent nearly $24 million on water fluoridation with no statistically significant reduction in the rate of tooth decay among children 7 to 17 years of age. His comparative study examined whether children in communities with different levels of water fluoridation demonstrated any differences in levels of cavities. At all levels, including no fluoridation and the optimal level of 1.2 milligrams/ Liter, there was a 2 percent or less difference All of which means the state of New York has been wasting millions of taxpayer dollars.

Wasting a taxpayers’ hard earned money is bad enough, but jeopardizing their health is unconscionable.

In 2005, a majority of EPA scientists by union proxy asked the head of the EPA to place fluoride on its list of carcinogenic chemicals.

In 2006, National Research Council (NRC) published the results of their study of fluoride in drinking water entitled “Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standard.” They reviewed all relevant research on the health impacts of fluoride on both animal and humans. At press conference, John Doull, chair of the research team, summarized the NRC’s findings. He began by identifying fluoride as an EPA regulated contaminate of drinking water and not as a beneficial trace element. He proceeded to define the EPA’s 40-year-old two-tier standard of acceptable fluoride levels. The EPA set tier one at a maximum of 4 milligrams of fluoride to 1 liter of water below which no adverse health risk was expected, and tier two level is a maximum of 2 milligrams of fluoride in 1 liter of drinking water below which no discoloration or other damage of tooth enamel (fluorosis) was expected. He continued by briefly summarizing several important conclusions of their 530-page review:

  1. Drinking water is the main source of fluoride. Seventy-two (72%) to ninety-four percent (94%) of fluoride intake is through drinking water fluoridated at EPA levels.
  2. Lifelong consumption of fluoride in drinking water results in increased bone fractures.


The study uncovered a number of other health risks resulting from fluoride consumption. One of risks includes skeletal fluorosis, which involves increased bone density and pitting of bones. It also causes joint stiffness, pain, and sometime impairment. Fluoride consumption also adversely affects thyroid function when the iodine levels are too low. Because fluoride consumption produces greater glucose intolerance, fluoridating drinking water will exacerbate the health problems of citizens with diabetes. Fluoride consumption is known to weaken the immune system thus putting citizens already with compromised immune systems at greater risk.

NRC also suspects fluoride is an important factor in liver, kidney, intestinal, and mental diseases, but previous research was inconclusive requiring more research.

Some of the research reviewed did show links between fluoride consumption and mental diseases like Alzheimer and dementia. Other studies conducted in China concluded that fluoride also diminishes intellectual abilities like problem solving.

Another study published in 2006 discovered strong links between water fluoridation and bone cancer in young boys. The findings of Harvard medical study led by Dr. Bassin, and referenced by the EPA scientists above, showed that with the consumption of fluoridated water, the risk of osteosarcoma in boys increased sevenfold. Some readers may remember hearing about this study from all of the mainstream news media.

According to some reports, osteosarcoma is the second most common type of bone cancer. It accounts for 20 percent of all bone malignancies, and 50 percent of all cases occur around the knee.

With the widely increasing knowledge about the harmful effects of treating water with fluoride, it is surprising that city officials could agree to further discussion let alone a vote, which they plan to do on December 10. Do they really want to jeopardize further the health of the community’s children and at-risk members? Maybe some do; but citizens have an opportunity to tell them to stop–stop placing our health and welfare at risk.

To do so, visit to the Council website at where each council member’s email address and telephone number may be obtain.

Xenia 3.5 Mill Operating Levy Renewal Coming Soon

It appears that Xenia management and our Council representatives got the message during the February 2009 election. By a large majority, Xenia voters defeated an effort to pass a very large 5.0 mill operating levy replacement levy increase. The annual revenue it would have generated ($1.86 million) was way beyond any perceivable need.

Instead of seeking the next highest amount possible (3.5 mill replacement), the Council has decided to take the “What Works” approach. During the March 26, 2009 meeting, management seem to have decided that Council should initiate the process that will put the 3.5 Mill Operating Levy Renewal on the August 4, 2009 ballot. That they did.

Council could have saved taxpayer $18,000 had they sought for a renewal in the first place. Because the cost of placing a levy up for a vote is the above amount, the renewal will now cost taxpayers $36,000.

By the way, Councilman Dale Louderback was the only member who has refused to accept anything other than a renewal. Why was he the only dissenting voice against the February levy? Apparently, his conscience would not permit him to ask voters for such a huge increase during our nation’s near depression-like economic crisis. He is fully behind the no-new-taxes operating levy renewal.

One last observation; I can only imagine the distaste that observant Jews by that ancient priestly name, Levy or Levi, must have towards our politically and sometimes greed motivated government levies.

Tax Incentive Annual Review

The Ohio Enterprise Zone’s (OEZ) Annual Report was presented to Xenia City Council recently with recommendations from Greene County Tax Incentive Review Council.

When the Council agreed to Wal-Mart’s Superstore wishes, Wal-Mart dropped its sizable tax incentives, which means they didn’t have to pay us taxes. Thank you Wal-Mart.

Another profitable business has dropped its tax abatements. Barco Simulation asked that its two enterprise zone agreements be discontinued. Barco Simulation is a U.S. subsidiary of Barco of Beligium.

The city still has Enterprise Zone Agreements with the following ten companies:

1. Brown Publishing’s OEZ is 62% abatement of applicable real and personal property taxes.

2. CIL Isotope Separation, Inc. (Agreement #2) continues at 61% abatement of applicable real and personal property taxes.

3. CIL Isotope Separation, Inc. (Agreement #3) consists of a 65% abatement of applicable real and personal property taxes that may be eligible in the current tax year.

4. CRG has a 70% abatement of applicable real taxes that may be eligible in the current tax year.

5. Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc. receives a 50% abatement of applicable real taxes that may be eligible in the current tax year, contingent upon filing of DTE 23.

6. Ohta Press US, Inc. (OEZ Agreement #2) is a 45% abatement of applicable real and personal property taxes.

7. SAS Automation, LLC. (OEZ Agreement #1) is a 36% abatement of applicable real and personal property taxes.

8. Superion, Inc. (OEZ Agreement #2) is 40% abatement of applicable real and personal property taxes.

9. Twist, Inc. (OEZ Agreement #4) is 75% abatement of applicable real and personal property taxes.

10. Yoder Die Casting Corp has a 75% abatement of applicable real and personal property taxes.

Some readers might be asking whether those businesses that have been in operation more than 5 or 10 years should be given any tax breaks. Isn’t the purpose of a tax abatement to give new businesses time to grow a profitable business? Is a free ride really beneficial to the city i.e. citizen of Xenia?

It turns out that these businesses are not given a free ride. They paid
$265,365 in 2008 and were given OEZ tax breaks amounting to $116,009. As Mr. Brodsky pointed to Mayor Penewitt, the City “abated less than half the total amount collected on those agreements.”

I don’t know about you but I like the word a-bait-ment. I wonder who is baiting whom, really.

Buying Xenia at City Council

During the February 12 City Council meeting, Dale Louderback read part of a study demonstrating the value of buying from local businesses. Some major benefits relevant to “Buy Xenia” are as follows:

For every $100 in consumer spending with a local firm, $68 remains in the local economy.
For every $100 in consumer spending with a chain firm, $43 remains in the local economy.
For every square foot occupied by a local firm, local economic impact is $179.
For every square foot occupied by a chain firm, local economic impact is $105.
Over 70% prefer to patronize locally-owned businesses.
Over 80% prefer traditional urban business districts.
Local merchants generate substantially greater economic impact than chain firms.
Replacement of local businesses with chains will reduce the overall vigor of the local economy.
Changes in consumer spending habits can generate substantial local economic impact.
Great care must be taken to ensure that public policy decisions do not inadvertently disadvantage locally owned businesses. Indeed, it may be in the best interests of communities to institute policies that directly protect them.

(Source: Andersonville Study of Retail Economics)

Louderback apparently shared this important information to spur discussion concerning the City’s purchases of out-of-town businesses instead of local ones. He raised some doubt about the lack of Council support for buying from local suppliers. He got only two responses. Mayor Penewitt assured him that she has always promoted local buying. Bill Miller reminded Council that ex-councilman Gordon was also a supporter. Louderback retorted by challenging the mayor to vote against several proposed purchases.

As interesting as Louderback’s goading fellow council members is, the point is only one other council members publicly proclaimed their support of local businesses. I suspect most member do, but it is still sad that most failed to assure the public of it. After all, we are in a serious economic crisis.

Mayor Penewitt did ask the Director of Finance about what criteria was used to determine when the city purchased goods or services locally. There is no local preference policy about buying locally as it was before the 1973 tornado when Xenia was a thriving retail hub in Greene County. The only criterion determining scheduled purchases is when the amount is $7,500 or more. At that level of spending, “staff is encouraged to get competitive quotes and they encourage local purchasing of goods and services when it is in the best interest financially for the city to do so.”

According to Bazalek, “there used to a Greene County preference ordinance years ago to use businesses in Greene County if their selling price was 5% greater or less, but that was repealed a number of years ago.”

Councilman Louderback said he has done his homework and has spoken to every business in Xenia. Local businesses state they will match or beat the prices. We have been talking about this for over a year. City staff knows local businesses will match or beat the prices, so why do we keep discussing it week after week.

Maybe Council should reinstate the local preference policy. That alone might encourage more local entrepreneurs to start businesses in their hometown. What do you think?

Landlord Friendly Water Bill Ordinance to be Proposed at City Council Meeting Thursday, Feb 12

By Daniel Downs

This coming Thursday evening at 6:30 PM Councilman Louderback will propose a new ordinance to the Council. The purpose of the ordinance is to revise current municipal law that holds landlords solely responsible for tenants will bills. The primary problem seems to be the lack of stringent requirements renter who apply for water service but who fail to pay. Because water billing is quarterly, hundreds of dollars of unpaid water bills may accumulate for landlords can get the water turned off. Even after it has been discontinued, landlords often continue receiving water bills.

Landlords complained to the Council being unable to get the city stop or correct water services or billings because the service is in their tenant’s name. Because of this, the city does not go after tenants for unpaid water bills because the bill is by law the responsibility of landlords. To add injury to insult, the legal process to evict delinquent or destructive tenants can take many six or more months to resolve.

There are probably many ways this problem could be solved, and I want to add to them a few suggestions. Council should seriously consider making tenants solely responsible for their water bills. Council should also seriously consider the costs to taxpayers for collections, court proceedings, write-offs, and any additional costs of billing tenants. While a collections supervisor for a national service company, we found that sending bi-monthly reminders increased the number payments made by delinquent customers. This might reduce unpaid bills. Probably, a better solution is to place customers who rent on a monthly billing cycle instead of quarterly. There again, the costs of billing would certainly increase. The key to reducing delinquency and write-offs is not letting customers go beyond 30 days before seeking payment from customers.

That is known by all in the continually bailed out national corporate banking system that keeps inflation moving progressively upward and our standard of living moving downward.

Another possible way to resolve landlord-tenant water bill issue is to make landlords fully responsible for the water service and its billing. Let the landlords, who supposedly screen their tenants for their ability to pay, sign their tenants up, bill them monthly for the service, and then pay the city quarterly. A running average on water usage could be used for landlords to calculate monthly costs. After each quarterly billing cycle, landlords could adjust cost in accordance with city billing. Why shouldn’t landlords be able recoup those costs? Of course, the potential for greed on the part of landlords is inherent in this solution.

Mitchel tosses hat in ring for Beavercreek City Council

Today John Mitchel announced he has requested the Beavercreek City Council consider him for appointment to Jerrod Martin’s open council seat. Martin will step down in January to serve as Ohio’s 70th House District Representative. Mitchel is an Air Force veteran of 22 years and currently works at Wright Patterson AFB as a systems analyst. He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and has earned advanced degrees in business from Michigan Tech University and economics from Wright State. In 2006 LtCol Mitchel (Ret) self-published America at the Abyss: A View from the Heartland which has received acclaim for exposing fraud, waste, abuse and corruption in government as the primary cause of the current economic crisis in Ohio and the U.S.

In response to the announcement, Mitchel commented, “Beavercreek will surely miss Jerrod Martin, but his constituents in Greene County will be better off as Jerrod has been a steadfast advocate for Beavercreek taxpayers. If offered the privilege to serve, I will bring that same philosophy to the job. If appointed, my first priority will be to socialize among the other six council members an “It’s Not Our Money” mindset. Whether in good economic cycles or bad, that’s precisely what Beavercreek taxpayers want and what they deserve.”

Xenia’s New Traffic Signals : Is Big Brother Now Watching?

by Daniel Downs

Some people are wondering whether Xenia officials have joined the Big Brother club in Washington, D.C. Why? Because of small camera-like gadgets hanging near the new traffic signals. Seeing those camera-like gadgets elicits a strong temptation of suspicion about whether Xenia official will now be watching. Being among that suspicious group, I asked Mayor Pennewitt about those new signals. The following what I was told.

In response to my first emailed inquiry, Mayor Pennewitt wrote:

On November 19, 2007, the Xenia City Council passed legislation for a City Wide Signalization Project. The Ohio Department of Transportation authorized the funding to provide installation of a coordinated signal system along Detroit Street, Main Street, and Second Street. This project involves upgrading, reconstructing and adding signals at existing warranted intersections. This project is to be completed in 2008.

This project is being administered through the Ohio Department of Transportation and uses Federal money received through the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission.

Most of that information can be found in the on-line council meeting minutes. None of it remotely answered the question about whether they were to be used for surveillance or sending traffic tickets in the mail.

Therefore, I emailed the good Mayor again asking whether those camera-looking gadgets were actually cameras by which our local government was intending to count traffic, track and ticket speeders, or other types of surveillance.

What do you suppose was the Mayor’s response? My breathless anticipation of her next response never came. Instead, she had the assistant city manager respond to my suspicions, and here is what Brent Merriman, also interim Public Service Director, had to say:

The Mayor was correct in her response about the project, in general. The signalization project is a largely state-funded upgrade and expansion to our traffic signalization system. We are essentially installing a new “brain” for our traffic signals that integrates more lights at more intersections into a comprehensive traffic management program. This will allow for more timely signalization, better traffic flow, etc.

The project involves the installation of new overhead fiber optic lines and traffic light control boxes among other components at most of the major intersections around town. This includes changing out dated (and more costly) traditional traffic lights to LED lighting systems. The project does not, however, include the installation of any traffic monitoring devices—such as intersection cameras—other than the addition of some loop detectors which are designed to simply trigger turn lights at equipped intersections. The devices you see at some intersections hanging from the overhead lines are in fact pre-empt detectors for emergency vehicles. Changing out the pre-empts is not part of the current project, but will be an additional project in the near future to help ensure the safe and swift response of public safety staff to emergency calls. (emphasis added.)

I appreciate the prompt and helpful information of our local officials. It demonstrates their efforts to provide the best possible service to their constituency, otherwise known as taxpayers who pay their salaries.

Still, I was skeptical about the future surveillance potential of the new technology. My research has led me to the conclusion that Xenia citizens have little reason for concern.

It’s true those new LED signals will lower operational costs, but the loop detectors mentioned by Brent Merriman are technology used for vehicle surveillance. The dual-loop detection system incorporates wire sensors that are embedded in the pavement near traffic signals. According to recent studies, dual-loop detection is capable of not only counting traffic but also of detecting the type of vehicle passing by. More refined computer programs also make it possible to determine make and model. Utilized by police, dual-loop signalization could enable them to track speeders or other suspect vehicle with further refinement of the system. That is the extent of surveillance our new signalization system can perform.

No, I have not forgotten about the camera-like gadgets or emergency vehicle pre-empt detectors. I thought they might be convertible to detecting a range of radio frequencies enabling the tracking of individual vehicles with unique signals. In other words, I though they might be used for tracking every individually owned vehicle. I was wrong. Most pre-empt systems detect specific strobe or infrared signals specifically made for and installed in emergency vehicles. There is therefore no reason to believe Big Brother could use them to watch our comings and our goings.

Two types of technology being used for that purpose are cameras like those installed at Fairfield Road intersections in Beavercreek and Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI). AVI incorporates various technology that enable government to create and track individual vehicles and their owners. AVI laser enables government to incorporate coded information in license plates that computerized lasers read and track. AVI RF tracks radio signals incorporated in vehicle antennas. AVI smart tag also utilizes radio signals as well as microcomputers installed in trucks and cars. AVI infrared uses all of the above except lasers to monitor individual vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, AVI is already being used at the U.S.-Mexican border checkpoints.

Xenia citizens have no reason to wonder whether their local government has become a full-fledged member of Big Brother. They have not; but if City Council ever discusses using AVI or cameras to monitor traffic, we can be certain that the freedom we often taken for granted is about to bite the proverbial dust.

Dayton Avenue Redevelopment : Will It Be Apartments, Houses, or YMCA

by Daniel Downs

Have you noticed the empty space on Dayton Avenue where Kroger’s and other retail stores were once located? Xenia official’s Downtown Strategic Plan envisions the vacant site filled with townhouses and a mini-park. That is why Paran Developers of Cleveland purchased the land. They want to build those apartments, but council members are still debating whether it right thing to do.

I’m wondering why any city official would welcome another apartment complex especially across from Cox Elementary? Would it bring in more tax revenue? Would it create more profit for Allison Avenue businesses? Would it improve the residential area that exists on both sides of that vacant space?

Council members John Caupp and Dale Louderback addressed the first question during a June council meeting. Councilman Caupp said that renters do pay property taxes because those taxes are included in their monthly rental rate. By adding more high-end apartments like those at Deer Creek, Caupp believes Xenia would benefit by more tax dollars. Councilman Louderback, who is involved in the real estate market, disagrees with Councilman Caupp. He said “very little [tax] revenue is generated from apartments.” He also pointed out that there is little demand for more apartments evidenced by three unoccupied apartment buildings and no waiting list at the newly developed Deer Creek complex.

Although the City may get some tax revenue from more apartments, the relatively little amount alone does not justify more of them.

Looking at the Plan, I count about 44 rental units. If half of high-end apartment renters would buy gas from the nearby Sunoco station, some food from Aldi, pizzas occasionally from Cassano’s and Domino’s Pizzerias, and occasionally some prescription drugs, those businesses net profits would increase but not by very much. Using US Department of Commerce 2006 data, net profit margins of retail gas stations is about 6.5 percent. For grocery stores it is around 5 percent. The average profit margin of pharmacies is 3 percent and probably 3 percent or less for Pizzerias. If each of the 22 new residents purchased 20 gallons of gas each week plus cigarettes or food items, Sunoco owners would see annual net profits increase about $5,950. JB Williams claims retail profit on gas alone is only one cent per gallon. If so, Sunoco’s annual profits would only increase by $228 if the hypothetical new residents only bought gas. Likewise, if 22 of the new residents bought $30 in groceries from Aldi each week, Aldi’s annual net profit would increase about $1,716. Other nearby store would benefit even less. Therefore, it is unlikely that the Council could justify the building of more apartments based on any substantial benefits to nearby businesses.

It must be admitted any quality development in that ugly empty space would be an aesthetic improvement. However, an apartment complex towering between nearly houses would look odd. Like the residents who signed the petition against this development—which by the way, never stopped any such development in the past—the planned apartment complex does not seem like a good idea. Single occupant houses or condos would be a better design. This type of development might not give the developers residual income but it would be more appropriate to the exist housing.

There is another reason to oppose the proposed apartment complex. In the city plans, a recreational development also was proposed. Councilman Caupp said, “the council would love to have the property developed for recreational use. Unfortunately, no one has come forward to purchase that land to make that type of investment in our community.” The YMCA has considered building its new facility on the vacant site. It is understandable why there has been little mention of it. The Council, Xenia School Board, and many others are hoping voters will approve the plan to build new schools and especially the Under-One-Roof plan.

With various financial experts claiming the effects of recession will last several years, voters approving a $66.5 million bond issue is a very big contingency. There is no guarantee citizens will be crazy enough to increase their tax burden. With the apartment proposal not likely to ease their tax burden, the City Council should not approve any proposed development plan until after November elections. Who knows, the council may get its wish for a new recreational development.

Councilman Louderback is right; whether voters approve the bond issue or not, city council should not approve any plan until they know what the area residents want. It is their neighborhood; it is their city, not residual-profit seeking developers.