After months of labor talks, there's an agreement on firefighter promotions between the City of Akron and its firefighters union.
Local 330 members approved an agreement that would allow a number of promotions based on seniority and educational requirements. It settles a grievance filed by union members, one piece of the Akron fire department promotions court case.
"It's been very tedious, and negotiating with a lot of different people and there's a lot of different factors," Akron Deputy Mayor Randy Briggs tells WAKR.net, "but finally, I guess the roads all came together at one point, and we were able to work out something that everybody can agree on."
Local 330 president Russ Brode says it came down to one thing - the department needed promotions.
"I took office in April, and I reached out immediately to Randy, and I reached out to City Council and to the safety committee," Brode tells WAKR.net, "and tried to start making people understand that our command structure and our rank structure had been almost completely depleted and we were just very unsafe."
The agreement, if approved by a court monitor overseeing the federal promotions case, would allow firefighters to immediately go for promotions based on seniority and education requirements.
Brode says 78 percent of Local 330's members voted in favor of the agreement.
(Earlier coverage) The City of Akron says there's been movement on an agreement on firefighter promotions.
The office of Mayor Don Plusquellic says the Local 330 Firefighters Union has approved an agreement that would allow a number of promotions based on seniority and educational requirements.
The city says 70 percent of union members voted in favor of the plan, which would still have to be approved by a court monitor.
(City of Akron, news release) Yesterday, the Firefighter Union, Local 330 voted to ratify a Memorandum of Agreement (Agreement) that would permit numerous promotions in the fire department based on seniority and educational requirements, which was the result of many months of negotiations between Union President Russ Brode and Deputy
Mayor Randy Briggs to settle a grievance. The Agreement passed with 70% of the Union's members voting in favor of the Agreement.
The Agreement settles a grievance filed by the Union, which alleged a violation of the collective bargaining agreement for failure to promote, among other things. This Agreement has to now be approved by the court monitor in the ongoing Howe v City of Akron federal court case. However, this is a major step toward initiating promotions within the fire department for the first time in a decade.
"I am extremely pleased that the firefighters have finally approved an agreement," stated Mayor Don Plusquellic. "We have worked over many years, and have proposed numerous ways to make fair promotions for the benefit of the citizens of Akron, as well as for the safety of our firefighters. That is why I give Union President Russ Brode and Deputy Mayor Randy Briggs real credit because they worked tirelessly over the past several months to work out an agreement that would both satisfy the Union's concerns about the promotional process and fulfill the City's need to fill the vacant supervisory positions that have been temporarily filled for the past decade.
With the City's charter provision 'Rule of 3' being part of the Agreement, individual firefighters with seniority and training may be passed over if the individual lacks managerial skills. The Chief and his staff would make these decisions, as they always have during the past 28 years that I have been Mayor. The firefighters, by passing this Agreement by such a wide margin, clearly recognize that the Agreement is best for the fire department, its brethren, and the citizens of Akron."
Based on a previous court ruling by Judge Adams, the Agreement has to be approved by the Court appointed monitor before the City makes any promotions based on the Agreement.
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic tells WAKR's Ray Horner that the city might have to partner with other neighboring communities in order to convince tire maker Goodyear to build their new tire plant here in Akron.
He says by being competitive and bringing in manufacturing will improve all aspects of life and the economy in Akron.
Akron mayor Don Plusquellic proposed several changes in his 2014 "State of the City" Address.
Mayor Plusquellic pushed for efficiencies in local health care, and called for the city's two adult hospital systems - Akron General and Summa - to merge. He pointed to "wasteful duplication" among the two systems...giving an example of two emergency centers being built, one for each in Stow and Green. He points out that there is a single hospital for children in Akron, Akron Children's Hospital.
The mayor said his worry is that national "powerhouse" health systems could take over the local systems...saying that'll make local health care suffer. He says a merger of hospital systems in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a similar size city to Akron, has resulted in $170 million dollars in savings over 5 years.
Mayor Plusquellic also proposed a bigger change in government, saying the community needs to prepare to compete in a fast-changing world, and he brought up the idea of a combined metropolitan government, which has taken hold in places like Louisville in Kentucky, Jacksonville in Florida, and in Indianapolis.
He says that would reduce duplication and make government more effective. He says county executive Russ Pry would be "perfectly suited" to take on such a task, saying that the world sees area communities as "Akron" or "Summit County".
Pry tells AkronNewsNow.com that any such move would be a "long journey", despite a number of existing examples of cooperation between county government and cities, villages and townships. He says it wouldn't be easy to merge 31 separate governmental entities.
Mayor Plusquellic says as far as the city's sewer system is concerned, after talking to U.S. EPA officials, he's "hopeful" that a less costly "integrated plan" will be possible. The city voted to go that direction and abandon the earlier Long Term Control Plan, hoping for a better solution to EPA mandates.
On another topic, the mayor says the EPA has mandated shutdown of the large boiler at the former Recycle Energy Plant, which provides steam to Children's Hospital and other downtown buildings.
Voters approved donating the plant to Children's Hospital last November. Mayor Plusquellic says the city's working with Children's to develop an alternative, which could involve replacing the large boiler system with two smaller ones.
Another joint economic development district has been created by Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic. This one is with the Village of Mogadore. The city and village will share income taxes and Akron will provide water to Mogadore as part of a 99-year agreement.
Mogadore Mayor Mike Rick says this water agreement replaces an older agreement that cost the village more.
Under the new agreement Mogadore residents would pay Akron residents rate for the water plus 22 %. Under the old agreement village residents had to pay plus 45%.
Rick says the joint economic development agreement would split the Mogadore income tax, with the village collecting 50%.
The agreement would also have Akron extend water lines for new future development in Mogadore.
News Release From The City Of Akron
Akron, Ohio (February 22, 2013) - Today, Akron Mayor Plusquellic and Village of Mogadore Mayor Rick announced that Akron and Mogadore have agreed to enter into a long term water supply agreement and to share income taxes.
Under the long term water agreement and contract for the creation of a Joint Economic Development Zone, Mogadore will purchase its retail water exclusively from Akron for 99 years. Water service will be provided to residential and commercial/industrial parcels in the Village of Mogadore and those customers will pay Akron rates plus 22 1/2%.
Akron will also extend water lines to service and supply water to OMEGA Laboratories located in Mogadore, and Mogadore will pay to Akron 33 1/3% of the income tax revenue it collects from OMEGA Laboratories.
“It is nice to be able to supply water service to OMEGA Laboratories who desperately needed it for their new expansion,” said Mogadore Mayor Mike Rick. “More importantly, the agreement also saves money for the residents of Mogadore, as they were previously paying the Akron rates plus 45% for their water.”
The Agreement also specifies that in the event Mogadore annexes property, merges with another political subdivision, or enters into a JEDD Agreement, Mogadore will pay Akron 50% of the income tax revenue it collects from non-residential property within the annexed, merged, or new JEDD boundaries if Akron extends water to those new properties.
"I’m glad to see this come together after a number of years in negotiations," said Plusquellic. “We have been servicing Mogadore with water for quite some time now, and it is good to finally have a long term agreement.” The Mayor added that “this agreement is consistent with the agreements with other cities and townships served by Akron water. These agreements are designed to improving the long term economic stability of our region and are working well.”
On Wednesday night, the Village of Magadore passed legislation that would authorize these agreements. Mayor Plusquellic will submit similar legislation to Akron City Council for its consideration at its next meeting, Monday, February 25, 2013.
The City of Akron will be receiving federal funds to hire 12 recently-returned military veterans as new law enforcement officers.
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic says this grant provides the city an opportunity to hire qualified individuals when numbers are down.
"We're trying to make the best of this situation and get more officers out on the street and less of them sitting in the offices," Plusquellic stated.
"We'll do everything we can to make this grant work for us and hire officers as best we can despite the budget restrictions we have."
The U.S Department of Justice awarded the city $1.5 million to hire the would-be officers.
City Council President Marco Sommerville says the money will put more officers on the street to help combat the violence that has been plaguing Akron in recent months.
Both President Sommerville and Mayor Plusquellic thanked US. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) for his efforts in securing the grant to keep Akron's streets safer.
"We're trying to increase the number of policemen and women on the street and this is the first wave of doing that."
Sommerville says that whenever you hire a veteran, you will be getting someone who is accountable and prepared for all types of situations.
"These are individuals that will be ready to serve as police officers," Sommerville stated.
"They already have knowledge of firearms, conflict control and these are the types of people you need in your police department, and so we're very excited about this happening."
Through the "Vets to COPS" program, requires that new officers hired under the grant must be veterans that served in active duty for at least 180 days, any part of which occurred on or after September 11, 2001.
Plusquellic said hiring veterans was a plus for the APD.
"I'm happy that we have an opportunity to give at least 12 people the recognition and the opportunity to have a full-time career here."
The newly-aquired funds will provide 75 percent of the funding for salaries and benefits for three years for newly-hired, full-time sworn officer positions, or for rehired officers who have been laid off, or are scheduled to be laid off in the future.
The United States Football League may be coming to Akron next year and city officials are talking with the organization to see if the Rubber City will be a good fit.
Mayor Don Plusquellic spoke to AkronNewsNow.com about the discussions between the city and the revamped football league.
"We were contacted by them just to let us know they are interested," Plusquellic explained.
"We have had negotiations with various pro leagues in the past and we're hopeful that these talks progress."
The USFL considering Akron or Columbus as possible cities to place one of its franchises. Other cities possibly looking obtain a team are Portland, Oregon, Austin Texas, and Memphis, Tennessee.
The mayor says he welcomes the league expressing interest in his city and will answer any questions they may have.
If the USFL decides to make a home in Akron, the general consensus is that their home games will be played at Infocision Stadium-Summa Field, which has been home to the University of Akron Zips since 2009.
Plusquellic says he's hopeful the USFL decides to place a franchise in Akron, giving the city another entertainment outlet.
"It gives people who like football a chance to watch it when the NFL is not in season," the Mayor explains.
The USFL plans to kick off in March of 2013 and play a 14-game season.
The old Bridgestone tech center may become a new hub for the gas and oil industry.
Amerimar Realty owner David Marshall has an open agreement option to either purchase both the main Firestone building and the clubhouse for $5 million or just the clubhouse, which is located across the street from the main offices, for $625,000.
The Plain Dealer reports Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic could sign the one-year option agreement before the weekend.
"What he has in store similar to what he has done in other areas of the country, this will definitely bring to the city," Brad Beckert said, Akron city development engineering manager.
Marshall is banking on attracting tenants and jobs to the buildings if the purchase goes through as planned.
First, Beckert says Marshall wants to convert the clubhouse into a heath and wellness facility and daycare.
"There's no daycares really around there, so even for the Bridgestone employees who have moved into their new tech center, that would be something close," Beckert said.
As for the main building, Marshall's vision is to create offices in the main building for research in the gas and polymers fields. Marshall has an extensive track record in the real estate industry-- from fixing up hotels to offices.
Bridgestone has agreed to cleanup the property to bring it up to EPA standards in preparation of the project.
Follow AkronNewsNow.com for the latest developments on this story.
Looks like Akron and its police union have come to terms on an amendment to their contract.
FOP Lodge 7 President Paul Hlynsky tells AkronNewsNow.com, he's not ready to reveal details of the tentative deal, until he discusses it with all FOP members.
In recent months, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic has requested the department's new chief, James Nice, examine ways to better staff officers to combat crime.
Follow AkronNewsNow.com for the latest developments on this story as more information becomes available.
The city has a buyer for a piece of land on White Pond Drive and it could mean more than just money for Akron.
Florida company Rendina LLC wishes to purchase the former Zazo property to build a medical office complex. It could create up to 40 news jobs according to city officials.
This would be the first sale of the 70 acres available for development.
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic will ask for City Council's approval for this purchase tonight.
“We hope that this development will spur more office development within the new White Pond Office Park consistent with our original plan to add more job opportunities for our residents,” Plusquellic said in a city press release.
Another storm could be brewing between Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic and Akron's police union.
Mayor Plusquellic joined the 1590 WAKR Ray Horner Morning Show to detail his reasons for wanting to streamline the police department by creating an anti-violence operations unit.
He says it's in an effort to better protect the community while working with a realistic budget and staff size, but he believes the FOP's current president is spreading a different story with negative information against a cross-training initiative.
The city has filed an unfair labor practice complaint charging the comments were misleading.
"Stop listening to the bologna out there and look at what I've attempted to do. It is: provide better service to the citizens and help support the officers who are out there everyday," Plusquellic said.
1590 WAKR's Ray Horner will interview guest FOP President Paul Hlynsky Wednesday at 9 a.m.
In January, the mayor announced the new unit was needed to better communicate about serious violent crimes in the city.
During the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, Plusquellic said he found working examples of cross-training.
The biggest problem he says he faces is perception and insists he'd love to hire additional officers.
"We're also trying to better use the personnel we have," he said. "That I think is vitally important in this world that we live in with federal and state cuts coming at us faster than I've ever seen."
In one example, Plusquellic described the narcotics unit's shift as an issue to address.
"Do you think it's fair to you, that we have had many, many, many, weeks and months of having no narcotics undercover officers in the evening? They get off at 4 o'clock," he said.
Plusquellic said he'd like to share other examples of inefficiencies in the near future.
"We need to do things now to expose this and there's other things that I'll be bringing out to the public to be able to get them to understand the real truth," he said.