Charter panel receives ideas

STEUBENVILLE – The Charter Review Commission will consider several ideas at its Thursday meeting for choosing future police and fire chiefs.

Commission Chairman John J. Mascio said he will prepare at least two different proposals offered by commission members for the panel to consider next week.

The commission heard from City Manager Tim Boland, who discussed how the Pataskala Council could approve legislation by waiving the second and third readings if a super majority of council members agreed.

Boland served as the Pataskala city administrator for seven years before accepting the manager’s job in Steubenville.

“I believe the approach followed in Pataskala offers more balance and is a sound alternative to our current system, which consists of all ordinances being read on three separate occasions and then waiting an additional 30 days to be in effect or being passed as an emergency effective upon passage. If such a change was made to the charter in Steubenville it would give council this option. It is then up to the elected officials as to how they will utilize this option,” Boland explained.

“It is very important to me to have the people involved in everything we do. People should have the opportunity to voice their opinions. A true emergency is for the health, welfare and safety of the community. I don’t want to expedite this at the risk of people not being able to come down and say what they want. We use the emergency language too often,” said 6th Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna.

Mascio questioned why the public can’t comment during council Sunshine meetings.

“I think the public should be allowed to speak. I don’t know why the public can’t comment on legislation proposed during the Sunshine meetings,” responded 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto.

And city resident Rick Yanch said City Council does not provide enough copies of proposed ordinances at the regular meetings.

“When we have 40 to 50 people at a meeting and there are only five to 10 handouts passed out, that is not enough. The citizens need to be heard. The public is being ramroded. If we can get the public to address issues we will be off and running,” Yanch commented.

The Charter Review Commission holds a public meeting at 10 a.m. every Thursday at the Historic Fort Steuben Visitors’ Center.

The commission is also planning to hold an evening meeting to be more accessible to the public.

Boland provided the commission with suggestions from several department heads, including police Chief Bill McCafferty who commented on how a future police chief should be chosen.

According to McCafferty, the next chief should be a sworn police officer with Ohio certification.

“The chief candidate should pass a background check, including a financial check, pass a physical and drug test, pass a polygraph test, have a four-year degree from an accumulated university and have at least two years of supervisory experience at the captain rank. Also due to the nature of the position, I believe the chief’s position should not be political,” remarked McCafferty.

Delores Wiggins told the Charter Review Commission the city’s Civil Service Commission oversees the testing for entry level positions in the police and fire department as well as promotional exams.

“In fact we will be giving an entry level police officer test and a sergeant’s promotional exam in the next several days. The tests are conducted by Case Western Reserve University. The police department applicants must pass the written test first. Then we have a physical exam, a physical agility test, a background check, psychological test and a polygraph. The candidates must have at least an associate degree and 24 months of full-time or part-time law enforcement experience,” Wiggins explained.

Villamagna said he would like to see all new police officers be required to attend the Ohio State Highway Patrol training program.

Boland also forwarded suggestions from other city department heads, including Wastewater Department Superintendent Chuck Murphy, Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi, City Engineer Mike Dolak and Finance Director Alyssa Kerker.