Stinziano Urges Support for Issue 1

 Columbus Dispatch, 4/29/17

I want to thank the Dispatch editorial board for shining a light on Columbus’ older adults and encouraging voters to head to the polls  this Tuesday to vote for Issue 1 (April 23 editorial).

The Columbus region is expected to grow by more than 500,000 people in the next 30 years, largely in the age group 65 and older. As we look around the neighborhoods we’ve grown into and the large number of young professional and workers we’ve attracted to Columbus, it is crucial we plan for our growing and aging population.

Through the Age-Friendly Columbus initiative, I have seen firsthand how our residents and neighborhoods rely on the critical services provided by the Franklin County Senior Options.

Issue 1, or the Franklin County Senior Options Levy, will continue vital services, including home-delivered meals, care, adult daycare, emergency response systems and home repair for older adults in need.

Columbus voters have the collective opportunity and responsibility to protect services for senior citizens. I urge support for Issue 1 on Tuesday.

Michael Stinziano

Member Columbus City Council Columbus

May Community Hours

Councilmember Michael Stinziano will hold Community Hours in May across the City to listen to issues and concerns of Columbus residents.

Community Hours offer citizens the opportunity to tell Councilmember Stinziano what is important to them and how he and City Council can help. All members of the Columbus community are encouraged to attend.

“Significant issues confront our diverse City every day. I want to hear, firsthand, from my constituents about what concerns them as we work together to make our neighborhoods the best places to live, work, start a business and raise a family in Ohio,” said Stinziano.

Councilmember Stinziano will hold May Community Hours at the following locations:

Saturday, May 6
Amy’s Donuts
650 Georgesville Rd., Columbus, OH 43228
1:30pm-3:00pm

Wednesday, May 10
Columbus Metropolitan Library—Driving Park Branch
1422 E. Livingston Ave., Columbus, OH 43205
4:30pm-6:00pm

Saturday, May 20
Tim Hortons— McCutcheon & Stelzer
2845 Stelzer Rd., Columbus, OH 43219
1:30pm-3:00pm

Tuesday, May 23
Das KaffeeHaus von Frau Burkhart—Brewery District
1036 S. Front St., Columbus, OH 43206
9:00am-10:30am

Wednesday, May 31
Columbus Metropolitan Library—Karl Road Branch
5590 Karl Rd., Columbus, OH 43229
11:30am-1:00pm

For additional information contact:Stephanie Megas
614-645-8311

Councilmembers Push for Street Sweeping Notification System


[Columbus, OH] Building on Columbus’ reputation of being a “Smart City,” residents and businesses are now able to sign up for street sweeping reminders online.

Curbed public streets are swept citywide. The primary purpose of street sweeping is to remove dirt, litter and debris from curbs and prevent those materials from being washed into storm sewers.

In many neighborhoods, permanent signs identify street sweeping parking restrictions. Residents and visitors are required to check signs carefully and adhere to the posted schedule. Vehicles not moved on sweeping days are impounded and towed at the owner’s expense. 

“I have received numerous calls from residents frustrated about vehicles being towed or not knowing of street sweeping time periods,” said Councilmember Michael Stinziano. “As Chair of Council’s Technology Committee, I saw an opportunity to collaborate on a common sense notification system with the Department of Public Service and their street sweeping fleet.”

The Department of Public Service tool allows people to enter their street address to find out when street sweepers are next scheduled to visit their neighborhood. This resource is similar to the online tool the department uses to provide trash, yard-waste and recycling collection dates.

Residents can receive notifications by email, phone or calendar invite.

“I was happy to work together with Councilmember Stinziano as well as the Departments of Public Service and Technology to implement this notification system, saving residents a trip to the impound lot while continuing to provide this critical City service,” said Councilmember Shannon Hardin, chair of the Public Service and Transportation Committee.

To learn more or sign up for street sweeping reminders, visithttps://www.columbus.gov/publicservice/streets/Street-Sweeping/

Councilmember Stinziano Announces April Community Hours


Councilmember Michael Stinziano will hold Community Hours in April across the City to listen to issues and concerns of Columbus residents.

Community Hours offer citizens the opportunity to tell Councilmember Stinziano what is important to them and how he and City Council can help. All members of the Columbus community are encouraged to attend.

“Significant issues confront our diverse City every day. I want to hear, firsthand, from my constituents about what concerns them as we work together to make our neighborhoods the best places to live, work, start a business and raise a family in Ohio,” said Stinziano.

Councilmember Stinziano will hold April Community Hours at the following locations:

Monday, April 3
Cup O Joe Coffee House—Clintonville
2990 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43202
11:30am-1:00pm

Saturday, April 15
Tim Hortons—Central Point Shopping Center
636 Harrisburg Pike, Columbus, OH 43223
1:00pm-2:30pm

Wednesday, April 19
Columbus Metropolitan Library—Livingston Branch
3434 E. Livingston Ave, Columbus, OH 43227
5:00pm-6:30pm

Wednesday, April 26
Columbus Metropolitan Library—South High Branch
3540 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43207
11:00am-12:30pm

For additional information contact:

Stephanie Megas
614-645-8311

###

Submeter firms could face regulation by city

By Dan Gearino  The Columbus Dispatch

Years of inaction by the state may push the Columbus city government to set limits on companies that resell utilities in apartments and condominiums.

That was the conclusion of Mike Stinziano, a council member, following the public hearing he convened Thursday to gather comments on the topic.

"Having it all on the record is important to then further the discussion," Stinziano said about the hearing, which lasted about an hour and a half. "It has been a real education about why this is important."

Some unregulated "submeter" companies resell electricity and water in apartments and condominiums, adding in markups that can make the costs much higher than a regulated utility would charge. The Dispatch has been writing about the issue since 2013.

Since then, there have been proposals in the Ohio General Assembly and an investigation by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The PUCO ruled last year that is has the authority to regulate submeter companies; the panel is now reviewing appeals to that ruling.

"Unfortunately, today in Ohio, submeter residents are not protected," said Joseph Hussey, whose Far North Side condominium is served by a submeter company, American Power and Light. He said his bills are 25 percent more than they would be under the regulated utility, American Electric Power.

He was one of several people who mentioned that the two companies have similar names, which he thinks is an attempt to confuse customers.

About 20 people attended the hearing, held in the City Council chambers.

Several speakers urged the city to distinguish between the different types of submeter companies. Some companies are essentially billing services, with no markup other than a small monthly fee. This includes Guardian Water & Power of Grandview Heights, which sent an employee to testify.

Others, such as American Power and Light and Nationwide Energy Partners, earn a profit by marking up the cost of electricity and water. Neither company sent a representative to testify.

Asked for a comment, Nationwide Energy CEO Gary Morsches criticized the hearing.

"NEP has advocated for consumer protections for several years and will continue to do so," he said in an e-mail.

"Unfortunately, the city hearing today was orchestrated by individuals who distorted the real facts about and the benefits of submetering. By distorting the facts and confusing submetering with reselling, these opponents are helping big utilities control the market and are infringing upon property owners' rights to offer beneficial submetering services and bring energy innovation to the local market."

Michael Gonidakis, a lobbyist for Westerville-based American Power and Light, had no comment.

The last speaker was Mark Whitt, a Downtown resident and attorney who is challenging submeter companies in several venues, including a proposed class-action lawsuit against Columbus-based Nationwide Energy.

Whitt said the property developers and landlords are receiving benefits from their relationships with submeter companies and will need to answer for that at some point.

"Developers are complicit," he said.

Stinziano said afterward that he thinks there is a 50-50 chance that the city will step in to write legislation that protects customers of submeter companies if the state does not.

This would be significant because the companies that have generated the most complaints are based in central Ohio and have a large share of their customers in the region.

dgearino@dispatch.com

@dangearino