The 2-page text of the decision by the Board of Elections, AS PREDICTED by my speech/article which follows.....The Board of Elections had no choice, NOT their fault. This was a technicality and they had to uphold it. But the outcome is still the same ---YEP, FOLKS, a MEXICAN COMPANY JUST STOLE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE BY COMPLAINING ABOUT A DISABLED MAN HAVING A NURSE WRITE HIS NAME ON A PETITION!! WOW!!!
Be sure to read the EXCELLENT brief submitted by the Attorney for the Petition Signers, which now appears after the article.
Hot Air and Filthy Tactics: The Essence of Cemex
This is the draft of my speech before City Council tonight -- I never say it exactly, but close enough…
Tomorrow afternoon at 4 pm, the Greene County Board of Elections will announce the fate of the Cemex referendum petition and whether it will be on our next ballot. Before that decision is announced, I want my fellow citizens to be aware of a few facts. That way, I can’t be accused of gloating or sour grapes - however the decision may go.
There was a hearing at the Courthouse in Xenia on this issue a couple weeks ago. The City Council was present -although I’m not sure if Mr. Hoffman was there (note: he shook his head no), but I know I saw everyone else. The City Manager and the City Solicitor, arguably two of our highest paid city officials, were also present. I’m not sure why, as the City was not a signatory to the complaint.
But I’m sure Cemex appreciated your devotion which included all of you sitting on their side of the courtroom and not with the citizens - heaven forbid! Our City Manager even worked at their counsel table for about fifteen minutes before the hearing began, helping lawyers for this Billion $dollar Mexican company organize their case against the people who pay her salary (well, officially anyway). Quite an amazing thing to see!
First, let it be known that the Board of Elections threw out hundreds of signatures for various reasons and not once did the citizens who worked so hard to gather them complain. We accepted their authority to do so. But Cemex went whining to the Board THREE separate times, culminating in that hearing, which must have cost taxpayers a pretty penny. It took the time of a prosecuting attorney for hours, a bailiff for hours, the Board staff for hours. A staggering waste of money.
So what was their beef? Well, here’s one example. Their slick Columbus lawyers complained that citizens submitted the petition to the wrong city official - the lovely Julie Taylor, our city clerk. They said Ohio law says we should have given it to the City Finance Director. My initial reaction to this was, well, if the City Clerk shouldn’t have accepted it, why did she? Is our city government out to trick us?
But that argument never even mattered because, it turns out, that Fairborn has its own law which quite clearly states that the City Clerk handles referendum petitions! I think there are only two possible explanations for that kind of complaint - either incompetence or deception. After all, didn’t the city officials know, when colluding with them, that this complaint was baseless under Fairborn law?
But I think the whole case may actually hinge on something even more stomach-churning than that. An elderly man with - I believe he had Parkinson’s - could no longer use his hands to sign the petition. He asked the Nurse Practitioner who was out getting signatures to do it for him. She has signed for patients this many times in her career at nursing homes. To be clear, she didn’t fake a signature, she just printed his name out. And the Board of Elections rejected his signature for that reason.
That’s sad because it contradicts the process for disabled voters at the polls, (we know on Election Day, for example, if a disabled voter asks for Dan Kirkpatrick to help him in the booth, that would be allowed). So we need to fix this loophole in state law that requires something different for petitions, but that is the current rule. So this disabled man’s signature wasn’t counted.
But that wasn’t good enough for Cemex. They wanted all other 37 signatures on that page thrown out as well! They even subpoenaed this elderly, ill man to court on a snowy day. He repeated that he wanted to sign the petition. So even the Cemex lawyers admitted there was no attempt by the Nurse to deceive anyone. Yet, on this technical issue, they want to invalidate not just the disabled man’s right to participate, but that of 37 other citizens too!
Silence the people.
Exclude the disabled.
Might over right.
THAT is who that company is! In a nutshell, that move defines Cemex. And that you sat there and through your silence supported that, and watched your employee take such an active role in doing so --- well, what a total disgrace!!
So however that ruling goes tomorrow, this Council, that City Manager and Cemex are the real losers anyway.
The brief filed with the Greene County Board of Elections by Attorney Michael McNamee, representing the citizens who filed the referendum petition. An EXCELLENT read!!
Brief in Opposition of Protest.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document [921.5 KB]
The petition about Fairborn’s rezoning of land for Cemex mining has enough valid signatures to go on the March 15, 2016 ballot. Petitioner Greg Reed of Fairborn says the petition required 553 signatures and 764 were validated by the Greene County Board of Elections. “This clears the way for the people of Fairborn to decide this important issue that was rushed through by our City Council.” The Fairborn Planning Board had rejected Cemex’s rezoning request, but the Council over-turned that just one month later, following a contentious four-hour hearing.
The land in question originally belonged to Xenia Township and they had repeatedly refused to zone it for mining. Then it was annexed to Fairborn at the request of Cemex, a multinational Mexican-based corporation that has been operating locally since 2000. The zoning change allowed mineral mining on the land, including allowing the use of explosives just 250 feet from occupied homes.
Joe Pence, a Xenia Township resident who lives next to the quarry site, says “this was an end-run by Cemex to dodge the careful decisions of the Xenia Township Board of Trustees. It left impacted homeowners at the mercy of the Fairborn government when we aren’t even Fairborn residents.” Pence adds “we are all so thankful for the Fairborn citizens who saw this as an injustice and supported the petition. We hope people stand with us on March 15. This will send a loud and clear Message to the Fairborn City Council showing the will of the people they serve.”
Pence predicts Cemex will “pull out all the stops” to fight the issue and “spend a fortune on advertising and public relations.” He adds, “it may be David versus Goliath, but the good people of Fairborn can help us prove that might doesn’t always equal right.”
ALERT! Someone is using the name of my popular website, fairbornspeaks, with a space between the words and posting this as a page on Facebook. This is pretty pathetic, of course, but everyone should be aware it has NO relationship to the long-standing and popular website I created. Perhaps these people could come up with a creative thought and use their own reputation rather than needing to steal mine? I can understand why you would feel the need, but really, stand on your own.
LET US DECIDE!
Those opposed to the recent City Council decision to annex property for CEMEX want to put the issue on the ballot and let us decide! Here's how you can help:
1) Sign the petition! Registered voters who are Fairborn residents can go to Community Park at Dayton-Yellow Springs Road on this Thursday, Friday or Saturday from Noon-8:30PM. No need to even get out of your car! Just pull right where the organizers are and they will run the petition over to you! Then you can pull around the "island" and exit the park. Photos show the park entrance, map (pin marks location) and an organizer near the location.
2) "Walk" a petition for signatures from your family, friends and neighbors. Every signature counts and they need to be completed soon! If you would like to help, email Karen at
3) Talk about the referendum. Remember, your petition signature simply allows the issue to go to a vote, it does not obligate you to vote for it. If you favor a healthy public debate, then you should sign the petition! If you oppose the continued public support of these foreign-owned polluters, help out. If you are appalled that any Council could approve BLASTING rock within 250 feet of OCCUPIED HOMES, please help out! If you want to send a message to this Council to stop making LOUSY decisions and destroying our town, help out!
As predicted, the Council voted unanimously to bow down to the giant Mexican cement company. What a shameful day in Fairborn's history!
Blowing up the CEMEX "safety" claims....
At recent Council and Planning Board meetings, CEMEX reps have touted their great “safety” record. Well, folks, it’s time to take a look at that….as you read this, ask yourself “if CEMEX is such a ‘safety-conscious’ company, WHY must they always be FORCED by government intervention to clean up their act?”
Let’s start with locally….
*The DISASTER left behind at the former CEMEX headquarters on Xenia Drive (now Calamityville) included: asbestos, metals, volatile organic compounds including Trichloroethylene and underground storage tanks.” (Source: EPA.gov/brownfields, May 2015).
Yep, that’s trichloroethylene, folks, TCE, the deadly chemical “Erin Brockovich” investigated - the one that causes everything from birth defects to fatal diseases.
How much did JUST the environmental havoc cost to abate at Xenia Drive alone? More than $3.7 million of TAXPAYER MONEY. (Source: Dayton Daily News, 2012). Yep, that’s right - that “safety-conscious” company CEMEX didn’t pay their own tab ---YOU DID.
What else has CEMEX done locally?
*In 2011, the EPA fined CEMEX $1.4 million for Clean Air violations IN FAIRBORN. They were required to invest about $2 million in new equipment to abate the HAZARDOUS materials they were spewing into OUR AIR.
The EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance said “the emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can lead to grave health and environmental problems such as premature death and heart disease.”
(Sources: Yellow Springs News at YS.com and baghouse.com, a site devoted to dust collection).
*In 2005, the EPA cited CEMEX for Clean Air violations for spewing the same toxic chemicals on Linebaugh Road in Xenia. (Source: EPA.gov, 4/14/05)
Around the country…
*In 2014, CEMEX was fined and handed over land to settle an EPA claim in Puerto Rico. Cemex turned over land valued at $2.3 million, paid a penalty of $360,000 and was required to invest $1.8 million to bring facilities into compliance. The EPA’s investigation found CEMEX “violated the Clean Water Act at nearly all of their cement facilities across the island.” (Source: newsismybusiness.com, 5/14/14)
*In April of 2013, CEMEX was fined $1 million and required to invest $2 million in emission equipment updates for Clean Air violations in Lyons, Colorado. (Source: durabilityanddesign.com, 4/24/13)
*In 2012, a blast and fire shut down a CEMEX plant in San Antonio, TX. (Source: mysanantonio.com, 2/12/12)
*In 2010, CEMEX was fined $525,000 for emitting mercury at levels nearly TEN TIMES the allowable limit in Florida. (Source: tampabay.com, 12/22/10)
*In January of 2009, CEMEX paid $2 million to resolve Clean Air violations in Victorville, CA. (Source: EPA.gov, 1/15/09)
*In a January 2009 article concerning a fatality at a CEMEX plant in Charlotte, N.C., it is noted that “during the past three years, workplace safety inspectors cited CEMEX for MORE THAN 100 VIOLATIONS. AT least 3 dozen were “serious,” meaning they had the potential to injure or kill workers.” (Source: aggregateresearch.com, leading source for info on aggregates market, 1/8/09)
*In October 2009, the EPA ordered CEMEX in Marina, CA. to comply with the Clean Water Act after they discharged storm water without a permit. (Source epa.gov, 10/16/09)
*In 2007, CEMEX is fined $1.35 million and must invest $11 million in dust control as well as $6.2 million for an indirect system to fire their kiln in Charlevoix, IL. (Source: EPA.gov)
Now - Does THIS sound like a company with a safety record to brag about??? Do we need more of their TOXINS to clean up?? What GUARANTEES do we have that they won’t walk away in 40 years, leaving us with another toxic dump to clean up??? NONE. That’s right. NONE.
I don’t like to see ANYONE lose a job. I had plenty of friends who worked at GM and Delphi who did and I know how hard it is. But if the cost of those 100 jobs is the destruction of land, the poisoning of our air and water, then we MUST say NO.
Finally, it must be pointed out that this land belongs in Xenia Township. The ONLY reason this annexation is being sought is to CIRCUMVENT the lawful decisions of that rightful governing body. CEMEX seems to know they have a “sure thing” with our Fairborn City Council. Wonder why? Are palms being greased, campaigns being funded? Or is our Council this STUPID for free?
WHY is our Council even considering ANNEXING more land for them?? WHY???
CEMEX Fairborn Plant Clean Air Act Settlement
(Washington, DC - February 10, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Justice Department announced today that Cemex, Inc., one of the largest producers of Portland cement in the United States, has agreed to pay a $1.4 million penalty for Clean Air Act violations at its cement plant in Fairborn, Ohio. In addition to the penalty, Cemex will spend an estimated $2 million on pollution controls that will reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), pollutants that can lead to childhood asthma, acid rain, and smog.
“My Sidewalk” -A few
Creating the Appearance of Public Participation While Merely Controlling the Debate?
What’s wrong with “My Sidewalk”? The City of Fairborn has started a new social media “tool” called “My Sidewalk.” The purported purpose is to “see how citizens feels about issues.” They do this by asking poll questions and tallying participants’ “votes.” Sound good so far? Not so fast. There may be some serious problems with this program. Consider this before you enroll....
1) Skewed questions. The City of Fairborn is famous for their “purpose-driven polls.” They want a new parks levy? Ask “would you like better parks?” Ummm…..DUH! Then they will do what - race in and announce “100% of respondents want better parks! We need a levy!” What they WON’T do is ask the key follow-up…”Should we improve parks by additional taxes OR by eliminating rarely-used parks and improving heavily-used ones?” Yeah, pollsters know that how you design the question is two-thirds of the battle.
As one critic of such programs opined, “selection from multiple bad choices is anything but “democracy” and it is not a “dialogue.” Amen.
2) ZERO credibility of results. You enroll simply by using a Facebook or Twitter account. So, you can live in Poughkeepsie and participate in polls about Fairborn! And - reliable? Well, give me a few hours and I can create a dozen fake profiles. Not that I ever would. Clearly, I’m fine signing my own opinions. But sycophants are often COWARDS. We proved that on the old Fairbornspeaks message board. So face it - anyone who can create a REAL profile can create a FAKE one. One California community used a similar program and a citizens’ group tried to “verify” the users. MOST were found to be fictional - named after TV characters!
Gee, do you think it‘s really possible the City “leaders” would get all their buddies on here, voting under fake profiles and whether or not they live in Fairborn? Well, they trot them out to bully their critics at public meetings and on social media, so it’s not too much of a stretch, is it?
Finally, I would point out that a few years ago, fairbornspeaks did an electronic petition calling for the City Manager’s ouster. We got TONS of signatures. And, unlike “My Sidewalk,” we required a physical address in Fairborn. When we presented the results to the City Council, guess what they said? “An online petition is unreliable”!! So remember that when they try to use these MORE UNRELIABLE results to justify their positions!!
We see how this City “leadership” operates. They can’t stand criticism. Do you think they will allow it on “My Sidewalk”?
And what do they do with your registration information? Who knows! Just ask yourself this - do you trust them?
4) Cost. According to a public records request, it cost $2,125 to “create” the program. I don’t have an answer back yet about an annual fee. The California town paid $9,000 annually (again, a similar program, but not from the same company). When they realized how unreliable and flawed it was, they ultimately cancelled the program entirely while still under a 30-day trial. Saved some money.
5) Silly. Yes, it’s plain silly to have a Public Relations Director who rarely attends public meetings sit in her office and read false poll data to get a sense of what the community wants! Hey, Katie, come join us sometime! We’re the PUBLIC in Public Relations! Lol. Silly.
Text of Karen Combs' speech to council, 6/1/15
Tonight, I am not here to discuss city government issues. I am here for a very different reason. I hope to end an injustice and to clear something which has hung like a cloud over the collective conscience of this city for over 30 years.
At the last citizen’s forum, I mentioned the lack of a proper memorial for a young Fairborn man who died in service to our great nation. When his sister, Diane, learned of this, she gave me her permission to pursue it further. I am humbled to do so this evening. Although she still lives in Fairborn, she cannot bear to be here under the circumstances, which brought her family great distress.
Council, this is Lance Corporal Bruce Alan Hollingshead. Although we graduated high school the same year, I did not have the honor of knowing him. But thanks to Diane, who graciously allowed me to review the articles and keepsakes from the time, I feel I have come to know so much more about him. And I’d like to share a little of what I’ve learned with you.
Bruce was a strong and capable young man. He was known for his unique laugh, which they say could be heard even in a crowd. He was an athlete - a varsity wrestler and a discus thrower on the track team. He loved his country so much that he joined the Marines right out of high school. Then he married his high school sweetheart in April of 1983. Three weeks later, he was sent on a 6-month deployment as an Administrative Assistant in Beirut, Lebanon, serving as part of a multinational peace-keeping force.
In his letters home, Bruce spoke of the brotherhood he shared with his fellow Marines. He admitted the serious dangers they faced - for although this was a peace-keeping mission, Beirut was not a peaceful place. He spoke of his deep love for his family and the excitement he felt about returning to Fairborn to begin life in a new home with his new bride. He was just days away from reaching that goal.
Well, Bruce did come home to Fairborn, but not as hoped. Instead, he came home in a flag-draped coffin with a Marine honor guard. Bruce had probably been asleep when the suicide bomber struck the four-story Marine barracks. 241 Americans were killed. 128 wounded. At the time, it was the highest casualty attack on U.S. troops since Vietnam. So Bruce didn’t get to go to his new home with his young wife. Instead, he was buried at Byron cemetery and taken home with God. He was just 19 years-old, his whole adult life ahead of him.
And Fairborn did, as this military town always does, turn out to welcome our hero home. Hundreds lined the sidewalks outside the Baptist church where services were held. Air Force members in dress uniform; police too; students stood silently on the lawn of the school. The procession was so long that as the first cars turned onto Trebein, cars were still passing the high school. It was a fitting tribute for this hero.
But what happened next was not. And that is why I am here this evening. Two previous councils have really blundered this. Please don’t be the third.
Back in 1984, the City Council passed plans for a new apartment development off Zink Road. Among the approved street names was Raider Drive, a nod to the Wright State mascot - and Hollingshead Drive -in honor of Bruce. Raider Drive exists. But Hollingshead Drive never came to pass. Bruce’s father was such a proud man, he told his family he would not beg for an honor for his son. And so the issue went dormant. When Bruce’s father passed away, Diane took it to the Council once more. She wrote then-Mayor Tom Nagle. She even offered to buy the sign herself if only a street could be named for her brother. She wanted her mother - Bruce’s mother - to see that happen. But Mayor Nagle replied that the project would also require a “sizable donation.” Really? Hadn’t the Hollingshead family given enough? Once again, they gave up in disgust. And sadly, Bruce’s mother has since passed away.
Fairborn now has streets named after doctors and politicians. Surely Bruce deserves this recognition too. Sadly, it is is too late for his parents to see it. But it would still mean the world to his sister, to the rest of his family, to his friends. It is long overdue. And quite simply put, it is the right thing to do.
Frankly, I have not come to expect that from this Council. I hope you prove me wrong this time.
In the meantime, God Bless this young man, Bruce Hollingshead, and his family for their enormous sacrifice for us all. Thank you.
Brand New! Update to Calamityville report. Just days after reopening this website and posting the Calamityville report, WSU contacted me. They claim to own the LLC which owns the property, but refused to provide additional records! A public records request has been filed through both the University and the City of Fairborn. Seems simple enough for them to provide the info to back up what they say! My correspondence is at the link below. As always, I strive for accuracy - read the correspondence - judge for yourself.
Correspondence between WSU's Gregory Sample and Fairbornspeaks' Karen Combs concerning the ownership of the property known as Calamityville.
Microsoft Word Document [32.3 KB]