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Clintonville Area Commission reconsiders civility training

Some members of now less-acrimonious CAC say session led by former state representative not worth time, money

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Clintonville Area Commission members last week, following a good deal of mostly civil debate, decided unanimously to put off a decision on civility training.

While none of the seven present for the commission's July meeting expressed support for incivility, several questioned the need for such training and others balked at the notion of spending $1,000 from the group's budget and another $1,000 from a city grant to pay for it.

"My question is, is this training really needed by this group at this time?" said Randy Ketcham, in his inaugural session as the representative for District 6.

"I'm not against this idea," Chairman Daniel B. Miller said, but he expressed doubt that the commission's budget will even have $1,000 to pay for half the cost of hiring former state Rep. Ted Celeste to conduct the four-hour training session.

"I don't want to kill this effort," Miller added later in the discussion, just prior to the unanimous vote to table the proposal from District 2's Nancy Kuhel.

The debate followed a brief presentation from Celeste, a former Democratic representative for the district that encompasses most of Grandview Heights.

Since leaving office, Celeste said, he has become involved in conducting civility training for legislators around the country, including in Ohio.

"Not to be disrespectful, but it hasn't worked very well," said D Searcy of District 9.

Small groups with a common purpose, such as the CAC, can benefit from civility training, Celeste said. It could help members become more productive, he said.

"It is not oriented around issues," Celeste added. "It is mostly aimed at getting to know each other better."

Searcy expressed some doubts about the worth of Celeste's instruction, which Kuhel tentatively had scheduled for Sept. 14.

"What could you really accomplish in four hours?" Searcy asked him. "How's that going to move us down the road?"

While the current group of area commissioners may be a fairly harmonious bunch, that hasn't always been the case, Kuhel said during the discussion.

A particularly "rude remark" made at a commission meeting awhile back prompted some residents to get together and form a group, Positively Clintonville, to counter such contentiousness in the community, she said. That group, in turn, led to the idea of hiring Celeste.

"It's not about us," Kuhel said. "It's not about an individual commissioner. It's not about an individual commissioner's behavior.

"It's about taking a leadership role in the community."

District 5's Dana K.J. Bagwell said she had not solicited comments from residents regarding the concept, but nevertheless had heard from a dozen or so who "are appalled that it's been suggested we need civility training."

The current members of the CAC, many of them with less than a year on the panel, have been getting along nicely, Bagwell added.

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