Cuyahoga Falls to tear down two dams next year; kayakers eager to tackle rapids unseen in 200 years - Beacon Journal headline, December 11, 2011
Unfortunately, there aren't enough public officials in the Falls who are eager to tackle more meaningful matters unseen in 200 years.
I refer to the defeat of a initiative to award a same-sex married couple a family rate at the Natatorium, a modest discount for the spouses, one of whom - if you can imagine that! - is a wounded Iraqi veteran
who was prepared to have his head shot off so that the Natatorium and other venues around America could live in peace.
The controversy has plodded forward for months in what has become Republican Mayor Don Robart's Tea Party Central town somewhere just north of Akron. It would have passed 6-5 on City Council , with all six Democrats supporting it. But when the Mayor was heard to threaten a veto, it would have needed 8 votes to override his veto. There was no hope of siphoning two from the Republican side.
Tim Gorbach, the Democratic chairman of the Parks and Recreation Board, which oversees the Natatorium, tried various methods to create a compromise that would allow the couple to get the family rate. But again, when the board met on Thursday, it was was defeated, 3-2, by the Republican majority opposing it.
I talked to two of the opponents on the board, Dick Sebastian and Debbie Ritzinger, both of whom insisted that neither religion nor the mayor influenced their decisions, although both seemed less eager to preclude the mayor. They agreed that it was all about the money the city would lose by extending the family rate to a same-sex couple. But if they were a straight-sex couple, wouldn't the same cost factor apply at the family rate? Would somebody please do the math for me?
Before your reach for you calculator, allow me to put it this way: The only difference in the rates ($130 annually) was that one couple was gay.
In his haste to circle his own wagon, Robart first said the state's ban on same-sex marriages prevented the Falls from allowing the discount. When his own law director said the discount would not be a problem under state law - Akron and Medina, for example would not prohibit equal rates - the mayor then switched to the cost factor. But I wonder about that, particularly when he nearly soared off the stage at a recent Tea Party rally by praising the Teabaggers as the "social, fiscal and moral conscience of America." Really, Mayor?
There is further irony here in that the Falls is revving up for a bicentennial celebration in which there will be a lot of chest-pounding about the whitewater beauties of the town's history. Here's what the bicentennial commission has to say about it:
"The mission of the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio Bicentennial celebration is to promote awareness to our rich heritage, encourage citizens and business leaders to plan, participate and sponsor events and activities, recognizing 200 years of the history and growth of Cuyahoga Falls.In view of the dismally regressive mentality at City Hall on the Natatorium , wouldn't it be more appropriate to call it a Centennial celebration instead and wait for the mayor's successor to bring the town forward to the 21st Century?