Council resumes meetings open to the public


PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth City Council met Monday for their first meeting open to the press and public since COVID-19 precautions were established in March.

Council members and those present still practiced social distancing while the meeting took place at the Shawnee State University Ballroom. Council dispensed of the reading of the journal for May 26 and excused the absent member of council Tom Lowe.

From the legislative portion of the meeting council passed for first reading an ordinance enacting a new Chapter entitled “Discrimination Prohibited”, of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Portsmouth establishing a procedure to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to be free from all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or physical characteristics and an ordinance amending Section 125.03 (K) Procedures to Determine the Lowest and Best Bid for Construction of Public Improvements of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Portsmouth, Ohio, an Ordinance amending Chapter 171- Fair Housing Practices of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Portsmouth, Other items passed for their respective readings included an Ordinance amending Chapter 171- Fair Housing Practices of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Portsmouth, and an ordinance amending Section 541.08 Ethnic Intimidation of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Portsmouth.

An Ordinance authorizing approval of the consent legislation submitted by Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) determining the need for a guardrail project to update Type A end treatments along NHS routes within the corporation limits of Portsmouth and an ordinance authorizing the acceptance of the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance funding, under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (EBMJAG) to establish a dedicated account for this grant and to authorize the appropriation of such funding as received, and an ordinance authorizing the acceptance of the United States Department of Justice, and An Ordinance authorizing the employees in the positions of Police Chief and Fire Chief be afforded the same rates for longevity as bargaining unit members within the respective departments were each waived of the three reading rule and were passed by council.

An item added to the agenda to amend the salary ordinance as amended by ordinance no. 87 of 2019 to reflect a 2.75% wage increase for FOP lodge no. 33 and a 2.5% for ASME local 1039 received as of Jan. 1 2020 a 2.75% wage increase retroactive to Jan. 1 2020 for nonunion employees longevity increases to nonunion employees as authorized per ordinance no. 66 of 2017, the addition of parks of recreation director per ordinance no. 71 of 2019 and a wage increase for position of police chief as per 2020 budget ordinance no. 7 and repeal ordinance no. 87 of 2019 was also passed for a first reading by council.

During statements and remarks from citizens regarding items not on the agenda, Sharon Bender addressed council in regards to the death at the Scioto County Jail. Bender said that although the issue is that of the county, people arrested by the Portsmouth Police also go to the jail. “There are a lot of questions that need answered, and I think all people within the city of Portsmouth should be concerned that a man has died. I don’t really know how more too express other than I think there are irregularities in the photos I’ve seen of the man,” said Bender. Bender stated that everyone in Portsmouth should be concerned because there is potential for family members of anyone in Portsmouth to find themselves at the jail and that we must demand answers and for the situation to be further addressed. Carrie Duncan also addressed council and voiced her concerns for systematic racism, calling on members of council to use their positions to promote unity.

During his Mayor’s report, Councilmen Johnson suggested that council be given each a copy of Ms. Duncan’s questions to answer during next meeting’s conference in order to follow Sunshine Laws.

Reach: Ivy Potter (740) 353-3101 Extension 1932

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