Whitehall City Council members efficiently disposed of six ordinances and four resolutions during a 60-minute meeting Tuesday, April 15 -- devoid of the debate that punctuated previous meetings.
Councilwoman Jackie Thompson withdrew a controversial ordinance that would ban pit bulls in the city.
Thompson said she did not know whether an amended ordinance, addressing concerns City Attorney Mike Shannon voiced about the legislation, would be prepared in time for discussion at the next meeting of council committees, set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22.
Among the legislation council members dispatched this week was an ordinance creating the position of a deputy for information technology in the city.
For the past 17 years, Whitehall has either contracted for technology support or enlisted the help of other city employees.
The ordinance approved April 15 adds the position to the city's authorized strength and sets an annual salary range of $45,000 to $65,000.
Thompson cast the lone dissenting vote.
"It's a matter of priorities ... we need an animal control officer before we need an IT deputy," Thompson said.
Whitehall is considering banning pit bulls, presa canarios and mixed breeds resembling either breed.
If you live in Whitehall or nearby, please consider attending the city council meeting: City Council at 7pm, March 18th
t was Jacquelyn Thompson's turn to speak.
Her crusade to ban pit bulls from Whitehall had just ended in one quick vote. All but one of her colleagues on the City Council voted it down last night after four months of heated public meetings punctuated with personal attacks.
So just before last night's council meeting ended, Thompson tried to explain why she's so passionate about a ban. She waxed philosophical, talking about pit bulls as the "new order" of evil in society.
Councilman Chris Rodriguez, who has clashed with her on the ban, smiled mockingly as she read her speech. People in the audience who had spoken against the ban sighed in disgust.
Thompson is one of Whitehall's newest council members and easily the most controversial. Just after joining the City Council in January, Thompson began pushing for the ban, the city's most divisive proposal in recent years.
People across central Ohio crammed Whitehall council meetings for a chance to speak out against the ban and often against Thompson, who held her ground. During a public meeting last month, she referred to pit bulls as "tools of terror."
Whitehall council members now are considering an alternative proposal that would not ban pit bulls, but instead impose stiffer penalties on owners of any breed of dog who don't properly confine or care for the animals.
Although Thompson's plan didn't pass, she said, she'll continue to push for a ban. "I just consider this Round One," she said.
Thompson's bold spirit and sometimes confrontational approach prompted a former boss to jokingly refer to her as a pit bull, Thompson said.
"I don't drop something if I know I'm right," she said.
That quality has not endeared her to other council members.
Bob Bailey, who proposed the alternative dog ordinance, calls Thompson unyielding.
"I don't think when you talk to her it's constructive," he said.
Thompson had long been a critic of the city before joining the council. She frequently spoke in the public comment period of council meetings about run-down properties, garbage left in neighborhoods and other problems.
"Jackie's personality is such that she's not reluctant to be in your face and let you know what she thinks about something. I have to admire people like that," said Dick Janusz, a longtime Whitehall resident.
Thompson ran for a council seat representing Ward 1 in 2001 and lost to Rodriguez. In November, she ran for an at-large seat and won.
At her first council meeting in January, while other council members used their comment period to welcome new members and bid Happy New Year, Thompson was all business.
She listed all the problems facing the city, including crime and neglectful landlords. She told the council she never would have voted for the budget they approved for this year.
Since then, she hasn't hesitated to put council members on the spot, asking pointed questions.
"Jackie has some good intentions. She just goes about it the wrong way," Rodriguez said. He would not elaborate.
She lambasted "certain council members" during last month's meeting, saying they were spreading gossip about her.
"Their actions remind me of a bunch of mean girls, a bunch of high-school bullies who have been given free rein to harass their opponents," she said.
Given her unpopularity so far on the council, it's debatable whether she will have success with any future proposals. But she's not worried, she said.
"There are independent voters on that council."