Windmills, wages and watchers of motorists

Q: Dear Jason: Can you please find out why the turbine by the police station runs sometimes and then other times it is sitting still? - Sharon on Fifth Street
Jason Singer
Jul 23, 2010


Q: Dear Jason: Can you please find out why the turbine by the police station runs sometimes and then other times it is sitting still? 

— Sharon on Fifth Street

A: Thank you for the question, Sharon, and sorry for the extremely delayed response.

For the past three weeks, the turbine hasn’t run because of a mechanical problem. The blades of the turbine normally have air breaks on them to slow them down during high-wind storms. Unfortunately last month, the electromagnet that releases those air breaks stopped working. Shawn Bickley, who owns Sheperd’s Shoreline Construction, which in turn owns the turbine, said he should have the turbine fixed and running again by next week. He is waiting on a new magnet, which he expects to receive this week.

But if you’re asking, in general, why the turbine doesn’t always spin, this is the reason: The turbine only generates power when the wind blows at least 9 miles per hour. Because of that, the company has it preset to only spin when the wind approaches that threshold. So even once it’s fixed, you may see the turbine sitting still from time to time.

Q: Jason, Since the city’s new finance director (Hank Solowiej) will supposedly being doing his old job and this new job, will he negotiate for a huge salary increase like interim city manager Don Iscman did when he began doing two jobs? I also heard the new finance director doesn’t live in the area. Isn’t that a requirement anymore? Will he move? 

— Sue on Monroe Street

A: I’m going to try to handle these questions one at a time.

As to your first question, Solowiej will receive a salary increase, but the two sides haven’t started those negotiations. Solowiej currently makes about $67,200 per year. The man he’s replacing, Ed Widman, made about $84,400 per year. Solowiej will receive a raise for two reasons: First, because he’s being promoted. Second, because at least temporarily, he will handle both jobs. He probably won’t make as much as Widman, because he has fewer years of experience. But I would expect his salary to move into the $70,000 to $80,000 range. 

Onto question No. 2: Last June, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that cities cannot impose residency requirements on employees. Sandusky did have a residency requirement on the books, but the Supreme Court’s ruling rendered it moot. So no, it’s not a requirement anymore.

Onto question No. 3: You are correct, Solowiej does not live in Sandusky. He lives in Amherst. If he does move, he said, it won’t happen in the immediate future. His wife works in Westlake, close to Cleveland. So the couple lives in Amherst, which works conveniently for both of them in terms of a daily commute.

Q: Jason, All over the country, voters have spoken up and rejected the use of speed and red-light cameras. Why would Sandusky try to enact something that the people clearly don’t support? 

— Jim on Filmore Street

A: Benjamin Disraeli, the British Prime Minister, once said there are three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. What he meant was that people can manipulate numbers to support any argument.

For example, someone could say statistics show Americans hate speed and red-light cameras. In November 2009, 72 percent of residents from Chillicothe voted against the cameras. Cincinnati and Steubenville have also banned the cameras after voters rejected them. Across the country, no city has ever had its voters approve the use of cameras, and at least 10 cities have voted “no.”

But you could say statistics also show Americans support red-light cameras. USA Today’s printed polls show 77 percent of New Jersey and New York residents, 80 percent of Arizonans and 66 percent of Missourians are in favor of red-light cameras.

Which set of data do you ultimately believe? In the end, Sandusky hasn’t decided anything yet. A Redflex representative will make a pitch to the city commission in August. Does the commission need the extra revenue? Yes. Will the cameras improve safety? Maybe. Are the cameras an invasion of privacy? Some think so.

The commission will have to weigh all these factors and make its decision. 

To ask Jason a question, send a letter to 314 W. Market St. or e-mail Please include your first name and a location in the e-mail, e.g. “John from Decatur Street.”




In regards to Redflex making a pitch to the city on the camera lights, this is the first I have heard of it.  It may be a good revenue source; however, I think it could damage what is left of the tourist industry.  As far as Soloweij, I don't think there is a need for two people like him in the Treasury Department right now until he starts to reach retirement age and then you will need someone to train for the upcoming position.  Maybe even get someone part-time for the second in command in the Treasury Department..  As for the turbines, they seem to be down more then they are up and running.

Captain Gutz

Which set of data do you ultimately believe?

This one:

Across the country, no city has ever had its voters approve the use of cameras,

samantha bell

About red light cameras,they do increase revenue but they also decrease T-bone crashes,as to invasion of privacy, look at the security cameras in every store,parking lot and other venues,are they innvading your privacy,enter a wall mart and you are on camera from the time you go in till you leave. When you go on the turnpike you are on camera at the toll booths,look at the cameras on and see how many cameras are on Ohio roads,and these are only the ones you can moniter,look at google earth even your house is on the internet,and yes the satelite cameras can even see a person walking,so get with live and live with the cameras and remember don't run the light don't get a ticket.


The traffic camera debate is interesting, and Garfield Heights is having similar quabbles (citizen vs. city hall or police department) about theirs.

I think it's crucial to note that several studies have shown that traffic cameras do NOT decrease the instance of the more severe crashes (i.e., the t-bones), and they actually serve to increase the instance of rear-end crashes, thanks to folks feeling the need to slam on their breaks in fear of getting ticketed. The only proven benefit of the cameras is, of course, financial.

I do feel that putting in traffic cameras are what some would consider a cheap and easy fix, but it's a little too Big Brother for me — and can cause a slew of other problems in its wake.

The Voidoids

Great mailbag!

In regards to the camera issue, I don't think this is an invasion of privacy. You are in public, hello.


I would be in the majority that favors red light cameras. They reduce accidents and make the intersections safer and also provide a deterrent for people to run lights.


Good stuff Jason. Didn't know the turbine had a wind threshold. As to the cameras, I'd favor them. I've really heard it to help temper people speeding and cut down on t-bone accidents. Saving a life is by far worth it.


I agree, good stuff. Maybe the cameras would help catch vandals & shooters too?

hancrack me up

 The windmill spins fastest Monday nights when the window is open in the City Commission room. Lots of hot air billowing out to power it.