Saturday, May 14, 2016

Low-key Larchmere affair affords rare sighting of Black Republicans

A famous dictum attributed to former US Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill declares,  “All politics is local.” While no doubt an exaggeration, it is probable that if black Republicans are ever to increase in number — especially given the current toxic national political environment — it will be due to the efforts of people like Laverne Gore, who is simultaneously and unapologetically black, proud, and Republican.

L-R: Arkeya Thomas, Laverne Gore,
Judge Michael Sliwinski, Sam Gantous
Gore has for sometime been convening groups large and small of black Clevelanders and bringing them together with local and national GOP hierarchy as well as rank and file party members. Last summer, for instance, she hosted a cookout at her home in the tidy CHALK neighborhood just north of Shaker Square featuring GOP national chair Reince Priebus. That brought black Republicans from all over the state, including Youngstown and Cincinnati. 

Gore has also been busy connecting with black conservatives around the country, facilitating get-togethers that put all manner of black people in the same space with Republican operatives and officeholders. Her diligent efforts began well before the GOP hierarchy decided to hold its 2016 convention here in Cleveland and will likely place her in the thick of much of the activity that surrounds a national convention spectacle.

An example of Gore’s efforts could be seen two nights ago
Shalira Taylor, GOP District 11 candidate for state
representative, between Rev. Jeffrey and Mrs. Lori Jemison
at the Academy Tavern, a well-known and popular eatery owned and operated for years by Sam Gantous on Larchmere Avenue. The restaurant is on the border of Shaker Heights and Cleveland, an area that has weathered ethnic and socioeconomic transformation far better than most neighborhoods in Greater Cleveland. Situated on the crest of the first foothill of the Allegheny Plateau — the beginning of the Heights — one can stand in the middle of the street and see clear downtown, though the route is fraught with many demographic changes. 

Larchmere turns into Woodland Ave. as it moves westward towards downtown, passing through areas once heavy with industry and residential areas full of European immigrants who could either walk or take public transportation to work in the factories, foundries, and machine shops that once comprised the heart of the city. Today, one traverses westward along Woodland towards downtown and the largest complexes encountered are housing projects, churches, and one of the city’s oldest cemeteries. Conversely, if you headed the other way, you could enjoy a serene walk into Shaker Heights, where former Mayor Carl Stokes lived during his years as the first black mayor of a major American city.
The history alluded to here somehow made the unpretentious and homey tavern’s rear patio an ideal spot for a low-key mingling of black Republican hoi polloi and adventurous white politicians. There were no speeches, no heavy-duty politicking; in fact, had you innocently wandered into the space — as some Academy regulars may in fact have done — you would have been hard-pressed to discern that you had stumbled upon a political gathering.

It just may have been the kind of political affair that could bring some healing to this era of political malignancy.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Black Design program tonight!

There are lots of exciting events going on in Cleveland these days but the one below just came to our attention and we thought it uniquely worthy of sharing. We reprint their announcement without editing:
“Please join us for the Design Diversity initiative's kickoff event, an ideas showcase Powered by Pecha Kucha. Scheduled during Black History Month, the social event will feature short presentations from six local African American designers, spanning a range of disciplines. Following the presentations, attendees are invited to stay and connect with other local designers, while learning more about Design Diversity's ongoing work.  
Event emcee:
Jennifer Coleman President, Jennifer Coleman Creative LLC
Presenters include:
Jason Eugene Boarde Project Support Specialist, Organizational Architecture, Inc.
Michele Crawford Intern Architect, Robert P. Madison International
Jason Russell City Planner, City of Lakewood
Diane Davis-Sikora Associate Professor, Kent State University College of Architecture & Environmental Design
Arlene Watson Principal and Creative Director, Möbius Grey LLC
We're very excited to have the event hosted at Take 5 Rhythm & Jazz, a locally owned live music venue conveniently located in downtown Cleveland. Happy Hour will be extended until 8PM, so feel free to arrive early, grab a drink and good seat to enjoy the evening. The event is FREE and open to the public, including all ages and backgrounds. 
RSVPs are encouraged, but not required, on the Facebook event page or via email at”

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Cuyahoga Prosecutor appoints OH Attorney General as special prosecutor in Tanisha Anderson case

Press release issued by office of County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty:

Cleveland – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office has been appointed as special prosecutor to investigate the death in police custody of Tanisha Anderson. 

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said he asked the Attorney General to take over the case after investigators from the Sheriff’s Department yesterday informed prosecutors of facts that created a conflict of interest for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office. 

Attorney General DeWine agreed to take the case, and a motion for a special prosecutor was filed Tuesday. Today, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Administrative and Presiding Judge John J. Russo signed an order appointing the Attorney General’s Office as special prosecutor. 

Ms. Anderson, 37, died on November 12, 2014, after struggling with Cleveland Police officers who had been trying to get her into a squad car so they could take her for a psychiatric evaluation. 

Monday, February 01, 2016

Euclid mayor appoints new president of council after members deadlock on choice

New Euclid Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail appointed her own successor today after Euclid City Council failed to agree on a new council president. Gail had been president of Council for eight years before resigning after her election as mayor in November.

Gail appointed John Monroe as the next council president and will swear him in tonight at Council meeting. Monroe is not presently a member of council but the city's Charter does not make that a requirement. 

The responsibility to appoint a new president fell to Gail when Council deadlocked over the choice, failing to advance beyond repeated 4-4 votes between Ward 4 Councilman Kristian D. Jarosz and Ward 7 Councilman Daryl K. Langman.

Jarosz told the Real Deal Press that he was "looking forward to working with John as councilman to address the city's critical needs." He said that he was among perhaps several others who suggested to the mayor that she appoint someone not presently on Council as a way to move forward harmoniously.

The text of the mayor's letter to Council announcing her choice is reproduced below.

Councilman Langman was unavailable for comment at the time of this post.

As the result of City Council’s inability to appoint a new Council President within thirty days, that decision is now my responsibility as Mayor. The job of Council President is one I understand well, having held that role for the last eight years. I have also been able to observe our current Council members as they worked through their process, ultimately not coming to consensus.
The job of Council President requires a steady, strong leader who will work to build positive action and relationships for the good of both our neighborhoods and our businesses. At this moment, this person also needs to bring Council together, work effectively with a new administration and lead the legislative process for the City.
With this in mind, I have appointed John Monroe to the position of Council President. John is a lifelong resident of Euclid and has served on the Planning and Zoning Commission for 9 years having served as both Chairman and Vice-Chair. John has also been active in the community as a Board Member of Friends of the Henn Mansion, a member of the past Euclid Housing Improvement Board, coach for Euclid Youth Soccer, and Commissioner of Euclid Adult Hockey League. Professionally, John is a Share Holder for Mansour Gavin, LPA, specializing in real estate law where he also serves on the firm’s Executive Committee. His experience and expertise will serve the City well in this expanded role.
Personally, I have known John for many years, and trust that he will lead in a professional, balanced, participatory, and fair manner. I know he will challenge my administration to come to great solutions and bring out the best in all of us.
The tone of the first Council meeting in January was energetic, hopeful and collaborative. With key players now in place, I am confident that we can work together for the good of our community. Please join me in welcoming John to his new role.
I will be administering the Oath of Office for John this evening at the beginning of the Council meeting.
Thank you,
Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail

Thursday, December 10, 2015

WOIO-TV Channel 19 reporting Judge Angela Stokes has agreed to retire/resign to settle disciplinary charges

  1. Local TV Reporter Paul Orlausky of WOIO-TV19 has reported via Twitter that:

  2. Judge Angela Stokes has agreed to resign and not run for the bench to settle disciplinary charges against her.
    Embedded image permalink
  3. Judge Angela Stokes has agreed to retire and never run for the bench again. Panel still to decide on her law license.

If accurate, this would bring a sad end to what will unfortunately be a career-defining episode of Judge Stokes' lengthy judicial career. Reportedly, this offer came from the Stokes camp as a proposed conclusion to a long-running disciplinary proceedings that have painted the judge as a mercurial and difficult jurist who indiscriminately offended and alienated private attorneys, prosecutors, court personnel, and litigants alike.

Disciplinary charges have been underway before the Ohio Supreme Court for years to remove or otherwise discipline Judge Stokes, who, while still a member of Cleveland Municipal Court, has not heard cases for about a year as her case has progressed. Recent reports have suggested that the City of Cleveland has spent in excess of $1 million on her defense.

If Judge Stokes does retire/resign, she likely will be able to receive a full state pension. She served as an assistant attorney general for a time before being elected to the Cleveland Municipal Court. She also could likely buy additional years of service under state rules. 

The Ohio Supreme Court will ultimately decide the fate of Stokes' law license at the end of these proceedings, either based on the record or upon an agreement worked out by the Office of Disciplinary Conduct and the judge.

It should be noted that the case against the judge has been based upon her conduct and approach to cases and not upon any allegations of criminal or unethical misconduct.

Judge Stokes is the daughter of former Cleveland Congressman Louis Stokes, who died earlier this year. He served in Congress for thirty years before retiring in 1998.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

TODAY's REPORT: Cleveland Community Police Commission meets tonight at Cudell Recreation Center

Meeting is site where Tamir Rice shot and killed almost a year ago
The Cleveland Community Police Commission, appointed by Mayor Frank Jackson in September pursuant to the consent decree he negotiated with the US Department of Justice following the latter’s two-year investigation of the city’s police practices and procedures, will hold its third community meeting today at Cudell Recreation Center. The meeting is scheduled from 5:30pm-8:30pm.
Twelve-year old Tamir Rice was shot dead on the playground just outside the center last November 22 when two Cleveland police officers confronted him in response to a citizen call that an armed man was brandishing a gun outside the center. The dispatcher who took the call neglected to pass on the caller’s caution that the gun was quite possibly a toy. Video of the encounter show that Tamir was shot and killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann within two seconds of the police cruiser driving right up on the pre-teen, in clear violation of what many experts suggest is proper police procedure.
The Commission, tasked with making recommendations on improving policies related to bias-free policing, greater transparency, and other issues, has been crisscrossing town for its meetings. A substantial portion of its Oct. 28 meeting, held at Elizabeth Baptist Church on Francis Ave. in Ward 12, was devoted to considering how to adjust the agenda for the possibility that Tamir’s relatives might attend the meeting and wish to speak, and whether they should perhaps receive an official invitation. At the end of the discussion, the consensus was that unofficial invitations by individual Commission members would be appropriate, and that similar invitations might be extended to the families of other victims who died as a result of street lawlessness, including police officers.
While the first Commission meeting, on Oct. 14, was attended by about 150 people, less than half that number came to the Oct. 28 meeting. Tonight’s meeting is likely to be among the best attended and perhaps the most fraught with emotion, of the five public meetings announced to date.
The next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 3 at Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Ave.

Nearly 100 attend launch of Black Business Chamber last night
Knowing chuckles spread through the audience when Ron Busby, president and CEO of the US Black Chamber of Commerce, recalled his father’s expressed view of the family business: “I’m’ a keep it small, and keep it all.”
Ron Busby, Sr., President/CEO
of U.S. Black Chambers Inc.
Perhaps it was the recognition by the professionals and owners of mostly small businesses, in attendance to celebrate the launch of The Presidents Council Business Chamber, the city’s newest trade association, that the typical black-owned business has only one employee and has gross annual receipts of about $72,000.
PCBC was established in Cleveland this summer to provide leadership, ideas, and resources to advance black-owned and operated businesses in Greater Cleveland, according to the group’s mission statement. It starts off with more than sixty charter members. Watch for the December issue of The Real Deal Press for a full report on last night’s event and PCBC’s plans.
Visit or call 216.771.8702 for Business Chamber membership information.

GOP Debate observations
I arrived home too late to watch most of last night’s debate of 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls. I checked out perhaps 15 minutes towards the end, which yielded these quick observations.
1.    Someone should tell Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that not all Americans arrived here full of hope for freedom and a brighter life ahead. Among those he excludes from his happy historic reconstruction — happy historic reconstruction is an exercise many Texas officials work to enshrine in the state’s educational curriculum — are the ancestors of most African Americans, Chinese laborers, and of course, Native Americans. It’s likely not so much that he forgets about these groups as that they simply don’t register in his view of traditional Americans. Cruz is a second-generation American — his father emigrated from Cuba —and obviously was quick to pick up the glorified Gone With The Wind version of a “colorblind” America whose only problem was the refusal of damn Yankees to let good old’ boys perpetuate their Confederacy.
2.    Carly Fiorina has a thoroughly prepared answer for most every question and is especially sharp-tongued when it comes to skewering the only other female presidential contender, Democrat Hillary Clinton. She does it with such self-assurance that most people, wrapped up in her delivery, probably are unaware of how fast and loose she plays with the truth. One senses how the Hewlett-Packard board of directors was likely smitten with her right up until the moment they realized she was tanking the company.
3.    In attempting to catch up with the spinmeisters this morning, I found sixth-tier also-ran Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina talking about the religious war being raged against the United States. South Carolina is one of the most militarized states in the US with its abundance of military installations and retired armed forces personnel, and their senior senator was quite the true believer as he condemned ISIS/ISIL Muslims for their savagery and singling out of Christian targets. I guess he must wonder why they don’t use drones like we do.

Cleveland Heights City Council to have new vacancy
Jeff Coryell resigning effective Dec. 31, moving out-of-state

Cleveland Heights Council Member Jeff Coryell announced his resignation from council, effective Dec. 31, on Monday. He is moving to Detroit where his wife, Phyllis L. Crocker, has been Dean of the School of Law at University of Detroit Mercy since early 2014.
Coryell will leave two years into a four-year council term that began January 2014.
According to the city's charter, Cleveland Heights City Council must appoint someone to fill Coryell’s unexpired term. Typically, the Council solicits and reviews applications before making the appointment. Its timetable for doing so has not yet been established.
Whoever is appointed would have to run in November 2016 to finish the last year of Coryell’s term and again in 2017 for a new four-year term in 2017.