Thursday, June 11, 2015

Maple Heights Mayor Jeff Lansky not running for re-election

The mercurial mayor of Maple Heights, Jeff Lansky, did not file for re-election by yesterday’s deadline, meaning his administration will come to an end when his term expires at the end of the year.

Five mayoral candidates did meet yesterday’s deadline: commercial property tax analyst Annette M. Blackwell, Ward 5 Councilman Bill Brownlee, Maple Hts. Police Sgt. Donald M. Grossmyer, former city councilwoman Neomia Mitchell and retired military serviceman Frank Rives.
Voters will decide at a September 8 primary election which two of the five will advance to the general election on November 3.
The city has seen a great deal of stress in recent years. The mortgage meltdown of 2008, which took few prisoners, struck many Maple residents with special vehemence, resulting in a glut of vacant and abandoned homes, and a severe drop-off in property tax revenues. The city’s business climate has likewise not been robust.
In public statements, Lansky has blamed GOP-inspired cuts by state government to the Local Government Fund that supports many municipalities for the city’s being placed in fiscal emergency earlier this year by declaration of State Auditor David Yost. The city’s finances are now under state watch and supervision and Lansky’s administration has shown little energy for developing a financial recovery plan for the city as required by state law.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Settlement between City of Cleveland and U.S. Justice Dept. over police misconduct reported imminent

The New York Times is reporting that the City of Cleveland has reached a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department of Justice over what federal authorities have found to be a pattern of unconstitutional policing and excessive use of force.

The report comes two days after a local Cleveland judge found Cleveland Patrolman Michael Brelo innocent of all charges, including voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault, for his role in firing 45 bullets at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams following a high speed chase by more than 10 police officers in November 2012 that resulted in the pair's death after their vehicle was cornered in a middle school parking lot.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Hallelujah for Baltimore State's Attorney!

I salute the beautiful professional work and presentation done by State's Attorney for Baltimore City Marilyn J. Mosby.

Ms Mosby did not use the cover of presenting this case to a Grand Jury but acted with the commendable decisiveness justified by her independent investigation into the facts of this case.

We acknowledge of course, that the charges are as yet unproven and that all six police officer defendants are innocent until proven guilty. But the details of the investigation shared by Ms Mosby suggest that at least one of the officers cooperated with the prosecutor's office.

Ms Mosby's thoroughgoing diligence and the transparency of her office stand in stark contrast to her Cuyahoga County counterpart with reference to the current trial in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, the unarmed duo who died Nov. 29, 2012 after being shot at 137 times by Cleveland police, more than 100 of whom chased the fleeing couple into the neighboring city of East Cleveland. Only one officer, Michael Brelo, has been charged in that case, now on trial before a judge [no jury] with a verdict likely to be handed down in the next week or so. Consider also the slow process of decision-making relative to the death of Tamir Rice, the 12-year old Cleveland boy killed by police last fall.

Of course, there is one consistent thread: the Baltimore Police union has issued a statement saying the police officers were not responsible for Freddy Gray's death but were "diligent" in discharging their duty [to serve and protect?].

It wouldn't surprise me if the Baltimore police union sought to disqualify Mosby from prosecuting this case on the grounds that she is a Tuskegee graduate, an HBCU. One of the best aspects of this situation is that Ms. Mosby comes from five generations of law enforcement that include both of her parents as well as a grandfather!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

President Obama in Cleveland to deliver major address at City Club on middle class economics

The marvels of communication are on display at Cleveland Convention Center this afternoon where anticipation is building for President Obama's speech to a City Club audience. 

The program is expected to start about 3pm with the President likely to begin his talk shortly thereafter. He is expected to focus on middle class economics at the sold out event.

The President's remarks will be streamed live at .

Air Force One touched down at Cleveland Hopkins Airport shortly after one o'clock this afternoon. Obama stepped from the plane about 1:10 p.m. with Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), and Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Warrensville Heights) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) following behind. All three lawmakers traveled on AF1 to Cleveland from Washington.

The President is scheduled to stop at Cleveland MAGNET [Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network] near Cleveland State University's MAGNET Center before heading to the Convention Center.

Moulthrop has announced, in keeping with club tradition, that the President will take unscripted questions from the audience for the second half of the program.

Attendance at this ticketed event is limited to City Club members and guests [one each]. The club saw its membership spike by 100 new members as soon as the arrangements for today's event were announced.

Members of the press are everywhere, cable is strewn all around, mobile studios are outside. Every convenience has been put in place to make sure the media can broadcast, transcribe, blog and tweet the President's remarks instantanously.  

Stevie Wonder is rendering "Higher Ground" on the audio system. Feels almost like a party to this newbie on the global reporting scene.

Walking over here from Euclid I passed a torn up Public Square, in the demolition phase of its $32 million configuration slated for completion before the elephants arrive next summer [Republican Convention].

The Central Division leading Cavaliers play the Brooklyn Nets tonight at the Q and the Cleveland International Film Fest starts today. Sometimes Cleveland feels like a big city.

Hey! Just saw Rep. Kantur being greeted by PNC bigwigs Paul Clark and Michael Taylor, so it's clear the program will begin shortly.

Hmmm, how would this scene be different if the President was coming to talk about the forgotten Americans? 

Times have sure changed as the "War on Poverty" has long since been supplanted by the "War on the Middle Class". Care to guess who's winning?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Kasich appoints Chagrin Falls attorney to Bedford Municipal Court judgeship

A former Ohio House member will take the bench on March 23 after his appointment today by Gov. John Kasich to the Bedford Municipal Court.

Jeffrey L. Dean of Chagrin Falls must win in the November 2015 general election to retain the seat for the full term commencing Jan. 1, 2016. Dean replaces former Judge Harry J. Jacob III, who resigned in October after his criminal conviction.

Dean’s previous experience includes serving as the executive director and general counsel of the International Engineering Society and Education Foundation and executive director of the Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce and Education Foundation. He is currently an attorney and counselor at law in private practice.

He was a member of the 114th General Assembly and the State Board of Education. He is president of the Board of Trustees for the Valley Art Center.

Former Cleveland magistrate Michelle Paris of Moreland Hills and Deborah M. Turner of Solon, currently assistant law director for Bedford Heights, have each announced their intent to run for the seat, which has been vacant since December 2013, when the Ohio Supreme Court suspended Judge Jacob after his indictment on numerous felony charges. Jacob was found guilty of several misdemeanor charges in September, including falsification of court records and having sex with prostitutes.

Jacob resigned from the bench the following month, just before he was sentenced to 60 days in jail and six months house arrest.

The Bedford Municipal Court has jurisdiction over cases arising in Bedford, Bedford Heights, Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls, Chagrin Falls Township, Glenwillow, Highland Hills, Moreland Hills, North Randall, Oakwood, Orange, Solon, Warrensville Heights, and Woodmere.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Tanisha Anderson death ruled homicide; black bar association calls special meeting

Tanisha Anderson death ruled homicide
Tanisha Anderson’s death on Nov. 13 has been ruled a homicide, in an announcement released this morning by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office.

Specifically, she died as a result of being physically restrained by Cleveland Police officers while she was in a prone position. The coroner ruled that associated factors were Anderson’s heart condition and “Bipolar disorder with agitation.”

Family members had called authorities seeking assistance as Anderson was reportedly “disturbing the peace” on the day she died. The family apparently consented for police to take her to St. Vincent Charity Medical Center for a mental health evaluation.

Family members and police tell conflicting versions about what happened next, but Anderson got out of the police cruiser she was held face-down on the pavement, handcuffed, and further restrained by police until she stopped moving.

Anderson’s death has been a focal point of community agitation in the wake of a 58-page US Justice Department report that found many problems with the Cleveland Police Department, including the fact that many officers are ill-prepared to deal with city residents with mental illnesses, often resulting in the use of cruel and excessive force against the mentally and medically ill.

No ruling has been made by prosecutors in this matter, and the involved officers are on restricted duty.

Black bar association calls special meeting on DOJ report

Earlier this week, the Norman S. Minor Bar Association announced a special meeting to address community concerns over police misconduct, as detailed in the Department of Justice report, and punctuated most vividly by the deaths of Anderson, twelve year old Tamir Rice ten days later, and Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in November 2012.

The meeting is an open forum to address the DOJ’s conclusion that “there is reasonable cause to believe that Cleveland police officers engage in a pattern or practice of unreasonable and in some cases unnecessary force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.”

The Justice Department has asked for community input before it begins negotiations with the City of Cleveland to enter an enforceable court decree.

NSMBA is the local professional association of black lawyers. The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 6 at 5:30 PM in Courtoom 15-A of the Justice Center.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Now is the time

The need for the emergence of new forms of black civic leadership in Cleveland has been demonstrated yet again by the continuing implosion of the local NAACP chapter.

In a show of staggering incompetence, fueled by the illusory pursuit of “little p” personal power and the continued abandonment of principle, the reigning potentates failed to follow their own rules in conducting the biannual election of officers, forcing the national office to call a time out.

Many people ask, with good reason, why this desiccated mess of a once powerful civil rights organization is worthy of any note when decade after decade it has engaged in self-dealing, credibility-destroying ways to render itself irrelevant?

Clearly, the Cleveland NAACP no longer resembles the mid-20th century juggernaut that had 10,000 dues-paying members. Still, it stands in the gap, like an abandoned fort, between the tens of thousands of ordinary black people just trying to get through the month, the week, and sometimes the day, and those whose control of institutions — state offices, the legislature, the public safety and criminal justice systems, the schools and workplaces — allow them to ignore and devalue black life.

The poster event for black impotence is the impunity with which more than 100 Cleveland police officers disregarded departmental rules and procedures to chase two people across town at high speeds and when the prey was cornered, 13 police fired 137 bullets into one car, killing its two unarmed occupants.

The community response to this outrageous police misconduct has been muted. To some extent this can be attributed to the fact that Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson has adopted his usual calm stance. But we are approaching the second anniversary of “The Chase” and who in our community is monitoring the monitors in the Jackson administration?

The lack of effective organizational leadership is manifest in other areas as well. We may be at a moment when self-interest on the part of general contractors, property owners, and labor unions offer opportunities for real gains for black contractors, laborers, and neighborhoods. Some black business and leaders — Dominic Ozanne, for one, but there are others, including Natoya Walker-Minor of the Jackson administration — have helped drive a process where sizable business projects can be impacted by the views and wishes of area residents. But there is too often no community organization ready to sit down with affected parties to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement even when the framework is already in place.

This is not to say that there are no effective black organizations or agencies here. There are scores, including the Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation; Delta Sigma Theta; Sigma Pi Phi [the Boule]; Burten, Bell, Carr Development Inc.; to name but a few. But there is not one with the portfolio, the history, or the name to eclipse the NAACP.

If the NAACP were a public school, it would be ripe for reconstitution. Throw out all the officers and start anew. Try and keep the executive director, Sheila Wright. She is bright, passionate, innovative, and young. But she hasn’t been paid in five months, and we know what happens to romance when there is no finance.

Cleveland’s establishment has coasted on the inclusion tip for a very long time. One might say that coasting parallels the weakness of the local NAACP. The old boy network that runs this community needs to be broken up before it consigns us to eternal mediocrity. Black Cleveland needs to be in the vanguard of the modernization of our political, economic and social structures. That process has to begin at home, and it ought to begin with a thorough housecleaning at the NAACP.