Saturday, November 12, 2011

iPods and Ain’ts for fans of Music & Serendipity

My wife is a college professor and an executive coach. She does a lot of her work from her home office. She uses two computers and moves from one to the other like she was the keyboard artist for Santana.

Me, I don’t like to do housework, but since she has world-class allergies and we aren’t rich, a lot of the housework falls to me. So I am deeply appreciative to Steve Jobs for the iPod, which allows me enter another world as I mindfully do mindless but essential stuff like dusting.

The iPod is great because it stays with me in my pocket as I go from room to room and floor to floor in my attention-deficit mode of house cleaning. And it’s especially good for vacuuming because I can still hear the music.

I charged up the 32-gigger today in preparation for sweeping, mopping and polishing the kitchen, pantry and mudroom floors.

My iPod tells me it has 3288 songs. I believe I could listen to it 24/7 for three weeks without it repeating anything. Still, I get in a musical rut sometimes, captive to a groove that has me listening to the Spinners, Pharaoh Sanders, Freddy Cole or Beethoven’s Egmont Overture for weeks on end.

Not all of the songs are ideal for cleaning. Like I might be blue about having to clean but Brahms’ Requiem wouldn’t really capture it.

Of course I have playlists. R & B/Soul and Rock are usually good choices for large muscle activities like vacuuming or grass cutting, but I wanted something different today, and nothing came readily to mind.

So I decided to try something new. I went to the menu where all my tunes from Aaron Neville to Zubin Mehta were listed alphabetically by title. I’ve done this with a favored individual artist like Keb’ Mo’ or Robert Cray but never with the entire collection.

I skipped the first few songs, choosing to start with Roy Meriwether’s smoky nightclub piano jazz trio number that lives up to its name: “After Hours”.

“Affinity”, off a LaVerne Butler cd, followed as a pleasant surprise. It was an instrumental that I didn’t recall being on the singer’s cd.

John Coltrane’s “Africa”, rendered by Conrad Herwig, was up next. I have no idea where I got that cd. Must have been free.

Next came that soul singer of great angst, Walter Jackson, with “After You There Can Be Nothing”. On the same theme but with different sensibilities came three versions of “After You’ve Gone”, performed successively by Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan and Wynton Marsalis.

This was  starting to be fun! What would be next?

There came a neat change of pace with the lilting and infectious “Aguas De Marco” by Stan Getz. One of the drawbacks of digital music is that you can’t go check the liner notes to learn the name of the vocalist with the pretty voice [reliable authority tells me the voice belongs to the pre-famous Astrud Gilberto].

Then we got to the Aints. B. B. King said he was not going get upset, “Ain’t Gonna Worry My Life”]. Nina Simone came along celebrating [“Ain’t Go No/I Got Life”].

Now we came to a long string of Aints led off by Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, interpreted through the incomparable pipes of Johnny Hartman. Steve Tyrell was up next with the same song. Yeah!

The Temptations dropped in with a favorite from 40 years ago: “Ain’t No Sun Since You Been Gone”.

Nina came back with “Ain’t No Use”: there’s nothing that fella could say, he had treated her too mean and she was outta there.

Who could follow Nina but the Queen of Soul?

“Ain’t No Way” has always been one of my all-time favorite Arethas for so many reasons. It’s incredibly soulful, has fantastic brass progressions, Aretha’s own right on time piano, and a lyric of deep wistfulness and extraordinary power. But hey, I like it most because it has such a slow, steady, deep powerful, and rockin’ rhythm: there’s no better slow jam in recorded history.

I was going to play it again, but before I could put down the mop and extract the iPod from my pocket, Aretha started feeling like Nina: she was through with love and came back with “Ain’t Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around)”.

Seems like both of them knew they weren’t in that real true relationship Marvin and Tammi sang about. But then everybody gets to a point sooner or later where they know that “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”.

And when you find the real thing, whether spiritually or romantically, “Ain’t That Good News”? Two versions of that gospel goodie by The Moses Hogan Chorale bookended a song by the same title but totally different lyrics by Sam Cooke. Mercy!

I finished the kitchen floor, put away the tools, came upstairs and sat down and wrote this to the accompaniment of variously, Benny Goodman [“Air Mail Special”], Nikki Giovanni [“Alabama Poem/((I’ve Decided to Make Jesus My Choice) / Peace Be Still)”], Art Blakey [“Alamode”], and Earl Klugh [“Alice in Wonderland”]. 

Can't wait 'til next weekend. I didn't even make it halfway through the "A"s!

It’s supposed to be 60° tomorrow. If, as usual, the Browns are getting drubbed, I will turn off the TV and wash windows to the “B”s, or maybe the “R”s. If that happens, my wife will be so happy I won’t have to play “Ain’t No Way”.

• • •

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Anonymous Critics; Race; Belief vs. Conduct

Yesterday evening I removed a comment that had been posted earlier in the day by an anonymous poster. I want to share with you why I did so and to set forth a principle regarding future comments.

The comment in question was a direct attack upon Nneka Slade Jackson. We endorsed Jackson in her race for the ward 4 seat on Richmond Heights city council. (She lost but did far better than most first-time candidates usually do, but that is beside the point.)

This particular Anonymous made a series of claims about Jackson’s lack of fitness for public office, apparently in an effort to rebut our condemnation of the Sun Messenger’s endorsement practices

The commenter’s claims were harsh but if true they might have been fair comment. 

I didn’t want to make negative comments about a Real Deal endorsed candidate the basis for our  first occasion for censoring, even if there were elements in the comment  that were false as well as ludicrous on their face. So I did two things: I called Ms. Jackson and I did a limited search of easily available public records.   

Based upon my findings, I removed the offensively inaccurate comment.

Going forward, The Real Deal will immediately remove any similar comments published under the cloak of anonymity. We allow anonymous comments on this site because some people might have good reasons not to disclose their identity. But we will not allow unsubstantiated scurrilous attacks by squirrels. A squirrel is hereby defined as a person who makes anonymous scurrilous attacks on other people.

No offense to squirrels.

• • •

On a related note, an increased number of anonymous comments take issue with our reporting, analysis, and assessments, especially with respect to Richmond Heights. We welcome the dialogue, especially when it deals with specifics. Oftentimes the comments help us to understand where we might have been clearer, or presented us with an opportunity to restate information for some readers who may be new to the issues.

A lot of the anonymous commenters appear uncomfortable that much of what I write deals with race, again with special reference to Richmond Heights. They seem to feel that I put too much emphasis on race. They accuse me, and/or some of the black people I write about, of playing the race card. And they suggest that I am critical of such stellar public officials as Jason Popp, Josh Kaye, Bob Fox and Aaron Burko simply because they are white. 


I am an equal opportunity critic. A casual perusal of my back posts will find me more critical of certain black folks than I have yet been of esteemed members of the Richmond Heights School District.

A more thoughtful analysis of my reporting will, I believe, warrant the conclusion that I criticize behavior. I criticize the actions of these public employees and officials.

I didn’t call Jason Popp a racist although he admitted using the n-word. Nor  do I think the obsessive desire of Messrs. Kaye, Burko, and Fox to fire the superintendent.

I think I pretty readily argue that life is complex, that humans are complex beings, and that motivation is most often multi-rooted. For instance, a white man can be a racist, as that term is generally misunderstood, yet pull the voting lever for President Obama nonetheless. His neighbor could be married to an African American but think that the president’s policies are horribly conceived, egregiously executed, and that a vote for Obama’s opponent is essential to the nation's survival.

Similarly, Herman Cain… No, skip that.

The point is that my criticism of Jason Popp is not based on who I think he is but on what he did: he routinely used racial epithets with a group of impressionable young black students whose care and education was entrusted to him. He got in their faces and showed disdain for their heritage and culture, for who they were, and for who their parents and grandparents are.

That’s not coaching. It’s child abuse. 

The research says it. 

Ohio law says it. 

And school district policy says it.

But board members Josh Kaye, Aaron Burko and Bob Fox did not publicly acknowledge, even with a thousand legal caveats, the impermissibility of such conduct for months. Even then it took a courageous parent, Nneka Slade Jackson, acting on behalf of an outraged portion of the community, to skillfully and persistently push the school board president to admit in a public forum that well, yeah, that kind of conduct would be inappropriate.

• • •

I will continue to address the conduct of these public officials as I complete my response to another anonymous commenter. I will also focus on the conduct  that is likely to result in multiple findings of misfeasance against the school district by the bevy of public agencies currently investigating Richmond Heights Schools. Then I will to turn to the future and what I hope will be a new course for the school district. 

The hope is based on the outcome of this week’s election and the probability that a new majority will evolve, a majority focused on the education of the children, stewardship of the public trust, and creation of a healthy environment.

NonProfit Thursdays

Contact Nonprofit Thursdays here:

• “Take It To The Streets: The Occupy Movement & Free Speech”:  a discussion on movement-building and the First Amendment.
WHERE: Max Wohl Civil Liberties Center
4506 Chester Ave, Cleveland 44103
WHO: The Ohio ACLU, members of the Occupy Movement, and constitutional and criminal defense attorneys
ETC:  This event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available. RSVP: call (216) 472-2220.

WHAT: Huntington In-Kind Donation Open House
WHEN: TODAY until 11AM
WHERE: Commercial Works warehouse located at 4901 Johnston Parkway, Garfield Heights, OH 44128
ETC: questions>>  Sharon Sills at


WHAT: 11th Annual Telling Your Story: Nonprofits & The Media:  “iPhone, iPad, iDon’t Know How to Connect with Our Organization’s Mobile Audience…”

Presented by Center for Community Solutions in Partnership with the Saint Luke’s Foundation.

WHEN: Tuesday, November 15, 08:00 AM - 12:00 PM
WHERE: Center for Families and Children, 3955 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland
WHO: Presenters: Christina Klenotic, Vice President, Dix & Eaton; Ann Poston, Marketing Manager, The Cleveland Orchestra. Panel of Northeast Ohio Media: Lee Chilcote, Development News Editor, Writer, Freshwater Cleveland; Rick Jackson, Morning Edition Host, Reporter, WCPN / WVIZ ideastream; Lila Mills, Editor & Publisher, Greater University Circle Neighborhood Voice; Karl Turner, Deputy Metro Editor/Online, The Plain Dealer
ETC: Registration required ($50) - click here to register
(Free parking in adjacent lot; first-come, first-served)


CWRU’s Social Justice Institute launching pilot course for proposed new social justice minor

The Social Justice Institute recently received approval to launch the pilot introductory core course for its proposed Social Justice minor. The minor is under development by a multi-school team of faculty.
The course, SJUS 100, will begin in spring 2012 and will focus on three questions: What is social justice? Why does social justice matter? What can be done?
It will encourage students to think critically and expansively about the social world and the conditions of humanity, providing a foundational exploration of social justice concepts, issues and remedies. Students will develop the necessary analytical skills to assess inequality and injustice and address historical and contemporary issues.
Faculty from different schools and departments will be involved in the course.
For more information, contact Shelley White at
• • •

The National Black MBA Association Cleveland Northeast Ohio chapter 2011 Awards:
2011 Corporate Partner of the Year: FirstEnergy Corp.
2011 R. Joyce Whitley Entrepreneur of the Year: Dr. Ellen Burts-Cooper, Founder and Senior Managing Partner, Improve Consulting and Training Group,

Send your Nonprofit Thursday info to:

Deadline for consideration is Fridays at 3pm.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Richmond Heights Schools update: Interim Superintendent, questions about investigation

The Richmond Heights Board of Education has named elementary school principal Dr. Robert Moore as interim superintendent to replace Dr. Linda T. Hardwick, who was relieved of her duties with pay on November 3.

The school district is investigating allegations supposedly related to the misappropriation of district property.

Local station WKYC-TV 3 has a brief story on its website on last night’s special board meeting. As of 1:30PM today no other local television station had posted a report.

Nature of investigation unclear
Informed parties believe that the “district property” consists of documents that unknown parties may have turned over to the any of numerous federal and state government agencies that have been investigating alleged improprieties at the district.

In other words the investigation may actually be the attempt by the Board to discover the whistle-blower [s] who has exposed various board practices and actions to investigators. This could mean that public resources are being used to uncover protected behavior.

By a 3-2 vote, the district last week fired central office employee, Peggy Parker, an action almost certain to cost the district money, win or lose. Parker is reported to have already filed a complaint with one or more agencies, and a lawsuit is likely being considered as well.

Money for investigation
Richmond Heights taxpayers should ask the board members Josh Kaye, Aaron Burko, and Bob Fox, the three who voted to suspend the superintendent and conduct the investigation, how much they plan to spend on this investigation, who is getting paid to conduct it, and where the money is coming from.

These questions should be posed and answered even though the Board intends to refrain from making any further statements until the investigation is complete.

The next regularly scheduled board meets is Monday, November 21 at 7PM. By that time district residents will have decided whether to retain the only two incumbents, Linda Pliodzinskas and Bobby Jordan, who have tried to check many questionable board policies, and who they want to join or replace them. Bob Fox's term ends December 31 and he chose not to run for a second term.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Sun falls in Richmond Heights

Whatever credibility newspapers have in making endorsements in electoral contests rests on three assumptions:

1. That newspapers have done their homework on any given contest by covering, researching and studying the issues and candidates;
2. That their endorsements are reasonably tied to the first assumption, and
3. That their endorsements are not the product of hidden agendas.

It was no surprise to us to learn that the Sun Messenger endorsed incumbent councilman Mark Alexander over sharp newcomer Nneka Slade Jackson. Nor was it an eyebrow raiser to read that neither of the two black men vying for election to the school board was endorsed.

But we think Richmond Heights residents should be greatly disturbed about the way the Sun Messenger conducted several of their endorsement interviews, and the abysmal way the paper has overlooked and/or underreported the dysfunctional and anti-student behavior of the school board majority. We find the paper’s default so stunning that it raises questions about whether the Sun Messenger is in league with the school board majority and city fathers or just incompetent.

Endorsement Interviews
When city council candidate Nneka Slade Jackson was interviewed jointly with her opponent, she was repeatedly encouraged to identify school superintendent Linda T. Hardwick as “controversial” and to identify the superintendent as the cause of the conflict with the school board. She was also asked her views about then Cleveland councilwoman Nina Turner winning a state senatorial party caucus for a vacant senate seat over State Rep. Kenny Yuko. That vote took place in 2008!

Perhaps equally stunning in 2011, Slade Jackson was asked about her ability to manage motherhood and the [part-time!] city council position simultaneously.

When Frank Barber Jr. was interviewed for the school board, the college professor was not asked a single question about his views on education. Instead he was asked repeatedly for his view about the relationship between the board and the superintendent, and invited time and again to point fingers at the superintendent.

The priorities of the Sun Messenger are clear: they favor the Superintendent’s removal. That was pretty much the sole qualification for their endorsement.

[Their pursuit of this objective is somewhat hindered in that there are three seats up for election this year but at most only two clear votes for removal among the candidates.]

While this concern was evident and paramount in their endorsement interviews, it somehow totally went unmentioned in the endorsement editorial.

The paper endorsed former board members Dori Mittinger and Terri Wade-Lyles with a wholly unsupported statement that “they deserve another chance to serve the district.”

Precisely why is that? Mittinger failed to complete her last term on the board, resigning her seat to become the school district’s business manager. She was not rehired when her contract expired.

Most telling of the Sun Messenger agenda was their failure even to mention that incumbent Bobby Jordan is running to complete the unexpired term to which he was appointed in April. Jordan has distinguished himself as a board member by his willingness to ask questions, challenge dubious board decisions, and object to attempts by the board majority to railroad through decisions based not on educational principles but on cronyism or other personal agendas.

Shrinking coverage
Somehow, the Sun Messenger endorsement editorial failed even to acknowledge that Jordan is in the race.

Richmond Heights residents should ask themselves why the Willoughby News-Herald, based in Lake County, provides more and better coverage  [see here and here as examples] of their school district and community than their supposed neighborhood Sun paper.

And they might also ask why the Sun Messenger has failed either to discover, investigate or report any of the following actions by  one or more  members of the current board majority, including: relentless micromanagement;  repeated improper intervention into personnel matters; the wholly inappropriate countermanding of the superintendent’s directives to her staff; the discharge of every central office employee who has supported the superintendent; their total abstention from or concern with sound educational policy; their profligate ways with public funds, including incurring, authorizing, and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight against claims they engendered and have no hope of winning; their subversion of city resources by unlawful and inappropriate investigation of parents; or the fact that an incumbent board member has withdrawn his children from the district, may no longer live in Richmond Heights himself, and has failed to disclose this information publicly.

The shame of Richmond Heights does not rest solely or even principally upon the shoulders of a coach who was ill-equipped to lead his basketball team on or off the court. No wonder he thought he could conduct himself with impunity.

Here’s an unequivocal endorsement: for the resignation of Board President Josh Kaye within 24 hours of his receipt of the soon-to-be released findings from the Department of Justice and/or The Ohio Civil Rights Commission, and/or the State Department of Education.  Failing his resignation, we would endorse his recall by the citizens of Richmond Heights.

Endorsements: Warrensville Heights School District clarification

Warrensville Heights Board of Education [Elect 3]: This district school board suffers from some of the same maladies as the Richmond Heights Local Schools, where a three-man coalition holds power, micromanages, undermines the superintendent, and generally runs amok. 

The battle lines are not as clear here, but the fingerprints are similar. 

Warrensville Heights has a strong, talented, and dedicated superintendent who has accepted personal responsibility for improving the district’s substandard performance. She deserves unanimous board support but often finds herself at odds with the contentious minority that currently leads the board. 

Incumbents June E. Taylor and Mary Pat Morris are running as a team with Harold L. Burks to ensure that, in concert with holdover board member Sandra Noble, the superintendent gets that support and district staff gets a consistent message. That’s more than enough to get our endorsement. 

[Note: This section has been revised to make plain that superintendent Marva Kay Jones does presently enjoy majority support from the board. Jones is generally supported by incumbents Taylor, Morris, and Noble, while the board president and vice president are considerably less so.]

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Kind of Endorsements That I Would Like to Read

Voting In-Person on November 8th
  • Find your polling location here.
  • Polls are open from 6:30 am – 7:30 pm. 
  • You will need identification: driver’s license, utility bill, paycheck, bank statement, or some government document with your name and address on it.

 • • •

In two days those of us who did not vote early but still intend to make our views count, will go the polls where, hopefully having educated ourselves on our respective local and statewide issues, we will carry out one of our solemn duties as citizens by casting well-reasoned votes for the “best” candidates and the “right” side of the issues.

Too many of us don’t vote. Reasons vary, but include mostly negative emotions like disillusionment, cynicism, hopelessness, disgust. Nonvoters ought to be fined for the disservice they do their communities, principally by giving direct license to public officials to be less accountable. But hey, that doesn’t apply to Real Deal readers, because if you visit this small corner of the web regularly, then you clearly have a keen interest in public affairs.
• • •
I’m going to be setting forth some nontraditional endorsements in this space today for selected contests in a number of communities — Euclid, Richmond Heights, Cleveland, East Cleveland, Warrensville Heights, Bedford Heights, and Oakwood Village. I’m also going to spend a paragraph or so on each of the three statewide issues, each of which should be rejected by voters.

I will not be endorsing any Cleveland Heights city council candidates because I know virtually all of them personally, count several as friends, and am an officer of a partisan group that has voted to support certain of the candidates. I will confess to a modest anti-incumbent bias because long-term incumbents tend to become inflated with an aura of their own indispensability. There is no reason for public officials to become public institutions where there is a strong supply of fresh and capable replacements.

I hope you found the previous paragraph refreshing for its candor because I am going to be putting the wood to the Sun Messenger in a separate post tomorrow for its thoroughly unprofessional endorsements in Richmond Heights. I encourage you to read it even if you are weary of my reports on that beleaguered community.

I struggle constantly in these posts to attain a balance of topics. Some people criticize me for writing too much about Richmond Heights in this space, but I think most of my readers appreciate that my reporting there is important, because nobody else is doing it with any sense of fairness.

Having started to write about what I saw when I first went there in May, I now feel an obligation to continue reporting what some all too clearly would prefer to remain hidden. And I promise faithful followers of that coverage this: some bombshells are coming soon, and better days ahead are coming into view.

A word or two about The Real Deal endorsement process for the sake of transparency, all the more important for when you learn about the Sun Messenger perversions [no, that’s not too strong a word]. My process is non-scientific. I don’t treat all candidates or communities alike for the same reason that an effective and sensible parent or teacher doesn’t treat all of their children alike except in fairness.

Generally, I wrote most every mayoral and legislative candidate months ago seeking basic information. Few supplied it. I went to a variety of council and school board meetings in almost all of the relevant communities. I studied websites and campaign literature. I spoke with some of the candidates and I spoke with community residents in every municipality.

Based on this work, The Real Deal recommends voting:

State Issues

Issue 1: NO
Issue 2: NO
Issue 3: NO

Local Issues

Issue 49: NO [proposed charter amendment to eliminate traffic cameras]
Issue 50: NO [proposed charter amendment requiring approval of Council to appoint and/or remove the director of law and the director of finance.]

Issue 90: YES
Issue 91: NO

Local Mayors
Bedford Heights: Fletcher Berger
Euclid: Jack Johnson
Oakwood: Joe Fouche
Warrensville Heights: Brad Sellers

Local City Councils
East Cleveland: Barbara Thomas, Ward 2; Mildred Brewer, Ward 4
Richmond Heights: Carl Harmon, Ward 2; Nneka Slade Jackson, Ward 4

Area Boards of Education
Euclid Schools:
Evette Moton
Kathy DeAngelis

Richmond Heights Schools:
   Frank Barber Jr., Linda Pliodzinskas [Elect 2]
   Bobby Jordan [[Elect 1 for Unexpired Term Ending 12/31/2013]

Warrensville Heights Schools: [Elect 3]
   Harold L. Burks, Mary Pat Morris, June E. Taylor

Municipal Courts
Cleveland Municipal Court [term commencing Jan. 2, 2012: Edward Wade
Cleveland Municipal Court [term commencing Jan. 3, 2012: Pinkey S. Carr
East Cleveland Municipal Court: Sandra Walker
Euclid Municipal Court: Deborah A. LeBarron
South Euclid Municipal Court: Gayle Williams-Byers

Endorsement Notes

NO on State Issue 1
The Ohio Constitution currently prohibits candidates who are 70 or older from running for judge. Almost half the states have age limits similar to Ohio. There is no shortage of qualified judicial candidates in Ohio and no clamor to change the Constitution except from the judges themselves, most of who could continue to serve by appointment even if forced by age to retire.

NO on State Issue 2
Ohio’s fiscal troubles could be improved to some degree by a modest adjustment in the power of the state’s public unions. But the General Assembly, a gross overreach of legislative power, rammed through Senate Bill 5 as part of a nationwide partisan campaign to render public unions as a way of establishing virtual one-party rule.
A no vote on Issue 2 would force Ohio’s governor and legislature to find a fairer way of improving the state’s governance and fiscal problems.

NO on State Issue 3
Issue 3 masquerades as a states’ rights plebiscite on federal health care. Its basic aim is to undermine Congressional passage in 2010 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, often derisively referred to as Obamacare. Passage of the issue would have dubious legal effect, and much more likely to harm health care for Ohio citizens than its defeat.


Fletcher Berger has shown himself to be diligent, adaptable, and reasonable. He has earned re-election without question, especially given that his opponent, councilwoman Wendolyn Grant, is likely running primarily to establish her bona fides to run again in four years when Berger will be term limited.

Cleveland Municipal Court: The Stokes name is the only qualification Ed Wade’s opponent has for the job. She has shown herself fully qualified for retirement. Wade has been an energetic and competent attorney for decades. Pinkey S. Carr has distinguished herself as county prosecutor and is ready for the bench.

City Council: It is little short of amazing that Mildred Brewer is council’s only true supporter of the city’s dynamic mayor, the most forward thinking leader that city has had in decades. Additionally, Brewer is an untiring advocate for Ward 4. Despite an over-the-top manner that occasionally channels her inner Dave Chappelle, she should be reelected.
Barbara Thomas should be retained in Ward 2.

East Cleveland Municipal Court: We like William Dawson and think he can one day be a fine judge. But incumbent Sandra L. Walker has given voters no reason to replace her and deserves a second term.

East Cleveland Board of Education [Elect 3]: This body is absolutely in need of regeneration.
The current all-female board for the most part exhibits an unwarranted loyalty towards the current administration. Abdul Shaheed Jabbaar knows what a successful school district requires. During his prior tenure on the board Jabbaar was instrumental in bringing on the current fiscal officer for the schools and promoting school uniforms. He understands the special issues that confront young black males in today’s society and how to support them without making excuses or lowering expectations. He also brings an understanding of what it takes to succeed in the business and corporate world and how to translate that to students.

Patricia A. Blochowiak is deserving of another term. She is hard working and conscientious. Because she is not a part of the old guard clique that runs the district, she asks questions and pushes for answers. She could be a formidable support for Jabbaar if she’s temperamentally up for it.

We do not endorse Una H. R. Keenon. The former judge is a community icon at this point and will likely win re-election on her name alone. But East Cleveland needs school board members with a drive and vision to match its new mayor. Jabbaar has those qualities to the degree that his supporters might consider voting only for him, to increase the likelihood of his rejoining the board.

Charter Amendments
Issue 49: NO [proposed charter amendment to eliminate traffic cameras]. This issue seems to have voters more hot and bothered than the races for school board or city council, despite the fact that 90% of the tickets generated by the city’s traffic cameras are reportedly written to nonresidents.
Part of the voters’ ire appears to result from camera malfunction. But, given that the cameras generate about $1.5 million to the bottom line of a city strapped for cash, that the cameras have likely contributed both directly and indirectly to a decline in the city’s crime rate, and that key safety and other forces will be laid off if the amendment passes, voters should vote no on Issue 49 and find other ways to express their displeasure that don’t involve cutting off much more than their noses.

Issue 50: NO [proposed charter amendment requiring approval of Council to appoint and/or remove the director of law and the director of finance.]
It is depressing when a legislative body with important work to do wastes its time and taxpayers’ money with silly measures that impede sound governmental practice while doing nothing to improve the community. No matter what council members may say, Issue 50 was conceived and put on the ballot because the Council majority doesn’t like the mayor. Passage of the issue would not likely be earth shattering, but it could encourage some council members to seek veto power over whether the mayor should part his hair, and on which side.

In many ways this is one of the most interesting and significant races on the ballot in Greater Cleveland this year. There are three candidates with distinctly different personalities and track records. They offer Euclid residents very different visions of the city and approaches to governance.
Incumbent mayor Bill Cervenik is running for a third term, which would be a final term due to Euclid’s term limits. His tumultuous eight years in office have included historic litigation and a recall attempt. After a point he refused to oppose property development plans promoted by Provident Baptist Church that were upsetting to many Euclid residents as an unwanted challenge to an accepted way of life.
The city’s hostile reaction to the church likely intensified a US Department of Justice investigation into Euclid’s electoral apparatus. The Justice Department eventually determined that Euclid’s electoral protocol involving several at-large seats had become discriminatory in operation if not in design.

At a certain stage Cervenik’s pragmatic nature manifested itself as courage when he opposed those diehards who wished to challenge the Justice Department even unto municipal bankruptcy.

On Cervenik’s right flank is Charlene Mancuso, a veritable dynamo of energy and ideas, and an action-oriented, take-charge persona who pledges to drag Euclid into a new day.

There are a couple of flies in her prescriptive ointment, however. One is her history as champion of the city’s reactionary forces in the battles with the Justice Department and Provident Church, battles whose prolongation cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The other major concern is whether this city of raw nerves could hold together under a mayor whose personal style and public agenda seem more likely to incite virulence rather than camaraderie.

The third major contestant in the mayoral race is a black man, Jack Johnson, making his first entry ever into electoral politics. Johnson is a manager, a finance guy, a technician, an analyst. He was finance director in the Cervenik administration and a get it done guy for many municipal projects. He is now seeking to make the transformation from manager to leader.

After a slow campaign start, in which he seemed unsure whether he was actually running to win or just scratching an itch, Jackson seems to have found his political legs. Short on funds compared to Cervenik certainly and perhaps Mancuso as well, Jackson has taken to the web and churned out a daily series of email missives designed to show his ideas and leadership style.

Jackson is clearly the least polarizing of the three major candidates. He comes closest to being the right person at the right time to lead Euclid into a new era.

Jack Johnson should be Euclid’s next mayor.

Euclid School Board
Frankly the differences aren’t huge here among the three women candidates for school board. Kay Van Ho is a longtime incumbent who wants to be in office one more term to celebrate the dedication of Euclid’s new elementary schools. But we think fresh blood could help this challenged system, and under Van Ho’s watch hundreds of families have opted for charter schools. We would encourage Euclid voters to elect Evette Moton.

Our second choice would be Kathy DeAngelis, a mention made necessary because under the terms of the court order in the DOJ lawsuit, voters can select only one candidate even though there are two vacancies.

Euclid Municipal Court: Longtime lawyer and school board president Barry Sweet cited as one of his qualifications his eagerness to expel Euclid school students as the arbiter of last resort. Given the uneven record of Euclid school discipline, he should have been running away from that record instead of embracing it. Why would Euclid voters give this guy unbridled power? 
Judge Deborah A. LeBarron received excellent ratings from every bar association and should be retained.


City Council
The race in Ward 2 is between two political newcomers. Carl K. Harmon is a businessman with a sense of reasonableness and an understanding that change is needed at City Hall. Russell L. Johnson, a retired city of Cleveland police officer, is impatient with his city’s state of affairs.

It’s a close call but we favor Harmon’s more nuanced approach. Cool heads are certainly going to be needed at City Hall over the next few years.

Ward 4 is perhaps the marquee race in Richmond Heights this year. Nneka Slade Jackson became a household name in the city earlier this year for her persistent challenge to the status quo in Richmond Heights schools, initially but by no means exclusively around the crisis involving the unprofessional conduct of the boys high school basketball coach.

We think the young woman has exemplary leadership qualities. If she is able to secure the Ward 4 council seat from the incumbent, it will be a day of victory for the entire city.

Richmond Heights Board of Education
The appointment of Bobby Jordan to a vacant school board seat this past spring brought to light the need for serious change in the district. Jordan speaks softly but his habit of asking questions in public meetings has led to a harsh series of 3-2 votes. Jordan’s arrival seems to have rejuvenated veteran board member Linda Pliodzinskas, and she has joined Jordan in questioning many of the board majority’s puzzling personnel and financial decisions.

Jordan and Pliodzinskas should be returned to the Board. They should be joined by Frank Barber Jr., a college professor with a business bent. Together these three could begin to chart a return to excellence for the district without getting sidetracked by the cronyism and personal vendettas that seem to animate the current board majority.

Issue 90: YES. This is a no-brainer. This charter amendment will permit Richmond Heights to participate in joint service districts to share in service delivery of municipal services. It is the wave of the future.

Issue 91: NO. This proposed charter amendment reduces by 25% the tax credit a city resident gets for income taxes paid to another municipality. It amounts to a tax increase on Richmond Heights residents who work outside the city but not on those residents or nonresidents who work in the city.

The City Council has put this amendment on the ballot without adequate civic debate, perhaps because they have not wanted to force to address deficiencies found by state audits regarding missing funds and irregular reporting.

Richmond Heights leaders are going to have to deal with harsh realities soon in a city where both the government and the schools are short not just on funds but also plans, shared priorities, a sense of accountability and a necessary commitment to greater transparency.

South Euclid Municipal Court: This court needs a judge equipped to deal with the dynamic range of issues in a transitional community. Gayle Williams-Byers possesses the temperament and the experience necessary for the job.


This contest has taken on some unpleasant overtones with scurrilous material being circulated via the US mail and the Internet. [An anonymous letter arrived in our mailbox imploring us to ask a series of questions of presumptive frontrunner and hometown favorite Brad Sellers. We would have, if the questions had had any bearing on his fitness for office or his ability to do the job.]

Fact is, with or without a college degree or domestic bliss, Sellers is the most knowledgeable, capable, imaginative, self-confident, polished and well-spoken candidate in this three-way race for mayor. He has ideas, energy, and much useful experience. The realization of his potential could prove make him the best mayor in the city’s history.

Warrensville Heights Board of Education [Elect 3]: This district school board suffers from some of the same maladies as the Richmond Heights Local Schools, where a three-man coalition holds power, micromanages, undermines the superintendent, and generally runs amok. The battle lines are not as clear here, but the fingerprints are similar.

Warrensville Heights has a strong, talented, and dedicated superintendent who has accepted personal responsibility for improving the district’s substandard performance. She deserves and needs strong board support. Incumbents June E. Taylor and Mary Pat Morris are running as a team with Harold L. Burks to ensure that the superintendent gets that support. That’s enough to get our endorsement. [See clarification here.]

Oakwood Village

I begin by declaring myself a Joe Fouche {“Fu Shea”] fan. I am a friend of Joe Fouche. We worked together briefly on a business venture that did not pan out but I discovered him to be a man of his word. He is candid, smart, and hard working, personable, and honest.

He’s a cop with compassion. He gets along with folks of all ages, persuasions and stripes but he does not suffer fools. He’s not impressed with how much money you have or don’t have.

On top of all that, he’s got a lot of ideas about how to make the village of his birth a better place. A former village councilman, he is one of the savviest political fellows around, knows everybody but chooses to work only with the straightest shooters.

He is decisive without being close-minded, confident without being cocky. Respectful of elders but attentive to the young.

Joe is also a successful businessman. He knows people, politics and government. He should be mayor of Oakwood. If you live in Oakwood Village, a vote for Joe Fouche is a vote for your present and your future.