CLEVELAND, OH – The money it would have cost William Baumann to ensure he and his employees obeyed laws that protected the public and his workers on his $500,000 contract with the City of Cleveland would have spared him the emotional angst he’s going to experience when he reads these words. But this irresponsible demolition contractor’s public safety-violating tactics to keep the “fencing and barricading” dollars in his pockets is the reason city officials were alerted about how Baumann “daily” threatened public safety when he demolished 10101 Woodland Avenue without barricading the sidewalk.
From the beginning of the asbestos remediation and demoliton of the former Victoreen building where radioactive parts for the Manhattan Project’s atomic bomb were made, this writer photographed the progress on the property “inside and out” and “top to bottom” for a client. It included the pile of asbestos Baumann didn’t remove as he crushed a building that was not in his notice to the Ohio EPA. When Baumann’s safety violations were initially discovered this writer drove by the site daily to capture still and video images of them.
Upon seeing the couple walk by the building with their child, and knowing only the wall remained, this writer warned the threatened family to cross the street as he was witnessed crumbling brick and concrete falling on the sidewalk they were approaching.
This writer then captured video of his encounter with a Baumann worker in which he’s asked if he’s going to secure the sidewalk. The “yes” response from the worker is a result of their second counter. When this writer asked the Baumann employee if he was going to ensure the sidewalk was secured the first time he said, “probably.” This writer went back to his vehicle to retrieve his Ipad to record his second response.
A return to the demolition site around midnight revealed that only the debris from the sidewalk was cleared. No fencing. No barricaded sidewalk or blocked driving lane.
This writer is a former mayor who worked with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. Contact was made with Valarie McCall. She directed city workers to the site to demand that Baumann erect a fence, barricade the sidewalk and block the driving lane as they should have done when director Ayona Donald claimed they’d been responsible and inspected it. Donald didn’t inspect the site herself to learn of Baumann’s barricading violations.
Ohio EPA officials have previously cited the Baumann’s and taken them to court for the illegal dumping they’ve been doing on E. 131st Street and Broadway in Garfield Heights. The contaminants and pollution from their “family run” operation has been a source of irritation for Mayor Vic Collova and Councilman Michael Dudley. The ground up construction materials they’ve stored at the property is an environmental hazard that seeps deadly chemicals into Mill Creek down the street from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s home.
The Baumann’s are under a court order to remove over 100,000 cubic yards of unlawfully stored construction debris near residential properties.
All this makes it ridiculous that Baumann’s threatening litigation for the discovery and reporting of his “threat to public safety” business practices. The attorney Baumann will speak to about the type of claim he’ll want to file will be familiar with Rule 11 and the potential loss of his or her law license if they do. He may also remind him of some other realities.
Baumann submitted a bid to receive public funds on a public contract. All of the records and acts associated with the contract is “the public’s business” and “public”, not “Baumann’s business” and “private.” If he doesn’t want public scrutiny he should have avoided violating laws while working on public contracts.
Pursuant to R.C. 2921.01(B)(2) contractors like Baumann become “public servants” as they are performing the “ad hoc” duties of government officials as their surrogates.
“(B) “Public servant” means any of the following: (2) Any person performing ad hoc a governmental function, including, but not limited to, a juror, member of a temporary commission, master, arbitrator, advisor, or consultant.”
In the capacity of a “public servant” Baumann had “duties” to perform that included barricading the property for safety purposes and complying with all “notice” requirements with the city’s departments and the Ohio EPA.
As a public servant Baumann’s failure to perform the public duties council approved a contract for him to perform can be seen as “dereliction of duty” as a violation of R.C. 2921.44(E) as an “offense against public administration.” In his ad hoc capacity as a public servant Baumann could not keep the “barricade” dollars in his pockets ahead of his “public duty” to protect public safety.
“(E) No public servant shall recklessly fail to perform a duty expressly imposed by law with respect to the public servant’s office, or recklessly do any act expressly forbidden by law with respect to the public servant’s office.”
Since federal and state laws, and city ordinances, required Baumann to perform the public duties expressly imposed by law to barricade the property he was demolishing for public safety and he didn’t; the derelict public servant could be seen as “obstructing Mayor Frank Jackson’s official business to protect public safety pursuant to R.C. 2921.31. It’s a 5th degree felony under the heading, “Obstructing official business.”
(A) No person, without privilege to do so and with purpose to prevent, obstruct, or delay the performance by a public official of any authorized act within the public official’s official capacity, shall do any act that hampers or impedes a public official in the performance of the public official’s lawful duties.
(B) Whoever violates this section is guilty of obstructing official business. Except as otherwise provided in this division, obstructing official business is a misdemeanor of the second degree. If a violation of this section creates a risk of physical harm to any person, obstructing official business is a felony of the fifth degree.
By threatening litigation against someone who reported his obstruction of “Mayor Frank Jackson’s official business” to the mayor in his official capacity as the city’s “chief law enforcement officer,” Baumann’s attorney may advise his client that as a “public servant” he’s engaged in “retaliation.” That’s a 3rd degree felony as another “offense against public administration” pursuant to R.C. 2921.05. The heading is “retalation.”
(A) No person, purposely and by force or by unlawful threat of harm to any person or property, shall retaliate against a public servant, a party official, or an attorney or witness who was involved in a civil or criminal action or proceeding because the public servant, party official, attorney, or witness discharged the duties of the public servant, party official, attorney, or witness. (B) No person, purposely and by force or by unlawful threat of harm to any person or property, shall retaliate against the victim of a crime because the victim filed or prosecuted criminal charges. (C) Whoever violates this section is guilty of retaliation, a felony of the third degree.
What Baumann may not realize is that the family in the picture has the right to file a criminal complaint against him for what’s obviously a threat to their safety as he violated laws legislators enacted that Mayor Frank Jackson gave him a public contract to obey.
The tool for them to hold Baumann accountable for obstructing the mayor and council’s desire to protect them is found in R.C. 2935.09 and 2935.10. It’s where Ohio law lets anyone with knowledge of a crime present a simple affidavit to a “reviewing official” to cause his arrest.
The building the family was approaching was not a building. but a deadly structure he’d created. Parts of it were crumbling in front of this writer as the couple approached. They had no idea of the potential doom that could have struck them because of Baumann’s failure to perform his ad hoc duties as a public servant.
If this recklessness doesn’t get Baumann prosecuted for the offenses against public administration he’s known to have committed. It may get him removed from bidding on any additional city contracts.
Had the building collapsed on the family while this writer was filming, the video of it would be worldwide and there’d be hard core and angry demands for Baumann to be brought to justice.