George’s puppet says he missed deadline to withdraw petitions for personal reasons

CLEVELAND, OH – The 70 day statutory deadline Bill Ritter missed on January 7th to withdraw the Cleveland city council reduction petitions he suckered 22,000 Cleveland registered voters into signing as a high pressure scheme he concocted with Tony George to intimidate city council was for good “personal reasons.”  Ritter’s “personal reasons” weren’t identified in a story Cleveland Scene’s Sam Allard wrote after interviewing him to learn why the petitions were being pulled.   

What Westlake George’s Cleveland puppet admitted to Allard is that his lawyers have acknowledged the flaw in the timing of his petition withdrawal and are seeking a way around Section 35109.08(A) of the Ohio Revised Code.  Under the state’s general election law George’s boy was required to submit his request in writing to the Secretary of State 70 days before the March 17, 2020 primary election.  Ritter calls George “Mister.”

So instead of looking like a racist, ,Bill Ritters looks like Westlake resident Tony George’s fool.

There is no other statutory language for withdrawing initiative petitions than what’s written in plain English language in Title 35 of Ohio’s Revised Code no official of this state can change or choose not to enforce as written.  Section 3519.08(A) of Ohio’s Revised Code is in language Ritter, as an American, should be able to easily understand. 

Notwithstanding division (I)(2) of section 3501.38 of the Revised Code, at any time prior to the seventieth day before the day of an election at which an initiative or referendum is scheduled to appear on the ballot, a majority of the members of the committee named to represent the petitioners in the petition proposing that initiative or referendum under section 3519.02 of the Revised Code may withdraw the petition by giving written notice of the withdrawal to the secretary of state.

The use of the word “shall” in any law imposes “mandatory duties” on the official or individual being instructed by it.  The use of the word “may” is permissive in that it gives the official or individual an option.  In this case Ritter had the option of withdrawing the petitions but only if he did it “prior to the 70th day before” the day of the March 17, 2020 primary election. 

Bill Ritter said he met with Bratenahl resident Rev. E.T. Caviness and Garfield Heights resident Aaron Phillips who convinced him he’d be a racist if he tried to shrink Cleveland city council. Phillips can’t vote in Cleveland elections and what happens in the city he doesn’t live isn’t his business. Neither non-Cleveland residents speaks for the 22,000 Cleveland registered voters who signed the petitions Ritter circulated and then maliciously withdrew to deny their voting rights just like the racists did in the KKK south. Caviness and Phillips were trying to help council. Not Black people. The Black people who signed the petitions said they wanted to vote.

Had Ritter or his Westlake boss any knowledge of U.S. Supreme Court cases they’d know the two words “statutory construction” prevents Ritter’s request to the Cuyahoga  Elections board or Secretary of State to withdraw from going forward.  Anyone who’s written laws like this writer has knows well the two words all legislators should study before they enact them.

“We begin with the familiar canon of statutory construction that the starting point for interpreting a statute is the language of the statute itself. Absent a clearly expressed legislative intention to the contrary, that language must ordinarily be regarded as conclusive.:” Consumer Product Safety Commission et al. v. GTE Sylvania, Inc. et al.,447 U.S. 102 (1980). “[I]n interpreting a statute a court should always turn to one cardinal canon before all others. . . .[C]ourts must presume that a legislature says in a statute what it means and means in a statute what it says there.”

Ritter announced on January 31st that he was withdrawing petitions to shrink council he should have withdrawn by “giving written notice of the withdrawal to the secretary of state” on January 7th.  He missed the deadline by 24 days.  There is no language in Title 35 of Ohio’s Revised Code that falls within the date of Ritter’s act or his published reasons for it.   

Bill Ritter told Cleveland Scene’s Sam Allard he had “personal reasons” for missing the 70 day deadline to withdraw the petitions he circulated on Westlake resident Tony George’s money to reduce Cleveland city council’s size. A search of the Ohio Revised Code for the two words “personal reasons” don’t show them associated with “any” section of Title 35 that controls this state’s elections and processes. The words are associated with “employment.” This is the genius who thinks he knows how to solve Cleveland’s problems.

What Ritter appears to hope for is for the board to for added language through an interpretation by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.  The problem is those officials can’t insert themselves in an area where the General Assembly has reserved the right of the “office” to the secretary of state.  So Ritter’s only recourse is to ask the Secretary of State for withdrawal permission and to be told no.

It doesn’t matter as he told Cleveland Scene’s Sam Allard that preachers Aaron Phillips and E. Theophilis Caviness told him the campaign was racially-divisive.  Had he  known anything about the signers he’d know the majority of signers were not white. 

One media report described Garfield Heights resident Aaron Phillips as a prominent member of the clergy. If prominence means he knows how to sucker reporters into covering his bullshit then Phillips is prominent. But the little two-dollar, garage-sized church he preaches out of at 11302 Miles Avenue would violate occupancy ordinances if all 17 members of Cleveland city conucil and their aides showed up for a service.

What Ritter seems not to understand is that his decision to deprive 22,000 majority black signers of the right to exercise their vote at the election is vote suppressing racism.  It’s also racism to think two black people who don’t live in Cleveland can decide for black Clevelanders the outcome of a petition they signed in order to vote at an election. 

Phillips and Caviness speaks for themselves.  No one has appointed them to lead or speak for “the Black community” and Ritter is a foolish racist for even believing that their voices carry the thoughts of 230,000 Black Clevelanders out of 389,000 Clevelanders overall.

Eric Jonathan Brewer

Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more.

Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings.

As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national.

Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year.

Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.


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