Cleveland Ward 4 Councilman Kenneth Johnson

Johnson appeals the Supreme Court’s decision to suspend him from council based on a legally-unsupported request from David Yost to judges who appear not to have read the law

CLEVELAND, OH – On May 19, 2021, Ward 4 Councilman Kenneth Johnson filed a “notice of intent to appeal” the April 20, 2021 ruling of the Supreme Court of Ohio removing him from discharging the duties of the public office to which he was elected.  It’s a story that won’t be found in the Plain Dealer or cleveland.com because the basis of Johnson’s appeal begins to unravel facts laid out in a series of 17-stories written by former reporter Mark Naymik and repeated in part in an indictment sought by the United States Attorneys office for the Northern District of Ohio.  Naymik now works for WKYC.

Attorney Myron Watson has filed an appeal of Ward 4 Councilman Kenneth Johnson’s suspension from discharging the duties of the office to which he was elected.

Promoting facts that contradict lies that Johnson’s monthly council expense account comes from federal “block grant” funds isn’t on their agenda.  The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com want Johnson to “appear” guilty as he heads towards a July 19, 2021 federal trial date.

It’s also not on the Russian-owned news media organization’s agenda to expose Republican Ohio Attorney General David Yost’s incompetence for seeking Johnson’s suspension in violation of Section 3.16 of the Revised Code of Ohio.   The three retired judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio obviously didn’t ask Yost assistant state attorney general Julie Pfeiffer if she understood the plain English language of R.C. 3.16.  The larger question is did Judges Guy L. Reece, II, Joseph Gibson and L. Alan Goldsberry read it themselves?

(B)(1) If a public official is charged with a felony in a state or federal court and if the attorney general, if the attorney general is prosecuting the case, or prosecuting attorney with responsibility to prosecute the case determines that the felony relates to the public official’s administration of, or conduct in the performance of the duties of, the office of the public official, the attorney general, if the attorney general is prosecuting the case, or prosecuting attorney with responsibility to prosecute the case shall transmit a copy of the charging document to the chief justice of the supreme court with a request that the chief justice proceed as provided in division (C) of this section. If the attorney general or the prosecuting attorney transmits a copy of the charging document to the chief justice, a copy also shall be sent to the attorney general if the prosecuting attorney transmits the copy to the chief justice or to the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the public official holds office if the attorney general transmits the copy to the chief justice.

Had Judges Joseph Gibson, Guy Reece, II and L. Alan Goldsberry read R.C. 3.16 they should have asked assistant “state” Attorney General Julie Pfeiffer to explain why the state attorney general was usurping and obstructing the authority of the federal attorney general by seeking Kenneth Johnson’s suspension from discharging the duties of Ward 4’s councilmember.

It’s acting U.S. Attorney Bridgette M. Brennan and not State Attorney Yost who sought an indictment from a “federal” grand jury against Johnson on February 18, 2021.  So on the surface the statutory language that disqualified Yost’s office for presenting the case – whether either side raised the issue or not – are found in the statute above no one appears to have read.  This applies, particularly, to Pfeiffer who appears to have violated Civil Rule 11 when she signed it.

“(b) Representations to the Court. By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper—whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it—an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances:  (1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation;  (2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law;  (3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.”

Johnson’s federal indictment appears to focus on the false belief that he, as a single member of Cleveland’s legislative authority, discharged some form of “administrative” control over the expenditure of federal block grant funds coming from the United States Department of Housing & Urban Development.  Pfeifer’s “suspension” request before the Supreme Court of Ohio falsely alleged that the monthly expense accounts of Cleveland council members is paid with federal funds.

Federal attorneys, state attorneys and state Supreme Court justices are promoting the lie that Ward 4 Councilman Kenneth Johnson’s $1200 monthly expense account was paid from the $17 million in HUD block grant funds Cleveland receives annually. Cleveland’s overall budget footprint is $2.5 billion. Federal HUD dollars make up a pittance of the money the city receives from Congress. It is insane to know that in the United States of America elected officials are being indicted based on lies that can easily be discredited.

During Yost’s 8 years as Ohio’s Auditor of State, a job he held prior to his election to the Attorney General’s office in 2018, the annual Cleveland audits he submitted to the General Assembly of Ohio concluded that council’s monthly expense account was paid from the “general fund.”  No state auditor, including Yost, has ever accused Cleveland’s director of finance of “co-mingling” federal block grant funds with council’s monthly expense account.  Had Pfeiffer investigated her boss’ audits of Cleveland’s finances she would not have repeated the lie contained in Johnson’s federal indictment.

The move by Pfeiffer under Yost’s direction seems more than politically-motivated and designed to use the Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com to smear Johnson with Naymik’s help at WKYC prior to his July 19, 2021 trial.  From a Civil Rule 11 perspective Pfeiffer errs because there’s no basis in law for the “state attorney general” who is not prosecuting Johnson to use R.C. 3.16 against him in his “federal” trial.  In addition to staining Johnson’s name Yost has assigned Pfeiffer to needlessly increase his cost of litigation.

A 3-panel body of judges assigned by the Supreme Court of Ohio to hear State Attorney General David Yost’s request to suspend Ward 4 Councilman Kenneth Johnson were dragged into the middle of a legally-unsupported claim. The new panel of judges hearing Johnson’s appeal should use Civil Rule 11 to evaluate the state attorney general’s answers.

This type of misconduct and misuse of public offices is exemplary of what Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called a “high tech lynching” during his U.S. Senate confirmation hearings led by President Joseph Robinette Biden as a Senator from Delaware in 1991.  If the Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com’s mission was “truth” its editors and beat reporters covering Johnson’s trial would have already shared this news with its readers.

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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