The 11th Congressional District needs Shirley Smith’s “second chance” stick-to-it work ethic in Congress to work on criminal justice reform and more

The late US Rep. Louis Stokes branded the 11th Congressional District, nationally, as a politically active and civil rights loving community; and it has to be restored as such by the next member of Congress

CLEVELAND, OH – There are 65 chapters in Title 2 of the United States Code that exists under the heading “Congress.”  There are four chapters in Title 3 of the same United States Code existing under the heading of the “President” of whom the members of Congress must interact.  Chapter 3 was repealed.  There were previously five instead of four chapters under Title 3.

There are 54 “Titles” in the United States Code each member of the 435 member Congress has the authority to study and recommend ways to improve the federal statutes found within them in order to benefit the interests of the United States of America and Americans.  It’s this nation’s laws that allows government officials to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America under “amendable” procedures identified in the United States Code of Federal Regulations.

No matter what candidates for Congress say during a debate, this document summarizes how they’ll conduct themselves during their first appearance for a vote.

Members of Congress get “forensic” looks at legislation through the Congressional Research Services.  Every federal agency is overseen by an “Inspector General” who issues reports to Congress.  For “outcome” analysis Congress gets reports from the Government Accounting Office.

That’s the framework of the legislative job a person elected to Congress operates in and nothing more.  None of the forums I’ve reviewed include questions from the United States Constitution, the United States Code or any of the findings from the federal reporting agencies I’ve identified.  Every forum addresses the very narrow agendas of organizers with limited knowledge.

Shirley Smith was my elected state senator during my four years as East Cleveland’s mayor from January 1, 2006 through December 3, 2009.  She lived at 13901 Woodworth Avenue in Cleveland on a street that bordered East Cleveland just a few doors from Hayden Avenue.

It’s a street Americans selling drugs used because of the border.  We had to do joint drug task forces to clean it up; but only temporarily.  Either Cleveland cops pushed the dealers on their side over to East Cleveland or either East Cleveland cops pushed them back.  Neither strategy benefitted Shirley and her neighbors on either side of Woodworth.  She didn’t rent.  She owned and I’d see her sitting on her front porch.

Shirley Smith lived on Woodworth Avenue across the street from abandoned apartment buildings and homes in East Cleveland.

Shirley’s lived through the gun shots, high speed police chases and across the street from vacant houses and apartment buildings on a street Mayor Frank Jackson and I agreed to share the cost of paving.  Woodworth for those who don’t know changes to Noble Road, Warrensville Center Road and then intersects with Northfield Road.  It begins Route 8 to Akron.

People familiar with the streets, and the 98 percent American Negro characteristics of the surrounding neighborhood, will know Shirley lived in “the hood” she represented; and that she ain’t afraid of and loves her people.  Like me she’s also not shy in a Malcolm X kind of way about speaking up for the Americans she was elected to serve.

As a resident of the 11th Congressional District I am voting between now and August 3, 2021 for Shirley Smith to replace United States Department of Housing & Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge in the Democratic Party’s primary election.  When I share that information with people who know Shirley and the other 12 candidates all have said she makes sense.

Even other candidates have praised Shirley’s responses at the congressional debates as “experienced.”  The only negative they’ve offered is her campaign doesn’t have any money.  I’ve responded that money doesn’t matter if her candidacy makes sense and we give her our vote.  At some point “sense” has to win over political popularity and media manipulation.

Russian, Polish and Ukrainian Jews make up 1.7 percent of the US population; and there’s a 1950 treaty signed by President Harry Truman that instructed the Congress not to arm either Israel, Egypt or Palestine; and to aid the nations attacked by an aggressor. $40 billion to arm Israel is $40 billion that can be spent arming American students with careers in medicine so we don’t have to rely on foreign doctors and health care professionals.

11th Congressional Districts can count on Shirley to exhibit the same “stay until the job is done” consciousness as the late United States Rep. Louis Stokes, Stephanie Tubbs-Jones and now Fudge.  That’s what Shirley did with her years in the General Assembly as a state representative and state senator between 2006 and 2014.

It takes time to get laws passed in a legislative body that consists of 99 members of the Ohio House of Representatives and 33 members in the Ohio Senate.  Members of both houses are capped by term limits that require more than one term to get a bill enacted into law.  I don’t agree with term limits.  Ohio House members serve for only two years.  Shirley had to win twice in the Ohio House and once in the Ohio Senate to accomplish an important legislative goal for Ohioans.

By the time she completed 8 years in the state’s General Assembly, Shirley had worked with Republicans who put Americans first over politics and written Second Chance legislation for ex-offenders into law.  Shirley and Republican State Senator William Seitz are the reasons Ohioans with non-violent criminal records can get more than one misdemeanor and felony sealed.

The effect of Senate Bill 337 Shirley and Seitz co-sponsored in 2012 is huge for Americans in the job market; particularly for racially-profiled American Negroes. The two had to make the language of the state law so tight it could withstand a veto from Republican Governor John Kasich.  It did.

Bi-partisan cooperation between Democrats like Shirley and Republicans like Seitz built a liberating opportunity into state law for Ohioans.  Together they worked on building the kind of state law that would not have been enacted but for cooperation and Shirley making the decision to remain in the General Assembly to use the two elected offices she’d asked voters for to get the job done.

Even after leaving the General Assembly Shirley asked and received a 3-year appointment from Governor Kasich to the Ohio Parole Board.  We talked, then, like we did when she was in the General Assembly.  Shirley’s concern, and the reason Kasich gave her the assignment, was “for the way they’re treating our brothers.”  With criminal justice reform on everyone’s mind in Washington, D.C., I know Shirley already has a built-in body of knowledge about how the criminal justice system functions legislatively.

Shirley didn’t jump around from job to job and get nothing done.  She completed her terms.  Once she mastered the job she’d served in it’s only then that Shirley asked voters to elevate her so she could work more locally as a county executive or South Euclid’s mayor to implement state laws she knew existed that weren’t being enforced.

I have no doubt Americans with relatives incarcerated in Cuyahoga County’s jail wouldn’t have had to worry about them being treated harshly and dying had voters elected Shirley as Cuyahoga County’s executive.  Voters don’t always have the insight about candidates to make the type of voting decisions that benefits them.

I’m among the Clevelanders who remember when civil rights attorney Louis Stokes replaced Charles Vanik as the federal representative in the 21st Congressional District in January 1969.  I knew Stokes and his brother, Carl.  My father, Harold Brewer, was a candidate for council in the ward George Forbes served.  I’d met Vanik through my father’s political activities.

Until he retired in December 1999 – 30 years later – Stokes served as the “model” for what to expect from a member of Congress as he “branded” civil rights and political activism into his career and in our congressional district.  The civil rights and political activist brand was implemented within the framework of the 21st Congressional District Caucus.  Weekly the 21st Congressional District Caucus met with residents at McGowan’s Party Center as one location.  It was Lou’s pipeline to all the shit taking place in his district from police beatings to CMHA’s housing standards and educators having sex with children in the schools.

Retired United States Rep. Louis Stokes branded the 21st and 11th Congressional districts as activist and civil rights loving. He’s the only person I awarded the Key to the City of East Cleveland during my four years in office.

What Stokes offered the 21st and ultimately the 11th Congressional district for 30 years was a stable presence in Congress.  His natural intelligence and personal drive also grew his influence as he earned the respect of his congressional colleagues to chair the House appropriations and intelligence committees.

It is while serving on Congress’ appropriations committee that Stokes was able to deliver dollars for Cleveland and the rest of Ohio.  It is on the House Intelligence Committee that he investigated the assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  and President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Through all he learned, Stokes returned to the 21st and 11th Congressional District Caucus to teach.  What he learned he shared.  The same with his brother … Carl.

Louis Stokes is the only person I gave a Key to the City in 4 years as East Cleveland’s mayor for the money he brought to the city’s infrastructure; and for the way his presence in office uplifted and dignified the American Negro.  He was a credit to American Negroes, nationwide, and we were improved by his presence in office.

As an attorney Lou used his law license to fight Terry v. Ohio to the Supreme Court of the United States of America in 1966.  It’s the ruling which establishes that police must be reasonably able to articulate a specific federal, state or local criminal law or ordinance a person has violated as the basis of a stop.

Those of us at Huron Hospital with Stephanie Tubbs-Jones and her family were more concerned with her recovery than “who’s next?

Stephanie Tubbs-Jones appeared to be on her way to establishing the type of stability Stokes had offered the 11th Congressional District before she died on August 20, 2008.  She’d replaced Stokes in 1999.

United States Department of Housing & Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge had given residents of the 11th Congressional District 12 years of service when she accepted President Joseph Robinette Biden’s offer to leave Congress in 2021 for his administration.  With Cleveland carrying the title of the nation’s poorest big city, Fudge is in a better place at HUD than in Congress to help.

Prior to serving in the United States Congress, Fudge served for 8 years as Warrensville Heights’ mayor. I patterned East Cleveland’s “minor misdemeanor” for marijuana arrests ordinance after the once Marcia asked her council to enact.  No criminal record was written into the ordinance’s language. Stability in elected office is a key ingredient into getting instrusive government out of the American people’s lives.

When United States Representative Stephanie Tubbs-Jones was taken to Huron Hospital that once existed on Terrace Road, I was serving as East Cleveland’s mayor that night on August 19, 2008.  Shirley, Marcia and I were at the hospital with Stephanie’s family.  I believe East Cleveland councilwoman Mildred Brewer was also present.

Some may remember me going the fuck off on Cleveland.com’s readers the next day during an August 20, 2008 news conference.  Merlyn, Stephanie’s son, didn’t want to speak to the media and neither did her sister, Barbara.  The unkind words cleveland.com’s insensitive readers directed at her were racistly savage.  Her family was in my city as East Cleveland’s mayor so I spoke up.

Bolshevik US Senator Bernard “Gitman” Sanders’ political platform wasn’t heard in the 11th Congressional District.

When asked who was next my words were that Stephanie had not been pronounced dead and she’d be our Congresswoman until the Lord called her home.  She was removed from life support later that day and that’s when the scramble for “who’s next?” officially began.

Nina Turner had just been elected to a seat on Cleveland city council in November 2005 and had taken office on January 1, 2006.  Nina had been on the job she’d asked Ward 1 voters for less than two years when Stephanie died on August 20, 2008.  We had worked together in Mayor Michael Reed White’s administration in 1999 and 2000.  That’s where we met.

The same month Stephanie died in August 2008, attorney Lance Mason was announced as Governor Ted Strickland’s appointee to a Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas judgeship.  He’d been holding office as a state senator and Nina decided to seek and had been given the appointment to replace him by the Central Committee of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.  In the background Nina had already changed her mind about serving in the General Assembly and wanted to add her name to the candidates seeking to replace Stephanie.

I’d backed Nina, reluctantly, for the State Senate job. My reluctance was my belief that she should finish at least one four year term on council.  I thought it was a strain on our political relationship for Nina to ask me to support her for Congress after I’d just supported her that same month [August] to replace Mason in the Ohio Senate.  She was waiting to be sworn into the General Assembly the next month in September 2008.

The jumping from one job to the next didn’t make sense; and I didn’t believe Nina’s political job hopping would allow her to acquire the type of knowledge about the governmental agencies she was working in that would let her write legislation to improve them.  Even before “Lou” Stokes was asked to lead a committee of Democrats to determine who should replace Stephanie, I thought Marcia was best suited for the job as the late Congresswoman’s former chief of staff and as a fellow two-term mayor.

There’s nothing happening in Washington, D.C. that doesn’t affect one of the nation’s 19,429 cities, villages and townships.  Marcia had impressed me early on when she held a meeting with the mayors in the 11th Congressional District to tell us in advance about the requirements for getting access to the Neighborhood Stimulus Program (NSP) money. I personally, wrote East Cleveland’s NSP 1 grant and was immersed in the discussions with her office about the city’s needs.

Even before she completed her “elected” term in the Ohio Senate, Nina was thinking about challenging Marcia while Shirley was building knowledge about the state’s criminal justice system that would put her in the right place for her Second Chance legislation.

When Nina asked my thoughts about her potential congressional candidacy after Marcia’s first two-year term was ending in 2012, I was operating my restaurant in Warren and was happy with the progress I’d been watching Marcia make.  I told Nina the Ohio Senate would be the second 4-year contract she’d made and abandoned with residents she’d asked for a job.  She needed to complete her term.

Nina completed her term in the Senate and then campaigned for Ohio Secretary of State in 2014.  She attended two meetings of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority board after Mayor Frank Jackson appointed her to a 5-year term.  Two months was all she could handle.  This explains the local resistance to her campaign for Congress while she’s already told people she wants to seek the presidency.

I’ve worked with and advised Shirley Smith on issues.  I’ve worked with and advised Nina Turner on three of her campaigns for elected office.  I’ve met Shontel Brown but I don’t know her.  I think John Barnes has the same type of stomach for continuity in office as Shirley, Marcia, Stephanie and “Lou.”  Unlike the others I’ve never had an opportunity to work with him to get to know him like I know them.  If I were a Republican, again, I’d be comfortable with Laverne Jones-Gore who’s been a friend for over 20 years.

I’ve campaigned twice in elections with Jeffrey Johnson for council in 1984 and for mayor in 2017.  Jeff would have saved his reputation a lot of damage had he simply resigned his seat on Cleveland city council when he married and relocated to Twinsburg.  By involving himself in a deception he’s earned, twice, the reputation of a liar and a thief.  He might have been better received as an 11th Congressional District candidate living in Twinsburg; and his marriage lasted.

I’ve been impressed with Nina’s ability to build herself a presence on the national platform.  She’s raised the money I expected her to raise.  She’s received the national endorsements I’ve expected.  Mechanically, she’s dominated the field of candidates where she’s been expected to dominate it with the money she’s raised and her celebrity status.

But she’s running a “celebrity campaign” with the messaging of a presidential candidate who lost the district to Joseph Biden by 80 percent.  I live in Ward 2 in Cleveland just a few blocks from Nina and Jeff.  No one here cares about Bernie Sanders or The Squad.  Out of town endorsers and campaign workers can’t vote in our elections.  Some of us are tired of her text messages from volunteers.

Reading members of the United States Congress are reviewing the 4-page summary prepared by the Congressional Research Services office about the July 7, 2021 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise and the wounding of his wife. He’d been accused of corruption and there’d been demands for his resignation. Foreign affairs beyond Israel is important to the 11th Congressional District.

The $15 an hour minimum wage isn’t hitting home with the city’s small businesses.  Neither is “Medicare for all” in a city that once had a free municipal hospital that cost $1 a year for every $1000 in property value.  $50 a year on a $50,000 home.

If Nina wanted free health care for Clevelanders she could have used Section 749.01 of the Ohio Revised Code to build it like we had before 1958.  She served in the Ohio Senate.  The general law of the state’s been on the books since October 1, 1953; and it’s one she should have read in Title 7 of the Ohio Revised Code under the heading “Municipal corporations” as a member of council.

As of the date of my endorsement for Shirley Smith’s campaign for Congress, voters in the 11th Congressional District can early vote all the way until August 2, 2021.  The final day of voting will be in your neighborhoods at polling locations on August 3, 2020.  Turnout is expected to be low for the “special election” but that doesn’t have to be the case.  Americans don’t do what’s expected of them and word of mouth is more powerful than any media.

Shirley hasn’t raised anywhere near the money the other candidates have raised and it doesn’t matter.  She has a level of local name recognition and a positive reputation even if her main accomplishments are not known.  It was Shirley who carved $150,000 out of the General Assembly of Ohio’s budget to fix the roof on the African American History Museum.  That’s the type of “pork” Americans with knowledge of how to use the federal government want.  Not being encumbered by outside money she’s got no agenda-driven asses to kiss.

FAIR USE: Tamir Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, has from the beginning demanded a federal criminal investigation of her son’s murder at the hands of ex-Cleveland cop Timothy Loehman. I introduced her to attorney Benjamin Crump to push her son’s name into the national spotlight. His great-grandmother, Mildred Brewer, served as my council vice president and she was with Shirley Smith, Marcia Fudge and I at Huron Hospital the night Stephanie Tubbs-Jones was hosptalized. I’m off to the right of Tamir’s father.  The next 11th Congressional District representative has to make police violations of constitutional rights a priority.

Veterans want help with Veteran Administration benefits.  Families want West Point referals for military-minded students.  Contractors want knowledge and access to federal contracts; and assistant when their inability to understand complex federal laws gets them into regulatory trouble.  The non-profits, particularly drug agencies on the front line, want technical support from Washington agencies that keeps their budgets balanced and their services flowing to Americans in need.

Families like those feeling Samaria Rice’s pain for the loss of her son, Tamir, at the hands of Cleveland police want a representative in the 11th Congressional District who’ll go with them to the United States Department of Justice to demand federal “criminal” investigations.  Residents in poor neighborhoods want their rightful allocation of federal dollars based on their census tract contributions; and they want the boards receiving those federal dollars to be controlled by real residents of the neighborhood.

The demands on the next person elected to replace Marcia Fudge in the 11th Congressional District requires someone with an existing advanced body of institutional knowledge about the legislative process; and a track record of cooperation that results in benefits for local interests.  More specifically, since civil rights and political activism was branded into the soul of the 11th Congressional District by the Stokes brothers for 30 years, we need a representative with an ability to restore the brand.

The ball was dropped on the foreclosure and third party tax lien attacks on American Negro homeownership during the foreclosure crisis.  It’s been dropped on all the recklessly, deadly warrantless pursuits uncertified police are engaging in nationwide.  It was dropped twice when Cleveland council president Kevin Kelley was allowed to criminally obstruct two voter initiated referendums.

The 21st Congressional District was once nationally-acknowledged as an important stopover for candidates who wanted to win.  We were known for our high American Negro voter turnout.  We were known for our advanced level activism and ground breaking political achievements as American Negro candidates for elected and appointed public offices here knocked on and opened political doors.

Before voters of the 11th Congressional District go too far off into the unproven new and progressive they should think about what they’ve already lost before they lose even more.

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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