Justin Bibb is just the latest bad endorsement for Plain Dealer editorial pages director Elizabeth Sullivan and team; and it’s past time for her to resign

Candidate questionnaires don't relate to the elected offices candidates are seeking and Sullivan has no special knowledge of government; so much of what she claims are reasons to support a the Plain Dealer's endorsed candidate are reasons to reject them

CLEVELAND, OH – The Plain Dealer’s “King and Queen-making” publishers, editors and writers need to get out of the candidate endorsement game.  They’ve been curve graded poor at it.  Name an indicted and convicted elected official and behind them is a curve graded Plain Dealer endorsement.

Not only have their endorsed candidates been criminally inclined they’ve also been incompetent and harmful in a very overall way to the area’s political elevation, growth and focus.  Behind every “Gary Norton” or “Ed Fitzgerald” or “Jane Campbell” or “James Rokakis” type endorsement is a loss.  In Norton’s case East Cleveland lost its hospital and largest employer; and the city returned to fiscal emergency in 33 months.  Terrence Egger, the Plain Dealer’s former publisher, served on the Cleveland Clinic board that closed it.   Editorial collusion is real.

The latest example of the curve graded thinking of its editorial bosses is in the editorial page’s endorsement of Justin Bibb for mayor of Cleveland without checking the public records associated with his current appointment to the board of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Elizabeth Sullivan leads the editorial pages staff.

The Plain Dealer’s circulation in 1983 was 450,000 at 60 cents a copy and the newspaper was printed 7 days a week. Now it’s 4-days a week, fewer than 75,000 copies and $3.25 each. The newspaper’s Cleveland office downtown closed. Most Cleveland retail stores don’t sell it. Clevelanders don’t support it because its owners did not support Clevelanders.  Justin Bibb is the newspaper’s latest bad endorsement.   Some website themes allow publishers to create fake likes and share numbers.  I have a theme that does it but I’ve chosen not to use the feature.

According to the Plain Dealer’s Robert Higgs, the newspaper’s endorsed candidate didn’t deliver financial disclosure reports that included all of his earnings to the Ohio Ethics Commission for three consecutive years.  Bibb under-reported his earnings in what he is reported as calling an “inadvertent mistake.”  I’ve completed the reports as a former mayor.  They’re written in plain English and Bibb has a law degree.  The campaign finance reports and financial disclosure statement for every candidate Sullivan led the Plain Dealer to endorse should have been obtained and “investigated” before the interviews.

This isn’t the first time Sullivan has endorsed before investigating and reading information that was readily available to her.  In 2009 she endorsed William Mason’s county “reform” charter without reading it.  I forget which reporter called me for a copy of it after her endorsement.  She claimed to me the flaws in Mason’s charter could be corrected after instead of corrected before a vote.  Editorially she was promoting what she’d only been told.  Her “corrected later” thoughts were just plain idiotic.  To do so would require someone to collect the same 150,000 signatures that it took to change the charter.  Sullivan’s rationale was bat shit crazy.

I attended one editorial board meeting with Sullivan during my four years as East Cleveland’s mayor.  It was an endorsement interview for my re-election.  The first words out of her sensitive mouth were why I’d written that she hadn’t read the county charter before endorsing it.  She hadn’t.  The newspaper endorsed now federally-convicted felon Gary Norton despite admitting the excellence of my work.  Sullivan didn’t like my “not” kissing her ass.  That’s only for people who like the taste.

Sullivan in 2017 sent me a date and time for an endorsement meeting I didn’t request after I chose not to complete the candidate questionnaire.  I was a candidate for Cleveland mayor that year after collecting over 7000 signatures with my team to get on the ballot.  When she called to ask if I would make the meeting I told her she’d know the moment I walked into the room.  I didn’t.

There are no difficult to understand words in Ohio’s annual financial disclosure statements. All Justin Bibb had to do was list his sources of income. He didn’t. He’s also earned a law school degree though he hasn’t the bar examination.  It will be interesting to read his explanation about how his omission was an “inadvertent mistake.”

As a patriotic and civic-minded American citizen who has met with the newspaper’s past publishers, editors and reporters to discuss my candidacies for elected office, I’ll share that from the beginning since 1983 the candidate questionnaires can’t be taken seriously.  News employees are evaluating candidates discharging statutory duties they don’t know.  It’s the reason reporters don’t review and cite laws, regulations, advisory opinions and court rulings in the stories they’re writing about elected officials and appointed public employees.

There isn’t a single question on the Plain Dealer’s candidate endorsement questionnaire which demonstrates the newspaper editorial board’s “statutory” knowledge of any elected office.  I could never drag its editors into a higher level conversation about any matter of public concern so I stopped wasting my time and started exposing their editorial incompetencies.

The oath of office (Section 3.22 of the Ohio Revised Code) identifies government documents candidates while campaigning and once elected are mandated to obey.  The oath begins with the duty to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.  For Ohio the oath requires an allegiance to the state’s constitution as well.  It spells out duties to obey and the mandate to enforce federal, state and local laws.

Since 1983 no Plain Dealer editorial page editor or reporter has ever asked me if I’ve read and know the oath of office’s governing authorities and asked me a question from them.  No journalist has ever validated that I possessed an oath or that it was administered within 10 days as required by state laws.  Higgs checked Bibb’s financial disclosure statement; but did he check to ensure he was administered an oath of office by his “appointing authority” when he joined the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority board?

Every candidate seeking the job of mayor in Cleveland or elsewhere has mandatory legal duties to discharge that are found throughout the Ohio Revised Code; but particularly in Title 7.  That should be the first source of questions for mayor and council candidates.  I’ve campaigned for East Cleveland’s mayor three times and Cleveland’s once.  I was a candidate for the Cleveland Board of Education in 1983 and for Cleveland city council in 1984.

Not one question came from any section of Title 7 of the Ohio Revised Code to assess my knowledge of municipal laws during Plain Dealer endorsement interviews.  Not a single question came from Chapter 3319 of the Ohio Revised Code to learn what I knew about school and library board laws.  School boards appoint members to local library boards.

City law directors are the “statutory” legal advisors to school districts.  Not private contract attorneys.  The mayor already influences school districts under Ohio laws since in most cities that officials appoints the law director who is also the chief prosecuting attorney.  Cleveland never needed mayoral control if members of the General Assembly had read their own laws before agreeing to then Mayor Michael White’s request.  I wasn’t for that shit.  The criminal shit school board members and officials engage in could end if mayors knew all their duties as chief conservators of a municpal corporation’s peace.

Imagine how much more readers would learn from recorded and published candidate conversations with an editorial pages editor who has more knowledge and competence than those exhibited by the Plain Dealer’s Russian-controlled editorial pages editors have exhibited?  The Plain Dealer has been spreading years of lies because of what its editorial leaders didn’t and still don’t know.

If Russia has always been an inferior nation to the United States of America it’s foolish to think its once undesirable, unassimilable and excluded citizens who arrived her illegally have been this nation’s most capable contributors.  How the hell did the name changing Newhouse’s fuck up a 450,000 circulation newspaper and drop to below 70,000 but for ignorance and incompetence?

In the Cleveland mayor’s race Dennis Kucinich held the “executive” office of mayor for two years.  For those two years his administration was audited by then Auditor of State Thomas Ferguson.  Those audits are still available in the state’s archives for an endorsing publisher, editor or reporter to review if they had an interest in the “audit findings” he and his finance director, Joseph Tegreene, received for those two years.  There were also “management letters” the state auditor issued as many as three or four times a year.

Now these are all public records publishers, editors and reporters interviewing and endorsing mayoral candidates should be reviewing.  Any candidate who doesn’t know these documents exist and has not read them shouldn’t be on the ballot.  Prior to the current editorial and management leadership daily newspaper reporters covered audits.  Instead of covering city council, school board, RTA, CMHA or even turnpike commission meetings like I once did for my publications and others, reporters today cover Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and call it political reporting if the social media page belongs to a politician.  He said she said journalism.

If Advance Ohio’s owners were smart, which they’re not, they would remove the name of their failing corporation from the empty building that once housed over 350 reporters working three shifts, 7 days a week. Seeing a “For Sale” in front of the building the newspaper’s Russian owners built as a new headquarters just 20 years ago reminds Clevelanders that the Plain Dealer is gone as a failed newspaper. It’s just not a good image for a company trying to promote its workers as legitimate news gatherers. The For Sale reminds everyone of how poorly they already have failed.

Zack Reed, Kevin Kelley, Basheer Jones, Sandra Williams, Kucinich and Justin Bibb have all held “legislative” offices.  Like the duties of the mayor are found in the two constitutions, the Ohio Revised Code and the Ohio Administrative Code the same for the duties of legislators.  All have attendance records, votes and legislation they’ve either sponsored or co-sponsored and voted to reject or approve.

As the budget is within the exclusive authority of the legislative authority to control it’s a document every member of council and the candidates should have read.  Reed in 16 years has voted with his colleagues to approve more than $10 billion in general fund budgets.  He knows far more about the city than the questions he’s been asked.  A higher level of questions coming from journalists and debate moderators would demonstrate more of his knowledge and allow for a more thorough comparison between them.  It’s ignorant that Sullivan and the Plain Dealer’s reporters haven’t thought to question the legitimacy of Kelley’s candidacy

More specifically, there are boards and commissions to which council members make appointments, collectively, such as the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (Title 33), Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing  Authority (Title 47), the Cleveland Cuyahoga Port Authority, the Cleveland Division of Water (Title 61), the Cleveland Division of Health (Title 37) and more that are connected to the official duties of Cleveland councilmembers.  There’s also its sophisticated utility system (Title 49) that includes operating water and electric plants under federal and state laws they’re required to know.  There are Federal Aviation Administration laws and regulations (Title 14 United States Code of Federal Reguations) associated with the city’s operation of Hopkins International Airport.

Zack Reed’s full range of knowledge about municipal affairs is not being tested. After 16 years of passing $600 million budgets, meeting with directors and learning the “inside” from a network of city workers in every department he’s forgotten more than the questions he’s going to be asked during a debate. He’s got more knowledge about Cleveland city hall than he’s going to be asked to share during the mayoral debates EJBNEWS has observed.

The list of laws is not endless because government is finite.  It has its limits but the full scope of how our government can function well is never explored at endorsement interviews.  Editors and reporters simply must know the ones which apply to the official’s they’re questioning and not be intellectually lazy.

Nina Turner was endorsed by the Plain Dealer to serve residents of the 11th Congressional District in Congress.  One of her causes is “Medicare for All” as she does her Bernie “Gitman” Sanders imitation.

It would seem logical that if she and Sanders want healthcare for all that Sullivan might have investigated the Revised Codes of each state to learn if the voters had constitutionally or statutorily through referendum or the general assembly already enacted a law to achieve it.  Once Sullivan found Section 749 of the Ohio Revised Code, and learned Section 749.01 lets a “legislative authority” create a free municipal hospital, she could have asked Turner why she didn’t fight for it on council.

$50 a year on a $50,000 for free health care is the most afforable health care plan … ever.  $1 per year for every $1000 in property value.  An employer hiring Cleveland residents saves health care costs.  Employers would damn near “only” hire Cleveland residents under that paradigm. We’d be back to 1 million population in no time.  If Sullivan had read laws a lot of conversations about candidate “plans” and “visions” would be moot because there are laws they haven’t read that already solves the problem.

A similar law exists in Vermont which makes Sanders call for free national health care absurd since he didn’t enact it locally as Burlington’s mayor.  He should have kept his traitorously conflicted azz out of Russia’s business.

This Elizabeth Sullivan-led endorsement of Ed Fitzgerald for Cuyahoga County Executive was ridiculous. His qualifications for the job, according to the Sullivan editorial board, was his ability to build a consensus and share credit as Lakewood’s mayor she’d have forecast his incompetence and criminal misconduct. Lakewood city council’s consensus was that Fitzgerald was spending more than they’d appropriated. Then Lakewood city council president Larry Summers got his colleagues to pass a resolution telling Fitzgerald to obey spending laws.  Fitzgerald didn’t even have a valid drivers license and violated the Hatch Act by campaigning for Ohio governor from the county administration building.  Just because Tim McGinty didn’t prosecute him doesn’t make him not a criminal.  He even violated Section 3517.11(D) of the Ohio Revised Code by entering the county executive’s office before he delivered his campaign finance reports within the 38 day deadline.  

When an excluded Russian alien bought the Plain Dealer in 1967, Solomon Isadore Neuhaus aka Samuel Irving Newhouse, he brought his Third World Communist intellect to a First World nation’s people and altered the quality of information the newspaper was disseminating.  His biases, agendas, cultural and intellectual limits established a lower level of “thought” standards for the next 54 years in greater Cleveland.

The history is important for perspective because newspapers can either elevate or demean a people.  If Cleveland’s “thought leaders” operated at a higher intellectual level they’d lift the consciousness of the area’s populace.  Cleveland is the nation’s largest poor city for intellectual reasons.  Curve graded editorial leadership.

The Russian alien who purchased the Plain Dealer showed up in Cleveland in 1967 and operated like an editorial mob boss.  Greed and power drove him.  Not humanitarian improvement for the people whose minds God entrusted him to uplift.  He wanted to control all for himself and his family and drive out the editorial competition.  Only he and his people should make the kings and queens.

Lou Reyes published Cleveland Life and I worked as his publication’s editor in chief an offer was made to buy the newspaper through the Plain Dealer’s owners after I used it to push attorney Raymond Pierce’s mayoral campaign into second place behind Jane Campbell.  50,000 copies a week distributed to 2000 locations moved a lot of minds in his direction.

I should have sued AdvanceOhio and Elizabeth Sullivan for this slander. I’d never met this woman and she’d never before met me. Yet she’s writing about me from the perspective of having years of inside knowledge. Failing to unite people. Stupidest statement ever. Had she contacted Huron Hospital CEO Dr. Gus Kious, RTA CEO Joseph Calabrese, Cuyahoga County Administrator Lee Trotter, McGregor Nursing Home CEO Rob Hilton and General Electric Vice President Mike Roberts this idiot would have learned about my “joint” cabinet meetings with their cabinets. The same for George Phillips at CMHA and our joint cabinet meetings as well as those with Myrna Loy Corley and the East Cleveland schools. No mayor had ever held joint cabinet meetings like those I initiated. Stupid woman. She falsely and maliciously claimed I was dragging out Gary Norton’s dirty laundry while he was passing around stolen pictures from my personal computer. Read her last sentence and compare it to the facts we know as “truths” about Norton and East Cleveland’s fate under the now federally-convicted felon. Sullivan should be fired. She’s better at writing fiction than anything that resembles the truth.

The intellectual curve Sullivan is using to guide the Plain Dealer’s editorial pages is low when she fails to thoroughly investigate the public records associated with a candidate she leads the newspaper to endorse for mayor of Cleveland.  A candidate questionnaire that reads like a poorly-crafted job application can’t draw out the vital information voters must know about the full backgrounds of candidates seeking elected office.

This town’s troubles mandates that Clevelanders get an “editorial upgrade” from Sullivan’s -1.0 level thinking.  She operates like she was graded on a curve where a 65 instead of 95 to 100 was an “A.”  The lower the score needed to achieve an “A” at any level of performance demeans the “achievers” below.  No one is lifted up.  Everyone is pushed “down.”

Imagine educators lowering an “A” to a score of 69 or below just to pass a class.  Now what if “A” students graded this way enroll in universities and earn curve graded degrees to one day become school teachers, college professors, preachers, lawyers, doctors, scientists, judges, presidents, mayors, members of congress and council?  You’ll have people leading, teaching and disseminating information who don’t even know how to write in cursive or calculate a math problem without a calculator.  Sullivan’s a “Baby Boomer” so I know she can write in cursive.  What her work product reflects is intellectual and editorial laziness.

This is some crackhead shit. Just three years ago in April 2018, Elizabeth Sullivan led the Plain Dealer’s editorial board to endorse Dennis Kucinich for governor. Now he ain’t shit. LOL.

Think about a newspaper editorial pages editor endorsing candidates for constitutional and statutory offices who never asks them a constitutional or statutory question.  That’s the “curve” I’ve been referencing.  A “thinking” editorial pages would have led a team of writers to pull public records on every candidate.

If Bibb were smart he would have opted not to campaign for mayor and quietly fixed his financial disclosure filings had he known the newspaper’s editorial board wanted to review them before an endorsement.  Now Sullivan’s, again, bolstered my argument that the Plain Dealer’s endorsement process is defective.  If candidates know the endorsement standards are high and fair they’ll work to meet them.

Bibb’s advisors should have investigated him to see if he had any loose compliance ends to repair before he jumped into a big city campaign for mayor.  He had a clean name before politics.

I fault former Mayor Michael White for not better preparing and protecting his candidate from this drama.  A friend advised Bibb to reach out to me.  He didn’t and it’s no big deal.  It’s not a requirement from my perspective.

Bibb could have been a rising politician. Veteran journalist Leon Bibb’s nephew.  Decent credentials but no real in the trenches political wars.  I once asked Leon why he didn’t seek elected office.  Perhaps county commissioner.  He’d covered all parts of politics as a fellow Call & Post alumnus.  His general attitude was like “you guys play rough.”

Justin Bibb’s entire global online image has changed overnight based on his own shortcomings in not knowing the laws associated with the public jobs he was holding as a law educated American.  The curve is a bitch.

Bibb should have waited until he passed the bar exam and at least got a little legal and court room training under his belt.  A legal education can establish the basis for learning the “precision” associated with the general laws and regulations that dictate public duties to elected and appointed public officials.  He could have easily taken the downtown city council seat and created a political image and base for himself.

You don’t want your future destroyed by playing the game of politics because you didn’t read the mutha fuckin’ rules.  Any candidate who’s prepared themselves only to the level of being able to receive a Plain Dealer editorial pages endorsement from an Elizabeth Sullivan, and who receives it, labels themselves as under-prepared to the “knowing” when they use it.

They also leave themselves open to being turned on by the newspaper’s “reporters” on the “news” side; or when the publisher or “owners” and their “reps” have cut a separate deal.  The Plain Dealer’s publishers, editors and reporters have never been a politician’s friend.  Those who’ve let the Plain Dealer build them up don’t realize it’s only for the takedown.

At the end of the day it’s about selling newspapers and an endorsed politician today is a front page scandal tomorrow.

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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