CLEVELAND, OH – Kevin Kelley’s on his way out the door with Basheer Jones, Anthony Brancatelli and Marion Anita Gardner. Before he leaves council Kelley’s trying to pass last minute contracts that won’t go into full operation for the term he’s elected with 28 days left in office as of this date. Among the contracts Kelley wants council to pass is one to Neighborhood Progress Inc. and Burten Bell Carr to purchase a parcel of Shaker Square properties for $12 million.
The full cost of the 3-phase project is $37 million. The two non-profit agencies whose records are not public, and whose boards meet in secret, want access to a piece of Cleveland’s $511 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars. Just the non-public nature of their meetings and records makes both non-profits ineligible to receive a dime in federal funds under Ohio laws; but Kelley doesn’t want the discussion. He wants yet another emergency ordinance to give away the city’s money without public accountability.
Section 731.48 of the Ohio Revised Code is so simple even Kelley, a licensed attorney, can understand its plain English words. The heading is “contract restrictions.” It’s a general law of the State of Ohio that’s been in effect since October 1, 1953.
“The legislative authority of a municipal corporation shall not enter into any contract which is not to go into full operation during the term for which all the members of such legislative authority are elected.”
Now, of course, the $12 million grant contract to Neighborhood Progress Inc. and Burten Bell Carr won’t go into full operation 28 days before Kelley leaves office. It takes 30 days for a non-emergency ordinance to go into effect. Since council will include four new members after January 1, 2022, grant contracts can’t be passed 28 days prior to their arrival on the legislative authority.
There’s also a charter prohibition on passing grants and special privileges as an “emergency” ordinance like Kelley wants. It’s found in Section 36 under the heading “Emergency measures.”
“All ordinances and resolutions shall be in effect from and after thirty (30) days from the date of their passage by the Council except as otherwise provided in this Charter. The Council may by a two-thirds vote of the members elected to the Council, pass emergency measures to take effect at the time indicated in the emergency measure. An emergency measure is an ordinance or resolution for the immediate preservation of the public peace, property, health, or safety, or providing for the usual daily operation of a Municipal department, in which the emergency is set forth and defined in a preamble. Ordinances appropriating money may be passed as emergency measures, but no measure making a grant, renewal or extension of a franchise or other special privilege, or regulating the rate to be charged for its services by any public utility, shall ever be so passed. (Effective November 4, 2008)”
Kelley’s gone in 28 days and Mayor Frank Jackson’s following. Come January 3, 2022 Cleveland will have a new mayor and council who should by law be making grant contract decisions that will be in full operation during their four years in office together. On his way out the door Kelley’s showing his continued propensity for criminal misconduct in elected office that Cleveland voters should take note of in case he has any ideas of seeking another elected office.
Ward 4 Councilwoman Gardner wants the $12 million Shaker Square legislation tabled. With 28 days left in office Gardner told EJBNEWS she’s not casting last minute grant contract votes.
Neither 731.48 of Ohio’s Revised Code nor Section 36 of Cleveland’s charter have been repealed by either the general assembly or the people. So both laws stand as written as instructions to Kelley and every member of council to obey. Pursuant to Section 733.34 of the Ohio Revised Code it’s Jackson’s duty as mayor to “supervise the conduct” of the “officers” of the “municipal corporation.”
Even if Council passes ordinances awarding last minute grant contracts, Jackson has to ensure that both R.C. 731.48 and Section 36 of the Charter are enforced if he’s to avoid charges of dereliction of duty for not discharging the oath sworn duties of a mayor as the chief law enforcement officer.
“The mayor shall supervise the conduct of all the officers of the municipal corporation, inquire into and examine the grounds of all reasonable complaints against any of such officers, and cause their violations or neglect of duty to be promptly punished or reported to the proper authority for correction.”
Government is “by the numbers.” We have well-articulated general laws in Ohio that are written in plain and unambiguous English that need no interpretation. They simply are required to be obeyed as written.
One of the first discussions Council and council-president nominee Blaine Griffin should have with council as its new president next year is on “reading” and “obeying” constitutions and laws. Council, especially its newest members, must read the body’s “rules” and so should the public or activists who intend to keep them accountable.
I can tell from their performance that Jenny Spencer and Charles Slife have not read council’s rules or made themselves proficient in knowing the city’s charter, ordinances and the state’s general laws for municipal corporations found in Title 7. They should not perpetuate Kelley’s criminal ignorance. This curve graded, non-reading bullshit among government officials is ignorant and offensive. People who don’t read should not seek elected offices that require intensive levels of reading.
If you do not read you cannot lead.