CLEVELAND, OH – Around December 23rd Mayor-elect Justin Bibb’s campaign/transition website identified several city hall jobs he was seeking to fill. Three of the jobs were newly-created in his mind and not in a salary ordinance of council as required by unsuspended Ohio general laws Bibb continues to violate. Despite pretending to make the process open to the public two of the three created jobs went to members of his campaign team. Bradford Davy and Bay Village resident Elise Hara Auvil will be engaging in theft if they “enter” the non-existent public jobs.
The unclassified job titles of chief administrative officer, chief strategy officer and chief of integrated development do not exist in “salary” Ord. No. 194-2021. There is a difference in the statutory characteristics of classified and unclassified public employees.
The most recent salary ordinance was introduced by Council President Kevin Kelley; and unlawfully approved by council as a tautological emergency in one reading and without public commen on March 29, 2021. It is 25-pages in length. Below is just a sample of the high wages Cleveland residents, business and property owners are being taxed, fined, fee’d to death; and finding their homes and properties foreclosed on to pay a city hall workforce that’s 85 percent “suburbanite.”
Section 2. Secretary to the Mayor, Directors of Departments, Planning Director, Executive Director Community Relations Board, Executive Assistants to the Mayor. (a) That the salary of the Secretary to the Mayor shall be fixed by the Mayor at not less than $50,795.78 and not more than $192,654.41 per annum. (b) That the salary of the Directors of Law, Finance, Economic Development, Public Safety, Public Works, Public Health, Human Resources, Community Development, Building and Housing, Aging, the Planning Director,the Executive Director of the Community Relations Board, and Executive Assistants to the Mayor shall be fixed by the Mayor at not less than $50,795.81 and not more than $191,316.74 per annum. (c) That the salary of the Directors of Port Control and Public Utilities shall be fixed by the Mayor at not less than $100,000.00 and not more than $303,622.18 per annum.”
Chief administrative officer, chief strategy officer and chief of integrated development are bureaucracy-expanding “make work” titles Bibb appears to have created out of thin air to give high paying jobs to two of his supporters. In his official capacity as mayor, if he’s sworn in on January 3, 2022, Bibb will not be authorized to create jobs as a reward to his friends, campaign supporters and fraternity brothers; or to establish wages. Section 731.08 of the Ohio Revised Code gives job and wage creation control to the “legislative authority.”
The heading is “Power of legislative authority as to salaries and bonds.” The “legislative authority” of a “city” is the “council” and it’s past pathetic that the Plain Dealer, Cleveland.com and the television news stations are reporting Bibb’s violations of law without identifying them; and as if they’re normal. Reporting from journalists who don’t refer to laws in their writings, and who fail to expose political deviancy, are a threat to our nation’s democracy.
“Title VII of the Revised Code, the legislative authority of a city, by ordinance or resolution, shall determine the number of officers, clerks, and employees in each department of the city government, and shall fix, by ordinance or resolution, their respective salaries and compensation, and the amount of bond to be given for each officer, clerk, or employee in each department of the government, if any is required. Such bond shall be made by such officer, clerk, or employee, with surety subject to the approval of the mayor.”
Without the approval of council the three jobs identified on Bibb’s website, and that he’s claimed to have appointed two individuals to fill, don’t exist in the 2022 appropriations ordinance. The director of finance as the “fiscal officer” – even after Bibb appoints that official – is not authorized to pay them or to find a way to pay them should he go forward with the hires after January 3rd. Doing so could trigger any “single” member of council to use Section 733.78 of the Ohio Revised Code to submit an affidavit outlining Bibb’s fiscal officer’s misappropriation to the Auditor of State. The director of finance may be appointed by the mayor; but the duties of the public office are mandatory and not directed by the mayor.
Section 733.78’s heading is “Violations by fiscal officers” and below is just the relevant paragraph from a lengthier and unsuspended state general law. The late East Cleveland Councilwoman H. Elizabeth Omar used it in 1988 to report the late Mayor Darryl Pittman’s water department deficits. State Auditor Thomas E. Ferguson Jr. investigated and placed the city in fiscal emergency.
“If a fiscal officer purposely, knowingly, or recklessly fails to perform a fiscal duty expressly imposed by law with respect to the fiscal duties of the office of fiscal officer or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly commits any act expressly prohibited by law with respect to the fiscal duties of the office of fiscal officer, a member of the legislative authority of the municipal corporation may submit a sworn affidavit alleging the violation, together with evidence supporting the allegations, to the auditor of state. The sworn affidavit and evidence shall be submitted in the format prescribed by rule of the auditor of state under section 117.45 of the Revised Code. A person who makes a false statement in a sworn affidavit, for purposes of this section, is guilty of falsification under section 2921.13 of the Revised Code.”
If or when Bibb enters the office of mayor on January 3, 2022, council will have already approved a budget for the year that includes wages for individuals currently holding city hall jobs and those who have already left. Though there’s a “range” of salaries in the salary ordinance council approved, Bibb can’t exceed the dollar amount appropriated for the job in the 2022 “appropriations” ordinance. He can and should pay less.
The mayor-elect doesn’t yet know his own administrative competence, let alone that of the members of his team, who are not catching his violations of campaign finance laws that consistently diminish Bibb’s compliance with the election laws he must obey to enter the “office” of mayor. From the surface it look as if Bibb’s team is advising him down the “Kwame Kilpatrick” path. He should have been attending every public meeting of the city he’s never attended, reading audits and managements letters; and sticking to Jackson and his administrative team like glue since the election. Instead he’s been “on tour” across the city, state and nation as if he won a beauty pageant.
Bibb has nominated Mark Griffin to hold the office of director of law. Griffin investigated how jail whistleblower Maggie Keenan’s firing, after she blew the whistle on a nurse shortage that was leading to increased jail deaths, was not a violation of the whistleblower law. He didn’t investigate or expose the jail deaths. He also didn’t stop Bibb from looking like a potential office holding criminal with his salary ordinance-violating job title creation.
Here’s the reality facing Bibb’s planned hires. Council does not have to approve the three job titles Bibb should have asked them, first, for permission to include in the salary ordinance before creating them out of thin air and announcing them in a news conference. The Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com don’t run Cleveland.
So if he’s held the jobs out as offers the mayor-elect made promises laws won’t allow him to keep. He’s also created a “going in the door” political problem by insulting members of the legislative authority; particularly those who endorsed his opponent. The move – with his growing list of known compliance issues – gives Bibb the appearance of being a secretive “sneak” to Cleveland voters and the members of council watching him. It gives council the “duty” not to trust him or his administration. They literally must validate everything he and his team does.
Bibb has not earned nor is he owed any political favors from council. To the current council former Mayor Michael White’s presence in the background doesn’t help him since he left the job in 2001 under an FBI cloud. The majority never worked with or know him. So throughout 2022 Bibb will be living with the budget Jackson requested; and the wages and jobs council has already approved and appropriated funds to pay. Where ever the trio is placed in the budget will create a paper trail of criminal evidence against him, them and the director of finance.
To exceed the wage amount appropriated by council would be an act of “dereliction of duty” for both Bibb and the director of finance pursuant to 615.12(D) and (E) of Cleveland’s codified ordinances. Neither Cleveland voters nor a council whose members don’t know him will have much patience for a new mayor who oversold his competence; and who was “marketed” to the city by the consultants disguising themselves as “journalists” at the Russian and privately-owned AdvanceOhio, Cleveland.com and the Plain Dealer.
The 2021 criminally obstructive “emergency” salary ordinance Kelley led council to enact, unlawfully, in one meeting replaced the 2015 salary ordinance. Despite its legal flaws the salary ordinance – until it is challenged and repealed – is a “governing document” Bibb and his team had a duty to know before creating and then marketing job descriptions for three non-existent public positions.