Yost is 3 years behind on auditing the state’s worst managed city

EAST CLEVELAND, OH – The General Assembly of Ohio gave the Auditor of State the duty of auditing every government agency “inside” the state annually or a minimum of every two years.    East Cleveland’s 2014 audit was released on  May 15, 2018 three years after David Yost in his official capacity was supposed to deliver it.

The city is in fiscal emergency for the second time since 1988.  Betty Montgomery was the Republican state auditor who released the city from fiscal emergency in February 2006.  But she did it without providing the incoming mayor and council with a current audit.  The city’s last financial audit was done by Republican State Auditor Jim Petro in 2001.  He did a two-part performance audit for 2002 – 2003.  But this writer served as the city’s mayor between 2006 and 2009; and my audits were released by Yost in June 2012 nearly three years after I left office.

Auditor of State David Yost is campaigning for Ohio attorney general but he’s leaving the person who replaces him backlogged audits for East Cleveland and other Ohio cities.

While the Auditor of State is Ohio’s top accountability watchdog, the attorney general who’s supposed to make sure Yost performs the duties of the office, Richard Michael DeWine, never filed “dereliction of duty” charges against him for failing to perform duties that were mandated by law.  Yost is trying to replace DeWine as attorney general and DeWine wants to lead Ohio as governor.

The now outdated and 4-year-old information in the 2014 audit Yost conducted doesn’t offer East Cleveland residents, or federal, state and county officials who need the information to evaluate their own relationships with the city, a current perspective of its  finances.  Nor does it offer a full-scope perspective of how the city’s mayor, council and municipal court judge are allocating funds for services.

The 2014 audit of the city’s finances describes conditions where former Mayor Gary Norton, and now Brandon King, authorized employees to be paid who aren’t punching time clocks to determine their start and end times.  The audit notes that employees are being paid  bi-weekly within their salary ranges but there’s no way to determine what time they arrived or left for work; or whether they were absent.   The effect of not keeping accurate records, the audit revealed, is employees being paid for hours they didn’t work.

The Auditor of State’s 2014 audit reveals how Judge Will Dawson and the court employees he manages do not reconcile bank records.

Yost reported in 2014 that Municipal Court Judge Will Dawson wasn’t reconciling bank records.  The same problem existed under former Judge Una Keenon.  Auditors learned that Keenon was letting employees borrow money and would hold up making daily bank deposits until the money was repaid.  Dawson lost $8000 when he recently let a lone female court employee drive bank deposits to a local bank.  She was robbed getting out of her car.

In essence, the 2014 audit revealed that there are absolutely zero internal controls in how either King or Dawson are managing employees to perform duties in the manner spelled out by law.   Council, under Joie Graham as president, seems unconcerned.  She didn’t schedule budget hearings last year or this year; and meet with any of the city’s department heads.  They just passed the budget the mayor handed them unamended.

The same dereliction was found in how Norton and King have been spending federal funds; which is now the reason FBI agents have built a case against Vanessa Veals and others  involved in her misuse of federal funds.

The audit reported the following about jpe the current and last mayor and council are spending federal grant funds.

“Controls were not in place to ensure accurate reporting of federal award program names, CFDA numbers, award clusters and the amount passed through to subrecipients on the SEFA.”

The disbursement of federal funds to “sub-recipients” will be discovered in the checks individual vendors have cashed from the city of East Cleveland.

The 2014 audit paints an extremely bleak and incompetent picture of the city and court’s top two managers.

The 2014 audit of the city of East Cleveland’s finances reveals how Rick Case used car salesman Gary Norton and the police chief’s ex-secretary, Vanessa Veals, mishandled payroll records for police whose time could not be verified as to the times they started or ended; or whether the overtime they were paid was authenticated.

Steve Dettelbach – when he served as an assistant U.S. Attorney – used information from an audit this writer requested Petro to conduct of the $3.2 million no bid contract convicted Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor delivered to OMI / CH2M Hill of Aurora, Colorado.  

King and Dawson may not fully-understand the scope of what the most recent audit reveals; but the findings are the type state auditors have reported to the FBI in the past. 

Veals’ recent interaction with FBI agents who escorted her for questioning from her home should offer both of the city’s elected officials some insight into a stark reality that reading, mastering and complying with the governing documents they swore to obey in their oaths of office was a good idea.


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.