CLEVELAND, OH – I’ve observed Cleveland’s mayors up close as a journalist or political participant since Dennis Kucinich in 1978. On the East Cleveland side since the late attorney Darryl Eugene Pittman in 1985. In addition to serving in the elected office for for years, I served a year as former East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Weli Onunwor’s chief of staff and as a part-time Special Assistant for Cleveland Mayor Michael Reed White. My former Director of Law in East Cleveland, the late attorney Almeta Johnson, served as Kucinich’s chief prosecuting attorney.
On January 1, 2022 the mayoral candidate Cleveland voters elect to discharge the duties of the “chief conservator of the peace” will walk into the municipal bureaucracy Frank George Jackson managed for the past 16 years. Since Jackson’s not in a contentious campaign against an opponent trying to destroy him, he has no reason to deny a constructive transition to the victor. Despite his malicious political ignorance I offered Gary Alexander Norton, Jr. a transition after the East Cleveland mayoral campaign in 2009. He wasn’t smart enough to accept. His ignorance was his “could have avoided jail” loss.
I expect Zachary Reed to be one of the prevailing candidates for mayor by the close of voting on September 14, 2021. His sign’s in my front yard. Until he left council Reed was my “responsive” councilman.
I joined Reed and Jackson as a candidate in the 2017 campaign for mayor. Reed had initially asked me to help him and I declined. I had the goal then of nurturing the idea of physicians on EMS squads, a return to a municipal hospital, building 5 emergency rooms, restoring municipal transit, the creation of a municipal bank, returning the Cleveland school district to the voters, decriminalizing house ordinances, restoring the building and construction trades in Cleveland schools, eliminating license plate searches and warrantless pursuits. I intended to put the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president (CPPA) back in a car for his pay. The letter in the contract White signed is “criminal.”
When Reed asked again if I’d support him for mayor in 2021 I said I’d consider. I’m an in-person Cleveland voter and Reed will have my vote for mayor on September 14, 2021. I’ve been observing the campaign and candidates from the online forums. I’ve been proud at how Reed’s handled himself. Anyone who knows me knows the word “proud” is not one I use lightly.
I believe from knowing the characteristics of “better” elected officials that Reed has the chance to be a “suprisingly good mayor” for all of Cleveland. He has the intellectual curiosity that I see lacking in politicians. Reed doesn’t think he knows everything or has all the answers. He’s willing to explore and he listens. From my experiences with him over the past 21 years he’s been willing to read “before” he seeks to lead. What I know Reed will do to address problems is “act” and unlike Jackson he’s going to communicate with the electorate.
I’m also favoring Reed because of what I don’t know about him as a journalist after observing him for the past 21 years. I don’t know him to be thief, a liar or an abuser of his elected office. I don’t know him to be lazy as one of the few politicians I know who attends the public meetings of other political bureaucracies.
I don’t know him to lack the courage to speak his mind. As an American Negro I don’t know him to be in the “sellout” category. There’s no way I would ever trust Basheer Jones as someone I know and can prove to be the exact opposite of Reed. Unlike Reed, Sellout Jones is a despicable disgrace to the American Negro race. All of Justin Bibb’s “visual” optics tells me he’s playing on a different team. I see him as the 4th Caucasian candidate. No one cares about Word Church pastor R.A. Vernon’s edicts on how he thinks he should lead Cleveland from Moreland Hills, Pepper Pike or wherever he lives outside the city. No vote. No voice. Stay in your own lane … pastor.
Unlike Kevin Kelley, Reed should not be expected to use the office of mayor to steal two elections from the people whether he agrees with the issue they want on the ballot or not. Kelley’s conduct in office has been so un-American his political career should end with this loss. Until his crimes in office catch up with him Kelley should stay with Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur and steal from the law firm’s clients instead of Cleveland’s taxpayers. Kelley is the only Cleveland politician whose conduct offended me so much as a citizen of the city I filed a criminal complaint against him.
State Sandra Williams’ mayoral campaign is strange. She’s got my phone number and has never called. All I’ve received from her are texted requests for money or to volunteer. The first fundraising flyer I saw featured all women backers. From my perspective she’s running a feminist “women’s only” campaign that’s got no place in 2021 politics. Eugenia Murrell Capers was the first American Negro woman to seek the mayor’s job in 1971. Since then Laverne Jones Gore and Kimberly Brown have been American Negro women to seek the job of Cleveland mayor.
A woman from the legislature has already served poorly. Jane Campbell. Being the “first” of anything doesn’t make one the “best” qualified to serve. Campbell hadn’t read Cleveland’s charter or ordinances; and hadn’t attended any council meetings. She hadn’t read the budget or any audits. I know because I interviewed her for the job in 2001. After less than a year in office Campbell’s mismanagement had generated a $62 million deficit. If all Williams has to offer is her gender she’s got nothing to sell.
Reed will put Cleveland on a different “national” map. He’ll handle local, national and state media better than Jackson. He’s also experienced what was supposed to be the “embarassment factor” in the media in 2013. I submitted information to former police chief Michael McGrath showing the Facebook posts of cops who described how he was set up to be followed by an off-duty cop working security at a local club. He survived and grew beyond the experience. Many can’t make the comeback climb and come out on top as Reed has done.
I see Reed prevailing because he and Dennis Kucinich are the only two mayoral candidates whose names have appeared on ballots in every Cleveland precinct. It’s the one political advantage each has over their opponents. Kucinich’s life as a perennial candidate since before his election to Cleveland city council in 1969 – when Carl Burton Stokes was elected mayor – has given him 100 percent political name recognition. But his name’s not all good since Kucinich has not done well as a candidate too far outside his west side ward.
Clevelanders voted for Kucinich as mayor in 1977. Eight months after his January 1, 1978 term of office began 120,000 Cleveland voters were asked to decide his fate during a recall. He won by 275 votes and was defeated the following year by then Lieutenant Governor George Victor Voinovich. His hurdle is in getting Clevelanders who are already conditioned against voting for him as mayor to change minds. Each of his perennial campaign losses comes across as voters telling Kucinich “how many times do we have to say no before you get it?”
Should Cleveland voters pick right and elect Reed, the city hall he’ll inherit from a lame duck Jackson will have been leaderless ever since the current mayor chose not to seek re-election. I submitted a request for public personnel records over two weeks ago. No response and this isn’t the first time over the years that city officials have been disobedient in their compliance with local, state and federal laws. It explains the FBI’s two raids on city hall. It explains why Kenneth Johnson should feel “set up.” His conduct was no different than any other member of council’s except he actually cut grass.
Jackson would have been an outstanding mayor had he simply read and mastered the Constitution of the United States of America, the Constitution of Ohio, Cleveland’s charter and every local, state and federal law or rule that applied to the job of mayor and council. He didn’t need to listen to the Communists in his ear telling him to “re-envision” government. That’s not what he was administered an oath of office to do since 1990.
31 years in public office is the equivalent of learning from the 1st grade to the 12th grade twice; plus four years of college and three years of doctoral training. There isn’t a federal, state or local “law” the chief law enforcement officer of a municipal corporation should not know or have instilled in the consciousness of the city’s workforce after 31 years in elected office.
Jackson could have addressed the illegal way Community Development Block Grant funds were split among 17 members of council equally instead of allocating them to the census tracts that earned the city dollars Congress earmarked to eliminate the city’s slum and blight. He could have protected Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams and Tamir Rice with constitutionally compliant policing. He could have raised the bar on public school education and seen the failure in Eric Gordon’s inability to spend $37,000 a year to educate 32,000 Cleveland school children into “genius” status.
With his legal education and now inactive law license Jackson could have built a municipal workforce so rooted in “law” compliance he’d have been viewed as the George Washington Carver of mayors. American Negro Carver figured out 326 ways to use a peanut every other race of people could only eat. Imagine a mayor who knew 326 ways to solve crime or educate children? 31 years. Frank. That’s a lot of wasted time and the best you have to offer as a replacement is an unprosecuted criminal named Kevin Kelley.
Jackson’s own grandson could have benefitted from his grandfather’s commitment to eradicating the nuance of Cleveland policing that 85 percent of Americans “targeted” for stops and citations are dark skinned American Negro males. Cleveland State University professor Ronnie Dunn left Jackson and the council with this gem of knowledge. Had Jackson simply read it his grandson’s skin color would not be “probable cause.” Reed, not Kelley, is the best candidate to deal with what Jackson did not as brother who’s complexion gives him the sensitivity to “understand.” It was under Jackson’s mayoral administration that even Reed was profiled.
There are nuances to Cleveland’s issues and demographics that makes Reed my preferred candidate over any of the others. He already knows not to disrupt the city’s operations with mass firings like that racist piece of shit idiot Edward Fitzgerald did as Cuyahoga County executive. 1000 employees, including my son’s job, wiped out for no reason other than to make room for his Irish “Catholic” clansmen. Fuck the Irish Protestants and anybody was his ignorant, racist thinking.
Reed already has some idea of what’s wrong and what he’d like to correct with the bureaucracy. His leap will be in making the adjustment from a legislator to a bureaucratic manager; and he’s already had some management experience with Mayor Willie Brown’s administration in San Francisco. After the election’s over my advice will be for Reed to “read.”
Jackson and I were each sworn in as mayors on January 1, 2006. We met about a month into our first days in office and were both excited about our new jobs.
Frank said something that caused me some concern for him during our first meeting. He said he did not have time to read. It was too much material. He was building a “good team” and they were doing the reading for him. No they weren’t. They were adjusting to his work ethic and reading habits. It was the same with another legislator, Mayor Michael Reed White.
Before I joined White’s administration as a part-time special assistant I asked him to provide me with his last 10 audits and quarterly management letters for each year. I read correspondence from Auditor of State Jim Petro to White warning him of PeopleSoft problems. For 5 years he identified chronic compliance issues finance director Chris Carmody hadn’t addressed.
In the 5th year he addressed his warnings directly to White and in the 5th year the mayor responded by firing Carmody. Had White read the first warning five years earlier, Carmody’s management ineptness would not have quadrupled the problem four another four years. From my perspective White could have been trashed on his handling of the city’s finances had he sought a fourth term in office.
As a journalist with an investigative consciousness I was in pig heaven as East Cleveland’s newly-elected mayor. I remember telling Jackson how I was reading the records associated with each department that I’d been on the outside as a journalist and newspaper publisher begging and fighting officials to get. I was reading everything.
Audits. Management letters. Banking records. Personnel records. Labor agreements. First step labor grievances. First step responses. Lawsuits. Settlements. Arbitrator rulings. Contracts. Incident reports. Water reports. Block grant records. Jail records. Overtime records. Time cards associated with how the overtime was acquired. I even had the mail directed to the mayor’s office so I’d get what the employees were getting in their names that should have been addressed to me from outside agencies. My office distributed the mail so I could keep up with what outside agencies were informing my workers to do that wasn’t being done.
Everything in government repeats. So my advice to Reed is the same as I suggested to Jackson. At least read everything that comes across your desk … once. Don’t assume your employees are readers. People as a matter of nature have lazy reading habits and the habit doesn’t change for a six figure salary.
The first time I was asked to sign a $65,000 invoice to East Cleveland’s waste management company I asked my finance director if he’d read the contract. He said no so I asked the service director if he’d read it. He said no. I was given a copy and I couldn’t understand how the terms applied, from an industry perspective, to the charges. Mayors need to be familiar with federal environmental and waste management laws. Most terminology is industry-specific and there are nuances to every industry that only experts know.
I called Pat Holland at Cuyahoga County’s solid waste district and asked if he could explain what we didn’t understand and he did. Pat went a step further and analyzed the costs with the terms and conditions in the contract. We were owed $67,000 based on a recycling cost capture clause. My team and I only needed to be taught … once. Reed impresses me as the type of person who will go wherever he needs to go, ego aside, to get the information he needs to know. The last thing the newest city employee needs on January 1 when their term of office begins is an oversized, know it all ego. I think Reed’s mature enough that he’ll be fine.
If you are a Cleveland resident who has not already voted you are among the “waiting wise.” The early voters are the emotional ones who end up with buyer’s remorse wishing they could change their minds. I’ve only voted one way and that’s at the polls in my neighborhood. I think I may have voted early at the elections board when I knew I wouldn’t be in town on election day. But to me September 14, 2021 is election day.
Zack and I know each other well enough for him to know that I wouldn’t be writing a single word in his favor if I didn’t believe he was the better candidate. In 2021 Zack Reed is the superior candidate for mayor and the one who will receive my vote. When asked I’ve told all my friends I’m voting for Zack.
If you’re among the waiting wise among the city of Cleveland’s electorate, I’ll see you at the polls on September 14, 2021 and we can cast our votes for Zack together. Our city. Our mayor. God bless our suburban neighbors. They don’t run our city or pick our mayors.
The general laws duties of the mayor are below.