Friday, October 14, 2011

Mayor of Maple Heights Does the Razzle Dazzle

UPDATE: 10/17/2011

Okay everyone, ... let me back up with a rewrite because folks have been calling, ... and have said in classic Ricky Ricardo style, ... "Lucy, you've got some splaining to do".

So the explanation:
A friend of mine called to tell me that there was a huge piece of campaign literature from the Maple Heights mayor, stuffed in her mailbox.  Like so many of you who saw it, ... she was almost speechless.  Anyway, she gave it to me, and I was also, ... at first,  speechless.  Me, ... speechless ... but not for long.

Well, those who know me, know I always do my research.  After my eyes got adjusted to all that gloss and ego, I focused on the resume portion of his campaign brochure.  While there was quite a bit of stuff there, I jumped to his "education" ..  He says he is a graduate of Maple Heights High School ... great, .. then he hit me with the "WOW"

I was beginning to give the mayor his propers about the "Graduate of Cleveland State University", but dag gum it, my eyes caught the words,  "Leadership Academy" ... see, most people just saw the words graduate of "Cleveland State", but not that Leadership Academy part.  What they don't know is that the Academy holds leadership training, (up to) 2 week courses that cost a pretty penny; but  there's no pass or fail test at the end.  Right?  I then saw "Graduate of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government Leadership in the 21st century".  Harvard U's Leadership for the 21st century program is a 5 to 10 day program (depending on the topic). The program requires participants to be actively engaged in the classroom, in small groups, and in individual reflection. One does have to apply; however, there is no formal educational requirement. Even though the mayor didn't actually graduate from Cleveland State or Harvard University with a Bachelors or Masters Degree, I totally give him his props for wanting to improve his leadership skills.   And, the David C. Sweet Award in 2002 .. you have to be an alumni of the Cleveland State U Leadership Academy (which he says he was) to receive the award (and I'm not sure of the nomination process).

By the way, Mrs. Mitchell, the mayor's opponent (who doesn't boast about her credentials, memberships, associations, etc) is a college graduate.

The mayor also lists "memberships" and "community service". I saw "Founding Sponsor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C."  See, I'm also a "Founding Sponsor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial ..."  How did I become a Founding Sponsor?  I donated money a couple of days ago:. ... and that "Wall of Tolerance Honoree in Montgomery, Al with recognition from Rosa Parks (click here).

Like I said, I always do my research; and I always ask questions (esp. of politicians) ... like ...what do you have to do to become an honoree or a sponsor?  Did you get an invitation in the mail (etc.) to become a member, sponsor or honoree, and does that designation get secured by sending money?

The other thing I want to see are dates ... did this event/honor/service/etc. happen before you started campaigning or after you started campaigning? .....Actually, that question is sort of ridiculous,  since politicians are always in campaign mode.  Anyway, you can do the rest of the research about the mayor's resume, on your own.

This is what get's me about politicians (they throw things out there, and they know you probably won't dig deeper), and this current mayor said it himself ... he's a pro when it comes to campaigning ... and this man is a career politician.

The professional, expensive, glossy brochure (with items referenced above) is a step up from those negative campaign pieces he had previously; however, WOW, this piece was enough to dazzle any number of  African American residents in the (predominantly African American) Maple Heights.  But I'm sure he knew that ... that's probably why the photos, glossy, American flag background, resume, and sports center spread.  
And the final razzle dazzle ... endorsement from (not the Democratic Party), but lo and behold .. the mostly conservative editorial department of the Plain Dealer - Plain Dealer Publishing Co. (member of the mighty and self interested Chamber of Commerce via the Greater Cleveland Partnership).

I think the mayor has definitely learned some valuable lessons from those leadership workshops/seminars, and advice from others.  One lesson he's learned?  The man does make connections, and he does network. Well done!  If he had to switch parties to do it, he did it.  Nothing illegal about that.

God love ya Maple Heights residents ... but you damn better "wake up and smell the coffee", and start asking some important questions about your city finances and those  salaries and benefits that may be sucking you dry. Take a look at those salaries and compare them with other similar size cities with the same economic conditions  (residents, .. if need be, use the Ohio Public Records Law to get information on city finances and salaries;  or ask your council person for them).

 Maple Hts population / Cleveland population / Cleveland Mayor's salary / Shaker Hts population / Shaker Heights Mayor's salary

The mayor is probably a likeable guy in public (definitely not if you oppose him), and he does do some good things; however, the major criticism is, ... not opening the financial books up (esp. the audit) for every resident to see ... and what Maple Heights residents (the mayor's  boss) should be laser focused on; ... If you're in deep (decided to take out the word we previously used) debt (personal, as well as city debt), and residents are paying these higher (compared with ..) salaries with benefits (especially higher than average salaries and benefits to a lot of folks that don't live in Maple Heights) ... and residents are not paying attention (at all) to the legislation, those projects, the revenue losses that are going to shock them, and those smaller dollars that add up, ... and if the council president is just a "yes" man/woman to the mayor (and we're not saying that's what's happening, but Maple Heights residents need to be vigilant), ... at some point, the shit's going to hit the fan, ... and no amount of razzle dazzle is going to shift the focus then.

[While property owners started losing their homes in great numbers to foreclosure starting around 2007, read what Mayor Lansky, along with Superintendent Keenan, were celebrating.  Interest payments on some of those bonds comes due in 2012. Just learned that the general fund is in the red. Interest payments on the bond come from property taxes. One would think that with all these new schools, Maple Heights students would do betterWonder whose taxes are going to go up?]

A suggestion: Maple Heights residents, you need to form a watch dog committee of representatives from every district, who will not  "rubber stamp" everything the mayor or council does. Please attend caucus (before council) meetings and ask questions.  Go over legislation, go over every line, every expenditure ... have them justify the expense, and justify the projections.  Take an interest in what your police do? Examine, Examine, Examine, ......Question, question, question ...  Make suggestions.   Make sure you have someone on the committee that understands finance; and if you have to call your elected officials on the carpet, do it ...
You are their boss, but you gave them, and other government employees, the power to change your life considerably (for the better or the worse).  Share the power or take it back.

What are these candidates plans going forward? What are they going to do to make Maple Heights a better place for all the residents? 

Let me make something clear. ... salaries are paid from the general fund .. which is tax dollars.  If people are jobless (which many are), and there isn't enough money in the general fund, those in the administration will try to come up with creative ways to get the money.   Municipalities almost always look to pass bond/levies for a host of things (contruction projects, school and safety expenditures).  The people who usually pay for these levies are property owners.

Now Maple Hts was one of the worst hit by  home foreclosures ... so who bears the burden of these levies?  Well if these politicians can't get money from property owners, they may dip into money set aside for other things, .. but if they can't legally dip into other funds or those funds are not there,  they'll either raise taxes some other way or borrow (and when you borrow you must pay it back with interest).

Whatever the mayor's administration and city council (or superintendent of a school via mayor) ask you (tax payers) to do, ... as stated before, ... those levies will usually be paid on the backs of property owners. And with bonds, tax payers will pay the interest until the bond matures.  When it does mature, and,  if you can't pay, you may be able to refund; however, you can't refinance the loan forever.  You see where I'm going here?   Think end of 2007 into mid to late 2009 ... businesses closing, people losing their homes and their jobs in the hundreds of thousands.

Maple Heights residents, the shit is about to hit the fan sooner than you think. ... You're losing revenue faster than a train crossing the country. 

In addition: Keep in mind, a majority of the salaries and benefits you are paying are going to people who don't live in Maple Heights; and many of the businesses who are reaping the rewards of  doing projects in Maple Heights  (like building schools), probably don't live in Maple Heights either.

Maple Heights 2007

Maple Heights 2008

Maple Heights 2010 - Charter Amendment

Maple Heights 2011

What Role for Labor in the Progressive Uprising? A Conversation With Labor Strategist Stephen Lerner | | AlterNet  by Amy Dean

Update 11/21/2011:
 'Income Achievement Gap' Almost Double Black-White Performance Gap, Report Shows
by Louis Freedberg 

Maple Heights:
Job Growth (2000 - 2011): -10.8%
Unemployment Rate: 10.3% 

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Anonymous said...

Residents need more articles like this. The mayor bullies everyone to get his way in everything. He definitely doesn't believe he is a civil servant. Why should he collect such a higher salary than most mayors. The city is in financial danger and he's not helping the situation. How can we help his opponent Neomi Mitchell?

Anonymous said...

This is to Maple Heights residents: Never trust a politician. He's got to earn your trust ... over and over again