When "Extreme Makeover" came to town, the mayor robocalled all the residents; but when Richard Taylor, the man who was elected to represent district 5, died before being sworn into office, no one bothered to robocall all the residents in district 5 of that man's passing. No one robocalled residents of district 5 to let them know what course the law director, the mayor, and the council president were considering to fill that council seat or ask for suggestions. [There are still residents in district 5 that don't know Mr. Taylor died.] We were even told that a resident of district 5 called the law director asking for a special election, but the law director asked her was she going to pay for it. So clearly, there were other courses of action that the mayor, the law director, and city council could have taken. They chose the path of disenfranchisement ... and they used the (what some say as ambiguous - open to interpretation) city charter to do it.
Maybe we're wrong, but it appeared to us, that council and others who attended caucus last night, met behind closed doors the previous day to put the finishing touches on a scheme to calm any rustling of dissent from the employers (taxpayers) in district 5 (those who knew of his passing wanted to vote for their council person to replace Mr. Taylor). In addition, it also appeared to us, that council and others wanted to make sure that most of the residents in Maple Heights didn't catch wind of the economic tsunami coming their way (actually its been coming their way for quite awhile now - see Kasich budget cuts back in June 2011, and previous audits and budgets of Maple Heights).
City council's hand-picked African American councilman for district 5 .. (who we understand may have been asked by the mayor, or someone in his inner circle, or someone on the city council, to apply for the vacant council seat in district 5), was sworn in by his wife, Pamela Crews who is the President of the Maple Heights Board of Education. From what we've gleaned, Mayor Lansky and the perhaps the council president have a close relationship with the Maple Heights Board of Education.
Next, the mayor bestowed praise and honors on a group of young African American males for coming to the aid of a man who needed help.
Heads of various departments then gave their reports, and then the employers (the constituents/taxpayers) were allowed to speak, and trust us ... district 5 did not bite their tongue. They believe (and we believe) that their civil rights and political rights (yes Mr. Mayor ... there is such a thing as political rights) were violated by the mayor, the law director, and the members of city council when they decided that members of council (who are from different districts) would choose district 5's council person.
What is absolutely astounding is that the mayor, the law director, and council members are pleased with what they've done. They seem pleased that they've disenfranchised their employers. They state they were simply following city charter ... the law. Well, we know what that charter was built upon ... a city that has had many civil rights violations, real estate redlining, segregation, ... / case laws going back to 1924, when African Americans could not own a home in Maple Heights, and racism was rampant in the great state of Ohio. What a fine legacy.
When you glance across that council table, you see a sea of white faces (fire chief, police chief, heads of other departments) ... and now 2 lone African American males who are council members who work for a city (of an est. 23,100) that has about 68-70% or more African American residents (with unemployment numbers for African Americans around 10-15%). If you haven't read our previous posts regarding Maple Hts, please do so. [Would have been a sign of good faith to the predominantly African American community if the recently retired fire chief had been replaced by an African American fire chief ... but, oh well ... he wasn't.]
Ask the mayor's administration about the people who lost their homes to foreclosure ... We bet most were African American ... and the number of African Americans in Maple Heights who have lost their homes to foreclosure, or are in jeopardy of losing their homes to foreclosure continues. If they receive real help to stop foreclosure ... that help will almost always come from outside Maple Heights.
We were told that, despite the fact that petitions (re: district 5's right to choose their own council person) were presented to city council from residents in district 5, the mayor kept nastily harping on one, of several online petitions that were meant to bring social media attention to the issues that residents of district 5 were dealing with. When you bring social media attention to an issue, you don't really care if the signers actually live in the area. The idea is to put pressure on the people who are the source of the problem. Signature goals are chosen by the organizer of the petition, however, the standard goal is 100. Again, district 5 decided to do online petitions (several) and going door to door. They would have continued going door to door; however, at a district 5 meeting attended by Ohio Senator Nina Turner, Senator Turner advised them to not waste their time pursuing their goal to vote for their council person. Senator Turner has ties with the suburban mayors and business community - (she sided with them regarding issue 6, thereby causing a fire storm in the African American Cleveland community who supported issue 5). Interesting note: She used the same wording Lansky used.
If you were to call the mayor regarding the concerns of his employers from district 5, we could almost guarantee that this mayor would state that what he, city council and the law director have done is legal, and the people making all the noise about their civil rights are just sore losers and whiners.
"It's unfortunate, but this mayor's behavior (I feel) demeans the office of mayor, because he is disrespectful, and has belittled not only his employers, but also others. This is the same mayor who chose to smear the character of an African American woman who ran against him in last year's mayoral election. It's bad enough that he belittled African American women senior citizens in council meeting, but he did it when there were African American children in the room" [Quote by Maple Hts resident]
Council members probably won't cross him ... **Remember, the law director used a 1924 case law to declare the district 5 council seat vacant; stating that the leadership (or a majority of council members) could declare any council seat vacant, for any reason. Seems to fit right in with that whole climate of intimidation.
This dear friends is why blogs like ours are crucial. We give no one a free pass ... not a Democrat or Republican. Our job is not to sugar coat. Our job is to shine a light on what's underneath all that razzle dazzle.
Three more things ...
2. Will council take a pay cut, or if that's not possible, give back some of their pay voluntarily?
Question: How many council meetings has Mr. Crews attended in the past? Ask him.
We predict: Now that Ms. Albers has her ducks in a row, she will instruct her minions to follow a plan to take money meant for residents who abut the railroad in districts 3 and 5.
Just to be very, very clear ... Any politician, or public servant that threatens, intimidates, harasses, or tries to disenfranchise anyone, or take money or land meant for African Americans (even under the guise of legality), ... they will be scrutinized and called to task. We don't tolerate illegal, or unconstitutional, or unethical (especially a pattern of) behavior from any politician. They will be reported to the proper authorities if warranted.
While people are getting a nice fuzzy feeling about those 5 new schools that cost residents about $50 million to build, ... and all that publicity around those new schools:
Here's something that's distressing to us. A great number of residents started losing their homes beginning around 2007 while elected officials and the superintendent were pushing to pass a levy for new schools and other bond/levies, even through most of 2008. [Property owners provide a major source of revenue in paying bond interest payments, etc.] Their explanation for the new schools was the schools were becoming too costly too repair, and the state was going to give half of the money for those projects. Why wasn't there talk of reducing the number of schools, and letting private developers come in (with a requirement that they hire residents on projects) to (develop that land) bring new businesses into the city that would create jobs for residents, and help train residents for the jobs of the future? What about that rec center that was discussed? What happened to that? Who really made money in the building of these schools (were any residents hired?), and just how did Maple Hts residents really fare? How much money did residents really gain from these projects?
ALSO REMEMBER: REGARDLESS HOW MUCH THE POPULATION DECLINES, OR THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS DECLINE, OR HOW MANY HOMES GO INTO FORECLOSURE, THE PROPERTY OWNERS ARE STUCK (ON THE HOOK) PAYING BOND INTEREST PAYMENTS (FOR ANOTHER WHAT 20+ YEARS?)
A lot of money flew out of Maple Heights resident's pockets into a lot of pockets of people and businesses that did not reside in Maple Heights. A lot of money appears to be still flying out of their pockets to pay bond interest payments, and into (still) a lot of pockets of people that don't live in Maple Hts, and into the pockets of business owners and large businesses that don't reside in Maple Hts.
Hey, if we're wrong ... show us where the money went.
5 NEW SCHOOLS (3 of which -BARACK OBAMA, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, JFK - are elementary schools - what?) for about 3,900 students, [Update 8/2012: 3, 793] with a declining city population? It may be good political strategy to build those schools if you want to get elected mayor in Maple Heights; however, we don't call that forward thinking.
Update August 2012
Are these 3 new elementary schools in a predominantly white area of Maple Heights, even though African Americans make up about 70+% of the population? So, most African American children (of elementary school age) must either take a school bus or have their parents drive them to school?
Update August 2012:
Whatever happened to Raymond Elementary School (which was in a predominantly black area of Maple Heights)? Someone said something about asbestos being found, so they had to knock the whole school down. Who were the contractors on this project? When last we looked, it looked like the school was completely demolished, and there was nothing but dirt and and chain link fences.
Update August 2012:
And get this: The Maple Heights Board of Education, and administrative offices, etc. (it is said) will be moving to the predominantly white area of town and into the new school near Rockside Road. Wonder what's going to happen to that old space they were working in? Also, the board (?) made a lot of cuts to staff, programming, reduction in health care benefits, etc. ... How much did they cut off their salary? Did they cut salaries, etc of school employees who lived in Maple Heights? (cause you really don't want to do that)
There may be a tv mini-series (fiction/non-fiction?) that involves bank foreclosures, city officials, school officials, a football star, bonds, contract negotiations, contractors, budget cuts to cities, discrimination, racism, local UAW endorsement, teacher's union endorsement, a dying man, FBI or homeland security, or use of law enforcement/surveillance of people's home/persons for political reasons and not national security, state officials, resolutions revolving around a railroad, sloppy/incompetent/compromised investigative reporting by local news outlets, brand spanking new police cars, and a mayor who has high and lofty political aspirations on Capitol Hill ..... stay tuned.