COLUMBUS, OH – East Cleveland residents may want to read the chilling words in the latest report of ex-auditor of state David Yost for insight on his “next plans” for the city as the state’s new attorney general. Yost’s December 2018 report to the Financial Planning & Supervision Commission that oversees East Cleveland’s finances explained how the attorney general has the authority under a 2012 Ohio law to file a petition to dissolve the municipal corporation for the inability of its elected and appointed officials to perform duties authorized by law. Yost wrote the following:
“Section 118.31 of the Revised Code provides the procedures for legal action to dissolve a municipal corporation. If a petition is approved by the financial planning and supervision commission, if any, the attorney general shall file a legal action in the court of common pleas on behalf of the State to dissolve a municipal corporation if the municipal corporation has less than five thousand residents as of the most recent federal consensus, the municipal corporation has been under fiscal emergency for at least four consecutive years, and the implementation of the financial plan cannot be reasonably expected to correct and eliminate all fiscal emergency conditions within five years. If the court of common pleas finds that all of these conditions apply, a receiver is appointed by the court to work with the officers of the municipal corporation to wind up the affairs of and dissolve the municipal corporation.”
Yost’s 2018 “report” detailed alarming criminal acts being committed in all areas of the city’s government by Mayor Brandon King, Judge Will Dawson, the city’s finance director, Charles Iyahen, and police chief Michael Cardilli. Some of the acts, such as the way Cardilli and his former secretary, Vanessa Veals, managed the police department’s payroll records could be considered “racketeering.” He singled-out Dawson as the only official who isn’t depositing the court’s cash daily as required by law.
Dawson’s security of cash collected by the court’s employees is so questionably lax he sent a female employee, alone, to a bank with $9000 who claimed she was robbed when she got of her car. Judges before Dawson hired armed guards in armoured vehicles to pick up and deliver the court’s money.
What Yost identifies in their criminally-negligent and derelict acts is the groundwork for the “attorney general” to petition a court of common pleas judge to “dissolve” East Cleveland as a municipal corporation and eliminate the mayor, council, judge and school district. The report literally reads as the attorney general’s “statement of facts” and “conclusions of law” in the petition he plans to file with the court.
While the language of the statute identifies a population threshold of under 5000 to be a requirement that must be met; Yost in his report to the financial planning and supervision in his official capacity as the state’s auditor appears to address how he’ll interpret “residency” in his petition as the state’s attorney general. Yost wrote the following “key” words.
“It is mandatory that all City residents and corporations file tax returns. The annual income tax forms are mailed to City residents and businesses in January each year. The annual tax return is due by April 15th.”
He then explained how “the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) collects the City’s income tax and assists with the collection of delinquent accounts. Semi-monthly, the City receives a distribution report, an electronic funds transfer (EFT), and a report of the amounts collected by RITA.”
The statute Yost will use to petition for East Cleveland’s dissolution doesn’t require “residency” to be determined by a count of the U.S. Census. Pursuant to the city’s charter all residents are compelled to file tax returns. The number of “residents” filing returns in East Cleveland is below 5,000 as the distribution of housing units is about 75 percent rental.
East Cleveland activist Justyn Anderson told EJBNEWS he met with King and his chief of staff, Michael Smedley, to discuss the audit with resident Juanita Gowdy. Anderson said he could only sit quietly in stunned silence after Smedley discredited Yost’s report as nothing more than “his opinion.” Smedley was identified in the federal indictment of Cuyahoga County landbank employee Kenneth Tyson in December 2018.
What King, Dawson and council president Joie Graham appear not to understand or have responded to is the “evidence” Yost stockpiled against them as sworn elected officials.
Instead of seeing Yost’s reports as immediate steps to take to correct by reading the laws he identified and obeying them, council violated the very section of the charter he shared in the report that told them not to pass the budget before January 5 of 2019. Graham engaged in an act of dereliction of duty and council did what they wanted instead of what the charter required. They enacted it on December 18, 2018. Yost’s report even noted that instead of paying themselves every month as required by the charter they pay themselves every two weeks.
Not a single member of the city’s legislative body has ever participated in a meeting and brought the book they’re assigned that contains the charter, ordinances and administrative code they’re required by law to read and obey.
What every elected and appointed official in Ohio is required to do before they open their mouths at a a public meeting, sign their name to an official document or give an order to another official or employee, is read the charter, ordinances and administrative code to learn what the instructions in those governing documents authorizes and does not authorize them to do or say.