(In)action + Negligence = Things Remain the Same

UPDATE (12/21/15): Per the Cuyahoga BOE as of 12/18/2015 Richard Trojanski had not filed his post general election report which was due December 11, 2015 by 4PM.

This is the author’s opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of MHN itself or other contributors. 

City Council President Jackie Albers is not seeking re-election. The seat is being sought by newcomer, Aaron Mitchell and 3-term Councilman Richard “Little Richy” Trojanski. Both candidates are life-long residents of Maple Heights. Mitchell served on the 2011 Charter Review Commission and previously ran for the District 5 City Council seat.

According to the Maple Heights Charter the Council President’s job is to:

preside at all regular and special meetings of Council, but shall have no vote therefore, except in case of a tie and shall perform such duties as presiding officer as may be imposed upon him or her by the Council.
In the event of any vacancy in the office of the Mayor, the President of the Council shall succeed to such office until the next regular election occurring ninety days after the vacancy, at which time the Mayor’s office shall be declared vacant and the successful candidate for Mayor will again be elected for the unexpired term. If the Mayor is temporarily absent from the City, or becomes temporarily disabled from any cause, his or her duties shall be performed during such absence or disability by the President of Council.
Additionally, President of Council can also call Special Meetings of Council.

(In)action

Trojanski claims he is a man of “action.” However, the facts show quite a different story.

Failure to Address Issues

 Trojanski has been a member for almost 6 years of a City Council that has been unable to adapt quickly enough to the city’s dwindling revenue. The City of Maple Heights went into Fiscal Watch while he was Chairman of the Finance Committee. His response: calling only a handful of meetings (maybe 3) over the following year. Then the City went from Fiscal Watch to Fiscal Emergency in April 2015. Trojanski has called perhaps 1 finance committee meeting since then.

Trojanski was also elected Council Pro Tem in early 2014. (Council Pro Tem takes charge of the meetings when Council President is not present.) While Trojanksi was second in command, this mostly multi-term council was so unfamiliar with the Sunshine Laws and public records regulations that they didn’t keep minutes for their caucus (because that is “the way it had always been done”), nor did they know that the calling of an executive session required stating the specific purpose for which it was called. However, a first-term councilman, Bill Brownlee, alerted them to this on multiple occasions, but was ignored.  Why did a first-term councilman know more than a three-term councilman who was even council president pro tem?

Failure to File Timely Reports Required of Elected Officials

The Cuyahoga Board of Elections sends officials and candidates notices reminding them of the upcoming deadline for filing finance reports. Nevertheless, Trojanski failed to file his 2013 (last time he sought re-election) post-campaign finance report (which is due 38 days after the election). The Cuyahoga Board of Elections notified him of his failure to file, and finally turned him over to the Ohio Elections Commission where he was scheduled to appear for a hearing in June of 2015. He never filed it UNTIL May 2015 when it was necessary for him to be in compliance to seek any elected position.

He also failed to file his 2014 annual report in a timely manner (by January 30, 2015). This report was also filed in May of 2015 in time to seek re-election.

The Ohio Ethics Commission financial disclosures are required to be filed annually for the prior year on or before April 15 by elected officials. Trojanski didn’t file his 2013 and 2014 reports until September 2015. 2008-2012 all also to appear to have been filed in varying degrees of lateness.

When asked about his failure to file these reports on time at the Council President Forum, his only response was that they had been filed. Sure, the question is, “When?” The answer? Only when he needed to file for re-election.

Negligent (adj):

1. guilty of or characterized by neglect, as of duty:

negligent officials.
2. lazily careless; offhand:

a negligent wave of his manicured hand.

Look, I get it sometimes we miss a deadline, but this is clearly an ongoing problem, not an innocent mistake fixed in a timely manner. If elected Council President will Trojanski be able to comply with the rules laid out for public bodies? He didn’t try to tell his fellow council members that they needed to allow the Traffic Camera Charter Amendment onto last November’s ballot (or listen to fellow Councilman Brownlee’s warning that the Ohio Supreme Court would force Council to place it there). Nevertheless, a recurring ‘mistake’ is negligence.

Progress? With Trojanski Things Will Remain the Same

The Agreed Judgement Entry and Injunction for violations of the Open Meetings Act on the November 4, 2015 City Council Agenda proves things have NOT been being done the right way and 6 of the 7 Council members and City Council President failed to familiarize themselves with the laws that govern their public body. Of those 6, Toni Jones, Edwina Agee and Ron Jackson are seeking re-election and  Trojanski is attempting to upgrade from Council member to Council President.

We don’t need more of the same. We DO NOT need people who think they know everything because this is their n’th time being elected to city council. We DO NOT need people who are supported by the establishment and follow along the path of “the way we’ve always done it”. We need new council members, a council president and mayor who are going to look into things themselves, and have the courage to speak up when they see something is wrong and the humility to listen when someone says “I don’t think we are doing this right.”

 

 

 

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3 Responses to (In)action + Negligence = Things Remain the Same

  1. Stop Hypocrisy (an educated voter) November 3, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    What I consider negligent is having your kids hang out with you at the polls today. Aren’t they supposed to be in school instead of still being pimped as unpaid campaign workers. It’s revolting and shameful. If you win this election are you going to turn City Hall into Romper room?

    • Lynde Brownlee November 4, 2015 at 8:46 am #

      Our children have had the opportunity to engage in the election process first hand (instead of just reading about it from a book) and as a result know more about local government than many citizens do (considering that voter turn out was about 33%).

  2. Elaine April 27, 2016 at 12:48 am #

    Thanks so much Lynde for reporting on what goes on in Maple Heights government, etc.

    We need more transparency in government, and a creative and forward thinking governing body and I’m afraid (right now) we don’t have that. Trojanski’s focus has been about keeping the lights on in city hall, when it should always be about economic development, ownership and 21st century innovation and adaptation.

    Much love and thanks to you and Bill for your dedication and focus on transparency in government.

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