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