This Week in Controversies

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City Council members met Tuesday morning to express their individual anxieties about the new ward map concocted by President Martin Sweeney and consultant Bob Dykes without contributions from the public. In a vote Tuesday afternoon, council approved the map 17-2 with Joe Cimperman and Mike Polensek voting against.

Cleveland will be downshifting from 19 to 17 wards in 2014, pursuant to a city charter which mandates that council seats correlate to population. Councilman Jay Westbrook’s retirement made the West Side districts much easier to draw, according to Dykes. But the proposed East Side looks funky.

In an effort to preserve the historic Glenville neighborhood, Collinwood was further fractured, and the new ward 10 is straight-up bananas, long and tumored and stretching from E. 40th all the way to the Richmond Hts. border.

The most distressing element of the morning’s meeting was the hysterical level of insecurity on display. After public comments, council members felt the need to establish their leadership credentials at length for residents in attendance, misinterpreting legitimate concerns as personal attacks.

Also strange that the map is apparently inflexible. Why even bother meeting if, when council members ask for minor changes (which wouldn’t affect Sweeney’s guiding parameters), Sweeney says no. “This is the reality we’re faced with,” he said.

Kudos to Brian Cummins. While other councilmen congratulated themselves or expressed calculated “sadnesses,” Cummins pressed Sweeney and Dykes on numbers and tactfully indicated his disapproval of Sweeney’s methods.

He even campaigned to reposition his Ward 14 to achieve greater Hispanic density, thereby increasing the chances of a Hispanic councilman (one who would necessarily have to replace him). That’s looking out for the city. That’s real leadership. (Sam Allard)

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The decrepit plaza on the northeast corner of West 117th Street and Clifton Boulevard was demolished last fall, paving the way for ..."some" sort of development. But several new details put the oft-beloved and vacant Fifth Church of Christ Scientist in the crosshairs of Carnegie Companies' seemingly cookie-cutter Shoppes on Clifton project.

The development company's rough plans were publicized this week by Neighbors in Action, a citizen group trying to work with all stakeholders for the best possible future. The group has attempted to work with Councilman Jay Westbrook, who represents the neighborhood, to no avail.

What the current plans reveal is an expanse of parking, several proposed retail slots and utterly no Fifth Church of Christ Scientist. Demolition of the city-owned church is a hot topic as these plans move ahead, though no permits have been pulled. Sources have a Giant Eagle Express homing in on the church's site. No commercial names accompany the development plans, however.

Additional working meetings are expected in the coming weeks, wherein developers will continue to flesh out this approach. (Eric Sandy)

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Former County Prosecutor Bill Mason’s departmental oversight found itself the victim of a smattering of criticism and finger-pointing last week.

Led by attorney John McCaffrey, an independent outfit published a study of the department at the “immediate” request of current Prosecutor Timothy McGinty.

"We felt it was our public duty," McCaffrey tells Scene. Begun in October, the one pro bono draft - the final draft - was completed Dec. 12. They interviewed nearly all of the department’s employees and spent “hundreds of hours” in that process and compiling the report.

The document reveals a labyrinthal structure over at the prosecutor’s office. Mason, as interviewees would explain, was firing off haphazard decisions that didn’t make much sense. And those employees, in turn, are left with a massive hair ball of confusion. The office, per these findings, seems like an experiment in non-sequitur and doublespeak.

"He could trust us to call balls and strikes," McCaffrey says of McGinty’s call to investigate. A straight-and-narrow perspective on the post-Mason department was needed, given what seemed like smoldering wreckage left in his wake. A noted Cleveland lawyer adds that McCaffrey and his crew are close pals of McGinty, so that surely helped the process along. (Eric Sandy)

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