Best Politician

Judge Raymond Pianka

The principal life of a Cleveland politician: Say pretty things to get elected, then set a brazen course of apathy and self-interest. But Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka has long been in violation of this essential rule. Years before predatory lending became a national crisis, he was the one local official who battled banks and venture capitalists who neglected their rosters of repossessed homes. When they decided to blow off their court dates, Pianka began trying them in absentia. He fined Destiny Ventures of Oklahoma $40,000 for failing to keep up its 100 houses in Cleveland and East Cleveland. It promises to be the first tussle in his guerrilla fight against the banking industry, whose neglected properties turned crack dens are the bane of the city. When Pianka finally takes on local giants Key and National City, we'll gladly elevate him to Best Messiah.