Seven Hills Mayor David Bentkowski — The Bizarre Boy Mayor, as we like to call him — announced earlier this week that he's resigning from the 'burb's top post and taking a job as "labor relations officer 3" with the Ohio Lottery Commission. We think that's something akin to "frightened inmate number two," but we're not sure.
But Bentkowski's imminent departure hasn't deterred his usual array of childish antics, detailed extensively by Scene in the past. This time, the PD reports, when faced with a community newsletter that was critical of City Hall, he did the only logical thing a mayor would do: he grabbed his video camera, made thinly veiled legal threats, and went after those who he felt were responsible for the literature.
A little background: As you know from reading this week's cover story about Woodmere, small-town local politics, while at their heart, a bastion of for-the-people democracy where folks can go straight to those that make decisions and talk to them about what's affecting their lives, are also home to petty name-calling, embarrassing propaganda, and local officials whose egos are not in proportion to their power or status.
Everyone, it seems, has a newsletter — council members, mayors, detractors, concerned citizens. And while you don't hear much about them, they can be entertainingly irrational and inflammatory. They can also be a tool to criticize those in office. But sometimes it all devolves into something less than stately debate. Something more like 5th graders passing notes about each other in class, perhaps.
Now, back to Seven Hills. Mark Naymik reports that Seven Hills resident Tim Fraundorf, one of six behind the newsletter that so upset Bentkowski that he put down his Superman doll and went outside, was confronted by the Bizarre Boy Mayor with accusations that the pamphlet was libelous. Get-Bentkowski also contacted the other five authors.
The authors (I'll call them the Seven Hills Six) first got under Bentkowski's thin skin in July with their first newsletter, which charged, among other things, that the city faces estimated budget deficits in 2011 and 2012. It also hit on such titillating topics as the suburb's "sewer maintenance fund."
Bentkowski fought back in a community newsletter mailed to residents at taxpayer expense.
"On July 29th, I went to bed dreaming about my wedding day," he wrote. "On July 30th, my wedding day, you and I awoke to a perverse driveway flier besmirching my good name and the names and performance of City Council members."
His response ran four pages.
The second edition of the Seven Hills Reporter, distributed in late September, was more pointed, noting Bentkowski's friends and political allies who have been hired or received raises since he became mayor in 2003. It also devoted several pages to the recreation center, frequently blamed for the city's financial stress and the subject of a lawsuit.
Naymik got in touch with Bentkowski (who was undoubtedly talking on a Superman phone) to get his reaction. The "non-story," as Bentkowski called it, was merely him defending the city, which he is "bound" to do. Surely all mayors chase down citizens who are critical of their decisions. Wait, um, that's not how this works.
Anyway, Naymik has more over at Cleveland.com from the fount of Bentkowski, a never-ending spout of inanity and twerpishness. What else do you expect from a guy with the political IQ of a piece of Quiznos lettuce?