Sam Allard / Scene
Councilman Zack Reed tries to explain Council's maneuvering to members of GCC, when referendum petitions were denied on 5/22/17.
Cleveland City Councilmen Zack Reed and Mike Polensek were in Polensek's office Monday afternoon, drafting a letter that they intended to send to Council President Kevin Kelley and the rest of their colleagues.
They want a special meeting called before the council's regularly scheduled Sep. 18 meeting. They view this as the only available method for getting the Q Deal referendum on the November ballot. In Reed's view, doing so will spare Cleveland taxpayers $750,000. (Doing so would also, as he surely knows, mobilize voters antagonistic to the Mayor and the Council President.)
The city charter holds that, once a petition is certified by the Clerk and presented to council, electors of the city may vote at the next scheduled election, if
the next election takes place within 60 days and six months of that date. Otherwise, a special election must be held.
But Zack Reed told Scene
that a special election in 2018 would cost Cleveland taxpayers $750,000.
"[Board of Elections Director] Pat McDonald just told me point blank," Reed said by phone at the BOE, where he'd been camped since 9:30 a.m. and where the 20,000+ petition signatures had still not been handed over, despite the Ohio Supreme Court ruling last week
According to the councilmen's letter, petitions were said to have been delivered at about 1 p.m.) "That's three-quarters of a million dollars, and that's right from the general fund. This wouldn't be some special pot. You have to think of what we could do with that kind of money — think of the roads we could pave, the safety equipment we could buy."
Reed and Polensek, both of whom voted against the Q Deal (305-17), will ask Kelley to call the special meeting on or before September 6, so that council can accept the referendum petition more than 60 days before the Nov. 7 general election. The charter, however, does say that the Clerk must present the certified copy of the proposed ordinance at council's "next regular
meeting." Wouldn't a special meeting be challenged legally, Scene asked Reed.
"What else can we do?" Reed said. "Let them sue us. The only reason this isn't going to the ballot is because of the delaying tactics of Frank Jackson and Kevin Kelley. All they've done is delay delay delay. But the key is that this is costing taxpayers."
Polensek told Scene at 2:30 p.m. that he'd given a hard copy of the completed letter to Kelley's secretary and that two additional councilmen, Jeff Johnson and Kevin Conwell, also signed on. T.J. Dow, the fifth council member who voted against the Q Deal, could not immediately be reached, Polensek said, but he felt that getting the letter out urgently was a priority.
"This isn't about whether or not you support the deal," Polensek said. "This is about voting rights. And this is about saving taxpayers more than $700,000."