Cleveland City Council
In what Ward 7 city council challenger Mansfield Frazier has called a "dirty trick," former Ward 7 Councilman T.J. Dow attempted to transfer more than $700,000 of his ward's funds to Ken Johnson's Ward 4.
In a letter requesting the transfer, dated December 28, 2017, Dow suggested that these funds should now go toward capital projects at the Ken Johnson Recreation Center. Dow had stockpiled a substantial reserve, reportedly accumulating the money in the hopes of funding a community resource center.
But shortly before he left office, he tried to empty the coffers.
"Dow obviously is still pissed off at Basheer Jones for running against and besting him fair and square at the ballot box," wrote Frazier, in a Facebook tirade, "but this desperate attempt was the height of pettiness and folly. How can anyone with even a modicum of integrity try to financially hurt the residents of the ward he has professed to love for so long?"
A recount confirmed that Dow was indeed narrowly defeated by Basheer Jones in the November general election. The 13-vote margin was the second smallest among the 17 council races. (In Ward 1, Joe Jones defeated incumbent Terrell Pruitt by only eight votes.)
When reached for comment, new Councilman Jones said that his opinion on Dow's maneuver was unnecessary to state.
"I think what he did is clear," Jones said.
When asked if he interpreted the attempted transfer as an affront to him personally, maybe even as a kind of revenge, Jones said it was much more than that.
"You're not talking about me. You're talking about the ward, about disrespecting the babies and the teenagers and the elders and the organizations. You're talking about all of those. This is not about me. This is about the residents of Ward 7."
that Council President Kevin Kelley will ultimately decide if the transfer request will be honored and that he has not yet made up his mind. For the time being, he has passed the transfer request on to the city's law department.
But Jones said that Kelley has signaled to him that he will not approve the transfer.
"I really appreciate the Council President," Jones said, "and all those who saw this for what it was."
Jones said he's not yet sure how he'll spend his ward's discretionary dollars (from casino funds and block grants) but that he feels fortunate to walk in on day one with a surplus. His Ward 7 includes most of St. Clair-Superior and Hough, and there are a number of organizations and parks that could benefit from additional resources, he said. He did mention a collaborative program to provide zero-interest loans to residents to "tackle the payday lending crisis," and a new distribution center for the Greater Cleveland Foodbank, soon to open in Ward 7.
"There's definitely going to be transformational work going on," Jones said, "and residents will notice the difference immediately."
T.J. Dow's transfer request:
Facebook.com / Mansfield Frazier
T.J. Dow's final act.