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Residents of Cleveland's Ward 4 can't say for sure, but are fairly certain that a recent newsletter purporting to expose a ring of "conspirators" plotting to "take over" Wards 4 and 6 was distributed by Councilman Ken Johnson.
The double-dipping councilman has become increasingly unhinged as cleveland.com's Mark Naymik continues to report
on his monthly expense reports, which include hundreds of miles of supposed intra-ward travel. Meanwhile, for obvious reasons, home-grown opposition sprouts in and around Buckeye-Shaker.
The newsletter is dated April 14, 2019 and is supposedly edited by a person named "Goldie Steinmetz." Local activists suggest Steinmetz might not even be a real person and that the newsletter is consistent with Johnson's mailings in the past, in which he has tried to frighten Ward 4 residents, especially seniors, into remaining loyal to him.
Before the 2017 primary election, for example, Johnson sent mailers
to residents full of outrageous lies. He said that only he would be able to continue assistance programs for seniors.
"My opponents WILL NOT be able to continue any of our unique senior programs regardless of what they have told you," Johnson wrote at the time. "My ward 4 programs are almost totally run by Councilman Johnson's volunteers. These dedicated residents have volunteered for me for many years. When I leave office—By Law—all of our unique Ward 4 programs (mowing grass and snow removal for both seniors and the disabled, holiday gift cards, and etc.) must end."
These are despicable lies from an insecure politician on his last legs.
The newsletter is more of the same, a bunch of scary rhetoric with no substance. What he (or whoever the writer and distributor of the current newsletter) is railing against is democratic action. Residents are fed up with their political representation and have formed grassroots efforts to "reclaim" their ward. This effort was publicized as early as February, 2018
, with stated goals of improving voter education and turnout in the hopes of unseating Johnson.
There was never any secret conspiracy. The goal has always been unseating the multi-decade incumbent because he's such a worthless councilman.
The newsletter takes scattershot aim at organizers Rowland Mitchell, Michelle Jackson and C. Ellen Connally, referring to them as "Uncle Toms" working at the behest of Shaker Heights resident Mary Boyle and white Shaker Square investors.
The accusations and insinuations are straight-up bonkers.
"These incompetents, thieves and liars are trying to get their hands on Wards 4 & 6," it says. "Wards 4 & 6 are Opportunity Zones... Billions are available for redevelopment. The thieves smell the money ... don't trust them."
Michelle Jackson, one of the implicated "conspirators," wrote a letter to other Ward 4 residents and friends arguing that while the newsletter was "hilarious for its inanity," it was evidence of why activist efforts in Ward 4 were so necessary. Johnson — if indeed he was behind the newsletter — has chosen to spend his time and energy attacking organizers instead of focusing on serious problems in the ward.
"The need," Jackson wrote, "is to continue to remind our Ward 4 community of how much we have lost over nearly 40 years while the council person, cut off from his [Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation] ATM, continues to devise ever more bizarre schemes to scam $1200/month and to denigrate Democratic donors and voters and volunteers."
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