The Cleveland Heights political action committee dedicated to retaining the city manager form of government
will receive up to $25,000 in matching funds from a global city management organization.
The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) has pledged to donate up to $25,000 to the Cleveland Heights Citizens for Good Government, a group created to squash the citizen initiative to change the form of government.
The news of the matching donation came to light in late July when an exchange over NextDoor lead to a release of documents received through a public records request. These documents contained the exchange between ICMA and the deputy treasure of Citizens for Good Government, Mike Gaynier. Cleveland Heights City Manager Tanisha Briley was cc-ed in the email, making the email a public record.
Briley has a prominent role within the ICMA network where she serves as an board member of ICMA-RC, the retirement corporation wing of the organization. Briley was also a featured panelist at at-least one ICMA conference.
In a city council meeting following the exposure of the news regarding the donation, Cleveland Heights council members, most of whom have donated to the pro-city manager group, agreed not to adopt the revised version of the city charter. Over 20 residents attended the meeting and provided comments on the topic, including several that referenced the ICMA donation.
Mallory McMaster, a resident and small business owner, told Scene that she is aghast at the ICMA funding.
“It's disappointing that the group that keeps telling us that it's worried that the election of a strong mayor opens us up to partisan influence is the same group expecting $25,000 from an interest group,” McMaster said.
In the past several years, ICMA has supported political action committees dedicated to attaining or maintaining the city management form of government. It is unclear how much the organization has given to other PACs in cities with a similar population size and organizational structure as Cleveland Heights. The organization did not respond to a request for comment.
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