March 9th, 2016

Here is a last warning to Cuyahoga County voters who might be torn between voting for the present Prosecutor Tim McGinty or his opponent Mike O’Malley in the Democratic primary.

Victory in the Democratic primary March 15 assures that the victor will be elected.

I know that Michael O’Malley is not the same as Pat O’Malley. Michael is his brother and should not be blamed for Pat’s transgressions. However, it’s baggage he has to carry.

His campaign has the smell of a revival of that old gang.

Mike told Cleveland Magazine’s Erick Trickey recently that he hadn’t spoken with Pat in months.

However, there is a record. I have been repeating problems of the former County Recorder’s record.

What concerns me is that by electing Mike O’Malley you bring back to county politics the poisonous tactics and practices of Pat and his buddy former Prosecutor Bill Mason, who as the previous keeper of order seemed to miss all the corruption in almost every office in the county building.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the old clique of theirs could be back with an O’Malley victory.

Prosecutor McGinty has a rule: Run for office or even party precinct committee if you’re a prosecutor you must resign. Formerly, prosecutors were encouraged to run. It helped expand the political barony of the Masons/O’Malleys. McGinty wisely put an end to such power-grabbing.

We need that clear message that justice, not power-grabbing, is the job of the County Prosecutor’s office.

One former O’Malley long-time employee back in 2001 unloaded to me about the corruption of the County Recorder’s office under Pat O’Malley.

I wrote the piece for the Free Times. (Its web site was wiped clear.) Unfortunately but typically the Plain Dealer didn’t pick up the story. Unfortunately, even now the PD isn’t giving the back story of this era and these politicians with strong political ambitions to create a political machine.

The Plain Dealer in essence is doing the same as it did those many years that Jimmy Dimora and Frank Russo were doing their corrupt dance.

They are too weak to warn the public of the possible outcome of a change in the Prosecutor’s office presently.

The culture of corruption was ignored then. It will be ignored again.

Here is the article I wrote in November 2001 before the corruption crashes at the county. I believe it sends a warning to voters in a contest that has many other aspects that may overshadow these charges. Here it is:

An employee for Cuyahoga County Recorder Patrick O’Malley says that he did political work for the recorder during regular working hours and with public office equipment, illegal activities that have resulted in fines and/or jail time for people found guilty of such things in the past.

(The employee unnamed here but identified in the original article)… who began at the Recorder’s office November 1, 1999 after serving as O’Malley’s City Council assistant from 1995 to 1999, recently quit, saying he got tired of the pressure to perform what he considered political work in the Recorder’s office.

“Politics really have overtaken service that should be going on” in the office, (he) says, calling the situation “blatant.”

Comparing the situation to the Nixon White House during Watergate, (he) paraphrases President Nixon’s legal counsel John Dean: “There’s a cancer in there. A lot of people can be hurt with all the stuff that’s going on there. (He) says people “feel threatened. Everybody needs a job. (They say) ‘I’d better do what they tell me to do no matter how illegal because the job’s on the line.’

(He) also says he believes he may have gotten threatening calls after talking to the Free Times. One anonymous caller hung up after saying, ‘The house is going up.’ He also fears for his parents, nearing their 80s, who have received hang-up calls during the day.

To back his charges, (he) produces a number of promotional pieces he said he was directed to undertake at the county office during regular working hours. They include a mock-up of a campaign piece for an O’Malley fund-raiser at Thistledown racetrack on July 15, 2001. The piece requests donations from $50 to $1,000 contributed by check to “Friends of Pat O’Malley.

Another promotion was a Halloween party with Pat O’Malley on Oct. 31, 2001, notes, ‘Hispanic Community Get out and Vote…’

Other pieces include designs of ads meant for various charitable booklets with O’Malleys photo displayed, including one for an event called “Fannie Lewis & the Hough Community.” Another, “The Joy of Celebrating with Family, Friends & Neighbors – Makes for Memories that Last a Lifetime and highlights the Recorder’s Office. Another supports the Cleveland Heights Democratic Party’ annual picnic.

(He) also says small gifts were delivered to various ward club meetings as tokens from the Recorder’s Office. He notes that one official now gone, told workers, “Don’t forget this is what you’re here for,” referring to political work, and that others would come up “to you and tell you essentially, Are you with us or against us? That’s pressure. Folk are cowed, scared. That’s sad.”

(He) also claims that he was pressured into buying tickets for a political event, noting one for a $20 holiday party at the Harp. (He) says he wanted to pay by check but was told that “only cash: would be accepted.” He says he finally paid the $20, though he wasn’t happy, and he didn’t attend the function.

Though allowing that O’Malley himself gave no orders directly, (he) says he was fed up, and he quit after being apparently punished for not participating in a literature drop for Jane Campbell.

James McNea, an administrator, had asked (him) on Oct. 19, a Friday afternoon, to help distribute political literature the next day. Apparently to emphasize the importance of complying with the request, McNea, according to (him), said, ‘Oh, by the way, Pat’s going to be there.’

(He) says he heard that only four people responded to the lit-drop request for O’Malley employees and that various people told him that “Pat had conniptions” because it made him look bad to have such a poor showing.”

On Wednesday, Oct. 24, (he) returned to work in the public outreach office, but was told to report elsewhere to do data entry. He claims this was punishment for failing to distribute literature on Saturday as requested by McNea. About 9:45 a.m., (he) says he wrote a resignation letter and left.

Although O’Malley, as usual, did not return calls, other employees of the department contacted by telephone deny (his) charges.

McNea, a $48,000 a year department head, says, “Not that I recall, sir,” when asked if he required (him) to perform political work on county time. Pressed whether he could recall asking volunteers for a lit drop, McNea says, “Sir, I don’t remember. I doubt that I would.”

Sandy May, a $37,500 employee in O’Malley’s administrative office, also denies giving (him) an assignment to devise a flyer for O’Malley at the office. But when pressed whether she ever gave an assignment to do such work for any reason, even at home, she says, “Not that I can recall.”

Does that mean you could have? was the follow-up question.

“Let me put you on hold for a minute, please. I’ve got another call coming in,” was the response. After more than five minutes, she hadn’t returned to the phone.

After employees became aware of calls about these charges, the answers became categorical denials of any political work done on county time. Kathy Hibler, a $64,000-a-year administrator for O’Malley, responds this way: “First of all there is never… there is no political activity done in this office ever. That’s the policy.”

Asked why (he) would make such a charge, Hibler says, “I have no idea.” But that has been the policy. It always is the policy and it will continue to be the policy.”

“I feel sad now that I didn’t dig in earlier,” replies (he), apologetic that he didn’t expose these activities sooner.

“I should have had the guts. That I regret.”

By Roldo Bartimole…

point of viǝw

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