As Lake County residents become aware of LFC’s mission to hold elected officials and the unelected bureaucrats accountable to the voters in the communities, we are becoming inundated with requests for help.
In keeping with LFC’s policy of total transparency, we are providing our readers with the documentation, sent and received, from Willoughby Hill’s officials as we exercise our rights provided in Ohio’s Sunshine laws. As our logo suggests, we will continue to shine the light on the truth in the public arena.
Here are the responses received from Frank J. Brichacek, Jr, Director of Finance:
Here is a copy of Mrs. Gloria Majeski’s resume: GM Resume
LFC recently followed up with Willoughby Hills by sending this email to Mr. Brichacek via Mayor Andy Gardner:
Frank J. Brichacek, Jr. Director of Finance City of Willoughby Hills 35405 Chardon Road Willoughby Hills, OH 44094
Re: Records Request
Dear Mr. Brichacek:
This is a follow-up to your response dated June 11, 2020 to our records request dated May 28, 2020. Technically, you did not provide the public records, but created a new document. Since there are problems with the figures supplied to date, we are going to need documentation for any figures that you supply in the new document that you create.
We have some questions on the information that you supplied concerning the “Executive Assistant to Mayor Information”.
The 2020 reported salary of $70,717.71 does not appear correct. The 1% pension pickup amount stated was $721.00. Therefore, it seems that the annual salary should be $72,100.00. [$721.00 / .01] Please provide documentation for the annual salary.
We do not see any amount for the employer portion of the PERS. Is the City providing 14% of the annual salary amount as a contribution to the retirement account for the Executive Assistant? If PERS is being paid, then it appears that $10,094.00 is the annual PERS contribution by the City. [$72,100.00 x .14]
The citizens of Willoughby Hills want to know the total cost to the City for the Executive Assistant position including the mandatory State of Ohio and federal government payroll payments. We want to know any and all payments on behalf of the Executive Assistant to include Medicare taxes, state and federal unemployment payments, workers’ compensation, in-kind payments, reimbursements, perks, awards, or payments to third parties on the Executive Assistant’s behalf.
The citizens of Willoughby Hills would also like to compare the total compensation for the years 2018, 2019 and the budgeted amounts for 2020. We have enclosed a spreadsheet that gives you the information that the citizens need.
Unfortunately, we could not find the union contract that you said was attached to your email. Please resend it to us.
We will research the City’s website for the financial information requested.
We are enclosing a second records request concerning other matters of interest to the citizens of Willoughby Hills.
(LFC Comments: Thanks to several lobbyists for sending this article to us regarding the Willoughby Hills lawsuit. After reading it, we cannot help but wonder if this will backfire on the plaintiffs? The phrase “frivolous lawsuit” comes to our mind. Could be expensive for them. Unfortunately, filing frivolous lawsuits is another manifestation of our current cancel culture. It appears that opposing views and free speech are no longer tolerated in Willoughby Hills. Step out of line, and you will experience the wrath of the power elite and their sycophants. Kudos to Nancy Fellows for standing up to bullies!)
Help Nancy Fellows Defeat Willoughby Hills Bullies
[LFC Comments: Wow, the drama never seems to end in Willoughby Hills. Not only will the power elite allow their cronies to dump dirt in the city, they have no remorse in trying to “dump” anyone that does not agree with them. This is a clarion call to the citizens of Willoughby Hills to back Councilwoman Nancy Fellows. She needs your support in challenging the tyrannical Mayor. She is fighting for the residents in Willoughby Hills.)
*****For IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 11, 2020
Mayor’s Bullying Continues in Willoughby Hills; Councilwoman Calls for End to Bullying and Is Threatened with Removal from Office
WILLOUGHBY HILLS – On June 8, 2020, Willoughby Hills Councilwoman-at-Large Nancy Fellows—the longest serving elected official in the City and notable as the first Council President of a female-majority council in Lake County history—introduced a resolution against bullying and racism and asked her City Hall colleagues to work harder at working together. Fellows introduced this legislation partly in response to the 2020 resignations of two of the seven members of the Willoughby Hills Council who cited bullying and fear for their personal safety in their resignation letters.
“No one should go to work and feel threatened and in fear of their life,” Fiebig said in his January 27, 2020, resignation letter.
“Truthfully, the venom and nastiness in City Hall literally makes me cry,” Majka said about her reasons for resigning in a May 30, 2020, News-Herald article.
Days after Majka resigned alleging Gardner and his supporters bullied and harassed her and Fellow’s prepared a resolution denouncing bullying, five of Mayor Andy Gardner’s supporters filed a lawsuit in Lake County Probate Court to remove Councilwoman Fellows from office. These same people—Tony Miller, Vicki Miller, Jeffrey Fruscella, Steve Crone and Jack Hay—unsuccessfully attempted to remove Fellows from office in 2019, shortly after Gardner announced his campaign to run against Fellows for Mayor, by filing a similar claim, which was dismissed in court and ultimately deemed frivolous by the City’s Law Director.
“I am disgusted that Mayor Andy Gardner has failed to keep his campaign promise to work together and is instead allowing the bullying in city hall to continue,” said Councilwoman Nancy Fellows. “We expect our children not to bully, so it’s particularly disturbing to see adults bullying others, especially adults who are supposed to be leaders in our community. Anyone who steps up to serve their neighbors should not have to fear for their safety for doing their job like Dave Fiebig, Jan Majka and I have. I understand why Dave and Jan resigned, but I’m not going anywhere.
For almost 20 years, the residents of Willoughby Hills have trusted me to speak up for them and if I let Mayor Gardner and his supporters bully me too, who will be left to speak for the people of Willoughby Hills? I ask Mayor Gardner to stop this nonsense once and for all and keep his campaign promise to work together. He’s responsible for this—the buck stops with him.”
The hearing on the case is set for Monday June 15, 2020, in Lake County Probate Court.
(LFC Comments: This is our free speech zone, and we allow any interested party the forum to write a rebuttal to this article.)
Who’s dumping in Willoughby Hills Part VII Written by a Willoughby Hills Lobbyist
If you pay any attention at all to Willoughby Hills politics, by now you know that long-time Willoughby Hills Councilman Dave Fiebig resigned. While Fiebig was quick to point the finger at Andy Gardner, Chris Hallum and Michael Kline for unethical and illegal conduct, Fiebig also claimed he feared for his life:
“No one should go to work and feel threatened and in fear of their life. Sitting in front of a man who was once removed from the chamber for being disruptive, who sued me, threatened to sue me again, and reaching into a large bag visibly shaking and talking with a wavering voice, I genuinely feared as to what he may pull out of this large bag.”
If you weren’t at the Council Meeting on January 24, 2020, you probably do not know who Fiebig is referring to there. He was talking about a man named Tony Miller.
Tony Miller is the Good Old Boys’ and the $100,000 Secretary’s favorite pet. When they need someone to do the dirtiest of their dirty work, Tony Miller’s their go-to guy. This poor soul probably believes the $100,000 Secretary really cares about him. Sorry, to break it to you Tony. She’s just using you as a weapon against anyone who threatens to get between her and her money.
Tony Miller’s first mission was to try to intimidate and humiliate City Council Members at Mayor Weger’s February 2018 town hall meeting. Tony came through like a champ, screaming at people he had never met, including Fiebig and Councilwoman Laura Pizmoht as she held her young child on her lap. After that episode Miller along with his wife Vicki Miller, was a frequent attendee at Council Meetings where he would deliver tirades at public portion and occasionally be gaveled out of order or even escorted out by police. One time he spooked former Council President Nancy Fellows when he snuck up behind the council table and stood menacingly behind her. Miller was also fond of harassing Council Members on social media and spreading conspiracy theories about them. Not surprisingly, the Chief of Police sent a written warning to Miller to stop harassing people and disrupting public meetings. Naturally, Miller responded in August of 2018 with an unsuccessful circulation of recall petitions against the same Council Members that Weger would illegally attempt to fire two months later.
Since Tony’s 2018 town hall tirade, when he abruptly entered the Willoughby Hills political fray, Tony Miller seemed to be a critical player in every Weger-Gardner political stunt. Like in the fall of 2019 when Tony and his wife Vicki, a city officer herself, who Weger appointed to serve on the City’s Recreation Commission naturally, kicked off campaign season in Willoughby Hills by frivolously suing the opponents of Andy Gardner et al. The lawsuit was tossed out, but once again, Tony Miller was doing the dirty work on behalf of his masters.
Which is surely what he was doing when he approached the microphone, with large bag in shaky hand, to speak during public portion at the January 24, 2020 Council Meeting. He thankfully didn’t assassinate anyone despite Fiebig’s concern, but instead took the opportunity to threaten to sue the same people he sued in 2019 to try for (what is it? the 12th time now?) to remove them all from office, seemingly forgetting that three of those people aren’t even in office anymore. Tony was kind enough to offer them all a deal though if they would sign a promise to him that they’d never run for office or volunteer in the City again. Tony Miller is the gold standard of good citizenship, after all.
Every city seems to have a Tony Miller type wearing the tinfoil hat and railing agains the government, just maybe not quite as crazy as the real Tony Miller. Some think that televising council meetings is what drives people to act like Tony Miller. But maybe in Tony Miller’s case it’s a little bit of that mixed with something else.
You thought this wasn’t going to be about Belich’s dirt dump on Chardon Road and the thousands of dollars in campaign donations his father-in-law just happened to make to Andy Gardner, Chris Hallum, Michael Kline, Joe Jarmuszkiewicz and Andy’s $100,000 secretary Gloria Majeski’s PAC, did you?
Tony Miller lives on Hayes Drive, in his mother-in-law’s house on a two-acre parcel. It’s the dead end street right across River Road from Squire’s Castle. Most of the houses on Hayes are older and small compared to modern homes, particularly compared to newer developments in Willoughby Hills like Loreto, Maple Hill, Pine Valley or Riversedge. Houses in the newer developments can go for upwards of $800,000. Houses on Hayes, more like lucky to get $180,000. It seems a shame that a side street with houses in walking distance to one of the shiniest gems of the Emerald Necklace is not a more desirable street. Could it be?
Guess who bought the parcel next to the Miller’s homestead shortly before Tony’s 2018 town hall tirade? You guessed it—Mark Belich’s company, Parkview Land Development.
(LFC Comments: We thought we had this totally covered with our 5 part series, but our Willoughby Hills lobbyist keeps shedding the light on the dumping in Willoughby Hills. So here is part 6, with perhaps more to come.)
Who’s Dumping in Willoughby Hills Part VI
In November 2019, after Cuvier Lukat spent $6,050 to elect Andy Gardner, Joe Jarmuszkiewicz, Chris Hallum, Michael Kline and Tanya Taylor Draper in Willoughby Hills, a city he didn’t even live in, Lukat’s son-in-law Mark Belich sent his army of gigantic trucks to begin dumping all over the protected hillside at 37200 Chardon Road. By then it was almost a year and a half after Belich lobbied hard and won approval from the Willoughby Hills Planning and Zoning Commission for his “driveway project”.
After all that effort to win approval in the spring of 2018, why did Belich’s dump truck army really descend on Willoughby Hills AFTER November 5, 2019, which was coincidentally election day? What was he waiting for?
Let’s look at what Belich said when asked at a P&Z meeting back on April 19, 2018.
P&Z Council Representative Dave Fiebig: When do you think [the project] will occur?
Mark Belich: As you and I have known each other for a long time, Dave, I can recite you some numbers. $365,000 to buy the property; $4,500 for taxes on the property for the last six months while we get through this; $9,000 for Engineering fees to do the drawing; $9,000 for a wetland study; $1,000 for DiFranco to review the drawings; $1,000 for Lake Co. Engineer to review the drawings; $325 for Lake County Soil & Water to review the drawings.
As we sit here in this Work Session, I know we are all interested in reducing the size of government. Its does not sound like we are all being good stewards of all of that. We are here in a work session with people who live in a community to get through that. Some of you who know me here, and I have been around a long time, you know how I am about government. So I am $600,000 into this, I find that there are people who have concerns or comments with what I will do with 38 acres of property that’s $10,000/year in property taxes, which has been nothing but a crystal meth lab and an area to grow marijuana, So I am interested in moving on with this. I think it is going to be a good thing.
Fiebig: The question I will be asked is, When do you plan to start? Are you thinking August?
Belich: We are thinking August and finish by spring. It will be about 6 months.
That was a non-simple response to a simple question: when is this project going to occur? But eventually, with a little prompting, Belich answered it.
As interested as Belich said he was with “moving on with this”, with all the good it was going to do, with all that money on the line and more going out the window every day without any progress, with his dreams of rehabbing the two homes on the property in which he and his in-laws planned to live out their golden years, you’d think Belich would be eager to get started in August 2018 as he planned.
August 2018 would have been an interesting time to start. August 2018 is the first time Mayor Weger threatened to remove six of seven members of the City Council (including Fiebig).
August 2018 came and went, but Belich did not start the project. He did not start it in September 2018 or October 2018 either.
In early October 2018, Weger desperately tried to get rid of the City Council for “cutting the budget too much”. That same month a judge ruled Weger’s behavior illegal and that he could not usurp the will of the voters and remove the City Council. It became evident that, despite all Weger’s attempts to get rid of the Council members who were so unreasonable—so unreasonable that they were against things like paying Weger’s secretary over $100,000 PER YEAR, who’s now Andy Gardner’s secretary and says he’s going to give her a big raise—were failing. By the end of 2018, it was clear those Council members weren’t going anywhere … unless Weger and his cronies could field candidates that could beat them in the November 2019 election.
Belich didn’t start his driveway project in 2018. He didn’t start in January of 2019 or February of 2019 either.
He started the project in November of 2019 when Weger’s cronies’ candidates won the November 2019 election. Was that what he waiting for?
Was Belich afraid to start the project with honest public servants controlling Willoughby Hills City Council?
Was Belich afraid officials who weren’t part of the Good Ol’ Boys Club might stand in his way for some reason?
Was Belich afraid of what these honest public servants would ask, discover or say about his dream dump home project?
Was Belich afraid of what would happen if he didn’t OWN city hall?
Was Belich worried that if didn’t have all the Willoughby Hills officials in his pocket, they they would do to his dump what the Eastlake Council did to his gambling den and strip club?
Did Belich need an insurance policy … a $6,050 insurance policy … to ensure lackeys were sitting on City Council who would look the other way while his dump trucks ran roughshod over the city’s protected land?
Nah, it surely was just a coincidence that he started his “driveway project” right after the November 2019 election, when his father-in-law, Cuvier Lukat, just happened to get a return on his $6,050 investment in the Good Ol’ Boys Club. Definitely a coincidence, because with a residential project this great for the community and in compliance with all laws, honest public servants on City Council would certainly be all for it and there would be nothing for Belich to worry about. Yep, definitely a coincidence.
Have you ever seen a residential driveway project with an army of giant dump trucks, a truck weigh station, dozens of employees and street sweepers before?
Has anyone seen the plans for the house remodeling yet?
Did you know that there was no need to comply with state and federal wetlands regulations because the pond on the property is going to be used for agriculture? Who can wait for the lovely two restored homes, a perfectly sloped driveway and a farm. What an asset to the community!
No wonder Michael Kline—who was a member of the Willoughby Hills Planning and Zoning Commission in the spring of 2018, who is a member of the extreme left wing environmentalist group called the Sierra Club, and a regular harasser of his neighbors who commit the atrocity of destroying the earth by burning fire wood—had no problem with Belich’s plan to dump tons and tons of sewer project waste on protected hillside and wetlands … and why Belich Lukat was happy to oblige Kline with a $500 campaign contribution.
Speaking of farms. Remember how Belich said this in April of 2018:
“This is not a development project. The name of the project is Parkview Development. When we went to incorporate a family business we wanted the name Parkview Farm but that was taken.”
Someone should tell Belich that there are no businesses registered in Ohio with the name Parkview Farm. With Belich’s interest in agriculture and TOTAL DISINTEREST in developing this land to make a gigantic profit, why settle for an imperfect name? For a nominal fee, Belich can change the name of his company any time to Parkview Farm to better reflect the representations he made to the residents of Willoughby Hills on the public record that were relied on by the Planning and Zoning Commission to determine whether the project should be approved.
(LFC Comments: We offer this forum to anyone mentioned in this article to provide a rebuttal to the statements made by this lobbyist exercising his constitutional right of free speech.)
Remember how Mark Belich got burned by Eastlake when it shutdown his gambling parlor, and wouldn’t let him turn it into a strip club even after he reminded them of how much money he’d pumped into the city? Well, he seems to have learned from that experience.
Belich’s company Parkview Land Development LLC was formed on November 17, 2017 and it purchased the 38 acres at 37200 Chardon Road a couple of weeks later. Meanwhile, another Belich company, Great Lakes Crushing, was one of the contractors tasked with digging the massive Cuyahoga County sewer project tunnels. What gets dug must be dumped, and digging miles long sewer tunnels produces a lot of dirt.
Appearing before the April 12, 2018 Willoughby Hills Planning and Zoning Commission’s panel of Good Ol’ Boys, he explained his plan to “fill in the area in front where there are no wetlands” to make the driveway less steep. The plan brought before the Board was to dump 120,000 – 140,000 yards of dirt along the hillside adjacent to Chardon Road, necessitating a “large quantity of trucks” to accomplish this purpose.
If you live in Willoughby Hills, you might be thinking, What’s in this project for me? You might think this if you watched the legions of giant dump trucks speeding down Chardon Road, or almost skidded into a ditch on the messy slippery mess they left all over the road, or got stuck behind an erratically driven forklift or street sweeper. Or maybe you think that as you drive by and look out your window at the scene reminiscent of a strip mine.
Whatever your reason for wondering why on earth the Willoughby Hills Planning and Zoning Commission signed off on this mess, Belich has you covered. Over the course of the meeting, he explained all the wonderful benefits to the community of his dumping project:
He owns two full-time street sweepers and doesn’t need to rent them,
The dirt will come in on bottom-dump dump trucks,
His company is the second largest soil stabilizer in Northeast Ohio,
He has lived in Willoughby Hills for 20 years.
His project will help the police and fire departments by allowing them better access to the property,
He’s better than the previous owner: “When we bought the house, we discovered that they were cooking crystal meth in the basement and growing marijuana. [His project] will be a relief to all of us in our community here”,
He’s just going to forget about how the City of Willoughby Hills dumped potentially contaminated soil on the property in the 90’s,
He plans to restore the original 1840s and 1920s houses on the property,
He feels “very deeply about preserving the area”,
The project is not a development project despite the name of his company. He only picked Parkview Land Development because Parkview Farm was taken;
Referring to the dirt he’s planning to dump on the property he says, “fortunately, we are the receivers of soils coming from the NEO Regional Sewer District drillings that have been part of the Clean Water Act to preserve our lake water to stop sewage from going there … It will help us all to find more clean water.”
He spent a lot of money on it already: “I can recite some numbers. $365,000 to buy the property; $4,500 for taxes on the property for the last six months while we get through this; $9,000 for engineering fees to do the drawing; $9,000 for a wetland study; $1,000 for [the city engineer] to review the drawings; $1,000 to Lake County Engineer to review the drawings; $325 for Lake County Soil & Water to review the drawings”
Clearly, if the City of Eastlake knew all the virtues of his gambling joint or his strip club had to offer they would have made different decisions.
From Belich’s own words it’s clear that before his company bought this property he knew it was a place other contractors dumped dirt, possibly even contaminated dirt, and he is engaged in a business that needs to dump a lot of dirt.
One other thing Belich mentioned at the April 19, 2018 meeting: “We hope to restore the 1840’s house to its original condition and move Julie’s parents there.” Julie being Belich’s wife. Julie’s parents include her father, CuvierLukat.
Cuvier Lukat being the 82 year-old Willoughby resident who donated over $6,000 to elect Andy Gardner, Chris Hallum, Michael Kline, and Joe Jarmuszkiewicz in Willoughby Hills.
(LFC Comments: We offer a forum for any of the individuals mentioned in this five part series to provide a rebuttal to any statements made by the Willoughby Hills lobbyist. When we read this, we could not help but think of the saying: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we first set out to deceive”.)
(LFC Comments: Our Willoughby Hills lobbyist is continuing to shed the light into the darkness of Willoughby Hills politics.)
Who’s dumping in Willoughby Hills…Part 4 of 5
On November 30, 2017, Parkview Land Development LLC purchased the 38 acres at 37200 Chardon Road for $390,000. Prior to this day, locals chuckled at the signs all over the entrance to the steep drive that plunged down into the river valley towards an old run-down house that demonstrated the now-former owner’s obsession with the Second Amendment and keeping sneaky trespassers off his property. It seemed a hefty price for a property on difficult-to-develop protected slope and river-valley property. Who would bet on that?
Parkview Land Development LLC was formed on November 17, 2017 by Corpsys Inc. On July 14, 2010, Corpsys Inc. became the agent of eight companies including Sneakee Pete’s Bar & Grille and GL Crushing. Prior to Corpsys, the agent for both companies was listed as Mark Belich.
You might remember Sneakee Pete’s as the controversial gambling café in Eastlake that almost became a strip club. When Eastlake and the state shut his gambling parlor down, Belich looked to turn his café into a strip joint, but once again he ran into government officials who told him no. In 2014, the Eastlake City Council voted to deny Belich his strip club. In an April 10, 2014 News Herald Article, Belich had this to say to the Eastlake Council on the matter:
“I’ve probably paid in excess of $5 million between real estate taxes, payroll taxes, permits and probably some attorney fees. Nobody wanted my Internet café but it never caused a problem. For years it contributed a lot of money to the city. The request is to reopen a restaurant with an adult cabaret, which I don’t think will cause any problems for anybody.”
Belich’s attorney took it a step further.
“Nowhere in your ordinances do you define where this type of business can go. And I invite everyone in the city council to take time and scour through the ordinances—they’re online—I’ve had the most recent ones looked at, and nowhere does it say where a cabaret can go. So we have a legal conundrum there because we don’t have a specific designation. I think one legal issue that’s going to cause years and years of litigation on this is you don’t say where you can put it.”
Eastlake didn’t back down. There is no and never was a strip club at Sneakee Pete’s.
In 2016, another Belich company, GL Crushing, also known as Great Lakes Crushing, was awarded a multi-million dollar contract from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s massive storm water tunneling project. The NEORSD planned to spend hundreds of millions of dollars over several years to dig seven miles long tunnels to channel stormwater by awarding bids to dozens of construction contractors and subcontractors.
Belich’s company was going to be paid millions to dig giant tunnels.
And what gets dug must get dumped.
(LFC Comments: Ah, we are started to see the light, connect the dots, …wonder what part 5 will reveal?)
(LFC Comments: We are pleased to present part 3 of 5 parts of our Willoughby Hills mystery. Our lobbyist slowly, but surely, pulls back the curtain on this affair.) *********************1776
Who’s Dumping in Willoughby Hills? Part 3 of 5
According to public campaign records, 82 year-old Mentor resident Cuvier Lukat wrote out several checks dumping cash into the campaign coffers of four Willoughby Hills candidates along with a Political Action Committee formed by a long-time Good Ol’ Boys Club political operative and former IRS agent in Willoughby Hills named Denise Niedermeyer:
$750 to real estate agent and incumbent Councilman Chris Hallum, who lives down the street from Niedermeyer.
$500 to retired debt collector and member of the Willoughby Hills Planning and Zoning Commission Mike Kline
$3,000 to lawyer and Weger’s favorite Commission appointee and next-door neighbor Andy Gardner
And $1,300 to a Political Action Committee ironically named “Neighbors for Responsible Government”.
Mr. Lukat gave nothing to poor Tanya Taylor-Draper, the slate’s candidate for the District 2 seat, but he did give $1500 to Joe Jarmuszkiewicz, the Council At-Large candidate.
Strangely, Mr. Lukat’s address was different on Jarmuszkiewicz’s campaign finance return than it was on the others. Rather than the Mentor address, Jarmuszkiewicz listed his benefactor as living in a condo in Willoughby.
According to the Board of Elections, 82-year-old Mr. Lukat’s current address is the Willoughby address. Given Mr. Lukat’s lack of interest in voting outside of presidential elections, it seems extra generous of him to shovel thousands of dollars into the campaigns of local candidates running in another city.
But seriously, why would a guy with no apparent interest in local politics pile thousands of dollars on a slate of candidates and a Political Action Committee campaigning in another city? Was Mr. Lukat perhaps delivering on behalf of someone else who might have an interest in dumping thousands of dollars into a Willoughby Hills election? Maybe a family member? Like his daughter and son-in-law?
(LFC Comment: It is not suggested that anything illegal has taken place, just some very curious actions taken by some residents. We will let the taxpayers decide how appropriate these actions were. Wait for parts 4 and 5 to be even more revealing.)
The most notable episode of Willoughby Hills political mud-slinging happened in October of 2018 when Mayor Robert Weger called a press conference to announce he was firing six of seven council members. Sure, anyone viewing this spectacle—outside the city limits anyway—thought the same thing: He can’t do that! As the drama wore on and Weger insisted he could do it because these legislators had the nerve to “cut the budget too much”, it became clear to anyone—outside the city limits anyway—what this nonsense was all about.
Ahem, pricing senior out of their homes – they are!
Yes, Virginia, to find the source of the drama in Willoughby Hills you must follow the money. Good Ol’ Boys want to keep the city budget—all those juicy proceeds from the highest sewer fees in Lake County, the infamous RITA double tax, and property taxes that have gone through the roof—to themselves and those Good Ol’ Boys will do anything to keep their hands on it.
In October of 2018, Weger was trying to remove the pesky Council because they told him he couldn’t spend $25,000 of taxpayer dollars on a brand new car for himself or $4,000 a year for his personal gas allowance. Council said no to spending over $100,000 a year for Weger’s personal secretary. And Council said no to spending hundreds of more thousands of dollars to hire Weger’s political supporters, the children, sisters, husbands, friends, or companies of Weger’s political supporters. The audacity of that Council telling Weger that the city should spend the taxpayer money on crazy things like staffing the fire department or paving roads instead led to Weger’s epic meltdown in October of 2018.
But with the obviousness of Weger’s October 2018 political stunt completely on display, it seemed finally that Weger had crossed a bridge too far. By Christmas of 2018, Weger begrudgingly agreed to a truce with the Council.
However, it wasn’t the temporary restraining order or a crisis of conscience that led Weger to this noble act. You see, earlier in 2018 Council cut over $300,000 in administrative employee salaries and benefits to avoid a deficit budget, fund minimally safe staffing of the fire department and to pave roads. But that administrative staff consisted of Weger’s personal secretary and those political supporters and their families he was employing.
What about the taxpayers?
These cronies also had formed a union to protect their cash supply and when the inevitable cuts came, Weger’s cronies’ union sued the taxpayers. Conveniently, Weger was tasked with defending the City against his cronies’ union’s lawsuit and, conveniently, fired the city’s lawyer so the law wouldn’t get in his way. Unsurprisingly, Weger then failed to defend the taxpayers against his cronies’ union’s lawsuit and the taxpayers were forced to rehire the cronies and to continue dumping taxpayers’ money to them for at least another year.
Much to everyone’s surprise though, the truce seemed to work, but of course this is not because Weger suddenly was interested in doing the right thing. Prior to the 2018 Christmas truce, as a trade-off, Weger outsourced the City’s union dispatchers to Lake County which conveniently saved the city over $300,000 a year—the same amount the city was saving with the administrative salary cuts from the 2018 budget. Weger traded the dispatchers for his cronies so the city could afford to pave roads, staff the fire department and balance the budget and keep his gravy train rolling.
No problem, it’s the taxpayers’ money
Council agreed to overspend $300,000+ on Weger’s cronies for the last year of his term to protect the city from further Weger-induced shenanigans and to ensure the fire department was properly staffed, roads were repaved and enough of the taxpayer’s money was reinvested into the future health of the city.
For a while, at least, the truce worked. With Weger’s shenanigans on hold, the city thrived. The budget that was “cut too much” in 2018 lead to a similar (relatively) lean budget in 2019 which was finally a budget that invested in the health of the city. Weger and his craziness got out of the way and allowed Council members to professionally represent the city. Businesses started moving in. The headlines were great.
Yikes, we are starting to see the light
But politics in Willoughby Hills is a blood sport, and you can pay a lot of cronies a lot of money if you control city hall; and you can’t do that if you have people in the Mayor’s office or on Council who want to properly invest the taxpayers money into the city. By August, it was clear that the Good Ol’ Boys weren’t going to go quietly into the night. The Club recruited Gardner, Hallum, Jarmuszkiewicz, Kline and Draper to do their dirty work, and they followed the money—loudly.
(LFC Comments: We can’t wait to read “the rest of the story”. I don’t know if it is just me, but when I drive through Willoughby Hills, I may have to come home and take a shower with all the dumping and mud-slinging going on in the city. So much for being a public servant serving the citizens, and being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. A very sad commentary about the public servants in Willoughby Hills.)
(LFC Comments: This is part one of a five part series written by a Willoughby Hills lobbyist. Since we cannot corroborate every detail in the articles, we are placing it in our free speech zone.) *********************1776
If you’ve driven down Chardon Road in Willoughby Hills between River and the Kirtland border lately, you might have noticed a parade of giant dump trucks dumping load after load just west of the bridge over the Chagrin River. If you didn’t see the dump trucks, you might be one of the people who almost crashed after skidding on the slick of mud left on the highway in their wake. Yes, this is odd. What’s odder is what you’ll find if you dig beneath the surface.
Everyone knows something odd is going on in Willoughby Hills politics. Most political fights are relegated to campaign season, but in Willoughby Hills seasons can change in an instant. The Good Ol’ Boys will fight any time with anyone who questions them or threatens their grip on the city. Is Willoughby Hills a case of the Good Ol’ Boys doing whatever it takes to keep the power in their hands and among friends and away from do-gooders who actually want to give the power to the people? Or perhaps the Good Ol’ Boys simply want to control who gets the millions of dollars a year coming into the City thanks to some of the highest taxes and fees in Lake County? It’s not because the Good Ol’ Boys want to do good, that’s certain.
Whatever explains the craziness in Willoughby Hills, the Good Ol’ Boys are alive and well and are willing to get down and dirty—literally. While the leaders of the Club might not be who you’d think, the leaders of the Club recruited a slate of candidates this past fall to do their dirty work: Andy Gardner for mayor and Chris Hallum, Joe Jarmuszkiewicz, Mike Kline and Tanya Taylor-Draper for City Council. Oddly, four out of these five Club-endorsed candidates received large donations from a mysterious benefactor from Mentor. Oddly, the Club formed their second Political Action Committee in two years which also received a sizable donation from this mystery donor.
Who is Cuvier Lukat and why would he dump thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of a rag-tag band of political no-names in Willoughby Hills?
(LFC Comment: Here is the Ohio Campaign Finance Report – 2019 Pre-General Election for the PAC called ‘Neighbors for Responsible Government’ . Mr. Lukat’s $1,300.00 donation appears on page 3, 2019 PreGen RESPONSIBLE GOVT
Here is the 2019 Campaign Finance Report for Andy Gardner. Mr. Lukat’s $2,000 donation appears on page 6. 2019 PreGen GARDNER-G-A
Here is the Campaign Finance Report for Chris Hallum. Mr. Lukat’s $750.00 donation appears on page 2. 2019 PreGen HALLUM
Here is the Campaign Finance Report for Joe Jarmuszkiewicz. Mr. Lukat’s $1,500.00 donation appears on page 2. 2019 PreGen JARMUSZKIEWICZ
Here is the Campaign Finance Report for Mike Kline. Mr. Lukat’s $500.00 donation appears on page 4. 2019 PreGen KLINE
It appears that Tanya Taylor-Draper did not receive a donation from Mr. Lukat.