Willoughby Hills Dump Mystery…Part 2

This is a repost from Lobbyists for Citizens.

Willoughby Hills Scandals…watch out for the mud!…part 2

BY STAFF WRITER on  

(LFC Comments: The mystery of our lobbyist’s Willoughby Hills saga continues to unfold. As a reminder,  here is part 1 of this 5 part scandal.
https://lobbyistsforcitizens.com/2020/01/12/a-willoughby-hills-good-ol-boys-mystery/)
*********************1776

Who’s Dumping in Willoughby Hills…part 2

mudslinging-e1578993600730.jpg

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.out of control

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.

huh-e1578994236598.jpg

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.

omg 1

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 3

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.)

Willoughby Hills Dump Mystery…Part 1

Lake County website Lobbyists For Citizens has excellent coverage of Willoughby Hills matters. Some articles from LFC will be shared here over the coming days.

A Willoughby Hills Good Ol’ Boys Mystery…part 1

BY STAFF WRITER on  

free speech zone

(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.

Thanks again to Lobbyists for Citizens for the great coverage on Willoughby Hills!

WH Getting Rid of One Acre Zoning?

Willoughby Hills residents have long prided themselves on being where the city meets the country thanks in large part to one acre minimum zoning. Apparently, one acre zoning might not be a requirement in Willoughby Hills under the Mayor Gardner administration. On July 16, 2020, Gardner and his Planning and Zoning Commission approved former Councilwoman Linda Cover’s plan to build a new home on Stark Drive property she purchased in February. According to information from the County Auditor’s website, Cover bought .88 acres made up of two .44 acre parcels on Stark Drive, one with an existing home on it and one vacant. While most of the homes on Stark Drive were built before there was a one acre minimum in place, no new homes are supposed to be permitted on lots smaller than one acre in single-family residential zones in Willoughby Hills. The Willoughby Hills Charter requires than any changes to zoning uses be approved by the voters, but no vote on the one acre minimum has occurred. At the July 16 meeting, Cover said she is building the new home for her retirement.

NOACA Considering White Road I-271 Exit in Willoughby Hills

According to Cleveland.com, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency is considering plans to add several new freeway exits in five Northeast Ohio counties, including one on the border of Lake and Cuyahoga Counties in Willoughby Hills and Mayfield Village at White Road and I-271. Those who support the idea say the White Road exit is necessary to relieve traffic from Progressive. A decision is expected to be made by NOACA in December.

Did Mayor Gardner and Planning & Zoning Approve Former Council Member’s New House on Lot Less Than One Acre?

Willoughby Hills residents have long prided themselves on being where the city meets the country thanks in large part to one acre minimum zoning. Apparently, one acre zoning might not be a requirement in Willoughby Hills under the Mayor Gardner administration. On July 16, 2020, Gardner and his Planning and Zoning Commission approved former Councilwoman Linda Cover’s plan to build a new home on Stark Drive property she purchased in February. According to information from the County Auditor’s website, Cover bought .88 acres made up of two .44 acre parcels on Stark Drive, one with an existing home on it and one vacant. While most of the homes on Stark Drive were built before there was a one acre minimum in place, no new homes are supposed to be permitted on lots smaller than one acre in single-family residential zones in Willoughby Hills. The Willoughby Hills Charter requires than any changes to zoning uses be approved by the voters, but no vote on the one acre minimum has occurred. At the July 16 meeting, Cover said she is building the new home for her retirement.

Mayor Andy Gardner’s Supporters Look to Gofundme for Money to Continue Suing Nancy Fellows

Screen Shot 2020-06-21 at 1.09.02 PMOn June 4, 2020, nine months after their previous suit was dismissed and deemed frivolous, Mayor Andy Gardner’s supporters—Tony Miller, Vicki Miller, Jeffrey Fruscella, Steve Crone, and Jack Hay—filed their second suit in Lake County Probate Court seeking to remove 18-year Councilwoman Nancy Fellows, and Gardner’s opposition in the recent mayoral election, from office.  Fellows, outraged, said the frivolous suit was yet another example of Gardner and his supporters bullying those who speak out against them.

Two weeks later,  Gardner’s supporter Tony Miller created a Gofundme page soliciting donations to pay his and his team’s expenses related to the suit.  The fundraising effort comes on the same day the News-Herald reported that claims made under oath by the Millers, Fruscella, Crone, and Hay were false.  Explaining their strategy in bringing the suit and asking for money, Miller says on the Gofundme page:

“Our counts are very well prepared and substantiated and we are confident we can prove more than one count of misfeasance and or malfeasance. When we win all court costs and legal fees will be assigned to the defendant and money received from this fundraiser would be returned. If, by some catastrophic event, we could not prove 1 out of 19 counts of misfeasance and or malfeasance we would be responsible for legal fees and court costs. To date I am personally vested approximately $1000 and one or two others lesser amounts.  Our next deposit to the court is a minmum of $750 deposit to cover juror fees and will be due in the next couple weeks.”

So far the campaign has raised $65 of the $2,500 Miller and friends are seeking from Wilda Jaros, Philomena Listoria and one anonymous donor.

 

News-Herald Catches Mayor Andy Gardner’s Supporters in Lie Under Oath in Suit Against Fellows

On June 18, the News-Herald issued a correction to its story about the lawsuit filed by Mayor Andy Gardner’s supporters—Tony Miller, Vicki Miller, Jeffrey Fruscella, Steve Crone, and Jack Hay—which seeks to remove 18-year Councilwoman Nancy Fellows from office.  Miller and his cohorts claimed under oath that Fellows is under investigation by County Prosecutor Charles Coulson, the Ohio State Auditor’s Office, and the Ohio Ethics Commission.  The News-Herald originally reported this claim without verification, but the newspaper has since contacted these agencies and they refuted Miller and friends’ claims.  On June 18 the article was updated and now says:

“According to the complaint, the case is currently being investigated by the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office, Ohio Ethics Commission, and the Ohio Auditor’s office.

Lake County Prosecutor Charles Coulson, however, said his office is not reviewing that case, and a spokesperson for the Auditor of State’s Office also said they are not conducting an investigation.

Ohio Ethics Commission Executive Director Paul Nick said he cannot confirm or deny investigations by his office, but said his office does not handle Sunshine Law violations.”

If Andy Gardner’s supporters would lie under oath about something so easily verified, what won’t they lie about?

bad-157437_1280

Willoughby Hills Safety Forces Respond to Two Significant Incidents in Chagrin River in 24 Hours

7WWAD3NT6JBCZBX4ZVUQJU67YQOn June 18, the Willoughby Hills Police Department responded to a Trailard Drive residence to find a 20 pound antique artillery shell.  A 12 year-old boy playing in the Chagrin River found the shell and carried it home before the police were called. Luckily he was not harmed and the Lake County Bomb Squad was able to disarm it without incident. The WHPD issued the following warning related to this incident:

If you come across something that you think may be an explosive device (a bomb, shell, or mortar for example):
*do not touch it.
*leave the item where it is – even if it looks old and rusty, it may still contain explosives and is therefore potentially dangerous.
*contact your local law enforcement and/or fire department for further assistance.

Then, on June 19, the Willoughby Hills Fire Department, with assistance from several departments from neighboring cities, rescued a man who fell 75-100 feet from a River Road cliff overlooking the Chagrin River.  Fortunately, the 27 year-old seemed to only suffer mild injuries. The WHFD issued the following warning related to the incident:

“While enjoying the many scenic views and landscapes our region provides, the public is urged to use great caution when hiking or exploring near cliffs or ravines and to avoid all restricted areas.”

Mayor Gardner Shirks Responsibility as His Supporters Continue Attack on Fellows

IMG_7592Yesterday, the News-Herald published an article about Mayor Andy Gardner’s supporter’s lawsuit against Nancy Fellows, which contained no response from the mayor.  Gardner’s supporters, Tony Miller, Vicki Miller, Jeffrey Fruscella, Steve Crone, and Jack Hay, filed their second suit in Lake County Probate Court against Fellows in less than a year.  Gardner’s supporter’s filed their first probate suit against Fellows in August of last year, just days after Gardner announced his campaign to run against Fellows for mayor.  The judge dismissed the first suit and the Willoughby Hills Law Director ruled Gardner’s supporter’s claims in it to be frivolous.

The current suit filed by Tony Miller and company makes the same claims that former Mayor Robert Weger used as justification for his illegal attempt to remove almost the entire City Council, including Fellows, in the fall of 2018. Miller also led an unsuccessful attempt to recall Fellows in 2018 shortly before Weger attempted to illegally remove her.