Wednesday, June 11, 2014

CityBeat Has Fun With Smitherman Complaint

Cincinnati CityBeat is part of the lazy, local, white media. Over the years, they are just as guilty as other media outlets for doing virtually nothing to expose corruption at City Hall. Here at The Cincinnati Black Blog we don't expect them to take serious stories seriously and we doubt that you, our faithful readers, expect much from them either.

That said, we encourage you all to read the CityBeat story titled "Elections Commission to Hear Suit Against Smitherman"

A few notes on the story:
The Cincinnati Elections Commission will hold a hearing June 23 on City Councilman Christopher Smitherman's campaign finances after Nathaniel Livingston Jr., a well-known Cincinnati radio personality and former City Council candidate, filed a rather colorful complaint against him.
Colorful? Here's a link to the complaint filed against CHRIS SMITHERMAN (forever known on this blog as The Sillyman). Read it and decide for yourself if you think it's colorful or not.
The complaint filed with the Commission says Smitherman exceeded campaign contribution limits during his 2013 campaign and unfairly gave city contracts to family members.
But it also says so much more.
Well, what do you know! CityBeat's writer, NICK SWARTSELL, actually reads stuff. It seems like he took the time to read the complaint -- which is much more than most of the lazy media writers. If he does his job (which is all we expect of the 4th Estate) we may come to like this guy.
Livingston goes after Smitherman with the gloves off. He starts off his complaint with some choice words about the councilman, calling him "an arrogant politician who is closely aligned to the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.
Livingston goes on to say that "Smitherman has publicly stated that his life goals are to become a decamillionaire and President of the United States. Chris will do anything to obtain money and power."
 Dang. That's harsh. With the first name and everything.
That stuff about being a decamillionaire and President isn't made up.  Here's a link to the Cincinnati Enquirer article where The Sillyman said it. And here's an actual fair use excerpt from the article.
Smitherman is as ambitious as he is blunt. 
 Asked what his political goal is, he didn't hesitate a moment. "I want to be president of the United States," he said. The tone in his voice added, "Doesn't everybody?"
That's where the President stuff comes from.

This comes from the same article:
Smitherman, 36, won't settle for being a millionaire. He wants to be a "decamillionaire" - and the fact taht he knows the word for someone worth $10 million suggests he's put some thought into it.
"People ask, 'How wealthy do you want to be? Well, Bill Gates is a good start," he said. "One of my dreams is to take over a publicly traded company. I want to swing for the fences."
 Here's a full link to the CityBeat blog. Again, we encourage you to read it.

And we ask you to come to the hearing on Monday, June 23 at 3:30pm in City Hall.

Cincinnati Elections Commission Complaint

Here's a copy of the Complaint filed against Christopher Smitherman with the Cincinnati Elections Commission.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Smitherman Hearing In Two Weeks

Just 14 Days 'Til the Showdown between Public Corruption vs. Good Government takes center stage in Cincinnati's City Hall.

We know you, our faithful readers, appreciate The Cincinnati Black Blog providing you with updates on our ongoing investigations into corruption in Cincinnati.

Here's a copy of the press release sent out by our very own founder....
(Law & Public Safety Committee Chairman Took Excessive Contributions MUST PAY $6,600 FINE) 

Cincinnati -- Having previously acknowledged receipt of a complaint filed by NATHANIEL LIVINGSTON, JR. against CHRISTOPHER SMITHERMAN, the Cincinnati Elections Commission today released a hearing date.

A hearing on the complaint will be held two weeks from today:
MONDAY, JUNE 23, 2014 AT 3:30 PM 

Livingston alleges Smitherman violated Cincinnati's campaign contribution laws prohibiting candidates from accepting more than $1,100 from any individual. Smitherman accepted $2,200 from his brother, ALBERT SMITHERMAN, and $2,200 from Albert's wife, LIZA SMITHERMAN. He also accepted an additional $500 from Brewster Pumping, LLC -- a company owned and controlled by Liza and Albert Smitherman.

Smitherman told the Commission he returned the excess contributions to Albert and Liza Smitherman. Livingston notes the money was only returned MONTHS AFTER THE ELECTION WAS OVER.

If the Commission finds Chris Smitherman guilty, he must pay a fine of three times the excess contribution, or $6,600.

In response to today's announcement, Livingston stated: "They asked me if I'd voluntarily withdraw the complaint and let Chris Smitherman go. I said 'No. No. No! He can't get away with breaking the law. The only way I'll voluntarily withdraw my complaint is if he voluntarily agrees to pay the $6,600 fine.' This is about ACCOUNTABILITY and GOOD GOVERNMENT. I intend to be present at the hearing to enforce the city's charter."

- END -

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Did Smitherman Vote To Give His Donor Chinedum Ndukwe Millions!?!

Chinedum Ndukwe with Jacob Warm
The Cincinnati Black Blog supports minority businesses and minority inclusion. We want to see Black people and Black-owned companies succeed.  We DON'T support corruption!!! And we won't look the other way if we have reason to believe a DNegro is engaged in dirty dealing.

That said, The Cincinnati Black Blog wants to know how ex-Cincinnati Bengals player CHINEDUM NDUKWE became a partner in the redevelopment of Tower Place Mall -- a multi-million dollar deal? Did contributions by Chinedum Ndukwe, his foundation, and his family members help secure the deal? Is this an example of illegal pay-to-play? Has anyone been bribed? Is this deal legal? Does the deal violate Ohio's Corrupt Practices Act (Ohio Revised Code Sections 3517.08 to 3517.13)?

The Cincinnati Black Blog is doing what you, are faithful readers, expect: investigating things that the lazy, local, mainstream and alternative white media won't.  The white press doesn't give a damn about good government or exposing corruption.

Here's what we've learned....

On the night JOHN CRANLEY was elected Mayor of Cincinnati, our sources report Chinedum Ndukwe was present at the "victory party". (We've got pictures to prove it.) [Also present were STEVE REECE and ALICIA REECE. Cranley has hooked their family up with over $300,000 to remodel Integrity Hall.]

Smitherman and a majority of Council voted to sell Tower Place Mall to JACOB WARM, Mabley Place LLC, and JDL Warm Construction LLC FOR ONE DOLLAR. Jacob Warm contributed $1,700 to Cranley's campaign.

Approximately 6 weeks after Cranley was sworn in, and CHRIS SMITHERMAN (forever known on this blog as The Sillyman) was sworn in as a member of City Council, TOM DEMEROPOLIS filed this report in  the Cincinnati Business Courier:
Former Cincinnati Bengals Safety Chinedum Ndukwe has a new real estate development and investment firm that is partnering to redevelop downtown Cincinnati's Tower Place Mall.
Ndukwe started Kingsley Wells Enterprises LLC last year, and this will be his first major project.
Did you get that?! This will be Chinedum Ndukwe's FIRST MAJOR PROJECT.

So, Jacob Warm and the city thought putting a rookie on the Tower Place Mall redevelopment team would be a good, fiscally-responsible thing to do? Hmmnn.

Our investigation reveals NDUKWE GAVE THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO THE SILLYMAN AND THE CITY right before he got put on the redevelopment team. Coincidence?

We've already told you that Jake Warm gave Cranley $1,700. Here's a breakdown of the cash changing hands from Chinedum Ndukwe to The Sillyman and other city officials.

First, in 2012, Chinedum Ndukwe had his Ndukwe Foundation offer the city and the police chief $5,000. The Council voted on whether to accept or reject the money. The Sillyman voted in favor of taking the money. (The Cincinnati Black Blog isn't prepared to say this was a strategically placed payment to the city's top law enforcement officer -- the person who would have ultimate responsibility for investigating him if accused of future crimes. But, in hindsight, it seems suspect.)

Next, on April 12, 2013, Chinedum Ndukwe made a $1,000 political contribution to The Sillyman.

For those keeping track, that's $5,000 to the police chief and $1,000 to The Sillyman. Total so far is $6,000.

On the same day Chinedum Ndukwe gave The Sillyman $1,000, four other members of his family donated an additional $4,000 to The Sillyman. The family members are: EZINNE NDUKWE, KELECHI NDUKWE, NNENNA NDUKWE, and STEPHEN NDUKWE. They all donated $1,000 to The Sillyman.

$5,000 to the police chief and $5,000 to the Chairman of the Law & Public Safety Committee or $10,000 total.

How much does Chinedum Ndukwe stand to gain for his role in redeveloping Tower Place Mall?

Here's the last paragraph from the Cincinnati Business Courier story:
Ndukwe formed Kingley and Co. LLC, a holding company with a focus in real estate development, construction, procurement, manufacturing and health care, in 2013. While this is the first Kingsley Wells Enterprises project, Ndukwe and Warm are looking for additional development opportunities.
We just bet they are looking for additional development opportunities.

The Cincinnati Black Blog has called for an investigation into the multiple contributions from the Ndukwe family on the same day to The Sillyman. We want to know if these donations were coordinated. Is this an example of illegal bundling of contributions to avoid following local and state contribution limits on political donations.

The Cincinnati Black Blog won't stop pushing this story until we've received reasonable answers to our questions.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

NAACP Lawyer Issues Over A Dozen Subpoenas In Prez's Assault Case

NACCP prez Ishton Morton (Mugshot courtesy of County Sheriff)
Faithful readers of The Cincinnati Black Blog already know that Cincinnati NAACP president Ishton Morton has been arrested by the Cincinnati Police Department and charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly attacking a female NAACP member in good standing (dues paid, regular attendance at meetings) as she was attempting to enter a meeting of the NAACP's executive committee (she is an elected member of the executive committee and had every right to be at the meeting). Ishton Morton reportedly tried to forcibly stop the young woman from entering the meeting. Witnesses say she was standing on ice-covered steps when Ishton pushed her. (For more information see Smitherman: Women Acting Crazy ... Beg For Violence Against Them!)

According to our sources inside the NAACP, the executive committee met and voted to pay Christopher P. Finney -- a witness in the case -- to represent Ishton. (We have heard that a complaint with filed with the Ohio Supreme Court based on his agreeing to represent Ishton.) That's right. The NAACP is taking membership dues and using it to pay Chris Finney.

We checked the Clerk of Courts' website and discovered Finney has issued subpoenas for witnesses and records to over a dozen people and companies -- most of whom have absolutely nothing to do with the case and weren't present at the time Ishton Morton allegedly pushed his young, female, member on ice-covered stairs.

Here's a list compiled from the Clerk's site:
  • Robert Richardson, Jr.
  • Robert Richardson, Sr.
  • Tashima Taylor
  • Jesse Roley
  • Iris Roley
  • Theresa Harper
  • Blue Chip Broadcasting
  • T-Mobile
  • Cellco Partnership
  • AT&T Wireless
  • Sprint
  • Cincinnati Bell Wireless
  • Frankie Butler Kidd
  • Sprint Nextel
  • Cricket Communications, Inc.
Again, most of these people and companies weren't there when Ishton Morton put his hands on a young female NAACP member.  They have no knowledge of the case.  So, they shouldn't be forced to respond to a subpoena issued by Finney.  Chris Finney is abusing the process.  Normally, the city's prosecuting attorney would seek sanctions against an attorney for doing what Chris Finney has done, but, maybe because one of Finney's top clients, Christopher Smitherman, is Chair of the Law & Public Safety Committee and has oversight jurisdiction over the city's Law Department, they haven't done anything to stop Finney from issuing subpoenas and harassing non-interested parties. Normally a judge would intervene and stop Finney in his tracks.  But Heather Russell is the judge on this case and she's apparently prepared to let Finney go buckwild in her courtroom.

Why has Finney issued these subpoenas? What's he looking for? What do the individuals and records have to do with the criminal case against Ishton Morton? Well, Finney isn't worried about defending Ishton Morton. Finney doesn't care if he's found guilty or not. He gets paid either way. Finney represents Chris Smitherman in a frivolous non-related case in the Ohio Elections Commission against some political action committee.  For months, they've been trying to tie Rob Richardson, Jr., his father, and Blue Chip Broadcasting (Radio One, 1230am The Buzz, 101.1 The Wiz, and 100.3 Old School) to the political action committee. They're still mad about the commercial that ran on The Buzz, The Wiz, and Old School featurning Chris Smitherman singing the National Negro Anthem as the announcer in the commercial told listeners about Smitherman's terrible voting record. They are using Ishton Morton's criminal case to do discovery in the unrelated Elections Commission case.

The Cincinnati Black Blog will keep you updated on this case....

Investigation: Is Pete Witte A Tax Cheat?

Pete Witte. Tax Cheat?
EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION. Pete Witte is a respected Republican businessman. When he talks, the lazy, local, mainstream white media listens. So, can this anonymous tip sent to the Cincinnati Black Blog be true?
I heard you mention Pete Witte's name on the Buzz today and I think it is about time someone exposes him for what he really is. It seems that all he can do is complaint (sic) about where tax payers' (sic) money is being spent when he hasn't paid taxes on his commercial property in 20 years. He has property under his name on West 8th St and Glenway Ave. He also bought the old Marmers (under another a business name) building across from his property on Glenway but never paid poor old Mr Marmer a penny. And he hasn't paid taxes on that build (sic) since day one. How does Dusty Rhodes let him get by with this. And why does the news stations give him so much time? Is it common to give such a dead beat that much respect.
Lots of good questions and intriguing issues here.

I think Pete Witte is still associated with Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA). If he really hasn't paid property taxes on a piece of property he owns, wouldn't this be a problem with him remaining a part of CMHA?

The Cincinnati Black Blog will continue investigating this story....

Investigation: Should Taxpayers Pay For Cranley's Overseas Family Reunion IN JORDAN?!

John Cranley
EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION. John Joseph Cranley IV is the mayor of Cincinnati. Back in 2006 he married wealthy Gold Star Chili heiress Dena Beshara David. Dena and her family hail from the Middle East. More specifically, Dena's parents were born in Jordan. Dena still has family in Jordan.

Dena and John Cranley are filthy rich!!! That's why The Cincinnati Black Blog was hesitant to believe the anonymous tip we received from one of our faithful readers telling us that Cranley is preparing to go visit his extended family in Jordan and HE EXPECTS CINCINNATI TAXPAYERS TO PAY FOR HIS PRIVATE FAMILY REUNION!!!

I still remember when COAST, the Republicans, and the lazy, local, mainstream white media in Cincinnati made a big deal about Mayor Mark Mallory taking a few overseas trips for a legitimate purpose: recruiting foreign business investments in businesses located in the city. The Mallory-haters have done virtually no critical reporting on Cranley.  The nine people elected to serve on City Council have a fiscal duty to protect taxpayer funds. They're supposed to be watching Cranley. What are they saying and/or doing about this? Seems like nothing.

The Cincinnati Black Blog will continue investigating this story....

City Lawyers Seek To Save Smitherman From Paying $6,600 Fine

Cincinnati's Law Department can't continue representing the Cincinnati Elections Commission and the man with oversight jurisdiction of their office -- Councilmember Christopher Smitherman, Chairman of the Law & Public Safety Committee -- against charges that he knowingly violated the city's campaign finance laws by accepting $2,200 from Albert Smitherman, $2,200 from Liza Smitherman, and another $500 from Liza Smitherman in the name of a company owned and controlled by her called Brewster Pumping LLC. (See, Top City Lawyer Confirms: Smitherman Broke The Law!)  It's an obvious conflict of interest.

Below is a copy of the latest email from the city's Chief Counsel Christine M. Zimmer. Pay special attention to the last paragraph asking if I'll voluntarily withdraw the complaint: 
Dear Mr. Livingston:
I understand that you have questions regarding the propriety of LLCs making contributions to candidates for local government offices. I have attached to this email an Advisory Opinion issued by the Cincinnati Elections Commission in 2005 advising Cincinnati mayoral and council candidates that LLCs may make campaign contributions and are subject to the same contribution limits as individuals. As a point of information, the Cincinnati Elections Commission's advisory opinion is supported by the Ohio Elections Commission's advisory opinion in 1996 that reached the same conclusion: the restrictions imposed by Ohio Revised Code § 3599.03 do not apply to limited liability companies.
I also understand that you have raised an issue regarding an LLC that makes political contributions in excess of $1000 to a City councilmember receiving a City contract. To clarify, the Elections Commission does not have jurisdiction over the issue of whether a City contract was properly awarded; the Elections Commission's jurisdiction is limited to issues related to campaign finance limits.  See City of Cincinnati Charter, Article XIII, Section 4. Therefore, a hearing will be limited to the complaint you filed and will not address any issue regarding contracting. For your information, however, please be aware that the provision of Ohio law you referenced, Ohio Revised Code 3517.13, specifically does not apply to contracts let by competitive bid.
The Elections Commission will notify you regarding the date and nature of a hearing on your complaint. If the information I provided you yesterday and today resolves your concerns, please let me know whether you will voluntarily withdraw your complaint.
Christine M. Zimmer
Interim Chief Counsel
General Counsel Section
Law Department
[Phone number and email address redacted]
Again, is Ms. Zimmer representing Smitherman, a powerful and vengeful politician with oversight authority over her department, or the Cincinnati Elections Commission? This is unclear. And, because of this conflict, I've urged the Elections Commission to obtain independent, outside counsel.

Notice that Ms. Zimmer states the Commission's jurisdiction is limited to issues related to campaign finance limits and even provides a reference to the section of the Charter that supports her position, but she doesn't mention the penalty section of the Charter or the Smithermans voluntarily paying the fine to resolve my concerns.

Luckily for you, my faithful readers, I've read the Charter many times. Article XIII, Section 2(d)(1) states: "THE PENALTY FOR MAKING, SOLICITING, OR ACCEPTING A CONTRIBUTION THAT EXCEEDS THE MAXIMUM PERMITTED BY THIS SECTION IS A CIVIL FINE EQUAL TO THREE TIMES THE EXCESS CONTRIBUTION." How clear and unambiguous is that language? The Charter's language on imposing fines for violations of the campaign finance limits is mandatory. (Source.)

By returning $2,200 to Albert and Liza Smitherman, the politician tacitly admitted he accepted contributions that exceeded the maximum permitted by the Charter. He broke the law. The penalty for breaking the law is a civil fine equal to 3 times the excess contribution. In this case, that's $2,200 X 3 or $6,600. I won't voluntarily withdraw my complaint unless or until I have been provided proof that Chris Smitherman has paid the appropriate fine.

Some of you have asked why I didn't file two more separate complaints -- one against Liza Smitherman and one against Albert Smitherman -- since the Charter gives the Commission jurisdiction to investigate and penalize individuals who MAKE contributions that exceed the maximum permitted and Liza and Albert Smitherman did just that.  I've got three answers. First, the Commission has been made aware of the illegal contributions. They have a duty to enforce the campaign finance limits. They don't need a complaint to be filed before they investigate and fine someone. They should do their job and fine the Smithermans without a complaint being filed. Second, if the Commission doesn't initiate action on its own, some other citizen should join me in filing the complaint against Liza Smitherman and Albert Smitherman. I'm not the only one interested in good government in Cincinnati and the Commission doing their job. Third, I just might file additional complaints. But I believe in doing one thing at a time.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Top City Lawyer Confirms: Smitherman Broke The Law!

Chris Smitherman Very Sad He Got Busted Taking Illegal Contributions
The City of Cincinnati has responded to the complaint filed against Christopher Smitherman with the Cincinnati Elections Commission.

Chris Smitherman is accused of violating the city's campaign finance laws by taking excess contributions from Albert Smitherman and Liza Smitherman. The city acknowledges that Smitherman received excess contributions.

Here's a complete copy of the city's response :


Dear Mr. Livingston:

This is to acknowledge the complaint you filed last night with the Cincinnati Elections Commission alleging that Councilmember Christopher Smitherman's campaign received excess contributions from Albert and Liza Smitherman.

I have attached to this email copies of checks from the Smitherman campaign showing the return of the excess $1100 contributions from Albert and Liza Smitherman in March 2014. The Elections Commission database upon which the complaint is based did not accurately reflect the return of those contributions and link the return to the original contribution. The database has been corrected and those excess contributions are shown as having been returned.

In addition, the original filing from the Smitherman campaign listed a $500 contribution as being from Liza Smitherman rather than from Brewster Plumbing, LLC. Mrs. Smitherman provided the Commission with a copy of that contribution check, which is attached. The Elections Commission database also has been corrected to reflect that that contribution was from Brewster Plumbing, LLC.

I apologize that the Commission's database did not accurately reflect the return of excess contributions and the other correction which resulted in your thinking that a campaign financing violation had occurred. I will contact you again after receiving instructions from the Commission.

Christine M. Zimmer
Interim Chief Counsel
General Counsel Section
Law Department
[Phone number and email address redacted]

Smitherman Fallout: An Open Letter To Charter Committee And Democratic Party Leaders

Smitherman Consulting With Larry Conger (One of his Moneymen from ABC Contractors) 
This open letter was forwarded to leaders of the Charter Committee of Greater Cincinnati and the Hamilton County Democratic Party.

Councilman Christopher Smitherman accepted illegal campaign contributions from Albert Smitherman and Liza Smitherman -- owners of Jostin Concrete, Inc. and Brewster Pumping, LLC.

The Cincinnati Black Blog started asking questions about these donations several months ago. I filed a complaint with the Cincinnati Elections Commission yesterday. According to the city's preliminary response (the response is available online at The Cincinnati Black Blog), Smitherman returned two of the donations in March 2014. This represents a tacit admission from Smitherman that he accepted excessive contributions.

The city seems to have accepted Smitherman's claim that the other donation came from the limited liability corporation (LLC) mentioned earlier.

The city's response raises several new concerns. Can a corporation make a direct contribution to a Council candidate? If so, what's the contribution limit? If not, why aren't the city, the Cincinnati Elections Commission (CEC), the Hamilton County Board of Elections, the Ohio Elections Commission, and the Ohio Secretary of State (isn't this office given jurisdiction over for-profit corporations?) doing something about the contribution made by Brewster to Smitherman? Can an individual avoid complying with the city's campaign finance laws by donating as an individual and also as a corporation? Why aren't the members of City Council asking these questions? Why isn't the Charter Committee? Why isn't the Democratic Party?

Many of you worked hard to enact the Charter amendment establishing Cincinnati's campaign finance laws. You support the CEC and trust them to do their job. The CEC has jurisdiction to administer and enforce the city's campaign finance laws. It has a duty to review and investigate potential violations of the laws. So, why didn't the CEC find these violations? Now that the violations have been found, the table of penalties in the Charter require the CEC to penalize/fine Smitherman for accepting contributions that exceeded the maximum limit. So, why is the city solicitor implicitly suggesting that by returning the excessive contributions, Smitherman has absolved himself and his campaign from being penalized? Why isn't the CEC working RIGHT NOW to get assistance from outside counsel, as authorized in the Charter?

The Charter Committee purportedly still represents good government in Cincinnati. Charterites claim to have an expectation that city officials who do not adhere to the highest ethical standards in the performance of their duties will be held accountable. Meanwhile, Democrats should have an interest in removing Smitherman and replacing him with a Democrat. Both parties should be paying attention and working to advance good government, yet neither party caught Smitherman's violations (or, maybe they looked the other way) and neither party seems interested in what the violations mean.

Mayor John Cranley appointed Smitherman chair of two committees -- Law & Public Safety and Economic Growth & Infrastructure. As chair of the Law & Public Safety Committee, Smitherman has oversight jurisdiction over the Cincinnati Police Department and the city's Law Department. How is it not an impermissible conflict of interest for the attorneys in the Law Department to represent both the CEC and the members of Council, especially a member who seems to have the power to hire and fire the solicitor? (Cranley and Smitherman are both accused of working to fire former solicitor, John Curp. They couldn't oust him so they settled on demoting him.)

In his role as Chair of the Economic Growth Committee, Smitherman has oversight jurisdiction over casino development, the Port Authority, minority inclusion policies, and economic development. Jostin worked on the casino, does work with the Port Authority, and is a certified SBE company. Jostin had a contract on the Cincinnati Streetcar project. Smitherman took multiple votes on the streetcar. Many people questioned Smitherman's seemingly unethical conduct, but not a word from Charter or the Democrats on this.

Unless things have changed recently, Ohio law does not allow a corporation to be awarded a government contract if an owner of the corporation has made, as an individual, one or more contributions totalling more than $1,000 to the government official awarding the contract. Contributions by a spouse or child of such an owner count against this limit. (Here's a link to my source: Assuming this law is still in effect, and it applies to Cincinnati, how are Jostin or Brewster eligible to do work with the city or the Port Authority (a quasi-city agency)? If the state law does not apply to Cincinnati, why aren't the good government folks in Charter and the Democratic parties working to have a similar law enacted in the city?

"The Charter Committee was founded as a movement for good government nearly 90 years ago to overthrow the corrupt “Boss” Cox regime. It is the oldest, active, independent political party in the United States. The Charter Committee believes that local government should be free of partisan politics and led by individuals committed to the City and region, not the fortunes of their party or their budding political careers." There appears to be a corrupt regime operating at City Hall today, while the heirs of the good government movement seem more interested in socializing with friends at tea parties than cleaning up local government.

Finally, to those of you who are Democratic Party precinct executives, you will soon have a chance to vote for a leader of the Party. When you do, I ask you to consider the Party's kid-glove treatment of Tea Party Republican Smitherman and the way they've looked away as he took illegal campaign contributions. Ask yourself, why have Democrats at City Hall promoted Smitherman to chairman of two powerful committees when there are more-qualified Democrats on Council. Ask yourself why Tim Burke continues to let his Republican counterpart push him around, especially when it comes to Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter and the Party's judicial candidate to challenge John Williams.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Smitherman: Women Acting Crazy ... Beg For Violence Against Them!

Ishton Morton. (Mugshot courtesy of Hamilton County Sheriff)
Cross-posted to my national blog on Daily Kos.
Is male violence against women ever acceptable? What if a woman begs for it? What if she is acting crazy? Or yelling at a meeting? Or walking around a room holding up a cell phone to record a non-secret meeting? Or trying to enter an office after a meeting has concluded and prior to the start of a dinner? What if she is doing all of these things? Are these valid excuses to push her down a flight of ice-covered stairs?! Even though it's 2014, these questions are seriously being debated in Cincinnati, Ohio. Seriously.
Cincinnati City Councilmember Christopher Smitherman apparently thinks women are "...acting in such a way that begs someone to [assault] them...." (source) Smitherman has a long history of taking violent actions against people he disagrees with, including women. In this blog, David Cole photographed "Smitherman being restrained by security after attempting to assault a streetcar supporter during a recent hearing at City Hall." It was widely reported that Smitherman once had a physical confrontation with former Councilmember Laure Quinlivan.

Unfortunately, no powerful women, or women's organizations, have offered balance to this powerful man's assertion that women in Cincinnati are acting in such a crazy way that it begs men to assault them. No other men in positions of power have publicly disagreed with Smitherman's sentiment, suggesting, through their silence, that they agree. (Continue reading for more on this point.)

Back in January, the Cincinnati Police Department received a complaint against Cincinnati NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) branch president Ishton Morton (pictured above in the mugshot). A young, female, dues-paying member of the NAACP told the police Morton assaulted her. The woman is an elected member of the NAACP's Executive Committee.  (Before complaining to the police, the woman asked the NAACP's national, regional, and/or state offices to intervene. The NAACP has thus far ignored her concerns.)  The woman told the police Morton assaulted her for attempting to attend a meeting.  The cops took two months to investigate the complaint. As part of their investigation, the police interviewed witnesses. On March 12, 2014, the police arrested Morton and charged him with assaulting the woman. (I decline to name the victim.)

Following Morton's arrest, Smitherman -- a self-described Black conservative with Tea Party backing, who is chairman of Council's Law & Public Safety Committee (the committee with oversight authority over the Cincinnati Police Department) -- inserted himself into the case.

Even though Smitherman wasn't present at the time of the reported assault, and the Cincinnati Police Department conducted an independent investigation of the incident and concluded there was enough evidence to warrant arresting Morton and filing a criminal complaint against him, The Cincinnati Enquirer asked Smitherman for his views on the incident. (Smitherman is a past president of the Cincinnati NAACP branch.) Smitherman let loose.
Smitherman said he does not think Morton attempted to harm (the woman).
"I do not believe he put his hands on her at all," he said.
Oh, those scatter-brained women!!! They're always always acting crazy and misinterpreting things. How could a woman know whether or not a man assaulted her??? After all, she's a woman!  Smitherman wasn't there and he does not believe Morton did it, and he is a man, so that's all that matters, right? What credible news organization would include Smitherman's comments? Unless they were trying to set him up, why did The Enquirer include the comments?
"This is a pattern from them."
Smitherman said when he was president, several women, including Taylor, would come into meetings, often at the end, and purposely disrupt them.
"Their style is to come in and yell and shout and disrupt the meeting, and I'm sure that President Morton understood that," he said. "They are people that have been consistently disruptive to executive committee meetings."
The women were also disruptive at the unit's general meetings, Smitherman said.
"These ladies were acting out in such a crazy way, I would have to have security there to try to keep up my general meetings," he said.
The women cause a scene, acting in such a way that begs someone to touch them in order to escort them out, Smitherman said. (Emphasis added.)
 From War On Women 101: always say women are crazy!!!

So, did Morton "put his hands" on the woman or not? And if he did, was it because the woman was acting crazy, or yelling or shouting or purposely disrupting the meeting? Or, by attempting to enter the meeting was the woman begging Morton to touch her?

This point can't be emphasized enough: the man with oversight authority over the police department WAS NOT THERE. Smitherman's personal attorney, Tea Party founder Christopher P. Finney was present at the meeting. He is a witness. He is an attorney. Ohio Supreme Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit a lawyer from acting as an advocate at a trial in which the lawyer is likely to be a necessary witness. (See, Rule 3.7.) Rules have never stopped Finney from doing anything. He has signed on to represent Morton. Here's a passage from the city's weekly Black newspaper, The Cincinnati Enquirer:
Chris Finney, Morton’s lawyer, said his client has entered a plea of not guilty in response to the charge. “We will vigorously contest these charges,’’ Finney said. Finney said he has witnessed these disruptions, and was present at the Jan. 16 meeting. He said he saw Taylor attempting to enter the door of the premises of NAACP after board meeting, while the board members were having a dinner provided by Morton. “She was rebuffed and left, and we called the police, and they came 20 minutes later after they had left.’’ (The woman) later filed the charge.
Smitherman wasn't present but he suggested the woman begged Morton to assault her by disrupting the meeting, acting crazy, yelling, or something.  Finney, who was there, said she never made it into the meeting.  So even if it is alright to hit a woman for disrupting a meeting or acting crazy, how was the woman in question yelling, shouting, or disrupting a meeting she never entered the meeting? And if she was acting so disorderly, and there were witnesses, including the president of the local NAACP, and a prominent attorney, and former Councilmember Sam Malone, why didn't the police bring charges against her? Why does Finney tell the Black newspaper she was rebuffed and left? And if the woman was rebuffed and left, why did Finney or Morton or anyone call the police? Where is the 911 call? What's the reason for the call?

Morton's excuses, as offered by Smitherman and Finney, make no sense. And they can't make any sense because a woman doesn't deserve to be hit, or pushed down ice-covered stairs for disrupting a meeting, or attempting to enter a meeting, or just because you are a man who thinks you can.

As mentioned earlier, the victim contacted the national, state and regional NAACP. So far, they've taken no disciplinary action against Morton for actions he took at their offices, while acting as a representative of their organization, against a dues-paying member. Of course, Morton is presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. He should not; however, remain president of the local branch. Upon notification of the assault, and admission (read Finney's words) by Morton's attorney that he was involved in an incident of violence, the NAACP should have immediately suspended Morton and launched an internal investigation.
How is it possible that in 2014 one of the city's most powerful elected officials (THIS MAN HAS POWER & AUTHORITY OF THE POLICE DEPARTMENT, THE PEOPLE CHARGED WITH INVESTIGATING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN) makes a statement to the city's daily newspaper saying it's ok to take violent action against women if they are too loud, or disruptive, or bothersome, without being taken to task by other powerful men or women or any women's organization? Not a peep from the National Organization for Women, the League of Women Voters, the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association), Cincinnati's Women's Political Caucus. Nobody.

There are two women on Council: Yvette Simpson (Dem) and Amy Murray (Rep).  There's an openly gay member of Council: Chris Seelbach.  In addition to Simpson and Seelback, there are three other Democrats on Council: Vice Mayor David Mann, P.G. Sittenfeld, and Wendell Young. Women and Democrats should speak out against Violence against Women, but they haven't.

Cincinnati's mayor, John Cranley, appointed Smitherman to his chairmanship over the police. He has the power to replace him.  He should.  Smitherman has clearly inserted himself into a criminal case, one that the police have investigated and concluded deserved prosecution. Look what Smitherman told The Herald:
Smitherman said although he was not at the meeting where the report was made against Morton, he supports Morton’s innocence. “There were clear witnesses there, but none were interviewed, he said. It’s shocking the police would act on one person’s word.”
Smitherman is lying! Witnesses were interviewed. Upon what information did Smitherman make this claim? Has he been using his position as Chair of the Law & Public Safety Committee to influence the investigation. One wonders why it took 2 months for the police to conclude an assault investigation. Did Smitherman work behind the scenes to delay the police from filing the criminal complaint against Morton?
The case is currently assigned to Judge Tyrone Yates -- Smitherman's close personal friend and political mentor. Yates has an obligation to recuse himself from the case. If Yates doesn't voluntarily step away from the case, a higher court should remove him, and the Ohio Supreme Court should discipline him.

In the not-so-distant past, Smitherman and others have advocated dissolving the city's legal department and turning legal responsibilities over to Smitherman's buddy, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters.  One reason people oppose this is Deters' reputation of using his office for political purposes -- to protect his friends and punish his enemies.
Even if he is acquitted of criminal charges, Ishton Morton was wrong to have any physical contact with the victim. The debate over the appropriateness of violence against women was resolved decades ago. Shame on Cincinnati for this episode.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Finney Flagrantly Violating Ohio Supreme Court Rules?

Is CHRISTOPHER P. FINNEY -- who, with assistance from JOHN CRANLEY and CHRISTOPHER SMITHERMAN on the inside of City Hall, recently completed a $675,000 SHAKEDOWN of the City of Cincinnati -- now violating the Ohio Supreme Court's Rules of Professional Conduct by signing on to represent Cincinnati NAACP president ISHTON MORTON against criminal charges that he physically assaulted a small, young, female, dues-paying member of the NAACP (who is also an elected member of the group's Executive Committee) by SHOVING HER DOWN A FLIGHT OF ICE-COVERED STAIRS!?
Ishton Morton was due in court yesterday.  Numerous reports filed by the old, lazy, tired, local, white dinosaur media stated Christopher Finney agreed to represent Ishton Morton.  The Cincinnati Black Blog is investigating the incident and following the pathetic coverage.  Our sources tell us Chris Finney was at the meeting where the incident happened. He's a potential witness.
Here's what Rule 3.7 of those Rules of Professional Conduct states:
 (a) A lawyer shall not act as an advocate at a trial in which the lawyer is likely to be a necessary witness....
Again, Christopher Finney was at the meeting. He was one of the men (along with people like SAM MALONE) who witnessed Ishton Morton put his hands on the victim. He did nothing. He's a witness. Chris Finney knows, or should know, that his conduct is a probable violation of the rules set down by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Ishton Morton was arrested on Friday.  Chris Finney announced he's going to be Ishton's legal advocate yesterday.  By this time tomorrow, the Cincinnati Black Blog will have officially notified the Ohio Supreme Court of this apparent violation of their rules and asked for an investigation and appropriate discipline against Finney.

The Cincinnati Black Blog has been following Chris Finney for more than a decade. That's why we get a chuckle from hearing Chris Smitherman (still known on this blog as The Sillyman) give lectures to people about appropriate conduct. DNegro, please!!! We still vividly remember when this happened:
[David] Pepper alluded to Finney in his attack. Finney, whose family owns a real estate business with Heimlich's family, attended the Pepper press conference to loudly and angrily confront Pepper.
"You're trying to smear my name because you're a rich f------- asshole. Kiss my ass. Right here," Finney said patting his backside.
 He also told Bridget Doherty, Pepper's spokeswoman who was trying to end the incident, she also could put her lips on his behind.
Needless to say, no one put their hands on Chris Finney when he was disrupting a public press conference, violently verbally battering a woman, and trying to intimidate a dainty man (DAVID PEPPER). Just as Chris Finney told David Pepper and Bridget Doherty to kiss his ass, he now seems to be telling Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and the rest of the Ohio Supreme Court the same thing: kiss his ass!
And who could forget the many times Chris Smitherman threatened people, including the time he was captured on video and in photographs acting like a nigger and threatening LAURE QUINLIVAN!!! He reportedly had to be restrained after attempting to assault someone he disagreed with. The Sillyman is a bitchass nigga who should save the sanctimonious lectures about decorum and civility for himself.  Someone should've probably stomped the shit out of Chris back then, but they didn't. The police didn't arrest him. This failure by law enforcement has possibly led The Sillyman, Finney, and Ishton Morton to believe they are above the law and it's ok for them to threaten and/or physically assault women.

Ishton Morton: History of Violence Against Women & Children!?

Ishton Morton's mugshot. (Courtesy Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.)
Cincinnati -- Does Cincinnati NAACP president ISHTON MORTON have a history of taking violent actions against women and/or children?
Earlier this week, the Cincinnati Black Blog was first to report that Ishton Morton was arrested and charged with assaulting a female member of the NAACP (who is also an elected member of the Executive Committee).
Following our report, the lazy, local, white, mainstream media began helping Ishton Morton and Cincinnati City Councilmember CHRIS SMITHERMAN (known on this blog as The Sillyman) RETALIATE AGAINST THE VICTIM! (This used to happen frequently in rape cases.) Instead of investigating Ishton Morton -- the man accused of violently pushing a young, small, female member of his organization down a flight of ice-covered stairs -- the media began INVESTIGATING THE VICTIM!!! The media has visited the victim's home; they've gone to her worksite; they've obtained her cell phone records and called her repeatedly. (Shamefully, some of the "reporters" doing this are women themselves who should know better.)
The old, dinosaur media has made no effort to investigate and report on Ishton Morton's background. Does this man's background include a history of violence against women? Has he been violent toward children?
An exclusive Cincinnati Black Blog investigation reveals that Ishton Morton was previously employed as a teacher and WAS FIRED after being accused of BEATING UP A CHILD in his care!!! Ishton Morton is reportedly not from America. He is from a country where male violence against women and/or children is more accepted.
The Cincinnati Black Blog is working to verify these reports.  We have contacted Ishton's former employer.  We have requested all public records that document his history of violence against women and/or children from local law enforcement. We have even contacted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Division of Citizenship and Immigration Services to verify Ishton Mortion's citizenship status.
The Cincinnati Black Blog takes these steps not because we want to tarnish Ishton Morton's reputation, but because you, our faithful readers, deserve to know the truth about this public figure and the traditional media won't give it to you. They won't do their job, so we have to do it for them.