Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What did Fannie Lewis want?

The Plain Dealer has finally reported that a lot of people who were close to the late Fannie Lewis don't believe the grand dame of Hough really chose Stephanie Howse to succeed her on Cleveland City Council. They think council president Martin Sweeney and other lawmakers were lying when they named Howse to the seat.

I can't believe it took the paper so long to cover this story. Mansfield Frazier wrote about the controversy over Lewis' succession in Cool Cleveland on Aug. 20 and Sept. 3. I mentioned the dispute in my Sept. 5 blog post about Lewis, and when I talked about Frazier's work on WCPN's Aug. 28 reporters' roundtable, Frazier called in to the show. (If you download it, listen starting at 33:20 and 37:57.)

This ward meeting agenda, from three days before Lewis' Aug. 11 death, seems to prove that Lewis told some people she wouldn't name a successor. (But it could be interpreted as referring to the 2009 election, not her death.)

The controversy probably won't knock Howse off council. She won 46 percent of the vote in a special primary last week, compared to 12 percent for top challenger T.J. Dow, so she's the heavy favorite to win the Nov. 18 runoff. Still, The Professor of Political Science 216 has an idea for figuring out what the mercurial Ms. Lewis really wanted: holding a seance.

Update: Turns out the PD briefly acknowledged the doubts in the ward in this Aug. 19 story about Howse. Phillip Morris wondered why Lewis didn't endorse Howse publicly in his column that day.

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