Monday, November 30, 2009

Call & Post runs racial caricature of Sen. Turner

Retaliating against state Sen. Nina Turner for her support of county reform, the Call & Post has published a front-page cartoon caricaturing her as an Aunt Jemima -- the female equivalent of an Uncle Tom.

The black newspaper's use of the century-old racial stereotype in Wednesday's edition, next to an editorial blasting Turner for supporting Issue 6, has provoked an online protest. A Facebook group calling the cartoon racist and demanding an apology has 147 members as of tonight.

Turner, you may recall, was the most prominent black elected official to support Issue 6. Unnamed older black leaders threatened to destroy her career for doing so, she revealed in the Plain Dealer this August. And an earlier Call & Post editorial accused her of "carrying the water for white folks."

The senator responded by doubling down: She recorded a pro-Issue 6 radio ad that explicitly addressed a black audience: "The only thing our community has to fear is more of the same," she said. Issue 6 supporters rallied around Turner, praising her for her courage. Her new following grew after 6 passed: people started buzzing about her as a possible candidate for county executive. The Plain Dealer profiled Turner on Nov. 22 and asked her the inevitable question. She left the door open to running.

That story, I'm guessing, is what set off the Call & Post editors. They're furious that a black official might gain support among whites for defying other black leaders. They think opposing Issue 6 was the only proper stance for a black person to take. Their first attempt to punish Turner backfired, so they're amplifying it with an all-out attempt to destroy her career.

The paper's front-page editorial and Aunt Jemima caricature, complete with ugly-stereotype language, is the black-press equivalent of a nuclear bomb. (Just in case the insult doesn't translate, don't think pancakes, think minstrel shows and plantation stereotypes.)

The Plain Dealer posted a story on this tonight, with Mark Naymik quoting local NAACP executive director Stanley Miller saying that the cartoon disturbed him and that he plans to ask the group's board to address the matter. But George Forbes, local NAACP president and an influential figure at the Call & Post, defends the cartoon.

Peter Lawson Jones mildly criticized the cartoon, but said it's no worse than what the Plain Dealer has done to opponents of the county charter! He claims Turner is caught in a feud between the two papers. The subtext here is that 6 opponents have accused the PD of pro-6 bias in its news and opinion pages alike. In their eyes, headlines like the one on last week's profile -- "Nina Turner's future bright due to gutsy stand on Issue 6" -- must be one more provocation. They blame the PD for the buzz around Turner, so they are unlikely to come to her aid.

Older black leaders such as Forbes may well make it harder for Turner to win re-election to her state senate seat. But Cleveland's black political old guard already lost on this issue on Election Day, much as the county-wide Democratic old guard lost. The new county charter, which passed by a 2-1 margin overall, did better with black voters than many expected, winning narrow majorities in predominantly black East Cleveland and Warrensville Heights. Plenty of black people supported Issue 6 and rejected the old guard's argument that racial solidarity required a no vote.

That Facebook protest group includes a rainbow of people speaking out against the Call & Post's attack. I recognized plenty of Issue 6 supporters on the member list, but I was tipped off to it by someone who supported Issue 5, not 6. Some people are just incensed that the paper would use an old racial attack to try to enforce political conformity.

Update, 12/1: The PD runs three stories on this today: the Naymik story, an editorial, and a column by Phillip Morris, proposing that George Forbes win an "Aunt Jemima Award," for "a public figure who has consistently gone out of his or her way to mine old racist stereotypes, inject race into racially benign matters and work to ruthlessly kill off the careers of promising young African-American politicians."

Morris reports that United Pastors in Mission, the local black ministers group, will issue a statement today supporting Turner. "Any kind of racist caricature of any African American is completely uncalled for and unnecessary," says the group's leader, C.J. Matthews. "Nina Turner is not a sell-out or a turncoat. She is a strong-willed woman with her own points of view. ... We didn't support Issue 6, but we support her right not to be unfairly attacked."

Update, 12/2: WCPN tackled this issue this morning on The Sound of Ideas. Rev. Marvin McMickle, East Cleveland Mayor-Elect Gary Norton, and Barbara Danforth of the YWCA have denounced the cartoon.

"There are images and treatment we have been trying to resist," McMickle says. "What it's doing is [trying to] cut the legs off the next generation of political leadership."

But Hiram College professor Jason Johnson says the issue is not that serious, just part of black political discourse. "It's an in-house conversation," he says. "It's just shocking for other people to see it."

Danforth strongly opposed Johnson's argument. "I don't believe you have to serve up the table with disrespect to have a debate," she said.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Who Wants to be Mayor of East Cleveland? -- my profile of Gary Norton

"Who Wants to be Mayor of East Cleveland?" -- my profile of mayor-elect Gary Norton -- appears in the December issue of Cleveland Magazine and is online now.

It's the first in-depth profile of Norton, 37, a diplomat with a soothingly upbeat temperament and a protégé of county commissioner Peter Lawson Jones and the late U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

Norton, who takes charge of troubled East Cleveland on Jan. 1, hopes to lead his city past his predecessors' scandals and take advantage of its prime location near University Circle to attract businesses and residents. “I need people to start thinking about East Cleveland,” he says.

“This is going to be the test of his lifetime,” says fellow city councilman Nathaniel Martin. “East Cleveland is going to be his challenge. It could be his victory or his Waterloo.”

My profile tells Norton's life story, from early struggles to political influences to his September election victory over controversial incumbent Eric Brewer. It follows Norton through East Cleveland as he explains his plans to tackle his city's challenges. In a ground-breaking comment, he says he's open-minded about a once-taboo subject: the idea that Cleveland should annex East Cleveland.

“If remaining its own city is best for East Cleveland, that’s what we do,” Norton says. “If a merger is best for East Cleveland, that’s what we do.”

(If you'd like to link to my story, you can use this shortcut:

Art McKoy: 'I'm responsible' for Brewer photo scandal

Political activist Art McKoy says he distributed the infamous cross-dressing photos of East Cleveland mayor Eric Brewer this fall.

“I’m responsible for those photographs,” McKoy told me recently.

McKoy spoke to me during my reporting for my new article, "Who Wants to Be Mayor of East Cleveland?," a profile of mayor-elect Gary Norton in the December issue of Cleveland Magazine.

Brewer has tried to blame Norton for the photos getting out -- but McKoy says he, not Norton, was behind their appearance. He proudly told me he made "quite a few copies" of the Brewer photos and "showed everyone I could."

The photos, which appeared on East Cleveland's streets during the September mayoral campaign, caused an international scandal. After WKYC TV-3 broadcasted them on Sept. 23, they went viral on the Internet and became fuel for late-night talk show jokes. Brewer went on Inside Edition in October to confirm the photos were of him.

McKoy was arrested by East Cleveland police last Christmas Eve and is awaiting trial on a charge of permitting drug abuse at his former barbershop in the city. He maintains his innocence and says Brewer attacked his work in East Cleveland, from the barbershop to a street festival and memorial to crime victims.

For more, see "Photo Finished," the sidebar accompanying my Norton profile.

(If you'd like to link to my story, you can use this shortcut:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Port may not move to E. 55th after all: What happened?

The mammoth plan to move the Cleveland port to East 55th Street may not happen after all. Members of the Port Authority board said at a press conference yesterday that they're going to re-examine the plans now that port president and CEO Adam Wasserman has resigned.

Wasserman wanted to make Cleveland the Great Lakes' biggest port. Mayor Frank Jackson had started to push hard for the plan. The half-billion-dollar expansion is meant to attract container shipping, to put Cleveland in competition with East Coast ports. It would be a big, ambitious gamble, even more of an "if you build it, will they come?" risk than the Medical Mart. No other Great Lakes ports are doing big business in container shipping today.

Now, Port Authority board president Steven Williams says the port will re-examine the economic projections behind the port expansion. It'll still expand and move the port if those projections hold up. But a lot of the port's studies are actually cautious about the prospects for container shipping. So there's a chance the expansion will be out the door with Wasserman.

The port is a mess. Not only does it not have the money to move, it's struggling with its shorter-term plans to renovate the current port site near Browns Stadium. Its bond rating has dropped, hurting another part of its job: providing financing to dozens of area development projects, many of them far from the lakeshore. It doesn't even have the money for a dredging project to keep the harbor open!

Wasserman resigned two weeks ago with a severance package of more than $300,000. The decision came suddenly and without explanation. Now, we're starting to get some details.

Christopher Evans, the Plain Dealer editorial writer, offers inside scoop today about how Wasserman fell. {Update, 11/23: His column, which wasn't posted online on Saturday, is up now.} He confirms that the October resignation of maritime director Pat Coyle was the first sign of strife: Williams interviewed Coyle and found out all was not well at the port offices. Once the board started asking questions, Wasserman hired a lawyer, then resigned. Evans questions the size of Wasserman's contract buyout and wants an explanation.

To understand the history of the port controversy, check out Michael D. Roberts' piece in this week's Scene. Roberts (also a Cleveland Magazine columnist) has been opposed to the port relocation for years. He argues that port board member John Carney was the biggest force behind the expansion, and he criticizes Carney as having conflicts of interest. Carney owns several properties in the Warehouse District, which could become more valuable if the current port site near Browns Stadium is redeveloped as a new waterfront neighborhood. Carney has also expressed interest in developing the lakefront, Roberts says.

That possible conflict made the Plain Dealer yesterday, as the developer of Quay 55, at the Shoreway and East 55th Street, called on Carney to be removed from the board. The PD's editorial today takes a fuzzy middle ground on the Carney conflict question. It's skeptical about the idea that the relocation is meant to benefit Carney and other developers, since lots of people agree that it's a good idea to move the port and open up the lakefront. The editorial doesn't call for Carney's resignation, but it does say that future port board members shouldn't have potential conflicts. Seems like a very careful stance.

But the paper also helpfully tells us who the port board members are, who appointed them, and how long their terms last. Carney is one of the three members appointed by the county commissioners (the city of Cleveland appoints the other six). His term expires Jan. 28, 2011 -- the 28th day that Cuyahoga County's new charter government will be in power. If the future county executive and council, elected on a mandate for reform, get to choose who's in that seat, my guess is this will be Carney's last term on the port board.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Home improvements for favors: More charges implicate Dimora & Russo

The U.S. Attorney has filed charges against two new defendants in the Cuyahoga County corruption scandal, and they fit a familiar pattern.

The defendants are businessmen who supply and install granite, but the details of the charges also implicate Public Official 1 and Public Official 2 -- the feds' code for Jimmy Dimora and Frank Russo, still not named or charged with crimes. Again, the feds seem to be building two different kinds of corruption cases against the two county officials.

This time, the feds say Dinesh Bafta, president of regional stone supplier Mont Granite, bribed PO2 (Russo) with granite slabs and a sink worth $5,800 to be installed in Russo's house. In exchange, the charge says, the auditor's office reduced the tax valuation on Mont Granite's Solon office reduced from $1.56 million to $1.23 million, and Bafna talked Russo out of a valuation increase of $250,000 on his Pepper Pike home, which restored the value to about $865,000. The charge alleges that Bafta called Russo twice personally to get the values lowered.

John Valentin, an official with Cleveland granite retailer Salva Stone Design, is accused of having his company install granite in PO1's (Dimora's) indoor and outdoor kitchens and master bathroom, then install a sink basin and countertop in Dimora's bathroom. (Total value: about $3,250.) In exchange, the feds allege, Dimora "acted in his official capacity to assist Valentin's friend with a tourist visa application."

This is peculiar -- PO1/Dimora works for Cuyahoga County, not the State Department -- though a letter from a local official might help a visa applicant as character testimony. You can easily imagine Dimora's defense: this is just good constituent service, not a steered contract!

But there's also this: on May 23, 2008, the day the FBI asked Dimora's buddy Steve Pumper to cooperate with them, and Pumper allegedly made a plan to tip Dimora off, the feds say Dimora's wife called Salva Stone for its mailing address, and Dimora "caused a personal check on his bank account to be written" to Salva Stone for $250. That's months after the first granite was allegedly installed in his house, though not long after the second round of stuff.

The pattern I described in my October issue profile of Dimora, "Life of the Party," still holds true: "The filings depict Dimora doing little favors," I wrote: "He puts in a good word for people, nudges, recommends... and takes gifts from his friends before or after." That leaves a gray area that Dimora's attorneys could use in a defense.

The feds' potential case against Russo looks far different: stark, simple bribe allegations. Earlier, we saw allegations of cash kickbacks for contracts -- and now, home-improvement gifts for fixing property values.

Prosecutors again appear to be lining up potential witnesses against Dimora and Russo. "The Government anticipates that both Bafna and Valentin will provide evidence against other unindicted participant(s) in the bribery conspiracy," an accompanying filing says. PO1 and PO2 are the most prominent unindicted figures mentioned in the charges.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mayor Jackson questions MMPI’s motives: 'Do they really want to be here?'

Mayor Frank Jackson just put out this press release challenging Medical Mart developer MMPI, asking if it is trying to get out of its deal to build in Cleveland.

MMPI's decision to release their study of Public Auditorium's flaws to the Plain Dealer has Jackson furious.

The Medical Mart project is now at a moment of crisis. What will MMPI, the county, and City Hall do next?

Bolds are mine:
A Statement from the Office of the Mayor
Mayor Jackson Questions MMPI’s Motives: Do They Really Want To Be Here?

CLEVELAND – Since Mayor Jackson has been crystal clear on his willingness to keep Public Auditorium and explore MMPI’s new plan, MMPI’s latest actions cause him and others to question their motives. The city and taxpayers need to know if MMPI still plans to develop in Cleveland. The Mayor has been very supportive of and committed to this project. For an example, once the County selected the site, Mayor Jackson and City Council turned this deal into a letter of intent within 10 weeks. MMPI has had unlimited access to investigate the site since the spring. After many months of silence by MMPI and continuing inquiry by the City of Cleveland, on November 4, MMPI told Mayor Jackson and Council President Martin Sweeney that Public Auditorium had many problems, that it no longer fit their business plan, and that they now want to put the Medical Mart at the end of Mall C (rather than on the previous St. Clair site). Mayor Jackson responded that the City is perfectly willing to keep Public Auditorium and is ready to discuss the new plan. Two days later Mayor Jackson’s staff asked MMPI to send the highlights of the Public Auditorium building study. Instead of sending the study highlights so that the City can take appropriate action if necessary, MMPI elected to publicly trash Public Auditorium in the media even after the building was no longer a part of the plan. MMPI’s actions beg the question: Do they still want to develop in Cleveland?

City challenges MMPI on Medical Mart, proposal to build on Mall

Cleveland City Hall is stepping up to challenge MMPI, the Medical Mart's developers. Yesterday's council hearings laid bare the power shift since the Nov. 3 election: The county's friendly, private negotiations with MMPI aren't driving Med Mart decisions anymore. Tougher, testier stances from Mayor Frank Jackson and city council are.

MMPI says it can't afford to renovate Public Auditorium or buy land west of the Mall, as it planned to this spring. It wants to build the Mart on city-owned Mall C instead.

Meanwhile, the county commissioners, who have led the quest for the Med Mart since 2006, have been rejected by the voters and are heading out the door in December 2010. And the county's decision to wait until the day after the election to give the city the bad news on Public Auditorium backfired, with Jackson feeling left in the dark.

Tim Hagan's renewed warning that MMPI can just walk away if the city drives too hard a bargain has been ignored and ridiculed. The Plain Dealer buried his warning deep inside the Metro section, where lame ducks quack, and cartoonist Jeff Darcy cast him as Grumpy of the Seven Dwarfs. Councilman Joe Cimperman, a possible candidate for county executive, stepped up to say what the commissioners' critics have been saying for years: Med Mart decision-making needs to be more transparent to the taxpayers.

The thing is, though, Hagan has a point. MMPI came to Cleveland to make money, but goodwill between Hagan and Chris Kennedy also played a huge part in getting the company here and keeping them at the negotiating table. City Hall, known for being more demanding of private business than the county, could conceivably push MMPI so hard that they kill the deal.

City officials are insisting that MMPI renegotiate the site sale with them. They insist the city still get paid at least $20 million for the site, even though Public Auditorium won't be sold anymore. And they want MMPI and the county to help fix Public Auditorium, even though they won't use it. That last demand sounds like an example of shooting the messenger: the city seems to think MMPI wounded the auditorium's reputation by saying it needs $92 million in renovations instead of $32 million. But maybe the hall does need that much: MMPI's presentation yesterday on its flaws sounds thorough.

On the other hand, the city does need to defend its interests. Public Auditorium will be less valuable if it's cut off from the convention center. Also, the city is being asked to give up valuable parkland on the lakefront bluff, part of downtown's famous Burnham Plan. (Roldo, who's against the project, asks worthwhile questions today about how the deal will change.)

So the city's demands could prove unreasonable, or a good negotiating stance. We'll see.

Meanwhile, the county is paying MMPI $333,333 a month even though work on the site hasn't started -- payments the county administrator may suspend.

Also, I haven't heard anyone address my biggest concern about the decision to drop Public Auditorium from the Med Mart plan. MMPI said this spring that getting trade shows into Public Hall by next year was key to being the "first mover." It gave Cleveland a competitive advantage over the New York and Nashville medical mart plans, which have to be built from scratch. How much does waiting until 2013 hurt us?

To read my June article about the Medical Mart in Inside Business, click here.

WCPN hosted an hour-long discussion of the Mart yesterday morning with Cimperman and Steve Litt of the PD -- click here to listen. Litt evaluates the new proposal from his architecture-critic's perspective and says a Med Mart on Mall C could be brilliant, or awful. Jay Miller of Crain's Cleveland Business is on the Med Mart story, as always: see his report from the council meeting here. Scene, which just wants the Med Mart to go away, blogs with a clever Darth Vader reference. Brandon Glenn at MedCity News takes a different angle: an update on MMPI's search for Med Mart showroom tenants.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sweeney retains council presidency

Martin Sweeney will remain Cleveland city council president, Henry Gomez reports on

Rival Matt Zone couldn't get the 10 votes needed to topple him. Sweeney, forcing Zone's hand, scheduled a council caucus today over lunch at the 100th Bomb Group restaurant. Going into the meeting knowing he didn't have the votes, Zone told Gomez that even he planned to vote for Sweeney.

That show of official fealty is customary once a winner becomes clear, I think. I seem to remember Mike Polensek officially ascending to the council presidency by unanimous vote in 1999, though the actual factional divide was 11-10. It also means Zone is not asking fence-sitters to take a losing stand with him -- he can save their goodwill for later, if Sweeney stumbles.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Quiet mayor wins landslide; Jeff Johnson's comeback complete; will Sweeney hold on as council president?

He is who he is, and that's fine with Cleveland voters: Mayor Frank Jackson, the quiet and workmanlike mayor, buried his challenger in a landslide yesterday, winning 78% of the vote.

It's been interesting, in the last year, to watch business and media elites accept the soft-spoken, unambitious, competent mayor and shed their yearning for a pulpit-pounding, charismatic strongman mayor (like, say, Akron's Don Plusquellic). Last week at the City Club debate, former councilman Bill Patmon did his best to project himself as the forceful-mayor type, to no avail. Jackson held his ground, explaining details of his work to deliver services and trim the budget.

Patmon may be right that Jackson will soon have to carry out the sort of sweeping budget cuts he campaigned on having avoided -- Henry Gomez predicts as much in the Plain Dealer today -- but voters trust Jackson to make those decisions. Meanwhile, the people who want mayors to use the bully pulpit to rally the region can turn their attention to who the first county executive will be.

In Glenville's Ward 8, voters returned Jeff Johnson to city council, 20 years after he left it to become a state senator, and 10 years after he left the state senate to serve a prison term for extortion. Johnson worked his way back to the public's trust by serving in Jane Campbell's administration and working for the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. Now, it seems, his rehabilitation is complete. (To read Cleveland Magazine's 1999 profile, "The Rise and Fall of Jeff Johnson," click here.)

Now, the political action at City Hall shifts to the council presidency. Johnson's election, and Zack Reed and Brian Cummins' victories in spite of redistricting, weaken Martin Sweeney's hold on the job. He and rival Matt Zone are competing for the 10 of 19 votes needed to be elected leader. The PD's Gomez has the news on this contest -- he reports that Sweeney got his council colleagues together at the Lancer Steakhouse last night, no doubt to try to consolidate support. A caucus vote on the presidency should come tomorrow; here's Gomez's handicapping.

Update, 11/5: Sweeney won.

Issue 6 approved: A new government for Cuyahoga County

Voters have reacted to two years of corruption and patronage scandals by throwing out every Cuyahoga County elected official. They approved Issue 6, a charter that creates a new form of government, with 66 percent of the vote.

We'll elect a county executive and an 11-member county council next year in a Sept. 7 primary and the Nov. 2 general election. The new charter will take effect Jan. 1, 2011.

The vote was overwhelming: Issue 5, the county commissioners' alternative plan to appoint a charter commission, failed with 72 percent of the vote. The Issue 5 side's vagueness about how they would reform government proved fatal. Their message failed to even make much of a dent in the 75 percent support for Issue 6 in a July poll.

Tim Hagan is on WMJI's Lanigan & Malone this morning, saying the vote for 6 shows how much power corporate political donors and Plain Dealer editor Susan Goldberg now have in Cleveland. Hagan complained the paper's county coverage was biased, and John Lanigan and Chip Kullik agreed that the PD's Oct. 2 headline about Hagan was misleading, which it was. But blaming the PD and business leaders for the new charter disrespects the voters. Hagan got it right later in the hour when he added that voters changed the government because they were disgusted with the behavior of some of their elected officials.

Everyone knows the biggest reason voters want reform: federal prosecutors are investigating Jimmy Dimora and suspect Frank Russo of stealing $1.2 million in cash. No one else in the current government noticed anything was wrong, and no one can fire Russo or Dimora now.

Hagan noted the charter will usher in a huge change in Greater Cleveland: the new county executive will be the most powerful elected official in the region, even more than the newly re-elected Cleveland mayor. Who might run for county executive? Jimmy Malone kept dropping Chris Ronayne's name. Hagan, perhaps thinking of Brent Larkin's August column on the subject, mentioned Gund Foundation head Dave Abbott.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Big leads for Issue 6, Mayor Jackson in early voting

A plan for a new Cuyahoga County goverment has a 2-1 lead in results from early voting, and Mayor Frank Jackson leads challenger Bill Patmon by almost 4-1, just-posted results from the board of elections show.

Issue 6, which would create a county executive and 11-member county council, has 102,000 votes for it and 53,000 against in the absentee ballot results. The competing Issue 5, which would create a charter commission to write a different reform plan, is losing more than 2-1, or 45,000 yes to 107,000 no.

Frank Jackson is out to a huge lead, 23,700 votes to 6,300, in his bid for a second term as mayor.

Most Cleveland city council members have solid leads, with three exceptions.

Former state Sen. Jeff Johnson is ahead of recent council appointee Shari Cloud in Glenville's Ward 8. Councilman Brian Cummins is somewhat ahead of Rick Nagin in Ward 14 on the near west side. Phyllis Cleveland in the Central neighborhood's Ward 5 is ahead of challenger Pernel Jones by only 35 votes. Each race could affect whether council president Martin Sweeney holds onto his job.

Absentee ballot totals can be a good early guide to where an election is going -- and now that it's so easy to vote by mail in Ohio, they make up a lot of the total vote.

Complete results aren't expected in Cuyahoga County until early morning.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Election Day advice on Issues 5 & 6

Tomorrow is Election Day, and the big issue in Cuyahoga County is Issue 6, which would replace the county government with an elected executive and 11-member council.

Here are links to the charter Issue 6 would establish, a two-page summary of it, and my tongue-in-cheek 500-word edit of it.

If you want a county executive and council:
-Vote Yes on 6.
-Vote No on Issue 5, which would establish a charter commission to write a different proposal.
-And, just in case 5 passes anyway, vote for the charter commission candidates on the Citizens Reform Association slate, most of whom support the ideas in 6.

If you don't like 6, but you want reform:
-Vote No on 6.
-Vote Yes on 5.
-Then split your vote between the two charter commission slates, so that the Citizens Reform candidates, who want to go farther with reform, will push the vaguer candidates from Real Reform Done Right to propose major change. (See this earlier post for why I'm giving this advice.)

For my coverage of the City Club debates about 5 and 6, click here and here. To read county treasurer Jim Rokakis' case against 6 and University Circle president Chris Ronayne's case for it, click here.

One more thing: if you're going to vote for candidates for the charter commission Issue 5 would create, take a list of your choices to the polls with you. The ballot doesn't list which slate they're on, or their party affiliation -- just 29 names. You've got to read about them beforehand. Short bios of all the candidates, by slate, are here and here. It's OK to take notes with you when you vote.

The polls are open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. To look up your voting location and see a sample ballot for your precinct, click here.

Cleveland votes for mayor and city council tomorrow

Tomorrow, Cleveland will decide whether to replace Mayor Frank Jackson with challenger Bill Patmon. If you're looking for information about the candidates, here are some links:

-my coverage of their Wednesday debate
-a podcast of their appearance on WCPN last week
-the Plain Dealer's September analysis of Mayor Jackson's first term and the issues in the campaign
-the mayor's and Patmon's campaign websites

Voters in most city wards will cast a vote for city council too. The results may determine whether Jackson ally Martin Sweeney remains city council president, or whether Matt Zone, who would presumably lead council in a more independent direction, can unseat him. Henry Gomez's ward-by-ward look at who supports Sweeney and who may be a swing vote is interesting reading -- and one factor voters could look at as they decide which council candidate to choose in their ward.

The polls are open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. To look up your voting location and see a sample ballot for your precinct, click here.