Welcome! This free speech community journal was created so the Maple Heights African American community could share videos, photos, events, articles, posts, ideas, thoughts, and information.  We're now exclusively on Facebook, so don't forget to also check out our Facebook page.  Have a fantastic day!

Friday, June 29, 2012


Certain businesses are required to register/obtain a permit, and pay a fee to do business within the city of Maple Heights.  Please call the Maple Heights building department to see if you must register/obtain a permit and/or pay a fee.

Example:  Contractors (who conduct business in Maple Heights) must register with the city; and you may need permits for specific projects, etc. **
If you have a landscaping or lawn cutting business, you may have to register with the city to conduct your business within Maple Heights. (check with the building department)

You can be fined if you do not have a city permit (and/or are not registered).


**July 2, 2012 _ 1442.08 Fee waiver:  The fees set forth in this chapter may be waived by the mayor, in whole or in part, for good cause. 
[What does "good cause" mean?  Until that (what good cause means) is spelled out, everyone should request a waiver (and state why they should receive a waiver) so it can be determined if the granting of the waiver is biased or discriminates based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or ethnic origin.]

Thursday, June 28, 2012


There have been a number of questions, comments, complaints, and opinions made by residents in Maple Heights. A list of some of those questions/comments/opinions are listed below. Feel free to answer, add to, or comment on those questions and/or comments/opinions. (smile) It is doubtful you will get relevant/specific comments or answers from this administration or council representatives about these matters, but ask anyway. If you do get answers and/or comments, demand that they provide proof. Better still, give your representatives homework assignments. Tell them if they don't complete the assignment, they don't get your vote.

 When abandoned buildings were demolished, did we use city workers, or did we use outside contractors? If we used outside contractors, who were they, and what are the names of the owners of these companies? How many were minority contractors?

A comment: The city (at the mayor's request) recently increased fees and the cost of permits. What most people don't realize, those costs are passed on to us either directly, or through the contractor who wraps it into what he charges us to do the work.

Why has construction stopped at the school site on Raymond?

A comment: Real estate agents and government home buying workshops should be required to tell home buyers about what is expected of them when they buy a home (ex. upkeep of property, property taxes, adhering to city ordinances, etc). Real estate agents should be required (when they show a house) to present the city ordinances, so the buyer knows what is expected of him/her before buying a house.

How many auxiliary employees are in the police department? Are they all police officers?

A comment: Every public employee (which includes elected officials) should remember that their function is to protect and serve the residents in the city where they are employed. Their first duty is serving and protecting the residents. That means, if a city’s population is declining, and there is high unemployment, they should expect an adjustment (downward) in their pay and benefits. When the community is financially stable, public employee’s pay and benefits can be adjusted (upward).

List of projects Maple Heights has been involved in. Who were the contractors? What materials were purchased for these projects, and from whom were they purchased? How much did we pay these contractors, and where did the funds come from (tax payers, donations, grants, etc)?

Do we charge businesses/contractors any fees for doing business in Maple Heights. If yes, are all of them charged fees, and if not, why not? How are fees determined?

Do all the businesses in Maple Heights pay taxes to the city of Maple Heights? If some do and some don’t, who does and who doesn’t? At what rate are they taxed? Do they all pay the same tax rate?

List of businesses that contracted with the city of Maple Heights over the last 4 years?

List of minority owned businesses/ contractors used over the past 4 years?

A comment: All public records requests should be provided to the requester w/in 30 days without the mayor's approval.

What is the monthly salary or hourly wage, city of residence, job title, date of hire, and race of each city worker (broken down by department)?

Are African Americans denied information about the city, while Caucasians have no problem obtaining information?

Do all requests for information about the city have to go through the mayor?

Why are there so many miscellaneous categories in the budget, etc.?

How much do we pay in benefits to Maple Heights public employees (including elected officials)?

What is the totalhealth insurance premium for Maple Heights public employees? What percentage of the total do Maple Heights public employees pay?

How much interest do we pay to bondholders? How often are these interest payments made? When was the last payment made?

Is the affirmative action agreement (involving the police departments and schools) available online?
Update: Affirmative Action agreements (1) (2)

Where can we obtain a copy of that affirmative action agreement?
Update: Affirmative Action agreements (1) (2)

What is the job description of safety director, and why is it necessary to have one?

A comment: The position of safety director should be replaced with a civilian review board.

Number of foreclosures each year since 2007

A comment: Council should not be able to pass any resolution without first holding a public meeting/debate, and also having a citizen's advisory board review it.

A comment: We should pass a resolution and/or change charter making it mandatory that there be a special election held w/in 90 days of a council seat becoming vacant.

A number of people have expressed interest in community policing.

A comment: You should not be able to declare a council seat vacant for any reason.

What's the total cost for the 4th of July fireworks?

Do the people who work at the Food Pantry receive a wage, or are they just volunteers? They should receive a wage.

What is the city doing about the continuing problem of high home foreclosures?

A comment: This city should be reducing the salary of the mayor and council right now, and not after their term in office (call your council representative about a recent council resolution regarding the mayor's salary and their salary). Council salary will still be too high regardless of that resolution they passed. We have high unemployment among African Americans, more losses in population, and high, ongoing home foreclosures, and these politicians still fail to address the city's financial problems adequately.

A comment: This city is 73% African American. Name more than 1 African American department head  [Waller - who doesn't live in Maple Hts,  ...  Who  hired her? This mayor's record on diversity in leaderhip positions stinks. There are no African Americans in this mayor's inner circle, one in a leadership position and high-salaried position, and only 1 elected African American in council, the other African American in council was sought out and appointed by council (not the people in his district).

The mayor knew about state budget cuts to local municipalities in June 2011. Why wasn’t appropriate action taken then regarding salaries (esp. mayor’s salary), etc? Why didn’t council make a resolution last year to cut council members salaries and the mayor’s salary for the next four years or more?

What was so important about the state funds? What did those funds pay for? Maple Heights mayor blames state cuts on Maple Heights problems. Tell us why you needed those state funds.

What salary/benefits and other concessions were made last year and this year by each department? Name the individuals affected. %age African American affected?

A Comment: Cut council meetings to 1 day a month, and no council meetings in the summer month.

A Comment: The mayor should not use glossy newsletters.

Why aren’t council and mayor, etc. salaries being cut now?

Explain what a safety director does, and why does the mayor need that title?

Who okays salary increases? Who can order salary cuts?

What communities were hurt most by state budget cuts? Were they mostly communities of color?

A Comment: All out of town trips by public employees must be documented and approved by council or perhaps a citizen’s advisory board.

A Comment:  Mayor said: "Lansky said it was expected the city would spend $150,000 a year less in legal fees when compared with the prior administration."  Did we save money in legal fees?

A Comment and a Question: Linda Vopat hired a dance instructor to perform at the senior center.  Who is that person? What city does she reside in? Is she a Maple Heights government employee? How much was she paid (need to see checks written), and what were the financial arrangements made between the instructor and the city of Maple Heights?  How long is the contract for between the dance instructor and the city of Maple Heights?  Can anyone use a Maple Heights government facility (like the senior center) for profit making purposes?  Can a Maple Heights resident use a Maple Heights government facility (like the senior center) in order to make a profit? Can a Maple Heights resident use a Maple Heights government facility for social events? If yes to the last 3 questions, under what provisions and conditions, and what facilities are available?  Why is there so much secrecy surrounding the financial arrangements with this dance instructor?

Council should not be able to call a council seat vacant "for any reason" (reasons should be clearly stated)

A special election (within 60 days) should be required if a council seat becomes vacant and there is more than 12 months left in the term.

Information:  Ohio Sunshine law manual

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Many among the African American community in Maple Heights, want to discuss the city's finances.  In light of,  the superintendent of Maple Heights school's call to renew a levy,  this administration's call to renew a levy in November,  *very high home foreclosures (and see Plain Dealer article listing Maple Heights as worst regarding property values in Cuyahoga County / 2009), continued high unemployment, troubling signs in this economy,  and the perception that the current administration is hiding something from residents,   ... a  public meeting is definitely warranted.

Several African American homeowners want to know what the police are doing to help raise revenue for themselves. Are they enforcing the noise ordinance, which carries hefty fines? Are they enforcing other ordinances that help generate revenue for this city?

Years ago, the city of Maple Heights worked out an agreement (1) to make sure African Americans had more representation in the police and fire departments, schools, etc.  Well, the plan is not working well (even though the schools have seen much improvement), and with some city departments, the plan is not working at all.  

Minorities are still significantly under represented even though African Americans are almost 70% (or more)  of the population in Maple Heights.  What are the city's plans to address this?  This also needs to be discussed in a public meeting, because if African Americans and other minorities are not significantly represented in Maple Heights government (especially in full-time and high salaried and leadership positions), and there are no plans to address this, and money keeps flowing from African American tax payers who help pay city worker's salaries and benefits, to  [what looks to be  predominantly Caucasian]  city workers and contractors (many) who  live outside the city, then getting a levy passed,  may be fought vigorously by African Americans in this city to vote against the levy.

African Americans in Maple Heights also want a concerned citizen's group, an independent civilian review board and an independent citizen's advisory board (where the mayor has no authority to appoint board members, and city council members have limited input), because they feel their needs and wants are not being met, and their voices disregarded by Maple Heights government employees (that includes all elected officials).  Some residents feel that community policing is also necessary.  Generally speaking, people who live in Maple Heights have a vested interest in making sure Maple Heights is a vibrant, safe, and economically sound city.

African Americans who have voiced concern about, or are fighting for, more diversity in Maple Heights government, and wish to discuss a range of other pertinent topics (like holding a public meeting), have reported break-ins and acts of vandalism, some even called racist, etc.  Not sure  what the connection is yet (if any).

[*Just learned from ESOP that Maple Heights is still either the worst or one of the highest in foreclosures in the county. That means the city is still losing thousands of dollars in property taxes.  Why didn't the city do more to help homeowners hold onto their properties?  What are they doing presently to help homeowners prevent foreclosure? And I don't want the mayor or other members of council to take credit for what councilman Richard Trojanski is doing to address home foreclosures all by himself.

Property values are still in decline, yet real estate companies are still listing property in the $90,000 range even with foreclosed homes all around. Why is HUD selling foreclosed homes to real estate investors for $15,000 to $20, 000, who then list the property for $80,000 to 94,000?  There needs to be an investigation.  Also why are we seeing a company called Corelogic (**CORELOGIC, 2500 WESTFIELD DR, ELGIN, IL 60124)  listed for the tax mailing address of many of these properties?]

[To be further edited]

To request public documents:    Ohio Sunshine law manual


Black America's Mobility Crisis by Jamelle Bouie, July 18, 2012

Cuyahoga County cities brace for property tax losses  by Laura Johnston, July 9, 2012

Please read the July 25, 2012 Neighborhood News (section that talks about Maple Heights - reduction in mayor and council salary) and also responses to this post in the comment section.

Update on Corelogic:
The Illogic of CoreLogic, August 26, 2012