Investigator: No penalties for poor attendance at Cleveland City Council

7:30 AM, Mar 22, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- If Cleveland's 19 city council members skip legislative meetings, they face stiff fines. At least that's what it says on paper.

However, The Investigator Tom Meyer found no one gets penalized, regardless how poor their attendance is.

Councilman Ken Johnson took "top honors" for the worst city council attendance last year, attending 74 percent of the meetings.

"I don't really know. I really have no comment," Johnson said when questioned about his poor attendance.

After giving it more thought, he blamed his poor attendance on being busier than anyone else.

Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland has the fourth-worst attendance. Her response is because she has a challenging ward.

Downtown councilman Joe Cimperman tied Johnson for the worst attendance last year, but Cimperman and his colleagues say he had to spend considerable time on medical issues and on caring for a newborn.

City council members can be fined up to 2% of their salary for missing meetings, according to the city charter.

Council President Marty Sweeny said no one has ever been penalized in the 17 years he has been on council, including the past eight he has spend as president.

Several council members said they saw Councilman Eugene Miller at only one of the seven budget hearings last month, even though records show he attended all seven.

MORE ON MILLER STORY: Investigator: No show councilman too busy

Miller also missed 22% of the meetings last year.

After avoiding multiple attempts to contact him, Miller stated that if records show he attended all seven budget hearings, he must have.

"I'm not going to blow off a committee meeting just to go do something," Miller said when asked about his overall attendance.

Council records don't show how long a council member attended a meeting. There is no minimum requirement.

Council members may show up, leave a few minutes later and still go down in the books as being in attendance.

Some councilmen say it happens all the time without penalty.


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