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Cleveland councilman calls on Mayor Frank Jackson to join lawsuit against FirstEnergy

Mike Polensek asks law director if Cleveland will join other 'brave' cities against 'the evil empire.'

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Councilman Mike Polensek asked Cleveland Law Director Barbara Langhenry today if Cleveland plans to join a lawsuit filed by Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and other cities to try to block fees created by controversial House Bill 6 from kicking in. The fees are expected to cost ratepayers $150 million a year.

The lawsuit, filed in October in Franklin County, claims House Bill 6 amounts to a bailout for the two nuclear power plants owned by the company formally known as FirstEnergy. The bill is at the heart of a bribery scandal involving top statehouse leaders.

RELATED: Toledo joins lawsuit against FirstEnergy over HB6 scandal; action aims to block consumers from fees

“I need to know from you, is the City of Cleveland contemplating joining the lawsuit with the other brave cities who have decided to take on ‘the evil empire’ known as First Energy and its co-conspirators?" Polensek wrote in an email to Langhenry.

Polensek said his Northeast ward has the largest concentration of customers of the city-owned utility Cleveland Public Power, which has been under fire for high rates and management problems. It’s also been the subject of critical mailings paid for by a group with ties to FirstEnergy, according to reporting by Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer.

On Monday, former Cleveland Mayor Dennis Kucinich, who is considering a bid for mayor and has long been a supporter of Cleveland Public Power, called on council and the city to join the lawsuit against House Bill 6.

RELATED: Yost moves to block another $102 million in FirstEnergy fees

You can read Polensek’s letter below. 

This story will be updated with a response from the city.

Ms. Barbara Langhenry

Director, Department of Law

Dear Director Langhenry:

 I am sure, like all of us, you have been watching the Statewide developments pertaining to the ongoing corruption scandal and fallout from HB 6. Obviously, state officials are being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and we all expect more to be coming as to the actions and steps First Energy has taken to corrupt the Leadership of the Ohio Legislature and the PUCO.

 As a result of their actions, and subsequent ongoing investigation, the Cities of Cincinnati and Columbus have filed suit against First Energy in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on October 27, 2020. You should also know that the Cities of Dayton and Toledo have asked to join the Court Action, as well, to stop the imposition of HB6. 

 We all know now, for sure, that First Energy was involved in clandestine actions that were taken to undercut Cleveland Public Power and to sow the seeds of mistrust with the customers of CPP. Ward 8 was the recipient of numerous mailings by the minions of First Energy attempting to create public mistrust in our power system and quite frankly, the City of Cleveland. 

 Therefore, I need to know from you, is the City of Cleveland contemplating joining the lawsuit with the other brave cities who have decided to take on “THE EVIL EMPIRE” known as First Energy and its co-conspirators? 

I hope you are aware, that Ward 8 has the largest customer base of CPP customers in the City. I am outraged by the action that they have taken against our municipality and our power system. For the City of Cleveland to not join this lawsuit would be a slap in the face of all CPP customers and taxpayers. It is time for the City of Cleveland to stand up to the corruption that First Energy has fostered in the State of Ohio. 

 If I do not hear back from you – I am prepared to submit a Resolution – with the support of my Colleagues – urging the Administration to stand up for our power customers and to join the lawsuit against First Energy. I understand that Mayor Jackson has been contemplating legal action. However, it has been three months since the suit was filed. Action must be taken now to show, once and for all, that they cannot control Cleveland City Hall, as they have tried for over the last 50 years. 

I look forward to a response as soon as possible. 

Stay safe and healthy.

Sincerely yours,

Councilman Michael D. Polensek

Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a story published on October 29,2020: