Lily Miller and Sarah Karp deserve national attention for their Civic Journalism

Submitted by lmcshane on Sat, 12/05/2015 - 07:51.

Recently, a blogger/citizen reporter Sarah Karp in Chicago brought down Barbara Byrd-Bennet by asking the obvious questions- you can watch the video here:

Published on Oct 20, 2015

Former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett recently pleaded guilty to corruption charges. BGA Senior Investigator Sarah Karp broke the story that led to the federal investigation two years ago when she was working for Catalyst Chicago, an education publication. Sarah answers five questions about her investigation and the fallout.

Read more:,_the_perils_of_privatization/

Chicago is now reeling with the aftermath and the accounting is going back to the person in charge - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel


Cleveland is also being scrutinized.  Afterall, Barbara Byrd-Bennett's behavior did not happen overnight.

For almost two months now - research conducted by Lily Miller has been the leading story at REALNEO :


Lily Miller also contacted the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Washington Post reporter Michael Sallah, who exposed the discriminatory practice of tax lien sales in his series: Left with Nothing.


This week, on Thursday 12/3 , Cuyahoga County administration under County Executive Armond Budish announced that the sale of tax liens will be suspended.   Northeast Ohio, this is happy news.


There is a lot to dismantle in Chicago and in Cleveland.  Sarah Buduson at WEWS Channel 5 pointed out the obvious incongruity in who gets away with not paying their taxes.


She also exposed the "Dirty Dozen" of major tax scofflaws in Northeast Ohio.


Armond Budish is left with this mess - but it started way back in the 70s-90s as federal pots of HUD money became available to urban areas.  Mob demolitions and "urban renewal" mentality.  Mayor Frank Jackson is at the center of the unholy story - surrounded by a whole crew of his former city council cohorts.    Budish knows he is sitting on a time bomb.  He needs to break this story, before the rest of the world unravels it for him.


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FBI take note - Cuyahoga Cty and Woods Cove face lawsuit

Northeast Ohio Media Group continues to downplay the story to protect Rokakis-Frangos and the Land Bank racket.

Announced this past week:

NEOMG admit that the duo who legislated tax lien sales was none other than Jim Rokakis and Gus Frangos. This duo also legislated the first "land bank" run by the City of Cleveland, while they were in council. DESPITE all of your fawning over these two individuals and their supposed good work - their ideas -tax lien sales and land banks- has this ROI:

"The study also found the amount of delinquent property taxes on homes and apartment buildings has ballooned since 2009 from $89 million to $214.7 million."…/housing_advocates_cuyahoga_count…

SO something is VERY wrong with the picture, when the brilliant solutions pan out to MORE delinquent property taxes. There is a racket here. Ask the obvious questions. Who is making money??

First off - DEMOLITION companies. Also, some very BIG fish are not paying taxes and getting away with it:…/does-anyone-care-dirty-dozen-and-more



I posted the above comments to the NEOMG story on Cuyahoga County canceling the tax lien sales for 2015.  These comments were immediately deleted.  Is the FBI -POSSIBLY- investigating the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, or is the NEOMG group protecting Rokakis and Frangos at the behest of Brent Larkin, who is personal friends with Jim Rokakis?


For context, please see the recent story in Indy Star regarding the continued scandal at the Indianapolis "Land Bank."

In part, the city’s aversion to land banking stems from the biggest scandal of Mayor Greg Ballard’s administration.

Former city Land Bank administrator Reggie Walton was convicted this year of fraud after taking bribes and directing surplus properties to certain buyers through a number of nonprofits.


Officially, his conviction closed the book on the yearslong scandal, but, in many ways, it’s still thwarting city efforts to deal directly with the problem of urban blight.


Henry Gomez on Sherrod Brown not paying taxes

Sen. Sherrod Brown received an extra property tax credit and racked up penalties for late payments>>evidently this is not the first time Sherrod Brown has made the mistake...

Bernie Moreno pointed out the issue but it should also be noted that his son-in-law is Max Miller (of Ratner Family).  Both political parties and their cronies are complicit in the cover up of the Cuyahoga County Land Bank mafia. Enough is enourgh.

Support Civic Journalism - reporting by Polly Karr


Dr. Morgan's scalpel is dull

A scratch is not a cut

Dr. Morgan and the CMSD school board said that they would be bold and make sure the first cuts were deep and from the central office. At first, they said the cuts would be an impressive 10% but when they finally voted on the budget, they had gone even deeper and cut 12.6% of the central office salaries. The cuts would come from active positions, effective May 24, 2024, as well as unfilled positions. Dr. Morgan seemed proud of the cuts when he announced them at the May 21st school board meeting.

Maybe too proud. Because there was just something in the way Dr. Morgan spoke of the 12.6% and the way the local media parroted the number, that made me turn, once again, to the public records request. I asked for a list of all positions active and unfilled that were being cut, their salaries, and the effective cut date. Last month I had requested the salaries of all central office positions, all 467 of them. Yes, 467 positions crucial to the running of Cleveland schools even though none of them directly teach a student to read or do math or feed them or protect them or transport them. I figured I would compare the two spreadsheets and see just how deep the cuts actually were.


Administrators Get More

From the numbers given to me, the total salaries for the CMSD central office, people who do not work directly in any classroom, and do not teach, is a whopping $32,188,710.35. Dr. Morgan’s base salary is $285,000 (with amazing additional benefits). The Senior Chief of District Operations makes $216,176.00. The Senior Chief of Equity & Culture makes $210,000.00. The Chief Academic Officer makes $202,000.00. These are the four positions that make a base salary over $200,000.

There are 77 people who make salaries over $100,000. This includes Dr. Morgan’s Chief of Staff who, at $193,000, makes more than a White House COS. The Chief of External Affairs makes $193,500. The Chief Information Officer makes $191,000. The Chief Legal Counsel manages to make ends meet at $189,500. The person in charge of Talent & Human Resources makes $175,000. The Executive Director Say Yes (CMSD) Partnerships and Wraparound Prevention Programs and Services makes $148,352. Then there are another 71 other positions from Network Leaders to Director to a Student Services Officer, who work for base salaries over $100,000.

I requested public records from Columbus City Schools, for their top 10 salaries. Added together, the Columbus top 10 make $1,734,768, serving 46,000 students. Compare that to Cleveland’s top ten salaries costing the taxpayers $2,004,028 to serve just 36,000 students. Neither district is cloaked in glory.

About those cuts

To get to the 12.6% in cuts, Dr. Morgan and the school board cut 63 positions. Let me say, with all honesty, the people who have lost their jobs today aren’t a punchline or a gotcha to me. I hope they quickly turn around into new positions and don’t face too much financial hardship from this job loss. There is some solace in that of the 63 positions cut by CMSD, only 24 were active positions. The rest are currently unfilled and will not be filled. Only one of the active cuts was of an administrator making over $100,000. The Executive Director of Data & Organizational Accountability made $154,534 until today and was not given any severance pay.

Of the $32,188,710.35 that is central office pay, CMSD claims to have made huge cuts that total $3,841,651.20 but… That is only if you add together the active and the unfilled. Of the active positions eliminated, we are only saving $1,521,499.25 from these deep cuts. Doesn’t seem like much to be proud about for Dr. Morgan or the school board. The active positions cut is just 4.7% of central office staffing expenditures.

Who did we lose?

Out of the 467 positions that constitute central office staffing, Dr. Morgan has decided, boldly, that CMSD doesn’t need a Director of Speech Language & Communications Services ($86,190) and we are definitely not filling the open position of Program Manager Special Education Vision & Deaf Services ($66,402). We are going to have to do without the Manager of School Quality Reviewer ($71,017) and not even going to fill the position of Executive Director Internal Audit ($96,390). We are parting ways with the Manager of Student Assignments ($84,711) and not filling the position of Director Psychological Services ($66,402).

I was particularly saddened to see that the copywriter whose name appeared in some of the script related Eclipse-gate emails has also lost her $50,000 job. I was not at all surprised to see that none of the people collectively making a half a million dollars in the communications department received a pink slip. Clearly these cuts were not performance based.

About that levy

Mayor Justin Bibb and Dr. Morgan are determined to pass a 10 year 8.6 mill property tax increase in addition to a $295 million bond issue. The president of the school board, Sara Elaqad, says that passing a levy is a direct investment in the future of Cleveland students. By the looks of what the district is willing to cut when the going gets tough, I’d have to say that passing the levy is just more investment in turgid central office staff too far removed from the scholars they claim to serve.




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