What to do if your Public Records Request is not answered

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Mon, 07/06/2009 - 14:32.

In Ohio the State Law which governerns PUBLIC RECORD REQUESTS is Section 149.43 of the Ohio Revised Codes.

On May 20, 2009 I emailed the following request to the City of Cleveland.

Public Records Request
May 20, 2009      By email
Mr. Robert J. Triozzi, Esq., Director
Kim L. Roberson, Public Records Administrator
City of Cleveland  Law Department
601 Lakeside Ave., Room 106
Cleveland , Ohio 44114
This public records request concerns the Tremont West Development Corporation (TWDC),  which is one of Cleveland ’s CDC’s and which is a taxpayer funded governmental sub-division of the City of Cleveland .
I request the list(s) of voting members (with their addresses) of the TWDC during the years 2006 to the present.
I have personally requested this  membership list from the TWDC Board at a recent public hearing of the Board and the Board refused to provide the list claiming that the TWDC is a “private” non-profit and that the membership list record is not a public record.  The TWDC does, however, selectively provide their membership list with member’s contact information to certain persons and entities without their member’s authorization, effectively waiving any claim of “privacy”.  
As a practical matter, one reason the TWDC voting members list is an important public document is because if you wish to run for the Board, the list is necessary in order to be able to contact  the voting members and solicit their vote in the manner a candidate chooses.    The  list is also important because only if it is public can its accuracy be vetted.
Just as anyone can go to the Cleveland Board of Elections on Euclid and get a CD of the registered voters (with their addresses) in each of Cleveland’s voting precincts, so should citizens be able to go to their CDC’s (or go to the City of Cleveland as I am now doing) and get a list of the CDC’s voting members. 
I believe the Ohio Public Records Law ORC 149.43 et seq and pertinent Ohio   public records case law supports this request.   Should the Law Department claim that the membership list of the TWDC is exempt as a public record, then I would appreciate your responding as  stated in The City of Cleveland Public Records Policy quoted below:
“All exemptions are to be construed in favor of disclosure as required by law and any denial of public records in response to a valid request must be accompanied by an explanation, including legal authority, as outlined in the ORC. If the request is in writing, the explanation must also be in writing.”
Please respond by email.
Jeff Buster
            Chris Garland, Executive Director TWDC
            Councilman Joe Cimperman

On June 2, 2009 I received the following email from Ms. Roberson:
Public Records Request Response
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 11:27 AM
"Roberson, Kimberly" <KRoberson [at] city [dot] cleveland [dot] oh [dot] us>


"ward13 [at] clevelandcitycouncil [dot] org" <ward13 [at] clevelandcitycouncil [dot] org>, "Roberson, Kimberly" <KRoberson [at] city [dot] cleveland [dot] oh [dot] us>, "Orta, Maria" <MOrta [at] city [dot] cleveland [dot] oh [dot] us>

Mr. Jeff Buster

This email is in response to your public records request for a copy of records regarding Tremont West Development Corporation (TWDC) providing the list of voting members with their addresses during the years 2006 to present.
In response, the City of Cleveland does not maintain nor have this record in our possession.  Please contact the Tremont West Development Corporation (TWDC) directly for their list of voting members.
Kim L. Roberson
Public Records Administrator                  
City of Cleveland
Department of Law

601 Lakeside Avenue, Room 106
Cleveland, Ohio    44114-1077

Tel: (216) 664-2772
Fax: (216) 420-8560
KRoberson [at] city [dot] cleveland [dot] oh [dot] us

On June 15, 2009 I wrote back to Ms. Roberson as follows:

Kim L. Roberson                  June 15, 2009
Public Records Administrator                  
City of Cleveland
Department of Law
As I explained in my earlier public records request, I have already requested the membership list documents from TWDC.  However the TWDC Board maintains that the records are “private” and they refuse to provide the records.   Rather than institute legal action against the TWDC in an attempt to obtain the public records,   I believe that because CDC’s are a governmental subdivision of the City of Cleveland, that I may request the records directly from the City and the City has the obligation to assemble the records for review and copying. 
However, in response to my earlier public records request re: TWDC, you stated
“the City of Cleveland does not maintain nor have this record in our possession”
I now request (as a public records request) that the City of Cleveland provide all emails, phone logs, documents, and any other communications/records which were generated by any one representing or employed by TWDC, the City of Cleveland (including any City Counselor(s) or other City of Cleveland employees, and the Law Department) or which mention Jeff Buster, or mention/concern  TWDC or other CDC membership lists or records between the time of my earlier request and now.
In particular I am requesting any documents or correspondence which might shed light on how the City of Cleveland determines if a record is “maintained” by the City or is in the “possession” of the City.
I am also requesting any documents which discuss any understanding between the City and TWDC as to how my earlier public records request for TWDC membership lists/records be responded to or “handled”. 
I am requesting any  historic document which defines who/what entity has to “maintain” a document for it to be considered “in the possession” of the City?   Is there any document which defines/ or helped you determine,  whether or not a document is “in the possession of the City vs not in the possession of the City?
What determines if a document is “in the possession” of the City of Cleveland?
For example, does the document have to be housed in a certain building or kept by a certain department or division or agency,  to cause the document to be then determined to be in the City of Cleveland’s possession? 
Or, is a document considered to be in the City of Cleveland’s possession if the City can request the physical document from a City of Cleveland governmental sub-division such as a CDC?
Or on  each record request – such as mine – is  “possession”  determined ad hoc?
If the City claims privileged as to any document, email, etc, covered by this request, please provide the name of the sender, name of recipient, date, type of communication (email, letter) and the general substance of the communication.  
Thank you,
Jeff Buster

As of July 6, 2009 I have not had any further response from the City  (I just sent an email reminder to Ms. Roberson) , so I am investigating what the next step is as specified by the Ohio Public Records statute.


It appears from Section (C) 1 paragraph 2 of the statute that a written copy of your public records  must be hand delivered or sent via certified mail in order to establish a delivery date certain for the purposes of eventually obtaining a mandamus (a court order) with the potential of recovering statutory damages ($100 per day with a limit of $1,000). 

I will wait a few more days and then drop off a printed/signed copy of the June 15th request at Cleveland City Hall.

If anyone has had experience bringing a public records request to court in Ohio, please extend your advice and suggestions. 






( categories: )

I'm on month seven...

 I made request for TWDC documents last December. My request was for seven years going back. I was informed they had 2007-08 (one fiscal year july-june) prepared for review. I scheduled a review and went down to city hall. Half of the documents were illegible, apparently "the printer must have run out of ink". I reviewed them all and asked for those documents in a readable form as well as several email attachments not included, referenced documents that were not included, copies of select documents and the next fiscal year.

I was told it should take a few weeks. I never heard back. I've called Ms. Roberson numerous times and my calls have not been returned. 

Seems like TWDC thinks their business is no one's business.... hell, I could use a thousand bucks...

  You could go about


You could go about redefining, the relationship, Jeff has already. When you say that the CDC is s sub-division of government you are out on a limb. If everything that received government funding was a sub-division then its all just matter of degrees of separation.

The CDC’s are not fully funded, they operate an independent budget. They apply for grants, or are they now getting regular amounts? If so then they need to address that, it was never there charter to do be a branch of government.

The responsiveness of the CDC to the community is proportionate to the public funding they receive. Not fully funded…not fully accountable?

The CDC model is not perfect, but really should be operating on federal grants that are allocated by the city. Per project and that empowering them to operate on enough of a margin. But they were tainted, they began to placate and patronize, they pursue money in conflicting areas. In an extreme analogy you could say they fund the Neo Nazi and then also fund the Orthodox Jew. The typical whore I think, has no morals and does not care who the John is, hey its all green. Then they blanket it all with, the quintessentially PC motto can’t we all just get along.

She is only the friend of the homeless when there is funds for them, she is always friends with anyone with money to spend.

Do you really expect her to give up the contact list? Is the crack whore on welfare a government sub-division.

Class action

  Add my name to the list of folks denied information on the Denison NRP housing trust application.  What's the next step?

so you're taking on TWDC?

good luck with that . . .

Public Records Request

As a person that went with Debra to City hall well over four months ago, we went through over 800 pages of documents and report between the City of Cleveland and Tremont West. I will choose not to comment on a document or report because we do not have them. We did take some notes that were salary related.

What is of importance

A) The City of Cleveland gave us documentation to review that was illegable.

B) The City Law Department was going to gather the next budgetary year for us to review within a two week period and call Debra to setup a appointment. At the same time they were doing to give us the 700+ pages of documents we requested copies of as a public record.

C) The City will not return Debra's phone calls.

D) This is plainly a City of Cleveland issue relating to the documents not TWDC.

E) TWDC signs contracts for projects with the City of Cleveland. These are all public record.


Most of the reports read were standard reporting. I am fresh out of any funding to lay out to help Debra file a suit against the City of Cleveland. Jeff do you know any attorney's that will file suit against the City of Cleveland, and if they will help her Pro Bono?

The City of Cleveland is unresponsive relating tho this request.

TWDC is changing, and we all have a hand in making it happen, I am not going smack them around on this, but the City of Cleveland must follow the law on the public records. I am sure when they seen me down their the shreadders went into overtime.

I am also going to request the new councilman for Ward 14 request all these documents, everyone of them that has been knocking on my door for support stated they want to look into the funding TWDC gets and use me as a information source on the performance of TWDC in the Ward 14 community.

One more reason to say vote for anyone but Joe Santiago.

Henry P. Senyak

yo yo

ANyone but Joe!

you talkin' ta me?

or Jeff?

I'm not "taking on" anyone - just requesting information that should be open to the public.

were we filing some kind of law suit, that might be "taking on", but I wouldn't phrase a FOIA request as such.

What about you, Jeff? you lookin' for the trouble???

BJ et al, failure to provide = public records aggression


The first thing the FBI did when they came to Cleveland was to empty out all the file cabinets on the forth floor of the Cuyahoga County Commission offices into waiting trailers down on the street.  The FBI likes hard copy records. The FBI was basically doing a “hands on” “get out of my way” public records “REQUEST”.
Unfortunately, citizens don’t have the cache or prowess of the FBI, but we have the same rights to the records.
Every record in every public office – and the TWDC is a public office under both Federal and Ohio law – belongs to you and me.  We paid for the records.
The checks and balances provided by our Constitution operate only if citizens are able to know what their government is doing.   Every record (with a very few exceptions) is ours for the asking.
The people in the office with our records are custodians who work for us to maintain our records.
Now when you ask your custodian to provide you a copy of your record, and the custodian gives you the run a round, or worse, then that is a problem.  The custodian is out of line. The custodian is putting road blocks, delay, obfuscation, and running your time and expense clock in an AGGRESSIVE malevolent strategy to prevent you from conveniently obtaining your property, your records.
The custodian is, in Navy parlance, mutinous.
Maybe the custodian plays hide and seek with your records. Now you see them now you don’t.  Maybe your record is presented to you by your custodian in an illegible format.  
At some point you decide to seek help from the judicial branch of your government to help you obtain your property. 
Looking to the Courts for help is called “petitioning”.  Petitioning is not an aggressive action.  But kidnapping public records is an AGGRESSIVE action.
Clearly from the response in one day on Realneo, there are many citizens who are involved with their government and who have made requests from that government for public records – and those records have not been provided
So, we citizens either let our custodians wear us down and run us over, or we petition.
When we petition, we need to be smart about it.   Being smart requires up to date information.  We could bring the miscellaneous requests  for City of Cleveland public records to Court in one action.  This would save multiple filing fees.
We could have multiple plaintiffs, (a small class action) or a single plaintiff.   If a single plaintiff makes sense, then that plaintiff needs to make a certified mail request for records – copying the request of each of the miscellaneous record seekers.
It is clear that the City of Cleveland is affirmatively failing to provide public records as a strategy. It is not that the City doesn’t have the staff or time or money to provide the records.   Rather the City has decided that the records which citizens have requested would be strategically detrimental to provide to the citizen.   
Red Flag@!
Those are just the records which the citizen needs to see.
So, BJ, this isn’t about citizens being aggressive and wanting to start a fight, this is about government custodians recognizing that divulging public records will expose  their faults  or the faults of the organization from whom they receive their Friday paycheck.
But your custodian's paycheck is your money.
And responsible employers know what they are paying for every Friday.  
So, looking for public records, is just being a good citizen, not looking for a fight.



When I was betrayed by an employee of my former company, Realinks, and leaders of a local not-for-profit that attempted to destroy REALNEO, I learned of the depths of the deception leading to the betrayal when the employee turned in his PDA and his "appointments" were recorded in text messages he had not deleted, showing he was actually working all along with unREAL people here in NEO (still here) who ultimately betrayed our community, and do so every day. So while the employee appeared to be doing normal business for REALNEO, he was using new technologies to do the REALNEO community harm.

Ultimiately, he didn't know what he was doing in attacking REALNEO, or in using Information Technology, as he got caught and implicated his firends.

Cleveland Cty Council has paid $100,000s for an email system that deletes its email messages.... I wonder about their PDAs? Request their text messages, emails, web postings, social network comments... public records are now everywhere but file cabinets... a public official may now keep their schedule in Outlook or Google Aps... the Cleveland Clerk of Courts keeps everything in his head... no getting public records out of there... smart piublic official?!?!

As technology evolves, crooks get better at stealing from the public and hiding their trails using new technology, just as drug dealers constantly upddate their uses of technology. Those who don't understand information technology well may get caught with their data exposed, like my former employee who got caught in his own WWWeb of lies.

Disrupt IT

I wonder if you had very

I wonder if you had very talented people with a fixed income, would they a do better job?

Not if you think the 300K townhouse can be next to public housing.

People that are fully subsidized are a good representation of levels of breakdown in society. The homeless shelter is not the same as affordable and open to everyone. It actually seeks out the most dysfunctional. The schizophrenic and drug addicts, the most disruptive.

The worst get the most and then ideally all integrated into society? UGH

Stratifications across larger areas, then all connected to one budgeting model, then the higher market that produces more profit funds the lower end that produce less…the lowest should breakeven and nothing but those that are truly dysfunctional funded in excess of actual costs.

The CDC today is attempting to do that in a limited area, that’s insane. It is unstable in every way.

That’s why they have to discount it with abatements and discounted interest rates, other wise and even then it is hard to sell.

It is interesting because mixed income is best and so in a diverse economy, but not attainable in too small of an area. The CDC are to small in area, they cannot be or attain diversity they generate conflict. Case in point? We are all product of our environment.

Stratification and defined margins within, in layers that transition that over lap but are not directly in conflict. That is about people that manage the activity and direction with less conflict. The trouble with getting real investment is related to the troubles with real value and attempts to redefine the predominant.

We are not a classless society, we are a multi class society. Integration is imperative, but must be done in stratification and layers. The CDC are attempting to do that in a confined area and that is inherently conflicting and all this is a product of that.

all this is NOT a product of that

 Oengus - its called inclusionary zoning and its kind of a humanitarian thing to do (HUMAN being the operative core of that word).


I know that, I do not agree

I know that, I do not agree with the method they use, it is not intelligent design it is design after the fact based on getting access to the funding. It is inherently faulted and because it is being touted as being of a higher level of compassion and wisdom.

If something is entirely inclusive then it is open to everyone, but if it has restrictive criteria it is not.

I have been around longer than Maxine Goodman College.

Income is the only valid restrictor, these people are guilty of artificially inflating and simultaneously deflating. They inflate values to make money, then discount to subsidizes to make money. The rotation is very high on both ends, the low income housing rotates very fast and the high income wants to, but they are in scenarios that are much like that of buying car, it depreciated the day they bought it.

Jealous and resentful is not the same as envious and challenged, what is the motivation? One says how come they get all that an I do not, the other sees it and works to attain it.

They work within a polarized model, nothing about it will ever be sustainable. That keeps them working as it keeps the funding flowing.

Study the impact of subsidization, it is so faulted. The market has to be self sustaining, it should hover above the break even and not highly profitable at the cost of integrity to fund what is totally temporary and economically restraining.

The market does NOT have to be self sustaining

I guess we just FUNDAmentally disagree.

I look to the vast discrepancy in income in this country and I KNOW capitalism does not work.


I'm not sure if it's a snow job or if somebody is getting the message, but I will say that of late, there has been a tidbit of improvement.  There is a lot to be done and it's going to take a lot of work and, whether it be request for public documents,  fair and equal treatment for the long-time residents, no double standards between code enforcement of prima dona business owners and low income home owners or making sure that federal monies are fairly expended throughout the neighborhood, it has been and will continue to be a collaborated effort as well as residents taking a stand.

Jeff, I think it's great that you are undertaking to see how far you can get with this request.  I can personally tell you,  it can be a long and frustrating battle. 

Shoot, as co-chair of the Central Tremont Block Club, I made a request for copies of receipts for grant monies spent and was promised those receipts by  the treasurer of TWDC that I would have those receipts in two weeks, but that was a ruse because a couple of days later, they gathered a clan and sent over the ex-co-chair to oust me as co-chair.  I must say, I was sternly warned that if I wanted to stay in the game with TWDC, I had better never question their finances.  Well, I didn't like that game anyway.


My own TWDC experience

  I was run off the TWDC board, when I also asked about finances in the nineties...nothing changes, it's one of the worse CDCs.  Frankly, they're all fairly useless for the money shelled out.  A few decent folks work at some of the CDCs--recent grads mostly, who quickly learn that BS is what it's all about and the smart ones get the hell away from non-profit work as soon as they can...

spoon fed garbage

 you're right, laura, and the "recent grads" go there because they are spoon fed garbage in grad school about the bESt and the briGHtest of the CDCs - and everyone of the best and brightest are the most corrupt.

they're also taught the CDCs still hold relation to the original, grass-roots, people oriented CDCs. What a crock, nothing could be further from the truth. At least here in Cleveland, most CDCs are foundation/corporate ($$$) driven developer whores that could give a rat's ass about the welfare of their neighborhood's residents - unless the resident is perceived as a shaker mover or a tool.

I'd rather be dirt poor, than a tool. 

they need to at least shed their pathetic do-gooder mask and just have the balls to be what they are - greedy bastards.


wow - all that for saying good luck


>>Class action

  Add my name to the list of folks denied information on the Denison NRP housing trust application.  What's the next step?<<

lmcshane posted the above to which i responded - so you're going to take on TWDC - good luck.

my error i guess in that lmcshane references Denison NRP and i interjected TWDC.  my error as TWDC was referenced prior in the thread.

then volumes were written in response - by other posters - referencing the response to lmcshane.

i thought it sounded like a fairly big task and was simply wishing lmcshane - and i guess anyone by association (implied) good luck in that endeavor.

again - responding to lmcshane's post:

>>  I was run off the TWDC board, when I also asked about finances in the nineties...nothing changes, it's one of the worse CDCs.  Frankly, they're all fairly useless for the money shelled out.  A few decent folks work at some of the CDCs--recent grads mostly, who quickly learn that BS is what it's all about and the smart ones get the hell away from non-profit work as soon as they can...<<

sorry to hear of that experience, I can understand, based upon that, why you feel compelled to "add you name to the list" if a "class action" is filed. 

your words -

mine are to wish luck in that endeavor.  a generic sending of positive energy. 

Positive Public Record energy

Hello BJ, 

We can get pretty worked up here on Realneo, but don't take anything too seriously.

It's clear you are wishing the records effort good luck. 

When I responded yesterday I just hoped to explain that when public records are not made available, the abusive kicking shoe is on the public foot, not on the citizen's.

Your positive energy is appreciated.



oh gosh -

my vitriole is directed at CDCs, not you, bj! did I say something mean???

Web amplification

  The web and social aspects of the web tend to amplify the emotional content of everything said...this is rational discourse, not hysteria or conspiracy theory...all good information to get out there...and legitimate questions to ask.

Perhaps, my condemnation of CDCs, specifically TWDC, is harsh to some, but from experience I have not seen measureables quantified or achieved.  TWDC works for developers, when it should be working for residents.  In fairness, TWDC does do a better job of community organizing and coordinating communication with block clubs, so I can't condemn them for that effort, becuase it is one of the original social missions of CDCs.  In my current neighborhood, the CDC puts out a newspaper (which I suppose can be argued, fulfills the informed public mission) and it has a lot of internal meetings--no block club coordination or community organizing.  The one recent community organizer on the staff at OBDC (mercifully let go), spent her time ridiculing residents.  Recently, OBDC acquired HUD properties.  When I was at TWDC, property management was a larger part of the CDC mission in collaboration with Cleveland Housing Network--lease to own programs etc.   To my knowledge, this type of outreach and community assistance does not exist at any of the current 50+ CDCs...if so, please prove me wrong.

Our local media does not touch these quasi-governmental institutions and there is no oversight.  The confusion over whether they represent the City of Cleveland 's Dept of Community Development and/or residents is intentional and when answers are forthcoming this blurry identity/mission is used to full advantage.

At the very least, if my rants seem irrational to some...please prove me wrong.  Recently, OBDC has improved somewhat in at least marketing the neighborhood.  I applaud this improvement in their service to the community, but they have a long way to go to prove that they are worth our investment of tax dollars...especially, as the many of these CDC staff folks live in outlying suburbs...and see their hefty salaries as "charity work."

thank you for the thoughtful response

do not find your posts or postings lmcshane as anything but informative.  not getting any sense of "conspiracy theory" from the content you publish.

so far as:

>> . . . these CDC staff folks live in outlying suburbs . .  and see their hefty salaries as "charity work."<<

i do not think most live in outlying suburbs BUT yes i have witnessed that depending on audience, CDC staff and boards are quite capable of condescending to those they'd rather not address.

but that is simply a Human Issue - not a CDC issue.  a handy way to marginalize someone is to marginalize their voice and concerns, condescention/talking down to is a traditionally class-based way to achieve that.

yes the web does not allow for voice inflection, facial expression, "gestures" - but i assure that what i write is simply my personal observations, no judgment intended or implied to anyone OR any organization.

and yes i am attempting to figure out the social context of this site, but am likely to just watch, as there seems to be much subtext of which i am unaware, based on some of the responses that seem to far outstretch anything that i see in the plain text i have read at RealNeo.

thanks though interesting/insightful stuff.  truly. 


Public Records Request update


On July 24, 2009 I received the following considerate and thorough email (copied below) from  Kim L. Roberson, Public Records Administrator, City of Cleveland.    I am not necessarily taking the response as gospel, but it deserves careful consideration.    Please also keep in mind, As Mr. Senyak discusses today over here on Realneo, the City does have many CDC records - I didn't request financial records, I requested the CDC membership roster.
The two Ohio Supreme Court cases (both decided in 2006) Ms. Robertson cited (Oriana House, Inc. v. Montgomery) and   Repository v. NOVA Behavioral Health, Inc.,    are the cases on which non- profits in Ohio are relying to keep their records private/secret.
Here are a few points I found significant about the cases:
  1. The Ohio Supreme Court split 4 to 3 on both Oriana and Nova.   The dissenting Justices would have ordered that the records sought in both cases be provided.
  2. The make up of the OSC is not the same now as when these decisions were written.   Some of the same Justices who supported publicly funded non-profit secrecy are still on the bench, and there are a few new Justices.  
  3. Before someone in the State of Ohio decides to take legal action against a publicly funded non-profit, it would be very helpful if the views of the new members of the OSC were known on this matter. If there is still clearly a majority on the OSC who support secrecy, then beginning a case which – after going through the long appeal process – reaches the OSC and is again defeated is, perhaps, not the best use of open record challenge resources.
  4. OSC are ELECTED by public vote.    Candidates in the next election need to be clear on their public records stand, and the public must vote in OSC candidates who are pro-public record release.
  5. In the case of Oriana the records where sought by Ms. Montgomery, the State of Ohio auditor at the time.   So this was a situation in which the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that even the State Auditor did not have the right to certain financial records of Oriana House, a non-profit totally publicly funded which provided rehabilitation for ex – Ohio prisoners.   Here is a link to Oriana’s web site. Oriana House also operates in Cuyahoga County. Oriana has a facility across the street from the Alternatives Agency half way house which was involved in the recent FBI investigation as reported here on Cleveland.com
  6. Many, Many other state non-profits (and for profit companies who work with public bid contracts)  filed AMICUS briefs in the Oriana case. All these “friend of the court” briefs apparently supported Oriana’s position that publicly funded non-profits should be able to keep their records secret.   (I did not read any of the Amicus briefs.) This means that probably every non-profit in the State of Ohio (and across the country for that matter) does not want the public to be able to review their records. So the battle for Community Development Corporation (CDC) records is much bigger than just CDC’s
  7. In the case of Nova – a publicly funded mental health non-profit – there were allegations that a Nova counselor acted inappropriately (sexually) with a female patient and a local newspaper made requests for records and was denied.
  8. The OSC used the same “functionality” test on Nova as on Oriana and found that Nova was not a “public institution” and was thus not a “public office”.
There appear to be presently narrow avenues in OHIO towards changing the OSC view.   One avenue is through the election of new Justices described above in paragraph 4.   Perhaps another avenue is through a law suit that seeks to define the non-profit not as a “public institution” (and thus a “public office” under the state public records law)  but in another capacity – including “state agency, political subdivision, or other organized
body, office, agency,  or entity established by the laws of this state for
the exercise of any function of government defined by the public records law”.   See discussion at paragraph 16 of Opinion.
In the case of CDC’s – particularly in Cleveland - it appears that they are a “political subdivision” of the City government.   The funding for the CDC’s is allocated through City Counsel and the funding disbursement to CDCs appears to be controlled in large part by individual Ward Counselors.
I have not had time to look at Ohio case law on what defines a “political subdivision” (vs a “public institution” in Ohio.   If Ohio case law demonstrates that a “political subdivision” has a different, less restrictive, public records test than a “political subdivision”, AND a CDC can be demonstrated to meet the definition of a “political subdivision”, then perhaps this is another avenue towards a different Ohio Supreme Court ruling – a ruling which might open the records of CDC’s but perhaps not other non-profits.
There may be other practical avenues as well.  
To:     Mr. Jeff Buster
Your e-mail of June 15, 2009 is deemed a re-statement or supplemental request that the City “assemble” and provide for you the list of “voting members of the TWDC.”  You have been informed that the City does not maintain or have such a record or list.
          Your request expressly seeks a list of the “voting members” of the Tremont West Development Corporation.  (It isn’t clear whether you mean members of the Board or any and all participating residents.)  The City respectfully suggests that information may be available from or through one of these sources:
·         Tremont West Development Corp. website;
·         Cleveland State University , Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Center for Neighborhood Development;
·         Ohio Secretary of State corporate filings.
Please be further advised as follows:
*       The Ohio Public Records Act (Ohio Revised Code 149.43) does not require the City to generate or assemble data and information from third parties, like TWDC.  The City is required to provide access to, and copies of, existing public records.  (There are none that are responsive to this request.)
*      Tremont West Development Corporation (TWDC) is a self-directed, independent, non-profit, private corporation.  As such, TWDC is not subject to the Public Records Act absent a showing, by clear and convincing evidence that the private entity is the functional equivalent of a “public office.”  This view is consistent with prior and recent Ohio Supreme Court decisions:
o        State ex rel. Oriana House, Inc. v. Montgomery ,
110 Ohio St. 3d 456, 854 N.E.2d 193 (2006); and
o        State ex rel. Repository v. NOVA Behavioral Health, Inc.,
112 Ohio St. 3d 338, 859 N.E. 2d 936 (2006).
*      The City Of Cleveland is not refusing to release or concealing any public records nor is it asserting any privilege to withhold any such record.  The requested record does not exist within the possession or control of the Responder/City of Cleveland .
*      To the extent your supplemental request seeks “all e-mails…” it is deemed over-broad under the authority of the following decision:
o        State ex rel. Glasgow v. Jones


nice, thorough and extensive

 thank you, Jeff.

i have to take my time and go through this when I am not playing ABSeas or folding anOther load of laundry!

good info

Jeff, thanks for sharing this.


How did Tremont West

How did Tremont West development corp. become an organization controlled by the City of Cleveland? 

If that is the case, then our councilman would be the Captain of the ship so to speak?  So basically, we have a community organization that has been infiltrated by powers out of our control who are pulling the strings and (not in our favor) we are at their mercy.  This means we are a community under seige of the leadership of TWDC - there's something wrong with that picture.  This is a free country, how did we end up a community under the dictatorship of our own organization that was created to help aid the less fortunate?   They want your old beat up old house - and you don't give it up, they gonna send over the gestapo to take it.   What it boils down to - no more no less.