Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cervenik's Profile in Courage Warrants Admiration and Support

In 1955, John F. Kennedy published the now world-famous Profiles In Courage which described decisions made by politicians who realized that their actions constituted political suicide. President Kennedy tells us that they did this simply because they wanted to do the right thing.


Ohio proudly noted that Edmund G.  Ross was one of these profiles.  Ross hailed from Ashland, Ohio and attended college in Sandusky. Kennedy describes his fortitude as he goes against his own party, casting his vote against the conviction of President  Andrew Johnson facing impeachment.


There is another profile in courage right here in Euclid, Ohio in the form of incumbent Mayor Bill Cervenik.


A few years ago the Mayor fought to preserve the zoning rights of a church in the face of ugly opposition. This resulted in a recall election in which the citizens of Euclid affirmed the Mayor's brave actions despite political pundits who said that his stand-up approach to decision making would be his downfall.


 In another matter, recent rancor within the police department caused him to intervene, Cervenik appointing new leadership and commissioning a study regarding changes needed at police headquarters. Again, these moves made Cervenik a lightning rod for criticism. Despite this, the department has begun to heal as a result of his response to the problem.


Over the last four years, Mayor Cervenik has shepherded the city budget like no other Mayor in Northeast Ohio. While other communities are facing layoffs in safety forces, Euclid's budget keeps our neighborhoods safe because of the Mayor's  foresight in protecting against a downward turn in the economy. He, along with the City Council, passed unpopular measures in order to ensure our safety.

         On April 23, 1910 President Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech at the Sorbonne in Paris, France where he said the following:

                It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly… but who does actually strive to do the deeds… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

                A terrific film released in 1995 features Michael Douglas and Martin Sheen in the film called The American President.  In one scene, President Andrew Shepherd turns to his closest aide, that aide never having placed his own name on the ballot.

                 In response to the aide's criticism, the President snaps, "Is the view pretty good from the cheap seats?"

                That's how I feel right about now.

                The man that's been willing to go into the arena   is  Mayor Bill Cervenik.

He has quietly been our community's profile in courage and I hope that the voters in Euclid have the good sense to reward his unwavering efforts to make Euclid a better place by returning him to office in the November elections.

David M. Lynch


  1. Mr. Lynch:

    You speak of being in the arena. Well sir, I have been in the arena, sat on council while the issue of Providence Baptist Church was being discussed.

    I don't recall seeing you there, sir. But, since you want to go back to those times, and claim this was a high point of Mayor Cervenik's term as Mayor, that is shows how courageous he was, well, you are overlooking a few things.

    A true leader would have spoke out forcefully and clearly that we, as the Euclid community would not allow this matter to become a racial matter. That the items before council would be handled as they should be: as zoning matters.

    If you would have been there, sir, you would have heard the very legitimate questions raised
    by Euclid Citizens and, the answers provided by
    the Church. Once the vote was taken, and the zoning changed approved, Euclid Citizens as per their rights granted in our Charter placed the measure on the ballot.

    And, what did our Mayor say about all of this?
    He stated in both the Plain Dealer and the Sun Journal that if you opposed this project, you are a racist.

    Was that courageous, Mr. Lynch, as you claim, or
    was that simply craven political posturing? Since I know something of bigotry in this City I can tell you, since I live in that arena, that
    the bigots in Euclid are far outnumbered by folks with good common sense. The very same folks that have voted in the past overwhelmingly
    for Melody Stewart and Lance Mason.

    I wrote to the Mayor about his comments in the PD during that time. He claimed he was misquoted
    and that he understood that not all Providence opponents were racist. I have that e-mail somewhere in the archives. Yet, he made the same charge again in the Sun Journal.

    As a side note, as of today, almost 7 years after those days, Providence has not built one thing up at Hillandale. The structure built by
    American Church Builders at 156th and Lakeshore was demolished. So, perhaps all those people that raised questions, and voted against the plans were right to question. They did their jobs as citizens, Mr. Lynch and deserved better than to be smeared as racists by the Mayor.

    Mucking around in the very worst style of racial politics is not courageous, Mr. Lynch, it is disgusting.

    You also claim that Mr. Cervenik's handling of
    Chief Repicky is another example of courageous leadership.

    Again, your facts are faulty, because, you sir, are not in the arena.

    If you were, you clearly know that no action was contemplated against Chief Repicky until after the FOP of this City took action by attending Council meetings. It was their condemnation of Chief Repicky that forced the Mayor's hand. Or, perhaps it was the statement of Claire Blakely
    condemning the Mayor of this City for the handling of her father's death.

    Or, perhaps Mr. Lynch you approve of what the Mayor did: directly linking Det. Sgt. Kevin Blakely directly to the Sherrif's Department investigation.

    For an officer that served this City for 28 years, did not Officer Blakely, one day after his death deserve better than to be tossed to the wolves of media speculation? You sir, as an attorney should realize that Officer Blakely deserves that presumption of innocence even in death until any investigation was completed.

    Was that courage on the Mayor's part? Or cowardice? Or was he simply protecting his friend, the Chief?

    I can tell you from being in the arena, it was not until FOP members met with members of council that he decided to ease the Chief out.

    So, the Mayor should be credited with good handwriting reading, as anyone could see that Jim Repicky lost the confidence of the EPD.

    And, I can give you many more instances from inside the arena, sir, where the Mayor's behavior was less than courageous.

    Mr. Lynch, clearly I was wrong about you, and, certainly, I was mistaken in supporting you past campaigns. For clearly, you do not no the difference between real courage, and, political posturing.

  2. Mr. Lynch I agree with you and will continue to support Mayor Cervenik. I also support your son Scott and will be voting for him.
    K. Gorman

  3. Mr. Lynch, interesting article. Perhaps you have been out of the political arena too long. You seem to have forgotten that elected officials serve the people.

    With regards to Providence, Mayor Cervenik's decision to ignore the voters' will might be viewed by some as arrogance. Others might wonder how throwing out a vote over the threat of a lawsuit exhibits good leadership. As an added perk to Providence, since 2008, thanks to former county auditor Frank Russo, Providence has enjoyed tax-exempt status on the church parcel. Yet no building permit has been pulled - a pre-requisite for tax exemption. This has cost the City and Schools tens of thousands of dollars in lost legitimate revenue.

    As to Chief Repicky, some might think Mayor Cervenik's decision to keep Chief Repicky on with full salary/benefits in spite of the 95% No Confidence vote and now the OAPC negative outlook smacks more of disdain for the residents of Euclid. But perhaps as in the case of Providence, the Mayor buckled for fear of a lawsuit. When he fired former Fire Chief Dworning, that decision cost the City close to $1 million.

    It's quite possible that the Mayor's policy of 'out of sight, out of mind' is not courageous at all. Given that this policy has cost residents so much, some might view his decisions not as 'courageous', but as cowardice.