CLEVELAND, Ohio – The union for Cleveland’s firefighters wants City Council to get involved in its dispute with Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration over whether fire Chief Angelo Calvillo should be sacked.
Attorney Joseph Diemert, who represents the fire union, alleged Monday in a letter to council President Kevin Kelley that the city Law Department and city prosecutor are “deliberately ignoring” the union’s case against Calvillo.
“I read with interest that City Council may be conducting its own investigation into the irregularities in the lack of prosecution of the mayor’s grandson,” Diemert wrote. “I would hope at the same time the council would include our charges against Chief Calvillo, criminal in nature, as part of that same investigation, as both the law director and the prosecutor have declined to follow the law.”
In August, the Association of Cleveland Fire Fighters accused the chief of violating prohibitions in Cleveland’s charter against politicking by civil service employees. Calvillo admitted under oath in 2017 that he had helped to circulate nomination petitions for Jackson’s re-election earlier that year.
Law Director Barbara Langhenry has frustrated the union, arguing they are misinterpreting the charter — which labels such violations as criminal offenses punishable by fine, jail and termination of employment.
In response, the union filed a civil suit, asking a Cuyahoga County judge to order the city to fire the chief. It also swore out a criminal in Cleveland Municipal Court for the alleged misdemeanor charter violation.
Both court actions are pending.
Kelley last week said he was considering what, if any, role council should take toward addressing anomalies in criminal investigations of the mayor’s grandson.
A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted Frank Q. Jackson in connection with a domestic assault after the city’s prosecutor passed on charges.
There also have been several anomalies in how Cleveland police handled a murder investigation in which the mayor’s grandson is a suspect.
Kelley said he was researching his options, but as of Monday hasn’t initiated any action involving the council.
Kelley has long said it is not a function of City Council to get involved in a collective bargaining dispute.
To date, City Council has steered clear of the fire union’s dispute with the chief, other than to hold a hearing at which the fire staff presented complaints about safety and working conditions.