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Cleveland Mayor says he answers all requests except ones he deems ‘BS’; several emails from 19 News to his office remain unanswered

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 8:17 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - One week ago, in a press conference about his decision not to run for a fifth term, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said he responds to all questions-- except ones having to do with his family and those he deems BS.

Since then, 19 Investigates pulled out our pile of unanswered emails to the Mayor’s office, and asked him, were our questions deemed not important enough for a response?

One week ago, in a press conference about his decision not to run for a fifth term, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said...

Posted by Hannah Catlett on Friday, May 14, 2021

We haven’t spoken to the mayor at city hall, face to face, in months.

Instead, we’ve only heard from him through Facebook live, and that’s where he made the comments.

Last Friday, 19 News reporter Jim Nelson wrote in during the Facebook live, asking the mayor at the end of his press confrence , “Be honest, how much will you miss answering our questions?”

The question itself held no accusation, yet received an extremely defensive response from Mayor Jackson.

“I ain’t never not answered your questions-- I don’t care what it is,” the mayor said.

He preceded to talk about how forthcoming and transparent he believes his office to be, so as long as he deems the story he’s approached about worthy.

“I have a problem with bulls***,” Jackson said. “But, if it’s about real stuff and about the real issues that are facing the people and city of Cleveland, and even if it’s about my failure to do things, I am fair game.”

If that’s true though, why have several of our requests for stories about crime, city spending and safety gone unanswered for weeks?

For example, at the beginning of this year, the city stopped responding to our questions about their efforts to hold someone accountable for operating an illegal after hours club on foreclosed property. A woman was shot and killed at the location on Woodhill Road last October.

In March, 19 Investigates never heard back from the Mayor’s office when we inquired about the city’s police pursuit policies and whether the Mayor had any concern about dozens of chases coming into his city from East Cleveland.

During draft week, the city stopped responding to our questions about why a new pedestrian draw bridge was built so low to the water that it now requires the city pay operators to open and close it for boats. All were real legitimate, questions about public safety and taxpayer’s money.

Finally, just last week, we didn’t get an answer from the city as to why the parking enforcement division hired a woman last year, and then pushed back her start date for more than a year during the pandemic, only to tell her she was no longer needed.

Erika Kirts said, ”I’m not just going to lay down and let them do that to me, because I could have kept my job where I was.”

The lack of responses from the mayor’s office seems to directly contradict the mayor’s statements last Friday.

“I don’ have a problem with media questions,” Mayor Jackson went on. “I have a very low tolerance for BS.”

This week we reached out to the mayor on Tuesday, asking if there was an explanation for the lack of communication with us and whether it means he does not think the stories we inquired about are important.

A spokesperson responded and said the city would provide us with a comment by Thursday, however Thursday came and went, and we got no response.

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