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Cleveland 19 illegally kept out of public RNC related meeting

Published: Mar. 18, 2016 at 5:48 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2016 at 9:00 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Cleveland is looking to buy riot gear, and it's all over the web. On the shopping list: 2000 robocop-looking riot control suits, 2000 batons, 300 bicycles, and for the officers riding them, long sleeve jackets, gloves and shin guards, 15 motorcycles, and 25 sets of tactical armor.

One of the most unique things on the shopping list is three miles of 3 1/2-foot-high interlocking steel barriers. Three miles. You could ring all of downtown with that much fencing.

We took our questions to Public Auditorium, where contractors were invited to a pre-bid meeting and told the Mayor's press aide, "We're here for the bid meeting, wanna see what's going on with that." Dan Williams response surprised us with, "Well, you're not invited to go there, so."

The obvious response was, "Why's that?" He answered, "Because it's security related."

We told him that what the city is looking for is all over the web. If any of this stuff is security related, posting it on the city web site is a lousy way to keep it secret. Remember, this wasn't about tactics, training or logistics -- just buying stuff.

We observed, "Anybody off the street can walk in except me because I got a camera."  He said no. Yes would have been a better answer.

The administration's heavy handed approach is exactly what City Councilman Mike Polensek railed on this week, telling Police Chief Calvin Williams, "It's public record. I mean I don't get it, it's public record, public funds have been used to purchase."

In a statement released by the Office of Mayor Frank Jackson, the city shot down any chance of Polensek or anyone learning about its RNC security plans.

"The City of Cleveland is excited to host the 2016 Republican National Convention," the statement reads. "Working with our federal, state and local security as well as our business partners we look forward to a successful convention. We will not discuss operational security matters. As a Community, however, we look forward to showcasing our great City and to providing a safe environment for all those who live, work, and are visiting our City.

All requests regarding security issues will be referred to the Secret Service."

Back at Public Auditorium, we waited about 15 or 20 minutes until Williams returned saying the meeting was indeed open to public scrutiny, but that it now was over.

Bottom line is as the city goes "mission accomplished," they kept us out. Williams disagreed.

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