The Controversy over Councilman Joe Santiago mis-using CDBG tax-dollars for Firworks continues

Submitted by Henry Senyak on Thu, 07/02/2009 - 11:38.


Reprinted compliments of and the Plain Dealer

See todays edition of Henry Gomez's story on his Inside City Blog

The sparks keep flying over Joe Santiago's support of Cleveland's July 4th fireworks show

by hgomez [at] plaind [dot] com
Thursday July 02, 2009, 10:14 AM

Joshua GunterThe Plain Dealer
This year's July Fourth fireworks show will go on in Cleveland. But some aren't happy with one of the event's sponsors.

At this rate, it is not outside the realm of possibility that Cleveland's Fourth of July fireworks show will have more blasts and sparks before the event than during it.

The controversy, for those who haven't been paying attention, hinges on the role that City Councilman Joe Santiago, Ward 14, is playing in this year's festivities.

First, Santiago characterized himself as the savior of the annual show, which was in danger of being canceled because of funding issues. Santiago forked over $30,000 from his Community Development Block Grant allocation, a pool of federal tax dollars

Almost immediately, Santiago's political opponents and disenchanted constituents began questioning how such money could be used to put on a fireworks display. They had a point: federal regulations are clear that block grant money has specific purposes. Namely, community development since, after all, that's the name of the program.

To allow some wiggle room, Tom Newman of the Flats Oxbow Association, which puts on the show, said Santiago's contribution did not go directly to the fireworks. Rather, the money helped Flats Oxbow free up unrestricted funds for the pyrotechnics.

So, technically, Santiago is not sponsoring the event.

That brings us to Wednesday, when a full-page advertisement appeared in Cleveland Scene to promote the firerworks show. The ad lists "Cleveland Ward 14 Councilman Joe Santiago" as a sponsor, along with the city and other companies and organizations.

I received several calls and e-mails that night from members of a furious anti-Santiago faction.

James D'Amico, who is running against Santiago this year, wondered why Ward 14 constituents weren't listed as sponsors instead. Henry Senyak, a neighborhood activist, said Santiago's $30,000 was essentially a campaign gimmick.

So, I posed the following questions to Santiago, who requests all queries in writing and does not return my phone calls, in an e-mail late Wednesday night:

• If Community Development Block Grant money cannot, by law, be allocated specifically to the fireworks, then how can you be a sponsor of this show?

• If in fact you can take credit as a sponsor, why not instead list the citizens of Ward 14, since Ward 14 tax dollars are making the fireworks possible?

No word yet


Scott Shaw/The PDCouncilman Joe Santiago


Pictures from the ribbon cutting at Roberto Clemente Park on 06-27-09






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Santiago vs. Cintron vs. Torres

Will Cintron and Santiago cancel each other out, leaving Moises Torres to clean up the Hispanic/Latino vote?...Torres doesn't live here (or even in City of Cleveland), yet...but that hardly matters since Santiago has never lived in his current ward.  Another Ward 14 contender tells me Torres will run on the "family values" ticket...whatever that means.

family values

>>Torres will run on the "family values" ticket...whatever that means.<<

not much anymore.  when a catch phrase as such gets so overused by every variety of political interest group it seems to get diluted to the point of having no meaning.



how about a three way cancelling

 I spoke with a professor of political science (a very smart guy in my opinion) about ward 14 a year or ago when we were having Santiago problems. we were discussing who cold be a viable candidate to run against Santiago.

He said, as long as Santiago and Cintron both run (which, he said, they both will barring some event) you find one decent white or black guy, the "other" candidate. The ward is 2/3 hispanic. The two will split the hispanic vote. As long as the "other" can get a chunk of those disgruntled with both Cintron and Santiago (how hard is tHAt?) its a won race.

Now we have three hispanic candidates - even better yet.

Brian Cummins, please don't screw this up.


Brian's main opponent will be Nagin, who continues to work Brian's disgruntled constituents.  It's sad that he blew a good thing by endorsing the NRP Denison housing project.  Otherwise, he might be able to pull off the "green" party label, but not now.   

what about Sweeney's candidate, the carpetbagger?

Laura, what about the guy who's moving in over on Archwood to be the anointed candidate of Marty Sweeeeenie? Will he count?


I think I'm going to change the spelling of Marty's last name to a more appropriate and descriptive rendering. Sweenie. It does away with trying to remember whether the ending should be -ny or -ney. It works on a few levels, mainly those that are sophomoric or childish, but it's fun.

He joins Jimmy Duh in my pantheon of re-monikered political piss-ants.


Tim--I am hoping that someone more in tune with the local ecology moves in.  You have to figure that Torres is the fall back in the event that Santiago and Cintron cancel each other out--you don't just leave a city job for nothing.  But, I also don't think that Sweenie/Jackson has ever had a real handle on the voting dynamics here. 

Brian Cummins was able to capitalize on the nice, liberal green family folks in Old Brooklyn/South Hills, especially in the Schaaf Rd. area.  Brian should have run against Brancatelli.  He would have had momentum with the Treadway Creek Park. 

As it is--the South Hills folks are steaming mad at Brancatelli and the whole Sweenie machine and how it has left Slavic Village a war zone.  I am glad that Olga  Teresa Sarbinowska  provides an alternative to the same old in party politics, fighting to regain Slavic Village and Old Brooklyn from Brancatelli.  She is going to find supporters, especially in South Hills.

But, back to Ward 14--Brian lost the Brooklyn Centre part of Ward 15 to Nagin in the first go around.  So, Nagin has momentum in south Ward 14 (Brooklyn Centre) and he will pick up voters from his personal experience working with folks as Cintron's aide. 

The primary is Tuesday, September 8th.  It will be interesting to see who is left standing after that date.  I am still seething over the gerrymandered redistricting and hoping that somehow some one with legal chops has filed a lawsuit. 

BTW, Tim--how do the committee precinct folks get redistributed?  I am glad that Gloria is a representative, but what does it do for us?

on behalf of residents of Ward 14 I just want to say

You are Welcome!for the fireworks tonight... d'nada!

we're happy to do it - there's nothing we needed $30k for in our neighborhood anyway!

please enjoy, but do remember us.  

so seriously,

 there's great fireworks viewing from our front porch in our old hood. On our street, the grills were pulled out onto the front walks this morning when we stopped by. There's also a fantastic puerto rican - hillbilly fireworks show immediately after the city's. some serious stuff.

we're leaving tremont and we'll be on our old front porch with beer and snacks - come one by!

Same here

  Are you kidding Dbra!?

Good old fashioned blow 'em up fireworks are one of the BEST "I won't tell, if you don't tell..." traditions of "urban" living, and my neighborhood has pyrotechnics galore, including a few rounds of gunshots in  the Latin tradition of celebration. 

So, sorry, but  I will be sticking around--plus, I have to make sure to survey the damage.

It will be interesting to see whether the reported fireworks "crackdown" amounts to anything, but hot air from city hall.  As predicted, everyone has forgotten that police officer Terrence Hough shot his neighbors over noise and illegal fireworks in Ward 15.

Dbra/you and I and other urban folk can also expect/look for a wave of campaign literature masquarading as summer council newsletters next week.

Technically, I wonder can Brian/Santiago send their newsletter to anyone given the redistricting?  Not that the ethics of franking privileges (what does the Ohio Ethics Commission do any how?)  means anything at City Hall, since Kevin J. Kelley had no problem sending me mail in Ward 15, awhile back, when a few of us tried to unseat Abe Bruckman and Robyn Sandys at Old Brooklyn Development Corporation. ..some things never change...

Brace yourself :)

i feel so cheap....

 its like - remember when we were young and stupid and we spent a couple $100 on illegal drugs? or $200 on an expensive dinner in an expensive restaurant? or $80 for an ounce of some crazy expensive scotch? 

and afterwards it was like - jeez... I coulda shoulda.... and we thought about all those things we could have DONE with all that money????

$30,000 is a lOt of money....

I felt so cheap after I watched it all blow up into the sky......... sO cheap....





but then we all made a really nICe plate at Barbara's -  ribs, chicken, shrimp, pork and beef tenderloin, greens, fried corn, macaroni and cheese, sweet rice, beans.... now tHAt mighta been worth 30 thousand... and the local fireworks were galore!

we drove back into Tremont and it was like suburbia. Our fears for our dogs left home with the loud bangs were unfounded... there were no loud bangs here in Tremont.

but as for the "crackdown", Laura.... uh - not in MY hood - ward 14.