Election observer available for TWDC meeting!!

Submitted by Tim Russo on Mon, 01/26/2009 - 15:19.

I've been reading REALNEO for a while now, and the hubbub over the coming Tremont West Development Corp. Board Meeting and Elections to the Board has caught my eye.  I've seen some people call for election observers in the Sun News coverage of this election, so I thought I'd offer my services.

As anyone who has read my numerous blogs over the last 4 years will know, I have been an accredited election observer, both partisan and non-partisan, in 4 different countries since 1998, including here in the US with the Kerry Edwards campaign in 2004.  I've trained election observers in over half a dozen other countries.  So I can help!

As any good election observer knows, to gain sufficient access to the proces, observers must be invited by the authority holding the election.  So there's that.

Plus, in full disclosure, my most awesome and totally historic campaign for Cleveland City Council looms in 2009, so there's also that.  

Anyway, just thought I'd throw it out there.  Carry on.

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Thank you Tim Russo

Why don't you email you offer to poll watch to the TWDC executive director Chris Garland chrisgarland@twdc.org with a link back to your offer here on  Realneo.  Perhaps you could suggest that Mr. Garland bring your offer to the attention of the entire TWDC Board.  



thanks for the suggestion

i'm sure he'll see it here, but i will forward.  feel free to forward it along yourself. 

I'm curious- what does being

I'm curious- what does being an accredited election observer mean?  Who is the accrediation through?   

TWDC Annual Meeting and Voting Process

The TWDC Board of Trustees pasted a motion at their last Board meeting on January 13th. to deny the request of a long time TWDC member - resident - business owner Mr. Tom Leneghan written request to be a counter/monitor.

It was further stated that no monitors would be allowed, and the newly formed, but never convened By-law committee would take this up.

Even if the By-law committee takes action it will be part of a recommended group of changes that would not go into effect even if approved at the 2010 annual meeting until 2011.

This is what is going to happen, members will take the floor as soon as the meeting is called to order, then when the agenda for elections is addressed with a quorum present. Point of order will be addressed by the general membership, and a motion to overturn the prior boards decision will by brought to the floor and seconded. (At that point in time I am sure a real interesting discussion and debate will follow). I am sure the lawyers on TWDC's board will try to block this effort. Per the TWDC by-laws this is a lawfully democratic process, but a 2/3 affirmative vote would be needed for this motion to pass.

I would ask anyone that is not a member that is interested in participating in democracy to attend this public meeting on Thursday. We need a transparent organization to bring any credibility back to this CDC. If the members can overturn the board, we will ask for three non-TWDC members that can just monitor the people already assigned to count the ballots. The people assigned to count the ballots as always are other CDC employees from around Cleveland, some members even feel this is a conflict of interest, but I really don't and would wholeheartedly support independent election monitors.

TWDC general membership has complained for years about the voting process, it just has sprouted some serious wings this year.

TWDC By-laws:

Article VIII: Appeals from Board Decisions
At the following Membership meeting, the members may veto or reverse any act of the Board of Trustees. To veto or reverse any act there must be a two-thirds (2/3) vote of all members.
Things to be aware of, no person can vote or conduct any official business of TWDC before the meeting is called to order, and a quorum is called. I personally witnessed and brought it up to TWDC officials last year people voting during the dinner portion of the night before the meeting is called to order. This is a violation of the TWDC by-laws under Quorum. If anyone sees people voting prior to 7PM please bring it to the attention of the print media that will be observing this meeting.

In private email discussions with the current President of TWDC he will discourage them but not stop someone from voting, Several members, and even candidates for the TWDC board are bringing legal representation. This is grounds for someone to challenge the entire election outcome if they choose in a court of law.

Let say it would be in the best interest of all that the strict application of the By-laws are followed in 2009.


Please attend and watch!!!

TWDC Election Monitor Correspondence


(Email Contacts deleted for privacy)

I would like to make you aware of some new developments related to monitoring the elections this Thursday. As you may be aware, at the last TWDC BOD meeting and commented on below, we chose to postpone any decision involving use of Tremont members as election monitors and to have this possibility reviewed by the newly formed TWDC bylaws committee.

I am pleased to let you know that we were able to secure representatives of the Cleveland State University Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs to monitor our election this Thursday. Therefore, we will have six independent counters from various other CDCs and two independent monitors from one of the most prestigious colleges of Public Affairs in the country responsible for counting and monitoring our election.

I hope you are all supportive and feel that this recent addition of independent monitors will further address any perception that our elections may not have sufficient oversight. I am confident in the TWDC staff, their professionalism and the great care they take to ensure a fair election. They have actively sought advice and support from 3rd parties to improve the processes and address even the appearance that there could be any lack of fairness in the election process. We should all be very proud of the TWDC team.

I look forward to seeing you this Thursday.


Tom Cook

President, TWDC BOD




(Email Contacts deleted for privacy)

I have just been made aware of this and other correspondence surrounding next week’s election(Please note I was not copied on any of this correspondence) Unfortunately some of the statement s are simply inaccurate and misleading. First, people may vote before the meeting is called to order. If they do so they may miss the opportunity to hear who may be nominated for write-in candidate but they can still vote, as long as they are verified as a member and receive a ballot. If they do vote before write-in candidates are announced and would like to change their vote they can receive a replacement ballot to do so. Our intention is to be as inclusive and accommodating as possible to all members of Tremont West. We are not looking for reasons to disqualify members votes.

Second, there has been correspondence about vote monitoring recently. Following is a copy of my response to Ken Pendergast of the Plain Press regarding the subject. I have no reason to believe Mr. Pendergast will report anything but the facts but I wanted you, as candidates, to be aware of my response.

Ken, I was just forwarded a copy of this email and now understand why you called this afternoon with your question.  Please be advised of a critical inaccuracy below(there may be others but I will comment on this one as it is relevant to your question).  Ms. Justus states  “The Board of Trustees of TWDC denied the written request from several members to monitor the election ballot count at their January 2009 Board of Trustees meeting.”.  This is simply not true.  The only written request of the TWDC BOD was a request by one member which stated “I am writing to officially request that since I am not on the board and not
running for the board that I be apart of the counting team for the annual board elections.”
The board denied this request for several reasons;
1) Counting is currently done by 3rd parties who are not stakeholders(TWDC members, residents, employees, business owners)which ensures an independent process.. To ensure independence we did not want a current TWDC resident and member counting votes.

2) In the course of our discussion the board did discuss potentially adding monitors of the counting process( at no point did we receive such a request in writing)and no change was recommended this year based on the following:

a. Allowing one member to monitor “because he asked” could open up considerable issues as to why he/she was afforded this privilege while others were not.  Why were other members not allowed the same privilege?  Should there be a limit on how many monitors we should have?  How are the monitors selected?  What is a fair process to determine who should be a monitor?  Should there be specific criteria to qualify as a monitor?

b.      What should be the role/expectation of a monitor?  Must they stay in the vote counting room for the duration to ensure they do not communicate with members before the final count is complete?  Are they limited on what they can share re: number of votes etc. ?  do they need training?

c. What is their process for identifying and communicating a problem? Who do they communicate any issues to?  Do we need a person to monitor the monitors?

The issues came up two weeks before the annual meeting and the TWDC BOD decided that the monitoring issue(#2 above) should be carefully considered with ample time to vet issues and be inclusive without playing favorites or appearing to play favorites. Therefore we requested that the monitoring issue be added to the agenda of the recently formed bylaws committee which will address bylaw recommendations this coming year.

Tom Cook

Statement from TWDC President - Disclaimer

The above excerpts from a email that was forwarded to me, had a disclaimer.

 Today I was sent this email from Mr. Tom Cook, President of the Board of TWDC.

Henry, someone forwarded this excerpt of my email to me. You posted it on the internet. You neglected to include the full email message that included the following:

(to include the below disclaimer – clarification by Henry Senyak)

This message may contain confidential material and is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed. Any review, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or taking of any action by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please delete the information from your system and contact the sender.



Yes, Tom I failed to copy and paste this to NEO. I was forwarded this email by 40% of the candidates running for the TWDC Board. Also from the Current Board.

You obviously sent a copy to a media source, because I gave a quote for a story on this topic yesterday. This has been a well-publicized topic and dialog. This is a non-issue.

While everyone is beating the transparency drum, and after all the discussions in the last month, you are going to worry about this?

Well, next time I will adhere to posting the whole email.


Since there is confusion of who, what and why in regards to who initiated contact with Cleveland State. I feel the need to defend the folks that actually put this in motion. TWDC did not, I repeat did not initiate CSU first.

I was copied on the email threads from TWDC members to a professor at CSU throughout the request process.


Below is a excerpt from a email sent to a TWDC member that was denied in his initial written request.

Please point out the differences in the above email to what is in this context.

--- On Wed, 1/14/09, Chris Garland <chrisgarland> wrote:
From: Chris Garland
Subject: RE: Vote Counter for TWDC Board Election
To: 'Tom  , Sandy
Date: Wednesday, January 14, 2009, 4:00 PM


Thank you for your offer to assist TWDC with our Annual Meeting.
Unfortunately, we can not accept your specific request to take part in the ballot counting, due to the fact that you are technically a TWDC Member.

We have scheduled a number of volunteer, non-stakeholders from other neighborhoods to physically count the ballots.  This is the same practice that TWDC has utilized in past years to avoid any bias or other such issue of impropriety.

So you know, our Nominating Committee Chair, Sandy Yambor, led a discussion on the issue of adding observers and other suggestions for adjusting the voting process.  The board decided that it would not make any changes for this election, but would consider changes for future elections as part of next year's potential by-law updates.  A by-law committee has been established to begin collecting such amendments.


Chris Garland

Chris Garland   Executive Director
Tremont West Development Corporation
o 216.575.0920   c 216.533.xxxx
f 216.575.0998   
2406 Professor   Cleveland 44113


“The board decided that it would not make any changes for this election, but would consider changes for future elections as part of next year's potential by-law updates.”

This seems pretty clear

I believe Tom Cook is a honorable man, I followed his request. I think this is overall a systemic problem within the organization.

I will repeat myself, all we want is a Non-profit that is transparent and follows their own by-laws, and state law.




There's a bit of fog still

There's a bit of fog still hanging low around Samuel Catania.  He must pick one thing or the other.  He can't be a Development Director/SII Project Manager receiving a paid salary on staff of the a non-profit organization and be a developer of property in that service area at the same time.  I do seriously believe this is a conflict of interest

Since he is a paid staff member, he was out of order attending our block club, in which he owns properties, and trying to micro manage the block club business as well.  DUBIOUS, OR OTHERWISE.  Maybe next month's Plain Press article will cover this issue and I'll see what I can dig up on that situation.