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Donna Finney Responds to Opponent's Criticisms

I am currently working on posting the videos of the Costabile deposition. 

I have also posted below two links.  The first link is from the City of Mayfield Heights website for the video of the City Council Meeting dated February 11, 2013.  If you start watching at minute 19, you will see the law director's report concerning Costabile's resignation and my opponent disagreeing with the fact that the residents should be informed about his unethical behavior resulting in his resignation.  The second link is to the actual meeting minutes for the same City Council Meeting.  You and the residents can read the applicable portion of the meeting by starting at page 2 where is states "Director of Law Carr..." Please note: from the City Council Minutes of 2-11-13 this is a direct quote, " Mrs. Snider reiterated that she is very much against this; that it has been advertised enough and that there will not be much different information stated. Mr. Monaco commented that the facts should come from either the prosecutor or the Law Director, as one cannot believe everything stated in a newspaper."

I also encourage both you and the residents to watch and read the full video and meeting minutes from this and any other City Council Meeting.

http://www.mayfieldheights.org/index.php/city-government/city-council/council-video/2013/202-2013

http://www.mayfieldheights.org/index.php/city-government/city-council/council-minutes/2013

Thank you,
Donna R. Finney
(216) 780-5762


Mark Baran October 23, 2013 at 11:42 AM
Councilwoman Finney - why not also post a link to the minutes from the meeting? I read the minutes and it states that Mayor Constibile went to Council Member Snider and asked her to sign and affidavit saying he did nothing wrong and Council member Snider refused. Also, the minutes detail an explanation to the public so I am confused about what you are trying to say. Here is the link to the minutes http://www.mayfieldheights.org/images/council/minutes/2-11-13%20Council%20Meeting%20Minutes.pdf It seems as though you have no desire to discuss your transgression and the "Agreement" you worked out with Mayor Constibile in 2006. Instead, you want to pivot and switch topics to attack others? Is this correct? Don't you want to be fully transparent as you expect all Public Officials to be transparent? Your attacks make it appear, to me, that you are overly defensive about this subject and don't wish to talk about it in full detail, with the Public. You are a public official asking to be elected to the position of "Mayor." Wouldn't you want this fully discussed if it was someone else that had this on their record and was running for Mayor? In my opinion, based on your public statements, I would think you do want to fully disclose and discuss this matter.
Mark Baran October 23, 2013 at 11:44 AM
It is also odd that you take the "Public Records" as a "Criticism" which is the title of your response. This is relevant to your record and history. It is public record and is not a "criticism." You are a public official seeking election and have a public record history of a violation of "honesty." Isn't that important?
Mark Baran October 23, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Councilwoman Finney, I am not running for Mayor so I am not your "Opponent." The comments and postings are mine and mine alone. I speak only for myself and am not hiding my identity. The information I posted is public record and concerns your admissions of violations of honesty and you are a Public Official (I am not). The public is entitled to know this. Your character and integrity is fundamental to the job as "Mayor" and you have admitted to violation of O.R.C. 3517.21 "Infiltration of campaign - false statements in campaign materials - election of candidate." Can you please pose a link to the council minutes that show you disclosed this to City Council and to the Mayfield Heights public? If I missed it, please let me know.
Donna R.Finney October 23, 2013 at 01:14 PM
CITY OF MAYFIELD HEIGHTS COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES February 11, 2013 The regular meeting of Council was called to order at 7:30 P.M. by Council President Pro Tempore Diane Snider. ROLL CALL: PRESENT: Mrs. Donna Finney, Mr. Joe Mercurio, Mr. Nino Monaco, Mr. Paul Sciria, Mrs. Diane Snider, Mrs. Gayle Teresi. ABSENT: None. Director of Law Carr: No report. Mrs. Finney asked in lieu of Mrs. Snider statement earlier, if the Law Director was ready to give a statement about the situation with the former Mayor. Mr. Carr said he was and it was strictly a factual statement and not a matter of personal attacks. But he would like to go by the Council President Pro Tempore’s directive. Mrs. Finney stated several current and past council members and residents have asked for a statement about what happened and there is a lot of speculation. She thinks the facts need to be on the table to the City can moved forward. Mr. Carr said there was a conflict amongst the council members as to whether he should speak or not. He needs direction as to what way to go. He has also receives calls about this matter. Mrs. Finney stated that if an explanation is not given to the residents and it makes it look like Council has done something wrong or that they are hiding something. There are a lot of people who do not understand what happened and she thinks the City owes it to them to get the facts out and put the situation behind them so that the City can move forward. Mrs. Snider commented that she spoke with council members and a few are concerned with having Mr. Carr speak this evening and that the answers have been given. She also spoke with the prosecutor’s office who said everything was public record and the case was closed. They have been dealing with this for two years and would meet with anyone who wanted to do so. Mr. Carr has offered to have a written statement ready at the end of the week. This can be distributed to anyone who wants one. She believes the City needs to move on. Mrs. Finney responded that a statement needs to be made tonight as a lot of people are expecting it. Mrs. Snider then asked everyone how they wanted to proceed this evening. Mr. Sciria asked to hear it. Mr. Mercurio thought it should be a written statement. Mrs. Teresi said that she was not on Council at the time so it was difficult for her to answer people. She felt that Mrs. Finney should be able to tell anyone what happened since she was a council member during the whole process. 1She thought that a statement from Mr. Carr would be a good idea so then everyone would know what happened. Mr. Monaco thinks the residents should know the facts about the situation and not from a newspaper or television report. He emailed the Law Director that the City needs to be transparent and the facts need to be known so residents can come to their own conclusion. Mrs. Snider reiterated that she is very much against this; that it has been advertised enough and that there will not be much different information stated. Mr. Monaco commented that the facts should come from either the prosecutor or the Law Director, as one cannot believe everything stated in a newspaper. Mrs. Snider asked Mr. Carr to proceed. Mr. Carr stated he had not prepared a written statement per se. He is prepared based on his knowledge of what has occurred and his notes. He has received calls and emails asking him to speak, but it is not his job to do so, it is Council’s and the Mayor’s wishes that he follows. One question that was raised was what might council members have done wrong in this whole scenario. There were no facts or evidence that came to light that any council persons, present or former, was involved in any transactions that would mean any wrong doing. Nothing he says is a breach of confidence as he represents the people of the City. He does not represent the Mayor or Council; he represents the interest of the City of Mayfield Heights (Continued on Next post)
Donna R.Finney October 23, 2013 at 01:17 PM
Early in the process he was subpoenaed for records pertaining to Seagull Oil and Gas Company for drilling on public and private lands by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor and the Ohio Ethics Commission. This involved records from his office and from other City offices. The beginning of this occurrence was when Mrs. Finney inquired of Mayor Gregory Costabile what amount he had received for the lease of his land on Ridgebury Blvd. for a gas well through Seagull. He refused to comply. Mr. Carr advised the Mayor to reveal the amount as the situation would not go away. Mayor Costabile declined to do so. Mr. Carr defended the Mayor citing that there were not enough facts of any wrong doing. Mayor Costabile cited that this was a private matter and between him and Seagull and that he had a confidentiality agreement with Seagull that precluded him or Seagull from disclosing any details. Mr. Carr told him that this was not a private matter as he was a public official and this was a company that had done business and was seeking to do business in the City. This was a critical fact. Council determined that this needed to be further researched by someone other than Mr. Carr as he was too close to the Mayor and they wanted objectivity. Mr. Carr gave Council President Ballistrea a list of several attorneys. Council appropriated up to $15,000 for attorney fees and hired an independent counsel. Mr. Michael Merman was the first lawyer hired. After hearing from Council members, he determined that the Mayor did not have the right to conceal the details of the transaction as he was a public figure and the company was and did want to do business in Mayfield Heights. Mr. Merman also indicated that he did want to be part of a removal process of the Mayor. He found it distasteful and did not want to get involved. He did suggest legislation be prepared regarding anyone doing business with the City would have to advise of current or prior dealings with any city officials. Mr. Carr prepared this legislation and gave it to the Mayor to review. The Mayor cut out most of the substantial language so when Mr. Ballistrea who was Council President at the time received it, it meant nothing. The legislation never went through. During the time of the two year investigation, Mr. Carr was asked to attend a meeting with the Mayor, Seagull and its lawyers. Seagull was involved in an investigation of alleged forgery regarding leases for Stone Creek properties. The investigation had stalled and Seagull wanted to move forward with their project in Stone Creek. Mr. Carr’s recommendation to the Mayor was that until the investigation was complete and it was determined who was responsible for the forgeries, Seagull should not solicit and do business in the City. There was a lot of discussion and at one point Mr. Carr saw an opportunity to help the residents and give the Mayor a feather in his cap, and suggested that perhaps something could be worked out if Seagull would walk away from the Catalano Drive project that the residents were very upset about. They agreed that they could do that, but then Mayor Costabile told them they did not have to do so. Mr. Carr then told Seagull that they could resign with the people in Stone Creek that they already had a business relationship with, but not calling on any new people, if they would walk away from the Catalano Drive project. Again they said they would, and again the Mayor said they did not have to. The meeting ended with nothing being resolved. (Continued on Next Post)
Donna R.Finney October 23, 2013 at 01:19 PM
In the course of the investigation it came out that Mayor Costabile received $15,000 for his property for a non-drilling lease while most of his neighbors only received $5000 for the same type of lease. The properties that had the actual well drilled on it, received more compensation. Don Barr, the developer of Hidden Woods, received $50,000 for eight acres of property that were key to the gas well project as 20 aggregate acres are needed in order for a gas well to be drilled. That comes out to approximately $6300 per acre. Mr. Carr learned of this after the meeting where he had asked Seagull to stand down from the Catalano Drive project. It further was revealed that Seagull had not required a confidentiality agreement with Mayor Costabile; he was the party that wanted it and drafted it. Seagull also wanted to drill near the city park on the northern border by Marshall Ford. So another meeting was held and Mr. Carr had Detective Chris Sonnhalter attend as he was in charge of the investigation. They wanted to know why it was stalled. It had been determined that the signatures were indeed forgeries, but it could not be determined who did it, so there was a standstill. Mr. Carr suggested that the Seagull people take polygraph tests and they agreed if the homeowners would do so. Mr. Carr said he did not control the homeowners, but that they could move forward if they took the test, but they refused. Also during this meeting, Mr. Carr brought up the fact that there was controversy about the agreement that they had signed with the Mayor for his Ridgebury property and they would help him if they released him from that confidentiality agreement. They were willing to reveal what the Mayor received, but their lawyer said he would not want to compromise the Mayor’s position. All these little things started raising red flags. During the course of the investigation, several council members wanted answers and had spoken with various attorneys and prosecutors who told them that the Mayor was obligated to reveal the information. Mayor Costabile was attempting to speak with individual council members. At one point, Mr. Carr was told that he met with Diane Snider and Ron Kobunski, both council members at the time, and asked them to sign an affidavit that he had done nothing illegal, which they refused to do. Again, during this two year period, the Seagull people wanted to drill for a well on the northern side of the main City park near Marshall Ford property. Mr. Carr was under the impression that the actual well would be drilled on the Marshall Ford property, not the City property, but it would have required Council’s approval to also lease to Seagull adjacent city property. Mr. Deming from Seagull wanted to move forward and had told Mike Ballistrea that the investigation was over. Mr. Ballistrea found out that the investigation was not completed from the Detective Bureau. Upon further inquiry, Mr. Elk from Marshall Ford stated he did not want the well on his property, although he would be willing to be part of the aggregation of property. Mayor Costabile wanted a Committee of the Whole meeting to discuss this proposal, but Council President Ballistrea would not move forward until the investigation of Seagull was completed. Therefore, he did not schedule a Committee of the Whole meeting. It was clear that the Mayor was advocating for Seagull to have a well in the park. (Continued on Next Post)
Donna R.Finney October 23, 2013 at 01:22 PM
During the investigation, Mayor Costabile continued to refuse to provide information and denied any wrong doing and stated that the Ohio Ethics Commission told him his Financial Disclosure Forms were filled out properly. Rarely does the Ohio Ethics Commission give a verbal opinion and they had no notes on this matter, which is unusual. The attorney investigated advised that there was no way anyone in their office would have advised Mayor Costabile that he was filling out the forms properly. The language is clear that they want to know the sources of income. An amount does not need to be disclosed unless the source of income is seeking to do business or is doing business with the City. The transaction with Seagull fell within that purview. While his forms revealed the source, it did not reveal how much. (Continued on Next Post)
Donna R.Finney October 23, 2013 at 01:23 PM
The Financial Disclosure Forms led to the second charge which was the failure to disclose the source and the income of $100,000 from the Hidden Woods development. The City’s Master Plan was updated and the committee was headed by then Council President Costabile. The property behind the north side of the Ridgebury properties was then zoned for higher acreage development. The Master Plan allowed for lesser acreage zoning and that zoning was eventually adopted to allow for the Hidden Woods development. The Costabiles purchased property on Ridgebury Blvd. around the same time and then sold the back acre to the Hidden Woods Development for $100,000. At the time there was an altercation between what the former owners said she had been told would not be happening with the property behind her property. However, all of the people who sold their property received this amount for an acre. It was the Mayor’s failure to disclose any of this that brought the second charge. It was these two charges that Mayor Costabile plead guilty to. Mr. Carr also pointed out that the Mayor’s acre and the one east of his were acres 21 and 22 of the gas well drilling project on Ridgebury Blvd. and according to the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, were not needed for this project. That raised the question as to why those two properties were included in the project. Mr. Sciria commented that Mr. Carr spoke about two charges that Mayor Costabile plead guilty to in Columbus. Were there any other allegations that were part of the plea bargain? Mr. Carr replied that the prosecutor said they would not indict him on any felonies, if he resigned. The felonies were for tampering with evidence, which Mr. Carr does not know for a fact but believes it may have been for the forms that he filled out. Other allegations of a more serious nature, he believes would have been hard to prove, as there was no direct evidence. Mr. Sciria asked if there were any fines as part of the plea deal. Mr. Carr said Mayor Costabile agreed to a total of $22,000 in fines, $15,000 to be paid to the Ohio Ethics Commission, $6000 to be paid to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office to defray some of the costs of the investigation and two $500 fines that the court imposed. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail that was suspended pending his compliance with all the other conditions. He has probation for one year or less if he pays off the fines before that time. Mr. Sciria asked that if Mayor Costabile had not pleaded guilty, would they have gone forward with the other felony charges. Mr. Carr said he could not answer that, it would be speculative. As was explained the Prosecutor’s office said they would not indict him if he took this plea deal. Mr. Sciria clarified that plea bargaining is done so that the matter does not go forward. Mr. Carr said that was not necessarily true. It depends on the circumstances. Mrs. Finney thanked Mr. Carr. She asked if Greg Costabile could run for any public office. Mr. Carr stated he believes legally that Mr. Costabile could. Mrs. Finney stated she heard that Mr. Costabile had to make restitution to the family that owned the Ridgebury Blvd. property that he purchased from. Mr. Carr stated that as far as he knows, that is totally untrue. (The link to the full minutes of the 2-11-13 City Council Meeting is listed above)
Mark Baran October 23, 2013 at 01:47 PM
Councilwoman Finney, AGAIN, I REPEAT - Can you please post a link to the council minutes that show WHERE YOU DISCLOSED YOUR PRIOR VIOLATION TO CITY COUNCIL AND TO THE MAYFIELD HEIGHTS PUBLIC? I BELIEVE IN THE OTHER SPEAK OUT LOG YOU CLAIM YOU NEVER TRIED TO HIDE THIS AND MADE IT PUBLIC, AM I CORRECT? If I missed it, please let me know. Your very good at pivoting, dancing around the questions that involve your transgression alone, but since you are now part of the discussion, I am not going to let you off without providing more information. You owe this to the public and you have repeatedly claimed you want more transparency. Where is the transparency here? It appears to me you are doing everything you can to avoid the questions and redirect the discussion by attacking you opponents. This will not work.
Mark Baran October 23, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Also, I posted a link to the minutes you recopied here. I don't know why except to again redirect the discussion concerning your transgression.
Donna R.Finney October 23, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Mr. Baran, I believe when something is published in the newspaper, as this matter was many years ago, it is then publicly disclosed. Digging into your background and past, your reputation in the legal community, in my opinion, seems rather tarnished.
Mark Baran October 23, 2013 at 06:32 PM
How curious. When Mayor Costibile's transgressions were published in the paper you did not consider that publically disclosed which is why you asked Attorney Carr to provide details at a City Council meeting. You are running for Mayor and you don't want to talk about this. Instead, you ironically claim that your transgression was published in the paper years ago? It must have been in Columbus because you drove to Columbus to have your hearing. Personally attacking me does nothing to answer these questions. I am raising reasonable questions.
brian November 06, 2013 at 08:48 AM
I love when you say you are working on providing the link to the mayor's issue... is this really what brings Mayfield Hts. further in the city? Is this really the only thing you can be working on for the taxpayers and residents? Wow, glad to see DiCicco with most of the votes....

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