Sup Ct: O'Neill (D) at the City Club of Cleveland
I had planned to attend the non-debate monologue by Ohio Supreme Court candidate William O'Neill (D-South Russell), an 11th District Court of Appeals Judge in his second term, at the City Club of Cleveland yesterday but was unable to do so. Fortunately, a friend who was there provided the above photograph and an account of the proceedings, which I have blended here with a short press release from the O'Neill campaign and some excerpts from a good article about this event in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
O'Neill emphasized that it is despicable that opponent Justice Terrence O'Donnell (R-Rocky River) chose not to participate. He accused Justice Terrence O'Donnell of "refusing to be seen in public because he is tired of explaining the numbers that haunt him." The New York Times reported that contributors to O'Donnell's campaign who appear before him in court have a 91% success rate." O'Neill said that O'Donnell "is tired of trying to explain the 91% batting average his contributors have racked up at the Supreme Court; and he is tired of explaining how you raise $3-million in three campaigns and continue to sit on your contributors' cases."
"Public servants have an obligation to be seen in public and answer the public's questions," O'Neill continued. "It is disgraceful for a sitting justice on the Ohio Supreme Court to refuse to come to the City Club of Cleveland and answer the tough questions." Of course, O'Donnell is aware that O'Neill accepts no campaign contributions and therefore cannot advertise on television, and by refusing to appear O'Donnell caused this event not to be on television either. (The audio will be available as a podcast on the City Club web site).
O'Neill also brought up the suspicious episode of the $18,000 in cash that O'Donnell reported stolen from the trunk of his car while it was parked in the Flats, an entertainment district along the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland. O'Donnell has refused to explain the precise circumstances for his having that much cash. O'Neill also blasted O'Donnell for attending a fund-raiser at the Catawba Island condominium of convicted Republican fundraiser and powerbroker Tom Noe. O'Neill pointed out that judges are not allowed to solicit campaign funds, and said that any judge who attends a fund-raiser for his campaign is clearly helping to raise funds. O'Donnell, along with two other Justices, have put into escrow donations that were illegally funnelled to their campaigns from Tom Noe, but have not donated the money to charity.
Education was also a big topic, with O'Neill explaining that the Ohio Constitution demands that public schools be funded and available in all communities. Yet, the privatizing of education in Ohio (through charter schools) blossoms while the State legislature ignores a years old Ohio Supreme Court ruling that funding mechanisms for Ohio's schools. "As a judge, if you don't enforce your orders, there's no point in going to work," O'Neill said. "You might as well be on the golf course." O'Neill has threatened to throw the state legislature in jail unless it funds schools fairly, and yesterday he said he could also shut down the schools or cut off the legislators' pay. "We're not going to pay you to violate the law."
O'Neill has been endorsed for the Supreme Court by nearly every newspaper in Ohio (Plain Dealer, Beacon Journal, and Dayton Daily News) "because the editors looked at the numbers and they were dismayed" the Judge explained. In closing his remarks to the City Club, O'Neill declared "It is outrageous that a sitting Justice on the Ohio Supreme Court would hide from the public behind a million dollar television campaign. I am proud to stand at the podium that has been shared by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. To do otherwise would be to hide from the public, and that is wrong."