Why He’s Interesting: Naymik has spent the last year poking Cleveland’s powerful in their well-deserving eyes. The Cleveland.com columnist pried the city’s secret Amazon bid loose through a Court of Claims complaint, and, in another blockbuster story, unearthed questionable accounting at a community development corporation in Cleveland City Councilman Ken Johnson’s ward. After yet more columns about Johnson’s practices, the FBI reportedly opened an investigation.
Story Book: Sources in the nonprofit world originally tipped Naymik off to financial troubles at the Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corp., which is closely linked to Johnson. But Naymik also thought Johnson was the best untold story on council. City trucks in his ward bore “Compliments of Councilman Kenneth Johnson.” He had been in office for 37 years. And there was the eponymous recreation center. “A guy’s not dead yet and there’s a building named after him. All those things make a good story.”
Character Counts: Naymik criticized Johnson in his columns for directing taxpayer money toward a grass-cutting program that benefited Johnson’s image, and employed Johnson’s son and a council assistant. But Naymik also says the councilman’s commitment to helping youth in the Buckeye neighborhood is unquestionable. “If you go to the rec center, you will find him giving swimming lessons. He’s there. And he fought for the water park [there]. But at the same time, why all this noise that he creates around himself? That’s what that story was and is.”
Bid Wars: Business and government leaders, including Mayor Frank Jackson, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and the Northeast Ohio Area Coordinating Agency, teamed up to assemble a bid for Amazon’s new headquarters. But they kept the details hidden from the public until Naymik challenged NOACA in court and won. “Elected officials got together first and decided we shouldn’t see it. At that point, you’ve then cut off the transparency.”
Town Tale: Naymik grew up in Westlake in a family of five boys. His father was an ironworker and his mother was a grocery store checkout clerk. “My dad, when he was born in 1930, lived at Sokolowski’s [University] Inn, when it was an inn.”
Risky Business: In his free time, Naymik ramps into X Games mode. He has busted his right collarbone mountain biking, windsurfs on Lake Erie and is a serious snow boarder. He even ran the Cleveland Marathon in 3 hours, 33 minutes, 2 seconds at age 13. “I mean, that’s hardcore.”
Interesting Fact: Naymik’s first reporting job was at the Cleveland Free Times, where his editor was Cindy Barber, now the owner of the Beachland Ballroom.