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That’s how many people have died in the Cuyahoga County jail system since last June. It is a heartbreaking number. Nine human lives, most taken by suicides and drug overdoses, in a jail system the U.S. Marshals Service deemed “inhumane,” where food was withheld from inmates as punishment and pregnant women slept on mats on the floor, where the county intended to imprison still greater numbers of people.

It raises questions, many questions. How did conditions get this bad? How did we get to this place, where one death became two became six became nine?

To answer those questions, you have to go back to last year, when public corruption investigators were looking into county government. Their investigation started with the IT Department and the highest reaches of County Executive Armond Budish’s administration.

As that investigation examined one branch of government, another was undergoing a historic change. In 2017, Budish announced a long-strived-for plan that would, eventually, regionalize all city-owned jails in Cuyahoga County under county authority at its three jails in the Justice Center downtown, Euclid and Bedford Heights. The idea was to get cities like Cleveland out of the business of having their own jails. The county would take on those cities’ prisoners for a fee. The idea to regionalize was spearheaded by Ed FitzGerald, Budish’s predecessor.

FitzGerald originally hired Ken Mills, a tall Southerner with gray hair and a goatee, in 2014. After Budish took office, Mills moved into a new job in the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department as regional director of corrections in 2015. A press release at the time said Mills was in charge of the operations of the county jails, helping with the sheriff’s budget and the regionalization push. He would report to Sheriff Clifford Pinkney.

Or so the release said. At a Cuyahoga County Council hearing this summer, Pinkney painted the opposite. He said he had no idea who had hired Mills for the county jail position and he himself had no role in the jail regionalization plan. So if Pinkney wasn’t in charge of Mills, who was?

Last winter, after seven deaths and the release of the U.S. Marshals report, the situation at the jail evidently caught the interest of the public corruption investigators. This January, three indictments were handed down, one against an IT Department official, Emily McNeeley, one against the county’s chief talent officer Douglas Dykes and the last against Mills, who was charged with lying while testifying to county council and to investigators. All three have pleaded not guilty.

In February, FBI and state investigators turned up at the county administration building downtown, went up to Budish’s office on the eighth floor and raided the place. They carted off documents, among them folders labeled “jail Cleveland mayor,” “jail progress report” and “jail safety,” confiscated the computers of Budish and his assistant and took Budish’s cellphone. Emails from Budish and several other county administrators were also later turned over to investigators.

Since then, the investigators have been further rooting around the jail. Eric Ivey, the former warden, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors after pleading guilty to ordering guards to turn off their body cameras and lying to investigators. More than 10 jail officials and guards have been charged thus far, Cleveland.com has reported, over a bevy of incidents, including alleged brutality and working with the Heartless Felons gang to deal drugs in the jail.

The slow-moving crisis has damaged Budish’s rising-star political reputation even though, as of this writing, he has not been implicated in any criminal matter.

It has also made the relationship between Budish’s administration and county council difficult. Dan Brady, county council president, told Cleveland Magazine that the relationship grew strained last year, as inmates were dying at the jail.

“It began to come apart due to lack of confidence in the administration,” Brady said. “And that has gone on for a year and half, and remains at a level that makes it difficult to do the daily, weekly business of the county.”

To some, the investigations have confirmed their worst fears. The raid came as the decade anniversary of the 2009 Jimmy Dimora corruption scandal dawned, which seemed like a sign. Prosecutor Mike O’Malley, after turning over the investigation to the state, even suggested in an interview with Cleveland Magazine this summer that the whole system of government, which was set up after 2009, should be re-evaluated. Is crookedness just the natural condition in Cuyahoga County?

To others, the investigation has looked like overreach. Budish, in a round of defensive interviews and county-produced videos  released after his office was raided, attacked the raid as an unwarranted, politically motivated hit job, intended to smear his up-to-now unsullied reputation. He and his administration had been completely forthcoming and cooperative, he said.

“We have held nothing back. So for investigators to come into my offices the way they did yesterday is just wrong,” he said in a February video. “And it’s frankly a political stunt.”

But since then, Budish has been in virtual hiding, beyond press releases and carefully guard-railed interviews with Cleveland.com, where his chief communications officer, Eliza Wing, used to be president and CEO. Budish was unavailable for an interview with Cleveland Magazine, his spokeswoman said, in response to a request that offered two weeks of availability. She cited the possibility of impacting ongoing criminal and civil proceedings.

Recent state inspection reports have shown conditions at the jail have been improving. But answers on how conditions got so bad that nine people died have been harder to get. Which is why, on July 30, Pinkney appeared before council, under penalty of a subpoena. He had shown up at a prior council meeting and failed to answer council’s questions for 33 minutes. But at this hearing, wearing his county sheriff’s star on his lapel, Pinkney had to talk.

“Do you know who made the final decision to regionalize and move the individuals over from the Cleveland jail system?” councilman Jack Schron asked.

“No, I don’t,” Pinkney said.

“Who do you believe made that?”

“I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know.”

“OK, let’s go back to the ‘surmise.’ Who do you surmise would have made the ultimate decision to make this big change?”

“I would suggest that, by the structure, it would go up to the executive’s office.”

“OK. So the only way we’re going to get an answer to ‘Who hired Mr. Mills?’ and ‘Who made this decision to run this jail system?’ in your opinion, is to go to a chair way above yours, and have that person sit there, and answer these exact same questions?”


How did we get here? Well, the sheriff was saying, ask Armond Budish.

In January 2018 Budish was at the height of his powers.

He took office in 2015, endorsed by FitzGerald, and espoused a vision for technocratic government that would invest in the mainstream Democratic planks, from universal prekindergarten to job training to business-friendly economic development. Over the years, with quiet, lawyerly consistency, Budish went about doing exactly that.

His one challenge came in 2017, from his left. An alliance of progressive activists and the Greater Cleveland Congregations attempted to defeat (or revise) Budish’s deal to renovate Quicken Loans Arena. But Budish kept the deal alive. It was a major win, gift-wrapped for the 2018 election.

Though not a larger-than-life figure, Budish was well liked. An affable family man from Beachwood, he had entered politics after his children were grown. He had a long career as an elder law attorney, and then as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives. He could crack a good dad joke, but knew enough to smile at how cheesy he was. He could be thin-skinned at times, and relied on policy more than passion to connect with people. But he was warm too, even to his political enemies. Steve Holecko, political director of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, protested against The Q deal. But, Holecko told Cleveland Magazine, Budish still showed up at his father’s wake.

So on Jan. 10, as every major Democratic player in the county took turns at the podium introducing Budish at a Pipefitters Local 120 union hall in Valley View — Mayor Frank Jackson, Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chair Shontel Brown, county council president Dan Brady, suburban mayors Brad Sellers and Tim DeGeeter, Rev. E.T. Caviness — Budish had an almost-guaranteed win already in his pocket. He faced no primary opponent, and little sign of Republican opposition.

But elsewhere, trouble brewed. On Jan. 24, subpoenas from corruption investigators arrived at the county, seeking records related to two IT Department officials. Then, on Feb. 9  Sharon Sobol Jordan, Budish’s chief of staff, announced she was leaving county government. On Feb. 16, news of the subpoenas and corruption probe broke publicly, after the filing deadline for candidates had passed.

On April 5, Budish appeared at a press conference in Bedford Heights. He stood on the steps of the jail there, flanked by Mills and Pinkney. The Bedford Heights jail, they announced, had been transformed into a comprehensive re-entry center. It would train county inmates on culinary skills and offer substance abuse counseling. Everyone smiled as they cut a ribbon with oversized scissors.

On April 11, at the State of the County, Budish tried to reassure the audience, clearly jumpy from the unfolding investigation.

“As most of you know, several members of my administration are under investigation,” he said, then took a deep, exasperated breath. “This is…this is upsetting.”

It was especially upsetting for people who lived through the 2009 scandals, he said, adding that his administration was cooperating with investigators.

“We do not yet have the results,” Budish said. “But if there was any wrongdoing — any wrongdoing — you can be absolutely assured that we will not tolerate any bad behavior on the part of anyone in my

After light applause, Budish forged on, talking up The Q deal and new economic development projects. About 40 minutes in, Budish turned to another point of pride: his plan to consolidate the county jails.

FitzGerald started laying the groundwork for regionalization in 2014. But an obstacle stood in his way: He couldn’t close a deal to take on prisoners from Cleveland, which was, other than the county, the county’s largest jailer.

I got it done, Budish seemed to be reminding the audience. The Cleveland deal was finalized in 2017.

Cleveland had started sending its prisoners to the county in March 2018. By that
October, Budish said, other cities would get the chance to do the same thing.

“This can save each cash-strapped city a lot of money, while allowing them to move their police onto the street,” Budish said.

Mills was overseeing the regionalization push Budish had just announced.

In an interview with Cleveland Magazine, FitzGerald said he signed off on hiring Mills originally, ultimately signing off on all senior-level hires. FitzGerald recalled working well with Mills.

Cleveland.com recently reported that two experienced jail managers, including an administrator with four decades of experience, were laid off so Mills could move into the regional jail director job. A county spokeswoman said at the time that he was the only candidate considered for the position, and that his Coast Guard experience was sufficient.

During 2015, Budish’s first year in office, he tasked his administrators with implementing a 10% cut across county government. The county credit card was “maxed out,” Budish said. As part of that process, the administration wanted to bring down costs in the sheriff’s department by $7 million, but ended up cutting $5.6 million. Some of those proposed cuts were to the jail, including cutting food costs by $200,000 and implementing a new jail phone system that charged more for inmate calls. Council eventually approved the phone system, which was expected to bring in an additional $4 million annually.

“In their eyes, Ken was doing such a great job of getting costs down,” a former county official with intimate knowledge of the situation told Cleveland Magazine. “What that meant was cutting meals back, doing all sorts of crazy shit. But they didn’t care. They were so hyper-focused on that number coming down. And he did it.”

Mills was a savvy bureaucratic infighter. Even though Pinkney was technically his boss and the head of the department, Mills sometimes attended all-hands meetings and acted as a de facto department head independent of Pinkney, the former county official said. The pattern manifested itself publicly at county council hearings, where Pinkney almost always deferred jail questions to Mills.

Mills’ attorney Kevin Spellacy did not return requests for comment left at his office.

“Even if the sheriff would say, ‘We’re going to do this,’ Mills would flat out not do it,” the official said. “He ran that jail like a dictatorship, and as long as people weren’t dying you didn’t hear much about it.”

Marcus Harris started working for the county in 2012. He was a nurse in the county jail, and worked his way up to director of nursing by 2014.

By 2017, he was working long hours. He did not have enough staff, and sometimes had to pick up extra shifts. The pace was hectic and the work stressful. Inmates would find creative reasons to get out of their cells when there were emergencies, fights or their pods were “redzoned,” a practice where inmates are kept in their cells and a single guard is placed in charge of one or more pods of inmates.

Redzoning, Harris told Cleveland Magazine, had become more frequent. Inmates would claim minor injuries, like chest pains, to get out of their cells. Some days, Harris said, there could be up to 10 inmates claiming medical emergencies.

One bright spot was his friend and coworker, a nurse supervisor  named Gary Brack. “I feel I could walk into the streets in Cleveland, and I would never have to worry about anything,” Harris said. “Because people respected me, and respected Gary, and respected our tradition.”

By the middle of 2017, Harris had decided he had to find another job. In July or August, Harris said, he had gotten in a yelling match with Ivey over an incident involving a transgender inmate who wasn’t given a bra. Harris, who, like Brack, is openly gay, was appalled by the situation.

As Harris looked for jobs, another round of budget hearings began. The administration proposed cuts at the jail again. Mills, and others, again advocated for outsourcing food operations, this time with a proposed savings of $400,000. They also pitched the idea of changing medical care providers for the jail, a proposed savings of $2 million.

Council balked at the proposals. Councilman Brady found the proposal to change medical providers, possibly to a company called NaphCare, worrying. It made little sense to him that MetroHealth, the county hospital, was not in charge of all jail medical services.

The cuts, Brady thought, were a pattern.

“Clearly, [Mills’] marching orders were to save money. That’s what he was there for,” Brady told Cleveland Magazine. “He had no background in jails, he had no background in these matters. He had been in the Coast Guard for his whole career. And he was trying to carry out what he felt was his mission, from my point of view.”

With the deadline to approve the 2018-19 budget fast approaching, negotiations with the administration broke down over multiple issues, including the jail cuts, Brady said. Council signed off on a budget to its own specifications and passed it. The jail cuts were left out.

In January 2018, Harris left for a new job across the country. The county jail started accepting Cleveland prisoners in March, and soon a bureaucratic, behind-the-scenes fight involving the medical care of more than 2,000 inmates spilled into public view.

On May 14, Mills came to a Board of Control meeting with a request to spend $24,988. The county needed to hire temporary nurses at the recently opened Bedford Heights jail to deal with the influx of prisoners from Cleveland, Mills said. MetroHealth was in charge of the doctors in the Bedford Heights jail, but the nurses, like Harris, worked for the county. Several, Mills said, had turned the job down. He needed to make up for the lack of permanent staff.

The request got kicked to a May 22 council Public Safety & Justice Affairs committee meeting. There, Mills repeated what he’d told the board — he had offered positions to nurses, but they had turned it down because the pay wasn’t good enough. That’s why he needed the extra $24,988.

Councilman Michael Gallagher, a gregarious Strongsville Republican, was skeptical. Mills’ story didn’t make sense to him. There had to be another reason these nurses weren’t getting hired.

“What was the roadblock? Or, more directly, who was the roadblock?” he asked Mills.

Mills stuttered. Gallagher cut him off.

“And if you don’t tell me who the roadblock is, or what the roadblock is, then you’re the roadblock. Now who is it?”

Mills hesitated. “I…I, I don’t know.”

Brack, who worked for MetroHealth as a nursing supervisor, came to the lectern next with a bombshell: Pinkney had approved several years worth of requests to hire nurses, but Mills, through an unspecified bureaucratic maneuver, had stopped them.

“There seems to be, it’s almost a form of passive-aggressive behavior,” Brack said. “What the director [Mills] tells us, is not what pans out.”

Jane Platten, MetroHealth’s chief of staff and senior vice president, came to the lectern next and corroborated what Brack had said: As the medical director of the facility, MetroHealth submitted recommendations about how many nurses the county should hire. The conversation about those recommendations, Platten said, often revolved around whether the number of staff was too high. The county wanted fewer staff, and MetroHealth wanted more.

“The recommendation we made specifically for Bedford [Heights] was denied, I understand, by Ken Mills,” Platten said. “It was budgetary, potentially. I don’t recall the specific

Brack then returned to the lectern, and painted a picture of what sounded like a jail on the verge of crisis. There was not enough security staff, so inmates were locked in their cells longer. During redzoning, calls to the medical unit would increase, he said, because they wanted out of their cells.

In a letter council received after the hearing, Harris backed up Brack’s testimony, writing that Mills had blocked hiring additional nurses in the past by going over the sheriff’s head, that redzoning was increasingly frequent, and that safety concerns were being overlooked.

“Our physicians, our nurse practitioners, do feel unsafe,” Brack said.

Mills, looking incredulous, returned to the podium to defend himself. He had addressed several safety concerns, he said, and there hadn’t been major security issues. He denied having held up nurse hiring.

The hearing landed on Council President Dan Brady. Mills’ proposal to change medical providers during the last year’s budget had gotten his antenna up, Brady said.

“I’m not sure everybody understands how serious this issue is. It’s not a line item somewhere,” Brady said, his voice rising with emphasis. “It is really a life and death situation that, if not handled properly, could lead to very big trouble.”

The next day, according to reporting by Cleveland.com and records from a lawsuit Brack later filed, Budish had a meeting with MetroHealth CEO Akram Boutros. Budish requested Brack be removed. Shortly after, MetroHealth fired Brack.

“I was very concerned that these professionals were telling me, publicly, directly, people are going to die,” Councilman Gallagher told Cleveland Magazine. “It was surreal to me, because I couldn’t understand. We took it seriously. We were concerned. We were scared.

“Everything was, ‘OK we’ll take care of it,’ ” Gallagher continued. “And they didn’t.”

The deaths in the jail system began about four weeks later.

On June 10, Theodore Carter Jr., 55, died of complications due to myelofibrosis, a rare blood cancer, after being transported to MetroHealth.

On June 26, Esteben Parra, 32, died after a meth overdose.

On July 1, Larry C. Johnson, 51, died after hanging himself in his cell.

On Aug. 28, Joseph Arquillo, 47, died after a heroin, fentanyl, Xanax and cocaine overdose.

On Aug. 30, Gregory Fox, 36, died after hanging himself in a cell.

On Aug. 31, Randall Kain, 46, died after a fentanyl overdose in the Euclid jail.

Through the summer, the corruption investigation had gone mostly quiet. A steady stream of subpoenas trickled out, concerning contracts the county had signed with technology companies. But attention had shifted to the jail. October came. The county was supposed to begin offering its prison services to other cities. But the deaths continued.

On Oct. 2, Allan Martin Gomez Roman, 44, died after hanging himself in a cell.

On Oct. 4, news broke that the FBI was looking into civil rights violations at the jail. Budish said he would hire an outside expert to examine the situation. The county eventually settled on the U.S. Marshals Service.

By then, Budish was facing a Republican challenger, Peter Corrigan, who had entered the race as a write-in candidate. The former COO was running on a platform of making county government more efficient. But he also wanted to make sure there was an alternative on the ballot, should the corruption investigation go sideways. By July, he had a poll in hand that showed the impact of months of bad headlines: he was between 7 and 11 points of Budish. But on Nov. 6, Budish won in a landslide, getting 67% of the vote. Corrigan was not surprised he’d lost, he told Cleveland Magazine. But he was surprised by the margin.

After the election, all hell broke loose. On Nov. 8, John Russo, the administrative judge for the county’s Common Pleas Court, sent Budish a letter that said the 34 county judges could no longer trust jail administrators, Cleveland.com reported. The next day, a letter from five mental health docket judges said mentally ill inmates were not getting proper care. Five days after that, Mills resigned.

Then came the U.S. Marshals report, based on jail visits and more than 200 inmate interviews conducted from Oct. 30-Nov. 1, 2018.

The facility was dirty. Inspectors saw mice in the food storage area. The warden, Ivey, held food back from prisoners to punish them. Inmates weren’t given toilet paper, toothpaste or toothbrushes. Some inmates reported being redzoned for more than 27 hours at a stretch. Teenagers were housed with adults. There were no curtains in the showers. The staff seemed not to know the fire evacuation plan. Inmates, including pregnant women, were sleeping on mats on the floor. Inmates lived in fear of the jail’s security response team, dubbed the “Men in Black” because of  their paramilitary-looking uniforms, several of whom were overheard by inspectors calling interviewees “snitches.”

The facility was rated to hold 1,765 people, and regularly held upward of 2,000. Inspectors counted 2,420 on their first day there. Those inmates were enduring those conditions for, on average, 29 days.

To respond, Budish went to the Cleveland.com newsroom with Pinkney for an exclusive interview. He hadn’t known about the conditions, Budish said. He said he had relied on the state’s jail inspection reports. Those reports, obtained by Cleveland Magazine, gave the jail passing grades in 2016 and 2017. Budish said he was putting a plan in action to fix the issues. The long-hoped-for regionalization plan was put on hold. A Cleveland.com investigation found that the county’s primary motivator for the regionalization was to increase revenue. “How did things get so bad?” Cleveland.com asked. “The answer, according to a two-month Cleveland.com investigation, is money.”

A group of activists had noticed too. In the wake of the report, they met for the first time in early December at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland, in Cleveland Heights. The group of neighborhood and progressive groups called themselves the Coalition to Stop the Inhumanity at the Cuyahoga County Jail.

On Dec. 11, they organized a protest outside the county building, and then went up to the fourth floor, to a council meeting. In more than an hour of testimony, they presented their demands: an end to the horrendous conditions, and bail reform, so fewer people ended up in the jail.

“The issues that we’re seeing are neither Republican nor Democrat. They’re neither conservative nor liberal,” Republican Corrigan said, making a surprise appearance in the crowd of lefty protestors. “They are an issue of humanity. And they need to be addressed.”

“To the many people who came to speak, I want to say I appreciate and share your concerns that were expressed today about the jail,” Budish said to the protestors, reading from a written statement. “Nothing is more important than the safety of our inmates, and our staff and the community.”

The Marshals report, he said, was devastating. Shower curtains had been installed, and food was no longer being withheld as a punishment. Pregnant women weren’t sleeping on the floor, and toilet paper was being distributed. The county was working on kitchen issues, and Orkin was coming in to kill pests. The use of the Men in Black was being re-evaluated. Money had been added to hire nurses, and MetroHealth was going to take over all jail nursing by 2019. The county was working toward a mental health diversion center, and working toward building a new justice center, which would include a new jail. The county was also in support of an ongoing bail reform initiative.

“Finally, I want you to know that I understand how painful this is for our community. We are not proud of the fact that our jail has been labeled inhumane, where some of the conditions are way below par,” said Budish. “I know that there are people in this room or watching this who have loved ones in our jail. I take this responsibility very, very

On Dec. 30, Brenden Kieskisz, 27, died after hanging himself in the jail.

Kieskisz loved music, Cleveland.com has reported, and spent his free time writing hip-hop songs and performing, among other places, at Phantasy Nightclub in Lakewood. He also struggled with opiate addiction.

He was picked up by police Christmas Day.

He called his father from jail. “Dad I’m not going to make it here. I’m going to go crazy,” Kieskisz said. “You got to get me out of here.” A few days later, he was dead.

On Dec. 31, in the evening, a group of about 30 protestors assembled outside
Budish’s gated community next to Beachwood Place. One held a sign that said, “Not in Our Name.” “We are here because nestled behind this cozy, private gated community lies the root of our problems,” LaTonya Goldsby said, according to News 5 Cleveland. The protestors waved their signs as the rain poured down.

There has been one death so far this year. On May 10, Nicholas Colbert, 36, died after hanging himself in his cell.

The state’s 2018 annual report on the jail found largely the same problems as the Marshals’. The jail was out of compliance with 84 standards. In 2017, the state had found only six areas of noncompliance. In 2016, it found two. People are finally paying attention.

In June, Governor Mike DeWine announced he would be overhauling the state’s jail inspection processes. He also said the Cuyahoga County jail would be inspected monthly. The first monthly reports from June and July, acquired by Cleveland Magazine, show conditions at the jail are making steady progress toward state guidelines.

The state used to send one jail inspector, but that’s changed. On her first day at work in June, documents show, Ronda Gibson, the county’s new administrator of corrections, met with a team of five officials from the state, including a deputy director.

Two state legislators with districts in Cuyahoga County, Sen. Nickie Antonio, from Lakewood, and Rep. Jeff Crossman, from Parma, have proposed legislation that would further beef up jail inspections.

Their bill would set deadlines for correcting noncompliance issues and let the state sue jails that do not fix problems within a set time period. It would also set up a hotline for anonymous whistleblowers. They plan to seek bipartisan support and introduce the bill in both houses this fall.

The intention, Antonio told Cleveland Magazine, is to move beyond assigning blame and toward finding solutions. Crossman told Cleveland Magazine he is working on the bill to make sure the slowness with which the county implemented reforms isn’t repeated at other jails in the state.

“I wanted to help create a sense of urgency,” Crossman said.

Over the summer, Brady and Gallagher proposed a charter amendment that would have returned the sheriff’s office to an elected position, but it didn’t get traction in council.
Council instead passed a proposal that keeps the sheriff as an appointed position, but gives the sheriff greater autonomy. The proposal will be on the ballot in November. Pinkney retired in August. Budish has put a committee in place to find a replacement.

Unanswered questions have swirled around Budish in the months since investigators raided his office this February. But there is no sign, as of this writing, that he has been or will be implicated in any criminal matter. Documents filed as part of the Mills, McNeeley and Dykes cases indicate he may be called as a witness, should the cases go to trial.

This April, at the State of the County address, Budish promised to continue to work toward improving the jail, including eliminating redzoning by year’s end. Then he pivoted to his efforts to build a downtown microgrid and implement a climate action plan, a clear effort to move past the still-unfolding scandal that has marred his second term and damaged, perhaps irreparably, his political career.

Few sitting Democrats, who are the majority in the county, have overtly criticized Budish for what happened at the jail. Off the record, some say his wooden and slow-moving response to the crisis has left them unsatisfied, and could affect his political future.

“I think somebody with a little money can take him on,” one critic told Cleveland Magazine. “The commercials write themselves.”

But others are unwilling to attack a man who they get along with personally, and who has a record of what they see as well-intentioned service, despite maybe putting the wrong people in the wrong jobs.

“I’m not in the business of saying disparaging things about individuals who I generally like,” a Democrat close to Budish told Cleveland Magazine.

The most pointed criticism of the administration has come from Gallagher and Brady. Gallagher, a Republican, is securely ensconced in his district. Brady, a Democrat, plans to retire after his term is up.

“Nobody’s paid a price,” Gallagher said. “If this were private industry, the entire board would have been fired. This is bad stuff.”

Only one elected Democrat, Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones, has called on Budish by name to act. At a protest on the Justice Center steps in August, he also called for Cleveland to re-evaluate its contract to house prisoners with the county.

“For me, as an African American, someone who the jails have impacted my community like no other community, there’s no way I can be silent on it,” Jones told Cleveland Magazine.

In a Cleveland Magazine interview, Brady was asked who ultimately has to answer for all that’s happened.

“I would say everybody in county government has to answer for it,” Brady said. “If you feel like you have to answer to it, you should have to do something about it.”

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