From The Mayor's Desk

A collection of writings about small town democracy by Roy Reehil, Mayor of the Village of Cleveland, New York.

This was written to refute some ridiculous allegations being passed off as facts in the village:

May 28, 1996

There has been some mean spirited and outrageous rumors racing through the Village lately as we approach our elections. I’d like to spend a minute with you to strongly refute some of the more serious charges leveled against the Village, so you’ll know the story from this side of the mayor's desk.

You may have heard that the Village of Cleveland is being sued by Diane and Jeffrey Ross of Center street. That is true and it means that they are suing the taxpayers of the Village of Cleveland.

You may have also heard that the Village Board could have stopped the Ross’s from suing the Village by some legal action. That is absolutely false. The Village Board has no legal means to stop anyone from suing the Village whether the allegations are true or false.

Let’s face it, we live in a "sue-happy" society. Law suits are often the first choice, rather than a last resort. Some people think law suits are like playing the lottery. I’d like to tell you plainly that this Village Board is of the unanimous opinion that frivolous lawsuits are an outrageous waste of resources and should be fended off sternly and quickly. We think that paying any settlement in a frivolous lawsuit simply invites other ridiculous claims.

A lawsuit is an allegation by one party against another. That means that a claim can be completely false, and still be filed. It is often the hope of the party who is suing, that a defendant will pay a settlement rather than fight a long and expensive legal battle. In representing the taxpayers of the Village of Cleveland, we on the Village Board want you to know that we have no intention of settling any ridiculous claim against the Village with your tax dollars.

The Ross’s claim alleges acts of negligence in the operation and construction of the village wastewater treatment plant. It also alleges that the creek which passes through the Ross's property has been rendered devoid of all life. The Ross's have set no specific amount of damages in the claim.

On the Village’s behalf we have answered the Ross’s claim. If you would like to read the Ross’s claim or the Village’s answer, please feel free to view these documents during regular business hours at the Village hall. Copies can be made by request at 25 cents per page.

For the record, I’d like to offer my own answer to these claims. The Village of Cleveland fervently denies all allegations of polluting the Ross's property with sewage, solid waste or hazardous waste. We have found that these most serious claims against the Village are absolutely groundless. It is extremely important that our Village residents have faith in the integrity and honesty of our Village government. Hence, as Mayor, I take these damnable allegations personally, and I want to assure all Village residents that this Village government puts the greatest value on the health and safety of this community. We maintain high standards in the operation of Cleveland’s wastewater treatment plant. Tests of the outflow of our plant are made regularly, and we routinely pass those tests with better than required results. All records of our regular tests are on file with all of the appropriate State and County Departments.

A little closer to home, Black Creek runs into the pond next to my house. What possible reason could we as a Village government have for destroying Black Creek and the pond? The thought of it is absurd!

This action taken by the Ross's and the use of it to demean this Village Board and to demoralize this community for some demented political purpose is sickening. A typewritten newsletter circulating through the Village characterizes myself and our Village board members as being villainous and cruel. I’m telling you now, that the men and women who serve with me are fine, intelligent, and caring people that I am proud of. They are willing to serve the Village because they have invested in this village, just like every other person who lives here. I came to this job with a distaste for anything political, and here I am smack in the middle of a dirty campaign filled with outright lies.

I teach computer literacy for a living so I tend to view my job as Mayor, as a kind of community teacher. I learn as much as I can about a topic or an issue and then discuss it with the Village board of trustees. We arrive at the best possible solution for the Village. Then we try to bring that information to you in as clear a manner as possible, to teach you about the issues at hand. In this quest for quality solutions, I refuse to lower myself to the politics of lies. I would rather put everything on the table, have an eye-to-eye debate with every villager that cares, then, with the consensus of those present, make the decision that the majority feels is best for the Village. That's the essence of small town democracy. That is exactly what I intend to do given the chance to act as Village Mayor for the next two years. My term is up for election on June 18. I am running unopposed but, please vote! If you don't, anything can happen. The people who would have you believe that we are all villains will use the write-in vote to attempt to take the Mayor’s position.

On a lighter note, this past Sunday, when the temperature was in the eighties, there were kids swimming and playing with inflated tubes in the pond next to my house. I remember trying to think of the last time I saw children swimming there. I couldn’t. For years now no one would swim in the pond so, why would they now? The answer was clear. The water is cleaner and safer now than it’s been in decades! Then I remembered talking with a fisherman who heard talk about the Ross’s claim about a week ago. He recommended that they try one of the fishing holes right behind their house, telling me proudly how he had caught several trout (Browns and Brookies) nearby and how delicious they were. The installation of the wastewater treatment plant has improved the quality of the waters in Black Creek to the point that people will let their kids swim there and the trout appear to be thriving. I wish I had the chance to join him for that dinner.

When I took this job I brought an ample measure of calmness and optimism. I won't let the raving voices of negativity sway me from feeling good about Cleveland if you won’t. We can work together in planning for our future and help to make Cleveland as good as it can be right now. A little neighborliness, trust and hope can go a long way. I’ll have more to add on other topics soon. Thanks for listening and make your own decisions.

Roy Reehil
Mayor, Village of Cleveland, NY

Update: The Ross lawsuit was thrown out of court with prejudice, which means that they cannot bring any of the claims against the village again,

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Copyright Roy Reehil, 2004