Our first film premier

Signal Cleveland is ready to release a modest film project I started a year ago that chronicled the 2022 season of a unique Cleveland municipal football team – one made up of 12-year-olds from two rival neighborhoods. The merger was the idea of longtime coaches and league coordinators with a shortage of players. Their goal: Build a winning squad and bonds that extend beyond the field.

The film – “Ward 5 United” – will premiere this month at the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival. It screens Sept. 17 at 4:15 p.m. at Shaker Square’s Atlas theaters. “Ward 5 United” is one of four short sports-related films showing at that time. Here’s the link to tickets and to the other films. (The film will also screen in October at the Chagrin Falls Documentary Film Festival.)

I hope you can make the screening. We also hope to have some coaches and players available to discuss the importance of muny football in Cleveland and spotlight its place in our local football scene.

I know we’ve shared a look before, but you can watch the trailer below:

YouTube video

Courtroom drama

The Judicial Candidates Rating Coalition, which produces the site Judge4Yourself.com, is again the target of complaints by some candidates unhappy with their evaluations.

Signal Cleveland heard from a few critics after we noted the poor ratings several candidates for Cleveland Municipal Court received.

But sniping about the coalition is not new and often not always grounded in the actual information, which reflects a racially and politically diverse mix of candidates receiving good ratings this year and in the past.

Years ago, Republicans moaned about perceived party bias while their candidates and incumbents received good marks. More recently, it’s been Democrats complaining, though they had no problem last year that three Democratic challengers in the Ohio Supreme Court race were rated above the Republican candidates.

The coalition told Signal Cleveland it remains committed to a fair process, noting it has expanded the bar associations and groups that participate and continues to try to ensure lawyers reviewing candidates have had experience in the courts for which they are being asked to judge potential jurists.

One complaint we heard this week is that some candidates who refused to participate still received a “not recommended rating.” The coalition said it tells candidates that ignoring the process doesn’t mean they can avoid evaluation. Some candidates fill out a basic questionnaire and others have a public track record that plays into the decision to tag a candidate who refuses to sit for interviews with a “not recommended” rating.

Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Chair David Brock told Signal Cleveland that he’s heard his share of complaints from Democratic candidates about Judge4Yourself.com.

Brock said he’s not ready to recommend a course of action – such as telling candidates to give Judge4Yourself.com the cold shoulder, for instance. He wants to take a “deeper dive” into the bar associations’ ratings process first. 

According to Brock, Judge4Yourself.com still has the potential to be a good service for the county. “It’s not just about protecting our candidates,” he said. 

Judicial Candidates Rating Coalition Co-Chair John Mitchell told Signal Cleveland everyone involved in the coalition strives to keep the evaluation process about the law, not politics.

“The lawyers who participate in the Judge4Yourself process donate incredible amounts of professional time to help educate the electorate of Northeast Ohio to ensure we have a fair and impartial and well-qualified judiciary,” he said. “As long as there are judicial elections, we will continue to donate our time.”

Scrounging for survey responses

We told you last week that Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb is surveying his employees about the work environment at the city. But employees have not been too willing to participate. As of last Tuesday, many had not taken City Hall’s survey. An email to employees listed the top three department response rates. A quarter of Human Resources had answered the survey. Ahead of them was Aging at 28%. The mayor’s own office led the way with 42%.

In fairness, it’s still early. To sweeten the deal, the administration is dangling the reward of donuts to the winning department. The deadline is Sept. 8.

Managing Editor, News (he/him)
Mark is a veteran journalist with experience in alternative media, print, digital and television news. For 19 years, he was a groundbreaking reporter and metro columnist with The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com. Most recently, Mark spent three years as an investigative, enterprise and breaking news reporter at WKYC-TV, where his "Leading the Land" series on Cleveland's 2021 mayoral primary race earned a regional Emmy.