Fired MetroHealth CEO court date set

MetroHealth System's newly rebuilt campus straddles Scranton Road in Cleveland's Clark-Fulton neighborhood.
MetroHealth System’s newly rebuilt campus straddles Scranton Road in Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood. Credit: Jeff Haynes / Signal Cleveland

MetroHealth System’s board of trustees will face off in court with fired MetroHealth CEO Dr. Akram Boutros on Feb. 12, according to court records. (Keep in mind that trial dates are as reliable as Browns quarterbacks, so it will likely change.)

The case, which is one of two the MetroHealth board is trying to fend off, accuses the board of damaging Boutros’ reputation. He is seeking $20 million in damages.

The board fired Boutros last November for awarding himself bonuses the board contends he was not entitled to receive. Boutros, who has repaid the bonuses while insisting the compensation was allowed, is also suing the board for violating open meeting laws.

The latest court records in the defamation case show that Boutros’ attorneys are asking the court to order current CEO Airica Steed to sit for a deposition, arguing she personally made and “endorsed” defamatory statements in public that harmed Boutros.

Steed’s lawyers have argued she had nothing to do with decisions related to his firing and that trying to depose her amounts to harassment.

Mayor Bibb on the move (again)

The Clinton Global Initiative held its big 2023 meeting this week, and the playbill included Michael J. Fox, Pope Francis (virtually) and the mayor of Cleveland. (Not all at once.)

At the New York City confab put on by the Clinton Foundation, Mayor Bibb talked up his plans to develop Cleveland’s Southeast Side. The mayor has a personal connection to that part of town, as he told the audience. It’s where his late grandmother, Sarah Presley, settled and where he lived in his youth.

“If we don’t have thriving Black small businesses in that part of our community, we won’t see real economic energy long term,” Bibb said.

The mayor also stopped by the Fast Company Innovation Fest for a panel on the future of cities. Plus, he made an appearance at a Browns Backers watch party at The Liberty NYC bar in midtown Manhattan for the team’s disastrous loss to the Steelers.

In other mayoral travel news, newly released calendars detail some of Bibb’s itinerary on his August trip to Washington. He didn’t just meet with the leaders of the anti-tobacco campaign. He also lunched with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and spent time with Labor Secretary Tom Perez and White House advisor Neera Tanden. 

While in D.C., the mayor met with a former campaign adversary, the International Association of Fire Fighters. In 2021, the union’s general president trekked to Cleveland to endorse Mayor Bibb’s opponent, Kevin Kelley.

Netflix to highlight Metroparks murder

 It has been just over fours years since friends Kate Brown and Carnell Sledge were shot to death on a sunny June afternoon sitting on a bench in the Metroparks’ Rocky River Reservation.

Brown’s family has never stopped trying to keep the crime on the minds of Greater Clevelanders in the hope that someone might come across a lead or “hear someone bragging about it to a buddy,” as Brown’s sister, Alex Zuban, told me in an interview a few years ago.

Brown’s family recently sat with producers from Netflix, which is in town producing a special on the case. Local production is expected to wrap soon. You can find more information on the case and a tip line on this FBI webpage.

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 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.