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750 firefighters seek removal of Cleveland's fire chief for violating city's charter

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Posted at 5:53 PM, Aug 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-08 11:29:35-04

CLEVELAND — Cleveland firefighters are calling for the immediate removal and prosecution of Chief Angelo Calvillo for campaigning on behalf of Mayor Frank Jackson during his re-election campaign in 2017.

A news release from the law firm of Diemert and Associates states that Calvillo violated a section of Cleveland’s charter that explicitly prohibits civil service employees from partaking in political activity. The law firm says it is representing 750 firefighters.

During a Sept. 14, 2018 deposition involving a separate matter, Calvillo admitted to soliciting signatures for the mayor, the release states. In addition, records show that the chief circulated nomination petitions for the mayor on multiple days in February and March 2017, according to legal counsel retained by the firefighters.

“Each day and each person approached constitutes a separate violation of the law,” their attorneys said.

The law firm notes that the city’s charter states “the penalty for such violations is immediate forfeiture of office and employment” and “any person who violates this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be fined not more than $1,000, or imprisoned not more than six months or both.”

International Association of Firefighters Local 93 President Fran Lally issued the following statement in the law firm’s news release:

“On a daily basis we represent rank and file members of the Department that Chief Calvillo charges with even the smallest infractions, and yet the Chief himself believes he is exempt from Departmental policies, the Charter, and the Codes of the City,” said Lally. "To allow such a person to continue serving in the top position of our Department would be a travesty of justice and further erode the respect from the men and women who put their lives on the line daily for the protection of our citizens and their property.”

Calvillo could not be immediately reached for comment.

Cleveland Law Director Barbara Langhenry issued the following statement:

"The Civil Service Commission’s Rules do not prohibit a City employee who is a member of the classified service from circulating a candidacy petition in a nonpartisan election. Cleveland’s Mayor is nominated in a nonpartisan primary election. The Charter gives the Civil Service Commission authority to adopt rules."