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Fundraising for Judge Ronald J.H. O'Leary

On Monday, October 16th, our only event was a fundraiser held at the "Marble Room" on Euclid Avenue for Cleveland Housing Court Judge Ronald J.H. O'Leary who is up for election instead of re-election this November because he was appointed to his position in April, 2017 after Judge Ray Pianka, who was first elected to that post in 1995, passed away unexpected earlier in the year. During his brief remarks, Judge O'Leary paid tribute to Judge Pianka by saying that during his tenure he had established a housing court that was considered a model for others throughout the country.

But Judge O'Leary, himself, is no stranger to government; in fact,  prior to his courtroom appointment, he served as the Assistant Director of Cleveland's Dept. of Building and Housing from 2006 to 2014 when he was finally named its Director. As his bio at to be found at https://clevelandmunicipalcourt.org/judicial-services/meet-the-judges/judge-ronald-j-h-o'leary reads in part, "In those positions he supervised the building, residential building, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, safety, and elevator inspectors. These inspectors inspected all work for construction and code violations. Judge O’Leary also supervised Building & Housing’s Demolition Bureau. In the 10 years that Judge O’Leary was with Building & Housing, the Department demolished nearly 9,000 blighted structures throughout Cleveland’s neighborhoods."

On this occasion, Judge O'Leary acknowledged the large number of landlords in the Cleveland area that work very hard to maintain their properties and to service the needs of their tenants; thus he praised them for their commitment to create safe and stable neighborhoods. However, even though a good number of the people at his fundraiser were associated with commercial property development and apartment owners associations, Judge O'Leary was not afraid to say that some landlords do behave irresponsibly and it is these who would be dealt with by his court.

One of the principal organizers of this fundraiser was Mr. Ralph McGreevey, Executive Vice President of the "Northeast Ohio Apartment Owners Association", who introduced Judge O'Leary and praised him for his fairness. We got to talk to Mr. McGreevey for a few minutes and soon learned that he had been great friends with Ms. Margaret W. Wong and her family since the late 1970's. We also spoke with Mr. Ron Wayne who we know from the "First Friday Club of Cleveland"; former Cleveland City Councilperson Helen K. Smith; Ms. Kathleen Crowther, Executive Director/President of the "Cleveland Restoration Society"; and, of course, our good friend Mr. Richard Pogue.

We were certainly very impressed by Judge O'Leary and the bipartisan support that he has received so far which includes being rated "excellent" by the organizations participating in the Judge4Yourself ratings and having received the endorsement of the "Plain Dealer".

To be sure, we visited with Judge O'Leary and asked him if there has been any outreach by his court to people of have immigrated to the United States from other countries in order to advise them their rights as tenants (or landlords) and what his court does. Judge O'Leary replied that there had been, indeed, and told us of an instance where he addressed a significant number of people from China and had to have what he was saying translated into both Mandarin and Cantonese. Ultimately, however, he made himself understood and his audience was quite appreciative. 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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