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Out & About in Cleveland

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Just Tell the Truth at the City Club of Cleveland

At noon on Wednesday, February 4th, we went to the City Club of Greater Cleveland to attend a program titled "Just Tell the Truth" which featured Mr. Jason Vines who is, as the program notes stated, an independent communications and government affairs consultant specializing in crisis management, reputation management, brand rehabilitation, product launch and automotive issues." Among his achievements was serving as the top communications professional for Nissan North America, Ford Motor Company, and the Chrysler Group. Mr. Vines was very upfront and showed no hesitation in saying what he thought of people who violated the integrity of the companies for which he had worked. He gained our admiration when he said that telling the truth was paramount and those who did not abide by this were doomed for failure and endangered their companies and the livelihoods if not lives of scores of people. He went into detail discussing the Ford-Firestone tire crisis and the recall of 30 million vehicles by GM over a faulty ignition switch. Mr. Vines firmly believes that the safety of the customer must always come first and his insistence on this is one of the reasons that he and Mr. Jacques Nasser, Ford CEO, both lost their jobs at Ford but he has no doubt that they did the right thing.

Mr. Vines is a very conservative republican but he says that he has "nothing but disdain" for most people in Congress and was particularly dismayed with members of his own party who did not back the GM-Chrysler bailout because to not do so would have caused the ruination of one of the United States' most vital industries. He said that he told U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell to give him his donation back after U.S. Senator McConnell refused to back the bailout.

One of the sponsors of today's luncheon was Hennes Paynter Communications and we enjoyed meeting Mr. Bruce Hennes who likes Ms. Margaret W. Wong a lot and said that she was a "master networker" and Mr. Howard Fencl who told us that he used to deal with Margaret W. Wong and Associates quite a bit when he worked for Multiverse back in the mid 1990's. Another person who knew us was Mr. Patrick Gallagher of fahlgren mortine who told us that he has been to our office several times. We sat with a gentleman who told us that Margaret W. Wong may have assisted his wife when she immigrated to the United States from Canada in 2000.

We met several people from Destination Cleveland which handles business at the Convention Center. They told us that they are already quite busy getting ready for the 2016 RNC convention and really believe that this will lead to many other conventions taking place in Cleveland too. Prior to today's program, we knew very little about the public relations industry so we were glad to share a table with Mr. Charles E. Schmidt, Jr., a public relations expert, who clarified several things that Mr. Vines was talking about.

What we took away from this that Mr. Vines is a real professional who believes that "public relations is the social conscience of a company" and takes great pride in what he does; in fact, and he said this, if a person repeatedly called him a "spin doctor" after he told them not to then that person would face consequences.

We looked forward to attending our second event for Wednesday which was the swearing in of our friend Mr. Kevin D. Malecek as Lake County Commissioner at the Mentor City Council Chambers. Due to the cold and snowy weather we left early and got there early and connected with a lot of people who like Mr. Malecek as much as we do including Ms. Arlene Becks, former Painesville City Councilwoman, and Ms. Elizabeth Connor, Executive Director of the Lake Historical Society. Other people that we knew that were there included Mr. Gary Robinson of Lake Health; Mr. Brian Falkowski and Ms. Julia Schick of Laketrans; Mr. Bill Snow, Chairman of the Mentor Planning Commission; former U.S. Congressman Dennis E. Eckart; Pastor Gerard P. Mirbel and Reverend Al Jones of the Lake County NAACP who did the benediction and the invocation; Ms. Mary Feathers of the Lake County Democratic Party; Judge Colleen Falkowski who administered the oath to Mr. Malecek; and Lake County Commissioners Judy Moran and Dan Troy.

We sat next to Mr. John A. Hutchison of the "News Herald" who told us that the event tonight, which was attended by about 50 people, was a good bipartisan mix of democrats and republicans.

Mr. Malecek was introduced by his good friend Mr. Ryan Calendar who told everyone about how Mr. Malecek had helped him when he, himself, ran for Lake County Commissioner 10 years ago. Although he did not win, Mr. Malecek and he became great friends and Mr. Calendar called him "a moving power in this county." He went on to say that Mr. Malecek is just the person to "govern, lead, and manage" Lake County and looks forward to "seeing this young guy with his vision of what Lake County should be" working and achieving his goals. He concluded by saying that Mr. Dan Troy, Ms. Judy Moran, and Mr. Malecek will work together and "Lake County is in for a ride and they are going to love it."

When it was Mr. Malecek's turn to speak, he said Lake County is unique and it is filled with people dedicated to bettering their lives and those of their friends and neighbors. He cautioned that Lake County must not rest on its past successes but must continue to move forward or there will be stagnation. Mr. Malecek said that he viewed his job on the Commission as a chance to work together with the other local government officials as "team Lake County" and urged everyone present to "let us know how we can help you. Let us find common ground to accomplish our goals. Bless Lake County!"

Afterwards, we attended a reception and met Mr. Dennis Lafferty, who is the VP of Strategic Operations and Community Relations for The Collection Auto Group which has 30 dealerships all over the country. He is proud to be working for Mr. Bernie Moreno who immigrated to the United States from Columbia when he was five years old, became a U.S. citizen when he was eighteen and has been in the Cleveland area for 10 years. Mr. Moreno is only forty-eight years old and has contributed a lot to the local communities. Mr. Lafferty was delighted that we worked for Ms. Margaret W. Wong and told us that Ms. Wong is supporting an event that will take place on February 25th called "Accelerate" which will focus on ways to move Northeast Ohio forward.

We also talked about Mr. Malecek with Mentor City Council President Ray Kirchner who told us that "Kevin brings to the county commissioner's office the unique ability to work with people regardless of party affiliation. He proved this on the chamber and on the Board of Laketrans. I'm looking for big things from Kevin."

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