Letters to Editor Chagrin Valley Times Feb. 20, 2020


A vote for reason

Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat is not the issue.  The fact is that most sensible people simply want to have a say-so when it comes to electing community leaders. We want the best man or woman for the job.

This is why I have always voted for the most logical choice. Why be limited to a hard party-line vote if it does not feel right?  Besides, I couldn’t care less if there is an R or a D by my name, if I know in my heart that I voted for decency over devious.

This March 17 is the day that I will ask for a Republican ballot even though I do not typically vote Republican in a primary election. Why?  Because otherwise my vote will mean nothing when it comes to choosing the right man for the job of Geauga County Probate/Juvenile Court judge.

I have personally talked with both candidates.  Matthew Rambo has years of experience in the courtroom and had good common sense answers to all of my questions. Timothy Grendell is very experienced at spending outrageous amounts of money on self-promotion, and uses threats to get his way from what is supposed to be an unbiased position as judge.

This seems to be an easy common sense choice.  I will select a Republican ballot for the primary election and vote confidently for Matthew Rambo.  This is your one and only opportunity to oust a self-promoting bully.  Request the Republican ballot to make your reasonable vote count.

Rick A. Webb


Matt Rambo for judge

Matt Rambo is opposing Geauga County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Grendell in the March 17 primary. I worked at the juvenile court for 18 years. Matt reminds me of Judge Chip Henry; he is humble, compassionate and wants to be a public servant. He is qualified and understands the difficult challenges of the abuse and neglect cases. I want a judge who puts their focus, energy and the court budget toward the best interest of children and families.

Judge Grendell has spent taxpayer money irresponsibly. Public county records show that $75,000 of probate/juvenile court (taxpayer) funds have been spent in the last eight months to mail five court newsletters to households in Geauga County. Records also show that $7,000 of court (taxpayer) money was spent to have a separate booth at the Geauga County Fair with a blow-up gavel and giveaway items.

In March of 2015, Judge Grendell requested $400,000 more than the Geauga County Commissioners approved in late 2014; a 72-percent increase over what the court operated on in 2012. The commissioners found that $28,000 could be justified.

In November of 2015, the county commissioners agreed to pay $30,327 in legal fees for Judge Grendell to be represented in two cases in which he fought with county officials.

In February of 2016, the county commissioners approved an additional $124,743 for the juvenile court’s budget, to avoid the legal cost to fight Grendell’s court order to pay. A local newspaper reported the judge did not provide an explanation for the funds and the commissioners do not have the authority over how the court spends the money.

According to annual court reports available online, expenditures minus revenue in 2018 have increased $245,000 since 2012, while cases have steadily decreased.

Matt Rambo plans to restore integrity to the Geauga County Probate/Juvenile Court. I believe he is sincere.

Christine Steigerwald



Change needed in court

The Judge of the Geauga County Juvenile/Probate Court is often touted as being a staunch Tea Party Republican that stands for limited government, lower spending and judicial restraint. Do the facts support such a claim? Let’s take a look. In 2011, when Judge Timothy Grendell was first appointed, there were 1,541 newly filed juvenile/probate cases in his court. His court’s expenditures amounted to $1,757,309. That was then. In 2018, there were 1,259 newly filed cases in his court. His court’s expenditures in 2018 amounted to $2,685,969 and would have been (should have been) higher but for a reduction of nearly $200,000 in the court’s contribution to the joint Portage-Geauga Juvenile Detention Center. In the eight years Judge Grendell has been responsible for the juvenile /probate court, the workload decreased, and court expenditures have increased by $1 million.

What are we to do with these numbers, culled, from the court’s own annual reports? How can it be that such an allegedly frugal individual has allowed such runaway spending? Perhaps it’s the money spent on a giant inflatable gavel for his personal booth at the fair, perhaps it’s the baubles, rubber gavels and bracelets that the court purchases with Grendell’s name emblazoned on them or perhaps it’s the glossy “Court Newsletter” that serves as that judge’s propaganda! Perhaps it’s the exorbitant salaries that Grendell rewards his “yes” men and women with. Budgeting worksheets obtained through public records requests for 2020 even show a new line-item in the court’s budget: $100,000 for “Community Outreach.” An item that had never appeared before. And in an election year, imagine that.

As for someone who allegedly stands for judicial restraint, Grendell has done all he can to insert himself personally in a number of matters, as well as threatening those who question his actions. When Grendell threatened two Chester township trustees with civil and criminal investigation when they refused to vote the way he wanted, a special judge was called in to review the issue. Judge John J. Lohn stated Grendell’s actions “violate the separation of powers doctrine and are premised upon an improper investigation.” Judge Lohn also found Grendells orders unconstitutional and unlawful, stating “township trustees answer to their constituents, not the probate court.”

In 2014 Grendell threatened then auditor Frank Gliha, a year later he threatened to hold Chardon Councilwoman Nancy McArthur in contempt of court and in 2017 threated to jail the Assistant Director of the Department of Job & Family Services. In 2019 two of Grendell’s court employees started a ruckus at the county auditor’s office, and one of them snatched financial records and took the paperwork out of the building without authority or permission. Upon their return to the auditor’s office, they were asked to leave or be charged with criminal trespass, and the Chardon police were called. Judge Grendell interjected himself into the issue, now on the sidewalk outside the auditor office, in his judicial robe and threatened the police officer.

Wake up Geauga County. Grendell treats taxpayer dollars and the court budget like his own personal war chest to promote his own agenda, not to serve the people of Geauga County. t’s time for a change. Make your voices heard on March 17 and vote for Matt Rambo.

Rosemary Yaecker

Russell Township


Drain Geauga County swamp

Read some of the Grendells’ old articles for the Geauga County Bar Association newsletter “Ipso Jure.”  It is clear they are about expanding power of the judiciary and controlling speech against judicial abuse of power.  They represent the Republican “swamp” President Trump has tried to flush out in Washington. It doesn’t matter how many self-proclaimed patriots or religious conservatives in this county have been duped by them. The proof is in the pudding. Judge Timothy Grendell has harmed children and families. He is a political animal who calculates which children and families he can get away with harming. He contracts with numerous attorneys for piece work so that they cannot help people who are harmed by bad decisions he makes, due to the conflict of having done work for him. Many attorneys will not even practice in Geauga County because of poor reputation of our Geauga County Juvenile Court. Meanwhile, the people who know first-hand, who could do something about it, do little or nothing to stop his abuses of power. They enable and participate in the harming children and families.Then there are the harms caused by GCJFS decisions, bad decisions which have led to the passing of Public Law 115-123.

We need separation of powers at the county level. It is an antiquated system. Did you know the juvenile judge also serves as clerk of the juvenile court in some counties in Ohio? Why do we need our probate and juvenile courts combined today? The function of each division requires specific legal expertise and experience.  The juvenile side would be better served by a family court system. Why is our county prosecutor responsible for defending people he is called to police?  That is an obvious conflict of interest.  Why isn’t our state providing children in the dependency system with their own attorneys?  The attorney for GCJFS is directly paid by the Prosecutor’s Office. A conflict exists when they protect the legal interests of GCJFS over what is best for the children. There is federal funding to pay for representation. Our county system of government allows for too much potential abuse of power. People who like to abuse power, like the Grendells, are not going to fight to change it. Geauga County is one of the richest counties in Ohio, per capita income.  Why aren’t our county commissioners discussing and attempting to address the inherent conflicts of interest our county charter allows? People talk and talk and talk about how bad things are. It is time for action. Don’t expect power mongers who profit from the status quo to do anything about it.  It is time to drain the Geauga County swamp.

Robin Neff


Calling all young voters

Being a young voter, I’ve recently realized the importance of democracy and using your voice for the betterment of your life and the community you live in. It is astonishing to me the amount of people my age who have been discouraged against voting because they don’t believe their voices are heard. I am urging people of the younger generation to show up and place their votes because every single one does matter. I know that this statement is overused; however, voting and taking a stand has never been as crucial as it is at this very moment in our lives. It isn’t rude to have an opinion, what’s important is how you use it.

I would also like to take a moment to mention the importance of voting for candidate Matt Rambo who is running for Geauga County probate and juvenile judge against Timothy Grendell. Mr. Rambo is fully backed by the Geauga Republican Party and cares about issues deeper than just his own gain and recognition, which is exactly the opposite of Judge Grendell. We as a community need to come together and recognize what is best going forward for Geauga and the Russell area, and who better than Mr. Rambo? He is a man who has shown nothing but integrity and a desire to be unbiased and honest in his personal and professional life.

When out at the polls, it is equally important to remember that Russell Township’s unique beauty and characteristics are derived from our commitments to keeping up the green spaces and parks. In fact, property values have increased due to the rural charm, open space and large lots in our community.  In order to keep Russell Township as charming and successful as it is, it is vital that we vote yes for the Russell Township Citizens Park District levy.

Though voting for Mr. Rambo to be the new judge is crucial, he won’t have any say over how the new park levy money will be used. That’s unlike the situation with Judge Timothy Grendell who has interfered with the older Russell Township Park District on many occasions and the eventual result being the loss of our parks to the Geauga Park District, that now manages the parkland in Russell.

If the citizens park district is passed, our parks will now be left in the hands of us, the Russell residents, and not a probate judge with no vested interest in our community.

I am urging everyone, especially the large population of young people who could be disheartened, to please register to vote and go to the polls to make sure that the changes that need to happen do.

Cheyenne Falz

Russell Township

Protect Geauga Parks endorses and supports Matt Rambo for Geauga County Probate/Juvenile Court Judge in the March 17 Republican Primary election.
Please request a Republican Party ballot and vote for Matt Rambo.

Protect Geauga Parks is a 501(c)4  non-profit corporation 
This communication is not authorized by any candidate, political party or campaign committee.

Categories: Commentary

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