Letters to Editor—Geauga Maple Leaf, March 5, 2020

Fake PACs, Censure, Republicanism

Dear Fellow Geauga County Residents, I hope that you are paying close attention to the primary election, which is fast approaching on Tuesday, March 17.

Voters have a choice of casting a Partisan or an Issues Only ballot; however, to weigh in on county candidates, voters will need to ask for and vote a Republican Party ballot as no other party candidates filed to run.

There are a few contested primary Republican races; therefore, the Geauga GOP wants voters to be informed and educated when casting their ballot which is why we produced a Candidates Guide and held a Candidates Forum on Monday, Feb. 17. The candidates guide and a videotape of the forum can be found on our Facebook Page and on our website at

Historically, our county Republican Party has chosen NOT to endorse in primary races because we want voters to decide who should best represent them in the county, in Columbus and in Washington, D.C.

Regrettably, some Republican candidates claim an endorsement by the Ohio Republican PAC and/or the Geauga County Republican PAC. These FAKE Republican PACs are NOT affiliated in any official way with the Republican Party and I caution voters not to be fooled by them. They did not contact all the candidates on the ballot for their PAC endorsement; they picked the candidates they want to win.

Much noise has also been made about who is the real Republican in the judicial race between candidates Matthew Rambo and Tim Grendell. Throughout Rambo’s entire voting record, beginning in the late 1990s and from 2012-2016, he was affiliated with the Republican Party for a combined total of about 18 years. For a short while, Rambo was affiliated with the Democratic Party, in 2010 and in 2017 and 2018 when he was a Democratic judicial candidate.

However, he has stated that he fully supports the Geauga County Republican Party platform and recently cast his early absentee ballot as a Republican. Therefore, he IS a Republican. As reported in The News-Herald, in 2008 when Tim Grendell was an Ohio State Senator, he was censured by the Lake County Republican Party for supporting Democratic candidate Mark Schneider, who defeated incumbent Republican House Representative Carol-Ann Schindel. Party Chairman Dale Fellows has said that the censure is still in effect to this day. Ultimately, it is up to you, the voter, to decide how much of a litmus test Republicanism matters when you cast your ballot on March 17.

I speak for our Party when I say that we welcome people into our Republican tent who share our principles and our core values. President Trump was elected in 2016 when many voters crossed party lines after feeling abandoned by the now far left Democratic Party, and I predict that they will do so again this November.

This primary election is very important for the future of Geauga County, and I ask that all registered voters participate in deciding who will best represent us. Thank you.

Nancy McArthur, Chairman
Geauga County Republican Party

Note: Yesterday, March 6, 2017, the Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court of Ohio voted unanimously to deny a complaint by Kimberly Laurie, Grendell’s Court Administrator, against Matt Rambo. The Board ruled that the grievance was frivolous, and was filed “for the purpose of obtaining an advantage for a judicial candidate.” Ms. Laurie was ordered to pay all costs of the hearing and to remove statements from mailings and other media that did not include the Board’s finding.

The full text of the decision can be found here.

Grendell Uses GPD for Self-Promotion

Many good things are indeed going on in Geauga Park District, well deserving of the votes cast this past November to pass the park levy.

However, I take issue with claims by Probate Judge Tim Grendell and Executive Director John Oros that Geauga Park District is greater than ever.

I retired this past fall after almost 33 years with Geauga Park District. During the first 26 years of my tenure, Geauga Park District evolved into one of the best park systems in Ohio, well respected by park professionals statewide and beyond.

The untimely tragic death of Geauga County Probate Judge Chip Henry, a man of great integrity, had far-reaching consequences in Geauga County, including the appointment of Timothy Grendell as Judge Henry’s replacement.

During Judge Henry’s years, Geauga Park District was unmolested by politics, its progress guided by the visionary leadership of park commissioners committed to the stewardship of Geauga’s natural heritage for the life-enriching benefits that nature holds for people. Under capable directors, the development of park facilities, management of parklands to protect Geauga’s rich biological diversity, creation of appropriate recreation opportunities and diversified educational programming proceeded with a skilled, dedicated and motivated staff aided, in many ways, by devoted volunteers.

Leadership starts with the probate judge who appoints park board members. Park commissioners should possess a well-informed conservation ethic, familiarity with Geauga Park District’s formative years and a true understanding of the park district’s role and responsibility for preserving, protecting and fostering appreciation for Geauga’s natural features — qualities lacking in many of Grendell’s choices of park commissioners.

Park board appointments seem more of a means of gaining or elevating political allies. Under Tim Grendell, park board membership has been a revolving door, a new mix every year with shifting priorities that stymies long-range strategic planning.

I have found it particularly offensive that Judge Grendell has co-opted Geauga Park District as a vehicle for self-promotion — under the guise of park promotion — at taxpayer expense. Virtually every piece of park district print media, ostensibly to highlight and promote park offerings, features the judge’s image, name and title. The park board and director are included to somehow make it less obvious that it’s not all about the judge.

The most blatant example is a billboard on U.S. 322 in the hamlet of Fowler’s Mills prominently featuring the judge during his re-election campaign.

I firmly believe that Matt Rambo, as Geauga County Probate judge, is the person to get Geauga Park District back on the right path to achieving its greater potential and higher calling to regain and retain its reputation of being among the finest park systems in the Great Lakes Region.

For those of you voting Republican in the Ohio primary election, please give Matt Rambo your vote for probate judge in the March 17 primary. It’s the only opportunity to unseat incumbent Grendell for another six years. With his appetite for controversy and conflict so amply demonstrated in so many aspects of his judgeship, it’s time for him to turn in his robe.

Dan Best
Retired Naturalist, Geauga Park District
City of Chardon

Big Brother is Watching

Judge Tim Grendell’s unjudicial behavior hit a low point last week when he gleefully reported that he knew the political affiliation of residents who have his opponent Matthew Rambo’s signs in their yards.

He made this statement both at the Geauga Tea Party candidates night (video posted online) and at the Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board’s interview to determine endorsement in the Geauga Juvenile/Probate judge race. (They endorsed Matthew Rambo.)

How the heck would he know that without doing a drive by, checking addresses, matching them to property owners, then checking their voting history? Is he in the surveillance business?

At the candidates night event, he also said that signs were in a yard of a person who had appeared in his courtroom regarding a juvenile case as well as another person who had a history of drug use. In my opinion, this is a blatant violation of judicial ethics.

But wait – perhaps he didn’t look them up – perhaps this was done by his constable or his court administrator – both positions paid for by public funds. It takes a long time to drive up and down every road in the county. Were they reimbursed for mileage?

Are voters in Geauga County going to continue to tolerate this kind of invasion of privacy? Are voters in Geauga County going to continue to look the other way and value his name recognition over his self-aggrandizing arrogance?

Let’s stop this madness. Vote for a change. Vote for Matt Rambo for Judge in the March 17 Republican primary.

Barbara Partington
Munson Township

Are You an Undecided Voter?

Undecided about who to vote for in the Republican Primary for Geauga County Probate/Juvenile Court judge? I’m voting for Matt Rambo. Here’s why.

Matt Rambo is an even-tempered man who will work collaboratively with other county officials and agencies to provide the best services possible to the people of Geauga County. Unlike the current judge, Matt Rambo won’t regularly threaten hardworking county employees with contempt in order to get his way.

Matt Rambo is a fiscal conservative who will reign in the wild increases in the court’s budget – a $1,000,000 increase since the current judge took office in 2011, despite a drop in the caseload.

Matt Rambo is a humble man who has a calling to serve the public as a judge and whose legal career reflects his preparation for public service, unlike the current judge who is a career politician and runs to his friends in the legislature anytime he wants to change the law to give himself more power.

Matt Rambo will not use public money to plaster his own face and name all over mailers, yard signs and billboards. The current judge has spent tens of thousands of our dollars on self-promotion, using court programs and the county park district as a means to increase name recognition and feed his ego.

Matt Rambo won’t be in the newspapers or on the streets of Chardon Square yelling at police officers. He’ll be working in the courthouse, serving the people of Geauga County.

Still not sure who to vote for? Ask your local law enforcement officer or elected official who they’re voting for. They may not be able to say so publicly, but privately I suspect most of our public servants will tell you they’re voting for Matt Rambo.

Vote Matt Rambo for Geauga County Probate/Juvenile Court judge. He will be the best thing to happen for Geauga County’s children and families since Judge Chip Henry.

Shelley Chernin
Russell Township

Judicial Temper or Judicial Temperament?

On March 17, 2020, we, the voters of Geauga County, have the opportunity to end what has been an ongoing and expensive public embarrassment for us, for far too long.

We can end the reign of interference and judicial abuse by Tim Grendell by supporting Matt Rambo for Probate/Juvenile Court judge.

Thomas Jefferson warned of the judiciary being the despotic branch, and it certainly rings true in Geauga County. Judge Grendell has a well-established pattern and practice of adversarial behavior toward anyone who disagrees with him or questions the lawfulness of his (many) orders. That list of adversaries includes former Commissioner Blake Rear, county Auditor Chuck Walder, Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz, Republican Party Chair Nancy McArthur, Russell Township Trustees, Chester Township Trustees, government employees and private citizens and organizations.

Calling citizens ‘howling coyotes,’ as Tim Grendell has publicly done, shows a lack of judicial restraint and a serious character flaw. Can you name any other judge in the State of Ohio that has acted in such a manner?

Issuing (unlawful) subpoenas to compel people into his courtroom is a form of intimidation.  Russell Township Trustees had to defend themselves against that abuse. When I and fellow Chester Trustee Mike Petruziello refused to follow his unlawful orders, Tim Grendell abused the power of his office by initiating a criminal investigation — alleging third-degree felony intimidation, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Judge Grendell even claimed I violated HIS constitutional rights.

Justice did persevere when his orders were reversed and vacated, but at a cost of more than $100,000 to the taxpayers of Chester. This travesty of justice could have been avoided if Judge Grendell conducted himself consistent with the requirements of the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct.

One becomes his political enemy when you disagree with Tim Grendell. That is not judicial temperament, it is judicial abuse.

On the other hand, in my engagements with Matt Rambo, I find him reasoned and reasonable — qualities that will serve him well as our next Probate/Juvenile Court judge.

Grendell pays no penalty for his abuse of power. Only we the people of Geauga County can administer justice by voting for Matt Rambo on March 17, 2020.

Ken Radtke Jr.
Chester Township Trustee

Grendell Must Renounce PAC Ad

The full-page ad in last week’s paper was deeply discouraging. Judge Grendell’s use of a PAC to malign Matt Rambo was wrong. It was even more distressing to see that Rambo’s home address was clearly placed in the center of the ad. What was the purpose of this? Was it harassment or intimidation of the candidate? We can’t really say.

As parents of two children, we do know that had this happened to us we would have felt menaced. We have seen Rambo at a variety of community events with his children. Does he have to reconsider bringing them now?

Whether Judge Grendell had any part in creating this ad is irrelevant. As a judge, as a citizen, and as a father himself, he has the obligation to renounce this ad and this kind of dirty politics. There is no excuse for tolerating this kind of behavior.

Peggy and Mike Saxon
Munson Township

Rambo (Integrity) vs. Grendell (Experience)

Recent campaign tactics by Judge Tim Grendell are wrong. He is basing his race to continue as Geauga Probate/Juvenile Judge on party and experience (not performance).

Grendell has overspent, using taxpayer money, and does not respect or work together with other Republican officials, so is he a true Republican? (See these articles: “Judge Grendell’s Kangaroo Court-like proceedings against GOP official in Geauga County require a judicial rebuke” – The Cleveland Plain Dealer; “Pay dispute between judge, auditor heads to High Court” – The Times; “Judge Issues Blistering Rebuke of Grendell Orders” – Geauga County Maple Leaf.

Grendell had no experience with abuse/neglect cases prior to being appointed a judge. Juvenile cases (abuse, neglect, dependency, legal guardianship and delinquency) are confidential for important reasons, but that does not allow the public to know what happens in these cases.

In my role as staff/director of CASA for KIDS (1998-2015), I spent much time in court. Judge Grendell initially had little understanding of the complicated issues that presented in abuse/neglect cases. For example, in a case where a father was legally mandated to receive treatment for alcohol addiction (he had violent incidents when drinking – another court ordered that he give up his guns), Judge Grendell told the dad to be sure to refrain from drinking when he had weekly visits with his children. This was not consistent with the treatment plan.

Judge Grendell often did not respect or listen to the input and knowledge of the caseworkers from the Job & Family Services agency. Court decisions were influenced by Judge Grendell’s mood. In one case, he threw a 10-year CASA volunteer (awarded for her thorough, outstanding advocacy) out of court and off a case because he did not like the recommendation she made regarding the best interest of the children.

Grendell then dismissed the attorney representing that CASA volunteer from the courtroom.  This attorney, who was a valuable legal consultant for the CASA program, quit the position as a result of the judge’s action.

I have been very disheartened to hear during the last few months of this campaign season of respected foster parents who will no longer foster children from Geauga County because they have been unhappy with decisions made by Judge Grendell. Unfortunately, due to confidentiality, they cannot speak up. Enough! We cannot allow the lives of children and families to be negatively impacted.

Matt Rambo has knowledge of abuse/neglect cases as a guardian ad litem representing the best interest of children in the Ashtabula County Juvenile Court. He has a calm demeanor and a desire to serve the public, not himself. I will choose integrity (Matt Rambo) over so-called experience when I vote.

BTW, Judge Charles Henry (1994-2011) had no prior experience as a judge before being appointed, but his demeanor, respect for the family/child service providers and desire to help youth and families enabled him to become outstanding and highly respected.

Christine Steigerwald
Bainbridge Township

Grendell Disrespects Election Process

Before Tim Grendell became a judge, he manipulated the election process twice.

Many Geauga voters remember how he likely destroyed Republican chances to continue control of the Ohio House of Representatives by supporting a Lake County Democrat whose narrow victory tipped the balance of control in the House, denying the Speaker of the House position to Geauga County’s own Republican representative at the time.

Grendell did not support the Republican Party.

His lack of respect for the election process was also demonstrated when, as a state senator, he ran and won election to the Ohio House of Representatives. When his wife was not appointed to his unexpired senate seat, he decided to stay in the Senate.

Did “I’m running for the House” secretly mean “I’m running for the House, but only if my wife gets appointed to take my place in the Senate?” Is this not misleading the voters?

Currently, both Grendells are running for office, using the same signs without specifying who is running for what position. Obfuscation continues!

Tim Grendell purchased a full page against Matt Rambo. It was paid for by The Freedom for All PAC. It appears from online research to be a small Akron-based PAC focused on human rights, with most significant contributions coming from businesses outside of Ohio.

As always, as has been stated by many in local papers, with Timothy it is always a good idea to follow the money to know what he is up to.

I will vote for Matt Rambo for Probate/Juvenile Court Judge and for returning integrity and respect to the electoral process.

Jacqueline Samuel

Party Affiliation Needs to Take Back Seat

I am writing to urge every voter in Geauga County, regardless of which political party they have been associated with in the past, to request a Republican ballot and vote for Matthew Rambo in the race for Probate/Juvenile Court judge.

For Democratic Party voters, this means foregoing the chance to vote for your favorite candidate in the presidential primary. However, there are times when party affiliation must take a back seat to a moral imperative.

The race for Probate/Juvenile Court judge has a real competitor for the first time since the day the current occupant of that office was appointed by Gov. Kasich.

While national political races are obviously important, local judges have the ability to impact our daily lives in ways that are dramatic, immediate and potentially devastating. For six years, the current judge has abused his office and frozen the public out of any discussion of policy concerning the public boards he is empowered to appoint. This has resulted in massive waste and misuse of funds and public assets.

There have also been many stories of how he has abused his power to negatively impact families and intimidate other elected officials and public bodies.

We now have one chance to support a good and qualified candidate for Probate/Juvenile Court judge. That candidate is Matthew Rambo.

Good citizenship demands that we fight against corrupt and self-serving office holders. Today, for me, that means crossing over to the Republican Party and voting for Rambo in the Republican primary.

Frank Gwirtz
Parkman Township


Better Oversight Expected

Last week’s newspaper had a very troubling article about the possible taking of funds by an attorney who was appointed guardian by the probate court and under its supervision.

It seems that funds were taken from some of the most vulnerable people in our county. How could this have happened? How could there have been so little oversight in the probate court of Judge Grendell that funds were misappropriated from multiple accounts? Shouldn’t the court have known and reported this situation to law enforcement?

Eventually, estates of many of our friends or loved ones may come before the probate court. Geauga taxpayers have the right to expect better oversight from probate Judge Grendell.

Tony Festa
Russell Township


Keep Russell Green

First of all, I would like to express sincere gratitude to all of the Russell residents who have fought so hard to save our open spaces and parks. Because of your efforts we were able to stop the underhanded sale and development of our land that was initiated after Judge Timothy Grendell removed our trustworthy park board and replaced them with those willing to do his bidding.

We watched as we were repeatedly misled about their intentions with our parks. We listened while we were boldly lied to and told the park board account did not have enough remaining funds to maintain our parks, which in reality there was plenty, over $125,000, to fund the parks for the next three years.

We took action and voted in a new, better and honest park board that Judge Grendell has absolutely no control over and is run exclusively by Russell residents and its trustees.

March 17 is the final step to ensure that Russell stays green forever and a legacy for generations to come. Please vote ‘yes’ for the renewal of our 1-mill levy for the Russell Citizens Park board.

And, as a bonus, if the levy passes, we will be able to acquire a beautiful 68-acre property on Music Street that adjoins The West Woods in which three-quarters of the purchase price is being paid for by a clean water grant. This large grant is entirely dependent on the passing of the levy, so I encourage everyone to get out there and vote yes to help ensure that our property values stay high and Russell stays green.

Sharmyn Clark
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  not-for-profit corporation 

This communication is not authorized by any candidate, political party or campaign

Categories: Commentary

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