Ohio mayor resigning; blames newspaper, councilman feud

AP News
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Posted: May 08, 2015 8:03 PM
Ohio mayor resigning; blames newspaper, councilman feud

CLEVELAND (AP) — The longtime mayor of Akron, one of the state's biggest cities, announced that he'll retire on May 31, citing disputes with a City Council member and a local newspaper in a resignation letter released Friday.

Democrat Don Plusquellic, 65, has been mayor since 1987. He said in an email statement that Council President Garry Moneypenny would succeed him.

Plusquellic's resignation letter said the Akron Beacon Journal had declined interview offers so that its publisher and reporters could hear and "know the truth" about his dispute with Councilman Bob Hoch.

"The good people of Akron deserve better — they deserve the truth," the letter said. "I do not now believe that my hometown newspaper is interested in the truth."

Plusquellic had the Akron police chief tell Hoch in March that he was not welcome at the State of the City address. The newspaper reported that Plusquellic's spokeswoman said Plusquellic feared Hoch might shoot him in front of his 88-year-old mother at the event.

Hoch, reached by telephone Friday, called the State of the City flap "bizarre."

Hoch, a councilman for three years, said he and the mayor had a good relationship until Hoch began asking questions about an expensive lawsuit the city has been fighting since 2006 and the mayor's plans to start a city-owned construction business. He said he was surprised by the mayor's announcement.

"I never expected him to resign and give up being the mayor," Hoch said. "The mayor has done a lot of good things for the city and its citizens, and I'm sure people do appreciate all the things he's done."

The Beacon Journal said it disagreed with Plusquellic's contentions in the letter.

"It is disturbing to me that the mayor would leave office this way," publisher Mark Cohen said in a statement. "This newspaper has a history of reporting honestly and fairly. To accuse us of somehow causing his resignation is just not rational."

The newspaper said Plusquellic's offer to sit down with the publisher and reporters came after it had published "what editors and reporters believed was a complete story that included the city's side of events" concerning the Hoch dispute.

Moneypenny said Friday that he also was surprised by the resignation. He lauded Plusquellic for what he's done for the city, which once was devastated by losses in its tire and rubber industry.

"I think his legacy should be the fact that, when times got tough and other cities took terrible beatings, we were always able to keep our chins above water due to his aggressive pursuit of jobs," Moneypenny said.

Moneypenny said he planned to seek election as mayor this fall.