The city of Lorain has a Law Director, named Mark Provenza, who has repeatedly been charged with DUI’s. In the most recent DUI episode, he demolished a porch of a residential dwelling in Lakewood. I’ve frequently called for Provenza’s resignation. My prior blog entries about Provenza may be found here, here, here, here, and here.
Word of Mouth blog, the Lorain Morning Journal, and the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram each have printed stories about the judge’s ruling in the Provenza case (WoM here, MJ here, C-T here). Provenza is required to surrender his driver’s license, sit in jail for 90 days, pay fines and restitution, be treated for alcohol dependency, and remain on probation for 5 years.
The problem with the sentencing is that it still leaves a law breaker as Lorain’s top cop (see related posting at Muley’s Cafe). Residents of the city lament Lorain’s crime rate, and if they are looking to the city to step up to the plate on reform, pity on them. Lorain can’t even clean up city hall, let alone city streets. It’s been suggested that Lorain needs an employee handbook, an articulation of the dos and don’ts required of all city employees. How is implementation of such possible when the Law Director himself would be a violator? And if the top cop is bending and breaking the laws, you can bet that a few cops out on their city beats are also crossing the line. Is it coincidental that two such stories (C-T here and here, MJ here and here) surface in the papers on the same day as the Provenza ruling? The proper tone is set at the top. Provenza doesn’t set the proper tone. He still has his law license and his job as Law Director, and there’s the rub.
Provenza chooses to remain a public official, though his actions make a mockery of his position. I think a heightened Provenza alert is in order, as Provenza is deserving of increased public scrutiny on two counts: he’s a public official, and he’s a public nuisance. Will your house be the next one demolished by a drunken Provenza? Just as we use neighborhood block watches to keep an eye on crime, we should have a Provenza watch, to make sure we’re safe from the next Provenza drunken driving debacle. As a public figure, Provenza merits his own camera-toting posse of paparazzi, filming him whenever he gets together with friends to drink, filming him whenever he walks into a bar or liquor store, filming him whenever he gets into a motor vehicle (especially if he tries to get in the driver’s seat). We should know who he hangs out with when he’s drinking, and what bars he likes to frequent. We should know the name of the designated driver whenever he’s out partying with friends. It is in the public interest to know such things. The public has a right to know. If any of you readers have info on Provenza’s drinking habits, feel free to let the public know in the comments here at my blog.
If Provenza would rather not have paparazzi trailing him, then he should resign. So far, he’s showing no inclination of doing so.
The person responsible for Provenza being in office is none other than Lorain Dem party boss Anthony Giardini. Giardini got Provenza in, and Giardini can get Provenza out. If Provenza is reluctant to step down, then Giardini should publicly, as well as privately, request that Provenza resign. Continuing to align the party machine behind Provenza as Law Director makes Giardini look more like a mob godfather than head of a political party devoted to democracy (spelled with a little “d”). If Giardini has any concern whatsoever for his public image, he’d best be finding another candidate for his political machine to back for Lorain Law Director, and let it clearly be indicated that Provenza, should he stubbornly refuse to resign, is on his own, without the help of the machine that brought him into power.
If Giardini refuses to call for Provenza’s resignation, and a recall petition campaign succeeds, there will be egg on the face of Giardini, not just Provenza, and it will mark a crumbling of Giardini’s power. Does Giardini choose to take that risk, and stick with Provenza? If so, the time is fast approaching a showdown. The people will have to assert their sovereignty over the government.
Keep the alert high. Drastic measures may be needed.
December 3, 2008 at 1:25 am
…….thank you Daniel. I appreciate your “outsider” point of view. I believe, with Provenza’a unwillingness to resign, a petition for recall maybe our only alternative. I would just as soon see him resign, “Man-up”, and don’t plead ……….”I’ve seen Jesus” as he did in the mj article you have listed above. As far as egg in the face of Giardini, I’d toss the whole “breakfast buffet” at him.
And thanks for linking to my site.
December 3, 2008 at 9:51 am
So Muley – how do we start the petition/recall effort? I’m not sure that sitting in jail and making $18,000.00 in taxpayer income is something I want to see….
December 3, 2008 at 11:21 am
……..I will have to make a call or two to find out the proper procedure for a recall. It’s starting to look like “signature time” in Lorain. 🙂
December 3, 2008 at 11:58 am
……from today’s Chronicle:
Provenza isn’t subject to recall because Lorain isn’t a charter city, but state law allows voters to circulate petitions that would force a judge to review his conduct to determine whether he’s guilty of misconduct in office, including drunkenness. It is unclear whether the drunkenness has to be while he was working or whether his off-duty conduct would be a factor.
Another method provided by state law allows a single citizen to take Provenza before a county probate judge, who also could remove him, but only if the citizen could prove Provenza was taking bribes, had an unlawful interest in a public contract or had been doing a poor job, Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor Gerald Innes said.
Those options likely would be difficult, according to Lorain attorney Mike Scherach, a former Lorain law director himself, who said he’s not involved in any effort to have Provenza removed.
“It’s certainly a difficult process,” he said.
Provenza’s job also could be in jeopardy if he is sanctioned by the Ohio Supreme Court, which has punished lawyers with substance abuse problems in the past.
Jonathan Marshall, secretary to the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, said that unless disciplinary charges are brought against Provenza, any investigation into his latest arrest wouldn’t be public.
But he said if an attorney is ultimately suspended or disbarred by the Ohio Supreme Court, that attorney not be able to practice law in Ohio for however long the suspension or disbarment lasted.
December 3, 2008 at 1:54 pm
Apparently that smug Giardini is holding too many aces.
So, how are disciplinary charges brought before the state bar association against Provenza?
The same C-T article Muley quoted says:
“Lorain County Bar Association President Chris Cook said the local bar could conduct its own investigation into a lawyer’s problems or criminal convictions and recommend sanctions to the Supreme Court, but he wouldn’t say whether the bar is doing so in Provenza’s case.
“ ‘I cannot discuss the status of those issues, but I can tell you that the bar association is very much aware of his issues,’ he said.”
Why can’t the status of those issues be discussed? If the bar association is very much aware, what does that actually mean? Is Chris Cook crooked? Or will their be an avenue of recourse to pursue against Provenza?
May 5, 2009 at 4:05 pm
[…] then you know I’ve been clamoring for Mark Provenza, serial drunk driver, to step down as law director in the city of […]