In one of the most irresponsible public statements in memory, Bay Village mayor Debbie Sutherland, during a City Council meeting on February 2, falsely charged that Image Builders Marketing was the "reformulation" of Garnett Publishing, a magazine publisher that took money from advertisers a couple years ago, then filed for bankruptcy without publishing the magazines it had collected advertising money for.
The mayor's comments were related to the recent Bay Village Community Guide, published by Image Builders. Through The Write Company/McEntee Media, I was the editorial consultant and writer for the magazine.
Sutherland, who refused to be interviewed, or to cooperate in the production of the magazine which promotes the city of Bay Village and local businesses, said at the council meeting that the city did not "sanction" the Image Builders publication. She said that she was not comfortable working with Image Builders because she didn't feel the company was "reputable" due to the fact that Garnett screwed businesses in Bay Village and other cities.
She then slandered Image Builders, claiming that Garnett filed for bankruptcy, then reformulated as Image Builders.
The mayor was well aware of the fact that Garnett and Image Builders were not related - this was explained to Sutherland and/or her secretary on many occasions by me, Bernice Kaldy, owner of Image Builders, and Scott Hughes, sales rep for Image Builders, whom Sutherland has known personally for many years. Garnett, prior to going bankrupt, was Image Builders' main competitor.
Kaldy and I publicly addressed the mayor at last night's city council meeting, calling her to task for her slander of Image Builders and for for rather monarchistic suggestion that a mayor may "sanction" the press. Kaldy requested a written retraction from the mayor, who sat silently and did not offer a response.
Sutherland, during production of the Bay Village Community Guide refused to cooperate or be interviewed for the magazine that promoted the city she was elected to serve. Failing to get an interview with the mayor, I interviewed Councilman Jim Scott, who will run against Sutherland for mayor this fall. Sutherland was reportedly upset that her mayoral opponent was quoted in the magazine.
She had her opportunity, but rejected it.
Early on, when Sutherland's help was solicited, she said she would not support any community magazines from any publisher due to the experience with Garnett. Shortly afterward, however, she agreed with The Plain Dealer, Cleveland's daily newspaper, to produce a magazine for the city.
The Plain Dealer endorsed Sutherland in her unsuccessful race against Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones in November. As a member of the Central Committee of the Cuyahoga County Republican Party, I also supported and campaigned for Sutherland.
The Plain Dealer, suffering from the same financial problems as newspapers around the country, evidently is expanding into new revenue sources, such as the production of community guides in competition with Image Builders, Great Lakes Publishing and other companies.
The Plain Dealer, whose parent company also owns Cuyahoga County's chain of weekly newspapers, has published community magazines for Lakewood, Brooklyn and Brunswick. The production of magazines in cooperation with the municipalities for which it is supposed to provide neutral and unbiased news coverage seems to border on a conflict of interest.
Image Builders has been in business for eight years, publishing community magazines for around 20 different cities. Most of the magazines are done with some degree of cooperation with the local government, but some are not.