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Friday, November 1, 2019

Beachwood Mayor Martin Horwitz Survives Investigation into Inappropriate Office Conduct

Posted By on Fri, Nov 1, 2019 at 3:49 PM

click to enlarge SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
Martin Horwitz will remain the Mayor of Beachwood.

The successor to longtime Mayor Merle Gordon escaped Wednesday evening with his position intact after attorneys for BakerHostetler publicly reported on an eight-week investigation into allegations of office misconduct. City Council voted unanimously at the end of the meeting to "forgive" Horwitz for his litany of transgressions and to accept his apology, provided he made good on a commitment to repair office relationships and to undergo executive workplace training. 

Carol Rendon (the former U.S. Attorney) and Carrie Valdez read aloud all 24 allegations that had been made against Horwitz. They'd attempted to substantiate the allegations through interviews with 11 Beachwood city staffers, including Horwitz himself. They noted that 14 of the allegations they shared publicly had either been corroborated by Horwitz or were "highly credible," despite Horwitz's inability to remember them.

These allegations included off-color remarks, sexist comments and, in the words of Rabbi Joshua Skoff, who joined other Beachwood residents in speaking on Horwitz' behalf, "bad, dumb jokes." While the council and the standing-room only crowd at the meeting seemed to agree that many of these remarks were not appropriate for a workplace environment, they were also not sufficient to demand a removal from office.

Horwitz allegedly once jokingly referred to having pornography on his work computer, for example. He allegedly once told a pregnant employee, "you've really let yourself go." He allegedly brought a friend to mayor's court and joked that the friend would be supervising to ensure that things were handled properly. He allegedly once referred to an upcoming weekend of "hookers and heroin" when his wife was out of town.

Among the the allegations that could not be substantiated were two racist comments, including saying that he had hired the first "colored" firefighter in Beachwood, and an alleged comment to a female employee that if she became pregnant she would be fired. (Horwitz denied ever making these, and Horwitz' lawyer, Dale Markowitz, said that Horwitz didn't have a "bigoted bone in his body," per a report.) 

In his interview with Rendon and Valdez, Horwitz admitted to having an "odd" sense of humor, but claimed that he had been unaware his remarks were offensive to his staff. Had he known, he said, he would have changed his behavior.

All of the residents who provided public testimony spoke in defense of the mayor. Several accused the village council of orchestrating the $30,000 investigation in order to remove Horwitz from office and take power themselves. Both council president Brian Linick, who has run for mayor before, and council vice president James Pasch denied having any current interest in the Mayor's seat.

The three-hour meeting concluded when Councilman Alec Isaacson put the matter to a vote.

"The mayor has done the right thing,” Isaacson said, via the Cleveland Jewish News. “He’s owning his mistakes. He’s taking real concrete steps to atone and change. The proposal on the floor is to make sure he does that and hold him accountable. Let’s vote on this and go home.”

The measure passed 7-0. The crowd applauded.

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