Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed removed from committees after OVI arrest; Remains on council

CLEVELAND - Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed was removed from council committees on Monday after his OVI arrest earlier this month.

Reed, a member of council for 13 years, was stopped at East 9th Street and Rockwell Avenue at about 2:30 a.m. on March 5. Police said the councilman failed a field sobriety test and was charged on four counts, including operating under the influence.

Reed, 52, issued the following statement during Monday night's council meeting:

"Upon hearing the decision of Council President Sweeney to remove me of all council committee responsibilities, I will now take this opportunity to continue to spend even more time with my constituents and work on their behalf as well as work on my own personal issues.

"I would like to thank the citizens of Ward 2 for the opportunity to continue to serve them and I know that Marin Sweeney and I both want the best for the citizens of Cleveland."

Reed was subdued at Monday night's council meeting the first since his arrest. The arrest or Reed's removal from his council committees did not come up during the meeting.

Reed's committees included Health & Human Services,  Legislation and Public Parks, Recreation & Properties.

"Councilman Reed now has the flexibility to take care of whatever he needs to take care of," said Council President Martin Sweeney following Monday's meeting.

There was no vote on whether to remove Reed from his council seat because, according to Sweeney, under Rule 29 of the charter, Reed could only be removed by his colleagues for offenses that occur in council.

"The law department has an opinion, Rule 29 is only for actions that are done during council proceedings, council meeting, committee meeting and that did not meet the threshold," Sweeney said.

"So the ability to remove Councilman Reed for Rule 29 does not exist," he said. "The only people that can remove him are the folks from the ward he chooses to run in in the November election."

Next week, council will be presented with the city's newly redrawn ward boundary lines as council shrinks from 19 seats to 17.

So does Reed think he will be a target?  

"The way it works is by April 1, the lines got to be drawn or the mayor gets to draw the lines," Reed said. "I guess we'll find out on the 25th which way the lines are going to be drawn."

Sweeney takes exception with the characterization that seats are being eliminated.

"There are no seats eliminated," he said. "It's just  17 wards are going to be created and all the current wards are going to be adjusted, just some more than others."

Reed did not speak about his arrest at the advice of his attorney, but reiterated Monday night his desire to have his day in court. "During the court trial I think everything will come out," he said.

The councilman pleaded not guilty to the charges and is set to appear in Judge Pinkey Carr's courtroom Tuesday morning. This is his third OVI since 2005.

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