In 1977, shortly before he announced his candidacy for Cleveland mayor, a young Dennis Kucinich, then a municipal court clerk, addressed the City Club of Cleveland to oppose the sale of Muny Light to the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI).
Leaning heavily on the words and wisdom of Cleveland Mayor Tom Johnson (1901-1910), Kucinich laid out a 14-point plan to retain Muny Light and restructure its debt to CEI. He said he was prepared to launch a voter referendum effort if then-Mayor Ralph Perk pushed a sale through. He never had to. He was elected Mayor later that year.
But Kucinich’s attacks on Perk at the City Club were savage. He lambasted the “fire sale” mentality that characterized Perk’s administration. He said Perk “cloaked himself in the robes of a fiscal Merlin,” while deliberately misleading the public about the utility’s financial health. He said that the sale of Muny Light — which he said was driven by corporate greed — would further cement Perk’s “grotesque legacy” as Mayor of Cleveland.
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