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The Cleveland Jewish Publication Company has filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court against the city of Beachwood and its law director, Diane Calta, for violations of the state’s Sunshine Law, which determines records available to the public.

The lawsuit, filed July 22, claims the city and Calta have repeatedly, over five months denied access to public records the Cleveland Jewish News is legally entitled to based on public records law.

The records sought involve documentation and communication about a settlement the city made with an employee in response to the employee’s complaints regarding Mayor Martin S. Horwitz’s conduct.

The CJN also sought records of communication between Beachwood City Council and Horwitz regarding CJN reporters or editors pertaining to the records the newspaper sought, as the CJN believes the city attempted to quash its reporting of the story.

In her rejections of the requests, Calta said in her opinion, requests were “overly broad” and/or involved confidential information. The CJN maintains the records were sufficiently identifiable and are not confidential under the Ohio Open Records Law.

“These actions are taking place behind closed doors, where journalists cannot go,” CJPC Board Chair David R. Hertz II said. “In such instances, journalists request the public records that will offer insights into how money is spent, which employees are disciplined, even the content of public officials’ communications.

“In truth, journalists are no different than anyone else. They are not entitled to information that is withheld from others. But it is the responsibility of journalists to seek out information that shines light on the actions of government. Good journalism utilizes public information to illuminate the actions of our governmental entities, expose abuses of power and detail other wrongdoing.”

Asked if he had a comment on the matter July 29, Horwitz said, “It is my policy not to comment on pending legal matters,” as relayed to the CJN by Beachwood communications coordinator Lynn Johnson.

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