NEWBURY, Ohio – Cuyahoga County is an extremely troubled metropolitan area, which has been going through a very rough time lately from an economic standpoint and from a loss of public trust viewpoint as well.
My interest in this process lies as a local area resident who has been on various committees and boards, and I remain curious as to how Cuyahoga County will emerge from this recent spate of scandalous political upheavals. It is my hope that the “Reform” which area residents have pushed so hard for will help this creative and once powerful city regain its former strength as a regional force to be reckoned with! Then perhaps I can also learn from this new process as to how an open and honest local government should operate.
Cuyahoga County government has been recently forced to reevaluate its basic tenets and as a group they have determined that what they were doing was not really working. As a result they have created a new “Charter Government” in Cuyahoga County based on the “reform issue 6” which was passed back in November of 2009.
According to the Cuyahoga County Elections data from November 2nd, 2009 general election, this issue passed with approximately a 2 to 1 victory! There were 234,346 votes cast YES, and 119,666 votes NO. Interesting fact is that of the 984,397 registered voters in Cuyahoga County, only 388,845 showed up to vote. This is only 39.5% voter turnout! Think there is some voter apathy here folks? That is the scourge and bane of our political process nowadays, not enough people care enough to actually vote! Visit Board of Elections site.
This reform process whose basic functions outline a much more responsible and transparent government promises to finally rid Cleveland of corruption and scandal at the county government level. This reform creates a simpler local government with the potential to support better ways of doing business within Cuyahoga County.
Cuyahoga County has been embroiled in a long running political scandal involving theft in office, and of power brokering within the county government offices. The entire county government is being investigated by the FBI, and some recent arrests have even included two local Judges. In a press release coming from the Cleveland Ohio division of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, it was announced that indictments were unsealed and released to the public regarding the ongoing investigation of Cuyahoga County Corruption case.
In order to get this county government under control the residents have been screaming for some sort of reform. The reform plan has been designed and the foundation is being built as we speak. The voters will have their chance to determine who will lead this new reform program with the upcoming elections in November. What is coming will be a more balanced form of local government, according to the actual charter document.
This new Charter government will be comprised of an elected “County Executive” who will work with an “Eleven Member Council” that is to be made up of one elected representative from each district within Cuyahoga County. These elected council members will each receive a salary of $45,000 per year and they can not hold any other employment in Cuyahoga County government. They will be in this job for four years. The first group of members to be on this council will have a staggered term, with four members receiving 4 year terms, and the other five receiving only two year terms initially. This allows for some continuity when next election comes up.
The main idea of this board is to provide the citizens of Cuyahoga County with a more transparent local government with a more open and balanced method of operating the city. This executive board will have the ability to investigate and review the activities of all other departments, offices, or agencies in Cuyahoga County. Many people feel that this process of governance will eliminate the possibility of any future scandals like we are seeing right now.
According to the new Charter, the “County Executive” job has a four year term, and the pay is $175,000 per year. This elected official will work with the 11 member council to manage the city in a fiscally responsible manner. According to this new “Charter” the new process will separate the administrative from the legislative power, and will also be more representative and accountable to the people of Cuyahoga County.
I believe that many people across the nation are going to be watching this political experiment intensely to see exactly how a county government which was being managed so poorly can perhaps be turned around and become something the citizens of this area can once again be proud of! It is not a new process by any means, it is just new to Cuyahoga County! According to the “County Executives of America” website, “about 700 of just over 3000 U.S. Conties follow a “County Executive” government structure. According to their Membership information page, “The CEA represents those counties who use the County Executive structure, and this gives them a presence in 45 states!”
The biggest tasks at hand for them are to build policies which will enhance the economic growth of the area, and hopefully create a more streamlined version of county government which will help the taxpayers by eliminating unnecessary elected officials. All things considered, this is a very well thought out piece of government handiwork, which has proven to be effective in major metropolitan governments including areas including New York, Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky, among others.
I wish the new Executive and the Committee members luck, and I hope the people are patient enough to let this new process find its footing, as this is going to be a monumental change compared to what is in place now!
You can read the entire Charter here:
To learn more about the “County Executives of America” organization, please visit their website:
For further and more detailed information on the entire Cuyahoga Investigation please go here:
Cuyahoga County Board of Elections: