Friday, August 21, 2009

More from WCPN: the dueling reforms

Yesterday on WCPN's Reporter's Roundtable, Dan Moulthrop, the Plain Dealer's John Funk, and I interviewed Harriet Applegate, the local AFL-CIO head, about the dueling county reform plans.

Applegate talked about why she's running for a seat on the proposed county charter commission and why she's against the other reform plan on November's ballot, for a county executive and council. Here's a link to the show -- Dan Moulthrop, the Plain Dealer's John Funk, and I start talking with Applegate at the 37:30 mark.

I asked Applegate what she thinks county government should look like. She didn't have a specific answer -- she just talked about the process she wants a charter commission to follow. I asked if she's in favor of keeping the three-member county commission, and she seemed to say she's inclined to, or that it would take a lot of convincing to get her to replace it.

Applegate also said her slate of commission candidates is going to publicly promise next week that they will put a substantive charter proposal before voters if elected. I'm guessing they're doing that because the Plain Dealer and supporters of the county executive plan keep calling the charter commission a "study" panel, implying that it could dither and postpone reform.

Actually, a charter commission is like a constitutional convention for a county. The Ohio Constitution says, "The commission shall frame a charter" and "shall, by vote of a majority," put in on the ballot in the next general election after the commission was elected. So if we vote for a charter commission this November, we should have a new charter proposal to vote on by Nov. 2010. My only question is, who forces the charter commissioners to make a decision if they can't agree?

The other topics on the Roundtable were last week's Cleveland sustainability summit (at the 3:07 mark), all the casino and slot machine proposals flying around Cleveland and Ohio (at 14:10), and Ohio's dwindling unemployment fund (at 25:45).

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