Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cuyahoga League of Women Voters: Issue 6 "greatly reduces patronage, duplication and waste"

In all the coverage of Issues 5 and 6, I haven't seen the League of Women Voters, Cuyahoga Area quoted much. The good-government group has wanted a county executive government for Cuyahoga County since 1979. It helped circulate petitions to get Issue 6 on the ballot and is now promoting the proposed county charter at public forums. (The last three forums are this week in Westlake, Beachwood and Fairview Park.)

The group issued its endorsement last month, but I just read it recently. I'm posting it here because it makes some arguments I haven't heard elsewhere. Its website also links to more analysis: a summary of the charter, a list of checks and balances in it, and a set of 20 arguments for the charter and responses to common arguments from the anti-6 campaign.

One small update: 14 of the 29 charter commission candidates have the county commissioners' support. (There were 15 on that slate, but one dropped out.)

Also: The Cuyahoga Area LWV is one of three League of Women Voters chapters in town. It serves most Cuyahoga County suburbs. A separate Cleveland chapter seems to be neutral on 6, while the Shaker Heights chapter is pro-6.

NOVEMBER 3, 2009 BALLOT QUESTION 6: "Shall a county charter be adopted, providing for an elected county executive, an elected county prosecutor, eleven county council members elected by district, and all other officers appointed by the county executive whose appointments are subject to the confirmation by council and who shall serve at the pleasure of the county executive?"

The League of Women Voters recommends: VOTE YES! Here's why:

  1. Separation of Legislative (policy-making) from Executive (administrative) powers permits numerous effective checks and balances to hinder or prevent overreaching by a single strong County leader, while providing Ohio's largest county with executive focus and visible, accountable leadership.
  2. A Council of 11 will represent the county's diverse districts and have the power to pass ordinances, investigate wrongdoing in the bureaucracy, and debate County policies in the open.
  3. Appointing rather than electing 7 of the 8 "row offices" (Recorder, Auditor, Sheriff, Coroner, Engineer, Clerk of Courts and Treasurer) leads to a unified, professionally administered executive branch that greatly reduces patronage, duplication and waste.
  4. New safeguards against corruption and abuse of power include mandatory internal audits, centralized employment standards, a code of ethics covering conflicts of interest, a whistle-blower mandate, possible recall elections, and a charter amendment process.
  5. Powerful new focus on both economic development and regional collaboration brings limited Home Rule flexibility that will enable new initiatives to reverse county decline.
  6. This charter is backed by 53,000 petition signatures and a bipartisan group of political and civic leaders including the League of Women Voters. It is drawn from the best features of the Summit County charter, the 1996 Barber Commission draft, the Municipal League's Model County Charter, and suggestions by the drafting group, municipal law specialists, and other contributors. Diverse opinions were sought, respected and incorporated.

BALLOT QUESTION 5: "Shall a county charter commission be chosen?"

This question was put on the ballot in mid-July by the County Commissioners, who also support 15 of the 30 candidates running for the 15 Charter Commissioner seats. If this issue passes, the county charter commission must meet the Ohio constitutional mandate to study county government and various options for reform and to draft a charter for voter consideration in November 2010. The 30 candidates will appear on the ballot without political affiliation. The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes this issue or any candidates.

Three studies of Cuyahoga's government structure and operations have taken place since 1995, and nine since 1935. The League of Women Voters has published a brochure detailing its own study findings -- "A Citizen Guide to Cuyahoga County Government," available on line. It is our opinion that another year of study would be a costly delay of reforms already well crafted and ready to go. No one can know what degree of independence or reform the County Commissioners' own panel might produce.

No comments: