Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Issue 6 approved: A new government for Cuyahoga County

Voters have reacted to two years of corruption and patronage scandals by throwing out every Cuyahoga County elected official. They approved Issue 6, a charter that creates a new form of government, with 66 percent of the vote.

We'll elect a county executive and an 11-member county council next year in a Sept. 7 primary and the Nov. 2 general election. The new charter will take effect Jan. 1, 2011.

The vote was overwhelming: Issue 5, the county commissioners' alternative plan to appoint a charter commission, failed with 72 percent of the vote. The Issue 5 side's vagueness about how they would reform government proved fatal. Their message failed to even make much of a dent in the 75 percent support for Issue 6 in a July poll.

Tim Hagan is on WMJI's Lanigan & Malone this morning, saying the vote for 6 shows how much power corporate political donors and Plain Dealer editor Susan Goldberg now have in Cleveland. Hagan complained the paper's county coverage was biased, and John Lanigan and Chip Kullik agreed that the PD's Oct. 2 headline about Hagan was misleading, which it was. But blaming the PD and business leaders for the new charter disrespects the voters. Hagan got it right later in the hour when he added that voters changed the government because they were disgusted with the behavior of some of their elected officials.

Everyone knows the biggest reason voters want reform: federal prosecutors are investigating Jimmy Dimora and suspect Frank Russo of stealing $1.2 million in cash. No one else in the current government noticed anything was wrong, and no one can fire Russo or Dimora now.

Hagan noted the charter will usher in a huge change in Greater Cleveland: the new county executive will be the most powerful elected official in the region, even more than the newly re-elected Cleveland mayor. Who might run for county executive? Jimmy Malone kept dropping Chris Ronayne's name. Hagan, perhaps thinking of Brent Larkin's August column on the subject, mentioned Gund Foundation head Dave Abbott.

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