Friday, January 21, 2011

FitzGerald to county workers: resign from your political post or quit your job

County executive Ed FitzGerald just let all county workers under him know they can't be political and keep their jobs. Citing state law, FitzGerald says employees have a choice: resign from their partisan elected office or party position, or quit their county job.

FitzGerald's decision will wipe out the infamous patronage networks in the recorder and auditor's offices, which for years have been full of suburban city councilpeople and Democratic precinct committee-people. The independent elected officials' offices weren't part of the civil service in the old system, but the new charter makes them civil servants.

The new rule applies to anyone serving on a city council in a town with partisan elections. It also applies to anyone who has a position within the Democratic or Republican parties. It doesn't apply if a county worker serves on a city council in a town with nonpartisan elections -- {a distinction the county council may wipe out when it writes a permanent ethics code.}**

It doesn't apply to the prosecutor's office,* another haven of political activity, because Bill Mason doesn't answer to FitzGerald and the charter doesn't convert the prosecutor's office to civil service. It doesn't keep anyone from serving as a poll worker on election day, and I suspect it doesn't apply to the board of elections, which is explicitly bipartisan, not nonpartisan.

Here's the text of FitzGerald's press release. If you want to dig into the nitty-gritty of what a "classified" employee is, here's the state law and the county charter provision (scroll down to part 3).

*Update, 1/24: The Plain Dealer reports that Mason will also comply with the state law, but it's not clear how many of his employees would be classified as civil service.

**Update, 1/25: Turns out serving on non-partisan city councils while working for another government is protected by state law.

FitzGerald Sets Decision Point for Partisan Political Employees

CLEVELAND – Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald issued an order today requiring all county employees under his authority to report any elected or appointed political offices they hold to the Human Resources department, giving classified employees a choice to either resign from their partisan political office or resign from county employment.

“This is an obvious legal restriction for county employees that has been ignored in the past. We are compelled to take decisive action to comply with the statute,” said FitzGerald.

Ohio Revised Code section 124.57 prohibits classified public employees from holding partisan political office. County employees will be required to self-report any relevant political involvement and will be subject to discipline for failing to report any relevant activities in a timely fashion.

“Our classified employees who hold partisan offices will be given a choice – resign from political office, or resign from county employment,” said FitzGerald.


Anonymous said...


Would you (or hopefully any PD reporter reading this) happen to be compiling a list of officials impacted by these mandates - as many Assistant County Prosecutors and others within County Departments are effected, so this could have a significant impact on local races this coming November.


Anonymous said...

Ed Kelly is safe then, I take it.

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