Monday, March 14, 2011
Russo stickers will go, starting tomorrow, ending era of gas-pump shame
You won't have Frank Russo to deface anymore. Starting tomorrow, with a ceremonial restickering at the Get Go in Parma, the county's weights and measures department will efface the egomaniacal seals adorned with the former county auditor's lying, million-dollar-bribe-taking smile.
For 13 years, Russo affixed his self-image to every gas pump, cash register and scale in Cuyahoga County in a bid for perpetual name recognition and re-election. It was a sign of how our fair county was different, how once-obscure elected offices became fiefdoms protected by personality cults, patronage, and one-party rule.
(Perhaps you've noticed, traveling around the state, that one can pump gas in Ohio's other counties without learning what their auditor looks like. My favorite seal, in Wood County, south of Toledo, shows off the lovely 1890s courthouse in Bowling Green, not Wood's esteemed and humble auditor, Michael Sibbersen.)
Now Ed FitzGerald, savvily searching for symbols to show the new charter government has brought real reform, has targeted the biggest symbol of all. His press secretary just sent out a proud press release about tomorrow's 2 pm debut of the new sticker. No image has been released yet, but I'm betting on something self-effacing: the county government's logo of intertwined C's, perhaps, or the peculiarly 9 1/2-sided county map.
Update, 3/16: No face or logo on the seals at all, but it does say FITZGERALD in pretty large type.
It's the end of an era -- and the end of one of Jimmy Dimora's bad jokes, one I cringingly recorded in "Life of the Party," my 2009 Dimora profile. "Every time I see Frank," Dimora would tell crowds, "I get gas."