Friday, April 3, 2009

Arcane Game: the old machine has to go, our columnist says

"Our public officials’ corruption, political ineptness, hubris, incompetence and lethargy have created a crisis," writes Michael D. Roberts in his latest column, "Arcane Game," in the April issue of Cleveland Magazine.

"The county commissioners deal with major decisions as if they were playing a pinball machine. They flip and flap at answers, buzz and bing for the public and light and lurch for the developers. They like the lights and noise, but never know the score. An ever-wary media reports another 'Tilt!'"

Roberts wants us to retire the antique machine. "County or regional government reform would save millions in tax money by doing away with redundant layers of government and institute checks and balances that currently do not exist."

We'll soon see if Roberts gets his wish. As I reported in February (here, here, and here), Parma Heights Mayor Martin Zanotti and county prosecutor Bill Mason are both shopping reform proposals around town. The Plain Dealer updates us today. Some people once allied with Zanotti have split with him over strategic differences, slowing down that effort. Mason has embraced the idea of a county council as well as an executive.

The two groups meet today to try to unite. They aren't far apart. If they come together, their next task is forming a coalition with black political leaders. Since Louis Stokes killed a similar reform idea last year, the reformers know they need to address concerns about minority representation in a new government.

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