Friday, October 15, 2010

Dolan-FitzGerald, Lanci-Scipione feuds heat up at City Club debate

Matt Dolan and Ed FitzGerald fought the main bout while Ken Lanci and Don Scipione faced off on the undercard at the county executive candidates’ debate this week at the City Club.

FitzGerald, who's endured two weeks of brutal attack-ad beatings from Dolan, led with a classic political jujitsu move.

“Five out of the six candidates have run positive, issue-based, substantive campaigns,” he said. “Mr. Dolan is the quite clear exception to that. He ran an exceedingly negative primary campaign, and he’s run an exceedingly negative general election campaign. And you can’t change this county if you don’t ennoble this process by trying to be positive and tell people what it is you’re going to do differently.”

Dolan said voters need to know FitzGerald was among the “Democratic entrenched interests” who opposed Issue 6 and supported the “sham reform” Issue 5. Anticipating FitzGerald’s next move, Dolan disclosed that his relatives – including his father, Indians owner Larry Dolan -- are contributing more than $1 million to his campaign.

“Before I got into this race, I talked to Democrats and Republicans,” Dolan said. “I said, ‘What’s it going to take to win? What’s it going to take to beat the entrenched interests?’ They said, ‘It’s going to take about $2 million.’" He repeated his plans to recuse himself from Indians matters and create a bipartisan committee to advise him on appointments. {Update, 10/20: Here's my new post on how Dolan would handle this.}

FitzGerald said Dolan’s friends should have told him to run a positive campaign instead of “commercials that are showing me Photoshopped as a Russian monarch.” The ad's image -- accompanied by balalaikas, no less! -- refers to FitzGerald’s Oct. 2009 complaint that the county executive would be “a czar” who “will control just about everything in Cuyahoga County government.”

“I apologize for being out of uniform this afternoon,” FitzGerald joked.

“Issue 6 is a concentration of political power,” he continued, “but what aggravates that is if you have a concentration of economic power.” A wealthy family "spending money like it’s water" to "capture the most powerful local political office" is "the worst way possible to actually to reform this government. It can’t work.”

Ken Lanci, taking advantage of the latest Bill Mason controversies, tried to make the prosecutor a political bogeyman.

"Who's connected to what?" he asked. "You have Mr. Mason, who is a friend of Mr. Scipione’s, who worked on the charter with him. You have Mr. Mason, who is a friend of Mr. Fitzgerald. You have Mr. Mason, who is a friend of Martin Zanotti’s, who’s now a friend of Mr. Dolan’s. It’s anybody but Lanci! … Lanci is the only guy none of them can control!”

That roused Don Scipione, normally a quirky-scientist figure, the opposite of Lanci’s brawny CEO persona.

“This Mason stuff! Give me a break!” Scipione exclaimed. "The first time I met Bill Mason was a year and a half ago. … The only advice he gave me was not to run!

“Ken, give me a break! You did the pay-to-play with Zack Reed at Luke Easter Park to try to keep me from getting [petition] signatures! You filed a [complaint] at the Board Of Elections saying I was a Democrat, not an independent, and they voted 4-0 against you!

“We’re not going to split the Italian vote! I’m Italian in the vein of Marconi and Michelangelo and Galileo and Enrico Fermi! That’s my Italian heritage!

“What was I going to say before that? I forgot!” The audience cracked up.

A questioner tried to force decorum by asking the candidates which opponent they’d choose as a chief of staff. Dolan chose Scipione, David Ellison named Tim McCormack, and McCormack cited Dolan.

“I’d be tempted to choose some people just so I could fire them,” FitzGerald cracked before picking Scipione.

“I was going to say Mr. Scipione,” said Lanci, “but I can’t get past $200 million in savings without a plan.” (Scipione claims that he could reap vast savings by modernizing the county’s technology and systems. A county transition committee also claims the county could save huge sums that way. {Update, 10/21: See the Comments for more on this.)

Scipione deflected Lanci with more humor. “I would look at Ken, because at $1 a year—” The audience, who’d heard Lanci promise to work for a $1 salary, drowned him out with more laughter.


Ken Lanci said...

This post recounts the political end of the discussion. For the policy end of the discussion, I provided a futuristic vision of what the county can look like under my vision. Check it out, fellow bloggers, at

By the way, my commentary about Don Scipione's alleged savings of $200 million per year was in the context that the TAG Committees belive that $5-$7 million in technology savings are available. A start contrast to this claim.

Ken Lanci
Independent Candidate For County Executive

Anonymous said...

Quit being an autocrat, Lanci. You have continually gone into online forums to cover yourself from things you have said or to bash other candidates. Get over it.

Erick Trickey said...

I appreciate Ken Lanci's comment here about the savings Scipione claims he can find at the county. I can see why Lanci's frustrated. Scipione's web site has three different version of the claim on the same page!

-One says flatly that Scipione could "save $200 million each year with better technology."

-A more careful claim says Scipione could save $200 million a year through better technology and productivity and 30% cuts in staff.

-In the video interview with Thomas Mulready, Scipione says he could save $200 million in four years by changing the county's business systems. "It's not just software, it's purchasing," he says. (The comment is at about the 3:20 mark.)

Meanwhile, the transition group's report says the county could save more than $100 million a year through better efficiency. $6 million could come from better information technology, $35-$50 million from better procurement, $20 million from staff cuts.

Scipione's website:

The transition group's website, with report:

Lanci's opening statement at the City Club: