Tuesday, November 9, 2010

FitzGerald's quick moves as executive-in-waiting

You can tell Ed FitzGerald really likes being county executive-elect. You can tell he can’t wait to shoo the lame ducks out of the pond.

It’s almost as if he feels he has something to prove. After seven weeks of Matt Dolan trying to sink him by tying Jimmy Dimora to his ankle, after the Plain Dealer’s attempts to find his Achilles heel, FitzGerald seems very eager to show he’s no cog in the political machine.

The day after the election, FitzGerald launched onecuyahoga.com, a new website where anyone (not just people who know people) can upload a resume to try for a job with the county. They can also volunteer and even, get this, Report A Concern about county government. (Just imagine the e-mails that button would’ve collected three years ago: I just saw Jimmy Dimora at the Mirage in Vegas, and…) {The county’s tweeting and Facebooking too.*}

Yesterday, FitzGerald asked all the old elected officials not to hire or transfer anyone, or give anyone a raise or job protection, without consulting with him. (You can read his entertaining combination of saber-rattling and diplomacy below.) That pretty much ensures that any lame duck who was thinking of doing a loyal employee some Christmastime favor won’t do it now, or risk it showing up on page A1 with an angry FitzGerald quote appended.

Tomorrow, FitzGerald’s appointing William Henterly, a retired FBI agent who helped bust crooked broker Frank Gruttadauria, to conduct an “integrity audit” of county government. Henterly will start “immediately,” a press release says.

Matt Carroll, FitzGerald’s transition director, says county transition funds will pay for Henterly’s work. Someone already in authority, perhaps county administrator James McCafferty, will have to sign off on that. I wonder if* the commissioners will have to approve it and what they’ll say if they do. Perhaps McCafferty has the power to spare them that awkward moment.

*Update, 11/11: The commissioners will have to pay for it. Peter Lawson Jones says he'll vote for it, grudgingly. Meanwhile, commenter Adam Harvey notes that the county's social networking predates FitzGerald.

FitzGerald's letter to county elected officials:
November 8, 2010

Dear Cuyahoga County Appointing Authority:

I write to you for two reasons: first, to state my intention to meet with you to discuss your areas of responsibility and potential changes related to the new county government; and second, to share with you an important request related to the conduct of business over the next two months.

For a variety of reasons – not the least of which is to signal to Cuyahoga County residents that change is happening in our local government – I request that you agree not to make any personnel changes, including new hires, transfers, salary increases, changes in status (example - from at-will status to civil service protected), or union agreements or take other similar actions before the new government takes office in 2011.

Actions that appear to be the same old “musical chairs” seen so many times at the eleventh hour before new leadership takes over must be avoided. I recognize that certain personnel actions may be necessary in order to conduct the county’s business, but I respectfully request that you consult me in regard to actions that you feel are urgent and require immediate attention.

With a new County Executive and County Council beginning its work now and taking office in January, we owe the citizens of Cuyahoga County nothing less than the utmost respect for their desire to change the way the county does business. I do not want to pre-suppose that any such actions would be taken, but I wanted to make my expectations as clear as possible.

My office will be calling this week to request a meeting with you to talk about this matter and other significant issues that you and your staff are facing. I look forward to that discussion. I appreciate your cooperation in regard to this request.


Ed FitzGerald
Cuyahoga County Executive-elect


Unknown said...

Hi Eric,

I thought you might like to know that the County has been using FB & Twitter for well over a year now. The Sheriff's Office & CSEA in particular are having great success with FB.

Erick Trickey said...

Thanks for catching that, Adam. I updated the post.

Anonymous said...

I just watched county executive-elect FitzGerald on WVIZ's Dick Feagler Show. He talked faster than usual, and there wasn't much "straight talk" in his answers. It looked like a man who is clearly overwhelmed, especially that fast talking.

An important storyline to follow is how FitzGerald deals with winning the power jackpot. Certain corrupt appendages of the county Democratic machine have been cut off, but the organism remains alive. Many politicians in FitzGerald's shoes would not make it four years without getting divorced or indicted.

And by the way, the FBI just arrested the county executive in Prince George's County Maryland on a host of corruption charges.

For some people, the power is just too much.

Anonymous said...

At a liquor store I listened to a city/county worker that Fitz's crew is making each employee, from janitor to prosecutor, fill out a firm asking what they do, how they got their job, when did they start...etc. It's sounds like their doing us taxpayer's a favor, but frankly, this is a political witch hunt to put Fitz's people in their place.