Sunday, January 30, 2011

Full text of Kucinich's Olivegate letter

Cleveland's famous vegan became a viral laughingstock this week. Dennis Kucinich sued a Capitol cafeteria for $150,000 because a veggie wrap contained an olive pit that cracked his tooth. After broke the story on Wednesday, media from Cleveland to India rushed to match it, and political commentators and comedians ruthlessly mocked him.

At 4:42 p.m. Friday -- that shadowy hour when public figures fire off press releases about bad news, hoping weekend-hungry reporters don't have time to dig in -- a peevish Kucinich announced he'd settled his suit. Philip Rucker of the Washington Post dubbed Dennis' e-mail "one of the more bizarre letters to campaign supporters in modern American politics." It is reproduced here in its entirety.

Regarding Settlement of Dental Injury Law Suit

Dear Friend,

Though I would prefer to focus your attention on my work dealing with the profoundly important issues that face our nation, such as job creation, getting the economy back on track, and ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - it seems that some are more interested in discussing my personal dental issues. Given the degree of public interest you should know some details:

This injury required nearly two years, three dental surgeries, and a substantial amount of money to rectify.

The legal action you have heard about was filed due to the severity, expense and duration of the dental injury, the complications which followed and which still persist. I wanted to resolve this matter without filing a lawsuit. The events below involved numerous dental visits, more than are detailed in this summary. The dental injury set in motion a chain of dental and medical events.

When I bit into the olive pit, (unbeknown to me at the time), upon impact the tooth split in half, vertically through the crown and the tooth, below the level of the bone. Externally there was no evidence of a break. This was not about aesthetics. The internal structure of the tooth was rendered nonrestorable. Although the pain was excruciating, I shook it off and I went right back to work.

This tooth is a key tooth which anchored my upper bridgework. The injured tooth and the bone above it became infected. I took a course of antibiotics for the infection, had an adverse reaction to the antibiotics which caused me to have an intestinal obstruction and emergency medical intervention.

Later, my dentist referred me to a specialist who informed me that the damaged tooth had to be removed. A third dentist removed the tooth and I was fitted for a temporary partial. I waited for the bone to heal. An implant was placed, but it failed. Many months later still a second implant succeeded. My bridgework had to be completely reconfigured, a new partial was designed, so this injury did not affect only one tooth, but rather involved six (6) replacement teeth as well. A new crown with a new precision attachment was engineered and put in place. To clarify, no dental expenses were covered by any health plan, nor did I have dental insurance that covered the injury, which, until it was resolved, affected my ability to chew food properly.

The clamor for information about this incident requires that I provide at least this much information. I would have liked to provide such details sooner but did not want it said that I was trying the case in the media. So that is why I declined any interviews about the matter. The parties have exchanged information and after some investigation and discussion have resolved the matter for an amount all parties believe reflects the actual out-of-pocket expenses related to this incident. The terms of the settlement are confidential; however, I feel that the defendants have responded fairly and reasonably. I don't want to have to make another dental visit for a very long time, and will be making no further comment on this matter.

Thank you very much.

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.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Revised thinking on boards of revision

The county council is bracing itself for its first major disagreement with Ed FitzGerald -- and trying to prevent an all-out war with the Plain Dealer. It’s poised to reappoint two people who joined the boards of revision late last year – after the exposés that called the integrity of local property valuations into question.

The county executive and the daily paper insist that no one on the boards of revision should be reappointed. They want a “clean sweep,” they say. But the council will choose most of the new board members -- and it sees a clear distinction between the longtime board members who served during the scandal years and people named to the board to cope with the scandals’ fallout.

“Someone who came on board after all the problems, and someone who stepped up to help the county out as those taxpayers’ cases were backing up … I think they’re in a different category,” says Jack Schron (pictured), a Republican councilman. He and council president C. Ellen Connally are meeting with the Plain Dealer editorial board today to try to get the paper to give the recent appointees a chance.

Two of council’s eight leading candidates for the boards of revision are post-scandal appointees who joined the boards in August 2010 or later, Schron tells me. (He wouldn’t name them because they haven’t passed pre-employment checks yet, but he said they weren’t Frank Russo appointees.)

“Some of these people, they were asked to take on a yeoman’s task of coming forward and helping our the county in a backlog situation and help work through it,” Schron says. “It’s hard for me to find fault with people who stepped up and made a civic commitment.”

Schron says council is unlikely to reappoint any longtime board of revision incumbents.

“Whether or not they did anything improper, they were in that era where the public is looking for a fresh start,” he says. “Unfortunately, some of them might get caught up in that. … It doesn’t mean they couldn’t be a candidate, but it’s going to be a lot harder to get past all the concerns people have.” That’s not just his opinion: “I do believe that’s the general consensus [on council].”

Four of the 28 candidates council recently interviewed are longtime incumbent board members. That means they arguably share responsibility for the shoddy or questionable work the Plain Dealer exposed: half-days of work, bad record-keeping, board members lowering the tax values of each others’ properties. One has dropped out since.

Seven other candidates joined the boards between August and November 2010, after the exposés. They’re the candidates that the council and the executive disagree over. County chief of staff Matt Carroll confirms that FitzGerald wants even the post-scandal hires cleared off the boards.

“Even those people were not selected in an open way,” Carroll told me Friday. “It was a closed process. People were not given the opportunity to apply. Some people were selected, possibly [people] of quality, but the fact that it was not an open process, that is a reason they could not be reappointed. That is a continuing taint to the process. That’s the difference. [There’s] a different level of quality and culpability, but that [they were] not part of an open process continues to concern.”

This seems pretty weak to me. Someone who joined the boards in the fall isn’t the least bit “culpable” for bad practices exposed earlier. And anyone who gets reappointed will have answered an open posting this time and made it through a four-step screening process.

That’s unlikely to satisfy the Plain Dealer. Like an overzealous watchdog that tries to bite everyone who startles it, it’s made the county council its favorite new chew toy. (It bit the council six times in five days last week: Monday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Thursday, Friday.)

That’s why Schron and Connally are trying to get the editorial board to reconsider its opposition to the recent appointees. “Sorry, draining the swamp halfway cannot be an option,” an editorial snarled unpersuasively last week.

If the PD starts howling again about the board of revision, casting council as the old guard, politics as usual, etc. etc., it can probably do a lot of further damage to the council’s reputation. Or it could change its mind and draw a basic distinction: Between those who share responsibility for the board of revision’s past failures and those who don’t.

Update, 1/21: Today's editorial signals a welcome truce, or at least some détente -- ruining my plans to create a drinking game out of the PD's county council coverage. (If the paper uses the phrase "secret meeting," slam your drink!)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Med Mart lands less than 5% of top tenant prospects, 1% of medical event prospects so far

Cleveland’s Medical Mart is having trouble attracting big national names so far. Its first list of tenants and events, released Friday, showed that developer MMPI has signed a small fraction of the top prospects it identified in 2009.

Ohio companies and organizations make up most of the initial tenant list. Health events make up only about a third of the convention-hall bookings. It’s early – the project won’t open until fall 2013 – but the Medical Mart clearly has a long way to go.

So far, MMPI has landed only five of the 100 national medical manufacturers it named as showroom prospects in a list it shared with Inside Business in 2009. The hunt for national medical trade shows and conferences has been even tougher: MMPI has landed only one of the 264 medical events it listed as prospects two years ago.

InvaCare and Steris, two local medical manufacturers with national profiles, lead the list of 58 probable tenants who’ve already signed nonbinding letters of intent to lease showroom space. They were among the 100 medical furnishings and medical technology companies on MMPI’s 2009 tenant prospect list. The other three it’s landed are medical furniture makers Midmark, Cabot Wrenn Care and Intensa.

Missing so far are leading medical device companies such as Medtronic, Stryker, Philips Medical Systems and Siemens Medical Solutions — all companies MMPI named on its 2009 prospect list, all cited by MedCity News last week as desirable anchors for the Med Mart. The scarcity of big names is a reminder that the merchandise-mart concept is unproven in the medical industry. It echoes the careful, neutral responses I heard about the Med Mart from manufacturers when I was reporting on my 2009 Inside Business story, “Affairs of the Mart.”

Of course, MMPI has moved far beyond its two-year-old prospects list to sign other companies who fit the Medical Mart concept, from Michigan-based distributor Innovative Medical Systems to Johnson Controls, a large Wisconsin-based manufacturer whose building-efficiency products could benefit hospitals constructing new offices. MMPI President Chris Kennedy told Crain's it has letters of intent for all the space in the four-story Med Mart and may have to expand north -- where the county administration building is now -- to meet demand.

Kennedy described the tenant list as “broad and deep” when I talked with him at the groundbreaking ceremony on Friday. “[It’s got] everything from associations, educational institutions, design products and interior finishing products to hard-core medical technology and patient care devices,” Kennedy said. “Within each category, there’s a lot of depth. The team put that together strategically to create a mini-critical mass in each component that would be attractive to certain trade shows. And the trade shows are now coming because they have groups that are totally relevant to their area.”

The Med Mart needs tenants before the convention center can attract medical events. That may be why the 24 event bookings released Friday included only nine medical-related shows. In 2009, MMPI showed me a prospect list of 264 small and medium-sized medical conventions and trade shows. So far, only one event on that list has signed on: the Ohio Optometric Association’s EastWest Eye Conference.

Deal-making should pick up now that MMPI has broken ground, Kennedy says.

“The velocity of deals has increased dramatically over the last 60 days,” he told me Friday. “The reality is, people don’t want to commit to a building that they don’t know is going to be built. Convention managers don’t want to make a commitment four years from now to a trade show hall that might not be there for them. Those are enormous long-term decisions.

“Once they see construction, once they see those signed documents and a timeline that is reasonable, then they commit. And that’s what’s going on now.” MMPI is now signing about one new tenant and one new event per week, he says.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Republicans named to key county council committees

The new Cuyahoga County council made a major bipartisan gesture this week, appointing councilmen from the Republican minority to two of its most important committees. Jack Schron Jr. of Chagrin Falls will chair the economic development committee, while Dave Greenspan of Bay Village will chair the ethics and rules committee.

That means Republicans will be in leadership positions on two major parts of the county's reform agenda. Economic development is the new county charter's number-one goal, and writing a strong new ethics policy is one of the council's biggest tasks.

Schron (photo on left) is so well-qualified to chair economic development that any other choice would've been a snub: he's a businessman, the president of the Collinwood manufacturer Jergens, Inc. Greenspan (right), who proposed an ethics policy for the county during his campaign, has helped set up a brand-new government before: he was a councilman in the newly incorporated city of Sandy Springs, Georgia in 2007. His committee will also oversee any revisions to the charter.

Eight more committees still need to be organized. The eight Democrats on council will probably get most or all of those chairmanships, setting up an interesting division of labor. Democratic committee chairs will lead the oversight of county government's traditional functions, such as human services, justice affairs, and public works. Republicans will oversee the areas where voters most want change.

You can read the council's press release here. Here's a bio of Schron and a bio of Greenspan.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jackson vs. FitzGerald: Who has more power?

Right now, who is the most powerful politician in Greater Cleveland?

Many people say Ed FitzGerald’s new job is the most influential political position in town. Voters’ hopes for change are focused on the new Cuyahoga County executive: Their demands for a more efficient government and an end to corruption and self-dealing, their belief that local government can step up and reverse Northeast Ohio’s economic decline.

“The charter has created a position where Cuyahoga County can speak with one voice,” FitzGerald told me in an interview for the Power 100 issue of Inside Business, out now. “To the extent that I can grow into that role, also to the extent that I can build coalitions, it gives me entrée into all kinds of situations I may not have direct control over.”

FitzGerald debuts in our Power 100 list at No. 9, behind business leaders such as Sandy Cutler of Eaton (#1) and Chris Connor of Sherwin-Williams (#3). The county exec also ranks below one other politician: Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who drops from #2 in last year’s rankings to #7 this time.

Jackson had a pretty tough 2010, considering his troubles with the LED lighting contract and the water department and his futile endorsement of Terri Hamilton Brown for county executive. But politicos will remind you that a city still has a lot more legislative powers than a county. And people who think about power say it doesn't just come with a new job -- it's acquired over time by leading, cooperating, and persuading. For now, Jackson’s still got more clout than Ed FitzGerald, an unknown quantity. But a year from now? Maybe not.

My “Political Shakeup” piece in the Power 100 package tracks the rising and falling influence of Jackson and other Northeast Ohio politicians. Steve LaTourette moves up from #20 to #16 in our rankings, thanks to the November elections and his friendship with House speaker John Boehner. Sherrod Brown, now Ohio’s senior senator, moves up a bit, from #17 to #15, though we’ll see how he adjusts his senatorial style to divided government.

Don Plusquellic holds fairly steady as he ponders whether to run for one more term as Akron’s mayor. The biggest fall? Bill Mason, who had the worst 2010 of any local public official not under indictment, drops out of our top 100.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

FitzGerald on Mason: ‘I don’t look for permission from him’

When I interviewed Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald for the current issues of Cleveland Magazine and Inside Business, we talked about his relationship with county prosecutor Bill Mason.

FitzGerald once worked for Mason as an assistant prosecutor, and I’d heard it suggested that Mason’s political faction helped FitzGerald clinch the Democratic party endorsement for executive last summer. After a tough, controversial 2010, Mason has said he won’t run for re-election in 2012. Shrewdly, FitzGerald distanced himself a bit from Mason during our conversation — but not by too much. The edited version of the interview in January’s Cleveland Magazine includes some of our talk about Mason, but I’m posting the full exchange on the topic here.

Cleveland Magazine: Did you have a dispute with Bill Mason over Issue 6?

Ed FitzGerald: We weren’t on the same side of it. I talked to him about it. He told me that I should be for it. I told him I didn’t think it was well-drafted. I expressed to him all the problems I had with it.

Bill and I have a cordial and professional relationship. We’re not personal friends or anything like that. When I ran for mayor, Bill did not endorse me and did not support me. I was elected to the city council on my own without Bill’s help. When I first talked to Bill about running for county executive, he advised me not to do it and was not supportive.

I started as a prosecutor under Stephanie Tubbs Jones and I eventually was a prosecutor under Bill. But he doesn’t look for my permission to what he does politically, and I don’t look for permission from him for what I do politically.

CM: Why did he tell you not to run for county executive?

EF: Basically, because I hadn’t supported Issue 6. Early on, I think he thought the proponents of Issue 6 would end up picking the next county executive, and they were never going to pick me. I also think he just thought I was going to have difficulty politically, because I hadn’t run countywide before.

CM: This summer, when you received the Democratic Party endorsement, was he helpful with that?

EF: That’s about exactly when he was of some — some — help. But we had a campaign team, and he was never part of that. We set up our own organization. It didn’t rely on any elected official, Bill Mason or anybody else.

CM: People said that his office should have known about what Frank Russo and Dimora were up to and put a stop to it. Does the role of the county prosecutor need to change in the new government?

EF: In my opinion, the job of uncovering any potential corruption, and rooting it out, and making sure processes are in place so it doesn’t happen is going to fall to the inspector general, not the prosecutor.

To read more of my interview with FitzGerald in the January issue of Cleveland Magazine, click here. To read FitzGerald talking about economic development and political influence in the January-February issue of Inside Business, click here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Frost, Garson's joint statement on Tucson shooting

A lot of local politicians have released statements on the attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. But this one from Rob Frost and Stuart Garson stands out. It's a bipartisan gesture, especially thoughtful about the biggest question emerging from the shooting: the way we talk about our political opponents.

Joint Statement of the Chairs of the Cuyahoga County Democratic and Republican Parties

On behalf of the officers, leaders and members of the Cuyahoga County Democratic and Republican parties, we wish to convey our profound condolences for the victims and their families in the senseless and tragic shootings that took place in Tucson this past Saturday. We have no sufficient words to describe our horror and disdain for such intolerance and wanton disregard for human life.

However it is our intention to demonstrate that, although on occasion, our respective parties may share a different philosophical approach to our political issues, we do not perceive one another as enemies. Our democracy can only flourish and thrive in an atmosphere of respect and tolerance for each other's views. As local party chairs we are dedicated to civil discourse that at all times strives to advance our respective positions in a thoughtful and constructive manner.

We hope all our residents of Cuyahoga County will join with us in reflecting on this tragic moment in our hopes that we can achieve a new spirit of political conciliation and cooperation for our families, community and country. We could not ask for any more of ourselves or from each other in the New Year.

Stuart Garson, Chairman, Cuyahoga County Democratic Party
and Robert Frost, Chairman, Republican Party of Cuyahoga County

The whole country is debating whether vicious rhetoric and violent political metaphors had anything to do with the shooting, or whether Jared Loughner is just a lone nut job whose act had no larger meaning. (Essential viewing: this video of Giffords, who happened to read the First Amendment during Congress' recitation of the Constitution last week -- and put special emphasis on the word peaceably.)

But if the shooting becomes any sort of turning point in our politics (and it might not), it could be a moment when "restoring sanity" becomes a bipartisan project, not just Jon Stewart's. That's what Frost and Garson are reaching for here.

FitzGerald says he’s aided corruption investigation: “I talked to the FBI about a lot of things”

In his inaugural address yesterday, Ed FitzGerald took a moment to kick corrupt former county bosses to the curb. “At a time when we needed great leadership the most, we were betrayed by some of our public officials,” the new county executive said. “Public servants who steal from the people are beneath contempt, and the only use that they’re going to serve is as a cautionary tale.”

FitzGerald’s done more than proclaim good riddance. In my interview with him in the January issue of Cleveland Magazine, the former Lakewood mayor and ex-FBI agent says he’s aided the federal agents who’ve investigated county corruption. “I talked to the FBI about a lot of things the last couple of years,” he says. To read the interview in the current Cleveland Magazine, click here.

The new county executive also talks about how he first learned of his cameo appearance as PO14 in the Jimmy Dimora indictment this fall.

We also discussed his relationship with county prosecutor Bill Mason, a former boss. I’ll post the full transcript of our conversation about Mason here tomorrow.

Portions of my interviews with FitzGerald also appear in the Power 100 package in the latest issue of Inside Business, Cleveland Magazine’s sister publication. There, FitzGerald talks about his Fourth Frontier jobs program, his goals for the Medical Mart project, and his thoughts about the power and influence that comes with his new job. To read the Inside Business story, click here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Council chooses Connally as president, tackles board of revisions mess

A really tiny girl belted out the national anthem with a huge, blistering voice. An honor guard marched the U.S. and Ohio flags to their posts. Rev. Marvin McMickle prayed the new council would “resist cliques, schisms, and partisan divides.” And one by one, the 11 new Cuyahoga County council members took their oaths of office with something close to 11 different Bibles, swearers-in, and pronunciations of “Cuyahoga.”

Then they got to work, choosing C. Ellen Connally as president and setting up interviews to fill the troubled boards of revisions.

A month ago, Connally’s bid for the council presidency looked like it was in trouble. The Plain Dealer, supporters of rival Chuck Germana, and a good number of regular citizens were denouncing her for lining up support in a private meeting. But the coalition behind Connally held firm tonight. All seven Democrats other than Germana voted for her.

Despite McMickle’s prayer, the vote for vice-president split exactly along party lines. Sunny Simon got all eight Democrats’ votes, while the Republicans voted as a bloc for Jack Schron. It’s a reminder that, though the Plain Dealer cast the leadership contest as a matter of secrecy versus openness, it was really more about Democrats versus Republicans.

“In this past month and a half,” Connally said, “we’ve come to work together and respect each other's views. ... I recognize the missteps along the way, but I hope in this new year and this new government, we can put all that behind us and move forward.”

The council also started to tackle the fallout from the old government’s scandals. It voted to interview candidates for the troubled boards of revisions starting tomorrow morning. “The board of revisions is one of the most severe problems facing Cuyahoga County,” said Dale Miller. They’re moving fast, Miller explained, because county executive Ed FitzGerald has said he’ll fire any board of revision members who don’t resign, so that the new government can choose its own appointees. The council will choose two members of each revision board, FitzGerald one.

FitzGerald has said he won’t appoint anyone who served on the boards in the past and has asked the council not to either. But council has agreed to interview past board members who’ve reapplied and passed a test and a screening by the county human resources department.

The council also approved the rules it’ll follow. It’ll allow for public comment at the beginning and end of every meeting. It’ll set up ten committees to work on legislation, including one on economic development and one on ethics and oversight. Non-voting members of the public can be added to subcommittees. The idea, Miller said, was to provide for lots of transparency and public input.

When I asked Miller about the rules at a recess, he said he’d e-mail them to me. He sent them about an hour after the meeting ended. (You can read them here.) They include a public procedure for choosing the next council president and vice-president. Yeah, I’d say the council is trying to move beyond the “secret meeting” flap.

To read my profile of Ellen Connally from the November issue of Cleveland Magazine, click here.

At FitzGerald’s first press conference, the buzz of a new start

An electric drill was whirring in Peter Lawson Jones’ old office this morning. Next door, the wall between Tim Hagan’s and Jimmy Dimora’s offices was already torn down, creating an open space for the new county council offices. A desk that belonged to a Dimora assistant collected detritus and flotsam: a mini-American flag in a pencil holder, a empty heart-shaped candy tray.

The commissioners’ meeting room was bare, the benches ripped out. A little dumpster stood on the dais next to a tool cart. In the corner, by the empty chairs, sat a binder: the county’s 2007 financial report, adorned with Frank Russo’s smiling face.

Ed FitzGerald, the new county executive, walked in and stepped to a podium in the back of the room. It was his first working day in his new job, and he’d already fulfilled a campaign promise. Before 10 a.m., he e-mailed all county employees a new ethics policy. (You can read the e-mail here.)

“We tried to very quickly set a very strong tone when it came to ethics and what we expect of the county employees,” FitzGerald told the reporters in the room. “They can’t accept anything of value under any circumstances.” They’re also required to report wrongdoing by others. A code of conduct for county vendors and contractors will come next. The idea, he said, is “to make sure we don’t have a repeat of what has happened in the last couple of years.”

It was a strange day of transition at the county administration building, full of bare plywood and moving boxes. Seven elected officials from the old government are still in office, until FitzGerald names his choices for their positions. “Some of them are leaving, some are staying,” FitzGerald said.

Treasurer Jim Rokakis was packing up to go. His last day is next Friday. He announced last April that he wouldn’t ask to serve in the new government. Recorder Lillian Greene has also told FitzGerald she’s leaving. Sheriff Bob Reid, coroner Frank Miller and courts clerk Gerald Fuerst have applied to keep their jobs.

FitzGerald said he’ll announce some cabinet appointments next week. A national search for a chief fiscal officer, chief information officer, and development director may take longer. He announced a January 27 jobs summit, the kickoff to his economic development plans.

Outside the window, another fresh start bloomed. Red construction trucks and fencing dotted Malls B and C. “The noise of construction is nice symbolism,” FitzGerald said, noting the buzz from outdoors. “We’re starting a new administration. We’re also starting construction of the Med Mart.”

To read my interview with FitzGerald in the January issue of Cleveland Magazine, click here.