By Sue Botos
For the third time this year, City Council will be looking for a new member.
Councilman at large Fred DeGrandis resigned his office today to take the position of interim president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic Hospital in the United Arab Emirates. His new assignment begins on Nov. 6.
DeGrandis served on council for a little over three months, being appointed in July to replace Anjanette Whitman, who had been named to the Cuyahoga County juvenile court bench. In January, Chris Klym was selected to fill the at large seat vacated after the death of Jim Schieda.
The Middle East assignment is temporary, lasting at least 90 days, but DeGrandis said, in his resignation letter to council President Jim Moran and clerk Miaso Kurokawa; he felt that during that time, “council and the administration will be shaping important plans for the residents of Rocky River.”
When contacted by West Life, DeGrandis elaborated, stating that taking a leave of absence for that time would be a disservice to the city. “I knew I would be absent from the community during a significant time. It would not be fair for the community not to be fully represented,” he stated. He noted that during the upcoming weeks, the city would be dealing with balancing the budget as well as collective bargaining negotiations with city workers.
DeGrandis stated that at the time of his selection to council, he had no inkling that he would be tapped for the overseas position. “It was a surprise to me that I would be asked to take on this role. Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined this,” said DeGrandis, who said was selected based upon his background. Lately the president of the Cleveland Clinic Health Network and Chairman of the clinic’s Community Physician Partnership Alliance, DeGrandis had served as president and CEO of the clinic’s western region hospitals; Lakewood, Fairview and Lutheran as well as president of its nine regional facilities.
DeGrandis continued that he had been given about two weeks by Cleveland Clinic to make his decision, which he stated, was not an easy one. He added that it was made in consultation with other members of council. “I do this with huge regret,” said DeGrandis, adding that he is looking forward to a “wonderful life adventure”. He said the ability to keep in touch with family, and have his wife Nora accompany him made the decision a bit easier. “If it weren’t for Skype and this thing I’m talking on now (cell phone), I don’t know that I would be doing this,”he said.
The possible Middle Eastern job assignment was not on the radar during interviews for the council position according to Moran. “We feel very confident that we did our due diligence and asked all the right questions, but it did not work out,” he said. “The one thing that attracted us to Fred was his experience,” Moran added. Despite his busy schedule, Moran said that DeGrandis had affirmed that he would make council a priority, just as he had done as a school board member from 1992-2003.
“I don’t think Fred had any idea this was coming. We’re disappointed that we’re going to lose him,” Moran stated. “I’m sure that when he comes back, we will still utilize his strengths as a citizen,” he noted.
DeGrandis agreed, stating that he told his colleagues on council that he would be available for consult. “I enjoyed the opportunity to serve. The city is in great hands,” he said.
Council is now accepting applications for the council at large seat, for the term ending 12/31/2013. Resumes may be sent to council clerk Misao Kurokawa at Rocky River City Hall, 21012 Hilliard Blvd, Rocky River, Ohio 44116 or to firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 9 at 4:30 p.m.