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A shameful start – Editorial – Dec 15 2010

A shameful start

            We thought our long county nightmare was over.

            Apparently we were wrong.

            Instead, Westshore residents learned that six newly elected Democratic members of the Cuyahoga County Council met secretly Dec. 3 to decide who would be the body’s new president.

            Have these six been on Mars the past two years?

            The whole point of voting for a new county charter was to throw out the corrupt, secretive county government this region has been burdened with and start over with a new era of transparency.

            But the “Oblivious Six” apparently didn’t get the message.

            Back room politics apparently is still with us. For all we know, smoke-filled back room politics is still with us, because the “Oblivious Six” met at Julian Rogers’ private Cleveland Heights home where, unlike in public buildings, smoking is legal.

            Such a meeting violated the spirit, if the not the letter, of the state’s open meeting law. And it certainly violated the intent of voters when they changed the form of county government just over a year ago.

            The meeting even came after the Democratic members of the council pledged to select its leaders in public.

            Fortunately, the press reported on the secret meeting, and the future council has since voted 7-4 to postpone selecting a president until it officially meets Jan. 3.

            But the damage to the new council’s credibility has been done.

            Especially since the chairman of the county Democratic Party, Stuart Garson, defended the secret meeting as a mere party caucus.

            And C. Ellen Connally, the council member who was selected as the would-be president at the secret meeting, said the selection of a council president didn’t concern the public.

            “Leadership isn’t the public’s business,” she told The Plain Dealer.

            The Westshore wasn’t represented at the secret meeting, and District 1 Councilman Dave Greenspan is correctly shocked the promised transparency has been thrown to the curb.

            We must ask, will the Westshore routinely be shut out of the decision-making process under the new council?

            Every Westshore mayor and city council member – especially the Democrats – should write all members of the county council and insist this snub of the Westshore not be repeated.

            If it is, residents of the Westshore may have to consider forgetting about the reform and instead investigate seceding from Cuyahoga County and creating our own county.

 

 

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