Cuyahoga County residents push for government reform
CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio: Cuyahoga County residents, who support an initiative to alter the structure of the county's government, have until July 13, 2009 to collect at least 45,000 valid signatures. If enough signatures are gathered the initiative will be placed on the November ballot. However, residents said that they need approximately $175,000 to collect the remaining signatures in time to meet the deadline. Last week, Greater Cleveland Partnership, not an official supporter of the initiative, donated more than $85,000 to the effort.
Essentially the initiative would eliminate the county's current three-member board and replaces it with one elected county executive and divides the county into 11 districts with a part-time council member representing each. The executive would have the power to appoint all department heads.
Supporters started circulating a petition following an FBI investigation into alleged contract steering and nepotism in county government. "Corruption is bad people doing wrong things. No government structure could prevent that," said Parma Heights Mayor Martin Zanotti, a reform proponent.
East Cleveland Mayor Eric Brewer said proposal would only lead to corruption because of the high level of power ascertained to the proposed executive position. "You will see a level of political thuggery the likes you have never seen," said Brewer. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, U.S. Representatives Marcia Fudge and Dennis Kucinich have all spoken out against the reform proposal.