“Along the rust belt that hugs Lake Erie’s shores, Democrats have long enjoyed a near monopoly on municipal and county governments.”
I began another Buckeye RINO post with those words, titled “Democrats control everything.”
If you are a Cuyahoga County voter, you probably think that’s a pretty cool thing that Democrats control everything. Nirvana has been achieved, right?
Oh. Except for the corruption. Funny thing, about that Cuyahoga County corruption . . . as I said before the last election, when I endorsed Annette Butler for Bill Mason’s County Prosecutor seat . . . “It has everything to do with the Democrat Party.”
Oh. Except for the economic woes of Ohio’s Rust Belt. But that has much to do with the corruption. Let Plain Dealer columnist Phillip Morris connect the dots for you, as he did in a column last Monday:
“When will we begin to aspire and agitate for honest and efficient government?
“When will we stop accepting the oversight of party hacks, interested more in preserving power and patronage than in advancing prosperity?
“When will we start to understand that our futures are being compromised by too many uninspired and uninspiring public officials who routinely exploit their offices for self-enrichment?
“When will we realize that we can never become a business incubator as long as we tolerate inefficient city and county government?
“When will we demand better for our children — and our industry — which continue to flee the area in droves?”
I know that everybody in Cleveland likes to blame George W. Bush for the tanking Rust Belt economy, but the former U.S. President has not been implicated in any of the corruption probes of Cuyahoga County officials. Let me just note that the “party hacks” referenced in the 2nd paragraph of that Phillip Morris column excerpt happen to be Democrat party hacks, since the Democrats are the ones who control all the legislative and executive branch offices of Cuyahoga County government.
Talk of a Cuyahoga County government reform package by way of home rule charter has died down.
Phillip Morris asks for voters to start pressuring Dennis Kucinich, Marcia Fudge, and Frank Jackson to present a new plan to reform the county. I think that’s looking to the wrong direction for reform.
The right direction for reforming county government is for voters looking in the mirror and putting pressure on themselves to learn more about election candidates than whether they are Democrat or not. They have to start voting for the person, and stop voting for the party. Jimmy Dimora does not fear any wrath from Cuyahoga County voters. He knows that they will always vote Democrat. Even if Dimora has to step down, he knows that he can always get a crony to replace him, since Democrats will surely always win. Unless Cuyahoga County voters demonstrate that they are capable of voting for a Republican instead of rubberstamping even the most corrupt of Democrats, reform will continue to be elusive.
How is it that even the most corrupt Democrats win county elections time after time after time? I think it’s mostly that they hide in the coattails of the top of the ticket. In presidential and gubernatorial years, the ODP looks to maximize voter turnout in Cuyahoga County to help the top of the ticket carry the state. A lot of the voters that come out of the woodwork for those elections only know about the presidential or gubernatorial candidates at the top of the ticket, but they vote in all the races, using the Democrat party affiliation as their guide in the races they know nothing about. It happens in more than just Cuyahoga County (an example from Lorain County here), and that’s how voters enable entrenched cronyism and corruption. The counties with the least government corruption are those with swing voters, where politicians fear that if they screw up, they’ll be voted out in very short order.
I do have a proposal, though, for cleaning up county governments, not just in the rust belt, but throughout Ohio, and it doesn’t require any home rule charters be implemented for restructuring governments:
Just move the election dates. Elect county commissioners in odd-numbered years.
If we are going to look to a Cleveland-area Democrat elected official to put pressure on to reform county government, let’s not start with Kucinich, Fudge, and Jackson, as Phillip Morris suggests. Let’s start with Ohio House Speaker Armond “I’m for sale!” Budish. Let’s see if Budish is willing to distance himself from the Dimoras, and Russos, et al, of Cuyahoga County. Let’s get action from the Ohio General Assembly to begin the process to amend our state constitution, to change the law, whatever it takes, to move the elections for county commissioners throughout Ohio to odd-numbered years.
Odd-numbered years, like this one, are low turnout years, because we vote for obscure offices like city government, village government, school boards, and township trustees. We ought to encourage more turnout for these local offices. We can do so by bringing a higher profile race to odd-numbered election years. So let’s hold elections for county commissioners in odd-numbered years.
County Commissioners wouldn’t be able to hide in the coattails of the top of the ticket. Instead, they’d be the top of the ticket. They wouldn’t be able to hide. They’d have to withstand more scrutiny. If Cuyahoga County commissioner candidates want to turn out Democrats who will vote straight tickets, they, themselves, will have to be the draw, not the presidential or the gubernatorial candidates.
We’ll make it easier for county commissioners all over Ohio to fear the wrath of voters.
How would we make the transition? In 2010, we elect commissioners to a three-year term. They’d be up for re-election to a four-year term starting in 2013. Likewise, in 2012, we elect commissioners to a three-year term, and they’d be up for re-election to a four-year term in 2015. That would complete the transition.
More than just Cuyahoga County would benefit from this change. 86 other counties (Summit County has home rule charter) would benefit as well. This is a county government reform measure that can be put into place that Jimmy Dimora can’t block from being enacted, as the State of Ohio will be the entity that undertakes the reform, not Cuyahoga County.