Issue 5 vs. Issue 6, What's in it for me ?

Cuyahoga County government is in crisis, and two competing issues have emerged from the fallout of this still unfolding saga. The stated goal of both these Cuyahoga County issues is to improve county government by reforming it. These are Issue 5 and Issue 6, and chances are this is not the first time you have heard of them.

In short, Issue 5 elects a group of people to propose a new county government structure, which will then be voted on by Cuyahoga county voters. Issue 6 will implement a new structure for county government to replace the current system. Among other changes, the Issue 6 plan would replace several elected offices with appointed positions.

Issue 5 will create a charter commission whose purpose is to create and then propose a plan that will change county government.

When the commission completes their plan, it will be presented to Cuyahoga County voters for their consideration.

Whether you vote yes or no on this issue you can vote for the 15 commission members from a list of 29 candidates. (listed below) .

Charter Commission candidates:

Tom Wilson (CR)  Pat Wright (CR)  Harriet Applegate (RR)  Angela Thi Bennett (CR)

Jack Boyle (CR)    James Brady (CR)     Ruth Brady (CR)        Bill Cervenik (RR)

Mark Davis (RR)   Anne Marie Donegan (RR)                     Mike Foley (RR)

Stuart Garson (RR)     Ronald V. Johnson Jr (RR)              Thomas Kelly (CR)

A. Gus Kious (RR)        Roz McAllister (CR)                    Marvin A. McMickle (RR)   

Joseph Miller (CR)        Nick Nardi (RR)     Mary O'Malley (CR)     Jamie Pilla (CR)            

Betty K. Pinkney (RR)    William I. Russo (CR)       Patrick Shepherd (RR) 

Thomas P. Slavin (CR)       Linda Smigel (CR)        Jazmin Torres-Lugo (RR)            

Elaine Trapp (CR)             Sandra Williams (RR)

These proposed candidates come from two different committees:

The candidates with the (RR) next to their names are from the "Real Reform Done Right" Committee.  This committee does not support Issue 6 and the candidates were selected by the present county commissioners and people working with them.

The candidates with the (CR) next to their names are from the  "Citizens Reform Association of Cuyahoga County." This is a bi-partisan slate, many of whom support Issue 6

Issue 6 will change county government by doing the following:

Create the elected office of Cuyahoga County Executive.

Create 11 elected offices for a Cuyahoga County council.

County positions that are currently elected offices, such as coroner, treasurer, and engineer would be replaced by appointed offices. The appointments would be made by the county executive and would be subject to the approval of the 11 member county council.

The 7 appointed offices would be:

County Fiscal Officer (combining the current auditor and recorder functions); Medical Examiner; Director of Law; Clerk of Courts; Director of Public Works (combining the functions of the current county Engineer and Sanitary Engineer ); Treasurer and Sheriff.

The office of county prosecutor would remain an elected office. The prosecutor would handle criminal matters, while the appointed Director of Law would handle civil matters.

The elections for these new offices would take place in 2010.

The objective of the appointed positions replacing the elected offices would be to reduce the chances of patronage, waste, and other abuses associated with elected office. The Issue 6 charter also includes provisions that have the goal of safeguarding against corruption and abuse of power such as: mandatory internal audits, centralized employment standards, whistle blower mandate, and possible recall elections.

It is interesting to note that both of these issues are independent of each other and therefore any combination of results is possible. Both could pass, both could fail, or one could pass while the other fails.

If both pass it is possible that the structural change of Issue 6 would occur, along with the creation of the charter commission of Issue 5, whose review and subsequent plan may propose another alternative. However, it is considered likely that the courts will ultimately decide what will happen in the event both issues pass.

The present structure of Cuyahoga County government is comprised of these elected offices:

3 County Commissioners: Jimmy Dimora, Tim Hagan, and Peter Lawson Jones

Auditor, Frank Russo; Treasurer, Jim Rokakis; Recorder, Lilian Greene; Clerk of Courts, Gerald L. Fuerst ; Prosecutor, William D. Mason ; Engineer Robert E. Klaiber; Coroner, Frank Miller M.D. ; Sheriff, Bob Reid ; and several County Judges

Some of these officials find themselves in water a few degrees warmer than the lake is these days.

Read More on Opinion
Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 7:42 PM, 10.14.2009