Cuyahoga County's Executive position has existed less than 100 days, which already made Wednesday's first ever state of the county address by its executive historic. But Ideastream's Rick Jackson says the crowd of more than 600 was even more enthusiastic, about what it heard.
County Executive Ed Fitzgerald took the opportunity to flex some political muscle - chastising 'state' government for ill-timed tax cuts, proposing big new ventures, and asking for a consolidated push toward what he feels is still a bright future.
Fitzgerald presented a bold plan he says could generate enough cash to allow Cuyahoga County to borrow 100 million dollars for economic development programs, to advance enterprises countywide.
He says acquiring funds to secure the loans would come from 15% cost cuts, and from current revenues being used in a vastly different way.
"I am proposing that we will commit approximately 10% of our 2010 sales tax revenue for strategic investments. The categories of investments should include job growth, early childhood care and education, a universal scholarship initiative, and a community policing initiative."
Fitzgerald also implored municipalities to start thinking more seriously about collaborating together, and pledged to assist however possible.
"It's time for us to openly admit that we have too many cities; and too many entities in Cuyahoga County with duplicate services. But in addition to cheering them on, we need to stand ready with resources to help those cities who are ready to share services, or actually merge."
Fitzgerald requested foundations and private corporations help shoulder the burdens of bringing the region back from years of corruption and short-sightedness... an idea enthusiastically endorsed by David Abbott, Executive Director of the Gund Foundation.
"There is no organization or sector even, big enough and powerful enough to solve our challenges acting alone. The only way we're going to make the kind of success that we need, is by collaborating effectively, and so I was thrilled to see the county executive talk about reaching out to others in the way that he did."
Cleveland State University President Ronald Berkman was also pleased by Fitzgerald's speech, and especially his outreach to education.
"He put forth an exciting, unified, new vision for the county. I think he recognizes that education and higher education are an important part of this strategy going forward, and we're absolutely excited about helping in any way that we possibly can."
Fitzgerald's bottom line - the county has the capability to save itself... but what it cannot afford to do - is to wait.
Rick Jackson, 90.3.