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Cuyahoga County Charter Proposal Debated

Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 10:17 PM

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Cleveland State University held what amounted to an opening round of public debate Thursday over a charter proposal for Cuyahoga County that would dramatically change its leadership structure. It's crafters hope to put the measure on the November ballot for approval from voters. Ideastream's Bill Rice reports.

The forum at CSU’s Levin College of Urban Affairs was the first public airing of the finished proposal.  It calls for a strong county executive to replace the three-member County Commission - something an earlier attempt last year at drafting a new county structure failed to do - and a legislative branch comprised of 11 part-time council-members representing districts.  It would also eliminate other currently elected positions, including Sherrif, Recorder, Auditor and Coroner.  The prosecutor and judges would remain as elected positions.

While the forum was intended as primarily educational, it evolved into a passionate debate between a chief proponent - Parma Heights Mayor Martin Zanotti - and Cuyahoga County Recorder Lillian Greene, a former Common Pleas judge, who opposes the change.  Green’s main argument against the proposal is that it puts too much power in the hands of one person.

Greene:  This charter…

Greene also objected to the lack of public inclusion as the charter was drafted. 

Zanotti countered by comparing the charter to that of the average city in the top ten nationwide. 

Zanotti:  The city council…

As to including the public, Zanotti said any group is within its right to define itself and devise a new charter, and there would be plenty of opportunities to debate this one between now and November - provided his group collects the 46,000 signatures required by july 10th - just two weeks away - to put it on the ballot. 

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