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County Reform Proposals Debated At City Club

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 4:31 PM

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Competing proposals to reform Cuyahoga County government were the focal point of a lively discussion in downtown Cleveland this afternoon (Wednesday). ideastream's Rick Jackson reports.

The forum at the City Club of Cleveland featured proponents of two reform proposals slated for the ballot this fall, and one local mayor who feels the present system should stand.

AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Harriet Applegate represents the group “Real Reform Done Right”, whose ballot proposal would establish a special commission to spend up to six months crafting a new county charter.  She criticized the competing proposal presented by Mayor Martin Zanotti of Parma Heights, saying his group has erred by rushing to place its plan before voters on November’s ballot. 

HARRIET APPLEGATE:
“We do not want to be reactive or rushed, but rather, deliberative and thoughtful. And we need a process that guarantees public input and transparency.”

But Zanotti and Republican Party Chair Rob Frost defended their charter proposal, which would replace the current three-commissioner structure with a county executive and 11 member council.  Reacting to a suggestion that THAT structure would open the county up to as much or more corruption than the current system, Frost said the plan is not an attempt to address corruption at all, but to make government more efficient.  And he urged that the debate not become partisan. 

ROB FROST:
“It’s not about the current office holders. It’s not about the corruption that is going on. I’ve been a critic of corruption in our county.- But look - corruption is not the exclusive province of the Democratic party or its’ officeholders. Neither is reform the exclusive province of the Republican party.”

Frost insists their proposal is actually about better planning of economic development for the region.
East Cleveland Mayor Eric Brewer, who rejects both ballot measures, said neither will help spur economic development. 

ERIC BREWER:
“What we don’t need is the mindset that changing the form of government is going to be this magic bullet that we have, to bring new jobs to the region.”

What no one could answer is what happens if BOTH competing proposals win voter approval on November 3rd.

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