Just heard that Chris Ronayne has announced to a Democratic ward club meeting that he’s running for county council, not county executive, to represent County Council District 3, which consists of Cleveland wards 13-17. ?Ronayne came to his senses, realizing that he has no business thinking he can win countywide on his first run for office. ?But running for council presents a very big problem for Ronayne, one I will likely be dealing with if I join Ronayne in this council as councillor for District 7.

Ronayne is president of?University Circle Inc., the massive non-profit which handles development in University Circle, which is home to Case Western Reserve University, University Hospital, much of the Cleveland Clinic, and more. ?Ronayne has been reported to earn $185,000 in this position.

County council is a part time position paying $45,000. ?I doubt Ronayne will be quitting UCI in order to make literally one quarter of that income in the county council. ?So that means Ronayne is going to double dip on the salary, earning $230,000 a year, the vast majority of which comes from a private corporation. ?The voters of District 3 will probably have some questions about that.

So will I. ?University Circle sits in District 7, the district I am running to represent. ?If I sit in council with Ronayne, who will he be representing? ?District 3? ?Or his employer? ? That’s a conflict of interest that I won’t be able to ignore if I’m councillor for District 7, and it’s a conflict that Ronayne will simply have to address before he’s elected.

  • Dan

    Where’s the conflict? Are we to ask anyone who works in a different district than they live where their loyalties will be? If we wanted County Council members to make county government their sole focus, we would have made the positions full-time. But instead we wanted people who had a breadth of experience and understanding in business, labor, economic development, etc. Ronayne’s “double dip” (it’s actually called having two jobs, something a lot of people experience) is as much an asset to the voters of District 3 as it is anything else.

  • joaz

    Chris Ronayne, in the District 3 seat, would be sitting on the council representing the constituency of his neighbors….he lives in Cleveland on Lake Avenue- has for years…before he became the UCI President. So, his interest in obtaining that seat is legitimate both as a property owner and community leader in his own neighborhood. In addition, sitting on the Council would not be a conflict of interest UNLESS the County funds UCI, and more specifically, funds Chris' salary- which you've already identified Chris is paid through a private foundation….so no conflict of interest there. Will he advocate for development projects in the UCI neighborhoods? Probably. Will he advocate for projects in the Westside neighborhoods of Cleveland- most certainly…don't we want the County Council members to have a broader vision than just their own towns and neighborhoods? Further, he's only one vote- he'd have to do a lot of convincing of LOTS of other council members to get the nod on a project – so, I am guessing he'd save that kind of work for projects that are worthy of that kind of work…but i am guessing, he'll do the same for worthy projects near the airport, downtown, etc. The double dipping…well, that's really only going to be an issue if the private foundation decides its an issue. There is no law that says Chris has to put in 40 hours (or more) a week at UCI-(provided he's not being paid by the feds, or a similar regulatory agency – like a lot of non profit executive directors). I am sure, as all government legislative bodies are, there will be plenty of committee and decision making meetings of the county to account for his time on the County side. And, quite honestly, he's one of the FEW people in the whole region who seems to be able to bring the cash cow to Cleveland (see articles on $17K-plus New Market Tax Credits) …so why wouldn't you want him on the County Council? …damn, I need to be paid by his campaign!

  • You seem to be arguing that because there's no law against double dipping, it's ok. It's an issue if the voters of council district 3 decide it's an issue, not up to UCI to decide.

    What if the president of Forest City Inc. ran for county council? No conflict of interest? How about the president of the Cleveland Clinic? This is a problem with the charter – the charter explicitly creates a part time position, which will inherently create a conflict between the councillor's two paychecks if the councillor's other job has business before the county.

    Aside from the broader conflict of interest, there's even an immediate conflict between Ronayne's current employer and his council district. What happens when Detroit Shoreway and UCI are facing off for the same development money? Who will Chris Ronayne represent?

    The only way the conflict of interest disappears is if Ronayne promises to quit UCI if elected. I'm sure he could afford it.

  • Jean Green

    No way he can do both. You can't be master and servant in the same house. Would he approve county funding for his own organization? Chris Ronaynes political ambitions could drag down the image of UCI. This is clearly a conflict of interest.

    In fact, i think there's a legal term for it; compatability of office.

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