After the disastrous WCPN appearance of unelected co-czars of Cuyahoga County, Martin Zanotti and Jim McCafferty on Tuesday, Ken Lanci jumped into the fray. ?Lanci claims to be an independent candidate for Cuyahoga County executive, but gave $10,000 to McCain-Palin in the last week of the 2008 election, which makes him a Republican. ?Lanci demanded to be included in the transition process.

“It is a waste of time and resouces to develop a plan that has had no input from the candidates.?In order for the recommendation of the executive committee’s plan to have any chance, there needs to be buy-in by the county executive, whoever he or she may be.”

Lanci’s instinct is half right. ?Input or “buy in” from “candidates” isn’t the issue. ?The issue is that in these closed rooms, there is no transparency. ?In former soviet republics, when closed processes go on behind closed doors, opposition leaders are actually in the room, almost without exception, sitting in precinct committees, electoral committees, parliamentary committees, even on government appointed panels like the one Zanotti and McCafferty sit on in Cuyahoga County. ?Of course, that presence is window dressing, and the ruling majorities on those committees will do whatever they please, but at least the opposition is there to observe it and record it.

In Cuyahoga County, who represents any opposition, or the general public for that matter, in these closed rooms whose doors are locked by Martin Zanotti? ?No one. ?In fact, Zanotti bristles at the notion that reform of this county government is “political”.

“It would be totally unmanageable and would seriously negate the effectiveness of the executive committee to allow this to become a political process,” Zanotti said.

If this isn’t a political process, what the hell is it? ?Zanotti acts under the impression that he’s been hired as a turn around specialist by a CEO. ?News flash – government isn’t a private corporation. ?This process is political whether Zanotti wants it to be or not. ?As such, it simply has to be transparent, or it will be rightly dismissed by the electorate as a total sham. ?That’s beginning to happen now. ?Even Zanotti is acting like this is a political process, because he then takes a shot at Lanci, candidate for the office which will decide on Zanotti’s closed door recommendations.

“To threaten us and say we’re going to ignore all this good hard work because we weren’t at the table, that doesn’t sound like someone you want to elect, if that’s what his intent was.”

So not only does Zanotti, who no one cast a single vote for, direct and defend a non-transparent process, which he himself helped create, in an unelected seat of power, but in addition, from that seat he is already campaigning against anyone who opposes him. ?In the former soviet union, this would be called a coup.

I’m more convinced than ever that the ACLU should sue to bring this process to a complete halt. ?I’ve contacted the ACLU to offer to be a plaintiff. ?The only business this county government should conduct before a new one is elected should be routine day to day operation of the county, because the process this charter has created for transition is so opaque and non-transparent, barely two months into that process it has veered into the authoritarian.

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