Yesterday’s dog and pony show in front of the previously private “public engagement” committee is a sad farce.? It used to stun me, how corrupt and enmeshed in conflicts of interest government in Cleveland has become, but now, it’s just a vaudevillian comedy act.

The transition process, for some reason, requires a massive consulting contract in order to communicate.? I have no idea why.? They didn’t want to be public in the first place, why the hell would you need a consultant?? Members of Congress have one press secretary, sometimes two.? Why this “transition” needs more is beyond my comprehension.

In addition, to make this barely palatable, transition co-chairs Martin Zanotti and Jim McCafferty claim it will be paid for by the Greater Cleveland Partnership and other private funds.? Um….did Issue 6 hand government in this county to a private bank account?? Will the public be able to audit those funds, which are being used to communicate public business?? What governmental institution outsources their communication to private funders who pay a private company, completely separate from the public institution?? The whole thing reeks to high heaven.

Issue 6 co-chair, Thompson Hine partner Robin Minter Smyers, yesterday sat in “judgment” of Issue 6’s campaign consultants’ proposal, Burges & Burges, to get a contract under Issue 6’s transition process, which will be paid for by Issue 6’s funders themselves.? You get one guess to tell me Smyers’ independent, unbiased, clean as the driven snow, assessment of her clients’ consultant’s proposal.

During deliberations after the presentations, several committee members deemed Burges and Terrell as the strongest choice. The team is “the best prepared to hit the ground running,” said Robyn Minter Smyers, an attorney at the Thompson Hine law firm.

Breaking.? News.? This whole process was created to give the contract to Burges, or alternatively Nancy Lesic, who has worked on county initiatives for years.? Lesic, in what can only be described as a momentary lapse of schutzpah, pulled out.? I imagine Nancy pulled out because she is a small shop, and can’t really afford the kind of scrutiny that is now beginning to land on Burges, a pretty big outfit by Cleveland standards.

Because Lesic can’t really cut it, there is only one firm in Cleveland that (a) has the temerity, and (b) could possibly make a presentation to this packed committee that would be “best prepared to hit the ground running”, because the entire process was built, from start to finish, to hand the money to that company.

Now, I don’t actually care much if some group of rich GCP types want to pay their chosen consulting firm to do more dog and pony shows.? In fact, Burges would probably do a good job, even though it will be as cookie cutter as every other dog and pony show they do.? If Burges’ funders for this project don’t care that their consultant has been knee deep in county political campaigns for 20 years, and will be knee deep in them this year, including for candidates who will run to be in this government, that’s their problem.

But this transition process, and their future consultants, are doing public business.? And by doing public business, they submit to different rules.? Those rules are transparency.? This transition process, its leaders, its apologists, and its funders don’t even appear to understand that.? As such, every thing that emerges from it will be vulnerable to challenge; politically, legally, and legislatively.

That means the process should stop, and wait until there is a new election which has seated members of council and a new executive chosen by voters.? This process is tainted to its core, and getting moreso, every day.

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