Like any good democracy guy, I’m not waiting to be elected county councilor for District 7 before applying a little oversight to this new county government.? The Independent made a public records request for emails discussing the transition process in Cuyahoga County.? I’m working through them, and will have a more detailed write up in the March 25 issue of the Indy.? Bottom line?

These emails read like a group of 10th graders playing “government”, except that a model UN team from any high school in Cleveland would probably do a better job of it.? Naming people to committees, creating new committees, deciding where they will meet, etc.? Fun!? And not one of them is elected to anything – except Bill Mason, who was in the loop at least as of an email dated December 14, 2009.

The email traffic is largely from and to Martin Zanotti, co-chair of the transition group, with a cc list that’s a who’s who of Cleveland’s landed gentry and Issue 6 funders.? Sandy Cutler of Eaton Corp, David Abbott of the Gund Foundation, Tom Zenty, CEO of University Hospitals, Joe Roman of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Steve Kaufmann of Thompson Hine.

Two bits of correspondence stand out.? On Feburary 11, the PD reported that Zanotti and co-chair Jim McCafferty decided to make meetings public.? Zanotti denied to Henry Gomez that any pressure had forced the meetings open.

But feedback from the transition group’s public engagement committee, which has been meeting in private, ultimately convinced leaders to open the meetings, Zanotti said.

“Their feedback was that we’re better off running the risk of people being reluctant to say something than we are raising concerns that we’re making recommendations behind closed doors,” he said.

That morning, after the PD report hit the internet, Zanotti sent out an email stating the opposite.

Unfortunately, the media attention this week has threatened to short circuit that process before it even started.? To help circumvent this, Jim and I met with the PE committee this morning.

In the February 11 email, Zanotti states that he still believes executive committee meetings and sub-committee meetings will remain private.

The committees will still be able to have sub-committee meetings in which work can be conducted without public participation….It is still my belief that the Exec Committee meetings would not be open to the public.

The other big stinker in the email traffic is discussion of a meeting of the Executive Committee held at the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland on January 28.? Zanotti writes to Anna Colella of University Hospitals on January 27 –

Given the sensitivity of the work, we have adopted the policy in which only members of the Executive Committee will be allowed to attend the meetings and no substitutes are allowed.? This was outlined in the letter that was sent to all members last week.

I trust this will not cause a problem….

Much more on this in the March 25 issue of the Independent.