We’re now less than 10 months away from a new county government, but a full 4 months since the passage of Issue 6.? I’ve been watching the transition as closely as anyone, and two things are apparent.

First, the transition is suffering from an extreme, almost comedic lack of competence.? Even if you give everyone involved in the transition process a total free pass, and assume they all have nothing but good intentions, their handiwork is just a flippin’ mess.

Almost none of the top people in the transition process has been involved in politics or government or anything demanding public transparency at all, and it shows.? You can argue that lack of experience in government, politics, or public policy is a good thing, but that only goes so far.? Let’s take Thompson Hine attorney Robyn Minter Smyers, a member of the transition, and someone used to functioning in private.

Robyn left a comment here on Wednesday night, in response to criticism.

Tim: Would you like to get together and talk about some of the issues and concerns that you raise? I am hopeful that, if you met me and we talked, your impression of the transition process and my motivations for participating in it might change. I would welcome the opportunity for direct communication. Although I disagree with both the tenor and substance of your post and believe that you may be concluding far too much based upon one comment (out of many), I very much appreciate your passion for the county and engagement in this process. I will look forward to hearing from you.

I emailed Robyn immediately on Wednesday night to accept her invitation.? I’ve not heard back.? Maybe Robyn is a busy person.? More likely, Robyn is a person who has never had to deal with scrutiny on her business from the public, and is reflexively, defensively responding to that criticism, in a way she is not accustomed to doing, and doesn’t really know how to handle public scrutiny.? This plainly applies to everyone involved in the transition process – they do not know what they are doing.

What they are doing is attempting to govern, despite not one of them having been elected to do so.? Governing demands transparency, at a very high level not a single one of these people has ever had to accept before.? Perhaps this is why there is such urgency to hire a consultant to do it for them.

This clumsy inability to accept that the public will (not may, will) scrutinize a group of people not used to such scrutiny leads to the second apparent reality of the transition – no one trusts them. The bulk of the people making decisions for this transition have never stood before voters on a ballot, voters have never had the opportunity to judge their credibility or trustworthiness and thereby invest in this transition group’s legitimacy. ? That lack of legitimacy has real consequences.? By acting so clumsily absent this legitimacy, they’ve created a veneer of secrecy into which anyone can insert any assumption, however grave, about their motives.

Whether or not there is any funny business going on, the transition group has given plenty of reasons to assume that there is funny business.? Ironic, given that these very same people fed on precisely this suspicion of county government in order to pass Issue 6.

I’d feel sorry for them, if I didn’t sniff the rather strong aroma of said funny business.

UPDATE:? I’ve now heard from Robyn Minter Smyers, and we are planning to meet soon.? Stay tuned!

  • Jason

    There's something to be said for being on a ballot that no one can understand until they've seen their name on one. I'd like to say it's the ultimate check, but that's probably an overstatement and some people clearly don't think it applies to them. Still, your name on a ballot tends to focus one's actions toward collaboration and, yes, transparency.

  • I've updated the post to reflect that I've now heard from Robyn Minter Smyers, and we are planning to meet soon.

  • Jason, it's not an overstatement. Once you get into the business of governing, the rules of business do not apply, nor should they. Too many people in this county have operated under the opposite assumption for too long.

  • mvirenicus

    shame on the voters of cuyahoga. they deserve this mess, especially those in rocky river and westlake.

  • WestlakeDavid

    Oh, so now you divide even further with you posts of “un-favorable” zip codes?

  • mvirenicus

    i'm the guy who'd like to see the human race wiped from the earth and you think i'm troubled by a little division by zip code? besides, my basic point is solid: white people are pretty damned stupid, especially in groups.

  • WestlakeDavid

    “What they are doing is attempting to govern, despite not one of them having been elected to do so. Governing demands transparency, at a very high level not a single one of these people has ever had to accept before. Perhaps this is why there is such urgency to hire a consultant to do it for them.”

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that you have a consulting practice, is that correct? If you do, do you consult for any government groups? Just wondering…

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