Either somebody is having a blast playing us all for suckers, or….something.
We reported on an imminent resignation of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason in January. Despite epic blog traffic for weeks and hundreds of people searching some combination of “bill mason” and “resignation”, nothing happened. Last week, Scene Magazine in Cleveland reported with near gospel certainty that Mason would resign by the second week in October, then face federal charges. We’re closing in on the first week of October.
Mason is the last remaining pillar of the old machine in Cuyahoga County. In a PD op-ed, a CSU law professor called for a special prosecutor, arguing that it beggars belief that Mason had no idea what was going on around him, especially as the feds closed in.
Theories are bouncing all over the place, and here’s one I think makes sense. Remember Pat O’Malley? He of the kiddie porn hard drives on the computer? Let’s recall how O’Malley got busted.
The obscenity charge stemmed from a 2004 investigation of an unrelated deal that O’Malley, a former Cleveland councilman, brokered between a billboard company and the city.
Sounds familiar, don’t it.
O’Malley was convicted in the midst of an unrelated federal probe of corruption in county government that so far has resulted in more than 30 guilty pleas. Rumors that he provided information flew when federal agents raided the County Administration Building not long after his guilty plea, but O’Malley has denied participating in the ongoing investigation.
O’Malley didn’t have to participate in the investigation for O’Malley’s documents to be a jumping off point toward the county. No one was closer to Bill Mason than O’Malley. In the lay of the political land that was the old machine, Mason and O’Malley were usually in competition with Frank Russo and Jimmy Dimora. Mason and O’Malley were the sharp ends of one pole of that multipolar universe. It wouldn’t be hard to find something on O’Malley’s computer that opened up many, many cans of worms.
So? What does this have to do with the resignation watch?
I’m guessing that this resignation dance has to do with whatever deal Mason has been trying to make with the feds since O’Malley’s arrest 6 years ago started the feds down the road to Dimora and Russo. I could be wrong, of course. Often am. But I’m thinking Mason has been constantly attempting to bluff his way into a better deal. That might be why we have had not one, but two “Mason Resigning!!” stories this year.
Take Issue 6, the new county charter, which leaves county prosecutor the one remaining elected office. The entire sham was a Mason protection racket from start to finish. What better way to increase your bargaining position if the new charter enshrines your office in perpetuity?
If we pass through October and Mason is still sitting there, then what? Two separate media outlets report almost precisely the same story, likely with different sourcing, 9 months apart, and both turn out to be false?