The Cleveland Plain Dealer isn’t letting this non-controversy about the Democrats on County Council caucusing to discuss virtually meaningless elections within the County County go.  Now columnist Gloria Millner is declaring that these candidates’ lied about their devotion to “transparency” in their questionairres.  To prove(?) her point, she republished them.

I don’t think they said what she thinks they said:

Julian Rogers

What would be the first thing you would do upon taking office?

Work to establish a strong working relationship with the other members of council.

Isn’t that exactly what they did by caucusing?  Nothing else in Rogers’ answers seem to suggest that his participation violated any promise to the PD as Millner claims.

Dale Miller

What would be the first thing you would do upon taking office?

I would establish a good, cooperative relationship with the County Executive and each of my 10 colleagues on county council, regardless of political party or beliefs. We need to work together to get Cuyahoga County out of the mess that it’s in and can’t have old style political bickering.

Caucusing eliminates public bickering and allows politicians to work out their differences in a way that lets them all save face.  Again, nothing in Miller’s answers explicitly show that he “broke” any promise to the PD or its readers.

Sunny Simon

What would be the first thing you would do upon taking office?

Begin working with the other council members to establish functional committees and rules, enabling the new council and executive to begin governing.

Simon, at least, later talks about open meetings and web casting council meetings.  But again, I don’t know if that inherently means there’d be no caucusing for administrative tasks like settling on a slate for President and Vice-President of Council, before doing the election in a public and transparent way, and she talked about doing so only once there was a council.

Right now, there is no County Council, nor was there a) an agreement by the council-elect to do a meeting in public, or b) space for them to do so.  Unlike the situation with Kasich, there’s no question that public meeting law DOESN’T apply here.  What the PD is really upset over seems to be nothing more than the Democrats on the commission organizing to have some sort of partisan discipline in their ranks.  What did they expect the Democrats to do when they realized they had 8 of the 11 seats on the Council?  Commit to a free-for-all?  Do they really believe the Republicans wouldn’t have done the same?

This isn’t like meeting to decide on no-bid contracts or anything close to that.  Just who was getting a largely ceremonial title to avoid a nasty public fight.

I don’t know what the Plain Dealer expected.  They essentially took a system that in theory called for three co-equal county “executives” (“commissioners”) but in reality operated as if one had control over the others (DiMora) and institutionalized that reality into the system by creating a massive powerful County Executive and then 11 politicians who have nothing to do but fight over figurehead titles like County Council President and Vice-President.  Oh, and you kept it a partisan election.

And the very people who are tsk-tsking the Council Democrats in some misguided view that they are the county’s modern equivalent of the Founding Fathers do so despite the monstrosity they created was entirely created behind close doors, by people who the public never elected to form a new county government, and clearly acted in their own self-interest (Bill Mason, the county prosecutor, was heavily involved as was much of his office and allies.  And for reasons they’ve yet to adequately explained, he was one of the few county offices spared from being axed under the new system he created.)  [UPDATE: Anastasia over at Ohio Daily Blog had already said essentially the same thing about the PD’s hypocrisy.]

They held primaries in districts drawn that ensured that the primaries would almost certainly guarantee the winner of the general election and held them at a time that nobody ever expects to vote, thus guaranteeing that only those with the right kind of political machine behind them were likely to win.

And they’re stunned that politics broke out in their creation?

The hypocrisy of the Plain Dealer and the “founders” of this county reform effort is galling.

After all, let’s remember that the Plain Dealer doesn’t hold its endorsement meetings and deliberation up to the public, either.   Physician, heal thy self.

 

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