This post has been screaming at me since the day Issue 6 passed, and even louder since the day I started looking real hard at running for one of the county council seats Issue 6 created.

It is clear to me, as a candidate subject to the rules of Issue 6’s charter, that this charter was written by, for, and to protect the career of, Bill Mason, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor. I’ve read and re-read it, and the charter isn’t just suspicious for the fact that it leaves Bill Mason’s prosecutor seat as the only remaining elected office aside from the new county executive.

Under the new charter, Mason isn’t up for election in 2010, the year when county scandal could most hurt him. ?The primary for both the executive and the council seats isn’t held on the May primary date, like every other county judicial seat, but redundantly in September, the better to use machine politics to win low turnout elections with. ?Mason himself just today decided the ballot access for all the new seats. ?His pollster Bob Dykes wrote the boundaries of the council districts to favor the Mason machine, with no public input, making these districts vulnerable to challenge in federal court.

Quit whining, Russo, it is likely that you will become an elected official as a result of this charter, you may say. ?Well, fine. ?Then one of my first priorities will be to amend it in many ways, not least being to save the county the money of running a separate election sandwiched between the normal primary and general just so we can help Bill Mason get more power like a cheap post soviet dictator.

It was the Plain Dealer that forced this charter down the voters’ throats. ?The PD is?dancing around in pride over doing just that, quite happy to take the credit. ?And there is no way they didn’t know what I now know about this charter – that the entire thing is a Bill Mason life raft, start to finish. ?This simply had to occur to the PD editorial board, and if it didn’t, the PD editorial board is more incompetent than I ever imagined.

And now, like all corruption does, Mason’s games are infecting the Plain Dealer just as poisonously as Mason’s games infect county government. ?The Independent noted in the last issue that PD Metro editor, Chris Quinn, a close Mason ally, was instrumental in spiking bad Mason stories.

A version of this article was slated to be published by the Plain Dealer, but was pulled, in no small part, by the behind-the-scenes machinations of metro editor Chris Quinn, close friend to Mason?s top prosecutor, Michael O?Malley.

Word on the street is that when Bill Mason saw the Indy story, Mason outed long time PD reporter Joe Wagner as the source, directly to Wagner’s bosses. ?And thus the city newspaper became Bill Mason’s latest weapon of choice – Wagner is scheduled to retire on January 7, but the PD told Wagner, in response to Mason’s complaint, that he was no longer welcome in the building. ?Whether or not this affects Wagner’s retirement is unclear.

But it’s also clear that Chris Quinn, the Metro editor now pulled from coverage of Mason stories, is still in the building,?because last night, at 9pm the day before New Years Eve, the PD prints a whitewash?story covering for yet another Mason’s buddy’s company getting a no-bid contract. ?It’s a story Mason has been stonewalling on for months, and reads like spin straight from Mason’s laptop.

These are the weeds. ?Go ahead, link through if you feel like crawling through them. ?The PD is now wrapped in those weeds like an animal in a thicket of thorn bushes. ?And it looks to me like it’s all about Issue 6.

This city’s one daily newspaper swallowed Bill Mason’s Issue 6 hook, line and sinker, without so much as a peep, and their ed board as a result is now invested in Bill Mason to the point that Mason has power over them. ?Enough power to at least get one veteran reporter sent out of the building. ?But Bill Mason doesn’t really possess that kind of power, the PD is giving it to him out of misplaced pride.

The choice for the PD ed board is between Bill Mason and their souls. ?They are choosing quite badly at the moment.

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