January 11th, 2013

Roldo Bartimole writes:

The attempt to add an assistant to each of the Cuyahoga County Council members is the first step in the creation of a new public Monster.

It should be cut off RIGHT NOW. Kill it dead.

It’s unfortunate that the very public officials who should be protecting the public are the ones trying to screw the public.

AND MORE IMPORTANT, the County Council members pushing for an assistant to their part-time jobs are giving government service a bad name. Just as the reappointment of Ken Johnson gave Cleveland Council a bad smell.

It’s no wonder that more conservative forces want to reduce government to the size that it can be put in a tub and drowned. They want to kill it. And you can see they sometimes have a point.
kevin and yvonne conwell
The attempt by Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell – whose husband is a Cleveland City Councilman – Kevin Conwell – has been pushing for an assistant to do her job. Maybe she got the idea from hubby. City Council – which has an unacceptable large staff – also has assistant to each member.

What’s important to remember is that Cuyahoga County Council members already have a staff to do its grunt work. The County Council has budgeted 20 staff members for 2012. The Council budget actually has a $205,966 budget surplus as of its third quarter 2012 budget. It has one employee less than authorized, according to budget documents.

But what is most important is that the County has budgeted revenues of $352.4 million for this year (2013). It expects to spend $351.5 million. If you add health and welfare the County expects to reach $564.9 million.

If Council members aren’t savvy enough to find someone to solve a problem with a phone call, they shouldn’t be in that office.


And isn’t it time County Executive Ed Fitzgerald tell us he has enough money and workforce to do the job? Where is he hiding?

County Council members should learn to use County employees to solve problems that constituents send them.

The move for assistants is a power grab. Pure and simple.

Cleveland City Council members are now paid $76,259. It got that high because George Forbes played the same game of more, more and more. To ingratiate him with his fellow members – and keep his job – he had them pass legislation that gave Council members a 6 percent raise each year. EVERY YEAR. No matter how much other city employees got. (It was stopped and now they get the same raise as other city employees) But the 6 percent built up their salaries. Council President, for example, gets $86,259. They also enjoy an assistant each at up to $45,000. So each City Council person costs more than up to $120,000.

The Cleveland Council also enjoys the services of another 22 staff employees, mostly at the heavy pay in the $70,000 range.

City Council members – in an effort to ingratiate themselves with voters – began to make people believe they were their problem solvers.

Then they moaned to me that they had so many problems dropped in their laps. They asked for them.

I’ll never forget an incident on Euclid Avenue. I was standing talking with Dennis Kucinich. Up walked a man and simply interrupted an ongoing conversation. He had a complaint about RTA. Dennis wasn’t even a Councilman at the time. He was in another position. The man then realized he shouldn’t be asking Dennis who had nothing to do with RTA. But Dennis – who had served in City Council for years and was indoctrinated with that “service” mentality – immediately told the man, No, no, you came to the right person and he, Dennis, would see to the problem.

This is an attitude that should not be allowed to root itself in the Cuyahoga Council. But it will, especially if you give it more staff.

The time to kill this move is Right Now.


  1. Fran Mentch says:

    They want assistants so that the assistants do all the emailing. That way the council person is never on record—their assistant is. If the assistant takes the phone call then the council person never has to go on record.

    They want assistants because they will distance the council members from the public–maximum deniability.

    I have seen this in operation already with Sunny Simon. She does not respond to emails but makes her assistant do so. That way she has no accountability to the public. If you don’t believe me, try emailing her.

    A political scientist predicts that because the county council positions pay enough for a full-time job, that we would get career politicians and not representatives of the people. Sadly, I think he is correct. Dale Miller seems to me to be different–better.

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