Plain Dealer columnist Philip W. Porter endorses 1959 Cuyahoga County Charter reform

October 29, 1950 column by Philip Porter, Plain Dealer endorsing County Charter reform

The link is here

Plain Dealer columnist Philip W. Porter endorses 1959 Cuyahoga County Charter reform. The creation of an elected official and body of representatives that would assume many of the responsibilities of the local cities and townships.

It lost in November 1959…both Cleveland and many suburbs voted against it.


Carr vs. Jackson debate on County Reform Sept 1959

“Regionalism and Shaker Heights” forum Aug 18, 2016

“Regionalism and Shaker Heights” forum Aug 18, 2016

“Regionalism and Shaker Heights” Aug 18, 2016
Issues facing almost all of Northeast Ohio’s suburbs

Armond Budish, Cuyahoga County Executive
Edward Kraus, Cuyahoga County Director of Regional Coordination
Earl M. Leiken, Mayor, City of Shaker Heights
Hunter Morrison, Director, NE Ohio Sustainable Communities

Judy Rawson, Former Mayor, City of Shaker Heights

Thursday August 18, 2016 7-8:30 p.m.
Shaker Public Library, 16500 Van Aken Blvd, 44120
Cost: Free & Open to the Public
Cosponsored by
Shaker Public Library & League of Women Voters-Shaker Chapter

11 actions Ed FitzGerald, Cuyahoga County’s first executive, will be remembered for 12/31/2014

11 actions Ed FitzGerald, Cuyahoga County’s first executive, will be remembered for

Ed FitzGerald goes it alone
Cuyahoga County experienced an eventful four years under Ed FitzGerald. (Jackie Borchardt, Northeast Ohio Media Group)

Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland.comBy Andrew J. Tobias, 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on December 31, 2014 at 3:24 PM, updated January 01, 2015 at 7:12 AM

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Today is Ed FitzGerald’s final day in office. As he steps away from public life, how will Cuyahoga County remember its first county executive?

Recently, the bulk of attention FitzGerald has received — locally, statewide and nationally — has been for his doomed campaign for governor.

But the campaign shouldn’t overshadow FitzGerald’s tenure as the first chief of the county’s reform government. On balance, he helped restore credibility to a county tainted with the corrupt legacy of the old commissioner-led government. 

(FitzGerald declined a Northeast Ohio Media Group interview request, but described his tenure in his own words in a YouTube video and written report.)

Setting aside FitzGerald the gubernatorial candidate for a moment, let’s take a look at FitzGerald the administrator.


Cutting the county payroll: Cuyahoga County’s payroll was long bloated by patronage.

Under FitzGerald, the county cut non-court employees from 5,092 in 2010 (the year before he took office) to 4,534 in 2013. (The number was nearly 6,300 in 2008.)

FitzGerald’s human resources department also created, for the first time, a countywide pay scale and annual evaluation system, based in part on a payroll study that led to pay cuts and job reclassifications for dozens of county employees.

Some employees challenged the changes in lawsuits, alleging the payroll purge was discriminatory and heavy-handed, done to bolster FitzGerald’s political image.

At least one case is still pending.

Building a convention center hotel: FitzGerald decided to demolish the county’s longtime headquarters and replace it with a $270 million, 30-story convention hotel.

Construction is still underway. But it’s already been credited for helping attractthe 2016 Republican National Convention to Cleveland.

If the project is finished in time for the RNC — all indications are that it will be — it will be because of an aggressive timetable set by FitzGerald.

“We made an enormous bet that this construction site behind you, which is going to be the site of the largest hotel in Cleveland, a more than 600-room hotel, that that could get done in time for this convention,” FitzGerald said in July.

Building a new county headquarters: FitzGerald completed a long-stalled plan to consolidate the county’s real estate holdings.

In July 2014, the county opened a new eight-story headquarters on the site of the former Ameritrust complex, which had long sat vacant.

The county sold Ameritrust — which former county commissioners bought in 2005 and abandoned two years later — to private developer Geis Cos. The real estate company converted the other buildings on the site into a hotel and high-end apartments, and plans to open a Heinen’s grocery store in the historic rotunda.

“From our perspective, the county helped generate a $275 million investment,” Joe Marinucci, CEO and president of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, said at the time.

FitzGerald described the building at an opening ceremony: “We took a symbol of corruption and made it into a symbol of good government.”

Finishing the Global Center for Health Innovation: After inheriting the troubled $465 million medical mart and convention center project from the former county government, FitzGerald brought it in for a landing ahead of schedule and under budget.

Regardless of how the mart — now known as the Global Center for Health Innovation — ultimately turns out, FitzGerald helped focus the project, which had long drawn fire for being ill-defined.

Among FitzGerald’s contributions: recruiting a panel of medical and civic leaders to help keep tabs on the project, then signing major healthcare companies like GE Healthcare and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society as tenants.

In September, FitzGerald ousted the project’s operator, Chicago-based MMPI Inc., in favor of SMG, a switch the county says will save between $3 million and $4.5 million a year.

Overseeing reforms at the Cuyahoga County Board of Revision: The county’s Board of Revision, tasked with hearing appeals of the set values for the county’s properties, has largely stayed out of the news.

That’s a good thing.

In 2010, the Plain Dealer Publishing Co. found the agency frequently broke state laws by ruling on cases without public hearings. Newspaper reports also documented that board members lowered the values of their own properties and frequently allowed tax documents to be altered using correction fluid.

In 2014, the board cleared an 18,000-case backlog dating back to 2008. Under FitzGerald, the county increased the number of panels hearing cases from four to seven.

That number of panels scaled down to three earlier this year. And as of December, only one panel is left.

Getting the ball rolling on regionalism efforts: Upon taking office, FitzGerald hired a director of regionalism, meant to encourage the county’s 59 suburbs to save money by collaborating and to take advantage of centralized county services.

In June 2011, FitzGerald announced that mayors of four east-side suburbs — Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere — would consider merging into one city.

Reducing the myriad of cities and villages has long been a pipe dream of some local government watchers. But the much-hurrahed announcement fizzled into a shared-services study.

Still, FitzGerald’s administration took some steps toward regionalism. In February 2013, the 59th and final mayor signed an “anti-poaching” agreement in which suburbs agreed not to pursue businesses in other communities in the county.

The county is offering a host of services to suburbs, including sewer and road maintenance, healthcare coverage, jail administration, public records archiving and 9-1-1 dispatching services.

Creating $100 College Savings Accounts: FitzGerald sponsored legislation that created $100 college savings accounts for each of the county’s kindergarteners, estimated at 15,000 each year.

The students can only use the money on expenses pertaining to post-high school education. So, it’s going to be around 12 years before the accounts are accessed.

Officials in the FitzGerald administration hope the program will increase educational expectations for kids whose families don’t encourage them to go to school, and increase college graduation rates within the county as well as promote financial literacy.

Opponents, meanwhile, question whether the program will be effective and criticize its overhead costs.


Breaking county policy by driving without a license: A definite low point of FitzGerald’s term in office was an Oct. 28, 2014, report from County Inspector General Nailah Byrd.

The report found FitzGerald “committed a breach of the public trust” by driving during his term without a permanent, full-time driver’s license. It noted that under FitzGerald, the county government had disciplined other county employees for a similar infraction.

The report also found that 2012 logs, showing when vehicle assigned to the executive’s office were used, were destroyed.

FitzGerald agreed to reimburse the county for roughly $30 in driving reimbursements he claimed while he didn’t have a license.

An irony: FitzGerald helped create the inspector general’s office to help promote accountability in county government, and hired Byrd, a former federal prosecutor, to lead the agency.

Flopping on his ‘sin tax’ proposal: FitzGerald mostly stayed out of a campaign to extend the county’s ‘sin tax’ on alcohol and cigarettes to pay for upkeep of Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena.

But in June 2014, FitzGerald unveiled a splashy plan to allocate tax money designated for stadium upkeep based in part on how well the teams who play in those stadiums perform.

He called it the “win tax.”

The proposal attracted positive attention from national writers and was a talker on local sports radio. But it failed to win support from any local officials needed to make it a reality — including incoming Executive Armond Budish.

FitzGerald never introduced legislation for the win tax, or any kind of stadium funding proposal.

Withholding keycard records: In May 2014, FitzGerald denied a routine requestfrom NEOMG seeking keycard records that would show his comings and goings on county property.

While the records had been customarily released for years by other local elected officials, FitzGerald cited death threats as the reason for not releasing them, supported by security concerns from his appointed Sheriff Frank Bova.

The refusal complicated FitzGerald’s record as a transparent, good-government reformer, and gave ammunition to Republicans, who were happy to exploit the issue.

The Ohio Republican Party eventually filed a lawsuit over the records. The county is still defending the case before the Ohio Supreme Court.


We had to cut it off somewhere. But here are some other highlights from FitzGerald’s four years:

Creating the $100 million Western Reserve Fund

Overseeing a renovation of the jail kitchen, which has run over budget.

Beginning an effort to consolidate the county’s jail system (with early mixed results).

Successfully pushing for a ‘voting rights’ amendment to the county’s charter.

Creating the first county-level “Pay for Success” program.

Suing over the county’s original purchase of the Ameritrust complex

“Land Use in Cuyahoga County” Forum – Weds July 29, 2015

“Land Use in Cuyahoga County” Forum – Weds July 29, 2015 w/intros 

David Beach, Director GreenCityBlueLake
Glenn Coyne, Exec. Direc. Cuyahoga County Planning Commission
Grace Gallucci, Exec. Direc. NOACA-NE Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency
Lee Weingart, former Cuy. Cty. Commissioner, Founder and CEO LNE Grp.

Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer

Co-sponsored by:
City Club of Cleveland
Cleveland Jewish News Foundation
CWRU Siegal Lifelong Learning Program
League of Women Voters-Greater Cleveland

Wednesday July 29, 2015
Held at the CWRU Siegal Facility in Beachwood, OH

Interview with Jim Rokakis Former Cleveland City Councilman (1977-1996) & Cuyahoga County Treasurer (1997-2009) -video


Jim Rokakis served on the Cleveland City Council from 1977-1996, and was Cuyahoga County Treasurer from 1997-2009. During his time at City Council he was chairman of the Finance Committee. He was interviewed for Teaching Cleveland Digital on October 24, 2013. Cameras by Jerry Mann and Meagan Lawton, Edited by Meagan Lawton, Interviewed by Brent Larkin. © 2013 Jerry Mann and Teaching Cleveland Digital.

part 1
© 2013 Jerry Mann and Teaching Cleveland Digital.
Creative Commons License
Teaching Cleveland Digital Media by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivs 3.0 Unported

‘Doing nothing is not leadership’ Before his death three years ago, the visionary Richard Shatten challenged us to take bold steps forward; today, a sinking region still waits. by Brent Larkin Plain Dealer 2/13/2005

‘Doing nothing is not leadership’ Before his death three years ago, the visionary Richard Shatten challenged us to take bold steps forward; today, a sinking region still waits.

Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH) – Sunday, February 13, 2005
Author: Brent Larkin, Plain Dealer Editorial Pages Director

A QUIET CRISISThree years ago today, this community lost one of its great minds.

The passing of Richard Shatten robbed Greater Cleveland of a man who over two decades made immeasurable contributions to the place he called home for all of his 46 years.

On the day Shatten succumbed to a brain tumor, Sen. George Voinovich described him as “absolutely brilliant.” Cleveland State University Professor Ned Hill lauded his “intuitive genius.” Cleveland Planning Director Hunter Morrison marveled at Shatten ’s “luminescent brilliance of thought” and “crystalline mind.” Cleveland Tomorrow head Joe Roman said he’d probably never known a smarter man, and County Commissioner Tim Hagan saidShatten had “one of the finest minds of any human being I have ever met.”

As a consultant for McKinsey & Co., then as head of the Cleveland Tomorrow business group, and finally at Case Western Reserve University,Shatten ’s impact was unquestioned. John Lewis, senior partner at the law firm of Squire Sanders & Dempsey, said of him, “If you were to ask me to identify five persons who were the most important to this community in the last 20 years, he would be in my top five. And he’d probably be close to the top of the list of five.” Shatten was a civic and corporate leader. He was an educator. Above all, he was a great thinker.

On June 17, 2001, this newspaper launched its Quiet Crisis series, with the stated goal of beginning an ongoing examination of the region’s economic strengths and weaknesses and focusing on what Greater Cleveland must do to play a more successful role in the 21st-century economy. And on that first Sunday, we wrote of a panel discussion among six community leaders, including Shatten , that focused on what must be done for Greater Cleveland to prosper.

When a community, or a state, has such a civic treasure, it is wise to heed his warnings and take his advice seriously. But when I recently reread a transcript of that 2001 panel discussion, it was clear that this region and state haven’t acted on Shatten ’s warnings and have ignored his advice.

Which, of course, helps explain why this region and state are as much in crisis today as they were in June 2001. Consider some things Shatten said 44 months ago and you’ll realize they are just as true now as they were then, which speaks volumes about our appalling leadership void, both here and in Columbus.

On higher education: “Education is where it starts. Right now, the students who will determine our future are in about the fourth grade. Are they going to be scientists? Are they going to be mathematicians? Are they going to go to college?

“Over the last 20 years, we have disinvested in education and hurt our income and wealth-generating capacity. . . . We don’t have enough college-educated people, and our scientific research, while good, is not big enough. State policy (on higher education) is one of the crucial pieces, and the state is ducking it right now”

The state was ducking it then. And it’s ducking it today. The budget introduced last week by Gov. Bob Taft would deliver yet another kick in the teeth to higher education, giving our best and brightest even more incentive to flee this state ASAP.

On Northeast Ohio’s public universities:

“Let me add one of my outrageous, wild recommendations for linkage. I have been waiting 10 years to say this. We are the only place in the United States of America with state universities in four contiguous counties (Cleveland State, Akron, Kent State and Youngstown State universities). Now, imagine what the Northern Ohio state university system would look like if it was one system with a dominant campus. It’s a big, crazy idea.”

Big ideas aren’t welcome here. They’re too scary. We like the little ideas – the ones that come with no discernible benefits.

On regionalism, Shatten defended this community’s record, pointing to the Regional Transit Authority, the sewer system and the Metroparks. But he also stressed the need to continue regionalizing assets:

“This city is one of the standards of regionalism. I believe it strongly. That said, let’s reopen the game on the rest of it. Why don’t we have a water-edge governance that can actually tax and raise resources? Why don’t we open up the hard questions of the airports? But the antecedent, to me, is not to whine about it.”

Our leaders, in both Cleveland and the suburbs, have Ph.D.s in whining.

On the future:

“In the last 20 years, we had a wonderful rush of projects. We did downtown. We did the stadiums. We did this amazing array of housing in our neighborhoods. We did a lot of stuff. Now it’s sort of slowed down. But I’m optimistic a little bit, because there is a new queue out there. It’s the biopark. It’s the Cuyahoga Valley. It’s the convention center. It’s the array of manufacturing initiatives.

“The concern is, does this community have the will and the capacity to get over the edge? . . . To move this place another step will require – and I used to be reluctant to say this – another billion dollars, and probably tax increases. It’s very contentious. It’s always tough. But big things cost a lot of money.”

A little less than a year before his death, Shatten wrote a piece that appeared on these pages headlined, “Don’t let Ohio’s future slip away.” In it, he argued the state would pay dearly for its failure to invest heavily in research, higher education and job-creation strategies.

“Doing nothing is easy,” he wrote. “Leadership is risky and might fail. . . . We [must] act on a large scale. While Ohio debates how much of its future it can cut from the budget, our competitors are investing in their future. We spend less as our competitors invest more. This makes no sense.

“Doing nothing is not leadership. . . . Leaders must act if we want a different future.”

They haven’t.

Richard Shatten : A genius, and much more by Brent Larken Plain Dealer Thursday, February 14, 2002

Richard Shatten : A genius, and much more

Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH) – Thursday, February 14, 2002
Author: Brent Larkin, Plain Dealer Director Editorial Pages

The tributes to Richard Shatten that rolled in last night sounded like a broken record.”He was an absolutely brilliant guy,” said Sen. George Voinovich.

“He had luminescent brilliance of thought, a crystalline mind,” said former Cleveland Planning Director Hunter Morrison.

“He clearly had one of the finest minds of any human being I have ever met,” added former County Commissioner Timothy Hagan.

On and on it went.

Cleveland State University Professor Ned Hill said Shatten possessed “an intuitive genius.” Joe Roman, head of the Cleveland Tomorrow business group, said Shatten was probably the smartest person he ever met.

There were others, but the point is made. And, indeed, no one who knew him would doubt for a second that Shatten , who died of a brain tumor yesterday at the age of 46, was a genius.

But Richard Shatten was more than that. Much more.

He was – in order of importance – a spectacular human being and the unsung hero of all the good things that happened in Greater Cleveland during the 1980s and into the first part of the 1990s. First in his position at McKinsey & Co., then as the head of Cleveland Tomorrow, and more recently at Case Western Reserve University, Shatten made contributions to this community that are incalculable.

“If you were to ask me to identify five persons who were the most important to this community in the last 20 years, he would be in my top five,” said Squire Sanders & Dempsey lawyer John Lewis. “And he’d probably be close to the top of the list of five.”

With much justification, most of the credit for the Gateway project invariably falls to former Mayor Michael R. White and Hagan. But behind the scenes, the heavy lifting was done by Shatten .

“Richard knew as much about baseball as my 1-year-old son,” recalled Roman. “But that project wouldn’t be there without Richard. I used to scream at him for not taking credit for things. But with Richard, it was never about him. It was always about trying to get things done.”

But Shatten was also about more than shiny new downtown buildings. Voinovich credited him with convincing the private sector of the need to invest in inner-city housing as the city was emerging from default.

“Although he was working for the private sector, he had a public heart,” said Voinovich. “They don’t know it, but he touched the lives of thousands of Clevelanders. This was a sweet man who got up every morning and wanted to touch people’s lives.”

Shatten was a man with virtually no ego. He had no personal agendas, other than love and devotion to his wife, Jeanne, and three daughters.

For him, it was never about power and always about ideas – ideas that might make Greater Cleveland a better place to live and work.

“One reason this is such a profound loss is because Richard was one of the very few people who had a broad grasp of the region,” said Morrison. “In many ways, Richard got it much more than the politicians did. He was profoundly important.”

In the 1980s, before coming to Cleveland, Gund Foundation Executive Director David Bergholz was working in Pittsburgh and heard rave reviews about “this spectacular, very young guy from Cleveland” he would be meeting during a seminar held not far from Pittsburgh. “So I went to this retreat and was dazzled by him,” Bergholz recalled last night. “He was such a natural. He had enormous skills. And he was not one of these guys who was just brilliant and kept his own counsel. He was always willing to share everything.”

Last week, when he knew he was dying, Shatten took time to meet with County Commissioner Tim McCormack about an economic development plan the commissioners hope to implement.

“I can only imagine how difficult that was for him,” said McCormack. “But he did it because he was among our very best.”

They didn’t come any better.

“The Quiet Crisis” Series about Northeast Ohio from early 2000s (video)

A Quiet Crisis…the panels
These ran 2001-2004 and featured community leaders talking about how to improve the economic performance of NE Ohio
Through 14 round table discussions of community leaders that were broadcast on WVIZ/PBS and 90.3 WCPN, radio call-ins, in-depth reports on radio and television, newspaper articles, columns and editorials, the ambitious multimedia campaign highlighted the region�s problems and also offered solutions in ways that energized and empowered individuals and organizations to action and change.


“The Quiet Crisis” Series about Northeast Ohio from early 2000s (video). This part was a combined effort of WVIZ and Plain Dealer

The link is here