Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A mess in Cleveland.....

Old 3BP contributor Rubber City Love is back with a post on the ethics mess from the Dems up in Cleveland....

So, I don't keep up with NE OH politics as much as I should. I live in Chicago now. That means my head swims with stories of egregious waste and corruption in local government every morning while I'm popping my contacts in. But I check in back home every once in a while, so I recently learned of this redonkulousness.

To give you the quick and dirty, Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo has been under FBI investigation for a while now. Reason enough to merit public suspicion, right? Well a bi-partisan group of citizens asked for the county's financials. (Note: search the Cleveland Plain Dealer for related stories... among other strategic omissions, you will not find a lot about the fact that this group is bi-partisan). Now, the state is already auditing the these books, but only a simple audit -- not looking for inefficiencies and/or potential illegal activity. So this group of citizens has petitioned to establish a 3-person panel that would give the books a really good once-over. Makes sense, right? The public wanting to see public records? Crazy, eh?

Well, this apparently ruffled Mr. Russo's feathers because his attorney, John Climaco, lashed out on the commissioner's behalf by slapping subpoenas on all 32 people that petitioned for the panel. From the Plain Dealer:

Climaco is seeking the signers' calendars and cell phone records for the past year. He is demanding their local, state and federal taxes for the last three years, too.
According to Mr. Climaco, this 3-person panel will hold the state's audit up costing the county millions. Plus, according to Mr. Climaco, the petitioners are "political operatives... put up to it by the GOP."
The rub here is the need for a complete audit. That's all the petitioners are looking for. Unfortunately, it's also exactly what Russo and Climaco are trying so desperately to prevent. But the aim this group of citizens isn't to waste money or someone's time, it's to save Cleveland millions by preventing inefficiencies now rather than letting them go on for 6-12-18 more months.

To that end, the petitioners have said that they are open to backing off if the state's audit were expanded to look for inefficiencies and illegal activity. 

Here are some interesting facts figures...
- Climaco's fee: $195/hour.
- Cost of the 3-person citizens review panel: $9 a day
- Political operatives? I actually spoke to one to one of the petitioners, and she said, "I love that Climaco says we are 'political operatives' in his brief. I am a stay at home mom!"
- There's real doubt as to Mr. Climaco's legal ability to file the subpoenas and there also may be a conflict of interest... read the articles for more.

Sighhh. There's a lot more to this story -- it's worth checking out. But the jist is that the commissioner's office is going after its citizens for requesting for public records to which they have every right. And most disappointing is the apathy from the Plain Dealer that is leaving out all kinds of relevant information making Climaco's attack look legitimate, rather than the harassment that it really is.

1 comment:

  1. well, i am happy to see this story reaching more people. Being one of the signers of the "petition", it is an understatement to say Climaco has been attempting intimidation of us. Not only has he requested 13 different personal information items, of which the tax records-including ALL additional filed forms, federal, state and local, calendars and document any conversation we have had with anyone(including now this posting and other items in the subpeonas. But he has said publically he will seek, via law suit, all the costs for his legal fees from the lawful petitioners. Judging by the amounts he claims the bond needed to be posted, he asked for $100 million dollars, this law suit could be big! Better yet, he was never approved to be the attorney for the Auditors office, which by the way is what is being asked to audit not Mr. Russo. It is required that he be requested by both the Cuyahoga county prosecuter AND the Board of Commissioners to be appointed by the common pleas court to defend the auditors office. Fly in the ointment, the board of commissioners keep pulling the issue from their docket, so if the don't vote he doesn't get paid nor does he actually have status to issue the subpeonas nor anything else. I sure hope they show some sense and find another way to achieve what we all want(by all i mean residents and taxpayers of cuyahoga county) a effiecient operational audit of the auditor office and never approve climaco so he will be paid properly for the type of work he has been doing...my belief that would be $0.00 . If he is not acting in the manner his clients desire they shouldn't agree to pay him. If i ask a contractor to build a garage for me and he builds a swimming pool he has a problem getting paid. seems reasonable to me.


No profanity, keep it clean.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.