“You think I could have the rest of your French fries?”
Commissioner Jimmy Dimora brought his A-game yesterday, accusing The Plain Dealer and the Republican Party of conspiring to take down the vaunted Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.
Four out of five leading psychologists agree that it was Dimora’s most delusional performance to date.
At issue is a plan floated by fellow commissioner Tim Hagan to restructure county government, under which elected offices like auditor, coroner, engineer, etc., would become appointed positions, presumably stocked by genuine professionals. In the case of county government, that means people capable of using three-syllable words ...
Naturally, Dimora isn’t keen on the idea. It could put a dent in the Democratic Party’s patronage system, which guarantees employment to the otherwise unemployable relatives of party big shots. Though the system has made for a bloated bureaucracy capable of little more than cutting paychecks – think the New York Knicks of government – it does provide a landfill of support for Dimora as party chairman.
So yesterday, Fat Jimmy accused the PD and Republicans of conspiring to push for restructuring. His evidence: He once saw PD Editor Susan Goldberg and Editorial Page Director Brent Larkin lunching with Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett. And during said lunch – cue the ominous Schubert – they apparently laughed!
In the walnut-sized spin room that is Planet Dimora, this constitutes a nefarious plot.
Never mind that big shot editors lunch with big shot politicians all the time. Sometimes, due to basic rules of cordiality, they even laugh.
And never mind that the restructuring plan originated with Hagan, a fellow Democrat. Not known as man of action, Hagan likely had little interest in making it happen. He was simply looking for a one-day headline, after which the plan would be stored behind some plywood in his garage.
Unfortunately for him, Republican House Speaker Jon Husted jumped on the idea, saying he would move legislation that would allow Hagan to put it on the ballot by November. Suddenly, the commissioner’s one-day headline had turned into a self-inflicted disaster, which could end up throwing a slew of party hacks out of office.
Can you say “Oh shit!,” boys and girls?
Fat Jimmy’s smart enough to know that if the plan reaches the ballot, it’ll pass by a landslide. In these parts, county government is held with the same esteem as the Backstreet Boys and George Bush – a banal form of evil that’s hard to explain.
What he’s not smart enough to do is convince voters why they should reject it. Hence the conspiracy theory.
More comical is Auditor Frank Russo strategy to block the plan. He’s trotting out the Ol’ Slow Death Method. Russo wants to appoint the ubiquitous 21-member panel to study the idea. And since his job would be eliminated under Hagan’s plan, Russo has graciously volunteered to chair his task force to ensure he keeps his job. Seventy-nine months from now, expect a three-page report – written in crayon -- revealing that he probably doesn’t need that extra copier he bought from the salesman who gives him free Tribe tickets.
But here’s the funniest part: Restructuring will do nothing to actually improve government. Department heads will still be appointed by Dimora and Hagan. Which means the coroner’s office will still be stocked by relatives of state senators who once watched CSI: Miami. And auditor’s jobs will be filled by people who successfully balanced their checkbooks in 1993.
Until the party’s self-proclaimed reformers like Kucinich and Cimperman rise up against The Fat Man, the death spiral continues. –Pete Kotz