Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ed Fitzgerald's Plan for Law Department Could Weaken Bill Mason

Posted By on Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 9:12 AM


Earlier this month, County Executive-elect Ed FitzGerald unveiled his plans for the county’s looming makeover. Already it appears Cuyahoga 2.0 will come equipped with its own turf war.

FitzGerald’s vision calls for a new director of law to handle the county’s legal business. Under our old-fashioned government, that role fell to the General Civil Division of Prosecutor Bill Mason’s office.
Since the prosecutor’s office is the only part of the county government not due to be blown up, confusion abounds over whether the new top lawyer will remain under Mason’s umbrella or operate independently. The new charter offers no insight on the matter.

What does appear clear is that this won’t be a wimpy legal office, and Mason isn’t likely to fork over his piece of the pie quietly. The civil division handles all law business for the county, including advising the county commissioners, reviewing contracts, and defending the county in lawsuits. Then again, after the corruption carnival we’ve endured of late, one might argue that the division under Mason could have been perhaps a tad more vigilant in its determinations of right and wrong.

Conversations are under way between FitzGerald’s team and Mason’s office over how the breakdown will occur. So far, no revelations.

“Ed believes it to be very important to clarify the division of responsibilities between the new county law director and the current functions of the civil division at the prosecutor’s office,” says Keary McCarthy, a spokesperson for FitzGerald.

Scene’s requests for comment to Mason’s office were not returned.

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