Armond Budish is Appointing Former Prosecutor Bill Mason — BILL MASON — as Chief of Staff

Bricker & Eckler LLP
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish is reportedly poised to appoint former County Prosecutor Bill Mason as his Chief of Staff.

Channel 19 broke the story Tuesday evening that Mason would be appointed today, and while the county would not officially confirm for Scene, a spokesperson did say that an "announcement" would likely be made in the early afternoon. An independent source told us that the Mason move had been in the works for "weeks."

Mason resigned as County Prosecutor in 2012 and has, since then, served as a partner in charge of the Cleveland office for the Columbus-based law firm of Bricker & Eckler.

If the appointment is indeed forthcoming, the fact that Budish hasn't leaked it to — or trotted over to 1801 Superior for an exclusive interview — should be evidence that he understands how disastrous this looks.

He's either fearing indictment and needs the counsel and physical support of a hardened blame-evader like Mason — one of the most powerful figures in the local Democratic party, who everyone assumes to be corrupt but who managed to avoid conviction in the county corruption scandal a decade ago, never mind the fact that he couldn't be bothered to investigate the scandal as it transpired under his watch as county prosecutor — or else Budish can't find anybody who wants the job.

That wouldn't be a surprise. No one wants to work at the county right now. Chiefs and auditors and longtime staffers are diving from the sinking ship without even securing their life jackets. Videos of heinous beatings continue to pour out of the county jail. Prominent local lawyers caught up in the mess have revealed themselves to be jackasses. Everyone's selling their houses and talking about retiring to someplace warm with the emotionally pummeled aspect of people who've lost loved ones to incurable disease.

And the famously incompetent Budish knows he needs someone to help him navigate these shark-and-investigator-infested waters. The Mason appointment might mean he knows he's toast. And given that his reputation is in the toilet, he might just be looking for practical advice on avoiding a prison cell.

Budish is a rare breed of public leader who's so inept that he just might have made incompetence look like criminality. (Mason, of course, is the other way around.) 

And it should make Cuyahoga County residents wary if and when we recognize that Mason would have been in an extremely advantageous position at the bargaining table. In order to take this nightmare job, surveying and sweeping up the poop of a circus-act menagerie, an oily political machinist like Mason would have been in a position to make demands.

Who knows what those were/are, but Mason wouldn't take this gig unless there was something to be gained, probably for his "Parma Boys" faction of the county Dems. His appointment, and the subsequent personnel moves that follow, could have far-reaching ripple effects for the county and its highest levels of leadership.