Photo by Emanuel Wallace
Mark Griffin, the Cuyahoga County Inspector General and Chief Ethics Officer since 2015, has been tapped as the City of Cleveland's Chief Legal Counsel in the new Justin Bibb administration. Griffin tops the list of Bibb's first four cabinet-level hires, which the transition team announced Wednesday morning.
Griffin oversaw the internal investigation of ethics violations by county officials, including by key figures in the county jail and corruption scandals
of the past several years. He attended Case Western Reserve University School of Law and spent 20 years in private legal practice before his post at the county.
The Bibb team also announced hires of a Chief Human Resources Officer, a Chief Communications Officer and a Chief Government Affairs Officer. A press release from the Bibb transition team said that the appointments reflect changes in the city's organizational structure, including the elevation of HR to a cabinet-level post. (It also reflects the fetish of corporate America to make every top-level position a Chief Officer.
That tendency could run aground if a new Chief of Police objects to being called the Chief Police Officer.)
The HR Chief, in any case, will be Paul N. Patton, who has most recently worked in higher education, both at the Ohio State University and the State University in New York. He is perhaps best known locally as the young HR Chief at MetroHealth, in which role, back in the 90s, he secured a spot on Crain's 40 Under 40 list. Prior to his MetroHealth stint, he was the executive assistant to Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White, a post that no doubt endeared him to Bibb, whom White endorsed and advised.
The top role in communications and government affairs had, under Mayor Frank Jackson, been occupied by a single person: the extravagantly high-collared Valarie McCall. The Bibb team has elected to split McCall's roles in two.
In the government affairs post will be Ryan Puente, the taciturn, baby-faced strategist who led Bibb's campaign. Puente is also the former executive director of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. He will be tasked with city advocacy on the local, state and federal levels.
For his communications chief, Bibb has wrested Sarah Johnson from the Greater Cleveland Partnership, where she spent the past five years. Johnson led the rebrand of GCP after previous rebranding work at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic. Johnson was born in Liberia, and, according to a recent Crain's write-up, "seriously considered" pursuing a career on Broadway.
“This is an exciting time for our City and I am very pleased with the team we are building to lead Cleveland," Bibb said, in a press release. "These top-level professionals all have exceptional qualifications, but even more importantly, they share our values of an inclusive, open, modern city hall that puts people first."
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