On the heels of President Obama's cajoling State of the Union address, Ed FitzGerald laid out plans for Cuyahoga County and catalogued his political triumphs in his third annual State of the County speech at the Renaissance Hotel on Tuesday.
FitzGerald characterized his address as a "report card" and certainly wasn't shy about giving himself straight A's. He painted an exultant portrait, listing significant improvements in county government efficiency, regional innovation, public safety, and education.
No major new policies to report, save for a planned consolidation of 9-1-1 call centers, a rebranding of the Medical Mart as the Global Center for Health Innovation and a bizarre, non-specific appeal for an Exposition in 2016 (on the 80th Anniversary of the 1936 Great Lakes Exposition).
Unlike Obama's remarks last week, which plotted a roster of necessary legislative action in the coming year, FitzGerald stuck mainly to the past, contrasting his leadership prerogatives and results with those of his predecessors.
Thus, the State of the County's operative tone was subtle personal adulation; the operative premise was transformation of government culture at FitzGerald's own hands. Yet somehow — and I'm being dead serious when I say this — he remained charming as hell throughout.
Bear in mind that our county executive isn't exactly electric with a microphone in his hands. Bear in mind also that his rhetoric, by and large, had the data-heavy sobriety of, e.g., facilities memos. For awhile, it felt less like he was orating and more like he was reading a report.
But as he trucked along, one thing became abundantly clear.
Ed FitzGerald is Harvey Dent. Ed FitzGerald is the White Knight of Cuyahoga County. He has galloped into Cleveland on a horse groomed in Lakewood and has become a totally non-Two-Faced face — the downy Irish face which has done its level best to help us forget Jimmy DiMora's, whose scruff and wattle emblemized the industry of county corruption writ large.