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Thursday, February 18, 2010

ACLU: ABOUT THOSE COMMITTEES ...

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 12:07 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio isn't done whipping Cuyahoga County transition leaders into shape.

The ACLU last week helped to pry open Cuyahoga County meetings that aimed to shape the county's new government in secrecy. The ACLU has now asked transition leader Jim McCafferty, and the county commissioners who appointed him to oversee the transition, to explain how officials formed the committees that will work during those meetings.

In a letter to McCafferty, the ACLU asks transition leaders to cough up records that show how McCafferty and two other county administrators organized a transition executive committee and 11 sub-committees. Those committees will meet throughout the year and draw up recommendations for the county's new charter government, which goes into effect January 1, 2011.

The transition process — put in the hands of McCafferty and county administrators Gary Holland and Joseph Nanni — has gotten off to a bumpy start after the revelation that the 12 committees would do much of their work in private, away from reporters and the public. McCafferty, Holland and Nanni were appointed to oversee the transition to the new charter government by the standing board of commissioners, and McCafferty has said that it is impossible for three people to oversee such a task.

The issue became muddier after McCafferty's decision to work with New Cuyahoga Now, the campaign group that successfully pushed for the new charter. Several members of that group — led by former Parma Heights mayor Marty Zanotti — sit on committees.

The committees are a blend of public administrators and private-sector suits, including executives from Eaton Corp., KeyCorp and the Cleveland Clinic; lawyers with powerful firms Jones Day and Thomspon Hine; and heads of small enterprises. Politicians including Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and State Senator Nina Turner are also involved.

No word yet on how county officials will respond to the ACLU's demand. — Damian Guevara

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