Thursday, September 16, 2010

“Cuyahoga” Means Crooked – For Rivers AND County Commissioners (An Editorial)

Cleveland is located in Cuyahoga County, and the Cuyahoga River flows through the city of Cleveland on its way to Lake Erie, separating the city into” “east siders” and “west siders. The word “Cuyahoga" translates to “crooked river" in the Iroquois language, as the river has a crooked, winding pattern as it snakes through the area.

The name Cuyahoga couldn’t fit better for the "crooked" Cuyahoga County Commissioners, one of which who is being charged for several counts of corruption and the others appear to be mentioned in that commissioner's indictment (but not charged with any wrongdoing). There are also other related charges for an auditor, contractors, and even judges. In fact, Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is at the center of one of the biggest local corruption cases in U.S. history. While many have been charged already, and Dimora’s indictment has been expected by many since his home, and those of other commission members and contractors were raided by the Feds about 2 years ago, it’s likely that this is not the end of the Federal investigation or Federal charges for others.

The Plain Dealer also noted ”The reach of the scandal might turn out to be highly unusual, said Case Western Reserve University law and political science professor Jonathan Entin, because it involves an old-fashioned, political-party operation, far more common in 19th- and early 20th-century U.S. politics..."It starting to look like the classic 'machine,' " Entin said after reading Wednesday's indictments.”As the Democratic county chair, Jimmy Dimora built a party organization" that has no peer in contemporary local politics.”

It’s more than an embarrassment for the Cleveland area; it’s a disgusting display of greed and misuse of power. While one of the county auditors, Frank Russo, has already cut a deal with the Feds, Dimora continues to proclaim his innocence. While people are innocent until proven guilty, the 177 pages of indictment against Dimora make it hard to believe that he is as squeaky clean as he professes. Dimora is currently on a brief leave of absence, but said he plans to finish out his term, which is not too much longer. With the county voters already voting for change in the structure of their county commissioners and the process to elect new officials is underway, Dimora should just step aside. While he probably did not want to step aside before any indictments were made, now that he has been indicted and will be putting his full attention to his defense, it is not fair for county residents to have leadership that not only can’t be trusted, but that has no time to represent the public.

The city of Cleveland and the residents of Cuyahoga County deserve to have politicians that they can trust. While the indictments and the scandal are likely not over, as the new county government structure and the related election moves forward, there must be checks and balances put in place to ensure that this never happens again – because Clevelanders only want crooked rivers, not politicians.

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Michael said...

Just one correction, Frank was County auditor, not one of the County Commissioners.

All Things Cleveland said...

Oops, yes you are correct and thanks for the heads up. I fixed it!