Just over a month before taking office under a brand new charter, Cuyahoga County’s first Executive spoke to hundreds of county employees about what to expect in the coming year. Ideastream’s Bill Rice reports.
To anyone’s memory, no Cuyahoga County leader has ever called an assembly of all county employees. Executive-Elect Ed Fitzgerald began the session by saying that corruption among high-level county officials had victimized not just taxpayers, and business owners who were denied contract opportunities, but also honest county workers… in myriad ways.
FITZGERALD: “Some of you were passed over for promotions or raises while someone else who didn’t work as hard as you or as well as you got those opportunities because of someone they were close to, and those days are over.” (applause)
Fitzgerald went on to list more than a dozen new rules that all employees must adhere to after he takes office, including strict rules prohibiting political activity on the job, and prohibiting anyone from pressuring anyone to do political work or contribute to any political campaign. All jobs will be posted, giving everyone a shot to compete for them. All employees will have well-defined job descriptions, meet qualifications requirements and be evaluated annually.
And Fitzgerald put a strict prohibition on accepting gifts.
FITZGERALD: “No employee can accept anything, anything of value from a vendor. Now, under Ohio law, public employees can accept some gifts from those doing business with government. But we’re going to establish a higher standard, and we’re going to stick to it.”.
Fitzgerald also talked about a budget shortfall he expects will be deep, and put county employees on notice that there would be consolidation and downsizing. How much downsizing depends in large part on how much the General Assembly cuts its local government fund. He says he’s heard proposals ranging from five percent to 100 percent.
FITZGERALD: “we may have as much as a 32 million dollar hole just from that element of state funding, and that’s not the only way the state helps all of our departments.
Ed Fitzgerald takes office January first.