MISSION IMPOSSIBLE? PROMISES AND POTENTIAL OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT REFORM
Bruce H. Akers - Mayor of Pepper Pike, Ohio
Mike Foley - Ohio State Representative
Joel A. Lieske, Ph.D. - Professor of Political Science at Cleveland State University
Friday October 23, 2009
Crawford Hall - Room 9
Case Western Reserve University
On November 3, the voters of Cuyahoga County, should they choose to accept it, will have the opportunity to adopt a new form of County Government.
If they vote in favor of Issue 6, the current system with three County Commissioners elected county-wide, and 8 elected specific county offices (such as the County Auditor and Recorder and Engineer) will be replaced by a single elected, full-time County Executive; an 11-member, part-time County Council, elected from separate districts; and appointment of all other executive officials except the County Prosecutor.
The voters could choose to reject Issue 6 but instead support Issue 5, which would create a commission charged with reporting some other county government reform plan, to be placed on the ballot for November, 2010. Just in case that is the result, voters will also get the chance to select the members of said commission, also as part of the election on November 3.
The set of choices is confusing enough at a technical level. But what is the substance? The real question is whether the new County Charter proposed by Issue 6 is a good idea or not.
There are lots of theories and promises. Advocates of Issue 6 claim that the main reason for a new government is to “improve the County’s economic competitiveness.” Skeptics might wonder how significant the organization of county government is compared to the dynamics of the global economy. Opponents of the new charter claim it could favor some groups over others. Skeptics might wonder how anyone can be sure how the new design would play out, and why a system that resembles the checks and balances common in much of the rest of U.S. government could be such a bad thing.
As the election approaches, the Friday Public Affairs Lunch will host a discussion of the issues about the Issues. Pepper Pike Mayor Bruce Akers, State Representative Mike Foley, and Cleveland State University Professor of Political Science Joel Lieske will join Joe White to briefly state some their individual perspectives and concerns. And then we’ll open up the discussion and see where it goes.
Please join us for what is sure to be a wide-ranging discussion, which we hope will clarify some of the choices facing the voters.
A summary of key provisions in the new charter proposed by Issue 6, as viewed by the League of Women Voters and the entire text of the proposed charter can be viewed by clinking on the previous two links.
As usual, we will gather in Room 9 of the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence, on the lower level of Crawford Hall, for free cookies, beverages, and brown bag lunch.
About Our Guests
Bruce H. Akers retired in 2000 as senior vice president, Civic Affairs, for KeyBank, a KeyCorp Bank. He held
the same position with Society Bank. He was also chairman of the Key Foundation. Prior to Society’s merger
with Ameritrust, he was vice president, Public Relations, and assistant to the Chairman for Ameritrust Co.
Before joining Ameritrust, Akers was executive secretary to Cleveland Mayor Ralph Perk from 1975-1977. He was an investment officer for Roulston and Company, Inc., for several years before moving to Cleveland City Hall. He began his banking career 49 years ago at National City Bank.
He is Chairman of City Year Cleveland, immediate past president of Park Works, and immediate past Chairman of the Chagrin Valley Inter-Governmental Council and the Look Up to Cleveland Advisory Board. He is a Trustee and on the Executive Committee of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, (where he also chairs the Governance Committee), the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland (where he also chairs the Arts and Culture Tourism Committee), Park Works, and Town Hall of Cleveland. He is past president/chairman of the Cleveland Advertising Association, the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, the Princeton Alumni Association of Northern Ohio, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland, the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland, Opera Cleveland, Park Works, Town Hall of Cleveland, the Citizens League Research Institute, the Friendly Inn Settlement, the Greater Cleveland Committee on Hunger, Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association (where he chairs the Economic Development Committee and co-chairs the Regionalism Committee), and Cleveland’s Promise (the local arm of America’s Promise). He is one of the founders of Business Volunteers Unlimited. In June 2000, he completed 30 years as a member of the National Board of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, and is currently a member of its National Advisory Council.
He serves as a trustee of United Way Services and Opera Cleveland (where he also chairs the Government Relations Committee). He is Co-Chair of the Committee on Community Re-Entry. He is on the Community Advisory Committee for the Cleveland Restoration Society, the Advisory Boards of Cleveland Bridge Builders, the March of Dimes, Stevens-Baron Communications, Inc., the Cleveland Leadership Prayer Breakfast Steering Committee, the Community Advisory Council of the Junior League of Cleveland, and an Honorary Trustee of University Settlement. He is a member of the Visiting Committee to the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University (where he also chairs the Nominating Committee), the Corporate Council of the Cleveland Orchestra, and is a member of the Executive, Central, Policy, and Platform Committees of the Cuyahoga County Republican Organization. This summer, he was appointed by the State Legislature to the nine-member Commission on Cuyahoga County Government Reform.
State Representative Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) of the 14th District was appointed to represent constituents in Brook Park, Parma Heights, and Cleveland Wards 19, 20 and 21 in May of 2006. Voters then formally elected him to continue his work at the Statehouse in November 2006 and in November 2008.
Rep. Foley earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Dayton and his law degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He has used that education to defend the rights of Ohioans, especially in the area of housing.
As a community organizer for the St. Clair-Superior Coalition in the mid-1980’s, Rep. Foley was responsible for block club organizing in the neighborhood and managing its safety. His work with homeowners and tenants in fighting absentee landlords resulted in developing a unified neighborhood housing preservation strategy. Efforts under his leadership also led the courts to sentence at least one landlord to live in his own rundown apartments.
Rep. Foley’s passion for housing issues kept defining his career. He served as field representative for Cleveland’s Community Relations Board. He then moved to the Cleveland Municipal Housing Court, where he worked as court administrator, a personal bailiff and a judicial clerk. Upon joining the Ohio Bar in 1996, Rep. Foley returned to the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law’s Housing Law Clinic as an instructor.
The Cleveland Tenants Organization noticed Rep. Foley’s impressive resume in the housing arena and hired him in 1997. He worked there for nine years, eventually becoming the organization’s executive director. He preserved and strengthened one of the most respected housing rights organization in the country. Under his watch, the CTO worked with thousands of families to save them from being displaced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Rep. Foley’s work helped bring in more than $160 million in affordable housing construction and renovation, performed by union labor. He also organized the largest rent strike in Ohio history at Columbia Park Manufactured Home Park, when out-of-state landlords bought the park and raised senior citizen rents by 25 percent.
As an attorney, Rep. Foley successfully represented victims of the first predatory lending cases in Cuyahoga County in the late 1990’s. He continues to help victims of security deposit scams and families hurt by lead-based paint.
Rep. Foley serves as Chairman of the Ohio House Housing Urban Revitalization Committee. He is a member of the Alternative Energy Committee, the Civil and Commercial Law Committee and the Ways and Means Committee.
In his tenure in the General Assembly, Rep. Foley has worked on issues including foreclosures, alternative energy, the environment, cable deregulation, retiree benefits, consumer rights and tax code reform.
Rep. Foley and his wife Chris have four children: Claire, Tom, Kevin and Matt. He says his family has taught him all of his skills in high-pressure negotiations.
Joel A. Lieske interests include political behavior and public opinion, American political culture and federalism, American government, state and urban government, public policy, political parties and interest groups, and research methodology. His research has appeared in all of the leading journals in political science and has addressed an intellectually broad and challenging agenda. Joel Lieske's papers and publications range from research on contending theories of civil violence and the causes of the 1960s and 1970s black urban riots, to some of the statistical and methodological pitfalls of analyzing aggregate and individual-level data, to evaluations of U. S. employment and training programs and the development of national labor policies, to the factors and political dynamics that condition urban voting behavior, to studies of urban recovery and metropolitan differences in the quality of life, to the development of research methodologies to measure differences in American political culture and subculture and assess their impact on the performance of state and sub-state governments.
Lately, his research interests have come to focus on the racial-ethnic and religious forces that shape American voting behavior and the factors that condition ethnic conflicts in nation states and the American states. I began my career as a comparative American scholar with special teaching and research interests in urban and state politics and political methodology. But now Professor Lieske's interests have also come to include broader national and international issues of ethnic-racial diversity, social identity, ethnic competition, social inequality, and political conflict. He has also moved beyond simple class-based and pluralist theories of human behavior to embrace broader historical-cultural, evolutionary, and bio-political perspectives. His latest article, "The Changing Regional Subcultures of the American States and the Utility of a New Cultural Measure," is scheduled for publication in Political Research Quarterly.
Joel Liske's primary fields of expertise include: American political culture, American federalism, public opinion and voting behavior, political parties and interest groups, American government and politics, public policy, state and local government, political methodology, urban politics, and political violence.
Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:
October 30: The University’s “Internationalization” Initiative. With David Fleshler, Associate Provost for International Affairs
November 6: An Update on the H1N1 Flu, With Amy Ray, Medical Director, System Infection Control Committee, Case Western Reserve University Medical Center
November 13: What Should the Common Reading for New Students Do? With Mano Singham, Director, University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education and Mayo Bulloch, Director, Educational Enhancement Programs at Case Western Reserve University
November 20: Chesapeake Bay and the Need for Dark Green Environmentalism. With Howard R. Ernst, Associate Professor of Political Science, U.S. Naval Academy
November 27: Thanksgiving Break
December 4: What the Health Care Reform Legislation Will Do, or Why Health Care Reform Failed, or Health Care Reform: What Next? or All of the Above. With Joe White, Professor of Political Science
The Friday Lunch discussions are held on the lower (ground) level of Crawford Hall. Visitors with mobility issues may find it easiest to take advantage of special arrangements we have made. On most Fridays, a few parking spaces in the V.I.P. lot in between Crawford Hall and Amasa Stone Chapel are held for participants in the lunch discussion.
Visitors then can avoid walking up the hill to the first floor of Crawford by entering the building on the ground level, through the garage area under the building. The further door on the left in that garage will be left unlocked during the period before the Friday lunch. On occasion, parking will be unavailable because of other university events.
For more information about these and other Center for Policy Studies programs, please see http://policy.case.edu.