I don’t actually know how, but I was thinking about it this morning and set my mind on figuring out the answer. Here’s why:
We’re the voters, we’re the public, we’re the taxpayers.
We don’t like something that they’re going to do without our up or down vote? Then we need to find a way to stop the process so that our opinion not only is heard but governs. The commissioners are not our helicopter parents looking out for us. That’s not how it works in a democracy. We will suffer the consequences if our choice – to not build a new convention center – destroys our lives, now and in the future.
But that’s our choice to make. Just like it was your choice to vote for whichever county commissioners you wanted. (I know I did not vote for Jimmy Dimora and I’m pretty sure I didn’t vote for Tim Hagan. I may have voted for Peter Lawson Jones but I don’t remember.)
So – how does one research how to stop the commissioners?
1. I googled “how to take legal action against county commissioners.”
That didn’t turn up anything after about two minutes.
2. Next I googled “rules that govern cuyahoga county commissioners.”
That brought me to this policy and procedures page for people who work for the county commissioners.
It’s at this point that I scour my brain: who do I know, who do I know, who do I know who I could ask, How do you stop the county commissioners?
I know a few people who could probably give me solid direction, and I suspect a few of them even read this blog. So I’m hoping I’ll get some additional input.
But in the meantime, I decided to take another route:
3. I go to the commissioner’s home page.
4. I click on the lefthand sidebar link that reads, “Public Awareness.” Oooo.
5. On the front page of Public Awareness is a link to Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Authority.
I think I hit the jackpot, until I get there. All the info is old – the most recent news item is a 2/06 Crain’s story about things being on hold. By the way, just for fun, here’s the Calendar of Events. Nice, huh?
When I click on “About Us” and then “Members,” its list of commissioners is 100% wrong (outdated).
When I click on “FAQs” the information also is glow-y but stale PR stuff. You can get to the analysis done by PriceWaterhouse (it’s a pdf) but it too is stale, based on information from November 2004. (I did like this line, though, from the exec summary: “We take no responsibility for any events, economic conditions, supply and demand factors, or other circumstances affecting the findings or estimates provided in this report that take place subsequent to our last day of our fieldwork, January 28, 2005.”)
When I click on “Public Presentation,” nothing happens. The screen stays on the same page. Guess there’s no public presentation.
When you click on Testimonials, Woohoo! But before you let yourself get bowled over, ask:
-are you on the list?
-do you know anyone on the list?
-do those folks still live in the county, if they ever did?
-do you or they still agree with what they said?
(I’m such a skeptic sometimes)
When you click on Industry Info, you get to a page that let’s you get to a pdf of info on convention centers across the US (I haven’t checked it out).
And last and kind of least, when I click on Related Links, I get five links that are totally, totally uninteresting which I could get to myself, almost without thinking.
So, going to the commissioners’ homepage gives me no solid, good info, especially the pro and con I’m looking for, re: the convention center concept, let alone a place that would tell me how to challenge the commissioners. And, in addition, I find an ancient, deadend website set up nearly three years ago for a facilities authority which I’m not sure still exists or did much more than simply set themselves up. I just don’t know and I’ve run out of time this morning to research it more.
There are other primary links on the facilities authority’s home page, but I don’t have time to check them out. You can go to the site’s site map to see that there is some info about why they were looking at a new convention center. No doubt that the numbers in the summaries etc. are very different in 2007.
And, FYI – the Commissioner’s page itself, under Links? Doesn’t link to the facilities authority page. Guess someone hasn’t been aware of the public enough to make the pages internally consistent.
What I’m thinking now is –
1) What’s a citizen to DO? There is absolutely nothing on our county commissioner’s site that tells me what, as a citizen, my recourse is if I disagree with the actions of the commissioners. Nothing. Again, I might be missing something, going in the wrong direction. But I’ve been looking for nearly 90 mins. If a resident of this county cannot find, in THREE minutes, how to challenge the commissioners on their decisions or proposals, and can’t find most other info without opening up pdfs (as with agendas; forget actions – it’s “under construction), then county residents are not being served, let alone well-served.
2) How much did the county spend of our money on that facilities site? Here’s contact info for the company indicated as having done the website, NCCI, which, by the way, did Stephanie Tubbs Jones’ website (but the project is listed as a deallocation of over $83K on this federal spending website for 2005 – but I have no clue as to what that means; in 2002, NCCI received $69K in federal funds for work, but not necessarily for the congresswoman) and includes the facilities site as an example of its work. Hmmm, not sure I’d do that.
Of course, one of the consequences of letting that site get stale is that I didn’t reach the current site for the company, which I’ve now found, until almost 30 minutes later, totally by accident as I’ve been researching more info about NCCI.
Here’s the current site – I think it’s current anyway. [And FYI –
I’m now almost an hour into trying to learn about how to stop the commissioners, and look where I am?] It’s nice, and I reached it through a Google result connected to NEOSA, which has NCCI on its list, IT Industry Directory,
It’s a woman/minority-owned business run by Kimberly Sanders. According to Diversity Business, in 2005, NCCI had annual sales of $150 million and was the #10 Top African American Owned Businesses in the USA and #14 Top Women Owned Businesses and #32 in the Top 500 Diversity Owned Businesses in the USA.
I’m impressed by the numbers, I confess, but I’ve been unable, just through Googling, to find much specific information about Ms. Sanders.
3) I’m in the wrong place for finding info about recourse related to commissioners’ actions done without votes – maybe there’s something newer I don’t know about.
4) Nah, I doubt it.
5) I need a primer on this entire topic – raising taxes without votes and the convention center – because I’ve only followed it sporadically. In the interest of Public Awareness – that link on the front page of the commissioners’ website – I urge the commissioners, especially since they want to act without letting us vote, to provide a historical up to now primer on the move to build a new convention center. I would suggest that they get someone from the Center for Community Solutions to write it, if they want readers to trust it.
Short of that, maybe Crain’s would be willing to do this review of the developments and keep it available on its site for free at least through July.
Later today: emailing everyone I can imagine for more info. If you want to save yourself the email, you can just leave me a comment to help me – and I have to believe others – understand and learn, particularly about how to stop the commissioners.
NB: Last thing – I have to go, but last thing: there’s not a single woman in charge at the commissioners’ office, is there?