And, still, a new form to our county government.
Cuyahoga County Commissioner, Tim Hagan (D) seems like a nice enough guy who has been a fixture in Cleveland for the twenty years I’ve been here – and I thought he already was a fixture when I arrived in 1988.
So maybe his clearly stated pronouncement of and preference for a patriarchal style of governing – which is absolutely antithetical to the 21st century’s ability for participation and the last decade’s emphasis on voter rights and expression of the civic will – shouldn’t surprise me.
But in this first week after Democrat Barack Obama started his four-year term as U.S. president, Hagan’s words, maybe now more than ever, represent not only a throwback to a time and style that voters just rejected, but it’s an unacceptable paradigm for governing today and in the future, period. Don’t even get me started on the fact that there hasn’t been a woman on the board of county commissioners since Jane Campbell in 2001 – eight years. And other than Mary O. Boyle, I can’t even find record of other women who have served on the board of county commissioners – is that right? Please tell me I’m wrong.
“Hagan: The mall site is 108 million dollars less, estimated cost, than the other site. Really, three people off the street would have made the same decision.”
Hagan said negotiations with MMPI over the convention center and medical mart project were kept private because there were issues of land acquisition involved and they didn’t want to tip their hand to land-owners. And he rebuffed the suggestion that the site selection process was overly secretive, saying the commissioners’ were well within their rights to proceed the way they did.
Hagan: “We are the elected representatives in a democracy. It’s not a direct democracy, it’s a representative democracy. Everybody makes these arguments… That’s what we’re elected to do.” [emphasis added]
Oh my God. Am I the only one who sees the analogy to how Captain Janeway was perceived as leading?
Okay – that’s kind of low, but still – go read what it says about her style of leading. Serious parallels!
If the decision could have been made by three people in the street, how about Fred Nance giving back some money? How about Hagan giving up his seat to one of those people on the street? Or me – I’ll try my luck. I’m hoping I’m at least as good as a person on the street when it comes to decision-making.
This perversion of defining democracy is shameful, arrogant and frankly, mean-spirited. There are plenty of other ways to say that you were elected to do a job, you are charged with this responsibility and this is what you chose to do in the best interests of the county and region.
But to throw democracy at us as justification for what you decided and how you decided it, in private? When Hagan knows that it was the citizens of the county who really showed what it is to use democracy by challenging the 1/4 percent tax increase in the first place – a rate chosen specifically to avoid democratic input from voters because law doesn’t require a vote for an increase of that size?
Funny how Hagan uses democracy to justify what he’s doing but when voters sought to use democracy to challenge what he was trying to do, the law barely allows much room for that mechanism to succeed.
The most recent spate of efforts related to reforming the county government overall have failed, and the changes to the commissioner entity were only making them stronger and less democratic in my opinion (here’s the Plain Dealer‘s post-mortem, blaming Democrats for all the problems far and wide; whatev; talk about over-generalizing). I tend to side with Roldo Bartimole’s assessments late last fall (read here and here) regarding the bossism enshrined in the proposal – and this means that I actually side with my mayor, Bruce Akers in disapproving (though not as much in why we disapprove). That’s nice, because I do actually like Mayor Akers. I just disagree on his style at times. Well, okay – that, and some of his ideas.
But I digress.
Anyway – shame on Hagan’s arrogance in that statement. Thumbing his nose at the very people who keep putting him there is plain ugly and wrong.
Just what does it take to get new faces on the board of the county commissioners? Haven’t I asked this before?