To the Editor:
An Open Letter to the North Olmsted’s City Council – The First Meeting of 2022
First, I want to congratulate Mayor Jones and the members of City Council on a well-run campaign. It’s obvious that your message of change and inclusion got across to the voters. Certainly one of the main issues of contention was the Cleveland water agreement. I agreed with those who opposed it. It was and is a bad deal for North Olmsted.
Now we are about to embark on changes on how some things are done. Mayor Jones, in her interviews with the media, has given the impression that she is going to delegate more responsibility to subordinates and others rather than be the autocratic style of leader that our former mayor was. In many ways, that is good. It gives City Council an opportunity to grow into something other than a “rubber stamp” for what the administration wants. I do have some concerns about her accessibility. Almost every mayor I have known has been willing to meet and respond directly to individuals. It’s what separates the suburbs from a big city like Cleveland, whereby the large numbers of people makes individual concerns almost irrelevant.
To Carrie Copfer, I especially appreciate the job you’ve done as our finance director. As you know, based on the structure of government, I’ve been in favor of an appointed finance director — appointed by the mayor for the simple reason that the budget and how money is spent is the mayor’s responsibility. But, by having an elected finance director, your loyalty goes beyond that, to the public who elects you. Therefore, as our finance director, when you see something that’s not right, you should express your concerns not only to the mayor but also publicly. We need to know when the city is heading in the wrong direction.
It has also been established in past practice that the charter of the city of North Olmsted is more or less a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. That precedent was established in 1995 when I chaired the Charter Review Commission. At that time, the charter stated that the commission’s recommendations were to be “submitted forthwith” to the electorate by council. But, the law director at that time, advised council that they did not have to do that. So it is easy to see that putting the charter’s form over practical substance is not necessary. Even if the charter says there must be a safety director, is one needed? Both the police and fire/EMS departments have chiefs. They know their jobs. There are people already in the administration to handle budget requests, labor contracts, legal procedures and all other needs as they arise. There is nothing for a full-time, 40 hour/week, 2,080 hour/year safety director to do, except maybe take up space as a political patronage job. This city cannot afford that kind of waste. May I suggest to Mayor Jones — take a ride up and down Lorain Road and see the number of vacant storefronts that still exist along with Great Northern and the underdeveloped commercial properties at the west end of the city. Simply stated, we need more taxpayers and not more taxes and certainly not more deficit spending.
Best wishes and good luck to our newly elected mayor, Nicole Jones, and her city council. You certainly have your work cut out for you.