Cuyahoga Commissioners: Be Still, Thy Peasants, and Don’t Talk at Our Meetings


County commissioners have hired a new consultant (pictured above) to help them open greater dialogue with the people they represent
The Cuyahoga County commissioners, noted defenders of freedom and leading financial scholars [“Lose Excess Wallet Weight!” December 12], have come up with a new version of democracy for our little kingdom. Traditionally, the public comment period at their weekly meetings had been open to anyone who signed up to speak. Participants were allowed to tackle whatever topic struck their fancy — be it salt trucks or construction contracts. It was one of the last great holdovers from an era when citizens actually felt they could influence their government. But the commissioners have now decided that freedom is way overrated, especially when granting it to the commoners. Too many people were spouting whatever was on their mind. This meant the commissioners had to endure angry ramblings, and the public often had to wait until the end of the meeting to speak. “It was really all over the place,” says Joseph Nanni, the county’s director of human resources. So commissioners have instituted a gag rule. If you wish to address a subject not specifically listed on the agenda – like, say, how the commissioners managed to blow $34 million on a new headquarters they’ll never build -- you must call ahead and tell them what you want to discuss and when, so they can schedule it. “Just so there’s some order,” Nanni says. A desire for decorum, of course, is understandable. But it also seems the commissioners have been boning up by reading Democracy the KGB Way!, the new autobiography from Vladimir Putin. Don’t expect expedient scheduling if you want to discuss Tim Hagan’s notoriously slim work habits. – Lisa Rab


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.