by Kyle Swenson
Now that the newly elected county council is knee deep in their first public controversy, we here at Scene are going to humbly offer up a tip on public persona management.
If you’re trying to soft pedal some accusations that you’ve been less than legit in your government work, it’s probably not a good idea . . . no wait . . . scratch that . . . it’s absolutely not a good idea to mention, ever, Jimmy Dimora’s name in any context to the media. Why, you ask? Well, let’s look.
This week the PD ran a story targeting council member Sunny Simon. In light of the recent private meeting held by a group of Democrats, the paper found out that Simon had participated in a secret meeting when she was on South Euclid council.
Simon defended herself in the article, saying that she doesn’t have a “pattern of violating the open-meeting law” and that she was sorry for participating in the meeting. All good. But she also dropped this line.
"I feel like I'm being lumped in as a criminal, like Dimora, who took money," Simon said. "I feel like I'm being sullied."
In the next graph, the PD slapped together their usual work-up of Jimmy the Big, complete with links.
Outgoing County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora has been charged with 26 offenses in the investigation of corruption within county government. His trial is set for September. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and has steadfastly maintained his innocence.
You’ll notice that Dimora’s name hasn’t come up in any of the coverage of the council’s secret meeting and fallout. That’s because Dimora is the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named of Cleveland politics. As in, “Why is the back room meeting such a big deal? Well, because of the long history of shady back room dealings conducted under He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”
The reason for this is practical. Anytime a politician drops his name, the paper is going to toss in the obligatory graph rehashing the corruption charges, less to enlighten readers than to publicly hammer Dimora all over again. The PD is particularly good at this: any chance they get, they’ll tell you all about Jim’s bad deeds, sixteen-wheeling his corrupt bulk into any context whatsoever.
Now, we’ve only heard good things about Simon, and we also feel she’s being railroaded for this earlier “secret meeting.” But she sullied herself by evoking You-Know-Who; mention Dimora, and snap!, your name is sharing column space with Public Official #1. And then you’ve got one of these:
And no one wants one of those.