Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald is having a busy week. He's flexed his muscles like the big County Executive that he is, preening with biceps exposed, glittering with beady drops of sweat. Figuratively speaking, of course.
Today the county announced FitzGerald whacked three more employees — Robert Chambers, Hanane Hmada, and Marcella King Piazza. Chambers had served as Administrator at the boards of revision until he was removed from that position in the wake of the Plain Dealer's expansive investigation into the general clusterfuck that was the department. He then was shipped over to the Auditor's office to collect a paycheck until FitzGerald finally brought the ax down.
Both Hmada and King Piazza were boards of revision employees, as well.
The Plain Dealer also reports that FitzGerald is hoping to sign a gleaming new anti-nepotism policy next month, something that seemed only to exist in theory during the Dimora/Russo days.
Earlier this week the paper reported that Prosecutor Bill Mason has a laundry list of relatives who have been given public jobs, oftentimes positions that weren't available to the public. Also, although we don't remember exact numbers, Bill Mason has like 374 immediate relatives. The point is they all use taxpayer dollars as napkins at their family reunions.
FitzGerald took square aim at Mason in his an interview with the PD, saying he expects Mason to comply. If not, well, the purse strings for the Prosecutor's office are held by FitzGerald and he's not afraid to use that leverage.
"When you control the purse strings, you still have some opportunity for oversight," FitzGerald said in an interview Tuesday. "The budget of the prosecutor's office has to be passed by the County Council and signed off on by me, and I'm not foreclosing on the possibility that employment practices [will play a part]. Everyone's going to have to defend their spending."
Mason, through a spokesman, said he will indeed comply with the law.
In pre-FBI raid Cleveland, if you were related to a big county boss, or were friends with someone who was friends with a big county boss, or if you were the third niece twice removed on the step mother's side of Frank Russo's family, you were basically assured a job for life.
A new anti-nepotism policy would ban county officials from hiring their spouses, domestic partners, parents, grandparents, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and all in-laws.
FitzGerald says he is open to adding even tougher language in the future but would not clarify whether possible restrictions would include "brother from another mother."