Ed FitzGerald and crew have largely avoided any mishaps in their first year in office. The County Exec has said and done all the right things, from demanding that certain employees choose between working for the county or working at partisan political positions to laying off unneeded and unqualified hangers-on from the previous era to never ever wearing a zebra-print shirt.
A small hiccup in that track record has popped up, according to the PD: the county hired a finance manager without posting the job and the fella who won the position is an old friend of the guy who hired him.
See, back in the Dimora/Russo era, jobs were doled out to cousins, brothers, cousins of friends, brothers of cousins' friends, cronies, and generally anyone who was willing to give their boss a free ice machine. Didn't really matter if you were qualified or not. In fact, being qualified was actively discouraged.
FitzGerald sought to end the patronage gravy train after arriving in office, and to his credit, he and the county have owned the current mistake.
Here's what happened: Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer Wade Steen handed the keys to the finance manager position to Eric Ricther, a former coworker of Steen's. The $110,000 job wasn't posted, but Cuyahoga County HR says that it simply fell through the cracks as the department reorganizes, according to the report.
In this case, unlike during the halcyon days of plush no-work county paychecks for cousin Sal and his 8th grade diploma, the county actually probably hired the right guy, but even the hint of impropriety is something FitzGerald wants to avoid.
FitzGerald ordered the job to be posted in six months, but agreed to allow Richter to continue working on probationary status until then.
Richter presumably will be the best qualified applicant, Hara said.
"This wasn't hiring on political consideration," FitzGerald said. "He's a consummate professional."
"It wasn't my intention to do anything improper," Steen said. "It was my goal to bring the best people we can to Cuyahoga County, so we can provide the best service.
"I was looking at someone who had broad experience in county government," Steen said. "I needed someone who could tie the functions of a recorder's office and auditor's office together."
We're guessing this might be the last time the county forgets to post a job publicly. Just a hunch.