The answer to that provocative question is “fewer, and fewer people.” A poll was conducted back in the 1970s asking how people felt about their elected officials, and over 70% of Americans responded positively. The same poll was just done again last year and only 19% of the citizenry gave a positive response. We have Republicans like Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich to thank for this outcome since they set out to purposefully turn Americans off to politics.
Their thinking was, if they were ultimately successful, then a smaller number of conservatives could control a larger number of progressives since the latter would be disinclined to vote. Alarmingly, they have almost been successful with this apartheid-like initiative.
But the point of this is, there’s little wonder that a couple of political losers (funded by a Republican operative) could gather enough signatures to put the city council reduction issue on the ballot in March in hopes that voters wouldn’t wise up to what’s actually going on.
This is where I come in, folks. As a seasoned journalist, it’s my job to present facts so that the electorate can make an informed decision.
The facts are these: The City of Cleveland solicited bids to provide energy-aggregating services. Companies like NOPEC buy energy in bulk and then sell it to consumers at a cheaper rate than the consumer can get on their own.
Here’s how the process goes: Jackson administration officials negotiate with the energy companies that bid on the business, and then, after deciding on which bid is best, they present their determinations to city council for approval or rejection. Council does not get to control the process it only gets to sign off on it.
NOPEC is very well-known and just as respected. After two rounds of bidding, they won the contract from the city. However, Tony George had convinced another company that he could help them win the bid. When he couldn’t produce for the other businessmen (and make himself a handsome fee), he got his panties all in a bunch; that’s when he hit upon a scheme to play “get-back.”
So George solicited two disgruntled Cleveland residents, Bill Ritter and John Kandah (a so-called “political activist” who for decades has run unsuccessfully for office, but hasn’t been able to get elected even dog catcher), to do his bidding and collect the requisite signatures to put the council reduction issue on the ballot. But, as previously stated, getting enough people to sign onto even stringing a politician up by the neck is easy to do in this negative environment.
However, simply because voters have the right and ability to do something stupid, does that mean they should?
As a matter of principle, I’m always for checking on our elected officials and fine-tuning how our government is run. And maybe city council should be reduced, but certainly not this drastically and not over petty bullshit.
My good friend (and sometime writing collaborator), retired Judge Ellen Connally, penned an article that, for the most part, I agree with. If we’re going to change the composition of city council let’s take our time and do it right, which means adding councilpersons-at-large. Most successful, forward-thinking cities have at-large seats, and indeed, all of Columbus’s councilpersons serve at-large. Read her article of CoolCleveland.com to see how much sense she makes.
As it now stands, we are at a census year, which means the number of councilpersons in Cleveland will be reduced automatically if the number of citizens drops. What’s the big rush? Let’s wait until the census count is in, and then go about looking at the size of city council in an intelligent and orderly manner — not just because some suburbanite Republican has his panties all in a bunch.