Cuyahoga County: Anger, relief greet Russo resignation, charges

5:04 AM, Sep 10, 2010   |    comments
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"He's probably the worst of the offenders. I hope there is nobody worse...This will probably go down as the worst public corruption scandal in Ohio history," said Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis.

Expanded Cuyahoga County corruption probe coverage

Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones said, "There is no relief to be gained by anything that happened. This has been an unmitigated disaster for the past two years. I would like to use stronger language to describe how I feel, but my Mom and Dad taught me not to use four-letter words in public. If he had any honor, he'd have resigned two years ago."

Republican Party of Cuyahoga County Chairman Rob Frost said," To sum it up in one word -- relief. This gives us the opportunity to have a transition government. We're finally rooting out the political bosses governing our county."

Chief Operating Officer Destin Ramsey is now in charge of the Auditor's office.

"Personally, surprised. I respect his decision. Now we have to make sure everything runs smoothly," Ramsey said.

Twelve years ago, Russo plea-bargained down a felony charge of making workers do political chores on the county clock to a misdemeanor. Voters kept electing him.

"You might have thought, he would figure he dodged a bullet and be on his best behavior," Rokakis said.

Commissioners will appoint Russo's replacement, likely at their meeting next week.

Russo's friend and fellow probe target, Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora was not at work today and had no comment. Dimora has not been charged and maintains his innocence.

The normally accessible and outspoken County Commissioner Tim Hagan was also silent. Hagan was among the first to call for Russo's resignation.

The Democratic Party has 45 days to decide if it wants to pick someone to fill the office until the new county government starts operations next year.

We could not reach Democratic Party Chairman Stuart Garson for comment today, as it is the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

Democratic Party Vice Chairman Blaine Griffin did not return our call for comment.

Auditor and other so called second-tier "row offices," like recorder and treasurer, will be appointed in the new reform government starting next year. They will answer to the new County Executive.

Reform advocates say that will cut down the opportunity for officeholders to build their own fiefdoms.


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