Perspective: A political etiquette call: Hagan or no Hagan?

1:05 PM, Jun 7, 2013   |    comments
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UPDATE: After this column appeared, MMPI's Dave Johnson reached out to Hagan about possibly attending the event. Hagan said he had plans and would be out of town.

As I write this, it's seven days before what will be a gala community celebration, the ribbon-cutting and opening of the new Cleveland Convention Center that's partnered with the Global Center for Health Innovation.

Hundreds of invitations have been sent and delivered to a range of political, civic and business community V.I.P.'s.

But in what many people would consider a glaring omission and political etiquette gaffe, the man who is perhaps most responsible for the project becoming reality is still waiting to be invited.

Former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan wasn't sure when the opening date was when we talked. The subject came up by chance during a more personal conversation.

He didn't seem upset , but sounded a bit disappointed when I told him it was June 14.

"Well, maybe I'll just wander down and look at it," he said.

Hagan was the official who most aggressively pushed for the project, realizing that the "Medical Mart" idea was a way to capitalize on Cleveland's prestigious medical community and give the Convention Center an "extra" attraction.

His personal connection to Chris Kennedy, developer MMPI's top man, was key in getting it's buy-in.

He was friends with Chris's dad -- Senator Robert Kennedy.

Hagan deliberately did not attend  the January, 2011 groundbreaking for the project to avoid being a distraction. And he was not feeling good about his long public service career, ended when voters abolished the county government he served in.

Yes he was part of the old, discredited county system voters terminated because of corruption, duplication and inefficiency.

But Hagan was never linked to any wrongdoing  in the Jimmy Dimora/Frank Russo web of graft and "gimme" government.

Now time has passed and Dimora and Russo are rightfully in the clink.

Hagan's been watching from afar from his Olmsted Township home.

Who's call is this?

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald is the political gatekeeper deciding who will be invited.

He will be able to bask in the glory of a project started on someone else's watch. FitzGerald does deserve some credit for the project coming in ahead of schedule and under budget. 

And a formerly more unfocused and uncertain business plan now has more direction.

FitzGerald needn't worry that inviting Hagan would require a matching one to Dimora.

Dimora might feel snubbed, but it's unlikely his federal prison babysitters would give him time off to attend.

Hagan and Dimora were the two of three votes that approved the sales tax increase that funded the project. Then-Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones was the dissenting vote.

A spokesman for Governor John Kasich , the man Ed FitzGerald is running against says Kasich got his invitation a couple weeks ago.

His office is claiming a conflict will keep him from attending, eliminating a chance for some awkward  interaction with his opponent.

One longtime political watcher called Hagan's non-invitation "outrageous." 

We're told not all the invitations have been sent and many just went out.

Perhaps sending one this belatedly would be more of an insult.

But whatever it takes, any political Miss Manners would agree Hagan deserves to be there.

And now another question, if there is a project plaque installed in the building, whose names should be on it?


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