Cuyahoga County: Is 'corruption fatigue' setting in?

1:35 PM, Sep 24, 2010   |    comments
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So says Professor Robert Lawry, director of the Center for Professional Ethics at Case Western Reserve University.

"We're not inclined to pay attention and I think that's a problem," Lawry told WKYC.

Lawry points to the pitiful voter turnout in Cuyahoga County of about 16 percent on Sept. 7.

Voters were deciding finalists in twelve new positions in the future county executive and council form of government. Empty polling locations were commonplace.

"That's a sad, sad story," Lawry told WKYC, "something that's part of a larger problem, and that is, what does it mean to be a responsible citizen?"

He went on, "We have to be informed. We have to go to the polls. We have to vote. We have to do those things that citizens need to do to keep our democracy healthy and flourishing, and at the moment, we're not doing that."

Further evidence of a growing fatigue with the more than two-year corruption investigation may be the fact that not one citizen raised an objection at Thursday's Cuyahoga County commission meeting, where Jimmy Dimora, indicted on 26 federal charges, was allowed to still conduct the public's business to a limited degree.

In Bell, California, residents have spoken out loudly and angrily against their accused politicans at meetings, and in some impromptu public demonstrations.

Eight public officials in that Los Angeles suburb are charged with corruption, including awarding themselves outrageous salaries. 

"Lots of people think that bringing to justice those who seem to have violated the law and our trust is a good thing, so there's kind of a cleansing there," Lawry conceded, "but the question is, what are we doing to do about it?"

"Are we going to become informed citizens or are we going to allow soundbites and cliches to rule what it is we ought to be thinking about? And I think that's our problem."

Lawry says that, while Cuyahoga County citizens may have become a little weary of indictment after indictment of prominent politicians and others, they do look with enthusiasm for a post-corruption county government.

But he says it is one the people will have to oversee with more diligence.

"That's really the issue. How our vigilance can be improved. How each of us have to take responsibility for these kinds of situations."

"Are these situations endemic to the human condition? Yes. Will we ever free ourselves from these things? No. Can we do better? Yes."


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