Cuyahoga County Council Split On Prosecutor’s Concerns About IG Amendment!

Ideastream.org

By Matthew Richmond

Posted July 23rd 2018

(PHOTO: MIKE O’MALLY CUYAHOGA COUNTY PROSECUTOR)

 

MARK GRIFFIN CUYAHOGA COUNTY INSPECTOR GENERAL

The Cuyahoga County Council is considering an amendment to the county charter to codify the responsibilities and powers of an inspector general. The position already exists, but it would be more difficult to eliminate if it’s in the charter.

County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley spoke during the public comment period at Tuesday’s council committee meeting and said he supports adding the job to the charter. But he criticized parts of the amendment, including certain powers given to the IG and the removal of the requirement that the officeholder be an attorney.

“I don’t agree that our best practice is to reduce the qualifications of this important position,” said O’Malley. “They need to be able to analyze legal issues; they need to understand constitutional issues. I just think the more qualified individual we have in that position the better. I don’t understand the logic in reducing it.”

O’Malley’s list of suggested changes include:

  • The IG shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with outside investigations and should refer any evidence of criminal wrongdoing to law enforcement.
  • The IG shouldn’t be able to issue advisory opinions on conflicts of interest if asked by a public employee; the Ohio Ethics Commission should handle those.
  • The IG should be appointed by a neutral authority.
  • The IG should be a lawyer.
  • The IG shouldn’t be able to subpoena people or businesses outside county government even if they are doing business with the county.

Council members were split on O’Malley’s critique, with some arguing that many of the changes or limitations on the position’s authority he suggested could be made at a later date. Others said they were open to adding amendments before council votes on the amendment.

The proposal now goes to the full council, and if approved would end up on the November ballot.

 

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