Candidate Ed FitzGerald pledged that as the first Cuyahoga County executive, he would review county operations, with an eye toward rooting out corruption.
One area under review is pay to county employees, particularly in the county's fiscal office. In January, 89 employees learned their wages will be slashed this month, saving taxpayers about $735,000 annually.
The reductions follow the findings of a North Carolina-based consultant, Archer Co., hired by the county last year to examine which workers do what and how much each should be paid.
Based on Archer's recommendations, 27 employees' wages will be reduced more than $10,000, County Human Resources Director Elise Hara said after notices were sent to the employees. Most of the rest of the reductions are in the thousands of dollars, she said, noting that the smallest pay cut is $214 per year. The largest cut was more than $29,000 a year.
Most facing the biggest reductions were employees who once worked for former County Auditor Frank Russo, who pleaded guilty to 21 corruption-related charges and is cooperating with prosecutors as a witness in the corruption and racketeering trial of former county Commissioner Jimmy Dimora.
The rest facing cuts worked in the offices of former Recorder Lillian Greene and former Treasurer Jim Rokakis, neither of whom has been implicated in the corruption scandal.
The auditor's, recorder's and treasurer's offices were consolidated into a fiscal office last year after voters approved a new charter form of county government.
FitzGerald said in January that no one should be surprised by the pay cuts because he had been discussing them in meetings with workers and with the media for months.
"There had been gross distortions in pay raises. Some employees were making more than their supervisors,” he said then. "Some of these folks will have to take a good, long look at whether they want to work for the county.”
This is the second time we looked at progress on this promise. Last October, PolitiFact Ohio noted the hiring of an inspector general and efforts to rein in sick time abuse.
Just over a year into FitzGerald's term, it's too soon to rate this pledged fulfilled. But there clearly are efforts underway. For now we'll keep the Fitz-O-Meter set to In the Works.