Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cuyahoga County Land Bank has County Treasurer Showing his Political Fangs

Here's a great example of what happens if you do not toe the line in the political circles in Cuyahoga County - you get attacked. In this case you are called incompetent and asked to be removed from your job of 19 years.

Reviewing the numbers for the newly created County Land Bank, which was expected to raise millions for the county by purchasing & collecting taxes on foreclosed properties, Budget Director Sandy Turk comes to the conclusion that the numbers don't work. Turk estimates the Land Bank will cost the county about $30 million in start up money to buy foreclosed properties, and will cause the county to lose approximately $2 million a year.

One of the snakes pushing for a cosmetic reform of Cuyahoga County Government and one of the brain trusts behind creating a county land bank - Cuyahoga County Treasurer James Rocockiss - (who by the way is looking to advance his own political career with this reform) will stand for no one to challenge his cherry picked numbers...
Rokakis, who has billed the land bank program as a money maker, said Tuesday that he considers the analysis by Budget Director Sandy Turk to be flawed and that he intends to ask county commissioners for her removal.

"She deliberately misstated numbers to create the illusion that the land bank would cost the county money," he said. (PD)

This woman has some nerve challenging Big Jim - huh? Rocockiss, angling for a Commissioner spot in the next election, or the County Executive spot, if and when a country reform passes, could not have anyone making him look bad.

The Plain Dealer reports that after presenting her report things got testy and Rocockiss placed a not so friendly call to Turk....
Exactly what was said in the exchange is a matter of dispute.

According to Turk, Rokakis asked if she was going to take a buyout being offered to county employees. Then, Turk said, the treasurer added: "Maybe you will when I become the next commissioner next year."

Rokakis denied making any reference to becoming a commissioner, but he acknowledged advising Turk to retire early: "I said, 'You know Sandy, you should take the buyout because you're an incompetent.' "

Rokakis said Turk underestimated interest on the loan to the land bank. The treasurer said his problems with Turk aren't limited to her report on the land bank. For instance, he said, Turk opposed him taking over responsibility for county investments years ago.

As we can see, Turk stands to lose her job of 19 years - so why would she purposely dispute the proposed numbers - she has nothing to gain by stirring the pot. On the other hand, a failed and costly County Land Bank, could have a high political cost for Rocockiss, a Democrat. So who do you believe?

But don't worry... I'm sure the "watch dogs" at the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County (RPCC) are all over this and have went through all the details with a fine tooth comb and have offered their stance on the integrity of the numbers - right?

Nope, the clueless & useless over-paid cads at the RPCC are busy watching and promoting the local version of Dancing with the Stars.

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