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Please come join the online live chat tomorrow (Thursday, November 15, 2012) with me and Cuyahoga County Director of Regional Collaboration, Ed Jerse. Many of you may recall that I love live chats, so I’m very excited to be doing this with the Civic Commons (my day job).

To add more fun, I’ve known Ed for many years and it is going to be an honor to moderate this conversation about the County’s efforts in shared services, collaboration, consolidation and yes – I’ll say it – merger. Please come lurk and engage from 11-12noon.

Can’t be there? Leave a question or comment now and Ed will respond later.

You can watch the event unfold here.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 6:31 pm November 14th, 2012 in Cleveland+, CuyahogaCounty, EfficientGovNetwork, Ohio, Regionalism | Comments Off 

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Never heard of collabbing? Here’s a teaser from one of my Civic Commons’ blog posts. You can go here to read the entire post. It offers a window into what I’ve been doing for nearly the last year as part of the EfficientGovNetwork, a project supported by the Fund for Our Economic Future and which I’ve been directing through the Civic Commons.

Over the weekend, I came home from a few hours out with a friend to find my middle-school son transferring files and installing programs from his fairly puny and old laptop to my college-bound son’s more powerful and newer one. Curious as to how the former presumably conned the latter into this arrangement, I asked. And the response warmed my kumbaya-loving heart.

“We collabbed.” Pronounced like, “co-labbed” like the nickname for laboratory, lab, and short for collaboration.

Now where on Earth did a 12 year old get such language to even describe what he’d done!?

By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:46 am July 5th, 2012 in Cleveland+, CuyahogaCounty, EfficientGovNetwork, Government | Comments Off 

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On this past Saturday (6/23/12), the Plain Dealer ran this article, “National park looks to add mountain bike, other trails,” about plans being considered and to be decided upon for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park by the end of this calendar year.

There will be three meetings next month at which the public can ask questions and/or comment:

Tuesday, July 24, at Cleveland Metroparks CanalWay Center, 4524 East 49th St., Cuyahoga Heights.

Wednesday, July 25, at Cuyahoga Valley National Park Happy Days Lodge, 501 W. Streetsboro Road, Peninsula.

Thursday, July 26, at Akron-Summit County Main Library, 60 S. High St., Akron.

Written comments can be submitted only by mail (as opposed to email or phone I guess) to: Superintendent, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 15610 Vaughn Road, Brecksville, OH 44141. Deadline is mid-August.

You can see an executive summary, full text of the various plans and an environmental impact statement here.


By Jill Miller Zimon at 7:30 am June 26th, 2012 in CuyahogaCounty, Environment, Politics, Resources | Comments Off 

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I don’t know, but I can tell you that the work I’ve been doing with the Civic Commons and the EfficientGovNetwork since September 2011 has been geared toward making sure that NE Ohio leverages the government collaboration experience its gained over time to drawn down state money set aside in the Kasich administration’s first biennium budget via the Local Government Innovation Fund. Word came down today that the Ohio Department of Development office in charge of the LGIF grants and loans will gather at 1pm on Friday to announce awards:

The Local Government Innovation Fund Council will hold a public meeting on Friday June 1, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. at the Vern Riffe Center, 77 South High Street, 19th Floor Room 1960, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

The Council’s agenda includes reviewing Round 1 Loan and Grant applications for approval and award.

Read more

By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:31 pm May 30th, 2012 in CuyahogaCounty, EfficientGovNetwork, Ohio, Regionalism | Comments Off 

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At my age, there just are not that many things about which I can say I’m still a virgin. And now, I’ve given it up for TED.

So I thought I’d overshare for a bit, given that the sold-out audience was limited to about 700 folks at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium. That leaves thousands of TEDxCLE virgins remaining, all of whom deserve to hear, first-hand, if it was everything I’d hoped for.

Short version: If I hadn’t stopped smoking cigarettes nearly 22 years ago, I would have had one when the event ended.

Long version: There are so many ways to slice and dice this, and I’m an overthinker as it is, so let’s do it like this:

Please visit the full post here at The Civic Commons.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 8:03 am April 24th, 2012 in Cleveland+, CuyahogaCounty, Diversity, Energy, Ohio | Comments Off 

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It was difficult for me to focus on this evening’s work session in City Council because less than an hour before the meeting began, I learned that Juvenile Court Judge Peter Sikora had died earlier in the day. You can read what has been posted so far here.

I moved to Cleveland for graduate school – that joint degree in law and social work which I thought would lead me to juvenile court, truly. That’s what I wanted to be – a juvenile court judge. And so when I landed a clerk position in juvenile court after my first year of law school but before my first year of social work school, I felt like the luckiest person.  I was placed in the courtroom of a brand new judge in the late spring of 1989, the courtroom of Peter Sikora.

How many people know or recall that he was in the courtroom in Playhouse Square? Yup. That’s where I went – I took the bus. Every day. Read more

By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:41 pm April 18th, 2012 in Cleveland+, CuyahogaCounty, Law, Ohio, RIP, Youth | Comments Off 

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I think, and I’ve heard from multiple others who also think that Rachel Dissell’s front page article today in the Plain Dealer, “Jimmy Dimora trial reveals former Cuyahoga County commissioner’s coarse talk about women,” does a very good job of putting the information revealed through Jimmy Dimora’s trials about how he and those around him treated women in both a local and a broader context.

Definitely check out the comment thread – be sure you’re sitting down, even if you’re used to the tone they sometimes take on.  And also browse this comment thread on Connie Schultz’s Facebook page.

Folks, we have a long, long way to go.  If this cause inspires you, please check out Name It Change It, an effort to catalogue and call out, on a non-partisan basis as you will see from the examples, just how rampant the sexism is, especially when politics is involved.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 2:10 pm February 2nd, 2012 in Cleveland+, CuyahogaCounty, Ethics, Gender, Government, intolerance, leadership, Ohio, Politics, Scandal, Sexism, Social Issues, Women | Comments Off 

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It was a very fun taping – airs tonight at 8:30pm on WVIZ and again on Sunday at 11:30am. Ohio Channel broadcast info is on the WVIZ page in the sidebar to the right of the blurb:

Prosecutors Lay Out Dimora Indiscretions

Posted Friday, January 27, 2012

Prosecutors Roll up Sleaze at Dimora Trial—week two of the corruption trial of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora brought the most titillating testimony to date. Witnesses told of arranging gambling trips and the services of prostitutes for Dimora.  An FBI agent told of a female public employee trading sex for a job.  A former county employee said Dimora accepted a cash bribe from another job seeker.

County Development Fund—Cuyahoga County government this week initiated a key facet of its development strategy.  A $100-million fund will provide money for a host of loan programs aimed at enticing business to set up shop.  Repaid loans will seed further loans.

Arts Backers Prepare for Tax Renewal—for the past four years smokers countywide have paid a 30-cent per pack tax on cigarettes with the money diverted to local arts organizations.  Since the tax’s inception, tens of millions have gone to organizations such as the Cleveland Orchestra, the Museum of Art and ideastream as well as to a host of smaller groups.  Cuyahoga Arts and Culture is already strategizing a return to the ballot in late 2015.

State of the Union—President Obama used his State of the Union address to renew his call for higher taxes on the wealthy.  What’s being called the ‘Buffett tax’ would hit the wealthiest Americans with a minimum 30 per cent income tax.  He also called for tax breaks to benefit companies creating jobs in the United States.  Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels in the Republican response said Obama is not to blame for the nation’s weak economy but has failed to deliver on promises to fix it.

Read more

By Jill Miller Zimon at 6:17 pm January 27th, 2012 in CuyahogaCounty, Economy, Government, Politics, Scandal, Sexism, Social Issues | Comments Off 

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One of the things I loved the most about the Meet the Bloggers forums of 2005-2007 was that it let me sit next to and ask questions directly of people like Ted Strickland, Richard Cordray, Jim Petro and Sherrod Brown. Once you have a taste of that, you never want to go back to just writing a letter or placing a call, but alas MTB is no more.

However, into the fray went my colleague, Dan Moulthrop, at the Civic Commons where he is moderating a fantastic online forum with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Candidates.  This forum is a SUPERB way to interact DIRECTLY with people who want to be elected to office. They want to be your public servant, you better believe they should be engaging in the public & this forum does that.

Today is the last day so please go read & ask and comment. It’s your county and your vote.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:07 am January 26th, 2012 in Campaigning, CuyahogaCounty, Elections, Government, Ohio, Politics, Transparency | 1 Comment 

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UPDATE: I’ve been asked to offer some ideas on who I would put on this list. I’ll do that but also make suggestions about who IB should be sure they’re asking, especially since the NEO business community is one with which I’ve probably had the least interaction over time.  Who would you suggest?? Please email me or leave names in the comment section.

Original post:

It’s just another list, I know, but still. I haven’t seen the print version yet of Inside Business with the Power 100 (Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald leads), but that top 10 under 40, with just one woman – we should all find that truly alarming if it’s at all representative of 1) who we are supposed to think are leaders and 2) if we agree with the definition of “leader” as defined by this segment, why just 10% of the top 10 under 40 are women.  Tri-C and Case Western Reserve University are headed by women (and both listed in the top 10 women list), we have many judges who are women, doctors, philanthropists, clergy, public service, and yes, business.

I’m going to tickle Erick Trickey and see what light he can shed on this (thanks in advance, Erick).

Here’s the description of how it was done for the list published in 2011:

We started our search for the region’s most powerful by turning to those who know power best. We surveyed the leaders on our previous Power 100 list, asking them who wields the most clout in Northeast Ohio today, who gained power in 2010, who lost it and which up-and-comers are already proving themselves. We also invited the business enthusiasts on Inside Business’ e-mail list to offer suggestions and tips, which led us to trends and shifts that our sources in Northeast Ohio’s corridors of power confirmed. Finally, we applied our news judgment about the events and forces that affected our region in 2010 and our sense of which men and women most influenced the region’s economy and which are poised to do the same in the new year.

Read more

By Jill Miller Zimon at 6:25 pm January 8th, 2012 in Business, Cleveland+, CuyahogaCounty, Diversity, Executive, Gender, leadership, Politics, Women | 3 Comments 

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These two elected officials did a fantastic job leading us through an exploration of what it takes to succeed with government collaboration.  Check it out and then start a conversation about it – what did you agree with? disagree with? Where are they right – where are they wrong?

Don’t forget that this Thursday in Akron is the EfficientGovNetwork Regional Collaboration Conference.  I’ll be there with the entire Civic Commons EfficientGovNetwork team covering it so that we can continue even after it ends.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:20 pm October 10th, 2011 in Cleveland+, CuyahogaCounty, Government, Regionalism | 1 Comment 

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NOT BALLOTS, people. Not the ballot itself.  This link takes you only to instructions for how you can APPLY to get a ballot. The Plain Dealer, according to this editorial, Mail-in ballot application opportunities abound, will also be printing, in its newspaper, a ballot application (not an actual ballot) for people to send in as well.

I’ve placed a link to the application in the right-hand sidebar of this blog and it will stay there through the end of the month.  Starting on Tuesday, October 4, the Board of Elections will start sending absentee ballots themselves to those voters who have applied and are eligible to vote.

Please do vote – whether by mail or in-person (Tuesday, November 8).

By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:15 am October 1st, 2011 in CuyahogaCounty, democracy, Elections, Ohio, Voting | Comments Off 

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I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens next summer. I’m interested to learn what process will be used to identify the voters who should receive the applications and the timeline to be deployed to make sure that the vote by mail applications are received by the voters with more than enough time for the 88 counties to mail out the ballots and get them back. What is the agreement regarding who will pay the return postage on the application itself? You get the idea of the questions to be answered.


Media Contacts:   John Kohlstrand: (216) 698-2099 or
                                Nicole Dailey Jones: (216) 263-4602, (216)338-0863 or


All Ohio voters to receive application to vote by mail in 2012 presidential election

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announced today that he has reached an agreement with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and state legislative leaders to have voters in all 88 Ohio counties sent an application to vote by mail next year.

The deal was reached Thursday after a meeting between FitzGerald, Husted, senior staff of both leaders, and Cuyahoga County Councilman Mike Gallagher, a Strongsville Republican. It ends a standoff between the chief executive of Ohio’s largest county and the state’s chief elections officer.

“We went to bat for our constituents here in Cuyahoga County, and we ended up making voting more convenient for millions of Ohioans,” FitzGerald said today. “This is great news for anyone who believes public officials should try to keep voting simple.”

In the agreement:

n  Husted has agreed to have his office send an application to vote by mail to voters in all 88 Ohio counties in advance of next year’s presidential election.

n  In return, FitzGerald will freeze a county plan to send all active voters in Cuyahoga County an application to vote by mail this fall. The mailing will be replaced by an public outreach effort to make sure Cuyahoga County voters understand how to vote early this fall.

FitzGerald said he has spoken with House Speaker William Batchelder and Senate President Tom Niehaus. Both are publicly committing their support.

“This agreement represents one of the largest steps forward in access to the ballot in years,” FitzGerald said. “

# # #

By Jill Miller Zimon at 11:26 am September 2nd, 2011 in Council, CuyahogaCounty, democracy, Elections, Ethics, Executive, Law, leadership, Ohio, Politics, Voting | 1 Comment 

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I don’t get a good feeling from this – but let’s hear from Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald. Very curious to know what his calculation was in agreeing to this, if Ohio SOS Jon Husted’s statement accurately reflects Fitzgerald’s understanding of the agreement. Here it is – I’ve highlighted the pertinent part:

Secretary Of State Husted Statement On Absentee Ballot Applications And Uniformity Of Ohio Elections


Friday, September 2, 2011


COLUMBUS – The following may be attributed in whole, or in part, to Secretary of State Jon Husted regarding the mailing of unsolicited absentee ballot request forms and maintaining uniformity in how elections are administered in Ohio:

“Yesterday I met with Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and Councilman Michael Gallagher to gain a better understanding of our mutual concerns regarding the distribution of unsolicited absentee ballot request forms.

“Through a productive exchange of ideas, we were able to develop a plan and achieve consensus to preserve the uniform standards I have sought statewide.

“Cuyahoga County officials have agreed not to send out unsolicited mailings for the 2011 General Election and the Secretary of State’s office will distribute absentee ballot request forms to voters in all 88 counties for the 2012 Presidential Election – so that each Ohio voter has uniform and equal access to their ballots.

“Leaders in the General Assembly, House Speaker William Batchelder and Senate President Tom Niehaus, have graciously agreed to support this plan and will appropriate the necessary resources from existing and available federal Help America Vote Act funds.

“I am glad we have been able to work out our differences but ultimately it will be the voters who benefit from this agreement. This will help reduce the chance of long lines at the polls during the Presidential Election and voters in smaller counties will have the same conveniences as voters in larger counties.”


For more information, please contact Matt McClellan at 614-995-2168 or

By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:54 am September 2nd, 2011 in Council, CuyahogaCounty, Elections, Ethics, Executive, Government, Law, leadership, Ohio, Politics, Transparency, Voting, WH2012, White House 2012, Whitehouse09 | Comments Off 

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As prolific a blogger as I’ve been over the years, well-known for tenacity, this issue is one that I’m going to have to keep up with on the sly while taking care of other business.  After a few random thoughts, I’ve provided a few must-read or must-listen links.

1. This is about the voters, as Republican County Council member Mike Gallagher has said.

2. Voting is a constitutional fundamental right.

3. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is not a lawyer, though State Auditor Dave Yost is.

4. Husted’s threat to not process vote by mail applications was petty, mean-spirited and a personal attack on County Executive Ed Fitzgerald’s plans for how to keep our county’s voting system from sinking back into the morass it was under Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.  It shows the gut level at which Jon Husted is viewing this issue, rather than at the independent level of securing all the rights of all the voters to the best of our abilities.  And frankly empathizing with the way in which the large counties’ boards of elections have prioritized spending on making sure that vote by mail is utilized more and more so that the day-of voting problems for voters, as well as the costs and resources, can be reduced.

5. The state auditor’s suggestion that the public spending to be done by the County may in some way be contrary to law and therefore actionable is likewise petty, mean-spirited and a personal attack on the county executive.

6. Has it occurred to these fellas that maybe it’s Husted’s directive that bans county boards of elections from mailing out vote by mail applications that is the unconstitutional step because, despite how many time he uses the word “uniformity,” the reality is that his ban disparately affects voters’ rights which include access.

7. Finally, I will again point out that Husted knows exactly what it means to not abridge voters’ rights and we know he knows this because of his recently announced plans related to military voters.  In other words, Husted, through his actions, has demonstrated an appreciation for the reality that uniformity of process is not the highest priority when it comes to voters rights.  And in the case of military voters, he has decided to provide them with mechanisms that other voters will not get.

Voters in large counties, as law experts cited in today’s Plain Dealer confirm, likewise need mechanisms that other voters may or may not get in order to safeguard their voting rights.

The side on which Husted should be erring is on the side of the voters. This is a ridiculous fight for him to be picking – now or at any time. Read more

By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:16 am August 30th, 2011 in Council, CuyahogaCounty, Elections, Executive, Government, Law, leadership, Ohio, Politics, Transparency, Voting | Comments Off 

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Unbelievable. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald referenced this development during the County Council meeting, about an hour ago.  His question, which I and I’m sure many others share: if the public spending by the BOE has not been contrary to law for the last few elections, how did it all of a sudden become contrary to law now?  Yost calls it an outcome for a “finding for recovery” if they (the auditor’s office) finds that the public spending is contrary to law.

Listen here.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 5:55 pm August 29th, 2011 in Council, CuyahogaCounty, Elections, Executive, Government, Ohio, Politics, Voting | Comments Off 

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UPDATE: Read County Executive Ed Fitzgerald’s statement on the 10-0 bipartisan passage of the relevant resolution after the jump below.

You can read my live tweets of the meeting at

The Plain Dealer’s Laura J Johnston also tweeted it at

I used @cuyahogacounty a lot, and Laura used #cuyahogacounty – which now that I think of it, I should have probably done too.  I also used @edfitzgeraldce when he was addressing Council.

District 6, Jack Schron (my rep), was not present at the meeting from what I could tell but it was not 100% clear whether he’d been there earlier – I wasn’t watching the whole time, just listening the whole time.

What will the repartees bring? Read more

By Jill Miller Zimon at 5:44 pm August 29th, 2011 in Cleveland+, Council, CuyahogaCounty, Elections, Executive, Government, Ohio, Politics, Transparency, Voting | 1 Comment 

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You can read the press release from Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald after the jump but you can read an account of his press conference and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s reaction to that press conference here and here.

The best part? Husted calls Fitzgerald a “rogue actor” because Fitzgerald wants to give our voters better service than other counties and send out the absentee ballot applications. From both links:

In response [to Fitzgerald's plan for the county to send out the vote by mail applications], Husted released a statement that said, “Mr. FitzGerald’s accusations are laughable. It is important that voters in all 88 counties be given equal access to a ballot and I will work to uphold that standard, even in the face of rogue actors like Mr. FitzGerald. Let me provide reassurance and be perfectly clear, every legal absentee ballot application received by boards of elections will be processed and a ballot will be sent.”

Yuh huh – and how exactly will Husted define a “legal” absentee ballot application?  Would he really deny voters their requested absentee ballots because they used an application that they received from Cuyahoga County, and not from the BOE?

What’s very interesting about this is that many entities possess absentee ballot applications – including senior centers, libraries and, er, um, candidates for office.  Since not EVERY senior center in Ohio, or EVERY library in Ohio, or EVERY candidate for office in November 2011 will be giving out vote by mail applications, will Husted police each library, senior centers and candidate for office to make SURE that they are not giving out applications for vote by mail ballots?

How unbelievably absurd is this interpretation of “equal access” and yet exactly what he’s saying as he twists that phrase to disenfranchise large counties from being able to serve Ohio’s electorate.


From Fitgerald’s office this afternoon: Read more

By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:20 pm August 28th, 2011 in Cleveland+, Council, CuyahogaCounty, democracy, Elections, Executive, Government, Ohio, Politics, Transparency, Voting | 1 Comment 

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From the inbox this morning-can’t find it anywhere else though:


Media Contacts: John Kohlstrand: (216) 698-2099 or
Nicole Dailey Jones: (216) 263-4602, (216)338-0863 or


CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald will host a news conference at 4 p.m. today (Sunday, Aug. 28) to outline his response to a threat from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to prevent Cuyahoga County voters who request an absentee ballot from getting one.

Late last week, Husted told Ohio Public Radio that he is considering prohibiting the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections from processing applications for absentee ballots if county government goes forward with a plan to mail an absentee voter application to all active registered voters in the county. The Cuyahoga County Council is scheduled to vote on that plan at 4 p.m. Monday.

FitzGerald will be seeking a U.S. Department of Justice review of Husted’s comments.

Today’s news conference will be in front of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, 2925 Euclid Ave., in Cleveland.

# # #

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

By Jill Miller Zimon at 1:22 pm August 28th, 2011 in Cleveland+, Council, CuyahogaCounty, Elections, Executive, Government, Ohio, Politics, Transparency, Voting | Comments Off 

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I don’t usually crosspost but I wrote this originally for my Pepper Pike City Council blog, In The Arena. Seems worth posting here as well.

The efforts described in today’s Plain Dealer (read here) by the Cuyahoga County Council to be transparent and open were announced last week on WCPN’s The Sound of Ideas. You can hear the entire podcast here. I listened to it live (and actually called in and spoke for a couple of minutes) and tweeted about the new social media efforts as C. Ellen Connally, the Council President, mentioned them.

From the PD article:

Live meetings of the council and its committees are available online. Click on “streaming video.” The full council meets today at 6 p.m.

Legislators adopted the tools to improve transparency, which had been a pledge of members when they campaigned last year.

The council several months ago heard from a company whose technology allows citizens to watch meetings online, search video archives and link to related legislation and other public information. The system in place was done in house, and does not include features such as searchable video.

Residents can also watch archives of council meetings, but not committee meetings. Eventually, audio archives of committee meetings will be posted, said chief of staff Joe Nanni.

Internet users can also find Council on Twitter,, and on Facebook at

“These new social media tools will help us to more easily interact with citizens,” Council President C. Ellen Connally said in a news release.

Pepper Pike as a city does not have a Facebook page, a Twitter account nor does it stream its meetings. However, just last week, the mayor told me that he would be sending out letters to residents whom we’ve identified as individuals we’d love to have be part of the City’s Communications/Tech/Web Committee which I chair.  I’ve not yet seen that go out but hopefully it either has or will shortly.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:16 am July 26th, 2011 in Cleveland+, Council, CuyahogaCounty, Government, Media, Ohio, Politics, Tech, Transparency | Comments Off 

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