Cost of Corruption: How Cuyahoga County cleaned up political cri - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Part two in a series

Cost of Corruption: How Cuyahoga County cleaned up political crime

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -

Just about an hour and a half away from the Mahoning Valley, another community is dealing with the fallout of political corruption.

In part 2 of the Cost of Corruption, we explore the commonalities between the two communities, and how the Valley could learn and grow from an area determined not to let history repeat itself.

In July of 2008, FBI agents raided the offices and homes of several elected Cuyahoga County officials including Commissioner Jimmy Dimora.  It was a corruption case like that area had never seen before. One that sent Dimora to federal prison for 28 years for taking bribes.

Chris Quinn, the Vice-President of Content for the Northeast Ohio Media Group, which includes The Plain Dealer said, "They had so many agents they brought them in from other cities in America because they didn't have enough locally to do it. And over the next two years the revelations about how county government was run electrified this area."

It was within that time that it became clear what corruption had done to the Cuyahoga County community. Businesses that once refused to pay to play with Dimora and others were now bidding on projects, that in the past didn't give them a level playing field.

"So, you can't really calculate what the cost was, but I don't think it's a coincidence that Cleveland is having the renaissance it's having now post corruption. A bunch of public projects that have been in the works and have come in without ridiculous overspending, and that wasn't happening before the corruption probe," Quinn said.

While it took several years to separate themselves from all the wrongs, Cuyahoga County established a new form of government that includes a county executive and a system of checks and balances with an 11-member bi-partisan board.

Henry Gomez is a graduate of Youngstown State University and is now the Chief Political Reporter for the Northeast Ohio Media Group, "It's a symptom of when you have a one-party system and a one-party rule, and Youngstown, very much like Cleveland, has been run for years by a single party. There wasn't a check and balance, and there haven't been in places like the Mahoning Valley or in Cuyahoga County, because they've been so dominated by one-party rule."

In Mahoning County, where a corruption scandal is currently taking place, a single party has ruled the county commissioner's office for what's estimated to be nearly five decades.

The mob's involvement also has shaped the decades long corrupt culture that's plagued Mahoning County. But some question if this most recent corruption indictment will cast an even darker shadow over an area that's seen it's fair share of dark clouds.

"The Justice Department really did clean-up Cuyahoga County government, and now the trick is to make sure that it doesn't grow rotten again," Quinn said.

If Cuyahoga County can offer anything to the Mahoning Valley, it's that change can prevent history from repeating itself.

 

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