Submitted by Roldo on Tue, 12/16/2008 - 16:45.

No one can argue that Cleveland City Council needs better public grooming. Anything that can make the city’s legislative body look a bit better these days should top the legislative body’s Christmas list.

So that’s likely why PR-troubled Council President Marty Sweeney – who might be the most needy Council member – has hired political consultant and former Plain Dealer political editor Mary Anne Sharkey for some helpful advice.

I told Sharkey that she should use as her corporate name “Mission Impossible.” She laughed.

Sharkey said she would be working with Katherine Bulava, Council’s communication director. She will be working on response to issues – of which there are many in the Council presently – and a market survey to identify how Cleveland residents get their news, including the “reach of the Plain Dealer.”
You could almost read from that that maybe City Hall doesn’t believe that the Plain Dealer has much influence within the city because maybe not that many people buy the paper.

Sharkey identified one problem as the “distrust” that she sees between government here and reporters. She complains that “nobody talks to anybody anymore,” and feels that reporters rely too much upon public records requests in their reporting.

Sharkey’s contract calls for the city to pay her up to $45,000 for her advice.

Sharkey has done city hall work in the past, representing former Mayor Michael White for a time and Mayor Frank Jackson some three years ago.
Council has a continuing legislation measure under which Sharkey was hired. This continuing legislation allows such goodies to be bestowed without the need to hear legislation each time. How convenient.

Sweeney said that Sharkey – often a guest on WKYC’s Tom Beres’s Sunday political show – was hired to help Council members, including for their appearances on the city’s TV channel.

Clerk of Council Pat Britt - a former Councilwoman who never lived up to her potential in that job - failed to return a call for further information.

Maybe Sharkey has her first task in making the Council more responsive when someone does want to talk to its leaders.

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They could have asked folks on REALNEO for free

Can they handle the truth?

Disrupt IT

by their works ye shall know them?

I have no problem with advertising and public relations, if the boys and girls of Cleveland City Council want to pay for it themselves, from their personal funds. We the people have no place paying for it for them.

Are they in fact paying for this personally? They should, and it should be prorated.

I almost forgot: Has that $1 million for the Rock Hall dinner come back to us yet?

A press agent is something a rock star has, something the rock star pays out of his or her earnings. What do the self-proclaimed rock stars of council earn for us in the way of new money, over and above last year's revenues and those of the year before? How are those traffic cameras doing? Where are the numbers on the advertising kiosks? What are the economics of demolition?

Innumeracy runs rampant, and that's why we don't get much discussion of numbers out of City Council. They just don't know.