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Hispanic Roundtable hosts forum concerning county reform

Op-Ed Submitted by José C. Feliciano, Esq. of The Hispanic Roundtable
Special to La Prensa


Cleveland: The Hispanic Roundtable held a forum for the Hispanic Community of Greater Cleveland on Tuesday night, September 8, 2009, on the West Side of Cleveland (Emmanuel Church) on the competing proposals to change Cuyahoga County’s government. 

The event was hosted at Emmanuel Church, the church of Pastor José Marrero, who was recently elected president of the Pastors’ Association and who welcomed the community and delivered the invocation.


Parma Heights Mayor Martin Zanotti represented the “New Cuyahoga County Plan.”  Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones represented “Reform Done Right.” José C. Feliciano, Chair of the Hispanic Roundtable, conducted the forum. 


Mayor Zanotti explained how under his plan a single county executive would be elected along with 11 district representatives, who will act as a council.  It is a traditional charter form of government.  Row officers, such as the coroner, auditor, and engineer would be eliminated. 


Mayor Zanotti asserted that the current system is broken.  The proposed system, he asserts, will improve service delivery, be more cost effective, and will be a developmental economic engine.

Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones agreed that reform is needed.  His initiative is a two-step process.  First, 15 representatives will be elected, who, in turn, will design and recommend a new form of county government.  Commissioner Jones agrees with Mayor Zanotti that the Row officers need to be eliminated, but he believes that elected representatives will put together a better proposal after consultation with the greater Cuyahoga County Community.


Attorney Feliciano said this was truly an historic occasion when the Latino Community hosted the two principal advocates of the single most important initiative in government reform in recent memory. 


Andrés González, president of the Hispanic Roundtable Community Programs, discussed the upcoming Convención to be held in October 2010.  José C. Feliciano, Jr., the president of the Young Latinos Network (and the co-chair of the Civil Involvement Committee) explained how the public could become involved in Convención 2010.


The speakers were asked pointed questions regarding the role Latinos played in the development of the proposals and the opportunities created for the future Latino community. 


Questioners included: Adrian Maldonado, President of Logik Construction; Gustavo Hoyas, President of the Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Jerry Peña, Co-Chair of the Civic Involvement Committee; and Roberto Torres, Economic Development Director for the City of Canton and former Toledo School Board member. 


Neither side completely satisfied the questioners.  Further, it became apparent during the forum that neither proposal had been shaped with meaningful input from the Latino Community. 


There were approximately 80 Latino leaders and community representatives in attendance representing the Hispanic Pastors’ Association, the Young Latinos Network, National Society of Hispanic MBA’s (NSHMBA), Latinas, the Hispanic Alliance, the Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Hispanic Roundtable.


This event was blessed with the attendance of Sister Alicia Alvarado, who is still convalescing from a major stroke. 








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