CLEVELAND - "I have no argument with Mr. FitzGerald. All it is is a matter of communication," said C. Ellen Connally, Cuyahoga Council President, about a harsh exchange of words she had with County Executive Ed FitzGerald during a council meeting last week.
"We're always, always working with Mr. FitzGerald. I just didn't appreciate having to read something in the newspaper," she said.
Connally said she found out FitzGerald decided to withdraw an item on the meeting's agenda when she read it in The Plain Dealer.
FitzGerald said he made the decision at the last minute and had informed one of the newspaper's reporters when they called him the night before the meeting.
He said his staff was supposed to inform council of the decision to withdraw the agenda item involving a contract for architectural engineering services the morning of the meeting.
In spite of FitzGerald's intent to withdraw the item, Connally kept it on the agenda and scheduled it for a committee meeting Aug. 23.
When FitzGerald spoke up to complain, Connally chastised him for not following proper protocol.
When given the opportunity to speak, FitzGerald complained about initially being denied the right to voice his opinion.
"You're seriously going to say that at an open council meeting with an agenda item that we've submitted and tried to withdraw, that you're actually going to deny me, or anybody else or, quite frankly, any member of the public that want to speak. . . just because I am in elected office doesn't mean that I have surrendered rights of the public to speak to an agenda item," he said during the meeting.
"It's certainly your meeting. You want to deny me the right to speak at the meeting. I don't think it's a good idea because I don't feel it's in the best interest of good government quite frankly," he said.
FitzGerald declined to comment for this story.
Connally also sent NewsChannel5 a statement. It says: "My exchange with Mr. FitzGerald began over a point of order. Once a Council meeting agenda is posted, items cannot be withdrawn from the agenda without Council action. Council has Rules under which it operates. And while the County Executive is authorized to discuss matters at a Council meeting, Council has established a specific time during the meeting for the Executive to address issues. Otherwise, the Executive must be recognized during the meeting according to Council Rules and Robert’s Rules of Order."
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