CLEVELAND — A new era of the Cleveland consent decree monitoring team is taking another step. The U.S. Department of Justice and the city have narrowed down their list of new potential leadership for the team to two firms, according to officials.
"It's not enough to just be clever and to be absent," Cleveland Law Director Mark Griffin said. "We want to see how a monitoring team interacts with Clevelanders, and we also wanted Clevelanders to interact and ask tough questions of those who would be the monitoring team.”
Two of seven applicants for proposals were shortlisted, according to city leaders: Hogan Lovells and J.S. Held. The latter firm has an office in Hudson.
3News found both firms' sites mention little to no experience in consent decree expertise. However, Griffin tells us leaders from both organizations — such as a former attorney general of Washington, D.C., and a former police chief for Detroit and Houston — have expertise and experienced team members
"Lead monitors then go out and find individuals that bring in skillsets that they may not have and experience they may not have," Griffin explained, "so as a collective, each of these teams have significant experience with consent decrees."
This new monitor will mark the fourth since the decree was formalized 2015.
After serving as deputy monitor for two years, Hassan Aden took over in 2019 after his predecessor Matthew Barge resigned. In October, Aden announced his own departure, and one month later a federal judge later appointed Deputy Monitor Ayesha Bell Hardaway as interim monitor.
For reasons that weren't specified, Griffin confirmed Hardaway did not apply for the lead monitor position. WKYC reached out to Hardaway Tuesday for comment but has not heard back.
One thing is for certain: Taxpayers will continue to foot the bill. In October, a judge extended the consent decree to 2024 after ruling the city "has not achieved substantial and effective compliance" despite "substantial progress" since the edict's enactment.
When asked if the new firms would charge more than the average $250 hourly wage, Griffin said it's likely, but not expected.
"Money is absolutely a factor, but it's not the only factor and it's not the most important factor," he added. "I don't know exactly the amounts, but frankly, our biggest overriding concern is a monitoring team that helps us comply. I don't know if it's an expectation, but nothing is going down."
Griffin said it is expected that members currently working on the monitoring team will stay, but couldn't confirm how many. The DOJ has yet to comment on the pending process.
Clevelanders will have three opportunities to hear directly from both firms and ask questions.
Tuesday, March 7
- 6-7:30 p.m.
- East Professional Center
- 1349 E 79th St.
Wednesday, March 8
- 6-7:30 p.m.
- Max S. Hayes High School
- 2211 W 65th St, Cleveland, OH 44102
Thursday, March 9
- 6-7:30 p.m.
- Virtual; click here to register