Chris Ronayne and his family celebrate his election as Cuyahoga County executive.
Chris Ronayne and his family celebrate his election as Cuyahoga County executive. Credit: Nick Castele / Signal Cleveland

Filling county seats

Cuyahoga County Executive-elect Chris Ronayne announced a few big hires this past week. Clerk of Courts Nailah Byrd will join the new administration as chief of justice and safety. Brooklyn Mayor Katie Gallagher will become the county’s new chief of operations and community innovation. 
Additionally, Ronayne’s campaign manager, David Razum, who is currently working hard on Ronayne’s transition, will become chief of communications and strategy. 
“These are leaders who understand what it means to get things done and will prioritize the delivery of county services and the effectiveness of county government,” Ronayne said in a news release announcing the appointments.
Those hires will open up seats in the musical chairs of Cleveland politics. Clerk of courts was once an elected post. But thanks to the 2009-2010 reform of county government, the executive now gets to pick the clerk. That means Ronayne, with approval from County Council, will be naming Byrd’s successor. 
In Brooklyn, Council President Ron Van Kirk, a teacher and church business manager, will become mayor. Gallagher wished him well in a note posted to the city’s website
Van Kirk will serve out Gallagher’s term, which ends in 2023. He told Signal Cleveland he’s not sure yet whether he’ll run for a full term in next year’s election. He’ll have some time to try the job out first. 

Wage gap grows

More than half of the 100 largest employers in Ohio paid their CEOs a median of 396 times more than what their typical workers made in 2021, according to a report released this week.
The report by Policy MattersOhio, a Cleveland-based economic research think tank, found that last year’s numbers were “the highest ratio in the five years records have been kept” by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The research group analyzed SEC data for the 100 largest Ohio companies and based the median CEO-to-worker pay ratio on 54 companies. 
Average pay among the 54 CEOs was $21.7 million last year, up from $16 million in 2020. 
The report includes individual median CEO-to-worker pay for the largest Fortune 500 companies that were part of the analysis. Only one in Northeast Ohio, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., had a median ratio above 396 to 1. Goodyear’s ratio was 490 to 1.  (The company has not yet responded to Signal Cleveland’s request to comment about the report.)
Michael Shields, a Policy Matters researcher and the report’s main author, said people should be concerned about the increasing gap between CEO and worker pay.
“Working people have not had raises that were consistent with productivity increases over the last several decades,” he said.
Many of the state’s top employers aren’t included in the report because they are not required to file pay-ratio documents with the SEC. These include privately held companies and nonprofits, such as the Cleveland Clinic, which is the Cleveland area’s largest employer.
Signal Cleveland’s Olivera Perkins has been writing about wage issues, including those driving union organizing at Starbucks, which employs 4,000 workers in Ohio. Workers at the Crocker Park store were part of a recent national strike. The research group said the coffee chain’s CEO earned $20.4 million last year compared to about $13,000 earned by the typical employee. That’s a ratio of 1,579 to 1. Let that figure brew for a moment. 

CSU seats new provost 

Cleveland State University President Laura Bloomberg named Nigamanth Sridhar as the university’s provost and senior vice president of academic affairs earlier this month.
He’d been working in that position with an interim tag since May, replacing Bloomberg when she took over CSU’s top spot following the ousting of former president Harlan Sands. 
Sridhar’s resume highlights a long history at the university aside from a recent stint as a program director at the National Science Foundation. He’s also a current board member of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the City Club of Cleveland. 
The move still needs to be formally approved at the next CSU board meeting in January. 


Documenter Collin Cunningham attended the most recent Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority board meeting, highlighting the transit system’s memorandum of understanding with the City of Cleveland and the Group Plan Commission to remove the jersey barriers on Public Square and make other improvements. Cunningham also noted that RTA’s latest ridership figures showed improvement over 2021. But Deputy General Manager Rajan Gautam pointed out that this year’s 17.3 million riders is well below 2019’s 29.6 million riders. You can find the notes here.


The Cleveland Metropolitan School District has 60 vacant security positions around the district, Eric Gordon said during a Dec. 13 school board meeting. 
In a recent letter to a parent  – who voiced safety concerns during last month’s school board meeting – Gordon said that every school has at least one safety officer. (Few people may realize that Gordon responds directly to every person who speaks during board meetings and the letters are included with the board’s agenda.) Documenters noted that Gordon said he did not think all these vacant security positions could be filled by February 2023.

Managing Editor, News (he/him)
Mark is a veteran journalist with experience in alternative media, print, digital and television news. For 19 years, he was a groundbreaking reporter and metro columnist with The Plain Dealer and Most recently, Mark spent three years as an investigative, enterprise and breaking news reporter at WKYC-TV, where his "Leading the Land" series on Cleveland's 2021 mayoral primary race earned a regional Emmy.

Government Reporter (he/him)
Nick joins us from the world of public radio, where he has 10 years' experience covering politics and government in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. Last year he produced and hosted "After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor," an Ideastream Public Media podcast on the Cleveland mayoral race. He has also covered breaking news, opioid lawsuits and elections nationally for NPR.

Economics Reporter (she/her)
Olivera, an award-winning journalist, covered labor, employment and workforce issues for several years at The Plain Dealer. She broke the story in 2013 of a food drive held for Walmart workers who made too little to afford Thanksgiving dinner. Olivera has received state and national awards for her coverage, including those from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Olivera believes the sweet spot of high-impact journalism is combining strong storytelling with data analysis.

Higher Education Reporter (she/her)
Amy, who’s worked in both local and national newsrooms for nearly a decade, previously covered higher education at Crain's Cleveland Business in partnership with the national nonprofit news organization Open Campus. A first-generation college graduate, Amy is committed to highlighting the voices of students in her coverage.

K-12 Education Reporter (he/him)
Paul, a former City Year Cleveland AmeriCorps member based in a charter school, covered K-12 education for Signal Cleveland until August, 2023. Paul joined us from Cleveland Documenters, where he focused on creating infographics and civic tech to make public information more accessible. Paul is also a musician, photographer and graphic designer.