Matt Brakey's County Council Observer Interview
Matt Brakey, 29, Republican. Cleveland Heights. Job: President, Brakey Energy. We provide comprehensive energy management services to some of northern Ohio's largest companies.
1. Describe for us the duties of a member of the County Council.
First, it is important to draw the distinction between “duties” and “powers;” duties being what the new Council has to do, powers being what the new Council can do.
The duties of the new Council more or less include setting up a structure for managing county properties and bureaucracies, approving the budget, creating a development plan, and developing a code of ethics. Pretty vanilla. However, it is the powers of the new Council that county residents should be concerned about.
The powers of the new Council (and even more so for the Executive) are extremely broad. Essentially, the express powers of the new Council allow it to contract with any third party as long as it can reasonably be construed as being under the umbrella of government “economic development.” However, the express powers for the new Council (and similarly for the Executive) are introduced by the following language:
“All powers of the Council shall… include, but not be limited to (my emphasis added), the following” (12 powers then listed). Because this language says the powers of the Council and Executive are not limited to the express powers, we must look to the rest of the charter for the limitations placed on this government.
Other than some vague language about respecting municipal rule, there are no limitations given to this new government’s power. So other than state and federal law and their respective constitutions, this new county government has unlimited power.
I believe that is power that causes corruption: Absolute power corrupts absolutely and this new government has near absolute power.
2. Why do you want to serve on the County Council?
I want to serve on the new County Council because I want to restrain the power of this new government. I am the only candidate sounding the alarm on this massive grant of power.
I want to allow Cuyahoga County to regain its rightful place as one of the leading economies in the country. If we are going to accomplish this, it will only be accomplished by lower taxes and by government getting out of the way.
I want to stop so called government “economic development” projects like the medical mart, which are nothing more than a wealth transfer from county taxpayers to politically connected special interests. The citizens of Cuyahoga County are being robbed and most do not even realize it.
I want to slash the sales tax. At 7.75% Cuyahoga County’s sales tax is the highest in the state of Ohio by ¾ of one percent. This is a huge depressant on the economy. Take the money saved by halting the corporate welfare that is government economic development and give it back to the people. Economic growth will occur organically if government just gets out of the way. It always has and always will.
3. What qualifications do you bring that make you the most qualified?
I am President of Brakey Energy, a company that provides comprehensive energy management services to many of the largest companies here in northern Ohio. But this is not necessarily a reason to vote for me.
Many businessmen say they want to run government like it’s a business. I think government needs to be run like a government. We must recognize the nature of the animal we are dealing with.
I am very studied in Austrian free market economics; it is a great passion of mine. I am also well studied in political philosophy. I list among my influences Dave Hume, Friedrich Hayek, and Malcolm X. I will bring these influences to my governance.
4. What will you do in your first weeks? Please describe in detail, to give our readers an idea of what this position will actually be like.
This is a very good question. My answer is that I have no clue whatsoever. Any candidate who tells you that they do is being disingenuous.
The new government is going to have to work closely with the transition committee. We are going to have to feel our way around for quite some time because it is going to be very new without any precedent to rely on. It’s going to be chaotic, messy, and the blind will be leading the blind.
I would encourage readers to have tempered expectations.
5. How, specifically, will we know that you are doing a good job?
The quality of my performance will be directly correlated to how much I’m getting attacked in the press by the existing political establishment and politically connected special interests. If people are not complaining about me, that means I’ve sold out and I am no longer doing the people’s work.