Does the name Ed FitzGerald ring a bell? You may as well learn it, because with Ted Strickland's exit from a possible race for governor, FitzGerald appears to be the Democratic front runner for the 2014 governor's race, as Henry Gomez reports in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
FitzGerald, 44, is Cuyahoga County's reform-minded county executive. He is personally honest and has made it clear he won't tolerate corruption by county employees. If you're wondering why that's supposed to be a big deal, clearly you don't live in Cuyahoga County, as I do.
Unless Mr. FitzGerald plans to make higher taxes the centerpiece of his campaign, there's a problem he ought to fix. Cuyahoga County residents currently pay a sales tax rate of 7.75 percent. That's the highest rate in the state. (Erie County's rate is 6.5 percent, so Sandusky-area merchants should figure out a way to promote the idea that Cleveland-area residents can save money if they shop here while visiting Cedar Point.)
Cuyahoga County's high rate means that local residents pay a penalty every time they choose to buy local rather than leaving the county or buying from an Internet site.
It seems obvious to me why that's a bad idea, but as it apparently isn't obvious to Mr. FitzGerald, allow me to make a few points: (1) Local merchants support the community by paying taxes — not just sales taxes, but property taxes. (2) Local merchants provide jobs. (3) Look at the ads in the program that supports your son's football team, or in your daughter's yearbook. See any ads from Amazon?
Of course, if FitzGerald doesn't lower taxes in Cleveland, he can campaign in Sandusky by telling the Chamber of Commerce, "I'm already giving you a competitive advantage!"