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This rather horrific story from Cleveland caught my eye for a number of reasons.  The story concerns the mayor of Cleveland’s decision to hire former Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Lance Mason as the city’s Minority Business Development Director.

That admittedly doesn’t sound all that horrific. What makes it so is that Mayor Frank Jackson hired him after Mason had spent nine months in jail for beating his then-wife in front of their children. Last Saturday morning, Mason allegedly finished what he’d started, as he is now accused of fatally stabbing the woman at his Shaker Heights home.

The story linked here points out that the Shaker Heights police had made access to records concerning the event harder than it needed to be. But that isn’t the most relevant public records issue it presents.

In this case, the mayor hired Mason knowing full well his criminal background. So the question revolves around Jackson’s judgment. But we’ve seen other instances where public officials shady backgrounds get hired and the public office hiring them doesn’t know about the skeletons in their closets.

This story is a reminder that the public needs access to information on candidates for public positions. The media and the public can serve as watchdogs if the public office declines. As awful as this story is, imagine how much worse it would be if the mayor wasn’t aware of Mason’s history.