I-Team: County leaders can’t explain why they spent your money

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CLEVELAND-The FOX 8 I-Team has found Cuyahoga County leaders just wrote a $50,000 check with your money, and some can’t explain exactly why.

This shows more mystery surrounding a push to try to get Amazon to build a new headquarters here. Cleveland ended up not being selected as a finalist. Yet, local leaders have refused to reveal what they offered the company. And this week, the county’s Board of Control approved sending $50,000 to the Greater Cleveland Partnership, a business group, to help cover the costs of trying to attract Amazon.

But when we approached two county councilmembers involved in approving that money, neither knew specifically what the money actually covered. And neither knew the specifics of the bid for Amazon.

County Councilman Dale Miller admitted he had never asked to see the Amazon offer. He told the I-Team, “I did not specifically request, no. We deal with a lot of things here. I felt comfortable that a consortium was put together of the leading stakeholders in Cuyahoga County.”

Councilwoman Nan Baker also admitted she had not seen the bid and didn’t really know what the $50,000 was covering. She said, “We are trusting the leaders that we have given the responsibility to.”

Despite public records requests, neither the county executive's office nor the mayor's office will tell us anything about the Amazon bid. And now we find local leaders approving money to help cover the cost but they can`t explain it.

So we also questioned Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish. He told the I-Team directly he would not reveal details about the bid. He said, "I can't get into too many details- proprietary. That means these are things that give us a competitive advantage in the future.”

So we asked, is this how county council operates? Writing a blank check for something like this? Budish added, "Well, they don't just blindly write a check. They know we did a bid. They, I think, had faith that we were preparing the best bid that we could.”

There is some talk of allowing county councilmembers to see the Amazon bid, but that would be done in private.

Meantime, Cleveland City Hall also expects to contribute to covering the costs of the attempt to draw Amazon here. We’re monitoring that.