2010 CE G Digital Dossier: Scipione, Don

Scipione, Don: Digital Dossier

Scroll down to review Mr. Scipione's response to our questionnaire and to review our independent research on his background.  For some candidates, we have their campaign finance disclosures.  We can e-mail those to you upon request to tclogc@gmail.com.

Name: Don Scipione  

Date of Birth and Age on Election Day: 67[1]             

Political Party Affiliation: Independent

Campaign Address: 3821 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115

Campaign Officers/Participants:

-          James A. Long, Treasurer, Don Scipione for County Executive

Campaign Endorsements/Affiliations: Independent

Home Address: 02615 Colchester Rd., Cleveland Heights, OH 44106

Spouse/Significant Other: Josephine

Children: unknown

Educational History:[2]

-          University of California San Diego, Ph.D., Experimental Elementary Particle Physics, 1976

-          Carnegie-Mellon University, B.S., Physics, 1965

Employment History:[3]

-        Acme Express, Inc., Cleveland OH Founder and President 1982-present

-        Notre Dame College, South Euclid OH Associate Professor of Physics & Computer Science 1981-86

-        Leaseway Transportation, Beachwood OH Project Manager 1981-82

-        University of California, San Diego, La Jolla CA Research Assistant and Research Physicist 1966-80

-        General Atomic/General Dynamics, La Jolla CA Research Assistant 1965-66

-        Priority Manufacturing, Cleveland OH Machinist 1959-65

Social/Civic/Club Affiliations:

Criminal Record: none known

Civil Litigation:

-          Three cases in Cuyahoga County (the last of which was 1991)… two appear to be business related and one stems from a motor vehicle accident.  All appear to have been settled.[4] 

Bankruptcies: none known

Ethical Issues: none known

Prior Campaigns:[5]

-          Has never run for office before,[6] but:

-          County Government Transition (2010)

  • Member of Economic Development Workgroup
  • Member of County Campaign Finance Reform Workgroup

-          Issue 6, New Cuyahoga Now, Treasurer (2009)

  • New Cuyahoga Now is the community coalition to institute a charter form of Cuyahoga County government, with an elected executive and county council.

Money Raised as of June 30, 2010: $12,350[7]

Cash on Hand as of June 30, 2010: $12,350[8]

[1] http://www.cleveland.com/cuyahoga-county/index.ssf/2010/06/another_independent_joins_race_for_cuyahoga_county_executive.html

[2] http://www.donscipione.com/About/DonScipioneShortBio1.pdf

[3] http://www.donscipione.com/About/DonScipioneShortBio1.pdf

[4] http://cpdocket.cp.cuyahogacounty.us/p_NameSearchResults.aspx

[5] http://www.donscipione.com/About/DonScipione.pdf

[6] http://www.cleveland.com/cuyahoga-county/index.ssf/2010/06/another_independent_joins_race_for_cuyahoga_county_executive.html

[7] http://www.cleveland.com/cuyahoga-county/index.ssf/2010/07/cuyahoga_county_executive_candidates_file_first_campaign_finance_reports.html

[8] http://www.cleveland.com/cuyahoga-county/index.ssf/2010/07/cuyahoga_county_executive_candidates_file_first_campaign_finance_reports.html

I.          Integrity

  1. Have you ever held a position, public or private, where you were required to report gifts made to you or expenditures made on your behalf?  When, where?  No


  1. Did you attend any type of ethics training relating to holding or campaigning for public office?  No


  1. Has a complaint ever been filed against you, or any campaign committee acting on your behalf, in the Ohio Elections Commission, or Federal Elections Commission?  No


  1. In the last five years, have you been a party to any civil law suit?  If yes, please provide the case name and nature of the suit.  No


  1. Have you ever been convicted of a crime, other than a minor misdemeanor?  If yes, please provide the year and jurisdiction of the conviction.  No


  1. What steps have you taken to ensure that your campaign is complying with Ohio Campaign Finance law? 


 I have attended Board of Election briefings on campaign finance reporting.


I was Treasurer of last year’s Charter reform movement (Issue 6) and I am experienced in complying with Ohio Campaign Finance Law.


Prior to declaring as an Independent Candidate for County Executive, I was a member of the Campaign Finance Reform Transition Workgroup and authored the electronic filing and reporting recommendation. I am willing to provide any interested party with electronic (searchable) reports of my campaign’s donations.


  1. In your opinion, what are the most important steps that can be taken to prevent the type of corruption that has recently been alleged to have occurred in county offices and other public entities?


Step 1. Change the form of government from three commissioners and eight other elected line offices with no checks and balances to a home-rule charter form of government with an executive and council who can be recalled and will balance the power of each other. Cuyahoga voters already took this step as 54,000 petitioned to put the Charter on the ballot and then voted 2 to 1 in November to make the change.

I am the only candidate who was a leader of last year’s government reform movement. I believe in the Charter, I helped write the Charter, and I am passionately committed to its success.


Step 2. As County Executive I will set the tone and insist on teamwork and accountability at all levels of county government with zero tolerance, purge the county of patronage appointees, and replace all double and triple dippers.


Step 3. Institute new technology and business systems that can easily detect fraud: from both fake claims for county support or pay-to-play schemes.


Currently, the hundreds of separate programs running County government don’t talk to one another and it is almost impossible to expose fraud and corruption. I am an expert at building innovative and integrated business systems and have an extensive 45 year history of doing so for IBM, Ford, Chrysler, Proctor and Gamble, and Cleveland Clinic and 2,000 clients worldwide.


II.        Transparency

  1. What steps do you believe can be taken at the county level to make access to public records easier?


County software business systems will be modernized and rebuilt for maximum transparency. I guarantee that there will be no “missing” files like the Auditor’s missing property valuation records. County’s business will be on-line and available for all to see, either on their home computers or free through our county library system. The sun will shine, night and day. Open and searchable records will be the rule rather than the exception.


  1. What steps do you believe can be taken to make campaign finance reports more transparent/easily accessible to the public?


Prior to declaring as an Independent Candidate for County Executive, I was a member of the Campaign Finance Reform Transition Workgroup and authored the electronic filing and reporting recommendation. I intend to push the Board of Elections to implement this recommendation as soon as I take office. The recommendation follows.


Electronic Campaign Finance Reporting Recommendation


Electronic filing of campaign finance reports should be adopted immediately. A three phased plan is proposed to accomplish this goal. Each phase lays the groundwork for the next.


Phase I


Phase I is a simple, first step that can be implemented today and provides transparency to individual campaigns.

In Phase I, the BOE requires that all transaction details (donations, loans, expenditures) be provided in standard format spreadsheets. These spreadsheets would be posted on the BOE website for analysis by interested parties.


Phase II


Phase II can easily be implemented in a few months and extends transparency across all campaigns.

In Phase II, the BOE provides the mechanism to import individual campaign spreadsheets into a single campaign finance database that is searchable on-line, across all election campaigns.

The choice of database manager and reporting tools should allow for maximum user friendliness and searching functionality.


Phase III


Phase III is a future vision that opens the door to real-time reporting and substantial cost savings both to the Board of Elections and election campaigns.


n Phase III, the BOE extends the functionality of the on-line campaign finance database which may include the following:

  • On-line entry of individual transaction.
  • Import from Pay-Pal, in addition to the standard spreadsheet.
  • Automatic transaction summary calculations.
  • Additional fields and functionality that help both BOE and the campaigns reduce reporting costs.


10.  What steps do you believe can be taken to make the operation of the new county government more transparent?

Secret executive sessions, including meeting of all appointed boards, will be held to minimum and allowed only in rare circumstances.


Also, I believe that citizens should be aware of when County Boards and Commissions will be meeting. I intend to send notices and, where available, agendas to interested nonprofit and community organizations who request such. We will keep a database of organizations that are interested, and periodically email timely meeting information, for them to pass on to their constituents.


(See answer to question 7, Step 3 and questions 8 and 9.)

III.       Efficiency

11.  What steps do you believe could be taken to improve cooperation and between county government and other local governments?

Three areas of strategic cooperation are education, healthcare, and land-banking. In each of these areas, the County has strong programs that can benefit local governments.


a. In education, we need to insure that every student can read, write, calculate and know how to live a healthy life by the end of the third grade. Research shows that the return on investment here is 10 to 1. My goal will be to work with local school systems, pre-school programs, and others to identify and share best practices for attaining those four competencies. (See answer to question 28.)


b. The healthcare insurance program that covers county employees allows a choice of providers that includes Metro Health, Kaiser, Medical Mutual, and United Healthcare. It will be offered to local governments for their employees and tailored to their particular requirements. This will:

  • reduce healthcare costs to local government,
  • build a more powerful healthcare bargaining capacity, and
  • improve the financial standing of the county-supported Metro Health system by increasing the ratio of paying to non-paying patients.

c. The county land bank operation is very successful, but is on track to affect only 700 of the approximately 10,000 properties that need attention. It can be scaled to pick up all foreclosed properties, a task that local governments, acting separately, are unequipped to accomplish. Land banking in today’s economic environments is a textbook case of buy low and sell high. It is another high return investment that is a win-win-win situation and a natural way for the County and local governments to cooperate.


Where feasible, properties will be deconstructed instead of demolished with saved materials stored for reuse. Cleared properties for which there are no construction reuse possibilities, will be turned into green space.


12.  Describe any specific areas where you believe it would be beneficial to pool regional resources (bad question—we can work on it).

There are so many. Everyone is talking about them. Fire fighters, police, EMS, garbage collection, et cetera. We will encourage pooling and build on best practices found developed here in the county or anywhere in the world. Allegheny County, PA would be a model to investigate and emulate.


The new technology infrastructure we deploy in County government will serve as a model and platform to facilitate pooling of regional resources. (See technology innovation section in answer to question 29.)


13.  Please generally describe your position on the issue of regionalism.

There are two kinds of regionalism: local regionalism and global regionalism.

Questions 11 and 12 focus on local regionalism, that is, activities between and among the 59 municipalities within the County. Most politicians and analysts agree that cost of government can be cut by efficiencies of scale. These consolidations are very likely to happen because of budget pressures. I enthusiastically support this and will help facilitate local regional cooperation wherever possible.


Global regionalism is the teaming of a region of people that have the same interests, the same values, and the same history. The global region I vision is the old rust-belt: Buffalo, Erie, Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Cleveland, Akron-Canton, Lorain, Sandusky, Toledo and Detroit. That global region can protect our greatest asset, Lake Erie, and be a powerhouse strong enough to compete anywhere in the world. Cuyahoga alone cannot hope to compete with the European Union, India, or China. The global region of the old rust-belt can evolve into a TECH-belt that brings back jobs and prosperity for generations.

IV.       Competence

14.  Have you ever run for public office? If so, please identify the office and the date of the election.  No


15.  What public offices have you held? When?  None


16.  Describe your experience in administering or managing an organization, and provide details relating to the size and nature of the organization:

  • Priority Manufacturing Corporation, 1959-1965, machine shop, 30 employees. During the summers, during my school years, I managed operations, did payroll, and did billing.
  • Piccioni High Energy Physics Group, University of California at San Diego, 1966-1979, physics research group performing experiments at the nation’s atom-smasher laboratories in Berkeley and Long Island, 40-60 employees.
  • Acme Express, Inc., Cleveland software developer, President, 1979-present, 10-17 employees. Developed software technology to manage thousands of truckers for Ford and Chrysler, manage staff scheduling for 3,000 healthcare providers, and help manage the Asian / mid-east operations of Proctor and Gamble.
  • MidTown Cleveland, Chair, 1999-2002, economic development organization, 6 employees.
  • Lyric Opera Cleveland, President, 1998-2006, opera company, 4 employees and 40 summer performing artists.
  • Workforce Investment Board, Chair of Economic Development Committee, 2003-2008, manages the expenditure of $15-20 million federal workforce investment funds, 6 County and City employees.


During the year of 2001, when I chaired MidTown Cleveland, was President of Lyric Opera Cleveland, and Acme Express, Inc., all three organizations thrived and innovated under my leadership.


I have not supervised an organization as large as the county operation. Yet the direct responsibilities listed above, and the close interaction with numerous large and small customers and institutions over the years, have made me a careful observer of organizational successes and failures. This wisdom is a strength that I am certain will enable me to run the county in a very effective and efficient way.




17.  Have you participated in preparing a budget for a business, government organization, or non-profit organization?  If so, please generally describe that experience.

I have participated in budget preparation for my business and three non-profit organizations, MidTown Cleveland, Lyric Opera Cleveland, and Opera Cleveland.


I was involved in the annual budgeting of the above organizations. As primary architect of the merger of Lyric opera and Opera Cleveland, I was intimately involved in the budgeting surrounding the transaction.


I was Treasurer of Opera Cleveland and two political campaigns, Save Our Access (a grassroots organization fighting ODOT decision to close the Prospect and Carnegie Innerbelt ramps) and Issue 6 (last year’s County Charter reform).


As recipient of a State of Ohio Third Frontier innovation commercialization grant and multiple federal government Small Business Innovation Research grants, I am familiar with government budgeting and reporting requirements.


Finally, as a reseller and “add-on” developer for Platinum /EPICOR Accounting software, I supported budgeting financial software systems in many companies and organizations. (See answer to question 19.)


18.  Have you dealt with public finance issues (i.e.  predicting tax revenues, bond issuance, etc.) in any prior position?  Describe your experience in public finance. If such experience is limited, please describe related experience.

I have represented a Government Treasury Management software system in the late 1990s.


I am a specialist in Monte-Carlo simulation, a technology used to model and predicts outcomes in science, business, and finance.


I have a Ph.D. degree in elementary particle physics. Many with my education specialization work on Wall Street and are known as “rocket scientists” in the finance world because of their technical capacity to understand and model complex financial instruments.


19.  Do you have any experience relating to accounting; if yes, please describe.


From the mid 1980s to late 1990s my company has been implementing accounting systems worldwide and developing software applications that interface business operations to financial accounting. My financial accounting applications have been sold to over 1500 customers in thirty countries. Procter and Gamble relied upon my software systems to run financial reports as they expanded throughout Asia and the Middle East in the late 1990s.


I am familiar with both for-profit and not-for-profit accounting.


20.  Have you ever held a public position in which you held public meetings? If so, describe that position and your role.

As chair of the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) Economic Development Committee from 2003 to 2008, I held monthly public meetings where we analyzed and coordinated workforce development policy between the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. At these meetings we discussed and deliberated issues, including demand occupation training requirements, individual training agreements, supportive services, incumbent working training, customized training, and on-the-job training policies.


I also participated in, and chaired, public meetings of the WIB and its Executive Committee.


21.  Have you, or any business in which you held more than a 50% interest, ever filed for bankruptcy.  When, where?  No


22.  In any prior position, have you developed, implemented or been in charge of enforcing an ethics policy for employees? If so, please describe.

As an economic development organization, MidTown Cleveland necessarily needs board members with development expertise but must have a policy to deal with the inevitable conflicts of interest. While Chair of MidTown Cleveland, I instituted a strategic planning process that included establishing the first ethics policy for board members.


Acme Express, Inc., my software company, has established ethics policies to deal with research fraud in compliance with requirements of Ohio Third Frontier and federal Small Business Innovation Research award requirements.


23.  Have you ever held a public position where you managed employees who were subject to civil service laws.  When?  Where?


At the University of California San Diego from 1965 to 1978, I supervised programmers and technicians that were subject to civil service laws.


24.  Have you ever held a public or private position where you managed employees who were subject to a collective bargaining agreement?  When, Where?


As President of Lyric Opera Cleveland from 1998-2006, I managed relations with musicians, stage hands, and singers; all of whom were subject to collective bargaining agreements. During 2006-2007, as principal architect of the merger of Lyric Opera Cleveland and Cleveland Opera, I was instrumental in getting the support of the musicians union to stand behind the merger and iron out differences in the agreements between the union and the two merging opera companies.


My software company’s applications that manage the scheduling of healthcare workers and truckers must comply with collective bargaining agreement provisions, and do so, optimizing scheduling and routing operations to find a solution that satisfies both labor and management Priorities.


V.        Policy

25.  What philosophy will you follow in appointing leadership positions within county government?

The hallmarks of my appointments will be competence, integrity, diversity, and accountability.


I will insist that the leadership acts as a team and not individuals.


Those who do not produce will be replaced.


26.  What steps do you believe county government can take to take advantage of Cuyahoga County’s lake front?

I would work co-operatively with the City of Cleveland to move its excellent water front planning forward. Specifically, we need to leave Burke as a reliever airport and otherwise provide access to the lake and river fronts for people to recreate. I am particularly interested in promoting the following items:


  • pedestrian access to the lake front,
    • ferry service between Cleveland and Canada,
    • transient docking space at East 9th street pier,
    • mixed-use projects on both banks of the Cuyahoga,
    • extended bike paths with a connector to the Metro park system, and
    • consolidating the Port Authority’s harbor facilities at Dock 22 to the river.


To expeditiously implement a water front policy, the County and City of Cleveland need to determine a sole point of focus for delivering results. This could be the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority.


27.  What steps do you believe county government can take to promote business development?

Education, healthcare, health-tech industry, energy, and Lake Erie are the keys to jobs and prosperity.


  • Education is the foundation of successful business development. Without better education, we cannot hope to compete for business investment. If education outcomes do not drastically improve, nothing else we do will matter. If we don’t start at the beginning with ages 0 through 8, we will never change long-term outcome. (See answer to question 28.)


  • Healthcare insurance is a way the County can help itself and our 59 municipalities. We can help cut costs by offering the County’s plan to local governments for their employees, and, at the same time, reduce the ratio of non-paying to paying patients at Metro Health, our county-supported hospital system.
  • Health-technology industry. The Healthcare industry is our opportunity to create a jobs and prosperity. I will vigorously promote our burgeoning healthcare technology industry and tie it to a successful Medical Mart.


The County is a committed partner in the Medical Mart’s success. Their five-year plan calls for 50 medical-related conventions and meetings per year and for sales offices of medical vendors filling permanent showrooms. The plan is very feasible and I will work tirelessly to insure its success.


We have several initiatives already underway to feed growth of the Medical Mart by linking it to the area’s medical technology entrepreneurs. One is MidTown / BioEnterprize Hub of Innovation of Opportunity. This is a swath of under-utilized real estate, extending from Cleveland State University, though MidTown, and to the Cleveland Clinic, the new Louis Stokes VA facility, CWRU, and University Hospitals. The Hub will be a geographic locus of healthcare technology companies. Some will grow from BioEnterprise and the new Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center. Others will come from a strong network of incubators in the region, such as the Beachwood Business Development Center, JumpStart, TechLift, MAGNET’s incubator initiative, the Civic Innovation Lab, and others. Lastly, the research arms of the area’s medical institutions themselves will continue to spark ideas, businesses and employees to this industry.


I have been in the healthcare innovation business for twenty-five years and a player in the above initiatives. I have won a Third Frontier Commercialization grant and Multiple Small Business Innovation Research grants from the US Department of Education and National Institutes of Health. I know how to win federal and state money to make our healthcare industry a big winner. I know how to cheerlead and sell healthcare technology as the pathway to jobs and prosperity.


  • Energy: We have already passed the tipping point of severe global warming. Ever increasing resources will be devoted to reversing its effects. Everything that reduces the carbon footprint--wind, fuel cells, recycling, sustainability, green space, et cetera--must be supported as a high return investment.


  • The County land bank has already established a forward-looking foreclosure reclamation system. But, we have only 700 properties under control. That leaves over 9,000 more spread throughout the County we must reclaim. We will keep these foreclosed properties out of the hands of absentee speculators. I will work with Council and our judiciary to make sure we have laws on the books to expedite land banking in a cost effective way. This is a classic buy low and sell high opportunity.


Some properties can be re-used, some must be demolished, and some we may deconstruct. Deconstruction recovers valuable building materials for reuse in future construction. And for some properties we can create friendly green space and urban gardens.


  • Lake Erie is our greatest resource. Exploit its waterfront and protect it. (See answer to question 26.)


28.  In your opinion, what is the single most important thing county government can do to promote economic development?

Early education is the single most important thing we can do to promote economic development, jobs, and prosperity in the future. This is a necessary, long-term solution to a problem that has been building for decades. We all want more jobs tomorrow, but tomorrow won’t happen overnight. Here is my vision:


By third grade, every student reads, writes, calculates, and knows how to live a healthy life.


I intend to prioritize early childhood education which is the most cost-effective way to curb illiteracy, build a capable workforce, and cut the demand for county social services. Research shows that programs like Head Start do well, but falter unless reinforced through K-3. Other research shows that the return on this type of education initiative is 7-15 times the investment.


Existing county Pre-K programs like Invest in Children will be expanded and coordinated with the County’s many school districts to expand these learning methods through the 3rd grade. The result will be that, by 3rd grade, every student will read, write, calculate, and understand nutrition and wellness. I will spearhead this effort, collaborating with mayors, school administrations, their Boards and their teachers.

Achieving this goal requires streamlining, coordination, and expansion of the County’s pre-K programs and an extension of them through the school systems K-3 grades.


The County, teachers unions, and public and private school administrations must come together as a team. Early education is my top priority. Every dollar invested has a tenfold return in a smarter workforce and reduced demand for County services.


29.  Please identify and generally explain your top three public policy goals.

Two years ago I joined the campaign to institute a Charter form of county government, to promote accountability, end corruption, and make economic development a county priority. I am the only candidate who endorsed, financially supported, and was a leader in the Issue 6 campaign. I believe in the County Charter, I helped write the County Charter, and I am committed to success of the County Charter. My three top priorities are: government integrity, technology innovation to save $200 million per year, and early education.


  • Government Integrity. I will partner with the County Council to choose the best possible people to fill positions of previously elected officials. I understand that Council is a check and balance to the Executive, and I will strive to work together as a team and usher in a new era of accountability, sunshine, and trust in government.


I will eliminate patronage hires and stop employing those receiving government pensions. If I had a magic wand, I would enact a law that government employees convicted of a felony would forfeit any government pension.


  • Technology Innovation. $200 million can be saved each year by consolidating operations and modernizing and re-engineering the basic technology infrastructure systems of the County. Local IT players like One Community and Hyland Software are poised and ready. One Community has connected the county with ultra high speed fiber. Hyland’s On-Base paperless office technology can increase efficiency by 20%.


There will be no “missing” files; there will be no incomplete information; there will be no long delays. The County’s business will be on-line and transparent for all to see. The sun will shine, night and day. Open and searchable records will be the rule rather than the exception.

Streamlining systems and coordinating databases will limit fraud and identify money saving opportunities. I will bring the County’s computer and software systems into the 21st century. There are hundreds of systems that don’t communicate or share key information with one another. Tens of millions of dollars per year can be saved by implementing standardized infrastructure, developing better software, and improving maintenance practices, to say nothing of the huge potential for time to be saved by having user-friendly systems that talk to each other.


A relevant example will make this point. Research shows that 30% of adults with mental health needs qualify for, but did not receive, federal Medicaid dollars! If our mental health systems could talk to the Job & Family Services systems, those 30% would be automatically identified and federal Medicaid would pay a substantial portion of their mental health service costs.


I have been creating innovative computer technology for 45 years. I have done it for Proctor & Gamble, Ford, Chrysler, IBM, and the Cleveland Clinic. I can do it for Cuyahoga County.


  • Early Education. The County, teachers unions, and public and private school administrations must come together as a team. Early education is my top priority. Every dollar invested has a tenfold return in a smarter workforce and reduced demand for County services. If we don’t solve education, nothing else we do will save us. (See answer to question 28.)