Civic breakdown and its consequences

Submitted by Ed Morrison on Sun, 08/10/2008 - 09:30.

Regions with a more open civic process — thicker collaborative networks — are more agile, responsive and competitive. They will learn faster and spot opportunities faster.

In a complex world, transparency and civility become key strategic assets for a simple reason: speed.

In Cleveland, there’s a long history of trying to privatize the public’s business. We see an extreme form in the Convention Center confusion that is slowly unfolding over the past few months.

After 15 years of study, the business community still does not have a clear idea of what it is building or how much it will cost. Up until a couple of weeks ago, Forest City was making major changes to its design for Tower City.

They’ve come up with a design that the leading architecture critic for the Plain Dealer panned.

And no wonder.

No architects or planners were involved in the process.

What’s even worse, after 15 years we still don’t know how much this convention center will cost. Budget estimates vary widely. Indeed, it appears that the GCP did not consider the significant additional infrastructure costs associated with the Tower City site. (See 2005 PD article: "Tower City figures don't match"

So, a breakdown of civic discourse in Cleveland has its consequences. The business leadership in Cleveland takes 15 years to design a 30-year-old strategy that’s 10 years late… and they still don’t know quite what they’re doing.

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