Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sun, 06/11/2006 - 16:52.

Theres' a stark difference in reporting attitude between REALNEO and ECO City site...

Take a look at the review of the ODOT bridge meeting posted by Marc Lefkowitz on we-wannabe-a GreenCity  .   This is Polly Anna reportage in my book – you know, the type of reporting where when there’s a controversy, don’t address it.  Talk nice.  Make nice.  Don’t offend (the funders). 

Cleveland won’t get out from under the corruption and self dealing which is rampant here  with this type of hollow recanting.  Trying to skirt around the mess we have in NEO by being polite and looking the other way has only resulted - over the last 40 years I have been watching the City – in continued deterioration of government and business and civic society.  We need to call it like it is, and if we pretend that our government is functioning fairly and effectively then we are part of the problem. 

One thing that was clear from the ODOT meeting was that there is a hot controversy about the bridge routing process AND THE FACT THAT ODOT HASN'T FOLLOWED THE RULES– yet this fundamental aspect of the ODOT hearing isn’t mentioned.  And I like the cold storage building….

The ODOT discussion and images of bridges (worth clicking through) make it seem as if the public’s opportunity for involvement is similar to picking  an ice cream flavor. 

Why has ODOT decided on a Northern Alignment when the bureaucrats have the chance to develop a full economic impact study and route alternatives study on the taxpayers dime?   Answer that question…

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Claes Oldenburg was right...

Jeff, thanks for the heads up. I was at that meeting and tried to raise the points you're addressing--I guess they want to skim over that and keep driving on giving the public the illusion they're letting them participate.  They're not. There's really no record that they have; it's all a sham on the way to ODOT's doing exactly what it wants. The big question is, whose handmaiden is ODOT? Who's pulling the strings here?

This Lefkowicz blogpiece points up many things about this cozy Cleveland public/private/nonprofit "business" society. It's a slavish, devotional piece, at best.  It records the meeting better than it was, rewriting a flawed and sloppy presentation by Craig Hebebrand and the Baker boys. It leaves out any mention of the criticism that arose at the meeting, and fails to make any distinctions itself. It's obvious here that Lefkowicz is ODOT's servant--perhaps ODOT's indentured servant, since the funding for nonprofits around here seems to be predicated on how supportive they are of the selling out of the pubic at large.

Lefkowicz seems to be trying to put that old rubber stamp on yet another flawed process. Oldenburg certainly had some insights.

Solution is developing alternatives to corrupt outcomes

  • I have stopped attending all these ODOT meetings because, as Ed Hauser, Martha Eakin, Jeff Buster, Susan Miller, you and others have well documented, overall economic development planning in NEO is broken, leading ODOT in a direction that is unacceptable. At this point, I do not blame Proctor and ODOT officials, or even their Columbus engineers, but I hold accountable the community leaders promoting scarcity and big-box development of downtown by sprawl developers who control the Port Authority.

  • The regional planners are redirecting the freeways to serve the big box developers. I do not blame the sprawl developers who have corrupted the planning process for their desire to expand their personal wealth doing bad development with bad architects, but I challenge those who care about the look and feel of this community to step forward with better visions.

  • EcoCity probably has funding conflicts preventing them from dealing with any highly political regional issues, and there is nothing to indicate they are interested or qualified to help straighten all this out anyways, so I don't look to them for insight or support of better economic development visions - they should scale back and simplify their outreach to help make this a Green City by a Blue Lake as they claim... like helping clean up Whiskey Island, dealing with the salt marsh problem in Mentor, analyzing the invasive species in the Great Lakes, reducing pollution of the Cuyahoga, eradicating lead poisoning, and promoting funding of all that... I think they are completely out of their element working in economic development and urban planning.

  • If David and Marc have personal viewpoints they should express them as opinions on GCBL, REALNEO, BrewedFreshDaily, MeettheBloggers (there's an idea) – they should write/speak "editorial blogs" rather than play Wizard of Oz (Marc used to do that with Hotel Bruce, now sadly demolished).

  • Everyone promoting big-box development of Cleveland knows there are boom times ahead for downtown, and they are acting to enrich their suburban friends before the global community can raise the stakes and outcomes here above and beyond bad urban planning, inappropriate sprawl architecture and suburban sprawl itself... always remember the European architects at the CSU planning symposium last year who said "its all about the river" and realize that was a call to action for those positioning to steal the city.

  • As the public outcry for urban planning accountability and innovative thinking mounts, the Plain Dealer has had to show more of the cards in the sprawl developers' hand, and they are all jokers seeking corporate charity for the rich before the public realizes that corporate charity is not necessary, and the wrong people are about to be taxed.

  • Joker one - the Plain Dealer editors are promoting the need for a tax to fund Crocker Carney's Port Authorized destruction of our beautiful urban fabric, proposing we give him the keys to the city. Anyone remember electing some Westlake developer named Carney as benevolent ruler of NEO for life?

  • Joker two - today the PD promoted Paul Volpe's cocktail napkin plans to divert public land to private development (like with the Coast Guard Station by further taxing the public to pay $40 million for Public Square commercialization, in direct competition against all the good developers who already invested to make downtown a rebounding arts and entertainment district

  • Joker three – obfuscate that the blight of Public Square is the fault of area parking lot and slum property owners like those controlling Dillards (vacant) and the May Company (wasted as an anti-social zero human footprint data center for one of our core regional banks, preventing a large public footprint and high social value use like housing, incubator, school... anything but mindless humming machines)

  • I propose alternatives to giving the city to the parking lot owners, sprawl developers, slum lords and bad architects who have killed our culture, community and economy. I promote an alternative economic development model based on the abundant wealth and opportunity of our region and the global value of our regional assets, vs. the fear-mongering, shrinking-city, box-in Cleveland, lead poison and bulldoze poverty "quiet crisis" illusion promoted by NEO "economic development leadership", including the Gateway Development Corporation.

  • The bridge should move south, opening up for redevelopment 100s of acres in the Flats and bluffs that are now blighted by the Port Authority and their carneys.

  • All historic buildings in NEO must be inventoried and protected, and we need new stewards of our historic cultural heritage.

  • Map out the land being made available for development through any real or envisioned public intervention and any eminent domain actions and integrate all of that on a public master plan - from port land blighting the Cuyahoga and lake fronts to public land banks and brownfields scheduled for recovery (in many cases at the expense of historic buildings, at taxpayer expense) - and manage all that data and insight with a computerized planning system, built on open source software, and make that tool available to all developers in the world.

  • Partner here with the best developers, planners and architects in the world, preserving our cultural assets and infilling with new signature design concepts going far beyond the limited imaginations and abilities of the same old Forums and City Architects... LEEDS "silver" is not nearly good enough for NEO - we want a design revolution.

  • Let all our public participate in the planning process, not just by allowing them an occasional seat in locked galleys but by placing the public in mission control of open source economic development visioning, with access to the same planning tools as the developers... SymNEO, so to speak

  • Make this an exciting, collaborative regional experience that revolutionizes planning for the world, making NEO both a demonstration city for the future of planning and a center for planning excellence for the world.

  • Realize this open source economic development process represents the turning point ending the “quiet crisis” of corruption that has plagued this community our entire lifetimes so far, and be free.

  • I'm starting the mapping and documentation process using the REALNEO site, digital photography, satellite mapping and Drupal technology and we are ready to begin the development of the next generation mapping component, which will be world-unique... join in the early planning discussions here, or GCBL, with letters to editors, at public meetings and any other way you may - the more activists for change the better, where ever that activism may reside.

Can be corrected through Open Source Economic Development

  • There is a lack of collaboration and clear purpose to the social networking space being claimed for environmentalism in NEO by many non-profit organizations.
  • In the case of GCBL, I believe David Beach and Marc Lefkowitz are building GCBL into an informational portal rather than a social network, and the information reflects the opinion of the authors... I don't know where they get their content and I take it for what it is worth - some is excellent and some is disturbing.
  • REALNEO also reflects the opinions of its authors, which is anyone in the free world who wants to join in... you are a REALNEO author, because you choose to be, and I am a community member on your thoughts here.
  • The true social networking revolution happening in NEO is driven without funding or command and control support at the grass roots level, I believe best reflected in REALNEO and George Nemeth's Brewed Fresh Daily and other exciting activities in the "blogsphere".
  • That GCBL is not a social network is fine, so long as they don't claim more social space and oxygen than is justified by their role in society and our economy, whatever that may be.
  • Regarding environmentalism in general, business and industrial interests have always used money and power to corrupted environmentalism - for example, in the case of lead poisoning the lead and paint industries infiltrated the federal government regulatory bodies to set in place dangerously high standards for what is lead poison, so most poisoning cases go undetected.
  • That said, I believe the people I know who are supportive of environmentalism in NEO have their hearts in the right places.
  • My position since returning to NEO a year and a half ago was to help all good people in the region use social computing better, for better social outcomes. We are making progress through REALNEO, and I advocated EcoCity converting GCBL to Drupal, which they did, so I am pleased they are moving in the right direction.
  • The right foundations for transformation of the economy are now in place, funds are flowing toward good outcomes, and people are becoming more aware and active as a result of the technology and social innovation many of us now drive.
  • Regarding ODOT, the command model cannot control open source economic development.
  • I'm always available to help anyone who wants to participate in this global revolution anabled by open source economic development and social computing, and I am against those who corrupt this technology, information and social freedom revolution in any way.
  • ODOT officials and their patrons are so far outside the social freedom revolution they don't even exist in my world.
  • Who lives in the open source economic development world, vs. who lives in the ODOT world, that is the question?


You certainly did deliver some value in that last post--more than ever had reason to expect--and thank you.

The eight options for the bridge...

Has anyone looked at the designs? Did a high school student point and click the images from a clip art book of bridges? These are not bridge designs, they are a rambling bunch of pixels slammed together to give the lay person the illusion that someone actually did some work on this.

This is just one more example that your tax dollars are being wasted. I am constantly amazed at the total lack of common sense at ODOT.

Point of Clarification

I attended that meeting from about 5:30 until the end, and I think it should be mentioned that there were in fact two separate meetings.  The first (which began at 4 p.m.) was apparently significantly less contentious than the second (which began at about 6:30).  Mark left before the second meeting began, and I would have as well, since at the first meeting very little was said and there wasn't any substantial discussion.  However, I stuck around since Ed Hauser had just arrived, and he was kind enough to ask some very serious questions in the second meeting.

In all honesty, for the part that Mark attended, there was very little controversy.  Straightforward questions were asked in response to the Baker consultants' elicitations.  There was frankly no news to be reported upon regarding the first meeting, and little likelihood that anything interesting or pertinent would be covered in the second meeting.  Boy, were we wrong.

That said, I don't think that it is correct to attribute malice or bed-sharing on the part of EcoCity and Mark.  Exhaustion and/or disinclination to watch the same show back-to-back might better explain the piece.  After all, how many of us would desire to watch a double-feature of Feagler and Friends?

ODOT Bridge Choices A Sham


It does not matter which presentation you attended to know that time was spent discussing options that may not ultimately be options.  We all know that time is “value-able”.  We are paying for the – I counted at least 20 -  people who were either from ODOT or Baker or some other ODOT- employed  firm there to deal with the public, but ODOT doesn’t value  the public’s time.  If they did, they would not have us discussing bridge designs before the necessary information which would provide the basis for intelligent decision-making was available.


A. Without having completed and released an alternatives study and an economic impact study and then allowed for a public comment period, ODOT shouldn’t even be discussing possible bridge “styles” for a particular alignment.


B.  Final bridge choices will depend on geologic information provided by borings and the costs and even possibility of certain types of bridge given this information.  Clevelanders are certainly not going to pass a levy dedicated to raising dollars for a particular type of bridge that costs more than the money allocated.  The speaker from Baker did, in passing, give the audience a caveat regarding the geologic information they didn’t have yet.  What if borings would indicate that another alignment besides the one ODOT is single- mindedly pursuing would actually be less expensive?  Costs of impacts to various neighborhoods in terms of buildings lost, traffic effects, and the effects on view and noise etc. could be weighed if ODOT, with public input, chose to do so.  

not to mention the ODOT wheels in the parking lot



Funny you should key in on the expenses, the spending like a drunken sailor, that we routinely see from ODOT. As we came in to the meeting, I noticed lots of cars with government plates, all of which probably went home with their drivers, government employees. We noticed the same phenomenon this past Tuesday, starting at 6 AM for Columbus--all the government cars heading for Columbus, driven by people who apparently were on their way to work. I started asking questions, and I could find no answers from people I talked to that day. They are--

--Do we have a motor pool for government cars, and are they returned there each evening and reassigned the next day?

--Or, do these state employees actually take the cars home each day, and use them as their second cars to get back and forth to work? On I-71, this seemed to be the case Tuesday morning.

--If they use the cars as their personal cars, is this a perquisite that has an economic value?

--What is the economic value, and how is it attributed to them? Is this added to their salary-type compensation?

--How do we value that? Gas, oil? Insurance? Cost of automobile? Mileage, wear, tires, and maintenance?

--If we're not charging this to them as a form of compensation, then can we do this retroactively and clean up the budget deficits?

--Can we sell off all these cars and have them use their own cars and the buses to get to work, like everybody else?

These are the things I think about when I see large numbers of government cars.


Excellent point Tim - let's just send the $billion back

  • The one that really disgusts me is the cop who always parks his/her car illegally on the corner in front of his/her house on Meadowbrook around Taylor in Cleveland Heights... and there are all the cops in Cleveland Heights who sit in their cars idling, and and leave them idling all around Coventry
  • As for all the ODOT and government folks you mention... big surprise - you identify $millions in waste - Martha identifies $millions in waste - add all the corruption and corporate charity and it is very easy to understand why a bridge costs over a $ billion.
  • My proposal for the bridge is route all through traffic way around Cleveland, via 480 to 271 or via 80, and then charge a toll for use of the current bridge (like $1 per vehicle ton, or something based on the inverse to mileage) and then offer free public transportation and build more (and bike lanes all over) - we will keep all the garbage out of Cleveland and reduce traffic and pollution and generate funds that will pay for more public transportation and eliminate the need to replace the bridge and redo the trench and we can send the $ billion back and say "yo world - no pork in our town - we're shrinking our ecological footprint here... "

Thanks to Jeff

I can't really comment on the specifics of the meeting because I did not attend. I have been following Jeff's Blog and the comments and find it fascinating. What a great example of success using blogging/social networking where traditional journalism fails. I am interested in this issue. Where this bridge goes and what it looks like is probably the most important issue facing Cleveland right now, though few people seem to be very interested or even care. We will be changing our skyline and have the opportunity to do something beautiful -- something great. We are changing our landscape and rerouting major arteries -- there is the possibility for innovative development of a lot of land.  Cleveland should not waste the opportunity.

Environmentalism vs. Corporate Sustainability

  • I see "Sustainable Cleveland" is teaming up with Nortech and EcoCity/GCBL and moving into the NEO public economic development and environmentalism mindspace - adding to the NEOspeak that is reducing environmentalism here into a dying spectator sport... see Nortech plug for Sustainable Cleveland below and here
  • I met with Sustainable Cleveland organizers months ago to understand where they fit in the environmental landscape and determined they are a consultancy for very large corporations - the Eco-side of TeamNEO - I suggested their vision of working for large area corporations to optimize corporate "sustainability" is just corporate benchmarking, so they should start a benchmarking initiative for them, and it appears Sustainable Cleveland is moving in that direction (see posting below).
  • I've spent many years working with some of the best (global high tech leaders) and worst (American utility companies) "Fortune 100" companies around the world benchmarking their corporate operations, from wide area network security to demand side management - it is an excellent process for corporations (and other "apples to apples" organizations) to share best practices for their own competitive advantages. Corporations invest in consulting and analysis of operations to reduce costs and increase profits - they do not do right things for the sake of being good, but to improve their margins - keep things in perspective... corporations don't have souls, or homes, or human values of any type.
  • I am concerned Sustainable Cleveland is confusing this community by suggesting what they are doing - being paid to help large corporations - is tied to environmentalism or driving social change and economic development for any other than their clients' benefit... that this will somehow boil the GCBL of NEO ecotransformation. Please.
  • Sustainable Cleveland and other "sustainability" organizations that work for/with large corporations must be kept separate from true social change initiatives. When the "sustainable corporation movement" claims an environmental footprint and pulls public activism and public/foundation funds from true environmentalism to support corporate consulting, that is corporate charity.
  • Nothing about Sustainable Cleveland proposes to protect the public and the environment and if it displaces true environmentalism and makes the public complacent then such corporate charity can be very dangerous, as the public has no environmentalism or related competencies ... that's NEO today.
  • Such corporate consulting must be kept arms length from environmentalism, at the least - constanty scrutinized and challenged, at best. Let's just make sure the public doesn't get confused about any of that, and that we develop better environmental social activism to keep coporate and "sustainable" interests in balance. With both, we may all win.
  • Anyone interested in environmentalism... er sustainablility (leading to improvements in public health, improving public education, arts and culture, and the environment in NEO)... is welcome to help with lead eradication, which is the true cornerstone of building a sustainable Cleveland (despite what Sherwin Williams and many of our other largest area corporations would like you to think). Email me at norm [at] realinks [dot] com to become involved in the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council (GCLAC) and Concerned Citizens Organized Against Lead (CCOAL) and truly make a difference - save childrens minds today for a sustainable Cleveland and NEO.
  • There will be a lead awareness rally in downtown Cleveland, from Public Square to City Hall, Wednesday, July 19, from 11:0 AM to 1:30 PM - be there.

From Northtech "Tech Future"...

Lisa Hong and David Nash are the driving forces behind Sustainable Cleveland. Despite its name, the group's agenda--and its reach--is truly regional; you can see for yourself by reading the Action Plan that accompanies this interview. When not running Sustainable Cleveland, Lisa is a principal in the consulting firm eQuest strategies; Dave is a partner in the environmental law firm, McMahon DeGulis. Sustainable Cleveland does not yet have a public website, although discussions are under way with EcoCity Cleveland about creating a space for Sustainable Cleveland as part of GreenCityBlueLake.


Tell us a little bit about the role Sustainable Cleveland plays in Northeast Ohio’s economic landscape. How do you see Sustainable Cleveland transforming Northeast Ohio?

We focus on mobilizing the largest 150 companies in the region to help them integrate sustainable business practices and innovation into their companies. We focus on this segment of the community for two reasons (1) Large, globally oriented companies are not only key drivers for economic prosperity, but social change in the 21st century; and, (2) Sustainable business practices and innovation are drivers for regional wealth creation and competitiveness.

How do your roles as co-founders impact Sustainable Cleveland?

One of the strengths of Sustainable Cleveland is that it is a non-hierarchical organization. We are advised by a Steering Committee, and projects are managed by two volunteer co-conveners (us) and a program manager. Each of these managers is integral to our collaborative “troika” project management approach. Functionally, Sustainable Cleveland’s three partners manage Sustainable Cleveland’s work.

Where do you see Sustainable Cleveland five years from now? Ten years from now?

Five years: Sustainable Cleveland facilitates the annual publishing of Northeast Ohio’s sustainability benchmarking report. Sustainable Cleveland has been the initial organization or “clubhouse” for numerous sustainable business and innovation projects, including, a proactive regional CEO round table that is looked to by the community for sustainable leadership, connecting regional businesses to each other and to other national and international networks for productive and actionable dialogue, promoting sustainable systems and industries, a regional advanced energy strategy, a sustainable supply chain training program to make small, medium and large regional manufacturers more competitive with their customers, and has spun off projects from Leadership Cleveland/ Sustainable Cleveland and Cleveland Bridge Builders collaborations development of a regional utility-scale wind farm and establishment of a fresh water institute at the Great Lakes Science Center.

Ten years: Corporate social and environmental responsibility has become a driver for economic development. Sustainable Cleveland is no longer needed in the community.

Why did you decide to develop an action plan for the TechFutures project?

Sustainable Cleveland uses “connecting and convening” as a significant part of Sustainable Cleveland’s work model. We work this way to leverage a few resources into as big an impact as possible; in some ways akin to Malcolm Gladwell’s description of creating impact in his book, The Tipping Point. By developing an action plan as part of TechFutures, we not only developed clarity on our mission and purpose internally, but on how we can function more effectively as part of a regional economic development strategy.

What are the top three things you need to accomplish/implement this year as a result of your action plan?

1. Engage representatives of the largest 150 corporations in Northeast Ohio in our projects.
2. Effectively manage conversation toward action.
3. Further build our business-oriented knowledge network to facilitate peer-learning and support cross-sector regional sustainability initiatives.

How do you think these will benefit your organization as well as Northeast Ohio as a whole?

Our vision is to establish Northeast Ohio as a global model of a 21st-century community with a thriving economy, high quality of life, and a regional brand based on innovative, sustainable enterprises in all sectors.

If you could partner with any organization to help you achieve your goals, who would it be and why?

Sustainable Cleveland would benefit from alliances with regional economic development organizations, to increase our credibility in the business community and help mainstream sustainable business practices and innovation into the regional economic development plan.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Northeast Ohio’s future?

Attracting and retaining a new generation of young and talented residents with opportunities consistent with Sustainable Cleveland’s vision as described above.

What do you see as the most important opportunity that Northeast Ohio needs to take advantage of in order to transform itself into a more technology driven, knowledge based economy?

Re-branding to compete with cosmopolitan, progressive, environmentally healthy regions.

What do you love about living and working in Northeast Ohio? Why?

There are tremendous assets and opportunities to mobilize those assets for civic entrepreneurs (despite the region’s self-inflicted inferiority complex). Northeast Ohio’s business and civic leaders are very accessible. The philanthropic and economic development communities are often open to innovative ideas and young leaders.

cop cars in Cleve Hts

I like the idea of building a new two way bridge over the existing bridge to a southern alignment. Then we can have the old bridge for pedestrians, cyclists and shops. That or give the billion back. I'd also like to reroute traffic and make the trench, the curve and the lakeshore into a a boulevard. Unfortunately we would have to come up with the funds to buy back the interstate to do that.

GCBL is a cool site despite your misgivings -- read more. If you haven't read throught the ecocity site (it's predecessor), I suggest it as recommended reading. I learned a lot. Maybe you already know all that being a Harvard grad and all.

To Norm on the Cop cars on Cleveland Heights streets: I live in Cleveland Heights and have long wondered about the many patrol cars parked on neighborhood streets. It turns out that the cars are driven by CH police who live in CH and they are parked near their homes when the officers are off duty. They do act as deterrents to speeding in the neighborhoods as far as I can attest -- sort of like the plastic owls and snakes that are placed by restaurant patios to keep pigeons away. They work until one realizes that the car is parked there every afternoon.

If those guvmint workers are going to drive cars on the tax payer's credit card, they should at least be hybrids so they can drive the demand for US automakers in the hybrid market.