Good Magic vs. Bad Magic

Submitted by lmcshane on Sun, 06/08/2008 - 16:13.

Last week, the kids were treated to a magic show from a fabulous neighbor in Brooklyn Centre.  Now, I have more than one "seer" in the group of kids in this neighborhood, but one family, especially,  has become the resident "genius" family in the 'hood ranging from little Lily on up to her brainiac brothers, their mechanically-inclined father and their fierce supermom, the defender of the clan. 

The boys immediately honed in on the "tricks," and clued me in on some of the golden rules of magic--namely, watch the other hand and never perform the same trick in front of the same audience.  These kids should be put in charge of watching our political back, because we are being subjected to the same old tricks here in NEO.

This time around, Neighborhood Revitalization Partners will be pulling a disappearing act on Brooklyn Centre after they use our money to acquire properties, put up illusionary housing and then--presto--they will blame the City of Cleveland for not watching their bad magic as they saddle us with a sanitary nightmare.

Funny thing, this trick has been performed before in Toledo and Akron and the councilman pretends that he hasn't caught on.  I was heartened today to see that the PD's Becky Gaylord picked up on one tool the City has up its sleeve--receivership. The question, now, is why hasn't the city used good magic to dispel the bad magic???  I am sure that Cameron and Luis would spot the NRP deception right away.  So, why don't our "leaders" get it?


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presto change-o

Dave may be wearing a top hat at the 6/22 Riverside Cemetery Garden Tour and Dead People Channeling event; we had a dress rehearsal yesterday. Pastor Pam and Paul the Eye Doctor look to be fine additions; Pam was so funny she may have to change her day job.


Your tying magic and politics reminds me of a joke the Bedford Heights people tell about Jimmy DiMora, about how, when he was younger, he had a job at the sewage treatment plant. One day, he fell off a catwalk into a vat of shit, and crawled out a politician.


Bedford is obviously on to something.  What stops Cleveland from pursuing the same strategy?

good eye, Miss Information

That's where I grew up--sold real estate there a little, too--Elco in Maple Heights and FSR down on Broadway in Bedford.


The interesting point is that the city will not be making a profit. With all the nonprofits scurrying around Cleveland hoping to provide meaningful services, and garner fee income, this will not happen. Also, in Cleveland, which has the setup where things like this are handled by the nonprofits, not the government, this will not happen.


The whole structure in Cleveland is compromised right out of the gate. When the nonprofits' money flows through the city, it leaves a lot open to behavior that borders on racketeering. When grant money from the federal government is corralled and put into revolving funds and lent out by the banks and their handmaidens the nonprofits, it's a subversion of the original intent of the banks.


Bedford seems to value transparency. My 7th-grade teacher, Thomas Howard Cullen, used to be the mayor there. He lived on Tarbell. He came to us via Providence College and after a career in some sort of sales. He was tough, principled, and uncompromising when it came to governance. His spirit lives on, and it is the same spirit that many of the old crowd back there had--no nonsense, and cut the crap.


Cleveland is buried in crap up to its collective eyebrows. Nobody knows exactly how tangled the financial interests are here. When it all unravels just a bit more, as we're seeing happen with Art House, the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, Clark Metro, and the council offices from Santiago all the way over to Kelley, it will be a wonder to behold.



Rudge and Kaufman

Heather Rudge and Steven Kaufman pick up the chorus -- Get rid of this dinosaur. 

Kaufman and Rudge - good words copied here for posterity

Because the archives at stink (let's not even go into how the navigation works - awful!) I thought it would be good to archive these excellent letters here.

Lack of leadership hinders fight against blight - letter to the editor

Friday, June 13, 2008

Becky Gaylord's June 8 column, "How city is losing fight against blight," further exposes the lack of leadership at City Hall. The city has the resources and the manpower to issue housing code tickets and get violators into Housing Court, yet it seems to be left to the police to write tickets and to nonprofit neighborhood groups with limited resources to bring the cases to court.

Having worked for a nonprofit group that has brought receivership cases before Judge Ray Pianka, I know he's one of the strongest allies the city has for bringing back blighted neighborhoods. But Pianka can't do it alone.

Instead of allowing city inspectors to sit in their offices filing grievances against the police department, changes should be made to concentrate enforcement and find ways to fast-track cases to court. Learn from successes in other cities.

If it takes overhauling the building department, do it. If it takes electing a new mayor, do it. Without habitable, safe, attractive neighborhoods, neither new downtown development nor a shiny new bus line from downtown to University Circle will save Cleveland.

Heather Rudge


Get rid of this dinosaur

County government must be reformed now - and not by a committee of cynical pols
Friday, June 13, 2008
Steven S. Kaufman

We no longer have the time to endlessly debate government change in Cuyahoga County, because our survival as a viable economic region is at increasing risk with each passing month.

Four years ago, the Cleveland Bar Association, together with six other civic and educational organizations, spent a year examining the need to reform county government to meet the challenges posed by the global economy.

We conducted hundreds of interviews and hosted several City Club forums. We authored a report that profiled the needs of the community to make the most dramatic governance change in its history.

The report - as with the excellent study on government reform done by Professor Kathleen L. Barber in the 1990s - was ignored by public officials as cynics in civic and political circles shrugged, ignoring the impending realities.

Now newspaper reports make it increasingly evident that our county government is dysfunctional and failing. So much is in jeopardy: our schools, home values, businesses and our future. Voters here have become cynical because of the lack of transparency in government projects where millions of taxpayer dollars are spent in a questionable fashion.

The only way to effect change is to understand that it is directly linked to our economic survival.

Single cities and counties are no longer drivers of economic competition. Regions dominate in economic importance because they are the economic units that compete in a world economy. When you consider Cuyahoga County, you must compare it with regions in the global market place. The U.S. regions that don't mea sure up are the aging manufac turing centers in the Northeast, the old South and Midwest.

Among those areas in decline is Cuyahoga County, and Cleveland, the county's core, is in the most danger.

To compete in the global economy, regions must develop a strategy that makes the best use of their resources, manpower and intellectual capacity. Most certainly, it must have the governance structure and leadership to develop and execute the strategy.

Multiple layers of government are barriers to marshalling the forces needed to develop and execute a regional economic strategy.

County government is a lumbering, aimless and insular structure. In a time when regional economic competitiveness is the key to the future, Cuyahoga County sits paralyzed with gridlocked, archaic government.

There are 57 separate municipal governments in the county. Cleveland cannot serve as the region's political focal point. This has fallen to the three county commissioners who exist in a system with no accountability and no leadership structure.

This week the state legislature created a nine-member commission of county residents that would hold hearings and make recommendations to state lawmakers who would put the reform issue on the ballot in 2009. That move is a simple reaction to increasing discontent here. But the plan does not address the unique nature of Cuyahoga County and its diverse stakeholders. The reform process must be much broader than a commission appointed by elected public officials and should not take its direction solely from political leadership. Rather, such change requires full community stakeholder participation from Day One.

Serious reform at all levels of government is required. This reform must do more than tinker with an antique government.

We need an effective county executive, one who operates with transparency and accountability.

We must break the barriers that hold us back and create competitive regions.

We must empower communities and minorities, advance economic development and public finance solutions, and do so without eliminating the local character and representative nature of local government. The bar association study shows we can do this.

The study also addressed the importance of the political representation of minority communities in any government reform, and their meaningful participation in economic development. It is important that our minority communities see and realize an economic benefit they fairly share in.

As the bar association study proceeded, it became clear that the only way to achieve meaningful government reform here is by creating a community consensus through collaboration by all of the county's stakeholders.

The stakeholders who must take a seat at the table include minority groups, businesses and civic organizations, labor unions, political parties, public officials, the media, clergy, civic foundations and neighborhood groups.

The study called for the convening of these community stakeholders to create a plan for regional cooperation within Cuyahoga County government reform.

Time is of the essence. We cannot wait for political leaders to understand the depth of despair and figure out how to effect significant change to alter this decline.

The stakeholders of this community need to join together now and act for their own well-being and that of future generations. Let's convene and get this done.

Kaufman is a former president of the Cleveland Bar Association and a partner in the law firm of Thompson Hine LLP.

Contact him at: Steven.KaufmanATthompsonhineDOTcom


The dialogue is convened, a good while ago. We found it wise to scrutinize those proclaiming themselves stakeholders. Quite often, they were parasites tricked out as stakeholders. Quite often, their self-interests were not congruent or even parallel with those of the community at large.


We need to be alert to the hijacking of the dialogue by those organizations and institiutions that have forgotten their missions and serve their own interests before they serve as they were intended, and in this group you will find most of the governments, the nonprofits, our own Chamber of Commerce (the GCP), and the banks, all too, too COSE for words.

Interstate Investment Group LLC

Who is Interstate Investment Group?   We know a little bit about Neighborhood Revitalization Partners. 

BTW, the City of Cleveland is in the audit phase of stormwater permit compliance with Ohio and federal EPA regulation.  So, it behooves developers to get their projects done quickly and under the table, before the feds get to the enforcement phase.