Jon Pinney on CLE's ability for self-delusion

Submitted by lmcshane on Sun, 06/17/2018 - 09:37.  (emphasis and links added)

Full Transcript of Jon J. Pinney's Remarks to the City Club on June 8, 2018

Guest Author


BOB LITTMAN: Good afternoon and welcome to the City Club of Cleveland on this sunny Friday, where it again our city is hosting the NBA finals.


BOB: I am Bob Littman, president of the City Club. I am so glad to be here, seeing many of you here today to hear from our friend Jon Pinney, managing partner of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. He has been digging into numbers about our regional economic situation, and I know we are all curious about what he has to say. At the first City Club Forum, the three mayors of Ohio's most significant cities shared the stage. They spoke about the challenges they faced and the efforts each was leading to address those challenges and strengthen their communities. This question -- what can we do to help our community work better -- has been at the heart of the city club's programming, and our forum fits squarely in that tradition.

Over the decades, many leaders have stepped onto the stage to offer their understanding of the issues we face and their proposed solutions, and our community has implemented many of those solutions some time with great impact. Our speaker has written a pair of columns for Smart Business news category troubling economic indicators about our region's performance. He calls for a regional conversation that tackles head-on the head issues behind our economic performance. I suspect he will talk about that, and what happens once this conversation is started. Before I hand over the podium, let me tell you a few things.

He is homegrown talent, a product of Cleveland Marshall College of Law. He spent his early years growing up in Youngstown. He sits on the rock Hall and destination Cleveland boards. He was an integral part of the team that won the 2016 RNC, which was definitely one of Cleveland's best parties ever thrown. Since then, Jon has emerged as a young leader of the passion to make us better each and every day. Members and friends of the city club of Cleveland, please welcome me in joining the speaker, Jon Pinney.


JON PINNEY: First of all, can you hear me? Good. Welcome. I stepped into something, didn't I? I don't even know what to say, other than I am a little overwhelmed. I have not slept much. I'm stressed. It means a lot that you all are here.

I want to thank all the amazing civic leaders and philanthropists who have reached out me over the last several weeks for attending today, for your great insight and kind words. I want to thank the City Club. This is an amazing forum. It is an honor and privilege to have this opportunity. I want to thank my wife and kids who similar to the RNC, I go into this dark hole and start researching problems and never come out, so thank you for understanding.

I want to thank my firm. This is not an easy conversation to have and our firm has dedicated itself for years and decades to making changes in this community. I appreciate the support. I want to thank the 2018 class of Leadership Cleveland. It is the best-est. I am aware "best-est" is not a word. It is a joke. It is a wonderful group of 65 strong from across the region. If none of you have ever done Leadership Cleveland, I recommend that you go through the process.

I am standing here today with 65 strong behind me. I just want to thank so many of you for attending. I want to thank two people in particular. It is pretty lonely up here. I feel like I am on a bit of an island. I was waiting for the Calvert to say, I agree with you, and all we saw was people talking about articles off the record, so thank you. I really appreciate it. It gives me a support.

I want to thank Joe Roman. I read his op Ed this morning and appreciate the constructive nature of that response. These problems are bigger than any one organization, however we will not make any real progress until the Greater Cleveland Partnership is prepared to engage. Joe's op Ed was a great start. I want to thank him for doing that because I set out to start a conversation that has clearly started.

It is a tough conversation and it has begun, so let's get on with it. We are getting our butts kicked. We are dead last in most economic metrics. The population declines at an alarming rate and the economy has not evolved. We are still relying heavily on traditional manufacturing, which is subject to major disruption from automation and robotics, ironically enough probably engineered in Pittsburgh.

By so many incredible efforts to reverse decades of decline, we cannot seem to break through. Mediocrity will not cut it. We face big structural challenges that hold us back. Despite being and the longest period of economic expansion in our country, we are falling behind our competition.

With a recession looming, we may experience the carnage of 2009 and 2010 but I can tell you I have a lot of businesses who were in receivership and bank default, and it was a painful time to represent companies. It is time to disrupt ourselves, level with ourselves, and I'm going to try to do that today. I hope people carry on the conversation.

Let me tell you how I briefly got here and reached these conclusions. This is a long timeline and I'm going to move quickly because I do not have much time. I would chew up your day. In March 2007, I applied for the best-est class ever of leadership Cleveland. I discussed the importance of jobs growth, our regional economy, and the overall health of it. I did not know much but I knew they were critical. When I put in that application, I wound up on the economic planning team.

In June 2017, I was approached by Smart Business magazine to write a column. We were coming off the high of the RNC, experiencing a revitalized downtown. I really wanted to write a positive piece and continue the narrative of Cleveland's Renaissance. As we look at the metric and numbers, the picture was not as rosy as we thought, so we delayed the article and agreed to regroup, take a harder look, and wait for new data.

September 2017, the RFP for the Amazon HQ2 was released. Bidding cities were compared head-to-head against their competition. Many metrics were thrown around. I was not involved in that bid, but it put these issues front and center.

November 2017, I attended the economic development session at Hyland software, an amazing Cleveland story. They were kind enough to host us, attended a town hall meeting which they discussed these issues. It was an impressive day hearing from the leadership. Our group chose an RFP Cleveland theme. We set out to grade Northeast Ohio's economic system in comparison to our competition. During the entire course of the day, and the planning leading up, there was a collision course between two narratives.

Are we in a Renaissance, or what is the real truth? By the way, I was one of the many people who did the RNC circuit along with some many people, and I used the narratives Renaissance. I thought it was the situation and I still believe that is one of the great shining moments of our city and our region, one of the greatest experiences I have ever been involved in. I did it in tandem with David Gilbert. I did it in tandem with Joe Roman, the entire Cleveland partnership, and four chairs who kept us on a direct path. It was an incredible experience.

November 2017 -- sorry, January 2017, my first article in Smart Business magazine appeared. We decided to drop the Renaissance narrative and write an article based on the data we found. It is time for a tough conversation about economic development. I pointed out that at this point economic indicators and however our region was lagging behind competition like Columbus.

I was overwhelmed by the response, over 200 calls, emails from all over the region, everyone said this is the conversation that needs to occur. Maybe a dozen people sent me and him out when I sent a convention to town. It went viral. It really did. I really do not understand why, but then I started to get calls from people and the picture became clearer.

January 18, 2018, shortly after my article published, Amazon made its announcement of the 20 cities selected for the consideration. Cleveland did not make the cut, but among those that did are a geographic ring of our competitors -- Pittsburgh, Columbus, in Indianapolis, all around Cleveland. I was not involved in the bid.

I was frustrated that certain organizations, particularly Destination Cleveland, were not invited. I could spend an hour on that topic and there is no need. I believe we lost that bid 10 years ago. The results definitely added fuel to the fire and created a lot of the fervor we are experiencing today.

March of 2018, somebody forwarded me a copy of the two tomorrows report. I felt like I stole some of their thunder, because the conclusions I reached at that point where some of the conclusions the fund reached. It was a powerful report and had a meaningful impact, and made me realize the RNC did not fix our problems as a community. We have had some direct conversations. He (Brad Whitehead) has been graciously this time. He has filled me in on the history and challenges we have faced, and the attempts to fix the structural issues. We have copies of the report, if you want to grab one on your way out. It is powerful and sobering.

In April 2018, I submitted my second article. Even more concerned about our direction, I headlined it -- "it is time for an economic development Summit in Cleveland." I challenged Cleveland, the region do not just celebrate wins, but take a hard look at why we are falling behind. I pointed out that alignment is the field for why we are suffering from problems of falling behind.

All of a sudden in late April, 2018, "business insider" released its rankings of the 40 biggest economies. A lot of people disagree. I don't. The ranking was based on unemployment rate, average weekly rates, job growth, GDP per capita, and GDP growth rate. We came in dead last. We had the highest unemployment rate in the second slowest rate of job growth, according to the rankings.

Fast-forward to May 7, 2018, my Leadership Cleveland class took a class trip to Philadelphia to learn from the economic development success story. It was a powerful three days and a great trip. Philadelphia transformed its economy and downtown over the last 15 years, and emerged as one of the fastest growing cities in our country. He heard from current and former top leaders, and they used an operating mantra. When they were talking about their economic development ecosystem, it is powerful and stuck with me and a lot of other classmates. They said, we have one rule, it is an ecosystem, not an ego system. It stuck with me.

Same day as Philadelphia leaders are talking about ecosystem and not an ego system, somebody texted me that "Forbes" announced its best cities for jobs article, ranking them according to job growth and momentum. Again, dead last, Cleveland came in 71st out of 71st. Columbus came in 28th and Indianapolis came in 25th.

It was ironic that was sitting there listening about a city like Philadelphia, which had similar problems that we face today, 15, 20 years ago and it emerged as one of the fastest-growing systems with an ecosystem, and the article was emailed me while we were sitting in Philadelphia.

Two weeks later, Bloomberg published an article about how successful cities of tomorrow must be the homes of children today. The article stated -- "genuinely successful cities need to do more than attract people. They need to keep them as they start to raise families. Simply put, the successful cities of tomorrow must be the homes to children today." Cleveland posted the largest decline of population of children according to the article.

While this is happening, I am taking a hard look, people at my firm and elsewhere are taking a hard look at the data, just to make sure that we have our facts straight. We analyzed just about everything we could find, and there is no centralized place for this data. It is not published in one place. You have to dig through government websites.

I am standing in Cuyahoga County, I'm going to give you some data particularly about Cuyahoga County. Lost nearly 5000 residents last year alone, a decrease of 2.5% in population in Cuyahoga County 2010 to 2017. We asked ourselves, who is coming in, who is going and will the data tell us? 28% more people are leaving Cuyahoga County than coming here. This is more pronounced among 18 to 24-year-olds, 64% more are leaving than coming.

Franklin County has 10% more people entering than leaving. We started to look at the housing starts and values, and you will appreciate this data. Housing starts are significantly lower than in Columbus and Cincinnati. We have 3227 here versus 8892 in Columbus in 2017 alone, more than double our output. The same with building permits. In 2016, the latest data we found, 829 in Cuyahoga County versus 7000 and Franklin. The growth rate in those markets a significant.

Let's look at jobs. Columbus 2020, the 11 County region, they exceeded two years early their goal to obtain 150,000 net new jobs over 10 years. They did it two years early. They issued a press release and we picked up on them of their data. We want to do a comparison. They added 18,750 jobs per year over the last eight years. That is 51 new jobs per day. Their population increased by 24,000 new residents each year, 65 per day.

We did a comparison of that against Northeast Ohio, and here are the results. We added 3150 new jobs per year over the last eight years compared to 18,000 plus in Columbus. That is only nine jobs per day.

Population, this was the most staggering figure, we experienced a loss of 6763 residents per year. We lost 19 people per day. This is just a smattering of the data I found, and people say you have to look at the MSA, look at the region. We looked at it every possible way and there is very little good data.

There are some shining stars, and I don't want to sound completely negative. The startup community is starting to emerge here. On a macro basis, I will tell you that the data is staggering. We are losing. We are suffering from what I will call a structural defect that continues to hold us back, and we have not been able to identify it.

I started looking into data and began studying Northeast Ohio's economic development system. I am no expert. You should go through this exercise yourself. I wanted to identify the root cause of failure. It came a little bit of an obsession.

What would an optimized economic development system look like? I came up with six characteristics. Number one, the system will be mapped. There is an index of organizations and issues, so you avoid duplication and you can lever resources.

The second was, there is a culture of collaboration. I took this from Philadelphia. They said repeatedly, ecosystem, not ego system. Define metrics would be another characteristic, understand how we were performing against an agreed-upon set of metrics. For instance, GDP, job growth, income growth, and population, as well perhaps as other metrics.

I wanted to see if we had an agreed-upon coming unified set of metrics. Is there data sharing across the organization and government entities in the space? The last two, is there evidence of innovation? Are we applying big data technology or techniques? Are we prepared for the future in implementing innovative technology to understand what is happening? Is there a regional data portal in which we aggregate and analyze this data, and publish it for everyone to react upon? Is there a unified strategic plan that everybody agrees is the governing plan for either our region or MSA, or for the respect of cities and counties?

Those are the six characteristics. I think one word came to mind that captured these all for me -- "alignment." It captured everything. I kept asking myself, are we aligned? Is that the structural defect that is holding us back and preventing us from growing like other competitive cities?

Here are my conclusions, after studying the system, looking at the system, meeting with civic leaders including many of the CEOs who graciously gave me their time, CEOs of the economic development entities, here are my conclusions.

We do not even have an ecosystem at this point. It is not even informed. It is not mapped. I heard that McKenzie actually did a map and came up with 3000 entities in our space. I have never seen the McKenzie report. I would love to see a report. Why is that important?

We don't know who was doing what and what resources are available to our clients, tower businesses, and to people who really want to use the system and help grow this economy? There is no clear performance metrics. That could truly apply across the system. There is very few metrics even published. There is no real adopted strategic plan.

I heard about rex and it was led by Team Neo, but it does not appear it was adopted and it does not appear it was implemented. Yesterday you heard about a new strategic report. I have never even heard of it. I tried to read it last night. The fact that I have never heard it or never had a copy of it until yesterday shows there is not alignment across the system.

There is not buy in and no agreement on what is governing our economic development sister best system. The culture is not collaborative. There are disputes and these things happen, but we need to fix them. My conclusion is that we have an ego system, not an ecosystem.

All of these organizations are good intentioned, but they're just not functioning as a system and a group. I have heard repeatedly, I asked one CEO -- do you feel like you have a seat at the table? He was incredulous. He said, there is no table. I never had a seat because there is no table.

There is no alignment and it is not optimized. Here is my call to action. We need to build an ecosystem, not an ego system. Economic development has changed. The era of three or four CEOs making all the decisions is over.

Economic development systems are hardly structured and sophisticated. The markets we are competed against our well-oiled machines. Look at what Columbus has done. They are aligned, organized, and kicking our butts. We need to involve countless organizations and get more people at the table.

15 years ago, who would've thought that Metroparks would be one of the critical of components to an ecosystem? Because you have a disruptor at the helm of that, Mr. Brian Zimmerman, an amazing leader, that system is one of the leaders in the economic development game. They have made changes, implemented incredible strategies, and they are driving amazing projects. Look at Edgewater, look at how they transformed that area. You can see how important an organization like Metroparks is. 15 years ago, Metroparks probably was not in the conversation.

That is why the system needs to be realigned. We need to put the whole system through a comprehensive alignment and vision process to form an ecosystem. We need to study other models, bring in smart people from out of town to help us figure this out. Not every system will be the same, but it is time we recognize we need help. We need to build an optimal model.

After the process is complete, we need to hold a summit so we can tell the community what the plan is. We should give it a name and get behind one plan, and if there is more than one plan, we should understand why. We need to get behind something and understand our vision going forward. This effort should be inclusive, with new innovative ideas and players.

It starts with the leaders of all reading economic development organizations coming together.That type of meeting has not occurred, as far as I can tell, and probably five or 10 years. It is time for all of them to figure it out, get in a room, and start to build a plan. Since there are so many incredible leaders here today, I'm am just going to call out a few and encourage them to lead us.

I should not be standing up here, somebody else should be. I am a lawyer, a know it all lawyer in some people's eyes, and I should not be up here. It amazes me that our community is not in a place where we can have an open conversation without people hiding and going off the record. It should not take one person standing up here alone. I am looking for my panel. Where is the rest of my panel?


These are important issues and a lot of people are affected by it. I want to encourage people to lean in and step out. I want to start with David Gilbert, one of my closest friends in the world and an amazing leader. It is time for David and so many of his team to really feel like they can be empowered to step out and lead us. David, all of us will run through a wall for you. You do not need permission anymore to lead. It is time to go. We need your help.

Ray Leach, I have only just met you but I can tell you are a collaborator. People trust you and will follow you.

Brian Zimmerman cannot be here. He is a disruptor. I already told him, it's time for him to lead.

Chris Ronayne, no one knows more about this area than you. Tell us how to fix the system. It is time for you to speak.

Bill Koehler, you speak for the region. It is not your style, but it is time to speak and lead us.

Steve McHale, never thought you would get thrown into this mix, did you?


You have told me what your project does, but I don't care.


You can inject some innovation into a tired system. Please help us.

Brad Whitehead, you told me what you were thinking and it was a powerful meeting. I appreciate our time together. You have seen so much over the years. Your report is amazing and powerful. Help us. Lead us.

Will Friedman, there is a seat at the table for you. You deserve it and you should leave us. The conversation we had was powerful. It is time for all these organizations and many more to lead us. Leaders in every area should emerge and stuff up. More people should be standing on the stage.

How are we going to keep the conversation going? This may seem a little unorthodox, but we got to keep it going, so I'm going to create a very constructive way to do that in coordination with the best-est class ever. We are going to issue a grand challenge to the community. They are used to search for solutions to help critical social and economic issues all over the world.

This situation certainly warrants Cleveland's first grand challenge. LC 2018 will use this to move forward. We are looking for other teams to step up and join the competition. Maybe it is team Hyland or team Cleveland Clinic, team Progressive. How about another LC class to join us? We are going to challenge our leaders, inspire them and push them until we figure this out.

We need to identify the root cause for failure. We want off these lists. It is time to get off the list. This is an amazing community. I am tired of hearing jokes about Cleveland. I love this town. I dedicate everything I have to it. We want leadership. It is time for new leaders to emerge or the existing leaders to lead. This is a great place.

I cannot believe how much attention has been created by this discussion, but I am hoping and praying that more people take the mantle, step up, and speak, and then lead. We can figure this out. We have never done a process like this. Let's put the whole system through an alignment process. All of the organizations should commit. There are a lot of smart people who are going to step up and help do it and fix it.

We have big issues affecting this community. It is time we had an honest conversation and fix them. Thank you all for being here. I did not say anything that controversial. I did not call for resignations and I never intended to. This has probably been one of the most challenging professional experiences of my life. Like I said, I have not slept much. People are calling me, telling me what to say and what not to say.

I spoke from the heart and will continue to speak from the heart. I am looking forward to more people speaking from the heart, because we all want this region, the city to be an amazing place to live, to be thriving, growing, and I do not want to be on these lists anymore. Thank you for coming. I look forward to answering your questions.


BOB: Thanks so much for that open and honest conversation, and we need your leadership, we really do, even if you are a know it all attorney.


BOB: We are about to begin our Q and A. If you would like to Tweet a question, please tweet it to at the City Club.

QUESTION: Thanks for that presentation. I admire your fearlessness and honesty. You mentioned structural problems and I wanted to observe that everyone you called out to lead was a white male. That is a structural problem. Can you comment?

JON: First of all, I agree with you. In fact, the entire list I created are all white males. That isn't something that I actually had any role in, but I agree 100% with you, that needs to change completely. It needs to be an inclusive process.


JON: I could not agree more, that is the best I can tell you.

QUESTION: It was very troubling to hear that part of your speech. I was with you all the way until you only started listing white males. Conversation needs to be very intentional about diversity and inclusion and people of color as well. What is your commitment, now that you have started this dialogue, to being fully inclusive of all of Cleveland?

JON: First of all, those people I called out are the current leaders, the leading economic development organizations. To the extent that you will make real change in that area, the respective boards will have to make that change. I did call out for a very inclusive process. That is one of the key components and something I stated and something I believe, so I agree 100%. There needs to be a much larger table with many more seats.

QUESTION: Former director of economic development for the city of Cleveland, ditto on the inclusion piece. I also wanted to mention that a lot of the numbers you gave are symptoms and they are the end result of situations we have in this community that put us down. One of the things that bothers me more than anything as we are constantly compared to Columbus and Cincinnati, and our numbers are less. When companies are making decisions about where to grow, they look at workforce. It is the number one biggest thing. Our number for workforce is lower than Cincinnati in Columbus. It is not because we don't have a workforce, because with our commuting patterns we have plenty of workforce. Our probably does problem is that our MSA is so small, it is smaller than Columbus and Cincinnati. We could make a change that requires no political anything except a little change in Congress, but other than that, we need to change our MSA and include the city of Akron's MSA and to Cleveland. Check your numbers, go through and rerun your numbers. Our workforce number then goes up above. I know all of the people from team Neo will tell you, you cannot get them to work. look beyond that, look at our commuting pattern. That should be on your list as one of the top things. It is not that hard and it will make a difference.


JON: The one thing I will say in response is that is part of the alignment process. If that really is a realistic concern -- which I believe you, given I know you and your history and your incredible work -- that is what we need to fix. If that is something that needs to be addressed, let me ask this -- why hasn't the system fixed it? If you know it is an issue and you are out of the system now working at a great place, why hasn't the system fixed it? We looked at the MSA and added back in all of the regions of the counties within the larger region, and the data changed, but did it markedly change? No. Did it mean we went from the bottom to the top, absolutely not. The symptoms we are referring to and workforce issues are systematic across the entire region, not just the five County MSA.

QUESTION: Thank you so much for your comments today. I recall a day back in, I think it was roughly 2001, where a group of civic leaders were in Cleveland Bridge builders charter class, and we had something called power day. We did a nexus size called start, stop, exercise called start, stop, and continue. We did an inventory of things to start, stop, and continue. It was an amazing dialogue among the first class of "the emerging leaders" 17 years ago and the "power structure" 17 years ago. Unfortunately, what you said today reckons back to what was said in that room, 17 years ago. And it hasn't changed. I do want to challenge, not only the white male situation, I want to challenge the assumption that it is the nonprofit organizations that should lead the change and not people like you who create jobs, or all of the people at my table who owned companies that create jobs every day, and how are we to participate in this conversation? Your thoughts?

JON: First of all, I couldn't agree more. I am up here. I'm the first speaking, along with a couple of others. I am going to continue speaking, but I agree with you. I will be honest with you, I've been trying. I have called and called. This is a controversial issue and there is just not a lot of initiative in the corporate community to dive into this. We need to keep the conversation going and we need people like you. We do have a lot of structural issues, at the government level, that need addressed. That is part of the alignment process.

QUESTION: I think a lot of people are here today because we are committed to improving our community and open to hearing your ideas to do so. I would like to hear some more specific ideas for improvements, because I do not feel like a summit and creating a plan are actual suggestions for innovation and ideas and change.

JON: I had a conversation with the state of Ohio focusing on more tactical moves, some of the strategies you are probably looking for. They quickly said, we do not want to talk about tactics when it comes to Northeast Ohio. We want to fix your culture. You cannot start talking tactics until you create a different culture, and that is the ego system versus the ecosystem. One thing I will tell you, I unlike others -- and here is a strategy -- believe that population is critical. I do not believe that we need a whole lot of new organizations, but I will give you one strategy.

I was in Columbus at our firm open house and I ran into a dynamic leader from Franklin County. I said, what did Columbus do 10, 15 years ago in order to transition to a world economy and put it on the trajectory it is on now? Without hesitation, she said, 15 years ago we started focusing on retaining the highest possible percentage of all of the college students passing through our system. I said, how did you do that? They built a program around retaining them, internships, marketing, events, job placements, targeting them, tracking them, and really encouraging them to stay in plant roots and have children. That was 15 years ago. Columbus' population is growing dramatically.

Philly, their leadership were talking about campus Philly. 15 years ago, the mayor created a program that allowed -- or focused on retaining the highest possible percentage of students passing through. They had 400,000 students passing through and they want to retain a high percentage. I think the percentages were somewhat unclear, but the data shows they are keeping around 40% to 50% of all students passing through the system.

Let me tell you about Cleveland. We don't have any organization that does this. I don't believe -- and this is what other people have said -- there is any organization that wakes up every day focused on growing our population. I know that Global Cleveland does amazing work, but it does not at this point have the resources to try to grow our population on the scale we need to, nor did any of our universities have a process to share data with us to allow us to track and try to retain all of these students passing through our system.

Here is a very basic strategy that we should explore immediately. We have 3000 organizations, and not one is doing this. We have to create an organization or when of the existing organizations need to take on this challenge of trying to convince as many students as possible passing through our system to stay here, so they plant roots and have kids, and we can hopefully someday reverse our population trend. It is a basic thing, and that is why alignment is so critical.

Those types of strategies and tactics will come out of an alignment process, because in addition to looking at what we are doing, we should look at other prototype models and cities and what they are doing. The Philly campus concept is brilliant. The mayor put it in place long before we did. That requires all universities and colleges to share data and allow one organization to get those lists to run programs on campuses to keep those people here. That is alignment. We do not have that now. It is not done on a global basis.

I that we have 300,000, to hundred 50,000 students passing through the regional colleges and universities. A great metric to have would be, what percentage is staying here? It would be an amazing data set to have.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. A very riveting speech today, I appreciate it. One of the things that Cleveland has currently is a robust public transportation system. We are talking about economic data, talking about health data. We see that juxtaposition that you laid out between the Renaissance and the data indicators. I truly believe that accessibility to jobs is critical to workforce development and community development. One of the things I want to encourage you, and people in this room, in a very tangible short-term and long-term opportunity, rally around the public transportation system we have here and encourage that as a vehicle to drive economic growth. We see this in other cities like Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, people in big cities. Public transportation is an expectation. With seniors living longer and driving less, taking public transit more, that is something I would love to get your thoughts on, opportunities for people who may not think they have a role to play in conversations like that. Where can they get involved and make that difference?

JON: It is a great example -- I hate to keep going back to it -- of alignment. If that is critical to the region and economic development, that should be an initiative that is discussed at a table that is inclusive and has a lot of people at the table, and includes all members of the ecosystem so there is alignment and unified support behind I assume additional funding is what you are referring to. The table needs to be set for those types of discussions, and I think with a full-blown alignment process and a mapping of the system and creating a new ecosystem, I think that is the right forum for it. I could not agree more.

QUESTION: How are you doing. You and I have been talking about this, and I also am very passionate about this topic. I have spent the last four years engaging in, around workforce in this community because I can see firsthand the skills gap that persists in our community, and how that forces a lag in economic development overall. As I have gotten passionate about that and gotten involved, I see such misalignment is insane. As a business owner, I am not well versed on this stuff so when I get involved and I'm like, why is this so hard and why is this an ego centric way instead of collaborating? Often times, I have seen organizations like jumpstart not included in something I was involved with, and I reached out and said, get involved. Getting alignment is really important. The other thing I cannot stress enough that I know you are trying to accomplish, is how important businesses need to get involved. I have been in some places where I have -- I am literally the only business there. You have a whole bunch of nonprofits and governmental and philanthropic organizations, but no business. We are the ones who need to be solvent for this issue. I really gained hope from, I worked to work with the Ted Ginn Academy, and the only thing they had was things going to college. There is this whole manufacturing community here that has meaningful work for them. These kids do not have to go to college. He went on his own and worked with community leaders to develop a program so they can have meaningful employment. That is business coming in and solving it. The last thing is around marketing. The lack of marketing around the services that exist is unbelievable. There is so much money being put into solutions and services to support the ecosystem -- or the ego system, as you call it -- but no one knows how to access them. As a business owner, you guys are talking about stuff and I can't figure out how to get into it. If you are going to overcomplicate how you provide solutions to me, I don't have time. There is a lot of services that are not being utilized because of that. There are agencies out there right now that do not have Facebook pages or twitter. They are not marketing to their constituents in the right way. I wanted to share that.

JON: Thanks.

QUESTION: Hi, Jon. I am a know it all physician.


JON: You are a disruptor.

QUESTION: I have a comment and a question. Lots of people are going through the data and information and everything else. Has anybody who actually wants to question the data can spend the day it MetroHealth and meet the folks that we take care of, and find out how completely out of the picture they are and how they are not a part of the economy that they so desperately want to be a part of. I would also say to you that culture is incredibly important, and everyone has asked me how has MetroHealth transformed so quickly? We created an aligned culture around a big, audacious idea. I think that is what you were hoping to happen today, and that is wonderful. Here's my question -- how can I help you?


JON: Thank you. First of all, I just want to say something. Leadership Cleveland, our class, we spent a day at your campus. I walked out of there, and said, I have not seen leadership like this out of Cleveland. The way you are integrating that neighborhood is remarkable and inspirational. How can you help?

Number one, speak. Speak out and do not be afraid to do it. This is a tough, awkward conversation we need to have.

Number two, keep leading like you are the transformational leadership you have employed at MetroHealth is unbelievable. I guess if I could really enlist you, there needs to be a group of people who come together that really sign up and own this and drive it, and I'm referring to an alignment process. It needs to be system-wide and have leaders, not a know it all lawyer. It needs to have the corporate community and it needs to be inclusive. There is an urgent need for it. Thank you for your comments.

Help take leadership of this. I want to speak just briefly about the data. If people want to challenge the data -- I will make a following point. "Forbes" article, we were dead last. "Business insider," we were dead last. Here's my point -- if their data is wrong then we have a problem.

The only thing worse than being dead last is not actually being dead last and not doing anything about it. Let me say the following. Tell me when I can sue "Forbes" and "business insider." That when I will do for free.

QUESTION: Jim Garrett. Thank you on behalf of the community, thank you for stepping out. A question a little bit about the list again, and some great comments were made on inclusion with the list. I guess I will get back to your analogy of a table. The frustration if we don't have a table, how do you make sure throughout the region that when we go forward with this we have one table and not four tables? In Western Pennsylvania, there is one state University, meaningful state University. In central Ohio, there is one meaningful state University. We have four state universities. We could go on with other situations. How do we make sure we have one table and there is a list we have already heard good comments on, that assume we have someone in Youngstown and Cameron at that table.

JON: There this big debate about regionalism, and there is so much -- there is varying views. Some people believe Cleveland should go it alone and there should be some overlap in coordination. Some people believe our organization is unified in the should have original plan. I am not an expert.

That is the debate that should occur during the alignment process, and there should be a collaborative, open, healthy discussion on that issue. The parties should reach an agreement on it. I think there needs to be original plan. I think Team NEO has done some great work, but it will take a lot for various factions to keep from splintering. I would just take that much progress.

It would be great if some of the parties started to say, we are ready to go into this process and signed up and started building a committee to oversee it. And the business community stepped up and said, we will make sure it is done right. It is a challenging process, but it will take a lot of hard work to make sure there is not 10 tables or two tables. It is to be one, inclusive table, I agree.


BOB: Today at the city club, we have been enjoying a forum with Jon Pinney, of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. Thank you for being here, and that brings us to the end of the forum. This forum is now adjourned.

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Plain Dealer gearing up for another Voices and Choices??

Is this another attempt at Voices and Choices? Please spare the faux outrage over Jon Pinney's plea to the white men in the room--your publication is complicit. I am a woman who writes under my own name and who is regularly censored by your publication.

Here's what you need to do: Cleveland's immense potential has been squandered by many decades of the crooks "who serve us" in public office and who have destroyed our tax base. The mob-like infrastructure of CDCs and "non-profits" like Cleveland Housing Network, EDEN, NHS, and the operation of Housing Court and the City of Cleveland's Community Development Dept has tentacles going back to two former public office holders--Jim Rokakis and Gus Frangos. The Land Bank and fake philanthropy are bleeding our region to death.

I served this year with the mentoring program True 2 U; GCP's attempt to get students tracked to the Cleveland Plan. Professionals from advanced manufacturing companies like Lubrizol and Arconic were involved and expressed their frustration in their attempt to help, admitting that the political structure here is hindering their companies ability to compete with newer distribution models (and, yes, blockchain). Voss Industries will most likely be leaving in 2020. Everything Pinney said is true and more. The media in Northeast Ohio is complicit in our decline. We have to stop feeding the corruption and poverty infrastructure pimped by Rokakis-Frangos for all of these years (HHF funds, Opportunity Zones, CDBG etc). Our region should be able to stand on its own without federal dollars by building responsive government that delivers vital services and is open and transparent. Companies have to want to stay here - for the lifestyle we offer, but that has to include real services provided by local and county government. We are stuck with Jackson for now, but must get rid of Budish and the crony mess at Cuyahoga County.

Give Jon Pinney REAL help with this call-to-arms. I will be voting for Peter Corrigan as County Executive:… 
He has the ability to turn our region around. I have to have some hope.

I would also hope that your publication will do a serious cost-benefit analysis of the County Land Bank, before the federal report from the Treasury comes out. Because, the Treasury Dept is WELL aware of the criminal enterprise here.

Laura McShane


Plain Dealer going down

  From Eric J Brewer: 

I'm sharing a photograph of the new Cleveland Police Headquarters at 1801 Superior Avenue in the building now owned by Forest City Publishing that owns the Plain Dealer through Advance Communications. Don't try to find anything about 1801 Superior Avenue on the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer's website. There was once an abundance of information on the county's website about 1801 Superior Avenue. Now you can't even learn if the newspaper's owners have paid their property taxes like everyone else.

I know without any hesitation that there is a trail of records that should exist showing Forest City Publishing going before the Board of Revision when Frank Gaul was county treasurer in the 1990's. Particularly in 1994. Three times the Plain Dealer's owners wanted a property tax break on a new building and three times the Board of Revision said "no" under Frank Gaul. Twice the newspaper's editorial board led by Brent Larkin called for Frank to step down because of the SAFE investment scandal created because of Joe Rutchik and Tim Heider's faulty reporting. The problem is SAFE was safe until the reporters caused a panic among its 114 co-investors and started a "run on the bank."

Frank Gaul as county treasurer had aggregated $1.8 billion in local government investments and stripped private brokers of the commissions they earned from handling the county's investments. Seven percent. Mike Scanlon of Productive Portfolios was filling the reporters' ears with his perspective that Gaul's Secured Assets Earnings Fund (SAFE) pool was a loser. Only on a paper. The bond market was troubled in 1994.

Rutchik and Heider timed their story with an audit released by State Auditor Jim Petro that had no bearing on SAFE. Within three days Mary Boyle, Tim Hagan and Lee Weingart decided to strip Frank of his duties and return the money instead of enforcing the agreement's Frank had signed with local investors. I wrote about all this shit. Thousands of words. I'm the expert on it as a journalist.

Mary was appointed president of the commission by Tim and Lee. I was fucked up when I heard her say she wanted to invite a volunteer investment professional to help the commissioners understand investment terminology. I had to remember she'd only worked for Standard Oil as a chemist for 6 months before she quit and decided to be a stay at home Mother to the 8 children in her family. Her degree in chemistry from St. Mary's was on point but never used after her first job.

Less than 10 months after their decision to liquidate the SAFE portfolio at a $114 million loss to the county's taxpayers the bond market improved. Instead of losing $114 million the SAFE pool would have earned $80 million. It's no surprise to me the Plain Dealer's reporters aren't writing about the sale of the building and all the hidden information on the county fiscal officer's website.

CEOGC is currently a tenant and has to go. My mind goes into a lot of areas about these mutha fuckas especially when they do this "secret sale" bullshit. So now you're busted. You're secret's out. The Plain Dealer's editorial staff looks like the untrustworthy liars they've always been and Tom Meyer and Carl Monday still ain't shit. If they ain't dogging somebody black it ain't a story.

So I need all my "investigators" to look into this deal and see what you come up with from both the city hall and Plain Dealer side. The county taking over Cleveland's jail was a small story. This isn't a new deal. Has Mayor Frank Jackson and Council President Kevin Kelley been holding the deal over the Plain Dealer's head for favorable coverage? It's like they've made the Plain Dealer's editorial staff their bitches.

Taxpayers subsidize tax abated property in Tremont/DSCDO


Residents in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood pledge to fight Cuyahoga property value reappraisals



CLEVELAND - Homeowners in two major Cleveland neighborhoods are preparing to fight against recent Cuyahoga County property reappraisals. They believe the values are shockingly high and unfair.

Residents living in Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, and with the Tremont Lincoln Heights Block Club, contacted News 5 after they received home reappraisal increases of 50 to 400 percent.

Homeowner Bobby Larsen, who has lived in her neighborhood for 67 years, said a property value increase of 200 percent, could drive up her property taxes to the point where she and other neighbors could be forced to sell their homes.

"I could definitely lose my home, along with a lot my friends here," Larsen said.

"How am I supposed to find all this extra money, like other seniors, I'm living on a fixed income."

Renters, like Fatimah Johnson, are also concerned the dramatic increase in home value and property taxes, could drive up rent costs.

"If my landlord can't pay the taxes, it's going to push him out, that means I got to go, and I don't know what will happen to me," Johnson explained.

But Lisa Rocco, Director of Operations with the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Office, told News 5 property value increases don't necessarily mean a property tax hike at the same level.

Rocco said all property reappraisals were determined using guidelines set by the State of Ohio, and that increases in property values were approved by the state.

"Just because their value went up, doesn't necessarily mean their taxes are going up," Rocco said.

"We follow, the state follows, the International Association of Assessing Officers."

"We had to send in quarterly reports, and then we had to send in our final values in June, which the state then reviewed against their own statistics."

Rocco said reappraisals are based on the Ohio Administrative Code the county must follow when it submits its reappraisal plan.

Rocco said homeowners can fight their 2018 reappraisal, though informal tax meetings, or by filing a formal complaint with the board of revision starting in December.

Meanwhile, block club leaders like Henry Senyak, believe residents should demand both state and county guidelines be re-examined.

"In some cases, people's property taxes have gone up 200%, I have a gentleman behind me at 400%," Senyak said.

"Because whatever guidelines they're going by, there's no uniformity to it," he said.