Submitted by Jeff Buster on Fri, 12/05/2008 - 16:24.
charles michener baker nord case university

Charles Michener, wearing sports coat and tie, and sitting in a low chair at the front of the small Case classroom, recounted how his in-progress book about today’s Cleveland was structured around mini-biographies of real people living in Cleveland whom he had recently met and interviewed.
Some of those people are Ronn Richard head of the Cleveland Foundation, Toby Cosgrove head of Cleveland Clinic, Baiju R. Shah head of BioEnterprise Cleveland, Mayor Jackson, a flutist from the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, and a 13 year old kid from the West Side of Cleveland (to “balance” the elite interviews).

From what I heard from Mr. Michener last night I think that his new story will be more “we’ve got it all together” fuzzy warm fiction about Cleveland. And if you look at Mr. Michener’s background – he is not a radical urban analyst. Indeed, as an employee of the New Yorker he appears to have focused on Opera, symphony, and high end restaurant reviews.

There was a vivid contrast in his assuredness when Mr. Michener spoke about what he is familiar with in Cleveland – mostly the aspects of Cleveland associated with affluence – and what he was unfamiliar with – and, as he said two or three times, “couldn’t get a handle on”.

A few of the things in Cleveland that Mr. Michener “couldn’t get a handle on” were:

  1. why there were so many abandoned buildings which hadn’t yet been demolished along Carnegie Boulevard.
  2. why the Burke Lake Front airport wasn’t closed
  3. what the Medical Mart was all about….

Without a “handle” on these, is Mr. Michener discussing the real Cleveland?

Instead of interviewing Ronn Richard whose Cleveland Foundation continues to cripple Cleveland by prostituting creativity to cow tow to Foundation grants, I suggest Mr. Michener make his book a muckraker – interview the FBI about why there was so much political corruption in Cleveland. Interview Micheal Kennedy, Fred the Fixer Nance, and Tim Hagan about why they chose not to put the MedCon tax to a popular vote, and interview the Federal Census taker about why the population in Cleveland has shrunk every year during the past 40. Interview National City’s Debarko and Raskin about why they lied to Cleveland and Bank stockholders for the last decade. Interview City and County governments to find out why there are 20% more government employees (per population) here in Neo than across the rest of America. Interview suburban mayors about our not-too-disguised racism.

Audience member Ted Gup waxed mythological, recounting a Greek story where the Gods told the Greeks that they would not win Troy if injured soldier Philoktetes was left behind – and Cleveland cannot “win” dignity nor social or economic confidence if our social and education policies in NEO do not allow all our citizens to progress together.

Mary E. Davis graciously hosted the Baker Nord lecture series event, with wine and cookies generating gregarious audience interaction after the Q & A.
Until we are honest with ourselves here in North East Ohio, Mr. Michener’s nice stories will not staunch the Shrinking City.

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Welcome the hell back to Hell, Jeff!

At least Michener is able to find angels in this hell.. or at least angles to profit from the devils he may know.

Just out of curiosity, did Michener interview any of the National City Board members about how and why they destroyed one of our largest and most important institutions? The board is listed here.

Whether the "Cleveland Foundation continues to cripple Cleveland by prostituting creativity to cow tow to Foundation grants" is a question for an upcoming poll and analysis. In preparation, now is a good time to think long and hard about the Bush years of the Cleveland Foundation and their Fund For Our Economic Future, as NEO moves from Recession to Depression.


Disrupt IT

Welcome Mr. Michener

Just a note to welcome you to this forum of "other views of Cleveland"

Realneo is an uncensored look at some of what plagues us. We certainly do not have enough time to cover it all. However, with regard to the things noted by my collegue, Jeff Buster, searching here might provide some insight.

why there were so many abandoned buildings which hadn’t yet been demolished along Carnegie Boulevard. - I don't know - some of them may not be abandoned, just sleeping. There is a wonderful deco building that looks like it will one day soon fall to the wrecking ball a la Cleveland Clinic. It will be replaced with surface parking. That's so stupid, I could spit. Cleveland you will find is wasteful and secrective.

why the Burke Lake Front airport wasn’t closed - good freakin' question. Ask the FAA. What a waste of lakefront.

what the Medical Mart was all about… - No kidding! We are all wondering that, too. There is more discussion on that here than I can link to, but here's a clue - google search realneo med con or medcon. It is more often referred to as med con here, because... well because that is squarely what it appears to be. No one has been able to explain why we should build a convention center (aren't they dying nationwide?) to leverage a medical furniture store whose profits will go to Chicago.

Had you come earlier, you might have beeen asking why the county and city officials destroyed Breuer's only skyscraper (Ameritrust's old headquarters) to leave a hole in the ground in our city's center. You'll find plenty on that here, too.

You didn't mention the local hammer - the port authority's plans to build a 200 acre new facility east of the moribund Burke Airport and develop the current port site or the state hammer, ODOT's plans to build, build, build and destroy, destroy, destroy 40+ historic buildings in its wake.

It's a complex set of issues we're dealing with here and other out of the region journalists have looked at it. One such who did not by pass Cleveland's problems (landing in the glitzy cultural hub of University Circle, ushered to and fro by the regions cultural elites) was Bill Moyers. His look at what has been driving the economic collapse of our city, region and the global economic crisis is a must see.  Mortgage Meltdown.

So when out of towners visit us, I feel that it is important for them to approach University Circle and CWRU via Carnegie Avenue; better would be to drive through some other residential streets off that beaten path while en route from Hopkins. You gotta see the realneo, not just the glossy one. When NY architect, Carl Stein came to Cleveland, I drove him through some of the most dire caved in neighborhoods of the city's westside before we visited the Breuer and University Circle. Our colleague, MaryBeth Matthews has a slide show for you, so you can catch up on what you may have missed. Set aside some time for this. She's posted 217 photos. And that doesn't begin to scratch the surface. Bill Callahan's maps tell the story, too.

Some gritty Clevelander's move ahead despite dire conditions. There are good ideas here. There is a creative class here that is not the orchestra. You'll find posts about its work here, too. Like this: Convivium 33 Gallery at Josaphat Arts Hall.

I hope you'll enjoy cruising around here. It's a wild ride, the real NEO.

Michener again

Charles Michener returns to Cleveland again to supply a few ideas. City Club podcast of February 11, 2008 talk. Quicktime MP3)

Open and transparent?
Another perspective that Michener mentions in his talk: Ken Vinciquerra letter to Crain's
Balkanized, fortress mentality. Can we come together to make a more sustainable Cleveland?


Cleveland the board game

My father used to say, "Life is a carousel to hell"...

(He worked as a production engineer at Ford Motor Co.)

Everything you say Jeff is on target.  For the most part, the interviewees do not live in Cleveland.  I would love to give Mr. Michener a walk through my neighborhood and he has an invitation to see my side of the story any day.

Yesterday, I spent some time on the phone with my councilman's assistant Johanna Hamm--we are facing a second wave of foreclosures, this time on multiple properties intentionally bought up in bulk to be rented out for as many dollars the "landlords" can collect until they foreclose on the property.  I see the families (with kids) displaced by these "people."

Why has Cleveland not instituted point-of-sale inspections as Jeff has pointed out before?  Are the "cracks" there for a reason? 

Frank Giglio's house is an example of letting the "cracks work" for developers...the CDC in Tremont is "cracking" down on Frank Giglio with a vengeance because he sits on the "gateway" of Tremont.  The house will be demolished. Will the City of Cleveland attach a demolition lien on the property to add insult to injury? In Frank's case, my guess would be YES...because the City wants his land and will offer to "forgive" the lien, so he walks away, once and for all. (Actually ODOT, probably wants the land...and the land cleared by the "quick" demolition of the house damaged by "fire" on Starkweather...)

Let's also take a closer look at  2000 Denison, the bad deal, that Councilman Cummins doesn't want any one to analyze too closely in Ward 15.  Has NRP paid off the $10,000+ lien or will it conveniently be "forgiven?"  The demolition for 2901 Denison...the house "conveniently demolished" adjacent to the Steel Valley Credit Union and the commercial intersection of Pearl and Denison, DOES have a lien applied....

M221020M-BOARDUP LIENS Prior year tax - 2007 12,632.00 0.00 12,632.00


So how does this board game work?  I know that I would like to get "a handle" on it.



Yes the city will attach a

Yes the city will attach a demolition lien on Frank'sproperty. TWDC staff have been telling people interested in the hardwoods being "harvested" from Frank's property that the amount they pay for them will be deducted from the amount Frank "owes".

I'd say thats a little more than a slap in the face. I'd say what it actually is, but I dont think it would be permitted on this space.


I am very sad for you and for your neighborhood.  If it is any consolation to Frank, the same strategy has been perpetrated on a number of people who live in the proposed Opportunity Corridor...but that, as they say, is another story.


   Funny that when Jacobs owned the iconic and architecturally significant Coast Guard Station at the head of the Cuyahoga River the City of Cleveland allowed Jacobs to "maintain" the Station in a condition which was clearly a public safety hazzard and clearly in violation of the Building Codes. 

 No problem.

And did I remember to tell you?....Jacobs was also a million dollars in arrears on his real estate taxes for the Coast Guard parcel.   When Jacobs "gave" the Station back to the City, the City forgave the back taxes.

 But no problem there either.

 Equity in all its dealings makes Cleveland the strong City it is...and that's why businesses and citizens alike are moving here in droves. 

Camera work

Jeff, we need your camera work on the Frank Giglio house in Tremont (and still standing as of 12/6/2008).  You can't miss it.  It is across from Grace Hospital on West 14th St.  Ironically, the two historic board-ups owned by Grace Hospital--one of these buildings is the historic Olney Art Gallery-- are in worse disrepair than Frank's property.  The back of these properties are now clearly visible due to the rampant demolition of properties that has recently taken place at Fairfield and West 11th--rumor has it for a "parking garage."  Could this be the "Greektown" project long ago championed by our county treasurer, who will soon hold the keys to our "land bank?"


I will go tomorrow and take in the scene on my Charged Coupled Device.  

It sounds as if an injunction may also be in order. 

Others in your community have expressed their concern to me that what seems to be transpiring is way too heavy handed and cruel. 

 Is this Cimperman's ward? 


You mean Giglio's house, I assume, and not him...?

I took a few this morning -- posted one to World versus Frank (click through it for a few more.)

Should we continue the conversation on the World versus Frank post instead of on this unrelated one?

I didn't get too close, out of respect, and my camera doesn't have nearly the zoom lens as yours, so please take some more.

Give me a call when you're coming out here. I'm right around the corner.

Cimperman's Ward

Yes--and, as you point out, an injunction is in order.  I know we have forthright attorneys in NEO.  We need you now.
And if--as I suspect--Tremonter.com will be coming down (no doubt because of a little intimidation in the right places), here is a post that bears reading:

Better than THIS . . .
On December 6th, 2008 jb says:
Better than THIS . . .
Lmcshane your link to your post at realneo is priceless.
Connecting the dots as you do regarding the players in Tremont and who stands to benefit from Frank's demise. Yes ODOT is likely in the end to own, at least in part, the earth now known as Frank's property.
I have literally had that conversation with numerous friends, residents, business owners in the community since the alleged "imminent tear down of Frank's house" again looms in the collective psyche we call Tremont.
However you add the "blow up house" which we hadn't. Nice call! Yes that is on the ODOT radar too I guess.
You know the local politicos keep complaining that ODOT isn't answering their questions either. Which allows our local politico hero wannabes "plausible deniability" to be claimed when addressing seizure of lands due to crisis or tragedy.
"The house just blew up. Found a propane tank." Wow what an explanation. Isn't propane what suburban people use with their gas grills? Hasn't traces of such an "accelerant" been justification for requiring an arson investigation in other cases?
Behind Frank's house, west of 14th, north of Fairfield stood three structures, three parcels that ODOT began process to take in the early 2005, regarding the need for more property to eventually expand the bridge to allow more lanes (now only if ODOT could construct a bridge to bear the weight . . but i digress ).
Those properties were likely purchased by ODOT for somewhere between $300,000 - $400,000. The purchase prices usually do not get publicly reported. The one transaction reported on the auditor's site is that 1428 Fairfield parcel # 004-08-012 was purchased May 7, 2007 by ODOT for $190,000.
So I guess on balance with that sort of money flying around, it seems absurd that others would get nothing for their property.
And the process to access those proprties is getting exceedingly convuluded.
Funny side note regarding Frank and the Fairfield properties. Couple years back there was all this anger being vented on this board about the homeless and crimes in da hood. Calls to grab aluminum baseball bats to, "Crack some skulls and take the Mont back!"
Of course Councilman Cimperman was sympathetic to the crime issues.
Meanwhile the homeless camp that had set up on ODOT property behind Frank's house across the street from the houses ODOT subsequently purchased, was receiving free food from the Ignatius boys on Sunday night as part of their community outreach.
I sat with a friend on her porch one night that summer, just hanging out and got a treat to a wonderful scene, the St. Ignatius van pulls up, the good young Christian men jumped out, open the fence blocking the property as no-trespassing to carry the food they had brought to the homeless.
I mean you do realize Councilman Cimperman is an Iggy grad. What is learning about community service for those less fortunate as an adolescent, I guess as a grown man the less fortunate become criminals threatening our good residents.
Yes I get many mixed signals from our so called leadership.