Preamble: Real Co-op for Open Food, Information and Community Development 2009

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 02/10/2009 - 00:07.

In the Fall of 2008, I proposed to Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones that the local foods sector offers the people of Northeast Ohio $ billions in economic development opportunities that may be distributed to a huge percentage of our 1,000,000s of residents in very socially equitably ways. I also proposed similar opportunities are available in open source information and social computing. And I pointed out regional organizational, strategic, social and operational barriers to success and proposed specific solutions to maximize workforce and infrastructure development, massive scaling, and social equity.

On December 17, 2008, Commissioner Jones assembled a team of county government leaders to review a collaborative vision and proposal for growing the local foods and information sectors of the economy of Northeast Ohio, presented by a team of very independent planners.

The Food Planners are NEO Mainstreet founder and Urban Design Master Joe Stanley, local food expert, consultant and farmer Maurice Small, construction expert and Real Co-op originator Jeff Buster, internationally renowned planner and architect Richard Fleischman, business and environmental planner Sudhir Raghupathy, and Realneo and Star Neighborhood Development founder Norm Roulet.

In addition to Commissioner Jones, representing the County were Economic Development Director Paul Oyaski, Workforce Development Director Dennis Roberts, Planning Director Paul Alsenas, and many other talented County staff.

Our local food presentation consisted of material previously published in open discussions on REALNEO, supplemented with “Economy 21: The Re-Forest City”, the urban renewal Capstone Project just completed by Joseph Stanley for his Masters in Urban Design from Kent State University (attached as a 2.5 MB PDF here).

Joe's design and planning objective sounds simple:

" investigate alternative urban design outcomes that stimulate activity and economic reinvestment for blighted sections of depopulated and disinvested land and its existing built resources."

Joe points out, “Cleveland is land rich”, and proposes a redevelopment design process incorporating greening, reuse and rebuilding in very strategic ways.

Most of our presentation material was direct printouts from REALNEO.US, demonstrating the openness of our development process, the community behind our plans and understandings, the reasoning of our decisions, and the power of open collaboration through open source social computing.

The meeting was primarily focused on development of the local foods sector, and to review our “shovel ready” initiative for 2009, but all this was packaged within another “shovel ready” proposal to develop the free open source information and social computing economic sectors in the region.

That combination is designed to operate as activities of a legal, not-for-profit cooperative, spreading the benefits and opportunity possible through good economic development to as many members/owners as possible, in socially equitable ways.

If you are reading this on REALNEO.US, you are a stakeholder in Real Co-op, the owner of REALNEO.US. If you are a member and add content, which is free, you are an owner of your content and so your share of the co-op, and the co-op. We have 100s of owners and will have 1,000,000s more quickly, as the value of information ownership rises. That is part of the open social computing economic development opportunity proposed here.

When I was asked at our meeting for a budget for the local foods initiative, I saw there were barriers to open collaboration and success in the room – some people in Northeast Ohio are embedded in processes to control community development and so local foods a certain “foundation” way - so the timing and setting were not right to discuss what should be spent, where the funds should come from, what should not be funded, how funding will compensated, or who should benefit.

And, it is ultimately up to all co-op members to design our co-op, so we need to all work on this together.

So, I told the county to plan to “Wolstein it,” and that I'd submit a detailed budget in early 2009. That process in now under way.

“Wolstein it” means plan to freely and openly provide the same level of creative, diverse, valuable government and leveraged resources and support for others that is provided to Wolstein, who is reported to be receiving $150 million in public subsidy for his now-defunct East Bank Flats project, which demolished a historic district.

With that expectation understood, we shall develop our budget in the coming weeks, through open collaboration on REALNEO.US, starting with discussion on this preamble.

I've delayed making our proposal public until now to take time to analyze the barriers to open collaboration and economic development success in Northeast Ohio ahead, which are considerable.

Much of the effort required to drive positive change ahead is documenting, analyzing and overcoming these barriers, so our regional new economy may grow... doing things the “Citizen Hauser” way. That will best be accomplished by a community of concerned citizens, as a cooperative.

As an economist, competitive analyst, consultant, entrepreneur and concerned citizen, I've been observing and confronting many barriers to innovation here, for over 15 years, and they must be overcome for the optimization of local entrepreneurship in any opportune economic sectors like local foods and open source social computing, or to do anything paradigm-breaking like REALNEO.US and REAL CO-OP

Rather than nurture open collaboration and entrepreneurship here, leadership has structured strict command and control, top-down systems to keep as much public wealth and power within a small community of close “friends and families”, sprawled throughout the region, supported with foundations of once immense wealth once here, now crumbling like so much of our sprawling infrastructure.

Overcoming these barriers at the community level will redirect sufficient resources to enable progress for an astounding number of stakeholders in many economic sectors now hoping for trickle-down benefits of top-down approaches to economic opportunity, social equity and community building.

We all know how trickle down economics is supposed to work, and that it only benefits those at the top.

Empowered citizens will build a much better community than the people now in control and working against citizen interests.

I intend to post to REALNEO.US, for open planning and public discussion, two proposals to establish 1) Real Co-Op Food: a $10 million economic development co-op fund for local foods sector development in 2009, and 2) Real Co-op Info: a $10 million economic development co-op fund for open source information technology and social computing development in 2009.

These economic development co-op funds will be part of large, growing regional commitments of many types to open innovation in these sectors – each offers $ billions in potential for the region. We are not proposing ALL the initiatives for these sectors, but two excellent sets of initiatives, in an actionable, equitable, “shovel ready” package – many others must follow.

To optimize value in these critical sectors, I have recommended Cuyahoga County convene and sponsor overarching Greater Cleveland Food and Information Advisory Councils, like and associated with the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council, and county leaders should take active roles leading the councils and in planning these multi-billion-dollar sectors of our economy and society... we must not entrust the leadership, innovation, financial engineering and decision-making control to under-engaged government and over-engaged foundations, academe, industry and non-profits.

Planning these sectors should not happen behind closed doors in any ways at all, as has been the case in the past.

As part of our proposals for local foods and IT, we will document how current regional economic development approaches to these sectors are ineffective and in ways disastrous, including how funds are now being misused, and how future funds are planned to be exploited. These are some of the barriers to progress we must overcome.

Sources of funds for our proposals and other development in these sectors should be diverse and include portions of Federal Housing and Urban Development Neighborhood Restabalization Program Grants for this region, and Cuyahoga County workforce development, food and information technology spending, with the county taking the lead in communicating, driving and benefiting from these initiatives.

In the case of our proposals, funds will be used for housing and neighborhood rehabilitation and development, pay to educators providing workforce development training, support staff, purchasing and renovating public facilities, equipment, infrastructure, operations and management, and for micro-loans to the people being trained and employed in these sectors, and other members, for them to pay for their own workforce development and grow their own successes.

The Co-op shall educate and employ members within the co-op. Most of the economic development co-op funds will be used for micro-loans to members to pay for their educations, equipment and workspaces until they generate personal income, by working for the co-op and themselves. They will pay these loans back to the co-op from the income they earn while still in workforce development within the co-op, and as members of the co-op, allowing workers and entrepreneurs to secure useful education debt-free, without cost to the public, and replenish and grow the micro-loan fund, and receive applied knowledge to continue working in the co-op, start private businesses or find a good job and take good care of themselves anywhere in the world..

While these initiatives may be developed as a new Co-Op, I propose we develop them in Real Co-Op.

In this case, the funds will be administered and the economic development initiatives will be operated by Real Co-op, an Ohio not-for-profit cooperative that owns REAL.COOP and operates REALNEO.US, which are core to our Open IT Economic Development proposal. Internal funding will be provided to pay to administer the Co-Op, and all staff and contractors will be paid reasonable compensation for work – this is not a charity program, although the effort of volunteers and donations of supplies and services will certainly be welcome and rewarded.

A legal co-op entity allows all participants in the economic development of these sectors to have fair participation in decisions, and ownership in all outcomes... from their individual initiatives and successes and from the overall initiatives and successes of all collective stakeholders, worldwide.

Such a cross-boundary, organizationally flat, socially equitable ownership and operating model is the most fair-trade way to address issues of who should benefit from public funds and land, and allows for rapid, massive scaling and true optimization of resources and core systems and processes, allowing many individuals and small enterprises to operate as a more effective whole, quickly and efficiently.

With both local foods and IT, the world is the marketplace and all participants including customers are stakeholders in our success... there will quickly be 1,000,000s of direct Real Co-op stakeholders – value creators and customers - in the region, and around the world, who are not currently being served well by the new economy strategy of this region.

To put these large numbers in perspective, I believe right now the millions of people in Northeast Ohio spend over $7 billion on food a year, shipped an average of 1,500 miles, of which only around 5% is locally grown. All those 1,000,000s of people and other people around the world should be eating as much food grown and processed in Northeast Ohio as possible – they all represent some of the 1,000,000s of stakeholders in this sector.

Coop Food will be open to and provide services to all existing and future local foods stakeholders, including food growers, markets, restaurants, institutions and end consumers – 1,000,000s of people - offering a range of benefits that come with scale.

As many local people as possible should grow and produce food here, as part of our local foods sector, allowing huge numbers of people here to profit from local foods, and eat better, at lower and often no cost.

As for 1,000,000s of Open IT stakeholders, REALNEO.US is already a multi-million experience community, demonstrating the astounding life and value of the intellectual property and interrelations of all members in the co-op – 10,000s of content nodes of many members, and growing.

Coop Info will be open to and provide services to all existing and future local open source information and social computing stakeholders, including info service providers, intellectual property creators (like all REALNEO.US Members), and end users – 1,000,000s of people - offering a range of benefits that come with scale.

Everything about this economic development model generates tax revenues, at every level expected of good citizens and businesses, in a good community. There is no need for tax abatements, interest deferments and forgivable loans.

There is huge value in these large numbers, at many levels.

Through the co-op, money used to fund the local foods and open IT sectors in 2009 will be replenished, grow and be reinvested each year, from real economic value derived through these sectors... through food grown and sold, and code and IT services developed and delivered, in and for the community, all from within the co-op.

The co-op will be designed to provide local foods and open IT products and services to funder-customers, like Cuyahoga County, insuring those providing funds for development of the sectors benefit along with the community stakeholders, without risk.

For example, Cuyahoga County may prepay $5 million in 2009 for predetermined food, to be sold to the County at market rates, less a discount for prepayment, over a determined period of time, and that may be used to fund preparing land for growing food, growing the food, and developing the workforce growing the food. That will represent a small fraction of the local food commerce of CO-OP Food, with the additional food margin to serve as security on funds received in advance... we'll only presell a small fraction of total yield, to seed fund the yield and reward the funders.

In such a case, Real Co-op Food may provide a determined amount of specific produce and packaged foods for the county correctional system, grown and produced on County landbank land (reducing maintenance costs), by prisoners in work-release rehabilitation (reducing incarceration, workforce development and community re-entry cost), who may take ownership of and continue farming their land and make a good living, rejoining society with marketable skills and ongoing opportunity through Real Co-op and newly developed personal economic value (improving society in many ways).

For an IT example, Cuyahoga County may prepay $5 million to Co-op Info in 2009 for predetermined IT services, to be sold to the County at market rates, less a discount for prepayment, over a determined period of time. That will represent a small fraction of the information services commerce of CO-OP Info.

Real Co-op Info may then provide the County a predetermined set of IT services for which workers will be trained, like scanning and archiving documents, maintaining record systems, upgrading networks, and moving the County to lower cost, higher value Free Open Source Software solutions like Linux, CUWinWare and Open GIS.

As such, this economic development is funded by leveraging the “futures” of a portion of the direct food and IT value created, in very controlled, specific ways.

The co-op form of economic development is used world-wide when addressing the equitable and economical growing and distribution of large amounts of fair-trade food - $ billions - and members of our team are experts in this field.

Co-op principles are also core to Free Open Source Software development worldwide, in which team members are also expert.

With Real Co-op, we are world-innovators in the application of the co-op model to the growing of intellectual property within an open source data warehouse, content management system and social network, as piloted with REALNEO.US and being perfected with REAL.COOP.

That has the potential of replacing scores of multi-million and multi-billion dollar information and social networking applications and environments with the killer “socialist” ap... “Made In Real NEO”. Much of that value may be realized at the local level, in an expanding, diverse new economy workforce and community, if provided suitable support, development opportunities, and resources.

If there is an economic sector in the world nearly as important as local food, it is growing and harvesting INFORMATION. Real Co-Op intends to be a global leader and innovator for both. Synergistically, they shall feed and nourish each other, and the people of the region.

The one thing nobody in either of these opportune new economy economic development sectors needs is command and control from anyone else on top of them.

There is an abundance of valuable resources in Northeast Ohio to help all people live happy, healthy lives here, if access to opportunity is distributed equitably... but it is not.

To proceed developing a healthy, open new economy here, we must analyze, document and eliminate the root causes of economic development failure, starting with the command and control system.

At the very top, the Command and Control strategy of this region is defined through Master Planning by some leadership at the Cleveland Foundation and other foundations, driven by Ronn Richards, Brad Whitehead and many other foundation staff and consultants, empowered by their Fund for our Economic Future and its sprawling affiliate initiatives, influencing many non-profits and their leadership, the Plain Dealer and other media interests present here, Mayor Jackson and many of his appointees and department directors, many Cleveland City Council members, many in their CDCs and their staff and leadership, academics and staff at our universities, many suburban mayors, Governor Strickland, many Northeast Ohio representatives in Columbus and Washington, D.C., and an astounding number of their best friends and family, to benefit many dominant business leaders and major real estate developers with local interests here, who have a dominant control over the top of the pyramid, being the leadership of our many foundations (all hereinafter “They/Them/Their”).

That list may seem like everyone in government, industry and community development in the region, but the problem is largely a few power brokers at the top of the pyramid, and their paid lieutenants – the other 1,000s of people carrying out their plan are mostly paid employees in tough times, misdirected by a few hundred “community leaders”, some good but misguided... others corrupt, all who are in pursuit of the $ billions controlled directly by the foundation leaders.

They use Their $ billions to control many $ billions more of public funding, and They attempt to control more daily, and all parties involved are responsible for how that money is allocated and spent.

It seems the branch of government least entangled in the foundations' command and control system is Cuyahoga County - the branch being broadly-brushed and globally broadcast as most corrupt, by ruthless scores of power brokers and their lieutenants... which is one reason why I feel comfortable working with Cuyahoga County.

The other reason for my comfort is I've worked closely with many County staff and leaders core to eradicating lead poisoning in this region and they are excellent in dealing with matters of public health and community social improvement - and they have driven the growth of community gardens here, for community health reasons, which is broadly praised as the best example of "green" progress in our community.

Why I brought my proposals and concerns to Commissioner Jones' personal attention was I observed the Plain Dealer championed Debbie Sutherland, an unimpressive suburban Mayor, in opposition to Commissioner Jones' reelection for County Commissioner, in 2008. She was a shallow, poorly qualified candidate who only preached the Foundations' mantra of sprawl for the rich and Strategic Investment Initiatives against the poor – she received glowing support and formal political endorsement from the PD, and lost by a huge margin.

That Their choice to replace Jones was Republican Sutherland, backed by other suburban Mayor and Republican Party Boss Bruce Akers, who together are leading an out-of-county collaboration of Plain Dealer editors and Columbus Republicans to “reform” just Democratic Cuyahoga County government, to further the Fund For Our Economic Future's regionalism strategy, shows how partisan and foolish all this and most of our regional economic development agenda have become.

They are also playing Their interests against public and County interests right now in the ongoing Plain Dealer editorial approach to coverage of the MedCon, in support of Foundation and industry interests, against County and public interests.

The PD editors, and the parties they enrich, use the tactics of McCarthy's America... Cheney's America... not our America under Obama.

I grew up in a conservative “Eisenhower” Republican family - a great uncle was Republican mayor of Toledo. I was raised and educated in the bosom of the region's Republican power.

My family are all liberal Obama Democrats now, and I write all this knowing it challenges many still-Republican family friends. But, it is time for change, so I challenge my friends.

I grew up friends with many families with foundations in their last names, and I intend to challenge these old family friends directly, as well, to encourage them to consider driving change in their foundations' strategies, and in support of a better region.

It is a new day in America, we have a great new President, and we must reposition this region to be worthy of his support, and respect.

To change the economy here for the better, we must challenge the modus operandi of the current Power-Brokers head-on.

Their strategy is simple... they pursue to control all of the government workforce, health, education, social services, research, economic and other community development money and opportunities that come into or through this region, from any sources, that they may, and direct as much of that as possible to inside interests... often with flagrant patronage for direct friends and family.

Through CDCs and other non-profits, a small number of foundation leaders and operatives have developed private workforces of indirect employees controlling $ billions a year in public money, in Northeast Ohio alone. This represents the privatization and misallocation of $ billions in taxpayer economic development and other money to inside interests, with government blessing and assistance, without consulting taxpayers. In fact, all of this has been done behind closed doors.

A current example of their modus operandi in action is exploiting $10s millions of HUD urban redevelopment money through the Cleveland Foundation's Strategic Investment Initiative, benefiting Their friends and closest stakeholders, like the Cleveland Clinic.

They've been doing such things for years, but now They raise the stakes, in exploitation of the difficult economic times here, by attempting to corrupt the good will of our new President.

They have attempted to position their initiatives and leaders to divert to their corporate and institutional interests the $ billions expected in 2009 stimulus dollars for Ohio.

In Their strategic investment initiatives for this most impoverished region, with the most impoverished city in the country, social services and human welfare are lost concepts.

Where is the funding for really valuable education reform, workforce development, small business and distressed homeowner code violation repair loans... real changes where they are needed and have been promised to the people who made Obama our President of the United States of America, for change.

Where is the social equity value added in Their vision for the bottom of the new economy?

Where is there any distinct economic development value added from Their diversion of public money into industrial investments at the top of the old economy?

For this entire century, They have been forcing upon the region an industrial economic development strategy that failed the region from the beginning, and turned measurably disastrous several years ago, when it really took hold.

Their regional economy-depressing economic development initiatives have included the Voices and Choices :community engagement”, Dashboard of Regional Economic Indicators performance tracking system, and resulting SII/Connecting Cleveland 2020/More Sustainable Cleveland economic control directives.

The people behind the strategies are easily identified and network-mapped, and their performance is easily measured.

Why would we look to these people for innovation, vision, leadership or financial integrity, much less solutions to the problems caused by them?

Their visions for our region are expressed in top-down, industrial initiatives benefiting small numbers of insiders... the “Opportunity Corridor”... the Lakefront Plan... the Strategic Investment Initiative zones... worst, the Wolstein blight-zone that was the East Bank Flats Historic District. The collateral damage and opportunity lost in the community as a result is enormous.

The MedCon appears to be a battle-ground between Their interests and Cuyahoga County leadership, and it is still open for analysis.

The choice of the Mall site was an impressive show of bold intelligence by the commissioners, assuming MMPI actually proves the project is worth undertaking at all, and cost effective there. That the plan reuses good public assets is highly appealing. If it restores historic plans and architecture of this once and still great city, it has great promise.

I question the value of spending $1 billion from public taxes for economic development on this, but I also believe we need many sectors in motion and this may be an opportune project. Time will certainly tell.

The most disturbing of The Power Brokers' strategies is using ill-gotten might to control and then demolish and redevelop the best located land of the region - location, location, location - displacing disadvantaged and vulnerable residents, property owners and businesses, to put up new housing and commercial development or simply land-bank private assets in private-controlled “public trust” for future private uses, all disguised as Neighborhood Stabalization and economic development, now always green-washed for liberal interpretation.

The Wolstein Flats demo will go down in history as one of the most disgraceful and botched examples of Power Brokers using ill-gotten might to control and then demolish the best located land of a region, ever on Earth.

Plain Dealer promotion of a Wolstein plan for the East Bank Flats Development, and now for moving the MedCon there, all designed by the Plain Dealer's architects, shows how far They will all go to dig out of that mess, at any costs to society.

What I find most disturbing about how They are conducting Their economic development strategy is that it is packaged for public programming through government, academic, media, and public relations operatives controlled and compensated by those profiting from the economic development strategy, often paying for the strategy development with funds realized through the promotion of the strategy to secondary funders, like Cleveland city government.

Recent full page Cleveland Clinic public relations advertisements in the Plain Dealer are examples of the economic return to the newspaper for supporting Cleveland Clinic interests in Their strategy, including clearing poverty around the Clinic, developing the Euclid Corridor/Health Line and Opportunity Corridor, and, most important, maximizing National Institute of Health, “Third Frontier” and “workforce development” funding to the Clinic... all totaling a return on investment for the Clinic from a few $1,000,000 in Plain Dealer advertising of $ billions over a few years.

Liberal public and foundation funding of many of our Universities' “research and development” extensions, like $145,000 budgeted to Case University NEOCANDO, from the City of Cleveland's forthcoming HUD NSP funds Case is helping itself get, shows how the game works in academe. There are many glaring examples of conflicts of interest in the work of Universities here, for economic development interests here, and it is clear funders often influence the results of the University work.

Their strategy has made this place a sprawling, blighted, dysfunctional, segregated, unhealthy, ignorant, impoverished, over-indebted war-zone, allowing industrial interests to steal the value and wealth of the region out from under dumbfounded citizens' feet.

As an economist, I have been working on analyses of the level of failure of Their strategy to-date. has been core to this analytic process and will drive regional economic development discussions and planning in the future.

My process has included reviewing 1,000s of pages of plans and propaganda that make up Their economic and political strategies, and the actual legal requirements from funders like HUD, and mapping the organizations, institutions, corporations and individuals benefiting from designing and implementing the strategies, and where lines appear to be crossed... organizationally and legally.

By analyzing the interrelationships and results of each aspect of the strategies and the people and organizations involved, and following the money within the strategies and through connections and interests beyond, at the Board, executive, consulting, staff and affiliate levels, you find a web of movements suspended in time.

A foundation of the process is dissecting the entire Cleveland Foundation Fund For Our Economic Future strategy and outcomes, now many years in progress, including Voices and Choices, Their Economic Dashboard, and all the beneficiaries of Their funds under control, including our public funds.

I developed the original Internet strategy and platform for America Speaks' Voices and Choices, which morphed into Advance NEO, so I am intimately familiar with that diversion of public attention away from what matters to the public, enabling misallocation of pubic money to foundation interests.

By corrupting that process, They set a corrupt agenda, which is the failure putting us in depression today.

Few recognize and discuss the implications, which may well be $ billions in opportunity costs for citizens. This process – this “civic dialogue” - was promoted to set the economic agenda for the region. In fact, the agenda was predetermined by the Foundations that funded America Speaks, and that agenda was also made the foundation of the Dashboard, and has driven a huge range of Foundation-related directives since.

To keep Voices and Choices' supposed public agenda dominant over regional economic development for as long as possible, They implanted Their Dashboard of Regional Economic Indicators into our community planning process... declaring it Their measure of OUR success. Funneling $100,000s to CSU, the purpose of the Dashboard is defending Their economic development agenda with university credentials.

This Dashboard has been leveraged to inflict great social harm, at great real and opportunity cost to the people of the region.

The Dashboard is designed to create the appearance performance measures are in place to gauge the effectiveness of Their economic strategies, when the measures are dated and generic to a degree where no relevant performance connections may be drawn.

That in a time when global data has become overly-plentiful, real-time, and interconnected world-wide, at the speed of light!

The insincerity of the Dashboard is especially glaring as taxpayers have funded significant amounts of public money developing “state of the art” geographical and other data systems at CSU, which developed the Dashboard, and Case, through NEOCANDO, and at all levels of government, all of which are intended to be funded further through our HUD Neighborhood Stabalization Program grant funds... none of which are being used effectively for economic development.

In their 2008 report, the Dashboard authors write in the credits: “Special thanks go to Bradley Whitehead, Robert Jaquay, and Christopher Thompson of the Fund for Our Economic Future for continued support and guidance throughout the preparation of the report.”

Because the Dashboard data is at least two years out of date, yet the Dashboard is validated by both Foundation and University “experts”, it may effectively bury poor results of poor initiatives and poor strategies for many years, during which time $ billions in public money may be misallocated and largely squandered.

The most recent update of the Dashboard, in November, 2008, presents data from 2006, with the full disclosure the data is too out-of-date to be useful in evaluating the performance of Their economic development initiatives currently underway.

What results there are, for the period up to 2006, are dismal, showing declining performance of our economy in all but a few aspects measured by the Dashboard, with certainty most results included in the Dashboard will show further decline in 2007, 2008, 2009, and beyond, if something isn't done to change much about our current strategies, and how they are developed, implemented, and measured.

What They are instead doing is explaining away the failure of the Dashboard and results reported there, exploiting the hard economic times here and worldwide, saying all performance objectives are off – They say They can't be measured in hard economic times.

Here is their conclusion... see if you agree, and want to bank your future on their strategy.:

This study shows that the economic performance of Northeast Ohio continues to be modest in comparison to other regions of the country and even in comparison to other metropolitan areas in the Midwest that share a similar social and economic history with Northeast Ohio. Several new state and regional initiatives in Northeast Ohio began only a few years ago and the 2006 data used in this report are too recent to reflect the outcomes of those actions. Furthermore, we should not expect to be able to reverse regional growth patterns in 1–or even 5– years. With the increased momentum of the initiatives put in place in recent years and additional new plans to improve our region, we can expect that Northeast Ohio will improve its economic trajectory in the next 10- to-15 years. However, other regions have also been engaged in accelerating their economic progress, so NEO’s future performance in comparison to other regions remains unknown. Therefore it is important to continue to invest in the economic transformation of Northeast Ohio and continue monitoring the progress of Northeast Ohio over time and in comparison to other regions in the United States.

The results of poor leadership, poor management and poor strategies are measured in real econometrics, every day, and all that is easily captured and documented in near and real time, if you want useful management information.

In the words of all people involved in competitive benchmarking, you can't manage what you don't measure.

Leadership here does not want to be measured.

To prove all that, and put us on the right performance management track, we need to develop a more effective set of metrics and performance measurement and management capabilities for our region... and we need to truly engage the people of the region in the process.

I have worked at the top of the global field of performance benchmarking for nearly two decades, and know other people in that world who will help make this effort globally important and valuable, and I am working on this objective – all help is appreciated.

The results will revolutionize local and regional economic development analysis processes and develop intellectual property and proprietary methodologies and tools with significant market value - $ millions in annual revenue opportunities for Real Co-Op Info – so this is well worth the effort.

As an exciting departure from how one would usually conduct such an analysis, using consultants for data collection, we will use the public - Real Co-Op - to populate and maintain the dashboard, as a guarantee of good outcomes and complete accountability within the community.

That is the type of innovative social change enabled through ingenious applications of open social computing philosophies and practices in the real world, through Real Co-op.

You may manage what you measure.

Together, we may manage Real Co-op, Co-op Food and Co-op Info beautifully. In the process, in many ways, we shall make this a better community.

This is the preamble to the plans for those initiatives, to post shortly for your collaboration.

Please share your feedback, questions and comments on this on now

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Land bank

  Which two commissioners are slated to be the representation on the new land bank board to go into effect in April?  Why do I suspect that PLJ will somehow be left out of this latest shell game?

"The Land Bank will be a non-profit corporation comprised of seven board members. There will be three members from county government, two county commissioners, two designees from Cleveland city government, two designees from the 59 Cuyahoga County mayors, and myself. There'll also be a small staff of 10 to 12 people. Our goal will be to quarterback demolition and rehabilitation and determine how we will work with neighborhoods and cities," said Rokakis.

 Norm--you say:

At the very top, the Command and Control strategy of this region is defined through Master Planning by some leadership at the Cleveland Foundation and other foundations, driven by Ronn Richards, Brad Whitehead and many other foundation staff and consultants, empowered by their Fund for our Economic Future and its sprawling affiliate initiatives, influencing many non-profits and their leadership, the Plain Dealer and other media interests present here, Mayor Jackson and many of his appointees and department directors, many Cleveland City Council members, many in their CDCs and their staff and leadership, academics and staff at our universities, many suburban mayors, Governor Strickland, many Northeast Ohio representatives in Columbus and Washington, D.C., and an astounding number of their best friends and family, to benefit many dominant business leaders and major real estate developers with local interests here, who have a dominant control over the top of the pyramid, being the leadership of our many foundations (all hereinafter “They/Them/Their”).

And then go on to say that there is a window of hope:

It seems the branch of government least entangled in the foundations' command and control system is Cuyahoga County - the branch being broadly-brushed and globally broadcast as most corrupt, by ruthless scores of power brokers and their lieutenants... which is one reason why I feel comfortable working with Cuyahoga County.

It seems pretty obvious to me that the treasurer's office* is in line with the first group you identify as "They/Them/Their."  Besides, all of the unreported land machinations/demolitions that have silently transpired in the forgotten East side triangle and in Wards 14, 15 and 16--the most notable evidence of this collusion is the recent demolition of Frank Giglio's house in Ward 13.

I desperately want the vision you put forth in this preamble, but what do we do to work around "They/Them/Their," especially if Peter Lawson Jones is left out of the land bank, the unscrupulous demo contractors'/developers' dream-come-true ?

Afterall, "They/Them/Their" are still making money off of US...look no further than 2000 Denison, where NRP will collect tax credits to build 61 subsidized senior housing units...leaving us with an environmental disaster in Brooklyn Center, compliments of "They/Them/Their."  How many similar projects are being shoved upon other unsuspecting Cleveland neighborhoods?


*Payments made by banks on foreclosed properties helped stabilize the county's numbers, Rokakis said. Banks pay the property taxes to secure their investment.

"If you took that out of the revenue stream," Rokakis said, "we'd be in trouble."

Ironically, that is just what the land bank will do....


Smoking Gun #666: NEOCANDO Page 24: Land Assembly Team

What I've found puts County leaders and staff far down the chain and removed from site selection as far as individual or SII demolition is concerned - this is not a county strategy, from the top, unless that is well hidden. Since 100s of people in government and development love to brag about being at the top of the SII Master Plan, I doubt County leaders would miss the opportunity to crow, if they were included at the top.

In fact, the answer to who decides what is demolished, at the SII and site level, is explained below, by the people planning the demolitions themselves, and you never would have guessed...

Among the 1,000s of pages of planning, work and propaganda products generated by The web of Master Planners behind Economic Development here, there is a September 27, 2007 Powerpoint presentation by Michael Schramm, director of NEOCANDO... from the 2007 Vacant Properties conference in Pittsburgh, convened by the National Vacant Properties Campaign and the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank.

It is titled NEO CANDO: Community applications of neighborhood information

I don't know if this information has been presented around here, or promoted to citizens, but it is available on their website.

NEOCANDO is a centralized Geographical Information System designed to manage, analyze and present many sources of data that connect to geography. NEOCANDO offers an impressive range of data on our community and is highly valuable, used right.

Unfortunately, NEOCAND is a Case University initiative, and Case is one of Them, and Case is scrambling for money anywhere it may find it, including Cleveland city taxpayers.

So NEOCANDO receives $145,000 of the funding from the $25 million HUD Neighborhood Stabalization Program budget being proposed by Mayor Jackson and Cleveland City Council.

For what, you wonder... ? Read all of the following, from their presentation:


NEO CANDO: Community applications of neighborhood information
Michael Schramm - Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development - Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences - Case Western Reserve University - September 27, 2007

Page 3: Partners:

  • The Cleveland Foundation
  • The George Gund Foundation
  • Enterprise Community Partners
  • Neighborhood Progress, Inc
  • Center for Housing Research and Policy at Cleveland State University
  • City of Cleveland
  • Cuyahoga County
  • Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium
  • Cleveland Vacant and Abandoned Property Action Council (VAPAC)

 Page 8: NEOCANDO Purpose

Information technology tool providing a wide range of data about specific locations to any interested party at no cost.

Provides a multifaceted picture of a particular geography or issue.

“One-stop shop” promotes smart, fact-based solutions. 

Gives citizens, governments and community organizations equal access to data that are traditionally kept separate.

Provides analytical tools such as mapping, charting, etc.

Slide 16: Untitled... data sources of NEO CANDO

NEW SECTION: NEO CANDO and Neighborhood Progress’s Land Assembly Team

Page 20: Foreclosure Prevention Initiative Zones

Page 21: Strategic Investment Initiative Zones

Requirement to be one of the 6

  • Strong CDC
  • Anchor Project
  • Ripe for market recovery

Land assembly activities in some neighborhoods have turned into blight removal

Land assembly activities currently evolving into foreclosure intervention activities

Page 22: Land Assembly and NEO CANDO

SII boundaries are a custom geography in NEO CANDO

NEO CANDO property data used as baseline research on target properties

  • Ownership
  • Tax delinquency
  • Market value
  • Sales price
  • Lot size
  • Foreclosure filings
  • Water shut-offs

Page 24: Land Assembly Team

  • Frank Ford – Neighborhood Progress, Inc
  • Jennifer Grasso – Neighborhood Progress, Inc
  • Kermit Lind – Community Advocacy Clinic, CSU, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
  • Justin Miller – CSU law student
  • CDC staff
  • Michael Schramm – Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, Case Western Reserve University

Page 25: What does land assembly team do

Meet to identify properties needed for new development or blighted properties

Discuss tactics for acquisition

  • Direct negotiation
  • Receivership
  • Bank donation
  • Encourage city to inspect, condemn, demo
  • Let tax foreclosure take its course and let it go to land bank

Page 26: Land Assembly tools

  • Composite Map
  • Spreadsheet
  • Investigation guide
  • Listserv and webspace to act as a central depository for any documents collected

Land assembly team efforts are a laboratory to test NEO CANDO ideas that can benefit entire city/county, not just 6 neighborhoods

Page 27: NEOCANDO Property Intervention Map

Page 29: At risk property intervention

  • Key data being used by CDCs/Gov’t for foreclosure intervention
  • NPI/ESOP pilot project
  • At-risk/vacancy index research agenda

Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development

Did you catch that killer slide... Page 24: Land Assembly Team?

You will only see a few references to data received from the county, and no mention of county people on the Land Assembly Team... it is primarily CDC/NPI and Case/CSU folks... with an interesting concentration on LEGAL.

Certainly no mention of ending poverty or positive social change

It is worth noting this used to be the "Center on Urban Poverty and Social Change"... seems they dropped "Social Change" and added "Community Development" to their title, which seems to have put them in conflict with themselves.

Doesn't help that they built the school in the most inappropriate place in Cleveland, making a graveyard of our first community garden, in our first historic district, which was saved from demolition by Case through a co-op that lives on today.

Very bad Karma

Looks like citizens need to take care of the social change, to end poverty... but we'll need to take charge of "Community Development" as well.

Disrupt IT


roundtable - lawyers and law students only

I got this notice from a friend who is in law school. He fowarded it to me thinking I'd be interested. So I called to see if I might attend to learn more. I noted that I would not require lunch.
This initiative is co-sponsored by the Center for Social Justice and the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, and the Urban Development Law Clinic at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University. The Roundtable brings together law students and practitioners engaged in housing and community development law for discussions of legal issues and practice.
WHEN: Noon – 1:30, Friday, February 27, 2009 (Lunch provided)
WHERE: Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, 1801 Euclid Ave. Faculty Presentation Room (LB 060)
Note: You can reach the campus by riding RTA – the Health Line, #9 or, from downtown, the Green Trolley)TOPIC: The Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation: The new land bank authorized by legislation enacted just last month.
The program will be a panel discussion by County Treasurer, Jim Rokakis and the legal team who worked on developing the concept, advocated for the legislation and are now putting the governance and operating structures in place. Other guests will include Gus Frangos, Bob Rink, Frank Ford and Nathalie Dibo.
WHO: Invitees include law students, faculty and attorneys practicing in housing and community development, both in the private and public sectors.
RSVP: Jean Packard by Friday, February 20 (to get lunch)
Questions about the Roundtable? Contact: Professor Kermit J. Lind
Nope - lawyers and law students only was the response I received on the day of the roundtable. The public is not invited.


Very bad karma

  Lawyers only...enough said.  No one, besides me, questions the motives of this panel and the folks behind the "land reutilization bank?"  I wish that someone would finally connect the dots and map this mess, because this relates back to the taking of Frank Giglio's property, the shady transfer of properties to HUD on the near west side, and the demolition of St. Andrews, and the many, many, many more demolitions that have transpired without press coverage throughout Cleveland.

Joe Stanley's “Economy 21: Re-Forest City” in Northern Ohio Live

Pick up a March/April copy of Northern Ohio Live to read a great 3-page spread on Joe Stanley and his “Economy 21: The Re-Forest City” planning... I don't think it is available on-line... nice photo of Joe and his work!

Looks like they are doing their research - some good quotes by Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones.

Time to present Commissioner Jones with the full plan - so it's time for a meeting of the co-op.

How are people's schedules next week?

We should meet in the Star Neighborhood, so I'll make arrangements to use The Chateau... one of the original "Millionaires Row" mansions on Euclid, in East Cleveland.

Post here or email if you have a preferred day and time...

And congratulations to Joe Stanley for his great work, and to Northern Ohio Live for picking up on him!!!... and for advancing and mainstreaming the coverage of this initiative so well!

Disrupt IT

Coop meeting - and Congrats, Joe!

Two quick comments - I love the idea of meeting at the Chateau for the Coop meeting, so whenever it is decided, please clarify on realneo!  Now things are getting fun- and interesting.  Second comment - CONGRATS Joe!  Great media exposure, one can only expect great things - see you Friday for our follow up.

opensource local foods

This sort of thinking is what will revolutionize NEO. It is happening. I heard lots about these ideas last night at a permaculture meetup in Oberlin including the yeomans' plow. Now this is carbon sequestration we might get behind.