Submitted by lmcshane on Tue, 09/30/2008 - 09:40.

Photo by Laura McShane all rights reserved

It used to be the American mantra. If you needed something, you made it. You didn't wait for it to be built in China. America, we are standing in a hole. Begging Washington for more money is not going to get us out of the hole.

"Ultimately, the success or failure of local government is a back-to-basics proposition: Are the streets clean? Are the neighborhoods safe? Are people able to live, work, and raise their families in a flourishing environment?" Christopher F. Rufo

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See post above-$5,000 houses

  Only took a couple of years for the sham known as the Land Bank to take an idea I posted in 2009...your money $$$$$

7 million dollars and counting....

Eric Brewer on WRLC and BS artists at Land Bank

This is bullshit. We don't need anymore empty lots in Cleveland when we can turn renters into homeowners for the same $10,000 it cost to demolish a house. That's right. Former HUD Secretary Alfonso Jackson met with me at the agency's headquarters and shared that the "D" in HUD stands for "Development" not "Demolition." He said investing the same $10,000 that it cost to demolish a home into renovating it, and then reselling it for the $10,000 cost of the renovation, is an appropriate use of federal block grant funds to eliminate slum and blight in neighborhoods; and create real affordable home ownership opportunities for low-income families. The money from the $10,000 sale of a renovated home would then be reused to renovate and sell another. Tear down only the ones that are beyond renovation.

Furnaces start at $500. Hot water tanks start around $400. It's less than $1000 for copper wiring for the entire house in most Cleveland neighborhoods. PVC for plumbing is cheap. Drywall is about $5 a sheet. Cabinets and fixtures are inexpensive even if they're new. The cost of labor is affordable, especially independent contractors. Roof repairs in many of the homes I visited weren't needed. unless the entire roof needs to be replaced, we're talking about replacing shingles, gutters or facia boards. Perhaps a few windows and doors, and a lot of that shit can be gotten on Craigslist or from construction salvage yards or Habitat for Humanity ... cheap.

The conversation has to change. If you live on Cleveland streets you know the people who once owned the homes that are now being torn down. You know some of them need to go. You know others can be saved because they're not that bad.

If $10,000 can save a home and create a permanent and affordable place to stabilize a family and preserve our neighborhoods, we have to at least talk about it.

every stick has two ends

from Crain's New York: September 18. 2008 Charities brace for Wall St. fallout

and from Crain's Cleveland: September 29. 2008 Nonprofits brace for fallout from market mess

and from an email sent by an employee at Cleveland Museum of Art today:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." - Charles Dickens from A Tale of Two Cities

So as I peruse the web reading about financial markets and congressional leaders pinging around in their chambers, watch stock prices bouncing down like tennis balls descending a long staircase, I have wondered about the nonprofit sector, too.

I have worked for the most part in the nonprofit sector. I was happy to work in the ivory tower albeit the state funded (or not funded) university and then in my own entrepreneurial nonprofit venture and then for another arts nonprofit. We were “doing good”, teaching, moving, breathing deeply, eating low on the food chain. We were helping people to see things another way - providing a vantage point on the world that may not have been considered except by artists. We worked in schools and senior centers and community centers. We brought thought provoking work to rural communities. But now I wonder (I sometimes wondered then, too), is this what's really important? I know, I know artists are reflecting the culture, they're mirroring our best of times and our worst of times. It's important.

So as I discussed this with a roommate last evening while we watched the news of the failed "bailout" bill, I said that it is increasingly important for us to have a change of leadership. He countered by asking me if I wanted to pay more taxes. I asked him which tax bracket he thought I was in, because yes, I want those fat cats to start to pay their share. I am not among them. I am not happy that I can refinance my yacht, because I don't have one to finance or refinance. I don't have any ostentatious jewelry either. But I do feel that the arts are important and I can oooh and aaah at Tiffany just like everyone else. Still, it does seem sort of like raising a glass of expensive champagne on the battlefield (to me anyway).

Sigh... Maybe we will have new leadership with a different vision. If so, perhaps we can look back at programs such as the 1933 Civilian Conservation Corps and the 1935 Federal Art Project and the Federal Theater Project. Would this be a version of socialism? Or is that too radical?

If the “bailout” included a hand up for the working poor (foreclosed out of their homes because their better paying jobs moved elsewhere), or for senior citizens in retirement (who are watching their hard earned retirement accounts flicker and fade, their children and grandchildren faced with the raped earth and greed stricken economies they are inheriting), the disabled, the veterans, schoolteachers, librarians, shopkeepers, janitors, bread bakers, bus drivers, etc. … if we gave the grassroots folk a hand up instead of giving the well-to-do Ivy League educated bankers and stock traders, would that just fly in the face of a retail crazy economy that Victor Lebow cautioned us about in 1955?

If we denounced corporate welfare, could we construct a new socialism? Or shall we be content to oogle the gems of past cake-eating royalty? Shall we simply "pack up all our cares and woes" and keep shopping, collecting, building like there's no tomorrow? Are we all convinced that there will be pennies from heaven? Are we expecting George Bush and his lackeys to abort this unwanted problem like Dorothy Parker's Mr. Durant did with the unwanted product of his “little affair” or the female dog that his children wanted to adopt? I wonder…

luxury and Wal-Mart begin cutbacks

These two stories seem disparate except as we stand on the precipice of a World Made by Hand:

Bracing for Bad Days, Operas and Orchestras Batten Down Hatches

Kinda makes you wonder if the cigarette tax might have to be increasingly given to CMA and the orchestra to complete their big build and renovate projects...They're done or in process so they'll have to ante up to the contractors. This even though small arts orgs stretch a dollar better. Litt noted that the renovation of the Hanna will probably be the last we'll see in theater renovation/restoration projects for the foreseeable future.

Wal-Mart scales back as folks slow spending

How slow does the retail economy have to get before county leaders pull the plug on the "we have the money" medmart convention center plan?

I wonder if we have a set of priorities for disaster. Say we thought we had $10 million, but now we only have $1 million (real numbers are incosequential in this example). What would the spending priorities be here in NEO?

sign of the times - avoid Madison Avenue

PD headline this am at
Sinkhole closes Madison Avenue

Banks making good on their threats or just more old infrastructure breaking down?

"Avoid the area, police said." No kidding.

Remember this?


Billions of federal dollars get siphoned off to pay the cronies and shills in the City of Cleveland*, Cuyahoga County and elsewhere, who serve private interests, while the public infrastructure crumbles. 


Don't be fooled by any one shouting "I called it," to describe the mess we are in.  Throughout this country, we have "built" a huge maze of bureaucratic entitlement in our urban centers, intentionally structured to confound and confuse and play off the "poverty equation." 

It is a self-fullfilling prophecy that the "players"
understand all too well, which is why you see them moving to places like Bay Village, Solon and Rocky River, or building McMansions in the "slums," while they continue to feed off the urban core for their income.

The demo and land bank "solution," now touted is yet another ruse designed to pay off Peter and Paul with federal dollars we don't have to give away in the first place.  Any one who has worked for a CDC (myself included) knows that Community Development Block Grant funding is bleeding our cities. By the way, these people don't have to live in the city that pays their salary. Does that make sense?

The whole Community Reinvestment Act has to be revisited and rewritten to include standards that rein in and REGULATE our baser instincts with an accountability and enforcement that acknowledges that "no man is an island," --or, better yet, scrapped altogether for self-reliance.


*There are plenty of highly educated and thoroughly competent people working for the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.  These people have to live in fear of losing their jobs if they say anything.

I called it...

Here on REALNEO, every day for 4 years.

Behold Rapturenomics

Disrupt IT

Liquid Assets

We can't afford deferred maintenance any longer.  Please find a copy of this film Liquid Assets, watch it and demand that we fix our cities' water infrastructure.

(BTW, if you missed this--here is your tax dollar NOT at work.

Ask yourself, who did the demolition ultimately benefit?  Who is getting these contracts to demolish?  Go to Tremont and see how arson and demolition work hand-in-hand to benefit ODOT!)

Damn! the city's got some splainin to do

I bet the couple whose home was demolished were hearing this song albeit with different lyrics - like "my house was gone".

This is criminal. So who will repay them for that blunder? Taxpayers? When do we start taking it directly from the pay of the guy who couldn't read the demo order or the one who erroneously wrote it?

As for Liquid Assets, let's find out if WNEO/WEAO and WVIZ are planning to air this documentary. This is certainly a topic to address here in Cleveland on the shore of Lake Erie.  Should be familiar to Clevelanders.

In my archinect newsletter this week there was a story about the Sustainable Cities database and further a story about water in Salisbury, Adelaide, Australia. Could this help water quality in NEO?

Kill the Planners


CSU's Hill said the city should focus on its "viable neighborhoods," like downtown and University Circle, and help them to grow until they intersect with the weaker neighbors.

For now, the administration of Mayor Frank Jackson has settled on a dual strategy: One traditional, one creative.

The city hopes to attract new housing and business to vacant land on marketable routes, like the Euclid Corridor, said city Planning Director Bob Brown.

How should we help the folks INTENTIONALLY stranded in the "Forgotten Triangle?" 

Let's start by offering them the surrounding vacant land--free.  All theirs.  Just let it go fallow or plant pioneer species like Black Cherry and we will have more trees, timber and forest in no time.  And, with that wild game for food and a cleaner watershed filtered by the trees that grow in NEO soils.  There IS, afterall, a reason why Cleveland was called THE FOREST CITY.

And for the other properties with houses still standing on them--offer these to homesteaders with a proviso.

Oh, and Planners, for folks not anointed as viable neighborhoods by Neighborhood Progress Inc., you know, "weaker" neighborhoods like Brooklyn Centre...

Just fix our streets, and leave us ALONE.



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