FRANK – TIME FOR GOODBYE

Now is the time to think about the next mayoral election in Cleveland.

Frank, it’s time to retire. Time to go. Time to say goodbye.

Yet I’m hearing rumors that Mayor Frank Jackson will consider a fourth term. Too much, Frank.

He was originally elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009 & 2013.

That’s quite enough. Sit out 2017. Time to say goodbye. Adios.

Cleveland City Hall badly needs a shake-up, a house cleaning.

Only problem is who can do it.

The leadership vacuum appears vast. The leadership tank is empty or seems so. City Council is lethargic. Sluggishly go-along.

Jackson doesn’t bring in new blood. His administration is stale. And he doesn’t seem at all concerned. But new blood what is needed desperately.

There’s such a feeling of tiredness – as if nothing new can be tried. Just let’s do it all over again. And the same way. Drift.

The only one thing that seems to proceed is the desire of the Greater Cleveland Partnership and its chief spokesman, the smirking Steve Litt and the Pee Dee. Cheerleading the failures.

This town cares only about what elites want.

Opportunity Corridor. Public Square. Stadium and arena facelifts. New County hotel. Convention Center. Chandeliers. Downtown offices that once held workers (jobs) converted to upscale, tax abated condos and rentals.

These have almost no relationship to the needs of most of Cleveland’s people.

This city suffers serious poverty problems, housing problems and crime problems that would get most mayors the boot.

Yet, Cleveland remains a docile, accepting populace in the face of tragic circumstances.

It’s leadership coasting in neutral.

One sees in Ferguson, Missouri, prolonged demonstrations and protests in the heartbreaking killing of a young black man – a situation with racial circumstances. One death is one too many.

Cleveland had similar heartbreak with its 137-shot deaths by Cleveland police of two fleeing citizens. Again, with a racial component.

But where is the outcry? Jackson seemed to float above the tragedy. He even promoted two of the city’s top police officials after the debacle of a chase that was totally unnecessary by some 60 cars. Then it was found that rather than gunfire at police the car containing the two victims apparently had a backfire problem. And all captured on film!

Shoddy is too mild a word for the police effort.

And flawed is much too mild a word for the mayor’s handling of the killings.

But there was no significant outcry – either by a protesting public or a political representative of the citizens to force the mayor to make tough decisions.

Amazing apathy!

There’s another wave of so-called Cleveland Renaissance, with some evidence, but not enough surely. Not when you look at the less promising statistics. Young educated people moving downtown don’t trump third-world poverty among newborns.

The illness of poverty, of course, can’t be contained. It is moving. So this isn’t merely a problem of Cleveland. The mayor of Cleveland has always been a central political figure for Northeast Ohio.

There will be some need for to the next County Executive to make some tough decisions about the future.

What I’ve seen so far, however, doesn’t foretell much difference.

Public money continues to flow downtown Cleveland and to a few neighborhoods while others, extending to inner city suburbs, suffer loss of public investment, other than what the money people desire.

The time is now for change at city hall. A start.

* * *

VOTE FITZGERALD; DON’T ENCOURAGE KASICH

There are a lot of voters – Democrats – out there who want to use Ed FitzGerald as their punching bag this November.

Henry Gomez already has secured that job.

FitzGerald has turned out to be a sad candidate. He’s taking an ongoing beating in the Plain Dealer for his missteps. Even though they haven’t been major or governmental.

Furthermore, he’s done just about everything the Pee Dee has had on its cheerleading list during his County term. Some gratitude.

The paper was never going to endorse him. But it has made it appear easy to oppose him by repeating his problems over and over again. Same as they did to Jimmy Dimora.

As if there were nothing else to the race for governor but a driver’s license. The lazy PD was always going to go for Gov. John Kasich, as they did four years ago – without good reason then. The made a joke of themselves by toting up his sickly record in its endorsement editorial, calling him “scary.” Here’s that editorial:

http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/10/the_plain_dealer_endorses_john_1.html

Now Kasich by re-election will remove the restraint of Sen. Bill 5 put upon him. With a strong victory he’s free to playing the right-wing politics one might expect from him.

Too many Democrats seem to be overly happy with FitzGerald’s stumbling. He moved too fast and too eagerly for power and they would like to see his comeuppance. Poor judgment.

Yet I don’t remember any of them getting into the race themselves. He didn’t have to be the candidate. So why complain if you didn’t have the gumption to seek the endorsement. If you remained on the sidelines that’s your failure.

The big problem with the Democratic Party, as I see it now, is not new.

There are really two Democratic Parties – one essentially white and the other black. And they take turns damaging the other. Until they can honestly work together they’ll both fail.

So stop using FitzGerald to show your disgust with the Democratic Party.

You can start now seeking the unity that will be needed to put a progressive Democratic party back together.

* * *

TRAFFIC CAMERAS SHOULD GO

Cleveland traffic cameras are emblematic of the inequality built into so much of what happens in the city.

First and foremost, I’m told that City Council members have a veto over where (and whether) a stationary camera is placed in their ward. How does that square with the claim it is a safety program?

When I looked at the map of where stationary cameras both for speed and red lights are positioned I found that 23 where on the East Side and only eight on the West Side. I don’t see any downtown. No one speeds or runs red lights downtown? No, says one Council member, Joe Cimperman – the downtown council member – doesn’t want them. I guess it might hurt the restaurant business.

There’s little doubt that these cameras are a money-maker for the city. I’m told the take is going down as people recognize where the set cameras are stationed and act accordingly. (Disclosure: I got a camera ticket years ago in East Cleveland.)

One could say that that proves the safety factor. People paying attention so as not to get fined.

However, it doesn’t account for what happens AFTER drivers realize they’ve passed the danger zone. Do they pick up speed to make up for the slowdown? I know that happens.

The city needs revenue. Figures show in 2010 the cameras gained the city $6.7 million and in 2012 the total was $6 million. I’m told it has declined and may be in the $5 million plus intake presently.

The revenue argument doesn’t fly well with me.

Especially since the city “gives away” so much revenue – with abatement, with payments on stadiums, and with misuse of police, as one can see with the number of officers stationed for sports events.

If the stated purpose of the traffic cameras was safety there should be an easy way to prove the claim.

Charge a low penalty (possibly on an upward sliding scale), one that simply makes the point to the driver that he or she has caused a violation, paying a small fine as a reminder and penalty.

This would show the citizen that he or she isn’t just being scammed because here’s another way the city can raise easy money.

A small fine with possibly the added penalty of the person having to pay the fine in person and receive some educational information about why it is dangerous to speed on city streets or run red lights.

It is easy to overdo what’s easy to do.

Or as someone else said, “When a thing is not worth overdoing, leave it alone.”

Time for the speed traps to go. Let the cops work the bad driving habits with honest ticketing.

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