JACKSON - TIME RUNNING OUT
Is it time for Mayor Frank Jackson to go?
If it isn't - it sure is time he had some competition.
Cleveland is suffering from depression. Not just the economic kind. But the spiritual kind.
It needs an awakening. A prodding. Something to spur its spirit that there are better times ahead.
And I don't mean another useless lakefront development poke. Or a Public Square spruce-up talk.
I don't believe it can get a push without a mayoral contest that awakens the public.
Where are the Carl Stokeses and the Dennis Kucinichs of today?
They must be out there.
But they're hesitant. Waiting for what? The Old Guard to anoint them? Ain't going to happen. Power has to be seized. Our Old Guard is stultified. It's too lazy and old to even think NEW.
But that's exactly what this town needs. A shake. Badly. Desperately.
C'mon Jeff Johnson. C'mon Joe Cimperman. Zach Reed. Nina Turner. You too Brian Cummins. Chris Roynane. You all know you want it. C'mon Matt Zone. You too Tony Brancantelli. Ray Pianka. Don't any of you sell yourselves short.
And, by the way folks, Dennis now is available. Whoa!
Jackson has done well with city finances, bolstered by revenue gains from construction pay at the casino and convention center. Not ongoing pluses. Otherwise, the city appears to be treading - not heading.
And mistakes or political errors have been made. Plenty enough for a smart politician to take a plunge. There's dirt to dish.
Jackson's increase of a fee to collect garbage. Pay the city to collect my garbage? That's garbage. And an issue.
At the same he wants to spend $844,000 a year to clean up garbage around the Horse Shoe Casino. He'll pick up garbage for wealthy casino owners. Sends the bills the public!
Where's the fairness?
Why don't they do their own clean up; they'll be doing a big $$$ clean-up inside.
Yes, there are issues.
Another: Deals that reek. The Chinese deal for LEDs lighting. Smelt like a deal to me. Off to China with a 10-year, multi-million dollar deal, ignoring GE just down the corner. Oops.
The city's "advisor" Peter Tien then turns out to be a 50 percent owner. A no bid contract too. City advisor to owner. You can't make so many mistakes without doing it on purpose, I'd say.
Then off to Japan for an incinerator/gasification plan. Smelly. Deadly smelly maybe. And Mr. Tien shows up again. For a brilliant expose of this read Maude Campbell's piece in the Scene: http://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/the-mysterious-mister-tien/Content?oid=2772517
How did Jackson develop such heart throb for this guy?
Either Jackson was totally naive or a blunderer.
The $180 million gasification plant is being fought by citizens.
The kind that enjoy breathing. And it looks as if Jackson will have to back off it too.
I'd say he's having a bad year or two.
Next Jackson gave a nose thumb to all Cleveland teachers. He teamed up, as he's apt to do, with the Greater Cleveland Partnership and Cleveland Foundation in the school reform push. It lets the state, which has cut $50 million in two years from Cleveland's schools, off the hook.
Helps Gov. Kasich look good. Gives power to a private overseer board, undercutting the city's school board and adding confusion. It's disgusting. He's the corporate community's mayor. Jackson, the people's man, he has strayed far. Jackson is now an enemy of public education.
Jackson allowed the Browns to take half their paychecks and the income tax to Berea. After all Cleveland did for the Lerners. Now he gives the billionaire Randy Lerner almost $8 million for a stadium fix-up long before the lease said he had to do so. What did he ask in return? Diddly squat.
He'll be on board to aid the billionaires with a sin tax extension. You can bet on it. Another sweet deal.
Meanwhile, killings pile up in the city.
Jackson is a Democrat. Technically that is. But he's been playing footsie with Gov. John Kasich. He symbolically joins Kasich and the Republican's desire to knife Labor with his school plans, hatched at the Cleveland Foundation and Greater Cleveland Partnership offices. They're not Democrats, Frank.
There are plenty of openings to go at Jackson. It just takes a little political ingenuity and resourcefulness.
I'm old enough to have watched Carl Stokes beat a sitting mayor (Ralph Locher). Old enough to have watched Kucinich defeat a sitting mayor (Ralph Perk). It can be done. But not by sitting safely back on your ass.
The town needs a shaking. It's dying of boredom. It's weary of sameness. Wake up! Somebody, please.
I get the feeling, however, that there are a lot of timid politicians out there. None willing to stick their necks out. Waiting for Jackson to say, "I'd like to retire."
When that happens the Old guard, seeing the weakness, will be ready to anoint its candidate. Too late.
Not one that I'll likely approve. He or she will have made the deal and we'll have another corporate stooge at city hall.
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SOME ADDED THOUGHTS:
I've known Dennis Kucinich since the mid-1960s. As a reporter, I went door-to-door with him in Tremont in 1967. It was his first run for Council. He lost. At times I've been supportive and at times very critical. When some people at the City Club gave me a luncheon to mark 25 years of Point of View, a newsletter I wrote, Dennis surprised me by attending. Indeed, he was the speaker. He spoke positively about me. Although mischievously he deadpanned that he thought the celebration was to mark my retirement. I'd finally be gone!
Now, it is many years later. He has suffered a damaging defeat. He likely lost merely by the way lines were drawn in the new misshapen 9th District. It took voters from him.
However, I think, Dennis - the consummate Cleveland politician and never a shrinking violet - misplayed the election. I don't think he expected his opponent, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, to play hard ball. But she did. It was supposed to be a friendly battle. After seeing one of her TV commercials I actually sent $25 to Dennis's campaign.
So it was a shock that a man who has played hard ball with the best of Cleveland politicians - from Carl Stokes to George Forbes from Ed Feighan to Ralph Perk - didn't come out with a knife against Kaptur. By the time he must have grasped his mistake it was too late.
He revealed he was deeply hurt by remarks that could classify him a sore-loser. It had to be a tough loss for a man who has had many but still comes out fighting.
He'll be fine. Because he has talent. He has courage. That's all he needs for the next chapter.
Talk about delusional. Kevin O'Brien last Thursday in a Plain Dealer column labeled President Barack Obama "a radical leftist." Some delusion. Does the Plain Dealer really believe it should have such a hallucinatory character as a lead spokesman?
I believe in free speech and a free press. However, that doesn't mean you have to have people representing you with silly and false ideas. Fantasies.
Please Editor Debra Adams Simmons open your eyes and view what your people peddle to readers. Have a little respect for reason. Have a little respect for rational thought.
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Okay, Jimmy's jailed. Feel safer? I don't.
Dimora was never a very intelligent guy. He certainly got caught up in a world he didn't fully understand. Got a lot of backslaps. Way to go Jimmy, they said. Was led to believe he was Somebody. He had the misfortune to get mixed up with Frank Russo, a real snake. It made the rest predictable. Russo is still on the loose. Thanks feds. Why Judge?
I've watched wheeler-dealers in this town for a long time. Some politicians. Some big shot lawyers. Some big business guys. Usually all harmonizing. The deals they put together over the years make Dimora's stupid, gross antics look silly and dumb.
Anyone with sense knows Jimmy never had the brains to work out his crimes the legal way. I feel a bit sorry for him. I don't care what others think.