April 17th, 2013

Roldo Bartimole writes:

It was good to see three school board members voted against the fire sale of the Cleveland schools downtown administration building. But wait.

Unfortunately, the majority voted to sell the historic building to Drury Hotels of St. Louis. The deal: more than $4 million below the appraised price. Who’s counting the pennies?

No one – at least in reports I’ve seen – has said a word about the land that goes with the building, enough apparently to build a new hotel and use the revitalized historic building for upscale digs. That was the plan when years ago developer John Ferchill tried to get his greedy hands on the site.

I wonder what goodies Mayor Jackson will throw at the hotel developers. We must help downtown business, you know.

Ferchill was fought off by an elected school board, particularly its black members. Even Mike White, then a state senator, opposed the move. It was a political plus for him at that point. Black power.

Now we have a Mayoral school board, nearly invisible.

“We need to put the focus on education and put this issue aside,” said school board member Eric Wobser. He called it forward thinking. Wobser easily flipped off more than 80 years of history. As part of the historic Group plan Harper’s Weekly wrote in 1904, “Probably no city in the country, outside the Capitol, has undertaken the systematic development of public architecture and parks on so splendid a scale as has the city of Cleveland.” No more. Business rules.

Developers have been eager to get their hands on this property since 1983.

And how would Wobser use the money? Why, of course, the first words out of his mouth: for a new downtown school. You can bet who that will help. Not those most in need.

Wobser is a newcomer to the board. But his thinking is plain old give it away style.

Mayor “Out of the Box” Jackson played his usual role. Absent and silent.

It’s very discouraging to look at Cleveland, post the civil rights era. The forgotten era of forgotten people.

George Forbes, Mike White and now Frank Jackson. All strong public servants – for our corporate rulers. Heirs to the Civil Rights Movement. That doesn’t count. Profits. That’s what counts.

To hell with the people. That’s been the model here since Dennis Kucinich.

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