July 8th, 2016

roldo 160708

For a candidate to run for Cleveland Mayor, he or she needs issues to propel a campaign. Sooner rather than later.

The candidate needs a head start to run against an incumbent as Mayor Frank Jackson. Jackson is expected to run for an unprecedented fourth 4-year term. As someone has said—because he has nothing better to do. Not at all a good reason.

I think Jackson has overstayed his voter welcome.

He has become a toady of the usual people who pull strings here.

And he is largely ignored by the almost daily newspaper, which seems in a Disney Land world of its own.

But the old saw applies—you can’t beat someone with no one.

When Dennis Kucinich ran for mayor against two-term Ralph Perk in 1977 he had set an issue for himself to pound home—Muny Light. Perk wanted to sell it likely because he knew he had spent bond money illegally and needed the revenue. Dennis was a staunch supporter.

Things didn’t actually work that way.

Kucinich didn’t count on Perk finishing third and that his opponent in the general election would be Ed Feighan, a supporter of Muny Light.

Dennis needed another issue to ride. It wasn’t hard for Kucinich to find one (as it shouldn’t be for anyone today) and he rode it into City Hall. The issue was the first tax abatement at E. 9th & Euclid for National City Bank. Perk proposed it. Feighan had supported the state law enabling abatements. He was tied up.

It started a give-away to developers that Jackson has even exceeded.

Kucinich was never one to not recognize an issue.

What I find puzzling today is that there do not seem to be any candidates preparing the groundwork issues to oppose Mayor Frank Jackson next year.

Yet my feeling is that there will be more than a couple of challengers.

I have thought and said for some time that Mayor Jackson depended too much on loyalty. He has kept top aides where others might have shed them as problems. He even promotes them.

I’ve changed my mind his loyalty quality.

I think now it’s more personal lethargy. Jackson just doesn’t have the energy or maybe more depressing simply doesn’t care enough to expend the get-up-and-go to make necessary changes.

He doesn’t get rid of officials who obviously are not quite performing.

I got a chance to look at the entire city payroll. 6,600 employees. Ninety-nine are making more the $100,000 a year. One makes $200,000. Many more are in the $80,000 & $90,000 range. That’s a lot of money in a poverty city. The city’s median income is just under $26,000 and 34 percent here are impoverished.

Here is a substantial issue for a real politician, if we can find one anymore.

The city and Cuyahoga County further have been loaded with regressive taxes that weigh heavily upon the some low income, poverty people.

Our politicians don’t notice this apparently. Certainly they back these taxes either openly or quietly.

Let a candidate for mayor start by putting some roadblocks in front of this kind of wholesale attack upon working people.

First, say NO to the payroll tax. Live within your budget, tell them.

Second, if the mayor insists on a significant increase in the city payroll (income) he should be made to promise—NO raises for anyone making more than $60,000 a year.

That would help insure to some extent against the new revenue being simply wasted by paying overly high salaries to special people and friends. For example, Jackson recently hired former pet in Council Merle Gordon as health director. Maybe the 100 staff member with a $100,000 salary.

You need issues to beat a sitting mayor. Preparations are needed. Ground must be tilled. Voters must SEE the issues, feel them, and consider them important.

I believe the issue today is one of taxation and particularly bad management.

Not only has he pushed increasing existing taxes and continuing old taxes but instituting new ones as he wants to do now.

The business establishment and the conventional, professional politicians (Councilmen at $80,000 a year with expenses) themselves are mostly backing the jump in the payroll tax.

And Mayor Jackson falls right into the line of fire with an issue to increase the income/payroll tax. I’ve said before that it is a tax with no progressivity. Federal and even state taxes give the taxpayer a needed break. The city payroll tax gives none.

That’s why it’s so popular with the wealthy. It doesn’t strain their pocketbooks.

It takes 2 percent of the first dollar a worker earns. Jackson wants another half percent to 2.5 percent. That’s a 25 percent increase.

Now I talked with one possible candidate who strongly suggests he’s going to run whether Jackson seeks another term or not. And he isn’t the only one ready to do that.

Really, we need a big race with many candidates. This city has become too accepting of its gluttonous top leaders.

Indeed, I believe there might be a number of formidable candidates. And they won’t all be black candidates. With more than a couple of candidates the chances of a split vote is possible, if not probable. That could mean a runoff of politicians other than Jackson.

In other words, Jackson finishing third and out of the running, just as Perk did in 1979.
However, he needs competition to describe his misdeeds. They are many and I’ve pointed them out many times.

I have looked at the Cleveland voter registration figures from 2012, (last big election) and find Cleveland has 32,432 fewer voters, as of July 1, 2016. Presently, the city has 256,395 registered voters compared to 288,827 in 2012.

In 2012 there were 19 voting wards. Presently there are 17.

There is no specific breakdown of voters racially by ward.

However, there may be some indication of race commensurate with the council members serving the 17 wards, presently eight black and nine white.

Of course, there isn’t a clear picture with council members commensurate with black voters. However, a check by race shows that 124,175 registered voters in wards represented by a black council member and 132,218 registered voters in wards represented by a white council member. Fairly even division.

This suggests to me that there is an opportunity for either a new black mayor or a possibility of a white successful candidate.

But the time for movement, I believe, will be soon after the Republican National Convention here.

The city needs a shakeup.

By Roldo Bartimole…


  1. DaveH says:

    Disappointed you haven’t posted anything in awhile. In the past couple of weeks some of the most egregious horrific civic cheerleading the Plain Dealer and cleveland.com have ever done, and you’re not around to comment on it.

    For example, this.

    Hope you’re O.K.

    • Jeff Hess says:


      I’m sure Roldo will reply on his own, but I wanted to say that I agree with you.

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the discussion by writing a comment. We build our communities with our conversations.

      Driving to the library yesterday I caught part of the Sound of Ideas on WCPN and was tempted to call in and ask the question:

      By what objective metrics can any of us say that most of the residents of Cleveland are better off for all the tens-of-millions of dollars spent on the Republican National Convention?

      Do all you can to make today a better day,


  2. Thanks for asking about me. I’m doing okay. But you didn’t need me to tell you about the cheerleading for downtown. You saw it yourself. I guess all you need to do is go to the same source today and read where there have been more than 70 shot and 10 killed this month in Cleveland. It tells the story of Cleveland, which is that downtown isn’t the city. Here is a link: http://www.cleveland.com/rnc-2016/index.ssf/2016/07/mistake_on_the_lake_no_more_wo.html

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