The Public Square debacle that now portends severe financial distress for public transit in Cleveland again underscore the damaging effect of an agenda set by the elite forces of the Greater Cleveland Partnership and foundation money sources.
The $32 million Public Square project, which turned into a $50 million (as far as we know) deal, with public and private funding was a hurry-up deal.
When THEY want something, THEY want it. NOW! And THEY get it, using public resources.
A “master stroke,” the Plain Dealer called it.
THEY have the power to grab public resources to use for what THEY want
Badly thought out, it left Superior Avenue dividing two sections of the Square. Or well-thought out, THEY didn’t care the consequences. THEY wouldn’t suffer them. The powers that be now want to correct their errors that by closing Superior Avenue and forcing RTA to run buses on different routes. Shift the suffering.
With the decision to revoke the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority historic use of the street bisecting the two sides of the square, thus damaging a deal it previously made with the federal government now costing a $12 million in penalty.
The annual cost to RTA for rerouting has been said to be $1.2 million a year not counting the inconvenience of thousands of public transit riders. The GCP elites don’t give a damn about them.
The penalties have to do with promises linked to the Euclid Ave. Health line, which included buses using Public Square.
The $12-million fine, or rebate, further stresses a financially-strapped RTA. The rerouting already costs RTA more than a million dollars a year. Money it doesn’t have.
As typical with these elite private dictators of the public’s business the project had to be done in a hurry. RTA and its transit needs be damned, the needs of the Republican National Committee and the city’s PR machine came first.
Thus the hasty, poor planning
The problem of an unusable Superior Avenue was left unattended.
Here’s a headline at that time from the cheerleading Plain Dealer:
“Cleveland’s great new public spaces helped make RNC 2016 a success.”
A success for whom?
It failed to say, “However, it left public transit in the lurch, operationally and financially.”
The needs of transit-dependent people be damned. Besides, we don’t want all those black people around the square and around Dan Gilbert’s further ill-considered casino. It doesn’t belong sitting in a former Public Square department store.
Mayor Frank Jackson, a yo-yo to the big boys, did and continues to be the establishment’s lackey, going along with this ill-conceived “improvement.”
Don’t expect him to change. He’s stubborn as a mule and a man of little imagination. He’s an order-taker.
The Plain Dealer with the help of servile minion Steve Litt has cheered the GCP plans for a remade downtown as if it were the city unto itself:
“The renovated Public Square earned rave reviews during the 2016 Republican National Convention in downtown Cleveland, an event framed and made possible by a revitalized public realm,” crowed the PD.
Cheerleading again. Still.
Of course it becomes necessary to lionize Jackson and Litt’s just the flunky to do it:
“Jackson deserves particular credit for the $50 million renovation of Public Square, completed on time and on budget just prior to the Republican convention,” Litt wrote. Someone forgot the original $32 million price tag.
Praise for the mayor continues to gush from the pee dee.
It appears the city, at least downtown, is to be dedicated to walkers and bicyclists
Public transit for people who work is an afterthought. An inconvenience.
The new urban designers say they want a “downtown redesigned, at least in part (big part) to better serve pedestrians and bicyclists after decades in which the city’s public realm had been designed to serve automobiles.”
But Superior Avenue was designed to carry vehicle traffic and when the square was completed there was, oh, gosh, a paved street called Superior.
The County got into it too. County Executive Armond Budish, another GCP flunky, bestowed praise, “Thanks to strong partnerships and innovative solutions, our region is taking a significant and historic step forward today.” More County bond borrowing followed.
And public funding for the square (and what about its upkeep) comes from the usual subsidies that flow mainly to downtown developers and their sponsors.
“When Rock Ohio Caesar bought the building from Forest City nearly two years ago, in a $79 million transaction, the casino developer inherited that TIF (tax relief) and underlying agreements that gave Rock the ability to capture a share of the increased property-tax revenues from the building to finance future improvements. The PD never tells which government entities lose what amounts of revenue over the period of the TIF. (Maybe Rich Exner could give us a map of TIFed and tax abated and exempted properties that tell the immense cost.)
Be assured government revenue didn’t get delivered to public offices.
“Now Rock has agreed to give up its access to that money, which will be redirected to pay off Public Square debt – making a bond deal possible. The landlord also has agreed not to appeal the value of the Higbee Building below $79 million during the life of the bonds, ensuring consistent debt-service payments,” wrote the PD real estate writer.
There are ways to figure out problem -give it public money, unless…
UNLESS IT HAS TO DO WITH THE NEEDS OF ORDINARY WORKING PEOPLE – LET THEM FIGURE IT OUT THEMSELVES. RTA GETS NOTHING FROM THE COUNTY OR CITY.
Maybe someone should go back in the city’s history when a mayor saw the need for public transit at 3 cents a ride. That’s when progressive city government thought about the ordinary citizens. Not just the moneyed.
Point Of Viəw