February 1st, 2017

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Mayor Frank Jackson has become too enamored of himself.

He has been, at best, a mediocre mayor. At worse, he’s been a mayor too taken by his own mediocrity to recognize he’s been a failure where he was most needed to succeed.

That’s the place he’s from—the most impoverished part of Cleveland’s inner city.

Instead of championing the needs of those with the most severe problems and living conditions, he has been the champion of those who have power.

He has been a servant of the powerful. Obedient. Subservient. Ridiculous.

He remains quiet at the very time when the powerless needed a voice and a fighter for them.

How could a man of the people allow a 65-car, 127-bullet police chase ending in the brutal killing of two citizens by elevating the police leaders of that time? Rewarding failure.

He’s done that with the airport, water department, a left-over Michael White tired staff.

How could a man representing in large part the minority community fail to fire two police officers who so erroneously shot within two seconds Tamer Rice, a 12-year old?

Now, two years later the two remain Cleveland police officers.

On the other hand, this leader has prostrated himself before the corporate community.

Fifty years after Carl B. Stokes made history by being elected the first black mayor of Cleveland promised Power, as he said in his memoir, we have as one of his successors who lends that power to those who use the city for their purposes: profit.

It’s been a shameful waste of political power.

Unless you’re a developer. Or a sports team owner.

Filings at the Board of Election show that Jackson is bought and paid for.

I count more than 30 $1,000 contributions. A number of givers at $2,500; some at $3,333; more at $2,000 and $5,000.

The $$$ just flow in.

These are not ordinary citizens chipping in to their leader. Not citizens who would like lead poisoning of their children to be an issue. Not citizens against cops shooting kids and blacks. Not citizens that might like their mayor not to lead cheers for tons of regressive taxes like the sin tax for sports billionaires. Then add tens of millions of dollars to fancy. Not citizens who think $50 million for Public Square a good idea; or hundreds of thousands to a fix-up an arena for another billionaire; a chandelier at Playhouse Square; or preventing terrorist attacks (laugh now) at Public Square though it cost transit dependent people higher rates for poorer service. Not ordinary citizens chipping in with $5.

No, these are not the people giving Jackson financial incentive to keep up the good work. At our expense.

They are people like Sam Miller of Forest City, with a $5,000 check after having gotten millions in tax breaks for the city.

And he’s joined by Ronald Ratner, $3,333; James Ratner 3,334; Max Ratner at $3,333; Brian Ratner at $5,000; Deborah Ratner Salzberg, $5000; Albert Ratner, $5,000; Audrey Ratner, $5,000.

That’s just one cozy group. Fattened by gifts of public money by the ton.

All pushing Jackson to run again.

I wonder why? No, I don’t.

He’s bought and paid for. That’s why.

He’s their toady and good reason for it.

Downtown floats on subsidies, tax abatements, tax incremental financing.

Stadium and arena subsidies by the tens of millions of dollars.

They skip paying their property taxes. Half of which would go to the Cleveland city schools. The ones Mayor Jackson wants to see improved.

Yes, bought and paid for. That’s our mayor.

Jackson told me years ago that he really didn’t want to be a councilman. He also said, “I didn’t want to be Council President…” and “I didn’t want to be mayor either.”

Oh, yes he did. And oh, yes he does.

But we shouldn’t want him around any longer. Time to go.

He’s overstayed his welcome.

Four years ago , I wrote:

This year despite all the problems that have made Cleveland a national subject, the newspaper (PD) has endorsed every sitting candidate from mayor to the most ridiculous council member. Even Council President Martin Sweeney who has thumbed his nose at the paper…

Nobody pays a price for failures.

I added, “Chris Quinn, you’re really going to have to up your game.”

Wanna bet the PD endorses him again?

By Roldo Bartimole…


  1. Paul Hanson says:

    Excellent commentary Roldo. I agree 100%. Keep up the good work.

  2. MFiala says:

    The litany of failures you name, Roldo, tells it too well.
    I just wish I could name the person who is the alternative, with any confidence!

    Was I that naive that I thought Mike White was just that so many years ago?
    (Perhaps, compared to George Forbes, that was the time when the difference mattered.)

    Is there really that great a lack here now?

    Bernie Sanders won an incredibly close vote so many many years ago in Burlington.
    Maybe, the time is now for something like that in Cleveland.
    One must hope and act for the possibility to materialize.

  3. Thanks for the comments, Gloria and Michael.

    The candidate must him or herself show us an alternative.

    The test, I think, will be in what issues are promoted and whether there is movement among Clevelanders to demand a different approach to the way things are being done.

    That doesn’t sound convincing but there are no easy answers. I do believe there are signs of civic arousal not yet fully enough formed to see them.

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