March 13th, 2017

Am I crazy or is the situation with Public Square and Superior Avenue one of the most asinine and stupid planning decision—and for all the wrong reasons—city planners could make?

Or should I say inexperienced and unqualified but chief planner—Mayor Frank Jackson—a man who has fallen in love with his vastly inadequate ability.

I should excuse city planners because they really didn’t make this decision. Others did.

Presently, after Mayor Jackson was made to look like an ass, the Regional Transit Authority buses will use Superior Avenue, which cuts through the north and south sections of the new $50 million Public Square.

By the way, it has always been that way.

A major downtown through street. Superior Avenue.

But as of yet vehicles—cars, trucks—cannot course the road.

And the mayor spitefully uses cement highway barriers to make it look worse that it ordinarily would. Hope some kid doesn’t climb one and hurt himself badly.

The limitations seem totally silly as well as totally delinquent for a major city downtown street.

Bicycles may soon be allowed. The Bicyclists have become one of the most persistent and powerful lobbies, small as it may be. Good for them but they might think a bit about others.

Superior Avenue now and for as long as I’ve been traveling downtown—starting in 1965—and certainly long before that has always been a major road east and west.

Indeed, if you travel downtown on Superior going west they built a bridge so you can get over the Cuyahoga River to the west side.

What a brilliant idea.

Euclid Avenue doesn’t run through. Neither does St. Clair. Not directly anyway.

Superior does. It was meant to be that way.

Closing it to traffic is like putting a block on Carnegie and suggesting travelers on that main line find some other ways to get across the Carnegie-Lorain Bridge.

It just doesn’t make common sense. It’s stupid.

Mayor Jackson, at the behest of his bosses, apparently sees it differently.

Until some very “smart” people who wanted to spend $50 million (and we may never know the true cost) to make Republicans coming here for its national convention last summer feel they were coming to an IT city—new, vibrant, and with a new Public Square for the People.

Pride, which often leads in the wrong direction, seems the basis of this $50 million decision.

They got plenty of the usual Plain Dealer cheerleading.

Page One articles with the smug photo (chin on fist of Steve Litt} led the corporate humbug time and again hailing transformation of the downtown square into the glory of downtown.

Who cares about traffic?

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History tells the background of this major street:

Veterans Memorial Bridge, opened to traffic on Thanksgiving Day 1917 as the Detroit-Superior Bridge, was the city’s first high-level bridge over the Cuyahoga River. Connecting Detroit and Superior avenues, it was engineered to relieve the traffic congestion that had clogged the old Superior Viaduct, just north of the new span. Built at a cost of $5.284 million, the bridge took 5 years to complete. Its outer ends consist of a series of 12 concrete arches; its center span, 96′ above the Cuyahoga River, is an overhead arch of steel 591′ in length. Altogether the bridge is 3,112′ long and, including approaches, stretches 5,630′. The bridge carries 2 decks. The upper deck was designed for vehicular and pedestrian traffic, while the lower deck was to carry streetcars. The subway, as the lower deck was called, had entry ramps at W. 6th St. and Superior Ave., on W. 25th St., and on Detroit Ave. Four sets of tracks ran along the lower level, with passenger stations located at each end. By 1930, with traffic reaching a volume of 70,400 automobiles a day, the bridge was being called the “nation’s busiest.”

But Litt, Jackson and the Greater Cleveland (String-pulling) Partnership know better. History only matters when it fits their needs.

What a joke this town is becoming.

170312 roldo frank jackson public square rta busses


The Plain Dealer has become Headquarters Central of the Mayor Frank Jackson re-election campaign.

The amusing headline on the article of Jackson’s State of the City speech could even qualify as ridiculous: “Jackson: City on brink of greatness.” (print edition, online: Mayor Frank Jackson sees Cleveland as a successful city poised on greatness, JH).

This about a city he has led for nearly 12 years, wants four more, but qualifies as the second most impoverished population after Detroit.

We wonder if the editors even read their own newspaper which outlines, among other handicaps, a disturbing death rate for black infants and a disgusting record of lead poisoning among its children.

Oh forget all that.

We have a booming downtown residential area and a $50 million updated Public Square.

The article quotes Jackson saying “The city of Cleveland has become a successful city. We have come a long way. We’re looked at as a place to be.”

How easy it is to believe your own propaganda.

Maybe he should say that “downtown has become a successful city,” because that has some truth.

Or, we have two of three sports teams that have become “successful.”

The mayor spoke to some 950 people at a City Club sponsored event, as these specials are sponsored.

What isn’t said is who attended. The City Club does not, never has and never will represent Clevelanders. The audience is made up of people who are not representative of the city. I don’t think it ever was and don’t believe it ever will be.

It’s an elite audience supplemented by employees of whatever politician is speaking at any time.
What I found additionally delinquent journalistically is that the article itself quoted no opponent of the mayor and what those people might think of his claim of “greatness.” Nor was there a separate article giving some balance.

Indeed, the placement of the front page article, about 9 full inches long and 5 inches wide, dominating the front page, took on the tone of an endorsement or at least an in-kind contribution to his re-election campaign.

I thought maybe the newspaper would have responses by Jackson’s opponents, maybe the leading ones, by the Sunday edition.

But no, nothing.

Not even one of its columnists offered an opinion about Jackson’s “greatness” claims.

Without some kind of coverage, even at this early time, squeezes the oxygen from a campaign, doesn’t allow it to have some life.

And when the mayor is seeking a fourth, four-year term you would think that his record deserves close attention.
Some say that PD‘s new editor Chris Quinn is too close to the mayor. Other than the positive coverage he gets I don’t have solid evidence. I covered City Hall during the time Michael White was finishing up. Quinn was a strong city hall reporter and certainly helped, in my opinion, to do damage to White with his coverage.

It’s not happening now that he’s the editor.

Time has a way of flitting away and the start on this mayoral campaign should be a lot hotter than it is.

By Roldo Bartimole…


  1. Jeff Hess says:

    On 15 November 2016, The Plain Dealer told us that: Cleveland opts to keep Public Square closed to buses. In Ginger Christ’s piece, Mayor Frank Jackson was quoted saying:

    Today, we’ve agreed that in the best interests of Cleveland, in particular, the people of Cleveland, the general public—whether they’re Cleveland residents or not, it would be best to keep Superior Avenue closed,

    That story drew 208 comments.

    On 9 January, Scene magazines Scene & Heard blog posted this: Public Scare Tactics: Jackson Doubles Down on Terrorism, “Irreparable Harm” Looms.

    Cleveland’s WJW, Channel 8, has continued to cover the issue.

    In none of the stories I’ve scanned this morning, have I found a single reason for closing Public Square that makes any sense.

    Has anyone given a reason for the closure that passes the bull shit test?

  2. English Minor 40 Years Ago says:

    Should that title be using the word “INEPTNESS” or “INEPTITUDE?” English Question of the Day. I honestly don’t know the answer.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Ineptness is correct in this case because the word may indicate the quality or degree of being inept. Ineptitude only indicates the quality of being inept. While Frank Jackson certainly has the quality of being inept, this particular example is meant to demonstrate the extreme degree of that ineptitude, hence his ineptness.

      For future reference, feel free to refresh your degree by consulting Google where you’ll find endless grammar discussions of this sort.

  3. English Minor 40 Years Ago says:

    My fossilized age combined with a small side order of laziness sometimes precludes me from consulting Google.

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