July 24th, 2017

170722 frank jackson with umbrella roldo

Mayor Frank Jackson has spent most of his decade plus service to Cleveland catering to its corporate community.

It’s difficult to find where he has ever said, “NO” to the corporate czars here.

Now, he’s trying to make up to the neighborhoods he has neglected.

To me his actions come not only as surprising but shocking. I knew Jackson when he was a champion of impoverished neighborhoods. He was a man of the people.

He doesn’t fit description now and hasn’t for a long time.

Now, he’s trying to make up for lost time.

The above photograph was taken on a rainy day. At 8 a.m. The mayor, alone, not with staff, waves at passersby at 140th & Kinsman.

It’s as sad as it is depressing. He can’t make up what he’s neglected with a hand wave.

It’s impossible to make up for the time he has spent catering to a very different clientele.

His consent to whatever the Greater Cleveland Partnership bloc wanted leaves him at a disadvantage.

GCP, made up of the corporate community, plying their desires, can give him campaign funds. But not votes. They live elsewhere.

So weighing against him is his support for anything the GCP gang desired.

Be it the $50 million Public Square; be it the $300 million plus Opportunity Corridor; be it disrupting and costing RTA public transit; be it help to finance a new convention center, medical mart and hotel; be it giving away million dollar naming rights to Browns stadium; be it bowing to a multi-million expansion of Quicken Arena, Jackson has stood tall with the Big Boys and Girls.

Not with those who needed the help.

Now he has to face the feisty, savvy Zach Reed and the veteran no-nonsense Jeff Johnson. They will be barking at his heels. He could finish third.

There is anger among the people.

This won’t be another cake walk for the Jackson who has begun to look his age. And the fact that he has failed badly not only in succumbing to the elite but has tread water for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, we have seen a dramatic change in Cleveland. I wrote recently about Carl Stokes’ election. It came at a time when Cleveland’s black community was electric with the anticipation of helping control its own destiny.

I have been thinking of the difference and the toll it has taken.

Then civil rights strife and advances meant striking outward.

Today the black community isn’t striking outward. It’s battling inward. We see senseless shootings and pointless strife. A sad breakdown.

It’s a disturbing climate. Too many young people in obvious despair. Nowhere to go.

It’s a sign of poor leadership. Not only Jackson’s.

It is a challenge not only to the mayoral candidates but to the entire community.

The inequality abounds. Solutions are absent.

Community attention is directed elsewhere.

Jackson and his crew have been floating, not leading.

They are stale. Been there too long. A change at the top will mean change along the line. New blood is required.

Their neglect reflects the seriously inattentiveness to police matters, too.

The 138-bullet car chase and murderous attack, the tragically unnecessary killing of Tamir Rice, the negligence in the rape and murders of Anthony Sowell, the decade captivity of three women by Ariel Castro—all these are all on his watch. His record.

He still has one great asset. The Cleveland Plain Dealer or should we call it the Downtown Plain Dealer. The newspaper, unfortunately the carrier of news in our town, has been as neglectful of calling out Jackson as he has been of pursuing the needs of those in want.

It may be early in the campaign but the task requires early, persistent examination by the newspaper.

This is the most important election in some time.

Some believe that Chris Quinn, editor and president of Cleveland.com, shows too much warmth for Jackson. The Scene, Cleveland’s alternative, noted that Quinn has visited with Jackson rather often at City Hall.

The PD Editorial section, free to express opinions and uninhibited to voice criticism, appears docile and weak. Not up to the job. Columnists—unbound from the strictures of normal balanced reportage—likewise appear feeble or preoccupied with less essential coverage. Lacking.

It’s time for unrestrained coverage of this campaign. Time passes too quickly.

By Roldo Bartimole…

First published by Have Coffee Will Write on DATE.

Also by Roldo Bartimole…

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