August 1st, 2017

170731 roldo frank jackson

It was classy, just as Umberto feels about himself. And he tries to convince others.

He didn’t complain about protesters in front of his fancy European-style house. He’d outsmart them. He’d treat them princely.

Offer them pizza from his basement Italian restaurant. Why be testy.

Rather classy, no? Better than cake.

Whose party was this?

This was the party of the TAKERS. Jackson’s contributions with this early filing hit $550,367. He has on hand a war chest of $703,782.07.

The kid from the most impoverished area of Cleveland out at Republican Umberto’s palatial Hunting Valley house.

Why? Collecting $$$, of course.

Mayor Frank Jackson acts like a man who knows he’s in trouble.

The establishment apparently feels that way, too. They’re overloading him with dollars. The $5,000 contributions are flooding in.

Clevelanders in many neighborhoods are angry, feeling left out. It’s the Trump effect right at home. Neglect.

Jackson and the rest of the Democratic Party are gushing fancy versions of what we used to called welfare—but to rich developers and sports moguls, not the rabble.

Need is not a qualification in the new era of austerity. Want rules.

However, unlike with people of real need, nobody is putting out statements that we are “spoiling” these greedy people by giving them goodies they didn’t work for. And don’t deserve. Why should they not help themselves?

These are the welfare leeches that visited Fedeli’s Hunting Valley estate, eager to give $5,000 checks to Jackson. Worth the price. After all, he’s been most generous to their clique. His elections filing loaded with $5,000 donations.

Here’s what Hunting Valley says of itself:

(It) is comprised of eight square miles of homes, fields and forest that today accommodates 750 residents in this Chagrin River Valley. Among the beautiful estates, one will find hiking trails, polo fields and bridle paths, which suggests life in a more peaceful and unspoiled past.

How nice.

Jackson is favored in these outings. Why not, he helps support them.

Want to tap the city’s admissions taxes (as you are already doing) starting again in 2024? Sure, Dan. For you anything Gilbert.

Want $88 million in our admission taxes? Sure Mr. Gilbert. You readers know—with the generous Armond Budish—we are still paying some $8 to 10 million annually on arena bonds now from the early 1990s. We keep paying through 2023. Then the new welfare begins again. A $5 million plus in city tax revenue went out last year.

Meanwhile, Cleveland neighborhood dollars likely are going to areas near the Cleveland Clinic. Richey Piiparinen, director of the Center of Population Dynamics at CSU’s Urban Affairs department, called for investments near the Clinic (some in Hough, Glenville and Fairfax neighborhoods) before a Council committee. Didn’t go over well with all.

That’s close to Opportunity Corridor’s $300 million road offers opportunities. Again, anything you want.

The 25-page report was financed by the Jackson administration at $50,000. It’s entitled An Emerging Neighborhood Market Analysis Commissioned by Mayor Frank G. Jackson for the City of Cleveland.

Senior Councilman Mike Polensek at a committee hearing first asked Piiparinen if he ever served in office. The answer, of course, was no. A tease to how the veteran councilman thinks.

But what Polensek and others object to is CSU telling them where this city money should go. Polensek said the money was to be “competitively” distributed. He submitted projects without getting attention as others also complained.

“They’d already decided,” he said, meaning the administration.

What this means, say Council members, is less for neighborhoods in dire need of investment.

Piiparinen’s CSU unit was originally financed by $250,000 from Al Ratner. It makes you wonder whether academic research can be bought at CSU, if the rich donor has ready cash. And Al has it by the bushel full. Doesn’t say much for CSU’s independence as a university. (Backing up their intentions, the Ratners rained down $5,000 donations to Jackson, five of them including Sam Miller and $2,500 from their company.) The Democratic Party tossed in $50.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership gave $5,000 to their boy.

Piiparinen defends his advice and says Ratner doesn’t get anything but honest research from him. But it doesn’t look right for individuals with money to finance academic studies.

The study concludes:

A final word of note: putting limited public funds in parts of the city that are not yet strategically positioned could lead to squandered, if well-intentioned, investment.

This is likely what irked Polensek.

You might want to look as some do when they criticize social programs for the needy and label it destructive. Kim Phillips-Fein, in Fear City, a book of New York’s financial troubles in the 1970s, quotes economist Milton Friedman writing that government spending on low income people “would only hurt low income people, reduce social cohesion and threaten the basis of free government.”

It makes the point that money spent on poor people doesn’t pay off as well as money given the rich.

Somehow doing similarly for rich people (developers) isn’t destructive to them.

Maybe we could argue another way.

We’re spoiling these rich developers by hooking them on subsidies—welfare.

For example, panhandler Dan pulled in $233 million in Cavs revenue in 2015-16. Jackson now wants to give him more.

More is better for them, bad for those in need.

The Cleveland schools—losers of tens of millions in abatements and TIFs (tax increment financing, a form of abatement) are ready to give away 30 years of property taxes to help build a complex near Gateway that will cost more than a half billion. The schools would get an upfront infusion of $18 million in exchange for the 30 years of diverted property taxes.

Thirty years is a long, long time.

Cleveland’s school children aren’t important. That’s what the deal says.

Jackson was drawn out to Fedeli’s suburban home because he needs big bucks. Something is telling him this won’t be an easy race, especially if the people who feel he’s been screwing them for the downtown crowd and the Cleveland Clinic grabbers actually come out to vote.

Some CSU researchers should tell us how many housing units the Clinic has helped destroy as it has expanded. Who paid the cost?

And when will the multi-billion dollar business/charity pay any property taxes on land worth $183 million and with buildings worth another $2.8 billion, according to its IRS 990 2014 (latest available) report.

Soon nothing in Cleveland will pay property taxes, other than home owners and renters. They will pay more.

Jackson has been staking out on street corners (see last week’s photo) where he stands and waves to people who may have forgotten he’s still around. Pathetic.

(Some opponent should create cardboard Jacksons to re-acquaint him with the people.

He looks old and tired. Not a good look for a mayor asking for four more years at city hall. Is Mike White making him run again? Or is it just ego, something that came upon him late in life and he can’t put aside.

You can smell the nervousness. Lots of hangers on at City Hall.

But the news media —Plain Dealer and TV—are avoiding this political race as if it would be a plague on the city to cover it. Lower the temperature.

Isn’t that why guys like Al Ratner put pressure on synagogues to drop membership in the Greater Cleveland Congregations (Conservative congregation Park Synagogue—where the Ratner family worships— and Reform congregation Temple-Tifereth Israel have dropped out, JH. Special note, in the original version of this story I incorrectly identified Silver’s temple, Tifereth Israel as a Conservative temple. Since this is a fact that I’m very aware of, I can only plead a brain freeze. I apologize for my error. JH) rather than allow it to ask for $$$ for real needs that equal the gift to Gilbert? You don’t think those abdications happened by chance?

You don’t think talk of the big bosses at the Cleveland Clinic—that also dodges property taxes on its billion dollars property—are said to have pressured a small black church to behave itself.

This is a sordid election and it has just started. It’s also a Silent Election. You have to wonder why and who would want it that way.

The PD, however, does deserve extra credit for creative coverage. They devote a full page each Sunday for a “Fashion Flash” of each mayoral candidate. Exciting.

We see our candidates in their fanciest clothing and addressing not city problems but their accessories. I’m sure this makes a great impression on Cleveland voters, especially those fighting to exist economically.

Never thought I’d write this but Brent Larkin, former editorial page leader and now retired, has been writing the sharpest of his career. Maybe it’s because he’s out of what I suspect is and has been the suffocating nature of the newspaper’s limited thinking.

Here is Larkin in a warning not only to Mayor Jackson but also Jeff Johnson:

Crime, allegations of police misconduct, spotty neighborhood services and the general feeling that it may be time for a change at City Hall have combined to put Jackson at some risk—with neighborhood crime high atop that list.

But Jackson could also be hurt by the perception he’s using tax money to reward an absentee owner whose past and present behavior may cause one of the two greatest athletes in Cleveland sports history to leave town after one more season.

Larkin’s even kicking greedy sport owners. Wow!

Larkin also warned Jackson that he’d better watch out.

It’s all a matter of whom and how many Clevelanders vote and how tired they are of small, but hurtful tax increases like the sales tax hike to 8 percent for the “med mart;” Jackson’s $8.75 a month garbage pickup fee; rate hikes at RTA; other fees on water and Muny Light; and gifts of tens of millions of tax dollars to sports owners ($20 million property tax free alone on the three sports facilities last year) plus the new gift-giving to Quicken Loans Dan Gilbert of tens of millions from the city’s admission taxes decades out.

Not to mention the anger expressed by gunfire within the community.

Candidate Zack Reed has peppered Twitter with slams against Jackson:

Violence against our babies & women continues in #CLE. While #MayorJackson goes to the safe/gated Gates Mills to raise money. #SafetyFirst.

How much dirt kicked in their faces are voters willing to take? That’s the big question.

By Roldo Bartimole…

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