October 8th, 2017

Mayoral challenger Zach Reed missed an opportunity to really distinguish himself from Mayor Frank Jackson and his leadership of the last decade.

The issue: Neighborhoods vs. Downtown.

It apparently jolts some energy among citizens. It was evident in the collection of more than 20,000 signatures to call a halt to the city/county gift-giving to the Cav’s billionaire owner Danny Gilbert.

That showed a negative response to the mayor’s free-wheeling give-away practices.

I can see why some 87 percent of Cleveland voters didn’t bother to vote for a contingent of candidates in the recent September primary.

Why bother, seemed appropriate.

What the low vote figure showed, however, was why so many citizens didn’t find purpose to making the effort to vote.

The Plain Dealer, which has low balled this election with sparse coverage, gave Reed the rare chance with a question that deserved a strong answer.

It questions a specific project: The ridiculously named nuCLEus 54-story mixed development near the heavily-subsidized Quicken Arena.

The developers are seeking a 30 year (30 years!) of tax gifting from the city with most of the dollars coming from the Cleveland schools.

Other public incentives may be involved.

Instead of grabbing the opportunity to show himself sharply opposite of Jackson, Reed took the similar stance. Instead of rejecting this massive and bloated give-away, Reed shuffled off the decision to the school board. The same Cleveland school board, controlled by Mayor Jackson. He names the board members and therefore they belong to him.

Jackson, of course, dodged the issue too.

He laughably said he would wait for the school board to make its decision before he made his on the massive subsidy, largest ever in my opinion – and one not yet totally revealed.

I asked the city in July to see the entire file on this project. I got a number for my request and not a word since! They obviously don’t want anyone viewing the entire deal and the goodies involved.

But more troublesome is the message that Reed sends to the Greater Cleveland Partnership and their ilk, corporate masters of public business with his weak response.

Reed is telling them, whether he realizes it or not, that he will be as pliable as Jackson has been. Jackson has bent over backward to serve the business community’s agenda 100 percent.

The sickness of subsidies has been revealed as most absurd in the attempt of cities to bribe Amazon to bring its second headquarters to their city. Amazon should be ashamed of itself for perpetrating this kind of race to the bottom among American cities.

But this plague of playing off cities against each other is a major part of the problem. It’s not new. However, it is expanding to a national problem.

Reed should have seized upon the issue and battered Jackson with his weak policy of dumping city revenues into the hands of big business and developers.

We have what you can consider a corruption of the political system by corporate interests with top official’s partnership.

Plain Dealer columnist Mark Naymik took Reed to task on his pledge to add 400 new police offer. He chastised Reed. questioning how he would pay for new recruits.

But both Naymik and Reed ignore the police service offered the sports teams and others. I asked for figures the last two years and found that a year ago the three sports teams got 34,000 hour of police protection, some on over-time, and last year with the Republican National Committee more than 100,000 hours (2,500 weeks of work) were provided the convention and three sports venues.

How many other private entities get Cleveland police service could make the hiring of new officers possible if they were charged full price for the services.

And I can bet that there are special events that get the kind of police service neighborhoods don’t but should.

It’s a matter of priorities.

And the priorities appear to go to those who have pull and power, not where the people, especially children, reside.

That’s why Reed missed the opportunity to tell voters that there’s a new policy ready for Cleveland: A policy to put its residents first, not out of town visitors and businesses which should provide their own protection.

It may not be too late for him to deliver a sharp rebuke to the mayor and PD on priorities and how they are shared in Cleveland.

By Roldo Bartimole…

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