January 3rd, 2018

I look at the coverage of Mayor Frank Jackson’s inaugural of his fourth term and I see and hear the same old shit.

Not even a note of a change, direction or energy.

It’s sad sack Jackson mayor of a sad sack city that has lost its sense of civic pride, other than how many new beer concoctions are we able to report. Or the increased population of downtown as the rest of the city shrivels.

The start of his fourth and historic term as mayor could have signaled a time when he refreshed his staff by making changes, getting rid of those who have been there too long and finding fresh faces with new ideas.

But that’s not Frank Jackson. Steady as she goes. Who knows where.

And what’s seriously wrong is that the caretaker type of government gets no serious reaction from community leaders or the news media.

Jackson beat the two possible challengers rather easily—Jeff Johnson and Zach Reed. But the miserably low turnout in the primary and the general election gave the correct message: Who cares? Why bother.

That’s a sad place for Cleveland to be. Not too much unlike its football team. Winless wonders.

Cleveland Magazine had an interview with Jackson by Sheehan Hannon. He asked about the judgment of Jackson’s loyalty (I’d call it lethargy) as both a positive and negative attribute. Here is part of Jackson’s response. I believe it reveals not loyalty or the lack of it. It shows the failure so evident with Jackson of avoiding a necessary decision:

People bring up [executive assistant to the mayor for special projects Martin] Flask and [director of public safety Michael] McGrath a lot. Well, they say I m overly loyal to them because I didn t fire them [after the police shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams]. What they re saying is why didn t I throw them under the bus to save my political ass? Well, is that 99 percent loyal, but I got that 1 percent that allows me to throw you under the bus to save my political behind? Well, I don t understand that.

I had a pastor, of all things, come to my office one day. He says, This is the way you do it, Mayor. You do the same thing the mayor of Chicago did. You create a task force, and you ask the man to resign, and you give responsibility to the task force to look into this situation. And then you praise the man as he resigns and you give him a key to the city or something, give him an award. He said, And nobody will know, Mayor, that you did what you did. They ll say that you did the right thing.

You know what my response to the pastor was? I will. I will know that, to cover my political butt, I threw that man under the bus when he did nothing wrong. So tell me about this loyalty thing.

Jackson avoids DOING. And we have to face four more years of this dreadful drift.

The city’s murder rate is down three but no one has examined its many empty buildings so maybe it’s up. Certainly, there’s a Wild West feel to so much of the city. But who really cares?

Let’s have a parade—“Jackson: mayor forever.” As long as he doesn’t change.

Happy New Year, folks.

By Roldo Bartimole…

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