I urge City Council to maintain its focus on Community Benefits legislation that benefits all Clevelanders in the face of intense lobbying pressure, hysterical scare tactics and baseless predictions of economic gloom and doom from the business and property development communities, if all Clevelanders should actually come to benefit from property and economic development in this city. The business big wigs’ influence is considerable, given their significant political contributions and philanthropic donations to gargantuan non-profit institutions that benefit mightily from incessant growth and development.
But always we must ask these questions of their position: who benefits, and who pays?
This much we know: the cosmic lie of “trickle-down” economic development decisions the last 50 years here is one very good reason why Cleveland remains one of the poorest big cities in the United States, with underfunded public schools, a devastated urban tree canopy, high rates of urban infant mortality, deep racial segregation and discrimination, crumbling infrastructure in certain neglected neighborhoods, a lack of living wage jobs, many dangerous streets, declining population and an affordable housing crisis.
If the business and property development community’s approach to economic development had worked, we would have made much more progress on these intractable problems in the last 50 years. They have held considerable sway and dictated their policies and preferences to the Mayor’s office and City Council for decades, and look at the results: profits before people every single time.
Why would we listen to their incessant whining now and expect different outcomes? The people that live in Cleveland can no longer allow private interests to continue to gorge themselves at the overflowing trough of public money while poor people remain poor and the middle class in this city can’t catch an even break.
City Council needs to stand its ground on Community Benefits legislation and promote economic and property development that benefits ALL Clevelanders, not just the region’s posh, powerful and privileged.