Clevelanders Are Mad as Hell
I am hopeful a new era of civic activism is upon us.
People here in Cleveland are totally fed up with our government squandering tax dollars with boondoggle projects as power broker attorneys, developers, consultants and contractors get fat on our money with rapacious and resident subsidized public and private development being forced on us with little or no public input. When you hear the words “public-private partnership,” protect your wallet.
Millions to subsidize billionaire owned sports franchises? A $550,000,000 new jail? More millions to spend on the failed MedMart? A tsunami of tax abated luxury apartments?
Did anyone ask for our thoughts on these obscenely irresponsible spending sprees?
All this, while Cleveland remains the poorest big city in the United States, our schools are underfunded and underperform, the streets are unsafe and lead in homes of poor people still poisons their children. We should ask about every tax payer-subsidized dollar spent by government here on every new piece of development: how exactly will this help poor people and the most vulnerable among us?
Public input really is not a meaningful part of the civic decision-making and economic / property development playbook here. When it happens at all, it is mostly lip service, giving people a heads up as to what is about to happen to them, their tax money or their neighborhood.
The development “system” in Cleveland may give the appearance of community input, but that’s all it is: a box to get checked on the glide path to building stupidly expensive new stuff because older stuff has been left to deteriorate and new stuff is more profitable, showy and gives civic “leaders” more marketing flimflam to crow about. The Cleveland power elite are exceptionally good at breathlessly hyping a city that has consitently lost population for decades.
Residents routinely end up feeling bullied by the one way, top down, citizen input absent property, community and economic development “system.” And residents who raise legitimate concerns are fed up with being dismissed and called NIMBY’S or being vilified as xenophobic and anti-progress and anti-development, simply because they want their tax money used wisely and want to have a say-so on matters that affect their quality of life.
We push back because we love our city. We don’t care for the way it has been managed to myopically cater to the posh, the privileged and the powerful, ignoring regular people and especially the poor. Take a ride around our tony suburbs, and then take a ride around some of our neglected inner city neighborhoods and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.
Profits before people. It’s the way we do things here, and the way development decisions are made and tax revenues used makes those people not feeding at the overflowing, citizen-funded money trough mad as hell, and I sense they’re just not going to take it any more.
So get involved. Speak up, act out, get mad. It’s time.
(Original art by J.E. Hargate)