Friday, November 29, 2013

Fudge expected to announce support for FitzGerald-Kearney today

Fudge expected to endorse FitzGerald for Governor today

There has been an inordinate amount of chatter around town about the dismal prospects of presumptive Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald. Much of it turns on rumors that he is hostile or insensitive to various unidentified black interests. Some go so far as to accuse him of being racist, claiming animus in his tenure as Lakewood mayor or his work to date as Cuyahoga County’s first-ever County Executive. And they top it off by citing the indifference of our area’s two most prominent black elected officials, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge and Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson.

We thought the evidence was scant for these claims even before it was announced that Fudge would join FitzGerald this morning for a “major” campaign event that is all but certain to be her endorsement of the FitzGerald-Kearney ticket. * And we would bet a reasonable sum that Jackson will endorse the ticket as well, though probably not before 2014 actually arrives.

Politics is fascinating because it often confounds linear models except when they count the ballots. The Republicans are favored in all of next year’s statewide races and they should be. They have the advantages of incumbency, will likely raise more money, and will be running against a ticket of newcomers to statewide elections. These are huge factors. But there are always wild cards. How the economy is performing is certainly key. Creeping unemployment is a potent threat to Gov. Kasich’s claim of Ohio’s miraculous economic recovery, which if it has occurred at all, has been neither wide, nor deep, nor lasting.

A second wild card is likely to be the status of the Affordable Health Care Act next fall. Will voters be totally turned off by the administration of this historic legislation? Or will they in sufficient numbers come to appreciate the beginnings of a new health care system that promises to be more rational and equitable than the old regime? Will Kasich be able to use his Medicaid expansion leadership to make headway with black voters? Or will they instead remember the draconian cuts to local schools and services occasioned by his state budget cuts, and his overreach in support of labor union strangulation?

And the biggest wild card of all may be Ohio’s antediluvian Tea Party. Will they support the GOP ticket, sit on their hands, or find a third alternative?


* The FitzGerald-Fudge event is scheduled to start at 10AM at the Memorial-Nottingham branch of the Cleveland Public Library, 17109 Lake Shore Blvd Cleveland, Ohio 44110.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bull rush of Browns, Frank Jackson on Stadium work deserves Holding Call by City Council

Editor’s Note: Less than two weeks ago the Cleveland Browns announced their $120 million modernization plans for municipally owned First Energy Stadium. The administration of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has worked out a deal under with the team under the stadium lease where Cleveland as landlord will pay $2 million annually for the next 15 years towards the renovations. City Council will be asked to fast track this legislation at its Nov. 25th meeting.

We present the following op-ed as a public service in the interest of stimulating healthy debate on this important public issue.


By Angela Shuckahosee

Bull rush of Browns, Frank Jackson deserves Holding Call by Council

Tomorrow, the Cleveland City Council will have the opportunity to dissect the proposal bestowed by the Jackson Administration and the Cleveland Browns. Instead of a hasty sign-off, Council should opt to extend the legislative process, which would allow more time for scrutiny and hopefully, the creation of options that would ideally result in both the contractual obligations being met and cost savings for the City of Cleveland taxpayers. 

What has ignited my outrage and disappointment surrounding this proposal-2 million dollars for 15 years of improvements to First Energy Stadium, is the very same patronizing attitude I witnessed from seeing Ken Lanci’s upside down bill boards during this past year’s Mayoral campaign.  I thought to myself, Lanci must really take Cleveland residents for fools.  Yet, just three days ago, I read that Mayor Jackson is saying there “will be no decrease in services,” essentially saying the city doesn’t need the money. 

My first thought went to conversations I’ve had with various people close to my organization, the Cleveland Tenants Organization, who have stated in the past that the cuts we have seen to our contracts should come at a price: the services we provide to Cleveland residents should be cut. We are a 38 year old, small but mighty county-wide organization who deals with mostly Cleveland residents with landlord/tenant issues.  We deal with various issues ranging from repair work, to healthy homes, to aging, to homeless prevention, just to name a few.  We are in the trenches dealing with those residents who need help the most, and like a good Clevelander, I defended the Administration (and the Council who approved the budget) when we have had our budget cut.  I maintained that we would find a way to keep our services intact for Cleveland residents, and we have, but at a cost to our staff and our existence as an organization.  And we are only one of dozens of such agencies that have the exact same story, who work every day with residents of Cleveland who are struggling. 

To hear Mayor Jackson contend that 2 million dollars isn’t significant is patronizing.  Every single Council member knows the struggle of many Cleveland residents.  Cleveland City Council should allow more time to study the URS engineering report on the necessary improvements that would meet the contractual obligation.  Additionally, find a cost savings of even a portion of that 2 million and reallocate it to the community development budget, specifically the social service agencies and the “citywide” agencies that have had to withstand years of cuts.

The Mayor wants this proposal passed as an “emergency measure”, an overused and often unnecessary tactic that goes unnoticed most of the time.  The reality is that the timing on this is deliberate and manipulative: two presumed “yes” votes that will not be on council when they resume session in January. 

This is not fair to council.  This isn’t fair to Mayor Jackson, either.  Browns CEO Joe Banner praises Mayor Jackson as “a fierce negotiator.” The Mayor and some council members I have talked with see this as “a good deal.”  The reality is that the Cleveland Browns have cornered the City and squeezed it to accept this “good deal.”  This is the best we can get, right?  Our hands are tied.  We have no other choice.

Wrong!  The research is out there: most if not all NFL teams have hoodwinked cities into these insane arrangements that can only be regulated on a Federal level.  I can’t help but wonder if, in the midst of this weekend’s gala sponsored by the Greater Cleveland Partnership for area public officials, they even thought that they had a say in this, as they patted each other on the backs for a job well-done.  So Cleveland City Council and the Mayor have inherited an unfair situation, but that’s why they were elected-to make tough decisions. 

What if the City let the Browns sue them for breach of contract?  Could this be the beginning of a bigger fight for all urban areas around the country to equalize these arrangements?  Can you imagine the Browns nickel and diming the taxpayers in Federal court over their need for a new scoreboard when people are trying to figure out how to pay for food?  Could it spur the much needed reform conversation that should take place?  How can the NFL have non-profit status?

Council should take the time to engage to consider these questions, not railroad this legislation as an emergency measure.

Angela Shuckahosee is executive director of The Cleveland Tenants Organization.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Youthful Blues and Ballads in Cleveland Heights

It occurred to me tonight that I have listened live to Freddy Cole more often than any other world-class performer. While the man gets older — he’s a reported 82 — listening to him never does. He’s wise, self-possessed, and knows how to tell a story through song. While his voice is no longer the pure instrument it once was, he knows how to compensate. And just when you close your eyes and hear echoes of his famous brother Nat King Cole — and not just when he’s crooning “Sweet Lorraine” or “Unforgettable” — he might captivate you up with a song that that reminds you “I’m Not My Brother, I’m Me”.

Freddy Cole says blame it on his youth
Freddy is a consummate storyteller. He paints pictures of life and love with few words, using intonation, innuendo, and impeccable timing. His piano style is of course accomplished, and features lovely block chords. The man can still summon a mean blues as he did tonight with an encore to the encore he appreciatively delivered to a devoted second show audience at Nighttown in Cleveland Heights.

Freddy Cole will be back for two shows tomorrow [Thursday Nov. 21], at 8 and 10PM. So will his tight Grammy-nominated quartet that features Randy Napoleon on guitar
Freddy Cole at Nighttown with guitarist Randy Napoleon.
and Curtis Boyd on drums. Tonight’s bassist was publicized as Elias Bailey but I thought I heard him introduced as Matt Matthews.

Before I wrote this I checked my past posts and was surprised to find that I have mentioned him only once before in The Real Deal. As he might say, “Blame It On My Youth”.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Running mate for FitzGerald; Julian Rogers resigning from County Council; Headen victory confirmed

FitzGerald selects Kearney as running mate; Rogers to resign County council seat; mayor-elect Headen’s victory confirmed in Richmond Hts.

Two big announcements today have given additional heft to what was going to be an important day politically on the local political scene in any event.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee to take on Gov. John Kasich next year, has announced that
State Senator Eric Kearney of Cincinnati
state Sen. Eric Kearney of Cincinnati will be his running mate. Kearney, who is the Senate Minority Leader, is term-limited and would be ineligible to run for another Senate term.

Today’s second announcement is the report that Cuyahoga County councilman Julian Rogers of Cleveland Heights will be resigning his seat at the end of January to comply with the terms of a new job he just started at Cleveland State University. Rogers is CSU’s new director of community partnerships, a job that will pay him nearly double his $45,000 part-time council salary.
County Councilman Julian Rogers of Cleveland Heights,
attending a meeting in East Cleveland earlier this year

Rogers won in a crowded field in 2010. He was unopposed in 2012 when he ran for a full four-year term. Under terms of the county charter, his successor will be chosen by Democratic central committee members from his district, which includes Under the county charter, precinct members from Rogers' District 10, will have 30 days to pick a replacement after his resignation becomes effective. County District 10 includes Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, University Heights, Bratenahl, Cleveland Ward 8, and part of Cleveland Ward 10.

The County Board of Elections met this afternoon at 3PM to certify the Nov. 5 election results, which may trigger either some automatic recounts by statute, or encourage some diehards to pay for a recount.

Miesha Headen, Richmond
Heights mayor-elect
The official election results will likely be posted on the elections board website later today. But we can with pleasure and assurance that the reign of Richmond Heights mayor Dan Ursu is at an end. His 55 vote Election Day deficit grew to a 71-vote margin once all qualified provisional and absentee ballots were counted. The final tally was 1021 for Ursu and 1092 for mayor-elect Miesha Headen. Her 2.5% margin of victory is well beyond the .5% margin requirement that would have triggered an automatic recount.

Headen will be sworn in December 1 and assume office the same day.