Saturday, November 05, 2016

​​Cleveland Champions

I'm a hopeless homer at heart. I root for the bumbling Browns. I celebrate the Champion Cavs. And even as I indict the Indians for their loathsome logo, I nonetheless cheered them on this past season, as they fought fiercely against the odds, overcoming virtually every obstacle, becoming a team that combined organizational front office smarts, brilliant leadership in the clubhouse and on the field, and undeniable spunk and resilience on the diamond, to become much greater than the sum of its parts. Collectively the organization gave the community a season to remember and treasure, a glorious playoff run culminating in a World Series that was truly a Fall Classic for the ages, full of epic moments, the last hurrah for some, the grand debut for others; it had masterful managerial moves, spectacular plays, human errors, and abundant reminders that the game is never over until the last man is out.

The Indians didn't blow a 3-1 Series lead anymore than Golden State blew a similar momentary advantage in the NBA finals. Comebacks are more than theoretical possibilities, especially where world-class performers are committed to making them happen.

Unlike some of my more somber friends, I don't see sports as simply a diversion, an entertainment set apart from real life. They are an indelible part of our culture. I'll leave it to scholars to evaluate the social and cultural aspects of professional and major college sports in contemporary America. However, I did once ask former Cleveland mayor Michael R. White, in a sizable but semi-formal ingathering of black folk, if he wanted his political legacy to be the lavishing of nearly one billion dollars on professional sports palaces. The look he gave me in reply was more memorable than his verbal response, and I did not find myself invited to any such assemblies as he may have continued to host.

Professional sports is of course, a massive industry, albeit one that is heavily subsidized by the public, generally via some sort of Faustian bargain. In Cuyahoga County, the early 1990s Gateway project — the clearing of public lands for the building of new professional homes for major league baseball and professional basketball teams run by wealthy owners — was financed by a regressive sales tax on tobacco and alcohol, a so-called “sin tax” that continues today.

There was a time when, in recognition of the economic realities, I referred to Cleveland teams as the Modells, the Jacobs, and the Gunds. The Jacobs were wealthy developers. The Gunds were old money, part of the fabric of Cleveland society and philanthropy. Art Modell was a New York huckster who used borrowed money to buy his way into that society on the cheap, lucking into a championship on the back of a premier organization whose culture of excellence he neither respected or knew how to preserve. When his luck ran out here after decades of mismanagement, he summarily pulled up stakes and took his marbles to Baltimore, precipitating an emotional civic crisis at the loss of “our” beloved Browns.

In some communities, ownership of pro teams is held to be a sacred trust of sorts. In Cleveland, it’s often been more of a one-way deal. But for the huge public subsidies that underwrote the Cleveland sports temples originally christened as Jacobs Field [aka “the Jake”] and Gund Arena but which are now known as Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena [“the Q”], it is likely there would be no major league baseball in northeast Ohio and the Cavs, if around, would still be playing in a cornfield.

My question for the mayor was posed in the aftermath of the Browns’ bolt for Baltimore, and the mayor's attitude evoked comparison to President Johnson's declaration that he would not be the one to "lose" Vietnam. I was really asking three questions: whether Cleveland should pursue a new team, whether a new Stadium, used optimistically no more than 15 days a year, should be built on invaluable downtown lakefront property, and was an expensive, seldom-used playground a wise expenditure of public funds.

I recall that now as we celebrate what has been by any measure a magnificent year for Cleveland sports teams. On court and on field successes remind us of the entertainment and psychic value we get from hometown sports teams. Recurring school levies and low standardized scores for both systems and students remind us of the price we pay for those good vibes and entertainments, and the disproportionate way in which that price is extracted and paid.
Kyrie Irving
Cleveland Cavaliers

Francisco Lindor
Cleveland Indians

Chris Andersen, Cleveland Cavaliers

J. R. Smith
Cleveland Cavaliers
Terrelle Pryor
Cleveland Browns
It can perhaps be said, looking down the road that Kyrie Irving, Francisco Lindor, and Terrell Pryor epitomize the promise and the personality of success in Cleveland's sports future. Each of these young men is supremely gifted, charismatic, hardworking and possessed of sublime athletic confidence. Physically, each of them resembles, along with such hard-working colleagues as the super-tatted and shirtless J. R. Smith, the multi-hued Chris "Birdman" Anderson, and the extremely social Joe Haden, larger than life versions of what many of our urban public school students will look like in early adulthood.

In the case of the professional ballplayers, what we know is that they were supported and encouraged along their journeys to professional success. In many instances, they received favored treatment, were perhaps even indulged or pampered, when they made a misstep; rules may even have been bent to ensure continued progress.

Can we begin to envision how many champions we would have in our community if we invested in our young scholars the way we invest in our athletes?

• • •



Friday, November 04, 2016

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections issues statement re notices being sent by Ohio Democratic Party [ UPDATED]

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections issued the following statement this morning concerning postcards sent out by the Ohio Democratic Party:


The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections wants voters to be aware that large white postcards sent by the Ohio Democratic Party that claim the recipient has not returned their ballot, in many cases is false.  

The Board continues to get hundreds of phone calls from voters who are concerned that their ballot has not arrived at the Board.

Voters need to know that if they have received one of these postcards they can call the Board at 216-443-VOTE (8683) to confirm their ballot has arrived at the Board.  Voters may also visit the Board’s website and use the ballot tracker tool to confirm their ballot has been received.

It would appear that the postcards may be going out before the records get updated. In any event, checking with the Board is the best way to make sure your ballot gets counted.

A few hours after the above post, we received an email from Ohio Democratic Party spokesperson Kirstin Alvanitakis that essentially confirmed our supposition that many absentee ballots were returned after the Party mailed out its postcard reminders. Alvanitakis attributed this to “a delay in mail service”, and said the party’s mailing gives voters information about how to confirm their absentee ballots have been accepted by election officials.

Alvanitakis pointed out that in 2008, before he was elected Governor, John Kasich tried to vote absentee but “his ballot was never received or counted.” She said if he “had received our postcard, it might have reminded him to contact the Delaware County Board of Elections in time to rectify the situation and allow him to cast a provisional ballot.”

Alvanitakis’ email reply ended with the sensible suggestion that “absentee voters should always track their ballots online or reach out to their county board of elections to confirm their ballots were received and accepted."

Clearly, if you vote by mail, you should follow the Board's advice and call 216.443.VOTE [8683] or visit and check the status of your ballot.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

T​he GOP is Trapped with Trump: But America Must Not Be — By Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr.

Op - Ed

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr.
For 52 years the GOP has been moving toward a Trump-like candidate. In 1964, the Goldwater movement captured the Republican Party’s nomination for president. Goldwater voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. Goldwater was defeated by President Lyndon Johnson. It was a landslide victory for President Johnson. However, the Goldwater forces crushed the moderate wing of the Republican Party. Rockefeller, Javits, Case, Scranton, Margaret Chase Smith and others were marginalized.

Richard Nixon made a comeback in 1968 because the war in Vietnam had critically divided the Democratic Party and the nation. The Civil Rights movement caused the Southern Democrats to leave the Democratic Party and Nixon embraced them — including the George Wallace Democrats. The Southern democrats really began their exodus in 1948, but did not make a full-scale exodus until the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Bill.

President Carter won in 1976 but the religious and political right wind went all out for Reagan in 1980. Reagan gave a welcome carpet and comfort to the South with a states’ rights appeal. The GOP for the first time in its history formed an almost solid coalition with the Old Confederacy.

However, a new generation of voters appeared on the scene of the political horizon and embraced the leadership of young President Obama. This new coalition of voters elected President Obama twice. The Republican Party did not develop platforms of creative ideas but instead built a House of Hate. For eight years they have almost congratulated themselves on who could be the most extreme haters of President Obama. These insidious, almost unrestrained attacks against the President and his family not only build a partisan House of Hate but made total room for a partisan monster. My son, Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, III says the underlying message of Frankenstein is that he eventually turns against those who created him.

When Trump was leading the “birther initiative”, the GOP was essentially silent. Years ago, Dr. King said: “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” We can also say there are times when silence is sinful. When Frankenstein was trying to destroy President Obama, too many “good” people were silent. Now a monstrous spirit is choking the GOP and threatening the nation. This House of Hate has become a national cancer, a smoldering volcano with international implications. The ugly fact is, not only has a segment of the GOP been hating President Obama for eight years; they have been hating Mrs. Clinton for almost 25 years. This House of Hate has produced a monster that is now threatening its creators.

There is another complication. The monster is not alone. There is an army of followers prepared to do almost anything their new leader tells them to do. Not just against Mrs. Clinton and other Democrats but against Republicans as well.

There is still another danger. It is the suicidal and/or homicidal path that says: “Ignore the top of the ticket and vote the down ticket. Do not make a decision at the top of the ticket.” This is like saying: “Let’s not have a leader or president for the next four years.” Would you recommend this for your company, industry, corporation, business, family, university, city or state for four years? I heard and saw this in 1968 and we got Richard Nixon, Watergate and a national disaster.

Anyone who thinks that Donald Trump is equally as qualified as Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States of America and world leader does not know the difference between sunrise and sunset. Mrs. Clinton on her worst days is 100 times better than Mr. Trump on his best day. She is better in qualification, preparation, participation and dedication in national and global affairs.

For the sake of Democrats and Republicans … For the sake of generations not yet born … For the sake of Mr. Trump himself and the entire nation, he should not be our next president.

After November 8, there will be an urgent need for a dynamic movement of love, justice, and reconciliation … A movement to end decades of hate and injustice. It will not be a new movement but it will need new prophets, apostles, disciples and women and men of faith, courage, love and commitment. This is our task. No President can lead alone.

We have yet to overcome over 400 years of slave-trading, slavery, discrimination, lynchings, assassinations, racism, hate, sexism, bigotry, poverty, homophobia, inequality, fear, oppression, violence and despair. Every president needs pastors, prophets, teachers and activists to do things that presidents can never do alone, i.e., build “a more perfect union.”

The Trump Trap is a threat to everyone including the GOP and the whole nation.

The Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. is Pastor Emeritus of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland Ohio and Founder of the Love, Justice and Reconciliation Ministry.

• • • # • • •