Favorite

Building Blockheads 

For all of Cleveland's political squabbles, it's no wonder nothing gets built around here.

Greater Cleveland is economically falling behind the rest of the country; so say a proliferation of news stories and editorials. While the reasons cited are many -- we're undereducated, we're uninventive; hell, we're three million morons -- one recurring motif stands out: Our politics aren't conducive to a new age of commerce. Witness the cage match/sitcom known as Cleveland City Hall.

The logic goes like this: Say you're a CEO named Biff, and you're looking to site an exciting new biotechnology venture. Do you: A) build it in Cleveland, where the mayor and council will make blood sport of your plan, allowing you to begin construction in 2009? or B) build in a southern city, where you can start tomorrow -- with a handsome welfare package -- by simply buying the mayor a pint of whiskey and a $20 hooker?

The wise captain of industry chooses B. And that worries people like state Representative James Trakas (R-Independence). In his eyes, Cleveland isn't just uncompetitive; it's driving away business. "Talk to any developer in town," he says, "and they'll tell you they'll build in Columbus in a heartbeat instead of Cleveland."

Though our King George tax system and pesky unions also scare businesspeople, Trakas argues that City Hall may be the largest impediment. He points to the Western Reserve Historical Society, which waited years to get its auto museum site rezoned. Then there's the countless calls from politicians to new businesses to suggest a certain union, a certain bank to do business with. All of which leads to questions like the one Trakas recently got from a "top-five developer," who asked, "When was the last time you saw a crane in downtown Cleveland at a non-public-sector project?" Trakas didn't have an answer.

Jimmy Dimora understands these concerns. He's the Democratic county chairman; every elected office in Cleveland is held by his party. But being party chairman is like being a substitute teacher. "I try to make suggestions to them on occasion," says Dimora, "but they don't have to take it." It's a polite way of saying, "Jesus, I can't get them to shut up."

Yet Dimora believes that a brighter day is near. He says Democratic mayoral contenders understand that, if Cleveland is to prosper, Mayor Mike White's scorched-earth policies must be no more. "I think all of them are aware of it."

Latest in Scene and Heard

More by From staff reports

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

Staff Pick Events

  • Author Series with Chris Formant @ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

    • Thu., Dec. 8
  • History on Tap @ Cleveland History Center

    • Second Thursday of every month
  • Cavaliers vs. Miami Heat @ Quicken Loans Arena

    • Fri., Dec. 9

© 2016 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation