Why Cleveland Rising Was Doomed to Fail 

ILLUSTRATION BY STEVE MILUCH
  • Illustration by Steve Miluch

The night before the Cleveland Rising summit began, City Club of Cleveland CEO Dan Moulthrop texted me an image of a quotation scribbled in black gel ink. "I think there's nothing but good intentions here," it read.

The quote was attributed to me.

I recalled instantly when I'd said it, at the conclusion of a group interview back in August with four of the summit's 13 co-chairs: Moulthrop himself, KeyBank's Don Graves, KeyBank's Justin Bibb, and Kristen Morris, lately of the Cleveland Clinic. After some routine Q&A-ing, I'd expressed to them my misgivings about the summit and its messaging to that point, in particular the exasperating rhetoric about Cleveland being the first city in the country to make equity a priority. They said they appreciated the feedback and affirmed their good intentions, which I hastened to acknowledge.

I interpreted Moulthrop's message, then, as a friendly reminder, a plea or threat to remember these sentiments — which he had memorialized — as I participated in, and eventually wrote about, Cleveland Rising.

I did not respond, though I might have, with a plea or threat of my own: For Moulthrop to remember that with which the road to hell is paved.

* * *

Lest there be any confusion, Cleveland Rising was a corporate relations seminar reconfigured as a regional planning summit at eye-popping expense. The fee for the facilitators from Case Western Reserve University alone was roughly $300,000, half of the total money raised. It was staged over two-and-a-half days at Cleveland's Public Auditorium downtown and included, among other things, skits, arts and crafts projects, induced dream states and untold urns of perfectly adequate coffee.

According to the literature, Cleveland Rising's animating question was how to "accelerate economic growth, equity and opportunity." According to the organizers, its twofold mission was to establish a shared vision for the region's future and to create trust.

"Your voice matters and your participation matters," Morris and Graves wrote in an Aug. 4 Cleveland.com guest column announcing the summit. "Because more than plans or roadmaps, this summit is about creating trust."

Trust was not, incidentally, included among the summit's core values, which had been whittled down at a controversial invite-only pre-summit planning summit back in December. Those were Accountability, Transparency, Courage, Love and Equity. Echoing Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, Dan Moulthrop welcomed nearly 600 participants on the summit's opening morning and proclaimed that the greatest of these was love.

Day 1 was largely spent "Discovering" and "Dreaming," processes which involved identifying our favorite things about Cleveland and envisioning (and then acting out) a future we'd be proud of. Day 2 was all about "Designing" that future. In self-selected small groups, we created prototypes for solutions in specific policy areas. On Day 3, we created "Deployment" strategies to set in motion all the bold new initiatives we'd cooked up.

While the total attendance was a far cry from the 1,000 that organizers had been shooting for, Public Auditorium was nevertheless resplendent with a lordly array of civic leaders, active and retired nonprofit folks, and at least enough racial diversity for the photo ops. The number of attendees precipitously dropped throughout the first day, for reasons I'll touch on, but from my observations the folks who stayed were by and large actively engaged in the process and committed to the idea of making Cleveland a better place, if sometimes skeptical of the summit itself.

I found the small-group work valuable in ways not expressly designed by the facilitators. Simply put: It was nice to hang out with strangers from various backgrounds and learn about them. The most illuminating conversations occurred outside the structured discussion modules. On Day 1, for example, I learned from Shaker residents about the ongoing travails of the school district, and shared reactions to a recent Washington Post article on the subject. On Day 2, I enjoyed gossip from Lakewood residents about political divisions there. I regaled curious tablemates with stories from the trenches of the Q Deal and got the inside scoop on issues of which I'd been totally unaware at the Cuyahoga County Board of Disabilities, the Cleveland Foundation, Case Western Reserve, MetroHealth and other strife-torn local institutions.

In short, I got to know people, and got to learn about the issues that were most important to them. Pleasant, in-depth conversations of this sort tend to sprout organically when you're seated around a table for eight straight hours. But engaging in conversations can be a vital, even radical, act in a society as atomized as ours. Facilitating them was the summit's greatest triumph.

But that was not, alas, the summit's goal. In fact, in an early speech by Dealer Tire's Cindy Stull, attendees were told that the summit must be more than great conversation if it were to succeed.

"If this is only great conversation," she said, "can we really propel collective action?"

Notwithstanding the revelation that collective action, in Dealer Tire's case, referred to the creation of additional summits using the Appreciative Inquiry model, comments like Stull's scanned to me like preemptive refutations of local critiques. Many of the organizers have either publicly or privately recognized the deficiencies of both the region's current leaders and recent economic development strategies. They have been anxious for Cleveland Rising to be portrayed as a departure. Scene has certainly criticized the region's congenital summit impulse, and has lamented how summits return, almost as a rule, to Square 1. This makes getting anything done a challenge.

In attempting to transcend that tradition, facilitators stressed repeatedly that at Cleveland Rising, we weren't just talking. We were "rolling up our sleeves" and "getting to work." There was no time for talking anyhow, what with all the Discovering, Dreaming, Designing and Deploying to be done.

We were constantly told how impressed with ourselves we ought to be, a reinforcement tactic which reminded me of how nodding your head up and down gives you inflated confidence in your own thoughts. David Cooperrider, one of Appreciative Inquiry's founders at Case, opened and closed the summit by telling us how bowled over he was by the "moral energy" in the room. Michele Hunt, another strategic advisor from Case's Fowler Center, delivered a speech on the final day which included the following: "You aren't aware of just how special you are. What you have put in motion has never been done in history ... in the history of the United States."

Despite these delusions, summit sentiments by the end of the third day were overwhelmingly positive. Attendees gushed in final comments about all the transparency, accountability, courage and love on display. With few exceptions, folks seemed energized to take the #clerisingchallenge and continue trying to propel change via social media. A few of the 21 working groups, whose members were posing for selfies and bidding each other fond farewells, produced actionable ideas that may lead to further exploration. That's all terrific.

But a shared vision of the region's future was neither established nor designed.

While there were certainly positive takeaways, courageous ideas, and a pervasive, if temporary, bubbly energy, Cleveland Rising failed on its own terms. To the extent it goes down in history, it will do so only as the latest in a series of lively regional conversations with limited, if any, results. In other words: It was exactly what its leaders swore it would be more than. I submit that this failure stemmed from flaws inherent in the summit's design, execution and promotion.

In terms of design, the marquee flaw was the inappropriateness (to say nothing of the insufferability) of the Appreciative Inquiry model. With respect to execution, the big flaw concerned the working groups and a lack of relevant subject-matter expertise. On the promotion front, the flaw is endemic to Cleveland leaders and the stories they tell themselves about themselves. In this case, the language around the summit was so thoroughly muddled that its flagship values — things like equity, accountability and trust — were neutered of meaning, reduced to buzzwords.

THE AI HORROR SHOW

To clarify once again, Appreciative Inquiry is a corporate relations or management tool designed for executives struggling with disengaged or inefficient underlings. It's a model with local roots, birthed in Cleveland in the 1980s when CWRU's David Cooperrider and Ron Fry "discovered the power of positive inquiry for igniting innovation and whole-system change." It's what's called an "asset-based" model for organizational thinking, and its whole point is bringing together large numbers of people to talk about their strengths and dream big dreams and so forth. Cooperrider, Fry and their team are housed at Case's Fowler Center, the dazzlingly neoliberal full name of which is: "The Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit."

Business being an "agent of world benefit" is the shit CEOs say, and Appreciative Inquiry is the type of feel-good tool they promote because it insulates them from blame, seeing as there's no finger-pointing or complaining allowed. Insisting that those who have been ravaged by decades of inequitable policies attend a two-and-a-half-day summit which forbids them from being critical of their oppressors is a neat trick.

Putting that fundamental qualm to the side, the worst thing about Appreciative Inquiry for those enduring it in real time is that its alums and facilitators love nothing more than talking about Appreciative Inquiry. Assembling 600 people in a single room was an undeniable feat, and summit organizers really did work hard and pay a lot to promote Cleveland Rising and encourage participation from a wide array of attendees. But subjecting them, right off the bat, to a presentation about AI's miraculous history, replete with the absolute lamest inspirational quotes known to man, was torture-chamber stuff.

(There's no space to fully dress down the usage of these quotes, but here's just one striking example: The first quote in our booklet under the "Dream Phase" tab was from none other than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "I have a dream that one day ..." it read. That's right: "I have a dream that one day DOT DOT DOT!" Without belaboring the point, it's helpful to understand AI and its priorities in this context. The famous content of King's dream, which happened to be germane to the summit and the idea of making equity a priority, meant jacksquat compared to the corporate value of dreaming unto itself.)

If Cooperrider's introductory monologue wasn't bad enough, attendees were then force-fed speeches from executives about the merits of AI in their workplaces. You had to see this shit to believe it! Texts and DMs were flying around the room by this point as attendees rapidly sought confirmation that this was all as boring and irrelevant as it seemed.

It emerged during this interlude that the Fowler Center facilitators insisted on presenting this material over the objections of the summit organizing team. And I was never prouder of the organizing team. Because it sure would have been uncomfortable to imagine organizers spending so much time and energy begging people from all walks of life to attend, only to punish them with a morning of inscrutable corporate powerpoints about "accelerating growth for customers and suppliers" and "tri-sector impact journeys."

It will surprise no one that folks dashed to the exits like jackalopes. I myself was trying to wrap my head around the idea of being a working-class person who'd managed to take time off from my low-wage job to participate. In solidarity with them, I found these early sessions not only torturous, but deeply insulting. This material was not for them. Nor, for that matter, was it for anyone but a select few. What we were being bombarded with were advertisements. These were presentations by guests of the facilitators, hawking product on the Fowler Center's behalf, knowing full well that the room was smattered with local execs who might be inclined to purchase an AI summit to enliven their own disgruntled employees.

Yuck.

Save that shit for Tim Cook at Apple, who used the AI model, we were told, when he wanted to improve conditions at his sweatshops overseas. ("Asset-based" organizational thinking becomes especially monstrous when considered in that case. Imagine assembling 600 factory workers in Shenzhen and asking them about Apple's strengths. The thought should torment your soul.) Save that shit for the United States Navy, who used AI back in 2001 to create "bold and enlightened leaders at every level of the Navy family." Save that shit for "His Holiness the Dalai Lama," whose use of AI I never did discern, but who was name-dropped more times (4) during this brain-numbing sunrise session than any person, place, or thing in Northeast Ohio.

The great tragedy was that people were eager to engage at the outset. Most everyone had consumed dozens of op-eds in the local press about how amazing and unprecedented Cleveland Rising was going to be, and people were pumped to get underway. But by the time we finally managed to start talking to one another — the first assigned discussion module was about our individual high points as leaders — the energy, to say nothing of the crowd size, had been depleted.

Lastly, the AI model is designed for large organizations and is optimized for "command-and-control" firms, top-down outfits like the Navy or Apple. Corporations are private tyrannies, of course, ruled by a CEO and a board of directors. But in terms of AI, they have the flexibility and authority to greenlight whatever aspirational ideas their employees dream up. A region is no such organization. There is no centralized authority to whom one can present these aspirations for approval. Who implements the new curriculum of racial healing and Accurate American History in our schools, for example? Who ratifies the plan to get rid of Burke Lakefront Airport and convert the acreage to publicly accessible greenspace? Who pays for the multi-billion-dollar expanded transit network? Who lobbies for the minimum-wage increase?

According to summit organizers, the answer is all of us. But if everyone is a leader, as they kept repeating, and if everyone is therefore accountable, no one is.

A LACK OF EXPERTS

Mayor Frank Jackson did not attend Cleveland Rising. This was a perceived slight noted by many in the room and which Cleveland.com has now seen fit to "Jeer." I actually don't begrudge Jackson his absence. It became very clear early on that the mayor's presence, beyond maybe an opening benediction, wouldn't have mattered much. If anything, it was liable to be a distraction.

As a point of contrast, I believe it was contemptuous when Jackson refused to show up to any election-season forums in 2017 to defend his record and present ideas to voters. It also blows my mind that for many months, as Scene reported earlier this year, Jackson was only selectively showing up to work and nobody seemed to mind. But not showing up to a privately orchestrated planning summit, when he's reportedly hatching something similar with many of the same leaders? This to me is more of an ego trip on the part of the summit co-chairs. They wanted Jackson to bless their efforts with his presence. And Jackson, adhering to his personal code of peevish obstinacy, said "nah."

Much more valuable to the summit's execution would have been subject-matter experts in the specific areas which we, via aspirational thinking, endeavored to revolutionize.

The bulk of the conference was spent on this work. On the morning of Day 2, facilitators had harnessed comments from the first day and compressed them into 21 "How might we ..." questions for which we were meant to brainstorm solutions. Some of these were straightforward: "How might we make Cleveland the healthiest city in the United States?" Others approached a runic impenetrability: "How might we build a tri-sectoral win-win competency into the heart of Cleveland's culture and set in motion the tri-sectoral tools that will map and leverage our resources in more data-driven, collaborative and effective ways?"

Nothing called the overall value of the summit into question more than when groups presented their aspirational initiatives on the third day and more than half included references to tri-sectoral goals. "Tri-sector" just means the public, nonprofit and for-profit sectors. And a good "win-win" tri-sectoral tool is something that creates value for all three. But attendees' devotion to this ideal, roughly 48 hours after first learning the word, was astonishing to behold, not least because these sudden acolytes didn't seem to remember or care that they were in fact promoting a trademarked platform ("Win-Win"), created by one of the first morning's presenters, designed to help entrepreneurs profit off of the repurposing of existing public assets and data. The Win-Win platform looks to have spawned some socially beneficial startups, but the Cleveland tri-sectoral boner was nevertheless infuriating for two reasons: 1) The initial usage and meaning of the word was instantly bastardized. It can now be understood as a sexy new synonym for "public-private partnership." 2) The zealotry of its adoption crowded out what should have been more central questions. In small groups, people were no doubt asking things like, "How will this solution embody a tri-sector approach?" instead of things like: "How will this solution specifically help poor people?"

My small group was tasked with answering a question about becoming a "Green City on a Blue Lake." After a morning of brainstorming, we elected to split into two subgroups, with one focusing on water infrastructure, and the other (mine) focusing on green infrastructure. Through a process that there's no time to describe in detail, we narrowed our focus to "Green Manufacturing." And from there, we narrowed it further still to "the installation of solar panels." Because this was a summit ostensibly devoted to equity, our final prototype was a green energy collaborative for "the installation of solar panels in under resourced neighborhoods."

It emerged throughout the afternoon, however, that we had no idea what the fuck we were talking about.

We had among us very smart, engaged people, all of whom were interested in things like "the environment." But solar engineers and manufacturing executives we were not. And so the conversation was often stilted and confused. By the third day, when we were supposed to be moving into specific objectives for the next six months, we were still trying to nail down what exactly our goal was. What was the educational component? How much was this all going to cost? Would the collaborative be its own nonprofit?

The second afternoon was almost laughably unproductive because we were tasked with "prototyping" our initiative by creating a "visual model," an utter waste of time. The whole prototyping process, as presented, was borrowed from the worlds of engineering and architecture. It should go without saying that designing a social program is not exactly like designing a new computer product or skyscraper. One way it's similar, though, is that designing any of these things without knowledgeable personnel on hand makes the prototype pure fantasy. It literally does not rise above the level of arts and crafts. I experienced a disorienting moment as I scanned the auditorium on Day 2 and saw suited civic leaders clutching magic markers, blowing up balloons, applying multi-colored stickers to poster boards and twisting pipe cleaners into headwear, all to build "prototypes" for things like universal public wi-fi, a minority-owned business hub and — god helps us all — a Global Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It was kindergarten.

Earlier in the day, facilitator Michele Hunt, in laying out our brainstorming guidelines, said that there would be no "Yeah, buts ..." allowed as we dreamed up solutions. This directive was meant to encourage participation and assure us that every idea was valid. But with all due respect, every idea was not valid. Some ideas for local solutions were duplicative or heinously impractical. There were enough folks in my group with their heads screwed on to steer us away from the absurd. But I couldn't help imagining spending two days prototyping an initiative that replicated a Cuyahoga County program because someone thought they weren't allowed to say, "Yeah, but that already exists."

By the third day, our group decided that one of the most important strategic objectives would be to talk to experts in the field to get a handle on what's going on with solar panels. What programs are already out there? How would our aspirational green energy collaborative conceivably fit in? Does it duplicate or complicate actual work being done? These are crucial questions. The answers frankly seem like prerequisites to having a meaningful discussion about the topic, let alone designing an initiative. And it is very weird to me that our group, composed mostly of unrelated nonprofit professionals, is now theoretically supposed to deploy our design.

Cleveland.com editor Chris Quinn was one of Cleveland Rising's co-chairs. Reflecting on the experience in the This Week in the CLE podcast, he said he thought it might have been more effective to create a specific and measurable goal for the summit — increasing jobs in the region, for example — which might have resulted in a more coherent course of action.

"These were marvelous ideas," he said, "but they don't really have concrete goals." He concluded that while there may not be clear or realistic paths forward for many of the initiatives, Cleveland Rising had nevertheless produced "fertile ground for big ideas to grow."

Just like every summit, in other words.

Reporter Pete Krouse said on the podcast that he bumped into Team NEO CEO Bill Koehler afterwards, and that Koehler told him if any of these ideas "germinate to the point where they demonstrate impact on the community, and there's performance metrics, that you can show that this is working, they're very open to getting behind it. That's state money, and that's important."

Is it, though? Could an endorsement be any less committal? Could funds be any less available?

Koehler's comments to Krouse, assuming they were conveyed accurately, may sound encouraging. But rest assured that they are not. What he's saying is that Team NEO won't even bat an eyelash at any of these initiatives until the small groups find ways to fully fund and implement their ideas on their own, and are successful enough in doing so that they demonstrate community impact and generate "performance metrics" to prove that they're working — "working" from the perspective of a traditional economic development organization, mind you, which is concerned foremost with business growth, not equity or social justice. Only then would Team NEO be "very open to" getting behind them.

Fertile ground indeed.

THE DEBASEMENT OF LANGUAGE

Long before the summit began, one of its most irksome elements was the avalanche of self-congratulation by its organizers and their peers.

"In conversation after conversation this year," Chris Quinn wrote in a column on the subject, "I have heard local leaders say this sentence or something similar: Cleveland is going to be the first city in America to write an economic development plan that includes everyone."

On the eve of the summit, he published another column, asking: "What other city has taken the remarkable step of making social justice its priority?"

It should be obvious that Cleveland has not written an economic plan that includes everyone. Nor will it. Leaders have not made social justice their priority. Nor will they. In fact, social justice will never be made a priority in Northeast Ohio as long as it remains subsidiary to economic growth.

Recall that accelerating economic growth, but doing it equitably, was more or less Cleveland Rising's mission statement. The summit subhead might as well have been "having your cake and eating it too." Local leaders start sputtering like malfunctioning robots when pressed on this conundrum, and I've come to believe that their brains simply cannot accommodate the notion that the two priorities — economic growth on the one hand, equitable social policy on the other — are almost always at odds. I made a similar statement on Twitter before the summit and was instantly set upon by members of the business community who accused me of intellectual dishonesty and assured me that Northeast Ohio was not a "zero sum game" and so forth.

But history paints a clear picture. In Cleveland, economic growth has generally been pursued via business attraction, which is celebrated and defended on the basis of job creation. New jobs are good for economies because when more people are employed, more money is spent on local goods and services. Plus the public gets more money from the additional income taxes. But the way that Northeast Ohio has historically attracted business is by offering tax incentives and other handouts (money that would be going to public uses otherwise), and by promoting low wages relative to other markets. A generation ago, in the early 1980s (which, feel free to note, was right when Appreciative Inquiry was getting off the ground), high wages were seen as the big regional problem that the community should rally around and have summits about. The dean of CWRU's Weatherhead School of Management, now home to the Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit, wrote then that "unions and high wages" were the primary causes of the region's industrial decline.

The atmosphere has not much changed. (Just revisit what happened when a local minimum wage increase was pursued back in 2016.) When you start trying to agitate for something that looks like equity, you're seen as antagonizing the businesses that local governments have made it their central function to appease.

Indeed, appeasing business and promoting growth are so central to the worldview of local leaders, so deeply and unconsciously ingrained, that every value has become subsidiary to it, not just equity. But certainly at Cleveland Rising, "equity and opportunity" were ideals to be pursued in the context of economic growth. The fact that an equity conference was facilitated by the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit should tell you all you need to know. Green manufacturing, but equitably! Data-driven collaboration, but with an equity component! A Global Center for Entrepreneurship, but also a minority-owned-business hub! I heard from multiple attendees that the loosey-goosey usage of words like "equity" at Cleveland Rising was bothersome to them. It had become such a blanket term, such a buzzword, that it effectively lost meaning.

In my observation, to the extent equity was a meaningful talking point in small groups at all, it was only because of individual participants who forced the issue. It's not like facilitators were reminding us to consider equity in our prototypes. It's not like there were stage-setting presentations from historians or professors about equity and social justice in the region. The presentations, you'll remember, were all about Appreciative Inquiry.

Make no mistake, equity was discussed. There were many attendees with a keen sense of the region's ugly racial history who made sure that race was not overlooked in our conversations. (In what was surely a frustrating burden for the summit's black participants, it fell on many of them to gently explain what the words equity, diversity and inclusion even meant.) For others, visions of Cleveland in 2030 included such hallmarks of equity as a Browns Super Bowl victory in a domed stadium with the first all-female NFL roster.

"Equity" was not the only word disfigured by its buzz. "Accountability" was another. I touched on this above, but attempts to decentralize and democratize leadership — "Just by being here, you are all leaders," we were told — produced an entirely bogus conception of what it means to wield power, and who ought to be accountable to whom.

Look no further than the so-called "New Take on the Lake" small group, whose aspirational initiative was to move Burke Lakefront Airport and develop a "world class lakefront for ALL residents and visitors."

That's a splendid idea, with near-unanimous public support. But when Burke is still active, and the lengthy process for its removal or relocation hasn't begun in six months, does anyone honestly believe that the assorted members of Cleveland Rising Group 12 will be to blame? Is anyone honestly going to hold them accountable for failing to make good on their initiative? Of course not! To do so would be preposterous. I needn't play this song, because everyone knows the words, but Quinn himself has noted that removing Burke, despite its overwhelming support, is a "non-starter with the corporate community." And so it goes.

Lastly, the word "trust," a peculiar little stowaway. Focused as I was on solar panels, I kept forgetting that creating trust was what the summit, "more than plans or roadmaps," was supposed to be all about. Trust between which parties, it occurred to me to wonder a few days later? And to what end?

I sought answers from an unlikely source: the pre-summit assigned readings, which I remembered included, alongside a suite of poverty reports from the Center for Community Solutions and a boomtown hot take from known social justice organ chiefexecutive.net, a blog post written by a U.S. Army platoon leader who'd been stationed in Iraq. He wrote that he'd learned a few "tough lessons" about trust vis-a-vis a micro-grant community development program in northeastern Baghdad. He noted that "various factors" had "contributed to the lack of trust the average [Iraqi] community member had in the Army's intentions and execution of projects." (Oh really? Would it maybe have something to do with the million corpses that had piled up since 2003? Or was it other factors?)

The big lessons he learned were that "trust takes time," but that "the benefits of trust often have a positive impact that extend far beyond the primary activity you are focusing on."

This was obviously trash, and not only because, translated to the Cleveland Rising scenario, it was clear who was meant to represent the U.S. military and who was meant to represent the Iraqis. My bigger concern — and it haunts me even now — was that summit leaders and their peers might actually have been reading this material and gleaning insight. "Trust takes time"? "The benefits of trust often have a positive impact that extend far beyond the primary activity you are focusing on"? Was this written by an alien?

As it happens, I believe the lessons to be true — trust does take time! — and I sure hate to belittle the author's eloquence. But for heaven's sake, this was the material that leaders had selected to illustrate the summit's preeminent virtue?

I was left with the impression that summit leaders were viewing the creation of trust as a kind of executive tactic, that they were far less interested in building trust in the conventional way than they were in creating the perception that they were leaders who could be trusted. Despite all those good intentions, this obsession with trust left me, paradoxically, in a state of doubt.

Only trolls would deny that an atmosphere of trust is preferable to an atmosphere of mistrust. And it stands to reason that the summit leaders are active participants in trusting relationships of their own. They should know, then, that trust is a natural by-product of people looking out for one another, and that once trust is broken, it can be very difficult to repair. (Just ask the GCC.) There are those in Cleveland who have committed their lives to the struggles of building a just community, who have made endless sacrifices to help guide us all toward a more equitable future. Those folks aren't likely to be persuaded by the good intentions of Cleveland's emerging crop of leaders. They've been short-changed and two-timed by local leaders too many times before, leaders of the past whose stated commitments to battling poverty and making Cleveland a better place were no less sincere. If new leaders really are intent on being trusted, they'll have to dispense with the notion that trust can be built in a laboratory or prototyped at a summit. In Cleveland, just like everywhere else, trust isn't created. It's earned.

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