Size Matters

Letters 10/08/08

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I am writing late to thank Cleveland Scene and staff writer Dan Harkins for the great piece on Cleveland Council reduction ("Cuts Like A Knife: Cleveland Council 'right-sizes' for the suburban business elite," September 10). Recently all of us in Cleveland got a taxpayer-funded campaign mailing from Council President Martin J. Sweeney explaining the six charter issues on November's ballot, including Issue 39, the "right-sizing" of council. This shows me the issues are actually a reward for council incumbents, hardly the punishment The Plain Dealer editorial page makes it seem.

Remember that the two or four Council people slated to leave will undoubtedly get an appointed City Hall job as a parting gift. Or they may well retire on the cushy state public employee retirement plan we regular Joes all envy.

So the other Council members remaining find themselves almost unchallengeable in a 10- to 19-percent larger ward, much larger than the typical suburb. Residents will not be able to afford the time or blow to the ego to challenge an incumbent with at least $20,000 from the business community.

If that isn't hard enough for a novice candidate, if Issue 39 passes, challengers and voters will not learn until April Fool's Day what new wards they live in. That is when a competent candidate is beginning to hit the streets with campaign literature.

On top of that, Issue 35 moves back the primary election three crucial weeks. So all challengers will have even less time to make their under-funded cases against the incumbents. With the current rules, incumbents typically win the primary with 65-plus percent of the vote, making the general election anti-climatic.

But Sweeney is justified to further rig the game. Two of the 21 incumbents lost in 2005. Pathetic.

Richard May

Chairman, West Park

Republican Organization


Thank you to Michael Gill for his excellent articles on what is rapidly becoming known as the Rosenberg Scandal ("What Part of 'Critic' Don't They Understand?," September 24, and "You're Not Helping," October 1). The Plain Dealer's demotion of nationally respected music critic Donald Rosenberg is a shocking display of ignorance and lack of concern for journalistic independence. In effect, the PD has censored their critic, even though the views he expressed have been shared by many other critics around the world. Since Plain Dealer President and CEO Terrance Egger is a board member of the Cleveland Orchestra, the politics behind the decision are obvious.

The fact that the PD has not clearly reported the situation to its readers is also sinister and irresponsible. We had to read The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the L.A. Times, the Guardian in London and Cleveland Scene in order to learn the truth. NPR's All Things Considered also covered the story. Not since the Cuyahoga became the "burning river" has Cleveland received so much negative attention.

Rosenberg's former intern Zach Lewis, in his debut as music critic, wrote a less-favorable review of the Cleveland Orchestra's Bruckner concert than Rosenberg probably would have. Cleveland's daily newspaper and its orchestra have both been tarnished by this, and Lewis will be viewed as a pawn no matter what he does. The PD will need to reinstate Rosenberg if they expect us, their readers, to have any faith in the paper.

Jeannette Sorrell

Music director,

Apollo's Fire Baroque Orchestra


James Renner, I read your piece in Cleveland Scene ("Urban Suppression or Urban Legend?", September 24) and had a few questions for you: 1) You write of this caging practice: "Here's how it works: Identify stereotyp-ically Democratic districts … in which residents work long hours …" Stop. What makes you believe that people in "stereotypically Democratic districts" work any longer hours than people elsewhere? Aren't major cities, such as Cleveland, strong Democratic areas? And aren't these same areas also where unemployment is higher, as opposed to your belief that everyone is working such long hours in these places?

2) "… are more likely to be in the military … After the mail is returned because the residents were at work or were stationed overseas …" Stop. Do you honestly believe that Democrats are more likely to be in the military than Republicans?

3) You write that Fox News leans to the right. Can you give an exact example of Fox News (not Hannity, he is a commentator) being biased to the right? Would you agree that the vast majority of other news outlets lean left? How would you honestly describe your integrity as a journalist when it comes to bias, and that of the publication you write for?

4) If Cleveland Scene mocked and ridiculed Jews, Muslims or gays the way it frequently does Christians, would you then join me in recognizing it as a bigoted publication?

Take care, and peace be with you.

Bill Hardie

Plain Township

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