Straying Off-Base

Letters published August 09, 2001

Lost and Delirious
Eastlake should stick to what it does well

After reading about Eastlake and its proposed baseball stadium ["The Mistake in Eastlake?", July 12], my only thought is that I'm thrilled I don't live there. There is obviously something in the water, and the only one who hasn't been drinking it is Councilman Stephen Komarjanski. Thankfully, he has the intelligence to pipe up with something along the lines of "This is the most amazingly stupid, under-researched, half-assed, poorly promoted, utterly nuts proposal I have ever heard of."

Someone should be checking on Mayor Dan DiLiberto. Apparently, someone snuck in late at night, gave him a lobotomy, and replaced his gray matter with the brain cells of a Perdue chicken. Bankrupting a city for a baseball field? Couldn't he have aimed a bit smaller and just started a volleyball league?

Eastlake is a great city. The residents should be proud and happy they reside there. They should also accept that there is a great stadium in downtown Cleveland, straight down I-90. There is no possibility that anyone in this entire region is going to ever call a friend and say, "Hey, huge baseball game in Eastlake tonight. Let's go. And after the game, maybe we can pitch pennies on Vine Street, because there's nothing else to do." Leave the city alone and accept it for what it is: a great city that has the benefit of location, since people can drive out of it for entertainment. Much better than tossing away tax money for something that people will be shaking their heads about in five years, saying, "Anyone know how we can knock this thing down and put up a park for our kids?"

Randy Sindelar Corturillo

The AFL-CIO does more than pick horses

I enjoyed reading Andrew Putz's description of the way AFL-CIO Executive Secretary John Ryan has created a powerful political force in Cleveland ["Labor's Day," July 12]. The article focused on the growing political muscle of the AFL-CIO through the use of phone banks, worksite interaction, and regular protests about worker injustice.

However, the article missed the moral dimension of Ryan's leadership. As someone who worked closely with Ryan during the successful school bond campaign, I found he had an incredible commitment to the children of Cleveland. He was constantly outraged by the physical conditions children face in decrepit schools. Of course, his union highlighted the working conditions of union workers in those schools. But it was his desire to give Cleveland's children the same opportunities as their more fortunate suburban peers that drove Ryan to send 1 a.m. e-mails to his fellow labor activists.

Along with his fire to soften the effects of poverty, it is interesting to watch how Ryan leads the largest racially integrated organization in Cleveland. The successful transfer of AFL leadership four years ago brought forward a collective leadership more diverse in race and gender than the stereotypical private-sector union leader of the 1950s. The AFL-CIO now works with the NAACP on voter registration and successfully pushed for the city's Living Wage Law. The AFL-CIO is beginning to form an emerging labor-African American alliance with Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President C.J. Prentiss. These initiatives all indicate that labor's clout is more about the future of all Clevelanders than it is exercising political muscle for individual elections.

It's important to do more than see labor as the crucial player in an electoral horse race. Labor in Cleveland has matured to help set a city agenda for higher wages, effective union organizing, strong public schools, affordable housing, and universal access to health care. That's the deeper story of labor's revitalization.

Michael Charney,
Professional Issues Director of the Cleveland Teachers Union and Chairperson of the AFL-CIO Communication Committee

An editor's dreams of doofushood

I suppose if one is the managing editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, one may throw around the term "doofus" with impunity [The Edge, July 19]. However, if there really is an assistant managing editor of such newspaper, I would imagine that, in his heart of hearts, he dreams of someday being promoted to doofushood and, moreover, understands that such ambitions are unattainable.

Keith Olbermann
New York, NY

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