We're suckers for big, outrageous, wildly impractical-sounding ideas for transforming Cleveland. After all, the standard repertoire of projects (stadiums, an arena, new hotels, turning Tower City into a shopping mall) hasn’t done much to turn around Cleveland’s economy or reputation. So why not look at projects like the Rockometer or the one that arrived in the mail this week — complete with a poster-sized diagram — for an aerial tram that would run from a docking port behind the Federal Courthouse on the east, across the river to West 25th and Detroit?

The tram project proposal was sent to us by Benjamin Franklin of Cleveland’s west side. He neglected to note whether he is the same Benjamin Franklin who is one of three candidates running in the May 4 Republican primary to face Dennis Kucinich in the 10th district congressional election in November.

In his accompanying letter, Franklin tells us this project could be “a vital, important extension of downtown Cleveland. There should be a strip of retail shops, two hotels and several parking structures anchored by Massimo da Milano and reaching up to Kan Zaman restaurant and Lutheran Hospital.” He calls the tram “a huge tourist attraction, linking Tower City, the Flats, Progressive Field, Quicken Loans Arena, Public Square, the Euclid Corridor and the Casino.”

He appended a handwritten note saying, “I also have good concepts on the steel industry that would help jumpstart our economy and put people back to work.”

Chuckle if you like — it's more than we've heard out of the mayor or county commissioners in a long time (and no, the medical mart boondoggle doesn't count). — Anastasia Pantsios

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