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Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Two Big Changes to Frank Jackson's State of the City Address This Year

Posted By on Thu, Sep 6, 2018 at 12:11 PM

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Mayor Frank Jackson's annual State of the City address, in a departure from years' past, will be a free evening event. The speech is scheduled for Oct. 10 at Public Hall and is open to the public. Registration is required by Oct. 5. (You can register here.) 

"From improvements in public safety to economic development in our neighborhoods, Mayor Jackson will share updates about his vision for moving Cleveland forward," reads the boilerplate event description.

Jackson's prior addresses have been held in conjunction with the City Club. They've been lunchtime events frequented by civic leaders and business executives. The packed public auditorium has been generally composed of tables reserved by the region's top law firms and philanthropic organizations.

Of this year's two major departures from previous addresses, one is good and one is bad. The good one is that the event is now much more accessible to the public. It's free, first of all, and held in the evening — 7 p.m. start time — which means folks can show up after work.



But the other departure is that Jackson won't be taking questions from the audience, or even from the press, after his remarks. He told Cleveland.com's Bob Higgs that he'd meet with the media the following day (which, why not just get it over with that night?)

Part of the City Club's forum structure is the "traditional Q&A," which yields sometimes wacky but sometimes quite pointed (and always uncensored) questions. It allows for direct engagement between the audience and the speaker. Without the City Club's sponsorship, Jackson isn't required to stand for questions, and it's too bad that he's foregoing the one spontaneous element of the program. Many residents who will be able to attend the event for the first time won't also have the opportunity to interact with their mayor.

It was honestly anybody's guess if Jackson would even bother with these addresses in his fourth term. They've generally been held in the spring, but Jackson told Bob Higgs that he delayed his remarks so that he would have more to talk about.

"In March, I could have talked about some things, about what I wanted to do," he said in a recent interview. "Now I can talk about things we have done."

The major civic discussions in Cleveland in 2018 have been about spurring economic development somehow. From the Two Tomorrows Report to Jon Pinney to Blockland (to Betaland?), Frank has been conspicuously absent from the conversation.

You can get a sense of Jackson's recent remarks in our coverage of them.

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