Tag Archives: Cleveland

Bomblecast #16 — NIMBYism, Cleveland, and McDonald’s

Friends, no guest this week — but I did add some great production value for you all.

So grab your blankets, your egg nogg, and pull up a chair for episode #16 of the Bomblecast.

Don’t like McDonald’s? Don’t shop there.

A friend of mine shared a petition from a gal in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood — where I went to high school.

I broke out the bomble.com telestrator to share my thoughts and some questions.

Oh, and finally, if you want a well-reasoned argument from one of the petition signers, there is this:

Just another reason why Cleveland doesn’t deserve nice things. I hope they get their wish and end up with another “artisan” Rent A Center instead.

Here’s a novel idea: If you don’t like something, don’t patronize it.

Before I forget, I’ve long agreed that the West Side Market should be privatized. Read reason’s take “Why Cities Like Cleveland Die: They Refuse to Emulate Success While Persisting in Failure” here.

It’s petitions like these that make me happy my parents are moving away from communities that act like this — and why I have no plans to move back to Cleveland.


If a daily newspaper is so important….

Over at the hometown paper for many Bomble.com readers, we read that the Cleveland Plain Dealer may no longer be a daily newspaper.

Naturally, the union is taking out advertisements to “save” the paper as readers know it.

Beginning Sunday, residents will begin to see billboards, bus placards and advertisements asserting that the newspaper as they know it may be in peril and asking them to make their feelings known to the paper’s owners.

The campaign to “Save The Plain Dealer” is being led by members of Newspaper Guild Local One, which represents about 170 writers, photographers, designers and other newsroom staff. Ohio’s largest newspaper is owned by New Jersey-based Advance Publications Inc., which has been curtailing print publication at its newspapers in other cities, including New Orleans.

Gee — where is all of that revenue to take out advertisement on billboards and buses coming from? Union dues! Which, last time I checked, came from the salaries of union workers!

My guess is a campaign like this isn’t necessarily cheap. Would that money have been better used keeping a paper profitable instead of going to union coffers?

Newspaper guilds, like teachers unions, say that they’re only in existence to do a good job for readers/the kids.

The real reason they exist is to keep their jobs and their benefits. Most people understand that.

Some support those unions, while I and others, think they are unnecessary.

The economics of newspapers are, well, bad. The Plain Dealer ate up the Sun News (of which I was a former paper boy) and brought their local coverage in house. Other than the free papers, the Plain Dealer is pretty much it for most of Cleveland. In addition to expectations of free content, advertising for print is down across most of the country.

They also have to compete with completely free local coverage from webpages like Patch.com.

It would be sad, I agree, if Cleveland lost its only remaining daily newspaper. But the Newspaper Guild Local One can play a valuable role in preserving the Plain Dealer’s status as a daily … by voting itself out of existence at the Plain Dealer.

If We Could Turn Back Time

Dear Editor,

In your September 26 paper, you published a letter to the editor from Marylin Egede.

She, as an unemployed former supervisor who conducted many in person interviews, is dismayed by technological improvements that improve efficiency, save time and save money. Namely, she expressed skepticism about internet job applications, and an automated phone interview that recorded answers to her questions as an interviewee.

Her conclusion was: “Let’s bring back humans, and then we could help lower the unemployment rate.”

We could lower the unemployment rate, too, if we “brought back humans” by banning things like EZ Pass, Caterpillar tractors, E-Readers, and the internet. But we wouldn’t be better off.

While I wish Ms. Egede luck in her job search, such proposals appeal to the Luddite mentality that plagues Ohio (and one of its two Senators) to its detriment.

French economist Frédéric Bastiat, through a bit of satire in the 1840s, identified a similar mentality. He satirized candlemakers, supposing they would appeal to the government to protect them from unfair competition — the sun.

Famed philosopher Cheryl Sarkisian once theorized what would be possible “If we could turn back time.” That doesn’t mean it’s prudent economic policy to do so.

Jim Swift
Alexandria, VA by way of Shaker Heights.

UPDATE: Parents inform the letter was published this morning (10/3). Click the image for the P-D’s website.

Bravo, RTA Staff!


Dear Editor,

Kudos to the RTA staff for recommending that it use the best firm to conduct the joint RTA-Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency study.

In picking the best firm — and noting “this isn’t like buying pork chops”– RTA’s staff has done a valuable service for taxpayers: pick the best firm.

Of course, local politicians and their aides — namely Valarie McCall — are encouraging RTA to “buy locally” and use a local firm instead of the firm in Olathe, Kansas they’ve recommended. (Despite the fact no local firm with this specialization exists.)

Nonsense. Surveys like this must be done right, especially since they will determine how millions of taxpayer dollars are spent. Firms specialize and earn a reputation because they do a good job and want to grow their business.

The same can’t be said about “buying local for locals’ sake.” I don’t want a bunch of inexperienced people doing the job just because they’re from Cleveland.

You wonder why Cleveland has brain drain? Articles like these make this native never want to come back. It seems Cleveland is governed by people with the economic sensibilities of peasants from the Middle Ages, when everybody bought locally and everybody was poor.

Cleveland must shake itself of its obsession with “buying local” and join the the rest of the country in trading with other people.

Jim Swift
Alexandria, Virginia

Privatize the West Side Market

West Side Market, Cleveland

To the Editor:

Leslie Firestone wrote in your 7/17/12 Letters that “If they keep charging [for parking] … people are going to stop coming [to the West Side Market]” and “There are so many farmers’ markets around now, with free parking…” While Leslie and I disagree about paid parking — I think it’s perfectly normal to use price to allocate a scarce resource — we do agree that there are a lot of alternatives.

Should the City of Cleveland be in the business of running farmers markets when, as Leslie points out, there are so many alternatives? One West Side Market vendor told Reason Magazine’s Nick Gillespie: “They’re letting the place fall apart.” Another, when asked if she was satisfied with the city as a landlord, replied “no.” Drew Carey and Gillespie made a wide variety of helpful suggestions for a beleaguered Cleveland. One of which was privatizing the West Side Market.

This Ignatius grad loves the West Side Market, but 100 years of city ownership should come to an end. As should Cleveland taxpayers’ foolish subsidy of my golf habit at Highland Park. Cleveland has more important things to do, like worry about retaining jobs and residents, having recently lost more people than any other top 40 metropolitan statistical area in the country.

Can Reason save Cleveland?

Jim Swift

Shaker Heights, OH / Alexandria, VA

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor —

I enjoyed Mark Naymik’s column “The people choose to ignore council” from the 7/10 paper.

H.L. Mencken once quipped “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Maybe the voters of Cuyahoga County, strangely, want corruption and bad governance?

It might take the Browns leaving Cleveland again for voters, who’ve been pretty reliable for corrupt/inept Democrats, to wake up. The last Republican President, for example, to win Cuyahoga County was Richard Nixon in 1972.

Perhaps the Nixon vote is telling. Maybe Cuyahoga County prefers political corruption more than we thought? Can reason save Cleveland? The City Council sure did a good job of ignoring Drew Carey’s helpful proposals.

-Jim Swift, Alexandria, VA

Old Economy Village, Yesterday’s Cleveland

Cleveland: Our main export is crippling depression

Once or twice a year, I make the trek from Alexandria, Virginia back to my native Shaker Heights, Ohio. I’d visit more, but with 66 percent of their children in the Washington area, my parents are frequent visitors.

Aside from navigating the hell that is the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the drive from Washington to Cleveland is uneventful. That is, until you are about 20 miles from the Ohio border. There, in Beaver County is something called “Old Economy Village.”

Old Economy Village was founded by Harmonist Utopians, a celibate group of German Christians, who, after being persecuted in Europe, fled to the United States. They formed a commune and dominated the Pittsburgh economy in the early 1800’s.

Shaker Heights, my hometown, is an affluent suburb of Cleveland founded by a religious group (called the Shakers) that also didn’t believe in procreation, and took their sexual frustration out in the building of furniture. Today, you can buy copies of their work at Target. My television stand is excellent, though the craftsman (me) did not live up to the Shaker heritage.

Nowadays, Old Economy Village is a relic of the past. A tourist attraction in an otherwise boring part of Pennsylvania, if you count the forced stoppage in Breezewood as actual tourism. Stopping on Oekonomie, as it was known, will bring you back to a bygone era, where all city folk bought into a civic ethos and worked to advance its goals, no matter how silly.

In the early 1830’s, the Old Economy Village experienced a fatal division. A young whippersnapper convinced many of the village folk (the younger ones) that celibacy was a bad idea. About 70 years later, the colony dissolved and is now a landmark, a rest stop on the way to your final destination.

Today, you can visit a real life, partially working, Old Economy Village: Cleveland.

Cleveland was once one of America’s top five largest cities. Today, it is barely in the top 50. Cleveland comedian Mike Polk, Jr. once joked Cleveland’s “main export is Crippling Depression,” only he wasn’t kidding. Cleveland’s main export these days seems to be people.

The mayor of Cleveland when I was in high school, Jane Campbell, gave us a speech on “brain drain” and encouraged us to stay in Cleveland. Imagine my reaction when she became chief of staff to Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Even our former mayors are eager to leave Cleveland.

Like the Old Economy Village, my hometown of Shaker is known as a quasi-utopia in Cleveland — albeit a liberal utopia. But, unlike the efficiency the Old Economy Village is known for, Shaker (and Cleveland itself) is known for the opposite: relatively no economic activity.

Shaker is the kind of place where, if they don’t like your kind of business, they’ll brashly tell you: “Your money’s no good here.” As a kid, McDonald’s tried to build a restaurant in one of the few areas zoned for commerce, and a local group of mothers formed “Mothers Against McDonald’s.” The Wendy’s, our lone fast food restaurant in a town of 30,000, of course, was perfectly fine.

Shaker’s main economic claim to fame in recent years is that it was the home to the headquarters of Office Max. After getting bought, the new owners of Office Max actually chose Illinois for its headquarters– the third least friendly state for business in the country — over Shaker. Ouch.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, my parents, girlfriend and I drove around Shaker Heights and the city of Cleveland, only to reminisce about how the now vacant storefront used to be this, and before it, that. Cleveland is a city haunted by memories of greatness. And I’m not even talking about sports.

In Shaker, it’s been nearly a decade since little hockey players could buy their jersey anywhere close to Shaker. Abandoned for years, Nicholls sporting goods on Lee Road has been closed. I still remember the joy of receiving my jersey with the supposedly unlucky number 13, which I requested.

At a recent block party, I asked my neighbor where her son got his jerseys these days. She responded — a much dreaded competitor in neighboring Cleveland Heights. It, too, will probably close soon and the kids will probably have to buy their sweaters from Amazon.com. I mentioned I used to get mine at Nicholls. “Where was that” she asked. I told her it was next to Kokopelli Coffee and tea. “You’re dating yourself,” she said. “That place has been closed for years.”

Cleveland is not known for being economically competitive, or even friendly to commerce. Cleveland native Drew Carey and Reason Magazine went in a few years ago with the goal of helping Cleveland rock once again. Of course, Cleveland didn’t listen. The FBI essentially shut down the County Government about 2 years later for corruption. The county has since reorganized.

As I drove around town and passed abandoned storefront after abandoned factory, I was sad, but only sort of. Cleveland brought this upon itself. A high school classmate of mine, I discovered, was the executive chef of an up and coming brewery in Cleveland. That’s all the hope I could witness in a town largely bereft of hope.

Horrible weather aside, Cleveland is full of hard workers and great people. It has a lot to offer, but will it ever prosper again? Probably not. Like Old Economy Village, Cleveland is stuck in its ways, no matter how backward they may be.

Celibacy may have been the downfall of Old Economy Village and the North Union Settlement of Shakers, but economic celibacy will probably be the downfall of Cleveland.

Of course, it could always be worse. We could be Detroit.

Watch the Ignatius Chariot Races Tomorrow

Via the SIHS Email List

Watch the 2012 Chariot Races LIVE tomorrow (4/25/12)

Tomorrow marks the highly anticipated return of the Chariot Races on the newly renovated mall.Watch the excitement LIVE with the broadcast brought to you by the Saint Ignatius Broadcasting Network (SIBN).

Click here to view the coverage LIVE beginning at 10:15 a.m.

Last year there were 1,541 live views of the race making it the second most watched broadcast next to the Soccer National Championship! Tweet us during the broadcast @SIHSCleveland and we’ll read your tweets on the air!

Cleveland’s Main Export? People, Apparently

Here’s the source.

Among the 40 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Cleveland had the worst domestic net migration (meaning it lost people on net). Chicago was second worst, just edging out Detroit.

Maybe Mike Polk, Jr. can rewrite his hastily made tourism video, because “at least we’re not Detroit!” doesn’t seem to apply here anymore.

(Author’s note: Original title of the post was “Cleveland’s Main Export? Jobs, Apparently.” This was changed to better reflect the data, though lost people is usually an indicator of a city’s economic health.)