“Cleveland’s 2030 movement”

I have lived in northeast Ohio long enough to get the sense that outbreaks of coordinated handwringing by the region’s elites are just a periodic ritual. I wrote about a previous handwringing episode three years ago, and in a sense there is little to add…

…except that somehow, the Plain Dealer editorial board’s contribution to this show actually seems to get substantially worse.

Yesterday’s editorial “Let’s launch inclusively, collectively, our 2030 movement for Cleveland’s future” begs the question: what city are these people living in?

Very possibly nothing has ever better demonstrated this editorial board’s complete detachment from reality, than their continued insistence that hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention was “a success.”

The blinkered perception that somehow “a big convention is a big convention,” and the purpose and consequences are simply abstract concepts of no importance, was appalling from the outset. Cleveland elites might as well have been holding their own Know-Nothing convention, so doggedly have they stuck to the premise that RNC2016 was some kind of apolitical Cleveland Expo, rather than a working assembly of people with a specific agenda directly harmful to the values and communities which Cleveland elites purport to cherish.

But set that aside, and even then, RNC2016 was still no more than another boondoggle exercise of local elites’ vanity.

Which makes it hilarious that after praising the “wonderful cooperation” that made possible this “success,” the editorial board bemoans that “we allowed the collaboration to die.”

Uh, sirs, actually, “So many people of competing interests came together to make the convention” an expensive boondoggle that had no impact on the region’s mounting crises, except to consume time and other resources that might in theory have been put to productive use. This is not really unusual in greater Cleveland! So-called local leadership are very good at doing this, and never really seem to stop. See: the Medical Mart, the casino, the Q deal, the Opportunity Corridor, etc., etc.

They keep doing this over and over, and the region continues bleeding out.

Three years ago, at least three members of the editorial board had the honesty to approach this reality, for all that their doing so was a one-off even then. Christopher Evans was in fact remarkably honest and direct, in asserting that nothing will change until Cleveland “replaces a tired, old administration of double-dippers and political hacks with young, vibrant leaders with vision.”

Since then, of course, the editorial board has consistently declined to call out the double-dippers and political hacks. Their latest outing takes this to absurdity… in one little hiccup of accountability, the PD quietly pushed back against “the terrible process Cleveland and Northeast Ohio used in making the bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, in which so many people were excluded. Our editorial board has made clear our vehement disagreement with how that process played out and the secrecy involved,” they note, but…

“Let’s move forward now by putting the Amazon issues behind us.”

Ah yes, the universal clarion call of inept elites closing ranks: “let’s move forward.” Let’s not learn anything from a fiasco, no matter how bad, no matter how often it repeats. Let’s not recognize that exclusion, secrecy and “terrible process” are not only consistent habits of the Cleveland establishment, but indeed essential tools for getting away with disastrous results year after year after year.

(“Let’s not bicker and argue about who killed who!”)

One could genuinely weep.

Especially as, for all of Lakewood’s own (not unrelated) pathologies, I have developed some attachment to this little corner of northeast Ohio… and it’s a valid question how much even the best community leadership can ever achieve, in Lakewood, if the rest of the region is chained to the management of “hell yes we can take it with us and we damn well mean to” kleptocrats and their pitiably loyal propagandists.

I begin to worry that the worst thing about the Cleveland Comeback™ narrative isn’t that it’s vapid, or that it’s a distraction from the unsolved fundamental problems, but instead that it’s completely wrong and the region’s future involves not merely continued stagnation, but significantly worse consequences of decades of elite fecklessness and maladministration than those so far.

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