Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
ED YOUNG'S DEATH REMINDS US OF OUR POISONOUS POLITICS
Submitted by Roldo on Sat, 02/27/2010 - 13:45.
I’m saddened by the death of former Cleveland school board member Ed Young. His story goes to the heart of why Cleveland is the way it is. With sour and destructive politics. Personally and civically.
It is why we have such a severely damaged politics. And city.
In the mid-1980s Young represented the possibility of dedicated political leadership. He was earnest and honest.
That’s why George Forbes had to destroy Ed Young. Young was interfering in the deadly politics of Cleveland. Young wanted honesty. He was an unacknowledged hero.
Ed along with Stanly Tolliver and Mildred Madison were standing in the way of a rotten deal to sell the historic Cleveland school administration building to local developers for a fancy hotel. The school building is part of Cleveland’s Group Plan. This early 1900 plan has been hailed as unprecedented for its scope and actual achievement.
But you oppose rotten deals in Cleveland to your detriment.
Forbes and school board member Ted Bonda, millionaire businessman and one-time Cleveland Indians owner, wanted to turn over the 1930 building on East 6th Street and St. Clair to developer John Ferchill. The city was to buy the building and then sell it to developers. Forbes and Mayor George Voinovich also had readied heavy subsidies for the project.
Young and the others stood against the deal. The building was especially meaningful for African-Americans. They had just ascended to power in a school system whose make-up had become majority black. The attempt to transfer the school administration building was seen as a move to take this important symbol away from blacks as they assumed majority public ownership.
Cleveland’s school superintendent Frederick “Doc” Holiday, Cleveland’s committed suicide at the Aviation High School in January 1985. He left a note. It singled out Young for blame but not by name.
I wrote at the time, “It wasn’t but a few hours (after the suicide) before council president George Forbes, with Ted Bonda, was on television retaliating against board member Ed Young…
“Young essentially was unable to defend himself because of the labeling by Holliday of Young as out to ‘get’ him. He was raw meat for Forbes.
“The week unrolled with Forbes, a man who knows when to hide from the media, taking the offensive. He made himself very available.
“And by simply being on stage so much… Forbes helped define the event to the public …”
Forbes said of Holliday’s note, “He laid it (blame) at the proper place.” He blamed Ed Young. This was Forbes at his most despicable and self-serving.
“To a certain degree,” Forbes said, “a lot of it rest at his (Young’s) feet… He (Holliday) laid it at the proper place.
I wrote then, “A severe judgment. Not very charitable.”
I continued: “Said Forbes in that interview, ‘It’s tough. It’s sad. It’s a tough town. It’s a tough town to do business in.”
“But Forbes was doing business.”
Indeed, Forbes was doing business. This kind of rotten business cripples Cleveland.
Forbes was attacking Young for a reason. An unsavory one.
“Forbes was doing a fancy dance and no one even thought of calling him out of step,” I wrote.
“Forbes was slashing black political figures, particularly young black leaders,” I wrote.
This, of course, is the way of politics. It is particularly abusive here.
Former mayor and then Judge Carl Stokes in a radio interview at about this time called Forbes, “a foul-mouth, uncouth, unregenerate politician of the most despicable sort and I think he ought to be out of office.”
The effort to steal the Cleveland school administration building was beaten back in the 1980s.
But that battle, I suspect, isn’t over. The Medical Mart and Convention Center will be built across the street from the historic building. This will make the school board property much more valuable today. A perfect spot for a new luxury hotel.
A Plain Dealer obituary for Young can be found here: