Submitted by Roldo on Tue, 11/10/2009 - 18:36.

The reason we don’t know why the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority dumped its chief executive Adam Wasserman is because the real leader of the board – John Carney – believes it’s none of your business.


The Port Authority is one of those governmental bodies set up to avoid public input. It has an unelected board. The public, in fact, knows little if anything about its members. Probably cares less.


One aspect of the board has remained rather fixed over the years – the name Carney.


The political head of this powerful family, the late James M. Carney, twice unsuccessful candidate for mayor (once dropped out, once defeated), was chairman during the Port’s early years.


Presently, his nephew John Carney, son of the late judge John Carney, has been on the board for some years. He was chairman. To avoid the limelight or the spotlight, Carney resigned as board chairman. However, it seems he’s still in control. He is civically connected. Many boards. His wife, Tana, is a Cleveland Foundation board member. She was a judicial appointee, meaning political connections and power.


The Wasserman episode suggests that the Port Authority’s bosses don’t know where they are going. Unfortunately, Carney wants to open up land on Lake Erie for development. At great public cost. Development is his private business. He heads Landmark Management.


And, most unfortunately, he wants to open up a portion of the lakefront that requires costly movement of the Port elsewhere. A billion dollars or much more. And the move doesn’t seem to make sense. Certainly, it’s not been proven a good move.


It reminds me of the move back in the 1970s when another bigwig, James C. Davis, then head of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, the Growth Association and many other Cleveland institutions, wanted us to build a jetport in the lake. He had visions of another city being built in the lake. It, of course, would have been paid for by government bonds. Very costly. Squire-Sanders had a near monopoly on servicing government bonds.  Yes, he finally admitted, his firm would profit. Would you doubt it?


The lakefront always attracts those with big development desires. Open land. Junk the old city.


I once wrote of the late Jim Carney, “Carney mixes business, politics and civic involvement for personal profit.” He was quite the powerful figure. He was a banker, lawyer, and real estate developer, owner of several downtown hotels. He had newspaper and television business connections in addition to being the Democratic Party boss. Carney was partners with Scripps-Howard interests. It got him favorable coverage from the Cleveland Press and Ch. 5, both Scripps holdings. Carney owned cable interests with the Scripps broadcast company.


It’s a bit ironic, given today’s Carney wishes, that back in 1972 a plan for development that included the lakefront was pushed by the Northern Ohio Community Development Corp. (NORCOM). It was a creature of Jim Carney and Bill Boyer, son of the head of Republic Steel at the time. Carney was vice-chairman of the Port Authority and head of the Growth Association (now Greater Cleveland Partnership) at the time. So he was well positioned.


These profit dreams die hard.


“We believe that the growth of this area will generate great economic benefits to Cleveland’s downtown and provide an exciting new focus on our lakefront,” a planning report said. The plan was written by Boyer, then a city planner. Never write plans you can’t use.


Always the promise of economic advantage. Never the assurance that those who pay for it might gain.


The 1970s push tells a sad story of Cleveland that its movers-and-shakers more than 35 years later are still trying to commercially develop the lakefront. Another generation. Another Carney.


It appears that the attempt once again fails.


We may never know why Wasserman got kicked out. Kicked by a $300,000 boot.


It’s somewhat encouraging that the Plain Dealer headlined this buyout on the front page today with a tinge of criticism. They didn’t like the move either.


The paper will have to go a lot farther. It should ask for Carney’s resignation. Best, he should resign. It should demand an answer to why the recently hired top candidate became useless so quickly. Two years on the job. Jeweled boot out.


The Port – once owned by the city – shouldn’t function under an unelected body anymore. It had significant powers when it was established as a regional entity with nine board members. Six are named by the city and three by the county. It has been made more powerful over the years. Exceptional amounts of money flow through to private and public interests.


Neither the city nor the county seems to have been careful in naming board members. Members seem to go through the motions without much or any real responsibility. (It is a warning that some regionalism could be negative rather than positive.)


If the lakefront is to be made significant it should remain a public place, not another spot for unneeded development in a shrinking, maybe disappearing city. Why can’t people enjoy the lakefront rather than have it be for commercial use?









( categories: )

Roldo, I agree

And you, man, have the guts to say it.  To write it....

Ed Hauser never spoke well of Mr. Carney.  I listen to Ed.

So, can anyone tell me how

So, can anyone tell me how many jobs all the investigative journalism around here has created?  I'm gonna guess that the Carneys employed many more hundreds of people than any of our fine local muckrakers.  It's just a hunch, though.  And, as far as the taxes they've paid and generated--directly, personally, and through their businesses and purchases related to them--I'm gonna guess that's it dwarfs those paid by any muckraking dwarfs.  Just a hunch.

Some of these fine muckrakers have been here a long time--let's ask them what civic visions they've put forth and executed?  What do they have to say about the abysmal schools and their ONE BILLION DOLLAR budget?  Anything about the dangerous Cleveland streets?  Economic Development?  Anything positive?  Anything at all?  Hello?  Anyone home? 

GBW - How to create well paying Muck Raking "jobs"


Hello GBW, I have no problem with private developers hiring people who work building something that makes the developer a profit (or more recently makes a loss).
My problem is that developers like Mr. Carney use/used their civic positions not for the public benefit but often for their private benefit. For example, assuring that a new freeway interchange was right at the location of land that the developer had purchased through inside knowledge gleaned from the public position the developer held was a situation with Mr. Carney.
So I think your suggestion that muck rakers _ who are not hiring and paying wage taxes are therefore somehow a diversion from/detriment to the public good -  is not well thought.
If muckrakers who voice their concerns here on Realneo had exploited corrupt connections with the County Commissioners, the NEOSD, City of Cleveland Departments, the Courts,  connections which many developers exploited – the muckrakers could have worked up one of those economic development “public-private partnerships”, hired more local reporters and investigators, provided cash rewards to public employees for whistle blowing (this would bring lots of news out of the bushes)  and the local economy would be healthy and booming.   I would have a bigger desk and upgrade to Cubans.
Instead, the public coffers have been habitually diverted towards grants to builders, sports stadia (Gateway, Browns, Basketball) to benefit the private team owners, legislation for gambling directed at specific land parcels (owned by Forest City in Cleveland), legislation and .25% tax for Chris Kennedy MEDCON, etc etc.
If you believe that public tax money should be used for amplifying/supporting/generating the business profit of private individuals and corporations, then sure, muck raking just gets in the way of that private profit goal.     But with the logic that subsidizing private developers with tax money, and turning a blind eye to ethical abuses of public office holders intending to give a leg up to private corporations, comes the extrapolation that all our tax money should just go straight a way to private corporations.  
What is the answer for education in the city?   The sports arenas are tax exempt -  which means the schools and other public agencies must get their money elsewhere, from other taxpayers.      You think Mr. Carney is hiring in the City?  
What’s the solution?
Best, Jeffb


Jeff, You set up a straw man


You set up a straw man in your largest paragraph at the center of your post when you wrote "If muckrakers who voiced their concerns here on Realneo had exploited corrupt connections..."  Now, let's take a breath...and, like Bacall said, "just blow".

A serious journalist knows that connections are his lifeblood.  So do most successful businessmen, career professionals, families, and, well--you and I.  That doesn't make them, or us, corrupt.  My conncections, and yours in all likelihood--mean that our calls are returned, we can have a door opened for us and have a sit-down, or a referral is respected.  It comes down to the sense of credibility we have with the world.  Credibility breeds connections, a good journalist knows that.

No one means to malign serious investigative journalism.  The Fourth Estate was given constitutional level protection in the First Amendment.  That was consistent with the framers concern for checks and balances in our political scheme.  This counterweight is outside government, yet receives a degree of constitutional respect that clearly shows its importance.

We need good journalism.  How much of it there is--well, that's another matter.  As for the benefits it yields to the tax base and economic development, they can be significant, especially as they confront and fairly consider civic and social ills--of course that includes corruption.  This aids the economy.  And heck, even Roldo pays his printer.

My concern is for a kind of muckraking that seems to regard private profit as obscene.  Look, if an individual, or group, or corporation puts their time, sweat and capital at risk in a way that adds to the tax base without increasing social ills too much, is that such a bad thing?  Is it really such a bad thing that McDonald's wants to build a store on Lorain Avenue?  Apparently, to many, it is.

Jeff--and all Realneoans--take a look around.  Who is investing in the city?  Are there that many small families doing it?  Small businesses?  Corporations?  We know the answer.  On Storer Avenue there once was a neat kind of hardware store called "Brown's".  They left.  They set up in the 'burbs and prospered.  How many car dealerships are left on Pearl Road, or, Lorain Avenue?    Do you remember Smith's Harley Davidson store?  Gone.  The A&P on Storer?    Take a ride out to the many successful industrial parks in Brookpark, Middleburg Heights, Westlake, Strongsville, yadda-yadda.  Who wants to take the risk in the inner city without some government help?  Can you blame them?  It's not like Cleveland is that safe or that good employees want to travel to the city like they once would.

Welfare is welfare.  Whether it's the young mother I love who won't educate herself nor look for work, or it's some gazillionaire seeking what amounts to corporate welfare.  And, there is something additionally unseemly about people of serious means doing that.  Do remember, not all the sports stadia around the land are built on the public dime  There are wealthy and successful people who have style.

I'm also concerned about non-profit do gooders who essentially beg for themselves and their "clients".  There are truely needy people in town.  Let's help them.  But, let's examine the results of the agencies honestly.  Are their clients becoming self-sufficient?  Getting off the dole?  These things are measurable. 

As for the schools--they spend about $23,000 per student.  They have a $1 Billion+ budget and 44,000 students.  Do the math.  Now check out what the Catholic Diocese charges.  Want to compare results?

Look, I have my vested interests, and that certainly includes the contents of my wallet.  Let's just be honest about vested interests.  And remember that a vested interest is not necessarily a dishonest one.

Good to hear from you,



 The expenditure per child in the Cleveland school is $14,573, not your $23,000 per student. Half of the budget are moneys received, or or be received , for projects and capitol improvements. They are designated and can only be spent to meet the goal of the designee. When I look at some items included in the budget, I see breakfast and lunch. That is a good thing in one of the poorest cities in the country. The funds for capital improvements is dwindling and the state has said that there is not any new money for construction. For more information in the budget go to

"Liars do figure, even if

"Liars do figure, even if numbers don't lie" a West Virginian taught me.

Yeah, I'll stand by MY numbers alright.  How someone can exclude capital costs (Buildings, right?  C'mon, this ain't hard.)  when they figure their family budget or their business expenses is something I can't fathom.  Do you exclude your mortgage when you figure out your monthly expenses?  Get real. 

Do you work for the school district?  Do you think the rest of the state should pay for those buildings?  I'm just a taxpayer in this.  What's your stake?