PLAIN DEALER DOESN'T WANT TO BE PAIN DEALER

Submitted by Roldo on Tue, 12/01/2009 - 19:25.

The Plain Dealer is playing games with us about “Progress.” The paper wants to make us feel good. So Good News makes for good Page One copy. It also makes for misleading information.

 

It’s important to keep Progress reality based. If you raise expectations too high and don’t produce you have a problem. Ask Barack Obama.

 

It can discourage people in the end. More than they are already in that condition.

 

Once again we have it in a piece this past Sunday emblazoned across Page One: "Revival continues despite recession.” Oh, hope!

 

It links the new Health Line – RTA’s new bus line from Public Square to University Circle – as the impetus for active development at both ends and in between the two destinations.

 

Two Page One articles proclaim Progress to support the newspaper's revival theme. Two facing pages inside the paper are dominated by a route map of the $200 million HealthLine.

The map’s graphics define projects along and about the HealthLine.

The strong intimation, if not declaration, credits the HealthLine as the impetus for this economic development.

 

If you take a look at what the PD is crediting to the development of RTA’s Health Line you find it very misleading.

 

It’s a laundry list of projects from Public Square to University Circle. The price tag is $3.3 billion.

 

However, much of it isn’t private investment. It is either governmental or non-profit construction and much of it planned, not a done deal.

 

The largest investment derives from various projects of the Cleveland Clinic at some $793 million. Similarly, University Hospital has a projected development of $410 million. The Stokes VA Medical Center has a $539 million projected cost. The Cleveland Museum of Art expansion involves $350 million.

 

Those projects do not owe their being to a new transit line. And they total more $2 billion of the projected $3.3 billion.

 

Cleveland State University projects total some $200 million.

 

You may have noticed also that these projects involve institutions that don’t pay the city any property taxes.

 

A major accomplished development is East 4th Street at $115 million. But this also has heavy government financing. And involve property tax abatements.

 

The mention of E. 4th brings up another major defect in this kind of rah rah reporting: Opposite E. 4th is The Arcade, a heavily-subsidized renovation on Euclid Avenue, which is severely depressed.

 

If you are going to assess what’s happening economically along the HealthLine route you have to look at what is failing along with what may be succeeding. The Arcade represents a historic and critical retail link between Euclid and Superior Avenues.

 

One of the articles made a dubious claim of a great hike in ridership on the Health Line compared to the former ridership.

 

“The innovations are working for the most part. Ridership on the HealthLine is up 47 percent over the old No. 6 line along Euclid Avenue, formerly the most heavily used line in the RTA system,” wrote Steve Litt, the PD’s architecture critic.

 

He goes on to say that the HealthLine had 3.8 million riders compared to 2.6 million for the old system’s No. 6 line down Euclid Avenue. (A RTA spokesperson told me that the 3.8 million is a projected ridership figure for 2009.)

 

However, Litt counted only the No. 6 bus route. Last year, according to RTA, it ran the No. 7 and No. 9 buses along this route. The figures for them tell another story. They were 267,631 riders on No. 7 and 951,369 riders on No 9 for a total of 1,218,940 riders last year.

 

The No. 6 had 2.6 million riders. However, the No. 7 & 9 buses – both in operation last year – had another 1.2 million riders. If you add them to the No. 6 route you get some 3.8 million, or just about the same ridership this year as last year. No dramatic jump of 47 percent.

 

There goes another rubber tree plant, as Frank Sinatra used to sing.

 

Actually, there were two other bus routes, a variation of No. 7 and No. 9 that didn’t run along Euclid last year. In 2000, they accounted for more than 150,000 other rides.

 

So maybe ridership along Euclid Avenue is really down.

 

Maybe also the Plain Dealer is getting too Pollyannaish. To ready to see a silver lining.

 

This is now policy at the PD. Give us BIG. The newspaper under Editor Susan Goldberg has become a paper of headlines. Give us BIG headlines. Give us LARGE photos. Give us BOLD headlines. Make people believe that we are reporting HARD stuff. It’s magical stuff. Now you see it, now you don’t.

 

We’ve had similar ballyhooing of projects that don’t seem to blossom. In July of 2008 it was “A resurgence at East Ninth Street” on the PD’s Page One. That one highlighted the Ameritrust Tower to support the headline. Didn’t happened. In fact, it’s a terrible blight on Euclid Avenue. At a crossroad that was the city’s financial center.

 

We’ve seen lots of renderings of the Flats East Bank. But the Flats remains substantially, well, flat. Nothing.

 

And University Circle, development stories seem to make it to the PD time and time again. The same ones. Yet, the private developments don’t seem to materialize.

 

We allow that the economy has something to do with this. However, we suggest that people who want their projects to get attention don’t have to haggle much to get the “news” on the front page of the PD.

 

The paper is accommodating. Even when it doesn’t know whether the projects are real or not.

 

Too much wishful thinking is going on. It doesn’t need encouragement from the daily newspaper.

 

Yet it sells papers. Must be so. Cause they keep on using it. But does it do what newspapers are supposed to do? Inform us. Not titillate us. Not uplift our spirits. Not get us feeling good. Tell us the truth.

 

Let’s have a bit of reality. In the end it may save us. If nothing else, the embarrassment of failure. 

 

( categories: )

RTA’s new bus line from Public Square to University Circle

I get a first hand view of this wasteful bus line five days a week since I work on Euclid Avenue. 

1.  The smooth road that the PD mentioned is a joke.  In certain areas, the road is all cracked and uneven from the corrupt cement company.

2.  This evening when I left work there were three buses all lined up in a row, one after another.  All going the some route.  This happens often.  Wish I had a camera.

3. If you look under the beautiful flower garden areas the PD mentioned, you can see major rust areas.

4.  They are trying to revitalize Euclid Avenue/Public Square area  in an attempt to bring people back downtown.  However, in order to accommodate all of the possible increased traffic, the geniuses have now made Euclid Avenue a one lane street in both directions.  The other lanes are for the buses, one after the other.

5.  The bus line already ran in that area just fine.

6.  I look at many of the buses morning/lunch time/ and when I get off work. Most of them hardly have anyone on them.

7.  It now takes several minutes to cross the street since the bus line gets special attention.  We have to wait for a walk signal or risk getting jay walking tickets.

etc.....

There other other defects

You are right about pedestrian problems. I didn't get into that but it is not a street now conducive to walking and that has impact on the possibility of retail sales of most kinds.

It's not the easiest street to navigate if you are in a vehicle other than a bus either.

I'm not sure that it has undergone a good snow storm. I wonder where they'll put a lot of snow.

more defects

Also, on 40th and Euclid there have been many occasions where an emergency vehicle has to stop in front of the Jane Edna Hunter buidling.  Since it is a one lane street, none of the cars can go around the emergency vehicle since there is no room.  It blocks traffic up for long periods of time.  Also, drivers can not simply turn in a drive way to turn around anymore.  They have to drive several blocks down to the next light.  A lot of them do U-turns and do not realize that they are cutting into a bus line. I have seen many close calls.  This project was a major waste of money.  Wonder who filled their pockets up with this one???

'round CSU

 it is another joke... try to imagine 100s of college kids "waiting" for a 1 minute+ crosswalk sign in the freezing weather - it doesn't happen.

It presents major safety issues.