Tale of two Clevelands will determine if we see worst or best of times ahead

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 06/25/2006 - 09:08.

While at a meeting in the City Hall Red Room last year, among portraits of many past Cleveland mayors, I asked then Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell's Chief of Staff Chris Ronayne who was Cleveland's best mayor ever, and he said without hesitation Tom Loftin Johnson (b. July 18, 1854 - d. April 10, 1911), who was mayor from 1901 to 1909. I didn't know much about Johnson nor think much more about him until I grew completely disgusted with the inane puffery in the Cleveland Plain Dealer demanding we the public bend over and take ODOT's obliteration of downtown Cleveland, Wolstein's destruction of the Flats, Stark's WalMarting of the Warehouse District, Carney's corruption of the Port Authority, and now Volpe's Disneyfication of Public Square, driving me to stand up and seek reality at the roots of this one-paper-chase misplanting of bad planning seeds into our social subconsciousness, so greedy developers may destroy our civic  mind, heart, and soul. So, I ask you the public to consider, will any of these corrupt land-grab developments serve the masses. or have we strayed so far from the world Tom Johnson left us that we are again just a low-class, groping, leaderless, blind, selfish, forsaken party to few, as Tom Johnson found and fought at the beginning of the last century? For the answers, join me at Public Square below...

"In the main, the things I shall tell about Cleveland are the things that might be told about any city or state. The source of the evil; the source of the good; the source of the shame and corruption; the contest between opposing economic interests; the alliance among those identified with the franchise corporations on the one hand, and the unorganized people on the other, is the same everywhere."

Tom. L. Johnson, 1911

"The association of progress with poverty is the great enigma of our times. It is the central fact from which spring industrial, social, and political difficulties that perplex the world, and with which statesmanship and philanthropy and education grapple in vain. From it come the clouds that overhang the future of the most progressive and self-reliant nations. It is the riddle that the Sphinx of Fate puts to our civilization, which not to answer is to be destroyed. So long as all the increased wealth which modern progress brings goes but to build up great fortunes, to increase luxury and make sharper the contrast between the House of Have and the House of Want, progress is not real and cannot be permanent."

Henry George, Progress and Poverty, Chapter 1, 1879 

"Beyond his party and beyond his class, this man forsook the few to serve the mass"

"He found us groping leaderless and blind. He left a city with a civic mind"

"He found us striving each his selfish part. He left a city with a civic heart."

"And ever with his eye set on the goal, the vision of a city with soul"

NEO had a great leader named Johnson

Who made sure Clevelanders won

But after sellouts like Mike

 And with 'burbilly plight

We've let Carneys ruin this great region

Norm 2006

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