November 22, 2014


Once the ‘Mistake by the Lake,’ it’s Cleveland’s time to shine

A view of downtown Cleveland on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

A view of downtown Cleveland on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

CLEVELAND — This Lake Erie city has suffered some bad public relations over the years and has made headlines for all the wrong reasons: poverty, pollution, foreclosure, bizarre crimes and a fleeing population. Yet, thanks to billions of dollars spent burnishing the city’s image and its physical face, Cleveland is one of two finalists for the Republican national convention in 2016 and a longshot candidate to host the Democrats as well.

The city once dubbed “The Mistake by the Lake” will get a chance in August to show how well it can handle big events when the international Gay Games come to town. The Gay Games have drawn more athletes than the Summer Olympics and have been hosted by the likes of Amsterdam and Sydney and, four years ago, Cologne, Germany.

A point-by-point look at humble Cleveland’s pros and cons:

A city on the rise

Cleveland is indeed sparkling — literally.

The world's largest chandelier hangs in the Playhouse Square district in Cleveland.

The world’s largest chandelier hangs in the Playhouse Square district in Cleveland.

The world’s largest chandelier was hung recently over the city’s main drag, Euclid Avenue, in the Playhouse Square theater district. Estimates are that $4.5 billion in projects have been completed in the past decade or are about to begin construction. The Flats East Bank project on the Cuyahoga River, once so polluted that it caught fire in 1969, features an office tower, a boutique hotel and entertainment venues, and a commitment for additional development. There’s also a new casino at Public Square.

Downtown streets that once emptied when the working crowd left for the suburbs now come alive with visitors and residents. Still to come are plans for a lakeside retail and housing development behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, an international tourist attraction.

On Euclid, popular nightspots have replaced boarded-up storefronts. There’s the Euro flavor of East 4th Street and its high-end dining. The Warehouse District, a collection of clubs and restaurants, is dense with revelers most nights and has become a popular choice for millennials willing to pay big bucks to live downtown. University Circle, easily reached from downtown by the Regional Transit Authority’s Healthline bus system, is undergoing its own renaissance, with extensive construction of post-modern buildings and a $350 million renovation and expansion of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

But not all is well

In a country where the gap between the rich and everyone else is growing, the other side of Cleveland’s urban ledger cannot be ignored.

Cleveland is second only to its neighbor to the northwest, Detroit, as the nation’s poorest big city. Just 59 percent of children who attend Cleveland’s city high schools graduate after four years.

Housing prices have plummeted in many neighborhoods, especially those ravaged by the foreclosure crisis. Boarded-up and abandoned homes abound, leading to “blight flight.” Cleveland’s population has plummeted from 478,000 in 2000 to an estimated 390,000 in 2014.

Political intentions

Ohio is a bellwether state for presidential politics, and the Cleveland area is a key battleground.

No presidential candidate has won without Ohio’s bounty of electoral votes since John F. Kennedy in 1960. George W. Bush clinched his re-election bid in Ohio. President Barack Obama carried the state twice, thanks in no small part to ardent support from Cleveland and its black community.

While Cleveland is known as a bastion of Democratic politics, there are plenty of votes available for the GOP in its county, Cuyahoga, which has the second-largest number of registered Republicans in the state after Franklin County, home of Columbus, the capital. Columbus also is in the running for the Democratic convention.

The only two conventions Cleveland has hosted were for Republicans. Incumbent Calvin Coolidge was nominated there in 1924. Things didn’t work out so well for Alf Landon, who was trying to unseat President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936.

More than politics

Party officials say politics has less to do with Cleveland making the Republican convention short list than its technical capabilities to host the convention.

Republicans are expected to choose between Cleveland and Dallas in mid-August, around or after when the Gay Games are in Cleveland.

The games, like a national convention, will shine a spotlight that civic and political leaders hope will leave visitors with a positive impression and a desire to return.

As with the political conventions, the city lobbied hard to land the Gay Games, knowing that tens of millions of dollars will flow into the local economy. Cleveland even had a dress rehearsal for the Gay Games last year when it hosted the U.S. Senior Games, an Olympic-like event that helped christen the city’s new taxpayer-funded convention center.

Cleveland became a finalist for the GOP after its experts determined that Quicken Loans Arena, the city’s hotel capacity and transportation plan, and the availability of alternative meeting sites fit the party’s needs.

Democrats are expected to decide at the end of this year or early next year. In addition to Columbus, Cleveland’s competition for the Democratic convention includes Philadelphia and Phoenix.

  • golfingirl

    “….59 percent of children who attend Cleveland’s city high schools graduate….”

    But fear not, the Gay Games are here!

    A team of queers throwing darts will be a big asset to the city’s image.

    • TruthWhisperer

      Thats a lot better than you and your friends ability to type at a 4th grade level. they got you and your crew beat first day out of school!


    • Kim

      Wow, ” A team of queers”. I’m straight but why such harsh name calling? Do you have a son or daughter that recently came out of the closet? Poor choice of words!

      • golfingirl

        Not at all….they call themselves the “LGBTQ Community.”

        The “Q” stands for Queer.

        I am not name calling, simply referring to them by the name they have adopted.

        The newspapers use this term all the time. It is what they want to be called.

      • SniperFire

        Get with the times, Kim. The queers want to be called queers now.

    • oldruss

      Hosting an international event, irrespective of whether it features gays, straights, or in-betweens, IS good for Cleveland. Showing your homophobic tendencies is not flattering.

  • Tom

    So businesses get a $4.5 billion injection but Cleveland remains the second poorest big city in the country. At least both sides of the story were presented in this article.

    • golfingirl

      Blame it on Bush!

      I mean, Detroit and Cleveland are both democratic “bastions,” but it can’t possibly be their doing.

      The two poorest large cities in the country, with nearly half of all kids not even graduating high school.

      And the Cuyahoga County Executive now wants to run the entire state?

      Tell me this really can’t be happening.

      • TruthWhisperer

        Yeah they both did really well until Republican Governors showed up.

        Bobby Taft remember him?

        • Boonedawg

          How many years has Cleveland and Detroit been under the rule of a democratic mayor??? HOW MANY??? Pattern????

          • TruthWhisperer

            How many years have Republican Governors undone all the progress?

            Should we start with ohio Governor Bob Taft?

            Was he allowed to keep his license after he was found guilty of corruption?

            Remind me please

          • Boonedawg

            24 years of DEMOCRATIC leadership or lack there off in Cleveland….Oh and what about Detroit? Kawame Kilpatrick ring a bell?

          • Boonedawg

            Oh and as far as Taft.

            On August 17, 2005, Taft was charged with four criminal misdemeanors stemming from his failure to disclose golf outings paid for by lobbyists, as well as some undisclosed gifts. The Associated Press reported the total value of at least 52 undisclosed gifts as about US$5,800, they included:[48]

            Two undisclosed gifts including golf with coin dealer Thomas Noe,
            a Republican fundraiser then under investigation, and later convicted,
            for his handling of a $50 million investment of state money in rare
            coins, and diverting $2 million to personal use. Taft claimed of Tom Noe
            that ““He fooled people from one end of Ohio to the other.”[46] (See Coingate scandal.)

            Six undisclosed gifts including golf outings with political
            strategist Curt Steiner and Robert Massie, president of chemical
            information services giant CAS, worth $700. Taft later lobbied the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services against expanding scientific directories that would compete with CAS.

            Undisclosed gifts including dinner and Columbus Blue Jackets hockey tickets from Jerry Jurgeson, chief executive officer of Nationwide Insurance

            book and artwork from the consulate general of the People’s Republic of China worth $100

            a photograph and framed medal from the Defense Supply Center worth $85

            a portfolio and clothing worth $119 from the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce.

            This was the first time an Ohio governor has ever been charged with a crime while in office.[49]
            At his arraignment in Franklin County Municipal Court in Columbus on August 18, Taft pleaded no contest
            and was fined $4,000 plus court cost. Judge Mark Froehlich also ordered
            Taft to apologize to the people of Ohio as well as state employees.[50]
            Taft was quoted after sentencing stating “I offer my sincere and
            heartfelt apology, and I hope the people will understand that these
            mistakes, though major and important mistakes, were done
            unintentionally, and I hope and pray they will accept my apology.”[51] During the sentencing it was noted that Taft had a 30-year unblemished record as a public official

          • golfingirl

            Please don’t try to present facts. It only serves to confuse particular persons on this site.

            “Ignore” is the best answer you can provide to certain persons here, especially the one you just responded to.

            Have a great day.

          • golfingirl

            As a reminder, they are certain persons here whom it is best to ignore.

            Boonedawg, your response to him is your choice, but most here have simply accepted him as nothing more than a “sock puppet.”

          • TruthWhisperer

            Is that what it is?

            Better do what Sis Delish says, be a good girl and obey.

            Thanks for the shout out!

          • Starryeyes63

            And revisionist History……

        • Bill Love

          Really our governor now is doing a awesome job better then the Democrat that left us

          • TruthWhisperer

            Yeah with all that Jobs Ohio stuff right?

            Tell me are we in last place or next to last place?

            Care to google it or rather just make up another alternate reality?

          • Bill Love

            last I checked your governor left officehe left Ohio with a huge debt

          • Bill Love

            and please tell me what Democratic governor is bringing it all these jobs too

        • Pablo Jones

          Really well? We might have different means of that. What exactly went really well for Cleveland? Being the first city to default on their debts since the great depression? The collapse of the commercial real estate market? The browns leaving? The Cleveland police drug scandal?

          • TruthWhisperer

            Browns left and won a superbowl.

            Commercial real estate sunk with W

            Hows those Jobbys coming along? Kasich got everybody a jobby job right?

            Why is Kasich allowing his city’s to default? oh oh wait I know because Obama?

          • Bill Love

            when is not the governors job to get in the cities business it’s a city it’s a cities fault when they don’t pay their own bills its like me blaming you for homeowner not making his house paymentsand you really need to learn how government works

          • Pablo Jones

            Are you 15? History doesn’t start when you were born, Cleveland has been around longer than 15 years.
            The Browns left because the city wouldn’t put together any funds to build them a stadium, even though they did for the Indians and Cavs. And how does the Raven’s winning a super bowl equate to the city of Cleveland doing well.

            The city under a democrat drove away businesses and essentially bankrupted the city 1978. A Republican came in put the city back on track to the point where Cleveland was a shining example of urban redevelopment. Then another democrat came in and pushed the businesses away again. The city lost 5 fortune 500 company headquarters. Between 2000-2007, when Democrats ran the county and town, the population decreased 8%. And this was before the market crash and housing crash.

    • SniperFire

      Hey Tom. Why do all of those Clevelanders accept living on welfare and food stamps? Aren’t there all sort of factory buildings around all over the place where ambitous, hardworking Clevelanders can start their own businesses and make a go of it? OR Is it that most Clevelanders would rather live on food stamps, welfare and Obamaphones instead of make a go at it themselves?

      Vote Democrat. Beats workin.

      • TruthWhisperer

        Vote Republican and keep slavery legal!

        Vote Republican and keep Child Labor Laws out!

        Vote Republican and never have a balanced budget!

        Vote Republican and keep women from voting!

        Like that?

        • Spec440

          So if I vote Republican women won’t be able to vote anymore? Slavery will come back? My 7 year old will have to go work? We won’t have a balanced budget like we do now? Oh wait.

          You are ridiculous. I bet you are the president of your drama club, no?

          • Starryeyes63

            He is writing revisionist history the demoncrats blocked most of that stuff.

  • Boonedawg

    Until the powers to be DEVELOP the waterfront, it will be an under utilized MISTAKE of a city. The Casino should have been on the LAKE with a huge marina…Burke Lakefront Airport is a joke, SEVERELY UNDERUTILIZED! Why are we the only city on a MAJOR body of water that hasn’t PROPERLY developed it and used it a resource?

  • oldruss

    Cleveland may well get the GOP national convention, and if it does, it had better have gotten its act together. The article made no mention of the deplorable state of Public Square, and although it’s supposed to get a face-lift, that won’t get the vagrants, panhandlers and other undesirables off the street. If it’s still a glorified RTA transfer point, that is not good. The article also made no mention of the recent proliferation of homicides and other shootings. These may not be happening downtown, but they’re in the PD, and delegates will read about them every morning. Pity the poor delegates or their wives, who venture out on their own for University Circle’s attractions, especially if they linger too long and are out after dark. And, finally, the article did not mention the dearth of retail stores on Euclid between Public Square and Playhouse Square. Yes, there’s going to be a new Heinens in the old Cleveland Trust Co.’s rotunda at E.9th and Euclid, but delegates won’t be going grocery shopping. Taken together, that is all going to be embarrassing for Cleveland. The national media will shine their very bright lights on us, and we’re going to be exposed, warts and all.

    • stop ur whining part deux

      Convention is not coming here. Wish it would but we are going to lose it. For starters Texas is home to the staunch republicans that the Tea Party loves. Ohio has a great Governor in Kasich but he is eager to reach across the aisle, The current controlling interest in the GOP is against that.

      More importantly Dallas has more money. We both know money talks.

  • Sis Delish

    Last non-Democrat Mayor of Elyria didn’t have to shake-down the public for Fireworks on July 2nd.

    Didn’t have to beg the Private Sector to raise money for the 2nd of July (a Democrat Holiday) fireworks.

    Didn’t wear pant suits.

    • TruthWhisperer

      So you are upset because a Democratic Mayor is responsible and has private money pay for fireworks?

      So you prefer Socialized Fireworks even though your avatar says Socialism kills.

      Typical Republican is unaware of their own hypocrisy.

      Sweet Cognitive Dissonance, Its like I’m speaking Swahili right now isnt it?


      • Sis Delish

        If this halcyon Democrat mindset you are glued to is so fabulous, why then, did the very same Democratic Constituency (i.e. The Public Sector Unions who owe or are owed by the very same Pant-suit wearing leader you adore) not agree to set-aside Double-Overtime so that its citizens could celebrate the holiday on its Actual Federally-mandated Day and Date?

        Your comments about Socialized Fireworks relies upon a solvent city government who, through proper management of its revenues and expenditures, including what it pays its Police, Fireman and Service Employees who provide the necessary infrastructure to hold such an event, CAN provide the requisite fireworks for its taxpaying base without turning to the very same folks who already “gave at the office”.

        I hope you can get someone to drive you over to West Park in time so you can buy some neon necklaces.

        • TruthWhisperer

          well at least you logged into the right account this time haha

          You are subconscious socialist, thats why you are so against it.

          Talk about a freudian slip!

          Such big words that take forever to say nothing.

          Secret socialist haha

  • Bob

    I have said it before and I will say it again, “polish a turd, it is still a turd”

  • Mark B

    If Cleveland is done with the name , it sure fits hellyria