The Shark: Mary Anne Sharkey by John Ettore Cleveland Magazine November 1994

The Shark: Mary Anne Sharkey by John Ettore
Cleveland Magazine November 1994
The link is here
The time is the late ’80s, the venue a dilapidated comedy club in the Warehouse District. The guest, Plain Dealer editorial-page editor Mary Anne Sharkey, perches almost coquettishly on a bar stool, crosses her legs and produces her signature toothy grin. A group of earnest young suburbanites who call themselves the Young Democrats eagerly await her thoughts. The Plain Dealer for many has served as the embodiment of their antipathy for Cleveland — so stodgy, so deeply unimaginative, so very … well, Cleveland. Now, however, they’re forced to factor in this latest spectacle.Tonight, Sharkey has already begun to win some tentative confidence by admitting, in very un-PD fashion, that the paper’s harshest critics have some valid criticisms. When the question-and-answer session begins, the tenor of most of the questions suggests the audience believes the newspaper to be the instigator of dozens of ongoing civic conspiracies. A theme also runs through many of Sharkey’s patient answers. Cmon, she teases, think about every other large, bumbling bureaucracy with which you have intimate knowledge. Are any of these institutions remotely capable of mustering enough coordinated intelligence tofoment evil, even if so inclined?More than her words, it’s her manner that seems appealing and so very unusual. Sharkey enjoys the thrust and parry of ideas, reacting to criticism and palpable hostility for her employer with a sense of humor. Those who know her best find her bulldog print persona hilarious: Even though she can summon deep moral outrage formed by her Catholic upbringing (her mother used to drop her off at the convent so the nuns could baby-sit), she is in many soft, almost fragile, though with described “low tolerance for bOne former colleague from her in Dayton, Mickey Davis, still a writer at the Dayton Daily News, she “was always a hustler, a game one who would go after the stoq aggressively. But she also had thi Irish wit, this ebullient personali about her that made her a delig work with. You miss those kind 0 people with that kind of charact Political consultant Gerry Austin her “kind of a throwback to the reporter with sources among the coatcheck girls.”

Her charming openness and irreverence similarly pose at least a subliminal challenge to conspiracy theorists: Why would such a place as formidable as you imagine the PD to be
ever invite someone so full of the dickens as Mary Anne Sharkey to the table of senior management?It was an excellent question at the time, and all the more appropriate today. But the answer remains as elusive as Sharkey’s complicated internal role at the paper. After raising hell in Ohio politics for more than two decades — putting misogynist pols on the record to disastrous (for them) effect, helping install an improbable former street kid in Cleveland City Hall, and even helping snuff out an Ohio governor’s Oval Office ambition — Sharkey now finds herself in something of a state of internal limbo at “Ohio’s largest.” According to sources at the PD and among political communications people, she’s been stripped of her role as politics editor in all but name (a deve opment she’s not eager to discuss, but she doesn’t dispute). She’s an editor to whom no one answers. But she’s vowed to win the internal test of wills.

She’s prominent in nationa jiournalism circles: Village Voiceand Washington Post columnist Nat Henthoff singled her out for praise recently, and she serves on the board of the International Women’s Media Foundation, which is populated with nationally known media heavyweights. Because of her institutional memory and her wide name recognition throughout the state, “A Sharkey column mailed to 50 people around the state is a very, very powerful thing,” says Cleveland political consultant Bill Burges. “I mean, that is a Scud missile, or at least a
Patriot missile.” All of this surely provides her some internal leverage.

A MILD WORKAHOLIC whose schedule calls for frequent after-hours events and public appearances (including an occasional panel show on WVIZ-TV Channel 25), Sharkey does all her writing in her cramped office just off the newsroom. She shares a secretary with Metro editor Ted Diadiun and often has the television tuned to CNN. Colleagues with a weakness for practical jokes find her an easy mark: They have been known to hide her Rolodex and even her office sofa, waiting to see how long their absence will go unnoticed. She has a fiery temper that quickly blows over, and an impulsiveness that manifests itself in manic fits of shopping: She once bought a used Cadillac on a whim.

In early August, Sharkey arrives for an interview after attending a stormy press conference at Cleveland City Hall in which all of Mike White’s shortcomings finally broke into full public view. The woman who proved so instrumental to his election by engineering the PD’s endorsement must admit she’s concerned about White’s unsteady behavior: abrupt staff changes, almost comic micromanagement, and reports about general emotional instability following his effortless re-election last year.

“I’m starting to have my doubts,” she says about the mayor, which seems remarkably restrained after the months of mounting reports. Weeks later, after being pressed some more about her indulgent attitude toward White, Sharkey gets to the crux of her affection for the mayor: “I like overachievers,” she says, sitting in her brick, Lakewood home with one leg slung over her sofa arm. “And I think of myself as an overachiever. When I look at White, I just laugh. Other people think he’s arrogant, but he just amuses me. I see him as a ghetto kid … whose mother died at an early age.”

At a time in which many journalists — intimidated by their low public regard or perhaps by the doleful state of American libel law — have sought refuge in the euphemism, Sharkey continues to go for the political jugular. She can be delightfully caustic, at least if you’re not on the receiving end. She has referred to the prim members of the League of Women Voters as “the Democratic wives of Republican businessmen” and once likened a pair of arguing state representatives to a couple of skunks in a spraying match. “I never seemed to have learned the art of subtlety,” she once observed of herself in a column.

“[Sharkey] has the keenest news sense I’ve ever seen,” says former PD publisher Tom Vail. Even the people she criticizes, if not her more serious targets, voice genuine admiration. Ohio state Rep. and majority whip Jane Campbell says that Sharkey “has enough hope about the process to really make a difference.” U.S. Rep. Eric Fingerhut, who has also been batted around mildly but who on the whole has been well-treated in Sharkey’s columns, offers: “There’s no question that she’s sharp and caustic, but she doesn’t just go for the cheap shot; she puts it in context. Even though it always stings to be on the receiving end, I always get a sense that it’s coming from somebody with a little bigger picture, so it’s a little easier to take.”

Sharkey was raised in a reasonably prosperous Dayton family, the only daughter of a serially published Catholic writer who inhaled books until the day he died — writing at least two dozen himself (Norman Sharkey’s personal bestseller was a 1944 book about the papalselection process, “White Smoke Over the Vatican.”) Sharkey’s mother prayed to the Virgin Mary that she might deliver a girl after the first four attempts yielded all boys. She signaled her thanks by dressing Mary Anne in blue and white (the colors of the Virgin) until the age of 7.

The family was steeped in their father’s work: It became second nature for the older kids to issue opinions on the piles of manuscripts authors sent for his consideration while he was still on staff at a Catholic youth magazine. Most members of the family were even familiar with the symbols used in editing.

Though she’s had asthma all her life, Sharkey grew up a happy, energetic child who eagerly plunged into dance and piano lessons. Growing up second-youngest in a family with all brothers (one of her six brothers died recently; another, born with Down’s Syndrome, died before she was born), Mary Anne learned early how to get along amicably with the opposite sex. “I’ve never found men much of a mystery,” she says. It’s been a boon ever since to her formidable reporting skills, allowing her to coax information from male officials and propelling her into formerly all-male environments.

Her older brother Nick remembers that 3-year-old Mary Anne would walk around the house during Eisenhower’s first campaign saying, “I like Ike, I like Ike” (she even repeated it at her grandmother’s funeral). Her occasional child-modeling assignments through her Aunt Norma’s agency turned into more substantial teenage appearances in print and television ads for the Bob Evans restaurant chain.

Sharkey admits to having been “a very bad student” through her 16 years of Catholic schooling, terminating with an English degree from the University of Dayton. “I got out of college by the skin of my teeth,” she says. “That’s why I love newspapers, because you don’t need an attention span.”

Many years later, however, she learned that she suffered from dyslexia, a mild learning disability. “I sometimes reverse numbers, I mix metaphors, I could never learn foreign languages, and I absolutely don’t have any sense of direction. And I can’t do computers. Other than that, it hasn’t handicapped me.”

Yet it did leave her with a deep sense of having beaten the odds. “I was always in trouble for being an underachiever, and no one could understand why, including me.” Experts on the malady note that while dyslcxics do have trouble performing certain tasks, in other ways they often process information better, sorting through individual facts to identify patterns not readily apparent to others.

While still in college, she began her professional career as a copydesk clerk at Dayton’s old Journal Herald, an overachieving paper, largely Republican in editorial outlook though quite liberal in spirit, staffed by young journalists who were encouraged to report aggressively. Colleagues from her Dayton days uniformly remember Sharkey as a “live wire.”

“She had a phenomenal knack for getting politicians and policemen and judges to talk to her,” says Bill Flanagan, an editor who was perhaps her earliest mentor. Sharkey was so taken with the job that her brother Nick had to almost force her to complete school. At 24, she married Bill Worth, eight years her senior, twice previously married, and the paper’s city editor at the time. The pair tooled around town in a black Studebaker, which colleagues remember as being halfway between classic and junker. After four years, however, the couple divorced.

“Believe it or not, I was a tad naive in those days,” Sharkey says. “I was totally sheltered … I was the only one in my entire family to go through a divorce — cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers.”

Sharkey’s first taste of prominence grew out of an extraordinary event in the fall of 1974. She was covering the Dayton court system when two federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms got into a shootout in the Federal courthouse, killing one of the men. The following February, after having interviewed court sources and federal officials, Sharkey wrote a frontpage article describing how the suriving agent had refused his now-dead colleague’s offer to participate in an illegal chain-letter scheme and in selling confiscated guns, which led to their deadly encounter.

Separately, Sharkey’s Freedom of Information request had produced a court transcript in which the surviving agent described the events in chilling detail, full of rough language not ordinarily seen in any family newspaper, much less those in conservative, Southern Ohio towns. It included the key words: “Gibson, God damn it, you are fucking with my family. You are fucking with my future. I am not going to let you do it. I’ll kill you first.”

Unknown to Journal Herald editor Charles Alexander, the paper’s promotions department had arranged to distribute free copies of the paper that day to Dayton schoolchildren. In the ensuing uproar, Alexander was fired by the Cox chain, and his managing editor quit in protest. “That’s the story that people around here “I remember [Sharkey] for,” says former colleague Mickey Davis. “She proved her mettle.”

If the story inflicted collateral damage upon her superiors, Sharkey’s own career received quite a boost. The unique controversy became fodder for national journalism trade journals, and by 1977 she had been made an investigative reporter. A year later, with an opening in the paper’s one-person Columbus bureau, she moved to the capital, where her energy and charm quickly won her admission to the mostly male “Capital Square Gang,” a collection of politicians, journalists and lobbyists who would often gather at the Galleria, a bar a across from the Statehouse.

“TheJournal Herald clearly got a lot of stories because she would go to where these people did business,” says one PDreporter. “And to a [House Speaker] Vern Riffe, cutting part of the deal at the Galleria was just as important as finishing the deal at the Statehouse.”

In 1980, she remarried, to Joe Dirck, who today is a PDcolumnist himself At the time, he was a fellow Daytonian who’d played rock ‘n’ roll in area nightclubs. Sharkey and Dirck shared an obsession for politics and, one colleague jokes, questionable fashion sense. Old photos from the Dayton newspaper archives show Sharkey dressed in blouses with enormous period-piece
lapels, her hair worn in cascading bluffs framing her face. One office intern from that time remembers the effect her appearance left from their initial meeting. “Here I was this scared
college student, and she was wearing purple gaucho pants and a puffy cap. I thought I was about to be employed by Petula Clark.” Dirck still had in his possession a pair of skin-tight, leopard spot pants from his days as a rocker.

Characteristically, they met during the heat of a reporting battle: It was the mid-’70s. Dirck was reporting for a small daily in Springfield. He and another reporter were investigating a bookkeeper for a federal, anti-poverty agency who had a gambling problem. When the case landed in a federal grand jury, Dirck thought he’d go down to wait outside the closed session to see who came and went. “This assistant U.S. attorney — who I don’t know — they called him Crimefighter, [he was a] spit and polish, kind of hard-nosed type — started giving me a hard time, told me I couldn’t stand in the hallway,” Dirck recalls. “I said, ‘Well, this is a public building.’ He said, ‘Well, you can’t stand here, you have to go down in the lobby.'”

So Dirck went downstairs to a pay phone and called Sharkey, whom he knew only by reputation. “She was kind of a legend in Dayton at the time I said, ‘hey, this guy told me I couldn’t stand in the hallway.’ And she said, ‘WHAT? I’ll be right over.'”

Sharkey showed up after having scooped up a handful of other print reporters and a couple of television crews. “The Crimefighter came out, and he knew he couldn’t buffalo them,” says Dirck. “So he just went back in the room.”

During the early years of their marriage, Sharkey was continuing to produce powerful reporting. But as the Reagan era dawned, it was her role as feminist pathbreaker that was gaining the most attention. In 1981, she was sitting in the Secretary of State’s office after an election when an official of the Ohio Democratic Party, Pat Leahy, began to brag about beating Issue 2 and its proponent, Joan Lawrence (then head of the state League of Women Voters and now a state representative from Galena) and “her fat, ugly tits.” When Sharkey reported the comment (“I didn’t get the word tits in, but I think readers could tell what I meant,” she says), Leahy was fired, and Sharkey became something of an instant feminist poster girl.

“That was sort of a watershed for me,” Sharkey says. “I sort of once in a while feel like there is something to this diversity. There were six guys sitting around laughing. And it didn’t occur to any of them to report it.”

“She’s the one who said, ‘Now wait a minute: there’s this loudmouth with the Democratic Party, and nobody’s doing anything about it. I’m going to do something about it,'” recalls Gerry Austin, who cut his political teeth in George McGovern’s 1972 Ohio campaign and later ran campaigns for Dick Celeste, George Forbes and Jesse Jackson.

Curiously, she became a lightning rod for feminists even when she didn’t intend to. During the ’82 gubernatorial election, Sharkey arrived for an interview with Republican Clarence J. “Bud” Brown and was greeted with the suggestion that she “step into my parlor and take off your clothes.” Having grown up with plenty of verbal abuse from her brothers, she says, she never took it seriously and wrote it off as a grossly awkward attempt at humor by a normally buttoned-down man. She later mentioned it in passing to press colleagues, and a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter used it as a small item. “And Lord, it started from there,” recalls Dirck.

The New York Times picked up on it, which led a biting press release from the National Organization for Women, which prompted feminist picketing of Brown. The libertarian candidate seized on the remark, demanding an apology on behalf of women, and the Celeste campaign privately enjoyed the problems it was causing its rival. Brown later asked if he should apologize to Sharkey’s husband.

At the center of it all was Sharkey, the congenitally amiable Catholic girl with impeccable manners tempered by a bawdy sense of humor — highlighted by her endearing “horsey laugh,” as one friend puts it — who once again was thrust into the role of “feminist hero.” “Everyone assumes I’m going to come from this liberal-Democrat, feminist point of view,” she says today. In truth, she contends, she’s a feminist “when I need to be.”

In 1983, partly as a result of the attention from the controversy but also due to her warm conviviality with friend and foe alike, she was elected president of the Ohio Legislative Correspondents’ Association, the first woman so named in the group’s nearly 100 years of existence.

That same year, she was hired by the PD to join the paper’s Columbus bureau. Her days of real prominence were at hand. By one account, it was a 1981 series where she wrote about racial tensions at the Lucasville prison that got her noticed in Cleveland and later hired at the Plain Dealer.


Richard F Celeste, the 64th governor of Ohio, and Mary Anne Sharkey, then-Plain Dealer reporter and later Columbus bureau chief, began on friendly enough terms. Like many reporters who covered Celeste in his early years, Sharkey was filled with high expectations formed by the candidate’s own soaring campaign rhetoric as well as the fact that he was following eight years of antics by boorish Jim Rhodes. After that, much of the capital press pool was easy prey for the jarring contrast provided by the earnest Yalie governor with ethnic roots and an Oxford pedigree. The stage seemed set for a four-year run of Camelot By the Scioto. What developed followed quite another script.

Eventually the Celeste administration came under a steady and perhaps well-deserved working-over by the PD bureau. Sharkey’s tips, reporter Gary Webb’s bulldog tenacity and the PD’s willingness to print the results were turning up a Niagara of administration sleaze that cried out for coverage, especially considering the rest of the state’s papers were so timid about taking on a sitting governor. “Once people know you’ll go with that stuff, it becomes self-generating. It began coming in over the transom,” one reporter explains.

Sharkey readily concedes that the PD’s Columbus bureau under her direction didn’t cover the legislature very critically. She could hardly argue otherwise. It would be up to the Akron Beacon Journal to devote resources later in the decade to document Riffe’s questionable fundraising methods in its so-called “pay~for-play” series.

In the spring of 1987, after Democratic front-runner Gary Hart was forced to drop out of the presidential race because of his extramarital affairs, Sharkey turned her attention to the rumors about Celeste’s similar activities. She pulled the personnel files of two aides he was said to be sleeping with. Two other Columbus reporters were working on the story, but Sharkey had personal knowledge of Celeste’s peccadilloes with a woman she knew.

“We just thought it was incredible that Celeste would run for president when he had the same womanizing problem as Hart,” says Jim Underwood, at the time a Columbus-based reporter for the Horvitz newspapers, who later joined the PD.

In early June ’87, Underwood entered a Celeste press conference and sat between Sharkey and the Dayton Daily News‘ Tim Miller, who was also digging around the edges of the story. ” I just kind of grinned and said, ‘One of us is gonna have to ask the question.’ And we all knew what I was talking about,” says Underwood. Miller pulled out a dollar and challenged Underwood. Sharkey added a quarter. And Underwood got up, still clinging to the $1.25, and asked the question that would soon reverberate around the country. “Governor, is
there anything in your personal life that would preclude you from being president, as it has Gary Hart?” When Celeste surprised everyone, including his aides, by choosing outright denial
over dodge, Sharkey had a hook for her story. Media people would later say that Underwood held Celeste’s jaw while Sharkey slugged it.

In a copyrighted, front-page article on June 3 written by Mary Anne Sharkey and Brent Larkin, the PD reported that Celeste had been “romantically linked to at least three women” in the last decade, and called into question his credentials to be president. Says Larkin: “We knew it wouldn’t be ignored by the national media, coming on the heels of the Gary Hart incident.”

He was right. The Celeste story quickly became national news. And even though much of the coverage was harshly critical of the PD, the damage had nevertheless been done: Celeste never quite recovered his prior stature as a regional politician at the threshold of national prominence. (Celeste’s office didn’t return calls for comment.) And the legal saber-rattling of Stan Chesley — a well-connected Cincinnati personal-injury attorney and major Celeste donor who, former Celeste aides confirm, was aggressively encouraging the governor to file a libel suit — eventually sputtered out. Sharkey’s reputation received yet another high-octane boost.

Months after the Celeste story, the Plain Dealer promoted Sharkey to the deputy editorial page director, and Sharkey moved to Cleveland. Dirck, who had spent some time working at a Columbus television station after the Columbus Citizens Journal closed, eventually followed his wife 120 miles north to write a much-coveted column, sparking more than a little internal bitterness over the perceived two-for-one deal. Sharkey’s new position seemed an unlikely fit for many who knew her, given her interests and her well-known impatience with both the nonpolitical aspects of government and with sitting behind a desk. “I thought it was strange,” says her Dayton editor Bill Flanagan. “Well, I thought she was getting older and wanted something different. But it didn’t fit the Mary Anne that I knew.”

Nevertheless, she thrived. The page, significantly enlivened under her predecessor, continued to be relatively bold and unpredictable, at least for the traditionally cautious Plain Dealer. It took several brave stabs at the polarizing issue of abortion, an issue on which Sharkey shares Mario Cuomo’s position: She is personally opposed to it, though she refuses to impose her personal beliefs on the rest of society. It also denied Lee Fisher the paper’s endorsement in his initial run for Ohio Attorney General because of his embrace of the death penalty. Internally, Sharkey employed her people skills to defuse potential ideological conflict.

But her tenure on the editorial page will be best remembered for the paper’s endorsement of Mike White during the 1989 mayoral race. Sharkey persuaded publisher Tom Vail to ignore the near-unanimous pleas of Cleveland’s establishment on behalf of George Forbes, and instead anoint a smoothly articulate black state representative and former Cleveland city councilman from Glenville, whom Sharkey had observed with some admiration while in Columbus. “Vail, in his last days, tended to defer to Mary Ann’s good judgment,” recalls one editorial board member at the time. “She was the mover in it, and Vail largely blessed it.”

The insurgent White campaign, running third at the time behind both Forbes and Benny Bonnano, learned of the endorsement the day before it ran, and immediately understood its importance. “The Plain Dealer likes to take credit for shaping the course of the city,” says White’s ’89 campaign manager Eric Fingerhut, “and that’s a case where they did.”

But at the PD, where the saying goes “The closer you are to the top, the closer you are to the edge,” no one is ever surprised by frequent management shakeups. And Sharkey’s internal stock ebbed after Vail retired. Her legendary shouting matches, during the ’89 mayoral race, with editor (and Forbes partisan) Thom Greer didn’t help. Of her high-decibel confrontations with Greer, she says: “I knew I would be hurt by that, and I was.”

The shift from Vail’s moderate, Rockefeller-style, noblesse oblige brand of Republicanism to Machaskee’s harsher, in-your-face, Pat Buchanan style demanded a less-unpredictable editorial voice for the paper. So Sharkey was replaced on the editofial page by Brent Larkin, a lawyer and a former Cleveland Press political writer with a deeper knowledge of Cleveland and a far more pleasing posture toward management.

Sharkey was given what most of the world would consider an equally prominent assignment. She was made assistant Metro editor just as the paper began its expensive and oft-chronicled move to the suburbs with the opening of several exurban news bureaus. While she was now responsible for directing nearly 100 reporters, at least one colleague calls that position a form of “internal exile,” with only modest direct impact on the news product but lots of time spent overseeing budgets and making sure that slots were covered when copy editors called in sick — hardly her strength.

At about this same time, Sharkey was dealing with a series of personal setbacks that were disrupting her emotional equilibrium. As she and Dirck (who has a college-age daughter by a previous marriage) moved into their 40s, their efforts to adopt a child met with frustration. Once, an adoption was scotched at the last moment when the pregnant woman’s boyfriend called their attorney from the delivery room. They were set to adopt a second time, this time a biracial child, but that, too, fell apart at the last minute. By 1991 Dirck had a mild stroke, which put things off again, and by the time he recovered, the couple, then nearing their mid-40s, were informed they would have to abandon their adoption plans.

“What can I say?” Sharkey says, her eyes misting. “After awhile, you just say to yourself, ‘It’s not meant to be.’ Her brother Nick calls it “the tragedy of her life. She’s told me a million times that you can have a million [newspaper] clippings over in the corner, but giving life to a child…”

Sharkey eventually asked to be replaced in the Metro editor’s position, which seemed too much to handle with all the other noise going on in her life. “Metro editor was the most miserable job I ever had in my life. It had everything to do with management and nothing to do with news.” She learned that she was born to report and write, not oversee others. Hall immediately carved out her current “politics editor” role, which defies standard organizational-chart description. Meanwhile, her personal losses have continued. After losing one brother before she was born and then her mother to brain cancer in 1976, Sharkey’s father and another brother died last year. “Those losses have been finding their way into her writing,” her husband says. Earlier this year, for instance, she wrote an emotional column about her brother’s death, briefly confessing to her own spiritual shortcomings as she described the loving community that enveloped her brother with care in the final days of his life.

Despite all the tensions, Sharkey has been given considerable breathing space and wide latitude to roam at the PD. And her “feminist” accomplishments have continued. Sharkey’s most immediate project has been encouraging more management openings for women. She and an informal assortment of female editors and managers have been gathering over occasional lunches and dinners to discuss the issue. “Immediately people became threatened by it, like we were holding a civil rights rally,” she says. And women are increasingly being added to the paper’s management ranks (one female editor of 17 years, Marge Piscola, has recently been promoted to the new position of news editor, where she’s now centrally responsible for planning Page One; and nearly everyone in a position to judge thinks PD editor David Hall has a genuine commitment to addressing documented complaints about gender inequities.)

Sharkey herself sits in editorial planning meetings when her ambitious reporting schedule allows, and she still has a place on the paper’s executive council. She also has the ear of PDeditor David Hall, according to Hall himself.

“She has unique skills and insights that were especially important for me, coming into Ohio from outside the state to edit the state’s largest newspaper,” Hall says.

Journalism in Northeast Ohio aggregation

1 “Hard Copy in Cleveland” An Overview of Cleveland Journalism Since 1818 by John Vacha
2 “Cleveland’s Daily News Dilemma” Cleveland City Club 9.13.13
3 Communications/Media/Journalism Links from Encyclopedia of Cleveland
4 Teaching Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame
5 The Plain Dealer from Cleveland Historical

Plain Dealer 100th Anniversary book published in 1942 and written by Archer H. Shaw

Plain Dealer is celebrating 175 years of covering Cleveland’s news-Special section 1/8/17

Full text of “The Plain Dealer One Hundred Years In Cleveland” published in 1942

Full text of “The Plain Dealer One Hundred Years In Cleveland” published in 1942

The link is here

 

Excerpt

The Cleveland Plain Dealer will be one hundred years old on January 7, 1942.

It has seemed to the publishers only right and proper to make the birthday an occasion for rendering some public account of their stewardship, as much on behalf of the great and honorable company of gentlemen now gone to their rewards, who labored incessantly in this vineyard, as by way of apologia for those who still carry on. But a larger reason for telling this newspaper story is the fact that the future always depends upon the past, and out of this rich past we take hope for a still worthier future.

The Plain Dealer has been singularly fortunate in having had on its staff an able, modest, and scholarly associate editor, Archer H. Shaw, for thirty-odd years its chief editorial writer, who set himself long ago to make a study of the paper’s history. For many years he envisioned as the crowning labor of his life the compilation of this narrative, which he has now completed.

If the reader detects in the book any trace of partisanship in favor of the Plain Dealer, it grows out of the author’s great love and fierce jealousy for the good name of the institution which has been his life.

 

 

GEORGE A. MOORE, TV PIONEER, DIES AT 83 Obit Plain Dealer 3/1/1997


George Anthony Moore

GEORGE A. MOORE, TV PIONEER, DIES AT 83 Obit Plain Dealer 3/1/1997

George Anthony Moore was a trailblazer who broke down racial barriers in education and journalism and helped create the new medium of live television.

Moore was recruited in 1947 to work as a producer for WEWS Channel 5 when it became the state’s first television station to go on the air. He was responsible for the “One O’Clock Club,” a variety show on which Dorothy Fuldheim interviewed celebrities such as Helen Keller, the Duke of Windsor and ac trss Gloria Swanson.

Moore was the first president of the Catholic Interracial Council of Cleveland and received the highest award of the National Catholic Conference on Interracial Justice.

“He was a man of deep faith who was interested in bringing people together as sisters and brothers in a lasting godly way. It was his life’s work,” said Sister Juanita Shealey, current head of the Interracial Council.

Moore was also a newspaper reporter, a college teacher and owner of a public relations firm.

Moore was most recently a resident of the Margaret Wagner nursing home in Cleveland Heights. He died yesterday at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. He was 83.

He was born in old Lakeside Hospital in downtown Cleveland. When his mother attempted to enroll him in St. Ignatius High School, she was told that no Jesuit school in the country admitted black students. He was allowed in after the bishop of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese intervened.

Moore attended Ohio State University, where he roomed with Olympic hero Jesse Owens, then earned a master’s degree in theater at the University of Iowa.

Moore did not participate in athletics because of a severe leg injury he suffered while playing sandlot football as a child. He walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

He was hired as a reporter in 1942 by Louis Seltzer, editor of the Cleveland Press, at a time when no daily paper outside New York City was known to have blacks on its staff.

Moore wrote an expose of supermarkets that sold spoiled meat in inner-city neighborhoods. He was hospitalized for treatment of his leg injury after the series started, but he continued writing from his hospital bed.

“I had to go to the hospital each day to pick up his copy,” said Donald L. Perris, who was a copy boy at the Press. Perris later became the station manager at Channel 5 and retired as president of Scripps Howard Broadcasting Co.

“George was the best man at my wedding. He got me my job at the television station,” Perris said.

Moore was hired by Channel 5 because of his combination of news experience and training in theater. He had formed the Ohio State Playmakers, a drama group for minorities, while at OSU.

The “One O’Clock Club” became one of the most popular shows on local television during the 11 years Moore produced the show.

Moore deftly handled the world figures and performers who appeared, many of whom had fragile egos.

“He told them where to sit, when to speak and when to be quiet,” Perris said.

Moore was also involved in numerous civic affairs. He was an associate director of the northern Ohio region of the National Conference of Christians and Jews when he made his first trip to Africa in 1966.

Along the way he stopped at the Vatican and met with Pope Paul VI, whom he invited to Cleveland.

In Africa, Moore was given a cannon salute in the village of a former John Carroll University student who had stayed at Moore’s Cleveland Heights home. Moore was the founder of Friends of African Students in America.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Moore taught theater classes at Cuyahoga Community College.

Moore also wrote a regular column for the Cleveland Press for many years and appeared as a regular panelist on the “Black on Black” interview show on Channel 5.

He organized George A. Moore & Co., a public relations firm with offices downtown, in 1970.

As he grew older, he became less involved in public affairs. But he was in the news in 1994 when he lost his home in Cleveland Heights because he no longer had the funds to take care of it. He had rejected efforts by friends to help him get into a nursing home and insisted on remaining in the house long after his health did not allow him to take care of it.

The publicity generated an outpouring of support. He was subsequently honored by the National Association of Black Journalists, the African American Archives Auxiliary of the Western Reserve Historical Society and other groups.

No immediate family members survive.

Services for Moore are being arranged by the House of Wills Funeral Home of Cleveland.

175 years of telling Cleveland’s story: The Plain Dealer by Joe Frolik 1/9/2017

175 years of telling Cleveland’s story: The Plain Dealer by Joe Frolik 1/9/2017
The link is here

on January 08, 2017 at 5:00 AM, updated January 09, 2017 at 9:42 AM

By Joe Frolik, special to the Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland was just 46 years old, a mere child as great cities go, when The Plain Dealer came into its life. This city and this newspaper have been inseparable ever since.

Cleveland has matured and prospered, slumped and rebounded. It has been a center of innovation, a magnet for immigrants and a poster child for post-industrial decline. It’s given the world John D. Rockefeller, Tom Johnson and the Stokes brothers. A burning river and the best band in the land. Bob Feller, Jim Brown and LeBron James.

For 175 years, The Plain Dealer has told Cleveland’s story. Always on deadline, often imperfectly, the paper has tried to deliver what founder Joseph William Gray promised on Jan. 7, 1842, in the very first issue.

The newspaper, he wrote, would be a lens through which the people of the Western Reserve could see themselves and the rest of the world:

“The Presidential Message was delivered in Washington on Tuesday at 10 o’clock A.M., and was published in this city within three and a quarter days thereafter. The news of the far west is brought to us by steamer at the rate of 15 miles an hour. If WE are not the center of creation, then where is that center?”

Days of old

Gray’s center of creation was home to 6,000 people. The Ohio Canal had recently linked the Ohio River with the Cuyahoga River and the Great Lakes; 10 million pounds a year of wheat, corn, hides and coal flowed through the Port of Cleveland. The first shiploads of Minnesota iron ore would arrive soon.

Iron and coal eventually would make Cleveland an industrial powerhouse and an Arsenal of Democracy. The fortunes created would fund cultural and philanthropic institutions on par with New York or Paris.

But in 1842, pigs still roamed Public Square. Superior Avenue was a sea of mud. There were no street lights, no sewers.

The Plain Dealer that first year was full of stories that would resonate for decades – and sound familiar yet today.

Clevelanders still recovering from the Panic of 1837 worried that banks were unstable and the national debt too large. Factory owners decried unfair foreign competition. The president and Congress barely spoke.

Dispatches from Asia detailed drug abuse in China and the slaughter of a British garrison by Afghan rebels. There was turmoil in the Middle East. A slave rebellion in Jamaica. A deadly earthquake in Haiti. Tension stood between the young Republic of Texas and Mexico.

Armed insurgents demanded voting rights in Rhode Island. A race riot shook Philadelphia. Chicago boomed.

Here, 57 buildings were under construction. A visitor from New Jersey preached the value of public schools. Temperance crusaders destroyed Mr. Robinson’s still in Chagrin Falls. Ohio legislators debated what to do with runaway slaves, and how to deter corruption.

Over the next few years, as immigrants flooded Cleveland and the nation, traditionalists warned that American values were being lost. The Mexican War added California to the Union. The Republican Party was born. Slavery tore at the soul of the country, and a Hudson abolitionist named John Brown took matters into his own hands in Kansas and at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

Civil War

As America rushed toward Civil War, innovators shaped its future: Edwin Drake struck oil. Elias Howe invented the sewing machine, Samuel Morse the telegraph.

A dispatch in The Plain Dealer on June 5, 1844, credited Morse with “the annihilation of space.” Overnight, Gray’s center of creation was closer to the rest of the world. The presidential message that took three days to reach Cleveland in 1842 could now be wired here in moments. The Information Age had begun.

On April 12, 1861, just hours after the first cannon barrage at Fort Sumter, Page One of The Plain Dealer announced:

“The city of Charleston is now bristling with bayonets, and the harbor blazing with rockets and booming with big guns … What a glorious spectacle this would be, were it to defend our common country from a common enemy. But as it is, a sectional war, people of the same blood, descendants of that race of heroic men who fought at Bunker Hill, now with guns intended for a foreign foe, turned against one another, it becomes a sad and sickening sight.”

For four long years, news from Antietam, Shiloh and Gettysburg filled the paper, just as latest from the Marne, Iwo Jima, Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh and Falujah would in years to come. Devastation became normal.

Far removed from the front, Cleveland’s iron mills and shipyards stoked the Union war effort – and prospered. A young merchant used profits made selling grain and meat to the military to enter the oil business. John D. Rockefeller would soon amass America’s greatest private fortune.

After the Civil War

His success mirrored Cleveland’s and Ohio’s in the years after the war. The city’s population grew to 381,000 by 1900. Millionaires’ Row on Euclid Avenue flourished. Ohio replaced Virginia as a birthplace of presidents and became America’s political bellwether.

The nation’s course was rockier. With Lincoln dead, Reconstruction failed to bring reconciliation to the South or lasting equality to blacks. Panics, currency crises and income inequality birthed a new political ideology: Populism. Skilled craftsmen led by Samuel Gompers formed the American Federation of Labor. When white settlers raced into Oklahoma in 1889, Frederick Jackson Turner proclaimed the end of the frontier.

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, Thomas Edison the electric light and the motion picture. Clevelander Charles Brush’s arc lights illuminated city streets and ballparks. Orville and Wilbur Wright of Dayton continued Morse’s “annihilation of space,” though the impact of Kitty Hawk was not immediately apparent:

A three-paragraph story headlined “Machine That Flies” was buried on Page 4 of Dec. 18, 1903’s Plain Dealer: “Two Ohio men have a contrivance that navigates the air.” Three days later, an editorial predicted the Wrights’ achievement “will tend to revive interest in aerial navigation.”

The new century brought tragedy, the Titanic sank and an earthquake leveled San Francisco, and hope. Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive agenda inspired Mayor Tom Johnson’s Cleveland reforms. Women got to vote. America launched a “noble experiment” against demon rum; Prohibition instead spawned organized crime.

War time

An assassin killed the heir to the Austrian throne, and soon Europe was in flames. Three years later, President Woodrow Wilson urged America to join what he promised would be a “war to end all wars.” He was wrong.

World War I was followed by the Roaring ’20s, the Great Depression, and a second, even more horrible global war. Improbably, a patrician New Yorker beloved by everyday Americans led the nation out of economic calamity and to the cusp of victory in World War II. Writing from on Inauguration Day 1933, The Plain Dealer’s Paul Hodges noted:

“The determined voice of Franklin Roosevelt cut like a knife through the gray gloom of low-hanging clouds and the bewildered national consciousness as he pledged the American people immediate action and leadership in the nation’s crisis.”

It still took more than a decade and a monstrous war to restore America’s economy and swagger. On June 6, 1944, Plain Dealer reporter Roelif Loveland rode in a Maurauder bomber piloted by First Lt. Howard C. Quiggle of Cleveland and headed for Normandy:

“We saw the curtain go up this morning on the greatest drama in the history of the world, the invasion of Hitler’s Europe.”

Victory over the Axis was followed by four decades of Cold War, hot wars in Korea and Vietnam, and a nuclear showdown over tiny Cuba. Colonial empires collapsed. Israel was born. Germany, Japan, Western Europe and Korea rose from the ashes to become U.S. allies, and economic competitors.

At home, Americans prospered like never before. The GI Bill created a new middle class. We liked Ike and loved Lucy. Ed Sullivan brought Elvis Presley into our living rooms. Motown, a British Invasion and a counterculture followed.

America survived McCarthyism and inspired by Rosa Park and Martin Luther King began to live up to its ideals. It wasn’t easy. The Army had to integrate schools in Little Rock. Birmingham turned dogs and firehoses on children. In the North, middle-class families fled desegregation orders: Cleveland’s population peaked in 1950 at 914,000. By 2000, it was half that.

For a time in the 60s and 70s, the nation seemed to be imploding. Assassins killed John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert and Dr. King. Hough and Glenville burned as waves of rioting left no American city unscathed. College students raged about the Vietnam War. Ohio National Guardsmen killed four students at Kent State University.

“What is happening to America,” The Plain Dealer asked. “Is the sickness of hate and violence poisoning America?”

Dawning of a new age

There was some good news. In 1962, John Glenn of New Concord became the first American to orbit the earth. A decorated combat pilot before he became an astronaut, Glenn went on to serve four terms in the U.S. Senate – and return to space at age 77. On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong of Wapakoneta took “one giant leap for mankind.”

Glenn and Armstrong embodied American resiliency and optimism. During the closing decades of the 20th Century, the nation battled back against seemingly overwhelming challenges: AIDS, energy shortages, a hostage crisis in Iran. The Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union fell without a shot being fired. Red China embraced capitalism. Air and water quality water improved.

A U.S.-led global coalition forced Iraq out of Kuwait and seemed to herald a new-world order of peace. Technology in the 1990s sparked an economic boom. Giddy commentators proclaimed Pax Americana and suggested that technocrats could now control the business cycle.

Not quite. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, two airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, another dive-bombed the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in western Pennsylvania when its passengers attacked their captors. Sept. 12’s Plain Dealer editorial was blunt:

“The United States is at war today.

“We know not yet with whom, nor precisely why they struck – if the “why” behind the unimaginable horror of yesterday’s terrorist attacks can ever be fully plumbed. But we are at war as surely as we were on Dec. 7, 1941.”

Today, the mastermind of 9/11 is dead, but that war continues against an ever-evolving enemy that prefers terrorism to traditional battlefields. America has survived the worst economic crash since 1929. For the second time in 16 years, we will have a president who lost the popular vote.

Gray’s center of creation was pummeled by the retrenchment of American manufacturing and abandoned by people who believed Northeast Ohio had no future. Even many who stayed embraced self-fulfilling pessimism.

Now a new generation sees not a Mistake by the Lake, but an affordable, livable city blessed with brilliant architecture and an Emerald Necklace, with ethnic diversity and abundant fresh water, with enduring institutions that are the legacy of past success. The once “muddy” Public Square this past year has gone through a multi-million-dollar revival transformation. And thanks to the Cavaliers, the Indians and a well-run Republican Convention, the rest of America may be getting the message too.

After 175 years of tumult and triumphs, The Plain Dealer remains as promised, although drastically changed from its inception. Now the newspaper has a smaller web width, a website (online publication) and is home delivered just a few days each week. But it remains the lens through which the people of the Western Reserve can see themselves and the rest of the world.

What’s Wrong with Cleveland By Rabbi Daniel Jeremy Silver 1985 (with intro by Roldo Bartimole)

What’s Wrong with Cleveland  By Rabbi Daniel Jeremy Silver 1985 (with
intro by Roldo Bartimole)

the link is here

The late Rabbi Daniel Jeremy Silver, who was the spiritual leader of The Temple, gave a sermon in the mid 1980s that should be well remembered by Clevelanders, especially as the city examines why its population has declined so severely over the years.

It may offer some insight into how Cleveland deteriorated and why. I believe it dissected Cleveland’s downfall and the reasons why the city decayed over the years. It suggests the city suffered the inertia of its past success. I think it also gives us something to think about when we get over-excited about projects – like the East Bank Flats development now and Gateway and other costly developments of the past couple of decades.

Cleveland’s greatness, he tells us, was a “matter of historical accident.” Geography, indeed, played a major component in our growth. It was not planned, nor could have been, I’d say.

Rabbi Silver’s words were taken from a sermon he gave in the mid-1980s. It was given wider exposure in the Cleveland Edition on March 6, 1985, more than 25 years ago. To me it’s as fresh as if it were given yesterday.

His words should receive much wider exposure in this day of the internet. It traces our downfall. It details many of the reasons we have failed.

I was particularly struck by his recitation of an attempt by John D. Rockefeller to finance higher education here and the response he got from Samuel Mather, one of Cleveland’s wealthy leaders of our iron ore and steel industry. Mather told Rockefeller that his children and his friends went to Yale. Cleveland didn’t need a great university. Go elsewhere, he advised Rockefeller. Rockefeller did. He gave the first million dollars to the University of Chicago, setting that university on its way to greatness. Cleveland lost its chance.

Rabbi Silver also told us that “… the future of this city does not depend upon entertainment or excitement….” He goes on: “In real life people ask about the necessities – employment and opportunity – before they ask about lifestyle and leisure-time amenities.” How about that?

Here are his words. This is a first attempt to look at Cleveland’s population losses and its tragic downfall as a leading American city.

I suggest anyone interested in the history of the city to print out Rabbi Silver’s address and keep it to read and re-read. It may be 25 years old but it speaks to us today as we make some of the same mistakes.

I hope to be able to trace some of the city’s decline and its causes as I have seen it from the mid-1960s until the present soon.

What’s Wrong with Cleveland
By Rabbi Daniel Jeremy Silver

Cities grow for practical reasons. Cities grow where there is water and farm land. Cities thrive if they serve a special political or economic need. A city’s wealth and population increase as long as the special circumstance remains. A city becomes a lesser place, settles back into relative obscurity, when circumstances change. Some, like Rome, rise, fall and rise again. Some like Nineveh, rise, fall and are heard of no more.

In this country the larger towns of the colonial period – Boston, Newport, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore – came into being and grew because they provided safe harbor for the ships that brought goods and colonists to the New World and carried back to Europe our furs and produce. New York continued to grow because it had a harbor and great river, the Hudson, that could carry its commerce hundreds of miles into the hinterland. Newport did not grow because all it had was a landlocked harbor.

Cleveland was founded as another small trading village on Lake Erie. We began to grow because of the decision to make the village the northern terminus of the Ohio Canal. The canal brought the produce of the hinterland to our port and these goods were then shipped on the lakes eastward to the Erie Canal and to the established cities along the eastern seaboard.

In 1840, shortly after the Ohio Canal was opened, there were 17,000 people in our town. We became a city through a second stoke of good fortune: Iron ore was discovered in the Lake Superior region. Because of the canal, this city was the logical place to marry the ore brought by ships from the Messabi Range, the coal brought by barge from the mines of southern Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania and the limestone brought by wagon and railroad from the Indiana quarries. Here investors built the great blast furnaces that supplied America the steel it needed for industrial expansion. From 1840 to 1870 our population increased tenfold. It is claimed that from 1880 to 1930 we were the fastest growing city in America. By 1930 Cleveland had become America’s sixth city. There was nothing magical about our growth, or really planned. It is a matter of historical accident: the siting of the canal, the discovery of iron ore and the ease of transportation here, the basic materials from which steel is produced.

There is an old Yiddish saying that when a man is wealthy his opinions are always significant and his singing voice is of operatic quality. During the years of rapid growth no one complained about the weather. For most of this period our symphony orchestra was a provincial organization and our art museum was either non-existent or a fledgling operation; yet, no one complained about the lack of cultural amenities. Our ball club wasn’t much better than it is today, but no one was quoted as saying that the town’s future depended on winning a pennant. There was then no domed stadium and no youth culture. Yet, young people of ambition and talent came. They came because there was opportunity here.

Those who believe that the solution to our current faltering status lies in a public relations program to reshape our tarnished image or in the reviving of downtown are barking up the wrong tree. We all welcome the city’s cultural resurgence – that Playhouse Square is being developed and that there is a new Play House – but, ultimately, the future of this city does not depend on entertainment or excitement, but upon economics. In real life people ask about the necessities – employment and opportunity – before they ask about lifestyle or leisure-time amenities.

We grew because we served the nation’s economy. We fell on hard times when the country no longer needed our services or products. Fifty years ago the nation and the world needed the goods we provided. Today the world no longer needs these goods in such quantity, and we can no longer produce our projects at competitive prices.

Once upon a time the steel we forged could be shipped across the country and outsell all competition. Today steel can be brought to west coast ports from Asia and to east coast ports from Europe and sold more cheaply than steel made here. The Steel Age is over and so is the age of the assembly-line factories that used our machine tools. This is the age of electronics and robotics, and these are not the goods in which we specialize.

Cleveland grew steadily until the Depression when, like the rest of the country, it suffered. Unlike many other areas we did not recover our élan after the Depression and World War II. It is not hard to know why. We were a city for the Steel Age. America was entering the High Tech Age. We lacked the plant, the scientific know-how and, sadly, the will to develop new products and new markets. The new age was beginning and the leaders in Cleveland preferred to believe that little had changed. We played the ostrich with predictably disastrous results. The numbers are sobering. The human cost they represented far more so. There were some 300,000 blue-collar jobs in the area by 1970. By 1971 this number had been reduced to 275,000 and by 1983 to 210,000. One in four factory jobs available 15 years ago no longer exists.

Cleveland lacks the two special circumstances that have made for the prosperity of certain American cities in the post-war era: government and advanced technologic research. This has been a time of expanding government bureaucracies and of the transformation of our information and control systems. Silicon Valley is the symbol of the new economy. We are a city of blast furnaces and steel sheds, not sophisticated laboratories.

The years between 1980 and 1982 were a time of national economic stringency, but the number of jobs available in the United States still grew by slightly under 1 percent. In the same period Cleveland lost 50,000 jobs between 1982 and 1984; when there was resurgence in employment levels, Cleveland lost another 30,000 jobs. The census for metropolitan Cleveland indicates that between 1970 and 1980, 168,000 people left the area and that the exodus continues at about the rate of 10,000 a year.

These facts should give pause to anyone who still believes that Cleveland will again become what Cleveland was a half-century ago. The numbers are sometimes rationalized as the result of the elderly leaving for warmer climates and a falling birth rate. These are factors, but the heart of the exodus has been our children. Our young, excited by new ideas, believe that another market will offer more opportunity or that their professional careers will be enhanced if they settle elsewhere.

Why has this happened to Cleveland?

Labor blames management. Management did not reinvest in new plant and equipment or research. When local corporations expanded into electronics, they generally built plants elsewhere. Management blames high labor costs and low labor productivity. Both groups are right, but in the final analysis, whatever the mistakes our political, business and labor leaders make, these alone do not account for Cleveland’s slide. Had there been fewer mistakes this town would still be suffering a serious economic downturn. We no longer are in the right place with the right stuff. (My emphasis.)

Our inability to adjust to a new set of circumstances is the inevitable result of a prevailing state of mind that can only be called provincial. Over the years Cleveland has been comfortable, conservative and self-satisfied. Clevelanders believed, because they wanted to believe, that what was would always be. Those who raised question were politely heard but not listened to. The city fathers set little value on new ideas, or indeed, on the mind. Business did not encourage research. Our universities were kept on meager rations. I know of no other major American city which has such a meager academic base.

A vignette: In the mid-1880s, John D. Rockefeller, then in the first flush of his success, went to see the town’s patriarch, Samuel Mather. He wanted to talk to Mather about Western Reserve College. Rockefeller believed that his hometown should have a great university. He knew that Mather was proud of Western Reserve and each year made up from his own pocketbook any small deficit. But Western Reserve College was small potatoes and Rockefeller proposed that the leadership of Cleveland pool its resources and turn the school into a first-line university. Mr. Mather was satisfied with Western Reserve Academy. It was just fine for Cleveland. He and those close to him sent their sons and their grandsons to Yale for a real education. He listened to Rockefeller, thanked him for his interest and suggested that he might take his dream somewhere else. John D. took his advice and in 1890 gave the first million dollars to the University of Chicago, a grant that set that university on its way to become what Western Reserve University is not – one of the first-rank universities in the country.

The same attitude of provincial self-satisfaction was to be found among our public officials. At the turn of the century we were certainly the dominate political force in the state; yet, when Ohio’s public university system began to expand, no one had the vision to propose establishing a major urban university in Cleveland whose research facilities would concern themselves with the problems of the city, its people and its industry. Again, in the 1950s, during the second period of major expansion by the state university system, Cleveland showed little interest. I am told that at first the town fathers actually opposed the establishment of Cleveland State University. They came around, of course, but ours is still one of the branches with the least research potential and fewest laboratories. Even today much of what it does is limited to the retraining of those who came out of our city schools and to the training of those who will occupy third-level jobs in the electronic and computer world. Change is in the air. Our universities are struggling to come of age, but a half century, at least, has been lost because Cleveland did not prize one of God’s most precious gifts – the mind.

Some argue that those who ran Cleveland limited their academic community because they did not want an intelligentsia to develop here. Academics and writers have a well-known propensity for promoting disturbing economic and political ideas. The comfortable and complacent do not want their attitudes questioned, but Cleveland’s lack of interest in ideas extended beyond political conservatism. Our leaders do not subsidize research and development in their corporations or in the university. Case was not heavily funded for basic research. Instead, it was encouraged to provide the training for mechanical and electrical engineers, the middle-level people needed by the corporations. It is only in the years of economic decline that our business leadership has begun to provide money for the research that ultimately creates new business opportunities and provides new employment.

Cleveland did not, however, fall behind in one area of technology: medical research. If the city fathers believed that the Steel Age would last forever, that real education took place back East and that it was wise and proper for them to look for investment opportunities elsewhere, they still lived here and the made sure that first-rate health care was available. Our hospitals have been well-financed. Medical research has been promoted. Such research was valuable and non-controversial, and the results of this continuing investment are clear. The medical field has been the one bright spot in an otherwise gloomy economic picture. Our hospitals are renowned worldwide. The research being done here is state-of-the-art. Recently the medical industry has come on straitened times, be even so, the gains are there and it is not hard to see what might have happened in other areas had our investment in ideas and idea people been significant and sustained.

Cleveland majored in conventional decency rather than in critical thinking. Our town has a well deserved reputation in the areas of social welfare and private philanthropy. Social work here has been of a high order. Until World War II the city had one of the finest public school systems in the country. We were concerned with the three Rs, but research goes beyond the three Rs. We never made the leap of intellect and investment that is required when you accept the fact that the pace of change in our world is such that yesterday is the distant past and tomorrow will be a different world.

We have fallen lengths and decades behind cities whose leaders invested money, time and human resources in preparing for the 21st Century. They broke new ground and laid foundations for change. We stayed with the familiar. As long as the economy depended upon machines and those who could tinker with machines, Cleveland did well. But when it was no longer a question of having competent mechanics retool for the next year’s production but a question of devising entirely new means of production, we could no longer compete. To a large extent, we still cannot.

In recent years Cleveland’s industrial leadership seems to have come awake to our mind and research gap, but the CEOs of the major corporations no longer have the power to singlehandedly make over the economy. In the High Tech Age, the factory that employs thousands of people is no longer the dominate force. Three out of every four jobs that have been created over the past decade have developed in businesses that are either brand new or employ fewer than 100 people. Those who lead old-time production line corporations struggle not to fall further and further behind and are an unlikely source of jobs.

Another problem has been that for decades the major banks were not eager to support bright, young outsiders who had drive and an idea but little ready cash. We all know people who went to our banks, were turned down, left town and set up successful businesses elsewhere. The officers of our lending institutions preached free enterprise and entrepreneurship, but most of their loans were to the stable, old-line corporations. For all their praise of capitalism, they were not risk takers. New business formation here has lagged behind that in most other cities. The birth of new business in Cleveland over the past three decades has been about 25 percent lower than the rate of new-business birth in other second-tier cities. Despite a new openness at the banks, we continue to trail. Catch-up takes a long time.

Cleveland’s business leadership has become aware of the need for research and development and of the need to stake bright young men and women who have ideas and are willing to risk their best efforts to make these successful; but even as we come alive to the importance of the inquiring mind and the risk takers of the academy and the research laboratory, we must recognize that Cleveland has a special albatross about its neck; Cleveland is not a city. There are over 30 self-governing districts in Cuyahoga County. There are over 100 self-governing communities in the metropolitan area. What we call Cleveland is an accumulation of competing fiefdoms.

This sad situation is also a result of our parochial outlook and our unwillingness to look ahead. It is easier to let each group draw into itself than to work out ways to adjust competing needs and interests. The result is a diminished city. There were 970,000 residents of the city in 1945; there are 520,000 today (My note: Try 396,815 as of 2010). Only one in four Clevelanders live within the metropolitan area. The economic gap and the gap of understanding between the suburbs and the city and between suburb and suburb has widened, not narrowed, over the years.

Those who live here lack of shared agenda because we have allowed each area to go its own way and seek its special advantage. Some of our fiefdoms are run simply for the benefit of their traffic courts. Others are run for the benefit of white or black power groups. Some exist to protect the genteel ways of an America that no longer exists. Each is prepared to put obstacles in the way of community planning when a proposal threatens its attitudes or interests.

Do you remember those small groups of white and blacks that used to meet on the High Level Bridge to signify that we were really one city? Their tiny numbers, the very fact that their actions were seen as symbolic, underscored how far we have moved away from each other. To be sure, Clevelanders meet together in non-political forums where we profess infinite good will and talk of shared goals, but the talk rarely leads to decisive actions. Why? We lack a political area where our needs are necessarily brought forward and brokered. We lack a political structure that would force us to adjust our interests and develop an agenda to which we could commit ourselves, and until such a structure is in place we will not be able to marshal the shared purpose.

When suburbanites look at the problem of the city, they tend to focus on the long-range economic problems: how to create jobs and prosperity. Any who live in the city have no work in the city or outside it. Their problem is not how we can, over a 5-year period, establish X number of new businesses that will provide X number of new jobs, but how to keep body and soul together; how to provide food, clothing and shelter for their families. We do not see the immediacy of their needs. They do not see the wisdom of our plans, and inevitably we frustrate each other’s hopes. The suburbs mumble about their particular concerns and the community stumbles into a future for which it cannot plan.

In 1924 the citizens of Lakewood and West Park voted on a proposal to annex their communities to the city of Cleveland. That proposal was defeated soundly. Since then every proposal to create countywide government has failed and failed badly. Yet it should be clear to all that only when we succeed in becoming citizens of a single community will we be able to do much about our economy and our future.

Because the city’s concerns stop at the borders, its ability to handle the future stops at its borders. The same is, of course, true of the suburbs. In Columbus the city grew by annexing to itself the farm land on which the commercial parks and the new suburbs were built. In Cleveland we went the other way; today you could do some large-scale farming within the city limits.

Will we confront this structural challenge and create metropolitan government? I see little reason to believe that we will. Our history has, if anything, intensified racial and class polarization. If we become a unified city, every group and municipality will lose some precious advantage. I can’t imagine the citizens of Moreland Hills wanting to throw in their lot with the citizens of Hough. Many minorities would lose their power base. The suburbs would no longer be able to provide services tailored to the middle class and would have to bear an expensive welfare load. Yet, until we unite politically we will be unable to address effectively the needs of Cleveland tomorrow. We simply cannot plan constructively so long as members of our many councils are able to thwart well-intentioned proposals.

Recent years have been better years for this city. There has been significant construction downtown. The highway system is in place. We have created regional transport, regional hospitals, and a regional sewage system. But big buildings downtown do not guarantee the city’s future. Big buildings can be empty buildings, as some of them are. Regional transport can mean empty buses. The future of Cleveland rests first on a revived economy. A revived economy depends upon bright people and new ideas. People do not get ideas out of the air. Ideas begin in our schools, universities and laboratories. High-quality education is costly. The future for Cleveland cannot be bought cheaply.

A meaningful future depends upon a new recognition of where a city’s strength lies. It’s nice that our suburbs are famous for their green lawns and lovely homes. It’s nice that everybody agrees that Cleveland is a wonderful place to raise children. It’s a wonderful place to raise children if you don’t want your children to live near you when they become adults. As things stand now, they will make their futures elsewhere. Our suburbs are the result of yesterday’s prosperity. Employment and political unity must be today’s goals if we are to have a satisfying future.

Unfortunately, we did not prepare in the fat years for a time when we no longer could take advantage of the circumstances that had made us prosperous. Those who study such things say that if the American economy stays healthy and the formation of new businesses in Cleveland continues at its present rate, we will be fortunate if in 1990 we have the same number of jobs we had in 1970.

Our future is to be a second-tier city. I do not find that such a discouraging prospect. A prosperous city of two million can be a satisfying place and can provide many amenities. But before we can feel sure even of a second-tier status, we must develop a new economic base and a renewed concern for community. We need to reevaluate our attitudes toward the mind. It is tragic that one in two who enter the city schools never graduate.

Of those who graduate – the best – who enroll in Cleveland State University, 51 percent need remedial work in mathematics; 62 percent need remedial work in English. Half the city’s children do not graduate from high school. More than half who graduate are not prepared for this world. Is this any way to prepare for the 21st Century?

When the rabbis were asked “who is the happy man?” they answered, “the person who is happy with his own lot.” The question that Clevelanders must ask is whether we can be happy even if we are not now, and will not become again, one of the premier cities in the country. The answer seems to me obvious. We can. But even the modest hope will escape us unless we put behind us the stand-patism that has characterized our past. We must put our minds and imaginations to work in planning for an economy and a community suited to the world of tomorrow.

Death by politicians by Roldo Bartimole 1.10.2017

DEATH BY POLITICIANS
by Roldo Bartimole

January 10th, 2017

170110-roldo-ed-hauserPhoto used courtesy of Scene.

He’s a nice guy. He’s earnest. He’s honest for a politician. He’s likely a good family man. He’s competent. He’s reliable. Don’t think he’d purposely do anyone a wrong. A stand-up guy.

But he’s going to KILL someone.

He’s a Republican Senator. Rob Portman. Of Ohio.

He’ll vote with the gang.

The gang wants to kill so-called Obamacare. It insures many people who cannot get medical coverage ANY OTHER WAY.

They want to kill it bad.

So that reminds me of a man I knew. I couldn’t call him a friend but maybe I could. He’s gone.
He’s gone because in 2008 he didn’t have any medical insurance.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed the U. S. Senate Dec. 24, 2009. It became law in 2010.

His name was Ed Hauser. He was one of the good guys.

He died some months before he could have gotten coverage along with millions of other Americans.

It’s the federal act Republicans want to kill. And Sen. Rob Portman will help.

Hauser death, I wrote back in December 2008 “was a tragedy that didn’t have to happen.”

In many other countries, I wrote about Ed, “It would not have happened,” and continued: “Ed died because America doesn’t have the decency to protect its own citizens with the health care that’s basic in all other industrial societies.”

I know he shouldn’t have died because he died on the way to the hospital. They called it: “Heart attack.”

He had been delaying care because he didn’t have coverage, except for catastrophic care, his friend Cathy Stahurski told me. She drove him to the hospital that day.

She felt he didn’t want to seek help because he didn’t have insurance coverage. And he was unemployed at the time.

Hauser had been an electric engineer but had been laid off a decade before from LTV Steel. He had been working temporary jobs but at the time of his death he wasn’t employed.

He didn’t just sit home.

Ed had become a civic activist. You’d see him at meetings with his video camera, watch-dogging public bodies. He was a Citizen.

One of his causes was Whiskey Island. He took people there, including me, to see what should be saved if only citizens would pay attention.

People called him “Mayor of Whiskey Island.” It’s really a peninsula at the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie.

Michael Roberts wrote in Cleveland Magazine: “Hauser is a pain—a persistent, nagging, unyielding pain. On the medical scale of one to 10, he would rate a 19. What makes him so painful is that he challenges the way the town and its dysfunctional government work.”

Ed Hauser waited too long for medical care because he couldn’t pay for it and had no insurance.

There was no Obamacare at the time.

He was a casualty of our government’s lack of concern.

It took a lot to pass the health care bill. Even though it was modeled after the Massachusetts bill passed under Mitt Romney. Remember him? He was a Republican.

Only Democrats in the Senate voted for the bill. Republicans have been playing a political game ever since. Telling citizens they would kill Obamacare and replace it with something better.

But everyone knows, including Sen. Portman, that they have no better replacement and if they had they wouldn’t pass it.

So Sen. Portman will kill some unknown Ed Hauser if he votes to kill the health care bill. And he will.

It’s as simple as that.

Death by politician.

Why Mike Curtin’s retiring from politics May 13, 2016, Tom Knox Reporter Columbus Business First

Why Mike Curtin’s retiring from politics

May 13, 2016, 6:00am EDT

A political scribe’s pen can pack more wallop in Columbus than a politician, especially when the writer is an outnumbered Democrat in the conservative Ohio House of Representatives.

Mike Curtin knew what he was getting into in 2012, when he traded in his reporter’s hat for a seat on Capitol Square. The homegrown journalist who rose from reporter to president of Dispatch Printing Co., owner of the Columbus Dispatch, won election nearly four years ago to the 17th District that covers much of the Hilltop, Valleyview and other down-and-out west side neighborhoods.

Even as a lawmaker, Curtin kept penning political tomes, including recently updating the Ohio Politics Almanac with a third edition.

But legislating is a time-consuming job, especially in one of the poorest districts in Ohio. Curtin, who turns 65 this summer, won’t run for re-election this year so that he can spend more time traveling with his wife and watching his grandkids grow.

“And quite frankly, I want to research and write more,” Curtin said. “If I have a talent, it’s more of a journalistic talent than a policy maker talent.”

Curtin started in 1973 as a reporter at the Dispatch and focused mostly on politics. He rose through the ranks to become the daily newspaper’s editor and eventually vice chairman in 2005. Along the way, Curtin became one of the state’s most respected journalists. He retired in 2007 but consulted with the Wolfe family-owned newspaper until he began his short legislative career.

“I was the Jim Siegel of this place in the early to mid ’80s,” Curtin said, referencing the Dispatch’s current Statehouse reporter.

As a state legislator, Curtin noted just how stark partisanship can be, which he blames in part on gerrymandering. But that’s an obvious analysis for many who follow politics.

More nuanced might be his observation about law enforcement’s diminished status at Capitol Square. In the 1980s and ’90s, police-affiliated groups could flex considerable political muscle when they were united on issues like firearms legislation, Curtin said. Words of caution from the Fraternal Order of Police, Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association, Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police carried clout when they urged tighter regulations on guns.

“Today they’re patted on the heads and they (legislators) say, ‘Thank you very much for your input,’ ” Curtin said. “The attitude here is there ought to be no regulations. It’s a national trend in the Republican Party and certainly true here. Just the disdain for regulation – in my view reasonable regulation like background checks – that’s the biggest disappointment and biggest surprise.”

Indeed, a May 8 column by political writer Thomas Suddes identified utilities, banks, insurers, nursing home operators and oil and gas drillers – but not the police – as those with the most influence at the Statehouse.

Curtin thinks expanding term limits would help some of what ails policy making. Since 2000, Ohio lawmakers in both chambers have had their stays limited to eight years, though they can spend more time on Capitol Square through a loophole that allows them to switch between the Senate and House. Curtin would like to see the maximum extended to 12 years, preserving institutional knowledge on complex issues such as energy and the environment that can take up to five years to master.

“In my view we need the Ron Amstutzs, we need the Jack Ceras. We need the people who have the long view and understand how we got to where we are,” he said of the experienced Republican and Democratic representatives.

That’s a part of why Curtin wants to get back into explanatory journalism – taking a public policy issue and reaching back in time to explain how it came to be. He did that in the 1990s during the DeRolph v. State of Ohio school funding debate that ended in the state Supreme Court’s ruling Ohio’s funding mechanism was unconstitutional.

More recently, changing the composition of the Columbus City Council to 13 members from seven and moving to district representation are proposals ripe for the kind of analysis Curtin hopes to provide.