Port seeks to become steward of river, lake (Crain’s Cleveland Business 7/25/11)

from Crain’s Cleveland Business July 25, 2011

The link is here

Port seeks to become steward of river, lake

Agency expands reach under its strategic plan

By JAY MILLER
4:30 am, July 25, 2011

A second regional government is going through a makeover. Just as Cuyahoga County government has been remaking itself under new County Executive Ed FitzGerald after a major corruption scandal, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority is coming clean and rebranding itself under its president of one year, William Friedman. Last week, in unveiling a new strategic plan, the Port Authority officially signaled it was abandoning its ambitions to be a real estate developer on port land. Instead, it wants to be seen as a green agency that’s protecting the Cuyahoga River even as it refocuses on its business role as a dock operator on the Great Lakes. In short, it’s positioning itself to be the steward of the lakefront and the Cuyahoga. The changes come after a plan to move the docks to East 55th Street proved to be financially unachievable — or, as a new policy statement explains in a mea culpa, “overly ambitious.” The agency is refashioning itself a year before it must go back to voters to renew, and possibly increase, the small, 0.13-mill property tax levy that currently covers about 40% of the agency’s annual revenue, which totaled $7.9 million in 2010. “The Port Authority believes preserving the river channel and maritime industries are critical responsibilities,” Mr. Friedman reported to his board of directors last Wednesday, July 20. “We are prepared to lead that effort.” Later that day, in a meeting with the Crain’s editorial board, Mr. Friedman said the needs of the lakefront and the river channel are so great it could take $250 million over the next decade or longer to restore the waterfront infrastructure. That investment is needed to protect what the strategic plan calculates are 17,832 jobs and $1.81 billion in annual economic activity tied to Port of Cleveland docks and to private berths along the river. It’s likely the Port Authority would seek state and federal money to cover as much of the cost of this work as possible, though Mr. Friedman told the Crain’s editorial board the agency also could use its tax receipts.“The port’s tax levy is a pretty logical place to look,” he said. Mr. Friedman said money from the Port Authority’s levy could be used to support a long-term bond issue. But first, the Port Authority must beef up its cargo operations, which now are losing money and are subsidized in part by the tax levy.

Oh, Canada 

The new strategic plan calls for pursuing various avenues for cargo growth. Mr. Friedman said he believes interest is developing among shippers for a new container cargo route that would bring goods chiefly shipped from northern Europe to Cleveland via Montreal. He also said he is pursuing a cargo ferry that would shuttle from a Canadian port on Lake Erie to Cleveland. This ferry would be in addition to a planned passenger ferry service the Port Authority is negotiating with local Ontario officials in Port Stanley. Beyond those measures, the Port Authority master plan sees potential for cargo from the wind energy industry and even an increase in steel and other traditional lake cargo as the port pursues business from shippers. Bradley Hull, associate professor of management and business logistics at John Carroll University, said he believes the cargo business can be built. Dr. Hull worked as a consultant to the Port Authority earlier this decade and surveyed local companies for their interest in shipping containers through the Port of Cleveland. “There were probably about 20 big companies in Cleveland that were interested in it,” he said. “They never said, “Yes I would do this,’ but there weren’t any steamship companies interested in coming to Cleveland at the time.” Dr. Hull said he believes there is more than enough business for a once-a-week container ship shuttle between Cleveland and Montreal. Arnie de la Porte, honorary consul for the Netherlands, likewise believes this new cargo plan makes sense. Netherlands shipping lines call frequently at the Port of Cleveland. “One of the biggest problems we had at the port was uncertainty — they talked about moving, about taking away certain things — and everyone (in the shipping community) became nervous,” Mr. de la Porte said. “This strategic plan makes sense.”

Dibs on the Cuyahoga 

The Port Authority also is looking to broaden its domain and its relevance by positioning itself as the keeper of the Cuyahoga. It makes the case that maintaining the river as a navigable channel for shippers who bring bulk cargo up the river — such as the iron ore that is vital to the ArcelorMittal steel mill in the Flats — is a key factor in maintaining the health of the port. “I feel strongly that it is the right thing for the Port Authority as a matter of public policy to address the needs of the river,” Mr. Friedman said. Sections of the bulkhead that prevent the erosion of the riverbank are crumbling. In one section, this erosion has caused the closure of Riverbed Road because its base has shifted downhill. A landslide that breached the bulkhead could close the river to navigation.

Out with the old … 

The new strategic plan formalizes a significant shift from the direction the port had been heading last decade. Five years ago the Port Authority was making headlines as a real estate wheeler and dealer, as it embarked on a bold plan to remake the waterfront east from the Cuyahoga River. It even went a step further and offered its development financing know-how to rebuild NASA Glenn Research Center. In part, the port’s real estate bent reflected the temperment of board chairman John Carney, a real estate developer who had seen the transformation of the Spanish port of Bilboa — an Atlantic port city smaller than Cleveland — while on a vacation/fact-gathering trip. He saw a similar opportunity in Cleveland. But the port’s vision collapsed as newly appointed board members balked at the growing expense of a ballooning staff and questioned the Port Authority’s ability to afford new, larger docks, forcing the abrupt resignation in November 2009 of Port Authority president Adam Wasserman.

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Early and Mid 20th Century History of Regional Government in Cuyahoga County from The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Regional Government from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Covers early and mid 20th century efforts towards Regional or Metropolitan Government in Cuyahoga County

The link is here

REGIONAL GOVERNMENT – The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

REGIONAL GOVERNMENT. The regional government movement was an effort by civic reformers to solve by means of a broader-based government metropolitan problems arising from the dispersion of urban populations from central cities to adjacent suburbs. When suburban growth accelerated after WORLD WAR II, reform coalitions proposed various governing options, with mixed results. In the 1950s approximately 45 proposals calling for a substantial degree of government integration were put on the ballot. However, supporters failed to make a compelling case for change in areas where diverse political interests had to be accommodated, and less than one in four won acceptance. The most successful efforts to create regional government occurred in smaller, more homogeneous urban areas such as Davidson County (Nashville), Tennessee (1962), and Marion County (Indianapolis), Indiana (1969).

Cleveland was Cuyahoga County’s most populous city by the mid-19th century, and as it continued to grow adjacent communities petitioned for annexation in order to obtain its superior municipal services. As Cleveland’s territorial growth slowed after the turn of the century, a movement was launched by the CITIZENS LEAGUE OF GREATER CLEVELAND to install countywide metropolitan government “while 85% of the area’s population still live in Cleveland and before the problems of urban growth engulf us,” as the League put it in 1917. These reformers believed that the conflicting interests present in the city’s diverse population encouraged political separatism and helped create a corrupt and inefficient government controlled by political bosses. They argued that consolidating numerous jurisdictions into a scientifically managed regional government would improve municipal services, lower taxes, and reconcile the differences within urban society under the aegis of a politically influential middle class. In essence, their proposals were designed to remedy the abuses of democratic government by separating the political process from the administrative function.

Local reformers were unable to achieve their goals by enlarging the city through annexation. The lure of better city services was not an incentive to those prosperous SUBURBS which could afford to provide comparable benefits to their residents and which preferred to distance themselves from the city’s burgeoning immigrant population, machine politics, and the pollution generated by its industries. Cleveland’s good-government groups focused on restructuring CUYAHOGA COUNTY GOVERNMENT either by city-county consolidation or by a federative arrangement whereby county government assumed authority over metropolitan problems, while the city retained its local responsibilities.

Originally, county government in Ohio had been organized as an administrative arm of the state, with three county commissioners exercising only those powers granted to them by the state legislature. To obtain the, metropolitan government these progressive reformers envisioned, a state constitutional amendment was needed to increase the authority of these administrative units to a municipal level. The Citizens League submitted such an amendment to the Ohio legislature in 1917, allowing city-county consolidation in counties of more than 100,000 population. It was turned down, but was resubmitted at each biennial session until it became clear that opposition from the rural-dominated legislature required a new approach. Regional advocates then proposed a limited grant of power under a county home-rule charter allowing it to administer municipal functions with metropolitan service areas, establish a county legislature to enact ordinances, and reorganize its administrative structure. Despite backing from civic, commercial and farm organizations, Ohio’s General Assembly still refused to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, but its backers secured enough signatures on initiative petitions to submit it directly to the voters, who approved it in 1933.

The amendment required four separate majorities to adopt a home rule charter which involved transfer of municipal functions to the county: in the county as a whole, in the largest municipality in the county, in the total county area outside the largest municipality, and in each of a majority of the total number of municipalities and townships in the county. The fourth majority allowed small communities to veto a reform desired by the urban majority. Ostensibly designed to ensure a broad consensus of voters if the central city was to lose any of its municipal functions, this added barrier satisfied Ohio’s rural interests, a majority of whom were unwilling to open the door for a megagovernment on the shores of Lake Erie.

Metropolitan home rule proved to be a durable issue in Cuyahoga County; between 1935 and 1980 voters had 6 opportunities to approve some form of county reorganization. When an elected commission wrote the first Cuyahoga County Home Rule Charter in 1935, the central problem was how much and what kind of authority the county government should have. Fervent reformers within the commission, led by MAYO FESLER†, head of the Citizens League, wanted a strong regional authority and sharply restricted municipal powers. Consequently, they presented a borough plan that was close to city-county consolidation. The proposal crystallized opposition from political realists on the commission who advocated a simple county reorganization which needed approval from Cleveland and a majority of the county’s voters. Any transfer of municipal functions required agreement by the four majorities specified in the constitutional amendment. The moderates prevailed, and a carefully worded county home rule charter was submitted to the voters in 1935, calling for a county reorganization with a 9-man council elected at large which could pass ordinances. The council also appointed a county director, a chief executive officer with the authority to, manage the county’s administrative functions and select the department heads, eliminating the need for most of the elected county officials. HAROLD H. BURTON†, chairman of the Charter Commission, and popular Republican candidate for mayor, promoted his candidacy and passage of the home rule charter as a cost-cutting measure. Both Burton and the charter received a substantial majority in Cleveland, and the charter was also approved by a 52.9% majority countywide, supported by the eastern suburbs adjacent to Cleveland and outlying enclaves of wealth such as HUNTING VALLEY and GATES MILLS. Opposition came from voters in the semi-developed communities east of the city, together with all the southern and western municipalities in the county. The countywide majority was sufficient for a simple reorganization, but before the charter could be implemented its validity was contested in the case of Howland v. Krause, which reached the Ohio Supreme Court in 1936. The court ruled that the organization of a 9-man council represented a transfer of authority, and all four majorities were required–effectively nullifying the charter, since 47 of the 59 municipalities outside Cleveland had turned it down.

A county home rule charter continued to be an elusive goal. After World War II the accelerated dispersion of Cleveland’s population to the suburbs encouraged reformers to try again. When the voters overwhelmingly approved the formation of a Home Rule Charter commission in 1949 and again in 1958, it was viewed as another projected improvement in municipal life: an improvement comparable to the construction of a downtown airport; the expansion of Cleveland’s public transportation system; and the creation of integrated freeways. Metropolitan reformers agreed. They were concerned about the growing fragmentation of government service units and decision-making powers in the suburbs and the unequal revenue sources available to them. This made the need for regional government even more urgent. In addition, Cleveland was hard pressed to expand its water and sewage disposal systems to meet suburban demands for service, making those municipal functions prime candidates for regionalization.

Democratic mayors THOMAS BURKE† and Anthony Celebrezze counseled a gradual approach to the reform efforts. The elected charter commissions, however, pursued their own political agenda, unwilling to compromise their views on regional government to suit the city’s ethnic-based government. The commissioners, a coalition of good government groups and politicians from both parties, wrote strong metropolitan charters calling for 
a wholesale reorganization of Cuyahoga County which would expand its political control. Two key provisions in each charter demonstrated the sweeping changes in authority that would occur. An elected legislature would be chosen either at-large (1950) or in combination with district representatives (1959),, isolating ward politics from the governing process and ensuring that the growing suburbs would acquire more influence over regional concerns. The reorganized county would have exclusive authority over all the listed municipal functions with regional service areas and the right to determine compensation due Cleveland for the transfer without its consent (1950), or in conjunction with the Common Pleas Court (1959). If approved, these charters could significantly change the political balance of political power within Cuyahoga County.

Charter advocates, led by the Citizens League and the LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS (LWV) OF CLEVELAND, argued that a streamlined county government with efficient management could act on a score of regional improvements which would benefit the entire area. However, they were unable to articulate the genuine sense of crisis needed for such a change. The majority of voters who had elected the charter commissions approved county home rule in theory; but, faced with specific charters, they found the arguments for county reorganization unconvincing. Cleveland officials successfully appealed to city voters, forecasting that the charters would raise their taxes and “rip up” the city’s assets. Many suburbs also were skeptical, viewing comprehensive metropolitan government as a threat to their municipal independence. As a result, the 1950 and 1959 charters failed to receive a majority. Three more attempts were made by the same good-government groups. An alternate form of county government establishing only a legislature and an elected county administrator was turned down by voters in 1969, 1970, and again in 1980 with opposition from a growing number of AFRICAN AMERICANS, unwilling to dilute their newly acquired political authority by participating in a broader based government. In 1980 only 43.7% approved the change, and there were no further attempts to reorganize Cuyahoga County government. It was clear that a majority of voters cared little about overlapping authorities within the county, they were not persuaded that adding a countywide legislature would produce more efficient management or save money, and most importantly, they wanted to retain their access to and control of local government.

While the future of county home rule was being debated during the postwar period, other means were found to solve regional problems. Cuyahoga County quietly expanded its ability to provide significant services in the fields of public health and welfare by agreeing to take over Cleveland’s City Hospital, Hudson School for Boys, and BLOSSOM HILL SCHOOL FOR GIRLS in 1957. Independent single function districts were established in the 1960s and 1970s to manage municipal services such as water pollution control, tax collection, and mass transit–services that existing local governments were unable or unwilling to undertake. These districts had substantial administrative and fiscal autonomy and were usually governed by policymaking, boards or commissions, many of them appointed by elected government officials. Most were funded by federal, state, and county grants or from taxes, and several had multicounty authority. These inconspicuous governments solved many of the area’s problems, but their increasing use also added to the complexity of local governance. Critics maintained that districts, using assets created with public funds, were run by virtually independent professional managers, making decisions outside public scrutiny with no accountability to the electorate. Nevertheless, in Cuyahoga County the limited authority granted to them was an acceptable alternative to comprehensive metropolitan reform–one that did not threaten existing political relationships.

The comprehensive charters written in 1950 and 1959 represented the apogee of the regional government movement in Cleveland. However, the elitist reformers who wrote them eschewed substantive negotiations with the city’s cosmopolitan administrations and failed to appease the political sensibilities of county voters who preferred a “grassroots” pattern of dispersed political power. Carrying on the progressive spirit of the failed CITY MANAGER PLAN, they attempted to impose regional solutions that would significantly change political relationships in the area–a single-minded approach that constituted a formidable obstacle to any realistic metropolitan integration.

Mary B. Stavish

Case Western Reserve University

Last Modified: 21 Nov 2009 01:53:20 PM

Western Reserve Plan – Current Plan for Cuyahoga County Government

The link is here

Plan Highlights:

The Western Reserve Plan will focus on these 12 key areas:

  1. Metropolitan Government:
    Implementing a practical strategy for creating a functioning, county-wide metropolitan government.
  2. Entrepreneurship and Job Growth:
    Establishing Greater Cleveland as a center of entrepreneurship and job growth.
  3. Downtown Cleveland:
    Designing a place-based development strategy which recognizes the centrality of downtown Cleveland to the region as a whole.
  4. Human Service Needs:
    Aligning and coordinating both public and private resources around our most pressing human service needs.
  5. Education:
    Identifying education, from early childhood forward, as the central factor in individual and community success.
  6. Health and Wellness:
    Embracing a health and wellness culture which mirrors the excellence of our major medical institutions.
  7. Economic Inclusion:
    Incorporating economic inclusion as a guiding principle in our economic development strategy.
  8. International City/Younger Generations:
    Branding our metropolitan area as an international city which harnesses the energy of our younger generations.
  9. Foreclosure Crisis:
    Adopting a collaborative approach to the foreclosure crisis- from prevention to restoration.
  10. Veterans:
    Honoring the service of our veterans by giving them priority in hiring, training and education.
  11. Public Safety:
    Protecting our county by leading a county-wide public safety initiative.
  12. Good Government:
    Creating a culture within county government which implements nationally recognized good government practices and innovations.

Ohio Flood of 1913

From the Chillicothe Gazette, March 15, 2013

The link is here:

http://www.chillicothegazette.com/article/20130316/NEWS01/303160001/Public-largely-has-forgotten-Ohio-s-Flood-1913

Public largely has forgotten Ohio’s Flood of 1913

Written by Russ Zimmer CentralOhio.com

By any measurement, the Flood of 1913 was the most significant catastrophe in Ohio’s history. One that left an indelible mark on transportation infrastructure, humanitarian missions and, of course, flood planning.

bilde.jpeg

This image was taken during the Flood of 1913 on Seventh Street in Chillicothe.

Forty-two percent of Dayton was underwater. The water was 17 feet deep in parts of Columbus. Five hundred bridges were washed away. Ohio was changed forever.

However, outside of Dayton, there isn’t much talk about the week of March 23, 1913, when at least 600 people died, 250,000 people were left homeless, and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage (billions in today’s dollars) was wrought, according to the Silver Jackets, a collective of local, state and federal agencies involved in flood planning and response.

“This event was so historic, but it really has slipped through the public consciousness,” said Sarah Jamison, National Weather Service hydrologist. “If you think about the scale of this event, it was a (Hurricane) Katrina or a (Hurricane) Sandy.”

Eight to 12 inches of rain fell across the state starting on March 23, Easter Sunday, and ending midday March 27. Data from the NWS says a typical March in Ohio has 2.5 to 4 inches of precipitation. Ohio seemed star-crossed as pretty much everything that could have gone wrong did, starting March 21, Good Friday, when a strong windstorm swept through with hurricane-force winds in the north and sustained winds up to 40 mph elsewhere in the state.

“That knocked out power lines and telephone lines,” said Jamison, who works at the Cleveland NWS station. “There was no way of relaying information once the flooding started (Sunday).”

Before it was all over, not a single river in Ohio remained contained within its banks and no corner of the state was immune from the effects of the flood.

“In the case of 1913, it was pretty much the entire state of Ohio,” said Julie Reed, a hydrologist at the Wilmington NWS office. “It remains to date the single most deadly and devastating disaster in Ohio history.”

In the old parlance, Jamison said the series of storms that caused the 1913 flood would have been called a 500-year or 1,000-year event. Spearheaded by Daytonians, plans quickly took off to make sure Ohio would be as ready as it could be for the next one.

Within a year of the flood waters receding, Dayton had developed a plan to build large reservoirs that would capture excessive rainwater, but officials found they didn’t have the legal authority to construct flood-control structures. The Ohio Conservancy Act was approved in February 1914 and the Miami Conservancy District was born a year later. (One in Kenton with a much smaller footprint was established first.)

Today, there are 20 conservancy districts in Ohio, including the massive Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, which encompasses about 20 percent of the state. Its dams and reservoirs have been tested many times since its first dam was built in 1935, but perhaps not more so than during flooding in January 2005, when 8 inches of rain fell in a 10-day period

The pools at seven of the 16 dams in the district set record highs, according to district spokesman Darrin Lautenschleger, and there was some flooding in the easement areas behind the dams.

“However, the system operated exactly as it was designed, as there were no significant reports of property damage and, most importantly, there was no loss of life reported from this event,” he said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates property owners were spared $400 million in damage from that flood and a total of $10.4 billion through the history of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District.

Flood planning today, however, is geared more toward “keeping people away from the floods instead of floods away from people,” said Alicia Silverio, a senior environmental specialist at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Silverio provides guidance on floodplain management to local governments.

“We have so many communities where their downtowns have rivers running through them,” Silverio said. “They knew areas like that were flood prone. They were low-lying and next to channels, but it was a risk they had to take, to be close to those waterways.”

Ideally, land inside what the federal government has identified as the 1 percent floodplain — areas that have a 1 in 100 annual chance of flooding — would be used for open space, picnic areas and ball fields.

The reality is much different for many cities, which were designed around water access for commercial uses, so it becomes about mitigating the damage to new structures. As development increases, so does the flood risk, Silverio said, because more parking lots, roofs and other impervious surfaces means less ground to soak up rainfall.

“Flooding is going to happen,” Silverio said. “It’s when we have people and development in the way of that flood that it becomes a problem.”

The scope of the post-flood transformation was not limited to just flood control, or even to just Ohio and Indiana, the two most deluged states. That makes its relatively small place in history all the more puzzling, said Trudy Bell, a veteran science journalist and author of several stories on the flood.

Bell is crisscrossing the region and giving talks about the catastrophe, but she said the attention the event is getting now wasn’t there in 2012 and probably won’t be there in 2014. Leave the Miami Valley and talking about 1913 flood might bring a lot of blank stares, despite its many legacies, she said.

For example, the American Red Cross, which was chartered by Congress in the preceding decade, cut its teeth in the flood, she said.

“The experience they gained through handling that broad of an area prepared them for handling all the casualties on the battlefield of World War I,” Bell said.

The United Way sprung from the model of federated giving — donating to an umbrella charity organization — that was pioneered by “community chests,” the first of which was established in Cleveland in 1913 as a response to the flood.

Bell said that what now are known as Rotary International clubs transformed from primarily business groups to community service clubs when they reacted to the flood with their first cooperative humanitarian response.

Radio, a relatively new technology at the time, became an integral tool in future disaster responses, as amateur operators at Ohio State University helped relay information to family members searching for their relatives, she said.

Bridges subsequently were built with their piers farther up the banks of the river or creek and with higher spans. Many bridges acted as dams in 1913 when debris became trapped against their pillars and decks, causing water to back up and then spill out in unintended places, Bell said.

Before the flood, there was an extensive system of canals in Ohio, she said. Goods on their way from New York City to the Gulf of Mexico would travel via canal from Lake Erie to the Ohio River at Portsmouth. Parts of the canals, whose owners were already feeling the pinch of competition from railroads, were intentionally destroyed during the flood and the system was completely abandoned for commercial purposes.

“Seldom can you say a canal era ended at one particular moment, but in this case I’m pretty sure if was either (that) Tuesday or Wednesday,” she said.

Experts: Weather conditions that created 1913 flood are rare

Climate change takes weather to the extremes, but it’s unclear if rising temperatures raise the odds of a repeat of the 1913 flood, Ohio’s state climatologist said.

Global warming is responsible for periods of prolonged drought, but also the increase in intense bursts of rain, he said. In recent years, we’ve seen both of those in Ohio.

“What the scientific evidence seems to be showing is that with global warming, we are getting more frequent high-rainfall events in Ohio,” said Jeff Rogers, a geography professor at Ohio State University and the state’s climatologist. “In Ohio and other parts of the Midwest, we’ve seen an increase in days with 1 inch or more of rainfall.”

However, that type of weather leads to flash floods and doesn’t describe what happened March 23 through March 27, 1913.

The Flood of 1913 wasn’t caused by one massive storm, such as a hurricane, but by a series of low-pressure systems from the Rocky Mountains that were stalled over Ohio and Indiana by an unusually immobile high-pressure system sitting on the East Coast, according to hydrologists with the National Weather Service in Ohio.

“We don’t know very much about what the role of global warming actually is in causing weather systems to stall,” Rogers said.

On Easter Sunday 1913, temperatures climbed from near freezing up to above 70 degrees. Winds from the south pushed warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico into the mix, providing an ample source of moisture to feed the storm. The entire state was soaked, not just one basin, which meant there was no relief to be found anywhere.

Sarah Jamison, a hydrologist at Cleveland office of the NWS, said the meteorological circumstances that caused the flood are rare.

“The rarity of those storms from a rainfall perspective — 6 to 10 inches on average and in some areas as much as a foot — we can get rainfall events like that on a local basis,” she said. “That it was so widespread is what makes this storm unique.”

About the only thing not working against Ohio that week was that the ground wasn’t snow covered or frozen, said Julie Reed, a hydrologist at the Wilmington office of the NWS.

Rogers, who has been the state’s climatologist since 1986, said the pattern of quick and intense storms tied to global warming already has revealed shortcomings in the storm water infrastructure.

“The shorter-term events are pointing toward improved needs for updating sewer systems and storm drainage and when the big events — the real nasty ones — come, it will help us be better prepared for those, too,” he said, “but sometimes you’re just never really ready for it.” 

Cigarette tax for arts and culture has generated $65 million at halfway point (Plain Dealer 11/5/11)

“Cigarette tax for arts and culture has generated $65 million at halfway point” (Plain Dealer  11/5/11)

The link is here

Cigarette tax for arts and culture has generated $65 million at halfway point


By Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer 
on May 27, 2011 at 8:32 AM, updated May 27, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Since 2006, when Cuyahoga County approved a 10-year cigarette tax to support local arts and culture, more than $65 million has been awarded to 150 arts organizations across the region.

That’s the figure released Thursday by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, the public entity that administers the tax dollars, at the halfway point in the initiative.

“We have long been saying that the arts and culture aren’t just extras,” said Karen Gahl-Mills, the organization’s executive director, in a statement.

“It’s extremely gratifying to have the data now to back up that statement. We’re not just paying for things that are nice to have; we’re investing in the infrastructure of this county and helping to make it the world-class region that we all know it can be.”

Arts groups funded by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture generated more than $280 million in economic activity in 2009, the organization reports, and they employed more than 5,000 staff and contractors.

Since the cigarette-tax funding became available, many of these groups have expanded offerings of cultural activities by 25 percent to almost 24,000 events and classes each year.

Visitors to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will no longer be able to smoke there if a planned smoking ban takes effect in January

Cuyahoga Arts and Culture reports that attendance at free and paid events is up by seven percent, to more than 7.7 million annual visits.

Arts and education programming for children is up as the result of the cigarette tax, with more than 1 million students attending arts and culture events each year . And after-school and weekend classes and workshops have increased by 103 percent, with tuition for paid classes dropping by 8 percent.

To read Cuyahoga Arts and Culture’s 2010 Report to the Community, go to bluetoad.com/publication/?i=70051.