A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Lakeview Cemetery’s Nature Walk.

The sign at the entrance to the walk.

It’s funny how, after being familiar with a place for years that you stumble upon something that you never saw before. Yesterday, being a beautiful day and not too keen to be with a bunch of people congregating of the grassy field that’s in fact the Severance Hall Parking garage roof, I wound up driving down Euclid Avenue to Lakeview Cemetery. While stopping at the Wade Chapel, I decided to walk around a pond on the north side of the road (without the fountain and fake swans) and it was there I stumble on what the signed said was the Nature Walk. Running along the East and South shore of the pond I felt like I was lost in the woods somewhere. It helped that I saw a blue heron take flight overhead.

A view of Dugway Brook.
The north shore of the pond.

While it’s not like a trail at the Holden Arboretum, nevertheless, its’ very existence at a cemetery minutes from University Circle is surprising. As you cross the bridge over Dugway Brook, you would believe you were out in Lake County rather than at Lakeview Cemetery. There is room for some improvement, the trail was still very muddy in parts while one can see someone donate some trilliums to be planted in spots. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant little discovery.

The Nature Walk heading south.
A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, Community and Economic Development, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Talk about a crisis in leadership.

So much can happen in a couple days, I was surprised, at the beginning of this week, to see in the New Republic on my Google News Feed an article on our own Frank Jackson and his grandsons titled He’s a Big City Mayor. His Grandsons Are Suspected Gang Members. by Jordan Heller. While its nice, in a weird way, to see that the magazine still thinks of Cleveland, Ohio as a Big City, the content of this piece is rather sad and not at all surprising except that it’s now told to a national audience. Perhaps that’s why today I saw on Cleveland.com the announcement that we won’t run again, leaving the field open for a whole bunch of people (from Kevin Kelley to Sandra Williams) who don’t inspire me.

When I read this, I recalled a moment when Jackson got elected the first time years ago when I was chatting with former Cleveland Safety Director William Denihan about him. This was when he and his wife were still living in their home not far from Edgewater Park and the administration Jane Campbell was still fresh on both our minds. Sitting in their enclosed porch, we agreed that, while not perfect, the former councilman for the Central neighborhood was on a learning curve. He also seemed to provide better leadership than his predecessor when it came to services for Cleveland’s residents, which has always been an important issue to me. However, by the middle of his second term, I started having my doubts. With the city still hemorrhaging residents, crime (especially violent crime) going up as it has declined nationwide, and his “it is what it is” management style when in fact we need someone a lot more inspired (why Mike Polensek never wanted to run for mayor beats me), Mr. Jackson will not be that much missed.

When, all due respect to the Congressman, Dennis Kusinich seems to be one of the best candidates of the current bunch trying run for mayor, you knew we are grabbing straws when if comes to local leadership. Tom L. Johnson must be turning over in his grave.

About Cleveland, Community and Economic Development, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

One More Time! A New Round of Projects That Can Completely Transform Cleveland.

For those who haven’t caught it, and outside of Cleveland you probably haven’t, Scene Magazine had a new piece titled 26 Projects That Will, Or Could, Drastically Change Cleveland. As someone who has participated on committees, conferences (think Sustainable Cleveland 2019 which I attended back in 2009), and meetings, at least up until five years ago, the array of plans this article listed for the Flats, downtown, and the West Side, seems to be just a new variation on things much ballyhooed before. Of course re=inventing the wheel sometimes has it merits. For example, the idea of moving Amtrak’s terminal back to Tower City Center which was, from 1930 to the seventies, Cleveland’s train station, has been an idea much talked about in some circles as say an island near Gordon Park created by dredging the Cuyahoga River and using that as landfill.

One thing I do notice is that nothing is planned for say places like Collinwood, let alone Waterloo Road or the East 185th St. neighborhood. The Northeast corner of Cleveland is definitely off the radar of the Positively Global Cleveland crowd.

Some of these projects, like the Cleveland Foundation’s new headquarters, will be built. Maybe once the Innovation District is on track, we can brush off that idea of a Design District once proposed further down the street as well. By that time, there might be another 24 projects that will be touted by the local press and community leaders as the next big thing.

A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Thoughts On The Derek Chauvin Verdict; A Quick Little Post.

When I left early from the job this afternoon it was to keep a dentist appointment. I had no idea that today the jury was going to give their verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. While I may not be as impassioned about the matter as so many were standing in front of the court house in Minneapolis today, I must admit that the guilty verdict for murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd was the right one. While, I am not at all into this nonsense of de-funding our police, the fact is, you can still support the cops while opposing police brutality. Perhaps it’s from my years at the job that pays the bills but we should live up the ideal of equal justice before the law and what happened today in that courtroom helps put this nation in the right direction in that regard. I’d rather have a ‘Great Society’ than ‘American Carnage’ to aspire to for the future.

Of course, it’s only my opinion, nothing more. Others can articulate these feelings more eloquently than I.


Another Easter for Mad Man on a Great Lake.

Who can believe that it’s already been one year since the last Easter, and a pandemic to boot. In fact, compared to last year, today seemed almost normal. One thing I do know is that WordPress keeps tinkering with it’s site (note the new font).

Anyway, may all of you who celebrate have a wonderful Easter. This Spring will sure be a lot better than the last.

A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

A Quick Little Post.

Vaccination site in Shaker Heights.

Well, this may be something to post on this blog since this is of a personal note. However, today I managed to finally get my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. University Hospitals here in Cleveland called me Saturday to set up my two appointments and told me where to go for it. It was in one of their facilities on Warrensville Center Road in Shaker Heights. Ironically, 21 years ago, I used to go there to see a physician in that very area. A lot of new construction has been done since then, including changes to the intersection of that street and Chagrin Boulevard. It was busy to say the least but well organized. I learned from the person giving me the injection that they already took care of 890 people by that time in the morning I was there. That’s not surprising since I learned last Friday from someone at Case Western Reserve University that they provided vaccines to 779 people that Thursday (something they did for Cleveland residents 50 years old and up). What is going on at the Wolstein Center downtown is off the charts. I found out after one day checking the site that I apparently couldn’t get an appointment since they were booked solid.

While I personally think it’s way too early to hope on the Miller Boat Ferry to Put-in-Bay let alone visit people at Easter, we are getting close to getting this mess under control.

Photograph by James Valentino.


Another Spring on the North Coast.

Winter Aconite and Snowdrops blooming in the garden a few weeks ago.
Tenby Daffodils.

Suddenly, in the past two weeks, Winter has been being pushed out by spring weather. True, there have been usually the ups and downs one expects at this time of year, yesterday int he 30s, tomorrow in the 60s. The flowers and the animals have sure figured this out. The crows and robins came back this week while all the ice is now gone off of Lake Erie. As for the garden, the snowdrops are starting to fade (while they just came into full bloom on the Art Museum grounds) and the crocuses and violets are blooming. There are even some daffodils ready to unfurl their petals.

Giant Crocuses blooming in the garden yesterday.

This spring will probably be better for many people compared to last year; in part to the vaccinations now underway. I myself received a call from my hospital yesterday and scheduled my two appointments (they will be using Pfizer). In so many ways, March has felt like there is a lot of light at the end of the tunnel on so many matters.

Wade Lagoon on Sunday.

Photographs by James Valentino.


Happy Presidents’ Day.

It was probably a good thing that I took Tuesday off looking out at all the snow now on the roads. That storm which has gone as far south as Texas is now hitting NE Ohio as well. It looks very pretty outside, as long as you don’t hav eto drive in it. Ironicially, because of the ice mixing in, snow totals are now going to be a bit less than originally predicted.

Anyway, I came across an opinion piece in the Washington Post by Henry Olsen that seems quite apt for this holiday. Probably in light of the overkill various cities, universities, and other entities have done in regards to change names of places due to the person’s historical connection to racism (for example, the San Francisco School Board), Mr. Olsen’s piece titled “This Presidents’ Day, let’s reaffirm that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are heroes” does raise some very good points. We are looking at these men with out 21st century eyes and the world is so different from 1789 or 1860 (let alone 1910 in the case of say Theodore Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson). In the case of Lincoln, once can see in his political life that he changed many of his views. Obviously, his views on race in 1865 were not only a far cry from his Vice-President Andrew Johnson (who only became his running mate in 1864 because Johnson was the only sitting southern senator who opposed secession), but different from what he espoused in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates a decade earlier. From supporting the voluntary resettlement of blacks to Africa or the Caribbean while debating Stephen Douglas to eventually issuing the Emancipation Proclamation as president during a civil war to preserve the Union, this shows real personal growth. There is a reason why Washington and Lincoln are two of four presidents whose likeness is carved on Mt. Rushmore (which, admittedly is another complicated result of our history..as any member of the Lakota nation would tell you). We have a complicated history, it’s not black and white but more shades of gray.

Mr. Olsen ends his op-ed with the following paragraph, “Real racial equality, social as well as legal, remains a work in progress. That progress would not have occurred without Washington and Lincoln. Let all of us honor them on this day without reservation.” Just like everything else in this American Experience.

Happy Presidents’ Day from Mad Man on a Great Lake.

About Cleveland, Amtrak, Opinion, Uncategorized

Innovation District.2

Last week, Cleveland.com and local television news had something on the announcement of a new innovation district in Cleveland connected to some of the usual players in our economy basically. While any investment counts, and it’s money from the State to boot, it’s again for jobs related to the health industry. After all, it’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket.

Why doesn’t anyone go back and look at the idea of a design district that was proposed almost a decade ago? Also, with the Biden Administration’s new effort to fight climate change and promote renewable technology, why can’t the West Quad of Case Western Reserve University expand too? Even with the Maltz Center’s new addition, there is plenty of room on that site for a research facility looking at carbon capture technology for example.

While James Levine has been around almost as long as Joe Marinucci and Joe Roman, his op-ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com does come up with some ideas that are out of the box, or downtown. Along with the perennial proposals for Burke Lakefront Airport’s land and the lower level of the Detroit-Superior High-Level Bridge, Levine does mention redeveloping the Scranton Peninsula in the Flats and doing something finally with the old Aquarium in Gordon Park. I can see the latter as a sports and recreation center for the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood (especially since Goodrich House is now long gone).

Another interesting thing popped up this week was Amtrak’s proposal to add five new routes in Ohio. There is a map on the All Aboard Ohio website showing what is proposed. This includes a Cleveland to Columbus and Cincinnati route that was given federal money for under Governor Ted Strickland that his successor, John Kasich, returned. What I felt at the time was far more viable was a Cleveland to Pittsburgh to Washington DC high speed commuter rail route which I did a feasibility study on in 2012 with former RTA CEO Taras Szmagala for a class at Cleveland State University. What is ironic for the new Amtrak proposal is that there is a route from Cleveland to Pittsburgh, but this time heading on to New York City. Of course, there have been proposals like this before.

All these plans are fine and dandy but, even without a pandemic and violent crime off the hook, the odds of one of the above really taking off would be a miracle. However, if we can get one of those things (like Cleveland being an Amtrak regional hub) that would be an achievement.

A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

What a Difference an Inauguration Makes.

I figure the above title would be a lot better than say “It’s all Over.” People might get the wrong idea! Again, I might be getting a little too personal in what I write but I have to say that I am so happy that the Inauguration Wednesday went okay and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the President and Vice-President of the United States; which admittedly is far from being united. I took the day off from the job to see it and truly liked his speech. Despite all the troops that have been called in, the Capitol looked almost like it usually does for an inauguration. What difference a couple weeks make. They sure also have a whole lot of work to do.

From what I have seen in the last 72 hours, the new administration is off to a good start. Some of Biden’s cabinet picks have been approved by the Senate. The executive orders he just signed, like invoking the the Defense Production Act and rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, are a long time coming. This is all a pretty good start. However, as Ezra Klein writes in the New York Times, if the Democrats want to do well in 2022, and the Biden Administration want to get real substantial work done, they can’t behave like they did when Obama first got into office. If McConnell wants to worry about the budget as an excuse to try to thwart passage of Biden’s COVID relief bill, then the Democrats can bring up the repeal of the Trump tax cuts for starters, if not the filibuster.

However, it’s still too early to see what can be done this year. After all, there is an impeachment trial to take care of (with a very interesting op-ed by George Conway in the Washington Post to show why it must be done) and so many other things; like getting more vaccines out to place like NE Ohio where they are now entering Phase IB of the state vaccination program. Since we now have a nationwide strategy to get a handle on this pandemic, and once things return to some sense of normality as the months pass, there will be less Zoom meetings and more in person contact at less than six feet. Block watches, community development meetings, heck going to eat inside a restaurant this coming fall, will be all on the table again. By that time, it might even be possible to drive up to Canada.

However, I suspect my blood pressure will get a lot better as the year continues.