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.


What’s Happening Now at the West Quad?

I have previously written about the status of CWRU’s West Quad on East 105th St. Having driven past it every workday for almost ten years, one cannot but notice that most of the time orange cones usually took out the lane next the curb in front of the old Temple and the grassy site where Mt. Sinai Hospital once stood.

Everybody driving that street knows by now that something is being built adjacent to the Maltz Performing Arts Center. I don’t know how I missed it but Steven Litt wrote on Cleveland.com back in the summer of 2019 that Cleveland’s Euclid Corridor Design Committee approved the expansion and renovation plans which would include two new theaters and was scheduled to be completed by the fall of this year, just in time for classes to begin.

It would be interesting what the university will do with the rest of the site.

Photographs by James Valentino.

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

What a Way to Start The New Year.

In 1998, I was a part of a public administration seminar in Washington DC offered by Cleveland State University. Among the many things that we saw and government agencies we visited, we naturally went to the Capitol Building. I was there twice before, one time as a senior in high school, and another in the mid nineties when I went with a couple friends to visit another one who worked for Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida. This time around, I got to see more than the standard tour (though we did that too right down to the National Statuary Hall) and it really did impress me.

Me posing in front of the Capitol, July 1998.

One thing I definitely remember was going into the upper gallery of the House and sitting there in an almost empty room. The then Representative of the State of Rhode Island, Patrick Kennedy, was speaking about something at a podium to a handful of people sitting in the almost empty floor below. Still, and despite my fear of heights, it was kind of interesting being there. Glancing up at the ceiling, I saw the frieze listing all the great lawgivers of history and I thought about what events in American history had taken place there. I would visit our nation’s capital more than once in the next four years. If I didn’t manage to go inside, I would be looking at it across the street as I entered either the Longworth or Russell Buildings, or see its’ dome lit up at night as a dined at restaurant across the Potomac in Alexandria Virginia. You couldn’t help but be inspired .

Stopping in the break room at the job, I was absolutely stunned by what I saw happening Wednesday. It was like the storming of the Tuileries Palace in 1792 (or more like the right wing riots in Paris nearby in 1934). To see people, more than a few carrying firearms along with flags, breaking windows to get in and swarming those halls was all surreal to me. What I’ve learned afterwards, as many of us have, about the death of two people disturbed me at least even more.  I told a coworker that it reminded me of the time at work we had two guys from the Sheriff’s Department make us do emergency training; including a scenario where we had to handle a situation where an armed gunman entered our office.  Another person told me that she thought someone will try to shoot Biden on Inauguration Day the way things were going (something on the minds of the folks at Twitter as well today when they permanently suspended Trump’s Twitter account). To think we have come to this.

President-Elect Joseph Biden was right today in saying that those who stormed the capital Wednesday should be considered domestic terrorists and be prosecuted. Dana Milbank in the Washington Post had an excellent opinion piece that can state far better than I can what is at stake. One can also argue that Senators Cruz, Hawley and the others who backed their plan to contest the certification of the electoral votes should be kicked out for there role as well (just like those Southern Congressmen supporting the Confederacy at the start of the Civil War). They crossed a line and shouldn’t just get a slap on the wrist. If anything, they shouldn’t be allowed to run for public office in the future.

When in November 2016 I held my nose and voted for Hillary Clinton it was because I felt that four years of a Trump Administration would wreak utter havoc on this country and he has exceeded my expectations in this regard. I can only hope that it doesn’t get any worse before it gets better after January 20th.


2021 is here!

well, we did it, we got through a very trying year. Now, with proven vaccines slowing being distributed across the country, longer days of sunlight, and a new president at the end of the month, it can only get better and better generally speaking. Let’s try to be at least somewhat optimistic. On the other hand, the city of Cleveland has already experienced its’ first homocide of the year and while I agree that it’s time for Mayor Frank Jackson to go (and he might privately agree), the list of candidates so far doesn’t inspire me.

At least East 185th street is all open and so the storm sewer project most likely is done. Now, the streetscape plan has to start later in the year. Perhaps, once the pandemic dies down, the monthly neighborhood block watch meetings and a real meeting at last of the Greater Collinwood Development Corporation (which exists only for me as a bunch of emails I only glance at) can take place by the end of the year.

So, to everyone following the blog, Happy New Year from Mad Man On A Great Lake and may it be a much better one than the one that just passed.

Photograph by James Valentino.


Thoughts on the Blog.

For some strange reason, the blog has received this month 281 views. Considering the fact that I only did one small post this month, I find if rather funny that this is happening.

To be honest, I am not sure if I will continue with this next year or not. After all, a blog on the web is supposed to have a real purpose. Between being apparently an ‘essential worker’ which means I’m pretty tired when I get home, to still needing to grow a thicker skin if I want to have my work ‘out there’ for everyone to see, there are so many reasons why I don’t write on this more.

Many people who read this complimented me on my pieces on places to go, like Neil Zurcher’s One Tank Trips I used to see on the local news. These were nice compliments I must say but were (like the quick little posts I do) written to keep things fresh while I try to come up with something I feel was more appropriate to the site; such as my visit to the Youngstown Business Incubator, From Metals to Minds; what’s good for Pittsburgh also good for Cleveland?, and the piece I originally tried to submit to Crain’s Cleveland on the West Quad of CWRU. I put my heart and soul into those pieces, and yes they were created to be real articles you would see in a magazine. They were to inform people about some of the amazing things people in NE Ohio were trying to do, or worthwhile projects that seemed to vanish without a trace. If I just plan to write my thoughts about how my day is going, I can leave that to my journal when I go to bed.

At least I managed to get through this year gainfully employed at the job that pays my bills and haven’t been in an ICU yet (and alive for that matter). There is at least another anthology I can submit some fiction to. However, next year. perhaps I can take that to the next level as well (we will see, I know from previous experience the odds are stacked against me). Yet, I did get three short stories published in the last two years and people like them. That still kind of surprises me, and it is encouraging. I can even say this about this blog, what someone in Youngstown wrote me earlier this year about a piece I did on its’ Fifth Avenue was very nice and made it worth the effort writing that post Hope springs eternal I guess. Let’s hope 2021 is a much better year than this one, for all of us. Who know, this blog might still be here too.


Home for the Holidays..by choice.

Two weeks have passed since I started this post.

The wreaths or on the doors, the tree is up and decorated the Nutcracker and Rocking Santa Clause are on the old wooden hifi stereo and the two Christmas stockings are hanging from the fireplace. Despite what has been the craziest month of a crazy year, the home has been decorated for the holidays.

Except for one day of snow squalls that led to a branch my rhododendron bush to break off, December has been relatively mild. Highs have ranges from low thirties on Monday to low fifties this Saturday here in NE Ohio and to be honest that’s nothing to complain about. Of course, as I write, the next cold front is coming in changing the rain into snow showers followed by arctic wind chills for Christmas Day which, do be honest seems quite apt. As i write, ti’s now a White Christmas in Cleveland.

This year cannot end soon enough. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Mad Man On A Great Lake.


Cleveland has to get its’ act together.

I caught this on Cleveland.com (the non-union online successor to the Plain Dealer) about how safe Cleveland is compared to other ones in the country. Hey, at least we are safer than Las Vegas.

Once we can get this pandemic under control next year, many cities across the nation will have a lot of work to do, and this one would be just only one of them. However, it also means that, perhaps, by investing more of their limited resources in all the neighborhoods…and not just a few, and getting our donor class to put as much money up for community projects as they do for Downtown (or Midtown for that matter) our leaders can get their act together and improve the quality of life for its residents. Who knows what will happen in the next couple of years.


Another Quick Little Post Before the Holidays.

Considering the fact I did only one small post this month. I am utterly surprised that this blog has received 151 views so far which is rather impressive. It also inspires me to keep up with this, if I happen to have time in my schedule.

Once this pandemic is under control, there will probably more things in the world (and Cleveland) to comment on. I believe it would be prudent to go back to what’s happening to the West Quad of Case Western Reserve considering I drive past it every workday seeing a bunch of construction going on. There are other topics that also seem worth looking into for this site…and books such as The Second Machine Age I did a while back (though it’s obvious I’m not going to do anything for the New York Review of Books anytime soon).

It’s also important to develop a thicker skin If I’m going to put things out there. After all, you can’t please everyone and if a few people like what is on here that should be good enough.

Thanksgiving is only a few days away, then the Christmas Season with, among other things, the first batch of the Covid-19 vaccine arriving in Ohio by December 15th. If we can just hang in there for a few more months.