A Quick Little Post, My blog.

The Writer’s Group In Akron Revisited.

IMG_20180711_213356Last Saturday, I managed to take the drive down Route 8 again to Akron for the Writer’s Group there.  It was a much-needed dose of support, and constructive criticism, over this writing project I’ve alluded to previously.

If anything, drive forty-five minute drive down there was worth it for the following.  Kora Sadler gave each and every one of us present a copy of the new writer’s group book, Now With Page Numbers, which is their latest anthology.  The book is a collection of poems and short stories by participants in the group in various genres.  Something for everyone, I can see this as the type of book one would read while sitting on a dock at a lakeside inn north of Toronto or take on a train ride across America along with other paperbacks or your Kindle stashed in your overnight bag; the type of book resting, half read, on your stomach as you fall asleep in a hammock with a pina colada on a table nearby.

Prodded on by Kora, I discovered something on the dedication page when took me by surprise.  There right below the Cleveland Writers Group was this very blog.  I never thought this would ever happen and it’s very encouraging.


The group will have an author exhibition on Saturday, July 21st 2018, at the Barnes and Noble Store at 4015 Medina Road in Akron from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.   If you happen to be somewhere in the area that day, feel free to stop by and say hello.


Photographs by James Valentino.

A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion

Another Hot Fourth of July.

IMG_20180704_142422This is the first time in years I haven’t been in a parade which actually is a relief.

Well, I did get an invite of sorts to join the Geauga Democrats today in the hot humid heat but I had to decline.  I was driving out  to Lake County to be with my favorite Trump supporter, my father, in Mentor, Ohio where I knocked a plate with a deviled egg and cubed watermelon off a wooden television tray and on to a carpet.

It’s funny, as I see posts on Facebook of people at parades in Parma, Lakewood, and other places around the Cleveland area, I began to think about all the political campaigns I have worked on over the years, and the T-shirts I accumulated.    Starting with Commissioner Tim McCormick’s race in 1996, I was all over Cuyahoga County as part of one crew or another, walking or running alongside a candidate (be it William Denihan, Jane Campbell, Ed Jerse, or Sherrod Brown)  passing out candy, holding signs, and shouting to the crowds the elected official or candidate’s name.  Then were the many times the long walks back to where we started since there weren’t always enough seats in the car at the end of the parade waiting to take volunteers back.  Now, as I get out of bed limping to one degree or another until my tendons stretch due to plantar fasciitis, I wonder how I had the energy to run all the way down Pearl Road.

Before I headed out into the oven, I started to look for some of my many T-shirts for those races.  Except for the Yuko, Cavanaugh, and Polensek ones, I haven’t seen any of them since I stopped working out at the gym.  Those in the photo are just part of the pile I wound up with.  Over the past few years I have been thinking about finding a T-shirt  with the title I HAVE WORKED ON POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS FOR TWO DECADES AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT but I don’t think we can fit that on the front unless in small letters even though I am now an extra-large.

So, I never got to get an office job with Governor Strickland or with Sherrod Brown.  I am lucky people at the sign in tables know who the heck I am when the Cuyahoga Democrats have an Executive Committee Meeting (fortunately, there are still a few who do!).  Yet, despite the replies I get to some comment I make on Twitter, the replies I receive from someone on Facebook, or my discussions with real life family members, a part of me still believes that you must do something.  If anything exercise your right to vote like I always do.  I will most likely get involved in something related to the Democratic Party in the upcoming months (like I did going to two fundraisers two weekends before) and even see what’s in my budget to spend at a few other events foolish as it may seem.

For those of us, to borrow a phrase from Richard Nixon’s race 50 years ago, the real ‘Silent Majority’ which is suddenly findings its voice, it is important to show the world that what we have now in our Federal Government doesn’t represent the majority of the population, what we think this country stands for, and what we want to be in the future.  It’s time to start putting the dark side of our country which has come out again with a vengeance (starting with the T-Party in 2010, and not just Trump) back into the closet and once again, like we have done so many times before, get our best and brightest people to help reverse the damage and get us back on track.

Of course, this is my opinion and it means to be honest nothing.  However, there was more to it behind all those T-shirts than wishing to work for Sherrod Brown or get experience to become a campaign manager for someone.  We all have to try to participate in making things better and help those who you believe want to do so as well.  No matter how many times you may say, you can’t give it all up.

Happy Fourth of July ladies and gentlemen.


The author (center( with State Representative John Rogers (left) and State Senator Kenny Yuko (right) at a ODP event in Willoughby Hills, Ohio, in June.

Photographs taken by James Valentino.

A Quick Little Post, My blog., Uncategorized

Sweating in NE Ohio; A Quick Little Post.

This morning I ventured out after breakfast to Wildwood Park hoping to take a walk before it got too hot.  Well, it was already really warm at 9:00 A.M. as I walked out on the fisherman’s pier there and caught a weak lake breeze.  For a good ten minutes it felt rather nice as I looked West towards the new Euclid Beach pier now under construction and the skyline of downtown Cleveland shimmering in the haze.    When I walked back to the beach though, the heat hit me again and has been the other times I ventured out of my house today going about my business and ordering a frozen daiquiri and my first crab cakes in a decade at the Standard Restaurant on East 185th Street (and both highly recommended).

So much has happened in the week since I thought about writing up a new post.  I was originally going to talk about how wound up at, you guessed it, a couple of local Democratic Party functions in my area.  Then, it was going to be about all that I heard and read about this week, from Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s retirement to Canadian tariffs, to what I read in the Washington Post.  Time just keeps slipping away but that’s only fair.  I did manage to get up to the Waterloo Arts Festival for a few seconds yesterday in the broiling heat and took two nice photographs.  However, my cellphone is acting up (courtesy of Tracfone) so I didn’t find them in my gallery to download when I looked today.  Just as well, I wrote about it previously.  Even at noon the street looked pretty busy which is a very good thing for the neighborhood.  What’s even better, I haven’t heard of any problems so the overtime Cleveland police have been doing until they get for officers trained is kind of paying off.

Things should be cooler by Saturday but in the meantime another long hot stinking week!


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

Cleveland is number 5!!!…as one of the least liveable cities in the nation.

As I always said, forget downtown, Cleveland is also many neighborhoods which, on average, see high crime, poverty, low number of advanced degrees, and there are only four more cities in the USA that are worse than us.   This is what I got from reading today’s piece in USA TODAY on the top 50 worst cities to reside in the nation.  The fact that Detroit Michigan is number one on the list leaves little comfort, especially since Toledo, which is located at the other end of Lake Erie just south of the Michigan border, is ranked 35 while Canton gets a 33 ranking.  Akron isn’t even on the list.    What the piece says about Cleveland many of all already know but to have all written down together, after all the hype coming from the powers that be and City Hall after the 2016 Republican Convention shows a general picture of what the nation thinks about this place.

“Widespread poverty, a high crime rate, and a bleak jobs picture likely partially explain the declining population. In the last decade, Cleveland’s population fell by 2.4% even as the country’s population as a whole grew by 7.1%.”

As many locals can tell you, it’s not all bleak.  The potential for this city on the North Coast is amazing and many of the problems it faces many cities in the nation’s Rust-Belt have to deal with as well.  Then again, decades of following the same playbook in downtown investment at the expense of neighborhoods like North Shore Collinwood has paid off this dividend of bad publicity.

Some cities in this region, like Pittsburgh, managed to turn things around and that’s why I have been examining what they are doing down there to see what we up here in Cleveland can do differently.  We also need inspired leadership, and an effort by City Hall not to just follow the mayor’s mantra of “it is what is” and improve public services for residents like they promised when we voted for that ! percent income tax hike in 2016.  It’s time to stop doing just studies on what needs to be done and just do them.  If Detroit area native Dan Gilbert wants to have money spent on the Quicken Loans Arena then he better spend some dollars in Slavic Village or St. Clair Superior.  If we get another shot at landing an Amazon type headquarters here, think out of the box and come up with a really good plan and not just offer them a downtown landmark getting empty because Forest City Enterprises is closing up shop (after all the tax dollars and subsidies given to it for projects I must add) but something like what Pittsburgh did at Bakery Square which is in an East Side neighborhood miles from downtown.

The current way of doing things here in Cleveland is not working.  Think of this story as a wake up call.





A Quick Little Post, Community and Economic Development, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Another Drive Out To The Boonies: A Quick Little Post.

IMG_20180608_082131Friday I took the day off from the job for another exercise in sadomasochism (or what my old career advisors would call networking) and attended the NE Ohio Planning and Zoning Workshop at the New Leaf Event Center in Conneaut Ohio.  I even got in the car 45 minutes earlier than I normally do so I can be there on time.

I have written about previous workshops on the blog before so let’s just say that it was worth the $60 and, while I never did get a government job in planning or community development, I still am truly interested in such matters as branding your community or grant writing for an organization which were in fact two of the topics of the four sessions I sat in on.   It gives me the illusion that I am part of something worthwhile, unlike recently my political activism.  When I left the workshop, I took a drive into town.  Once a major port for iron ore to be shipped to steel mills in Youngstown and Pittsburgh, Conneaut is now home of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution.   I tried to see where it was located but the prison is in fact hidden by woods as I drove East on Rt. 20 and unintentionally stumbled into Pennsylvania.  Retracing my way back, I drove onto Main Street and for a few blocks saw the old storefronts that still had plenty of cars parked in front of them.  Of course years earlier that place must have been a lot busier.


The keynote speaker, Dale Arnold of the Ohio Farm Bureau, does his presentation.

The It was only checking the news feed on my cellphone during one of the breaks did I realize the extent of the mess the man who says he’s president is leading us do now on the international trade and let’s be honest diplomatic front with long-term allies.  I felt Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pain when he was on Meet the Press June 1st and now Trump wants Russia back in the G-7 (6, or 8) fold.

While all this happens everyday life goes on and there is so little time even to write.  But, I do worry about what the state of this nation will be like in a few years.  We will not be great again, I can see that and I fear at the least an economic meltdown just as bad as the last years of George W. Bush     There was an interesting piece in the New Yorker on the last Kaiser of Germany, Wilhelm II, and what I got out of it was that Wilhelm’s bombastic tirades and erratic behavior might have triggered WWI and got himself overthrown 100 years ago this year but it was the forces unleashed on Germany in the years following his exile that truly lead that nation to utter ruin by 1945.  In other words, we can vote Trump out but what he is already unleashed would be something that may harm this country for decades to come.


Photographs by James Valentino

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

More Rhododendrons at Holden.

IMG_20180603_100915While the recent 90 degree F plus heat wave has now passed and the weather is back to normal, it sure sped things up when it comes to the gardens.   While many azaleas and rhododendrons have faded blooms, not all is over yet.  That’s why I went out to the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio, to see what was still there at its two rhododendron gardens.  While the flowers did pass their peak, enough were still in full bloom to make the walk worthwhile.


The main entrance to the new part of the gardens.

With more than 3,600 acres in Kirtland, Ohio, Holden is one of the largest arboretum of its’ kind in the nation.  Though they recently merged with the Cleveland Botanical Gardens to create Holden Forest and Gardens, I personally still treat Holden as a completely separate place from the home of Orchid Mania.  After all, with Corning Lake, the Visitor Center, numerous hiking trails, tree collections, and of course the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Gardens, it is a completely different experience which is exactly what I wanted Sunday morning.


While Holden is open to the public from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, it does open later for special events (like the wine tasting they had the evening before as all the white tents I saw on the grounds still standing testified), and members can use smaller parking lots to explore the grounds later as well. It is definitely worth exploring for a few hours at least in May.



Photographs by James Valentino

About Cleveland, My blog., Uncategorized

Holden Arboretum’s David G. Leach Research Station.

IMG_20180513_114917In Madison, at the Eastern edge of Lake County, is the David G. Leach Rhododendron Research Station.   Bought by noted rhododendron hybridizer David Leach in 1970, it has been a part of the Holden Arboretum since he donated it in 1987.  This 30 acre parcel is located in a stretch of NE Ohio that’s just perfect for growing rhododendrons.


The main test field.


Two of the test plants.

The guide told the group that it takes 25 years for a plant to go from germination to possibly retail. Leach was able to put 80 of his hybrids on the market, all of which are planted on these grounds.  Along with the display gardens there are test fields and greenhouses where seedlings and larger plants are checked to see which ones have the desirable qualities needed for a plant in today’s home garden.   Steve Krebs, who has been director since Mr. Leach’s death in 1998, has continued with his small team this work.  While Leach focused on plant hardiness, Krebs is working on plants that would be resistant to fungal root rot based on a species plant found in Taiwan.


A tray with the most recently germinated seedlings.

Admission is $10 per person to see the grounds but for Holden members it’s free.  The tours are conducted at set times.


Photographs by James Valentino