Schumann's Cleveland Pages

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The Free Times, in an article no longer online, called Cleveland Pages "Spicily independent... in the best tradition of citizen-journalist."

The Cleveland Pages is a somewhat-weekly commentary on what's new and why it's all happening in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. If what you read here is upsetting, you might prefer this simple-minded happy-talk instead.

Bookmark the Cleveland Pages at http://re.cleveland.oh.us. Bookmark this issue at http://re.cleveland.oh.us/archives/(none).html.

A Cleveland Pages archive search will be available soon... Meanwhile, skip to the flat-file archive list! And read an overview of who's putting this thing out and what it's about.

About the Cleveland Pages

The Cleveland Pages began in 1995 as a one-shot diatribe on my personal web page--a rant against the deceptive way the Cuyahoga County commissioners explained their plans for a sin tax extension that was ostensibly to help pay for the new Browns stadium. From time to time after that, I added various little articles to my personal website and links to them on my welcome page. After a year or so I realized what a great medium I had for talking to Cleveland people--sort of the thinking person's talk radio.

I decided to make the Cleveland Pages more formal by establishing a permanent location for all such articles and combining the newer ones into a single HTML document. Then it became easier and easier to insert updates every month or so, and around August of 1997 it was obvious that there was enough material, if not always enough time, to make a brief weekly.

Where it is now

Now the Cleveland Pages feature a new essay, usually just 200 to 500 words, every Friday morning. I've used the forum to discuss sports funding, Jay Westbrook's personality makeover, education reform, and prospects for improved taxation systems.

Fair taxation, honest government, anti-racism, and eliminating poverty are important things. I enjoy writing the Pages, and I probably wouldn't bother if it weren't fun, but it's exciting to do this because of the opportunity to motivate change.

Cleveland is a great city, but one in need of substantial change. Where we've been successful it's been largely in spite of our leadership, not because of it. Think of the Cleveland Pages as a weekly dose of realism to the movers and shakers.

You'll find a mix of fact, opinion, hearsay, and gossip, all properly labeled as such. Without intending any disrespect or plagiarism, I always liked (and now observe) the disclaimer that Roldo Bartimole has used for years on his outstanding Point of View print newsletter:

The material herein is a fact and opinion, based on research, experience, feelings and interaction with others. It is no one's gospel.

The publication schedule

I endeavor to publish a new Cleveland Pages feature every Friday morning; it will generally hit the website around midnight to 2:00 a.m., because I'm really a "night person." I do, however, have a family and a house and way too much to do at work, and sometimes I just need to update the Cleveland Pages a bit later or just skip a week.

Plans for future Cleveland Pages projects

More can be done to make the Cleveland Pages an even more effective voice for change here. In no particular order, I'm considering or working on:

About the nuts and bolts

I've intentionally kept the site light on graphics and colors. The WWW is ideally designed for sharing documents; it's not so great as a presentation driver. You have your own browser! Use it the way you like. To this end, the Cascading Style Sheets specification has been a boon. You can set up CSS on your browser to specify your own preferences, and the browser will interact with my style sheets to determine how page elements are going to show. It's one of those win-win things--and it's far more widely accessible than using proprietary Netscape or Internet Explorer tags to control layout.

All Cleveland Pages documents are validated to the "loose" HTML 4.0 specification to make it more likely that they'll be readable and look good in the widest possible range of browsing situations. They also have been run through the Bobby accessibility checker, to help me ensure that the documents are easily used by people with disabilities. These people might have plaintext, large text, or speaking browsers, or they could have difficulty distinguishing colors. Bobby points out where I can make simple improvements to improve access for all.

What's up with the gray background?

The Cleveland Pages don't have a gray background. Your browser does.

The "nuts and bolts" section above explains that this site just works with your browser's preferences and style sheets. If you like a white or other colored background, it's easy to set on your browser's preferences. Or you can enable Cascading Style Sheets, in which case my style sheet will suggest a white background. Netscape users, you need to enable JavaScript also, but not because these pages actually use JavaScript--it's a clueless Netscape feature that you must enable JavaScript for CSS to work. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Long story short, choice is good. View the Cleveland Pages the way that you like.

Who I am

You can read a bit about me and my people on my welcome page. From a Cleveland Pages point of view, you could say I'm a 13-year Brooklyn Centre resident by choice, homeowner for nine years, father of three, and computer professional. I'm one of the longer-term members of Archwood United Church of Christ, which has been not only a place of worship but a great neighborhood meeting place for years. You can find me hanging out at the Phoenix Coffeehouse on Archwood and West 25th, probably playing chess with my seven-year-old daughter, when I'm not out getting paid to admin some corporate Unix system in the exo-burbs. (And why is it that the huge majority of well-paying systems contracts are at the fringe of Cuyahoga County and beyond? I haven't worked downtown in seven years!)

This is the only place on the WWW where you'll catch me admitting that I actually grew up in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and moved here "temporarily" on a lark in 1985. I liked the neighborhood (selected because it was darned cheap at the time and the Y had nightly rooms for ten bucks), fell in love with a Slovak-American Cleveland State graduate, and wasn't in a hurry to finish college right away. As a culture-shock junkie, I especially enjoyed the challenge of getting people to think I was a "local" all along. Proper pronunciation of the name of the big slow-moving river ("cuy-a-HAWG-uh") and correct designation of the RTA vehicle facility at State and Pearl ("the bus barn") were most critical.

My political views have been influenced by Cleveland mayoral legends Dennis J. Kucinich and Tom L. Johnson (not to mention organizers such as Saul Alinsky). Johnson in turn was a friend and disciple of Henry George, an American economist and philosopher who articulated the theory of land-value taxation that came from earlier classical free-market economic philosophers such as Ricardo and Locke.

I believe that the prevailing political orthodoxy (comeback city, blah blah, Dennis ruined the city, blah blah, tax abatement and hall of fame saved us, yadda yadda, need upscale downtown housing and hotels and more sports subsidies, baaaaa baaaa) among Cleveland's major media is stupid, dangerous, disingenuous, and phony. Its basis in reality is contrary to the well-known (yet hardly publicized) facts that poverty and unemployment are near all-time high points, while people are continuing to leave the city at an alarming rate. The city and county have incurred open-ended financial obligations for sports and entertainment venues with no corresponding revenue sources.

Yeah, but what makes you such an expert?

I'm not a journalist by profession, nor a politician or economist. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from Grinnell College, but almost started out with Economics. That turned bad when I realized the faculty was full of Keynesians, and the Milton Friedman thing I'd developed in high school was just not going to work out.

I still remember the day in the fall of 1983 when the internationally distinguished Jack Dawson asked me a question to which my answer included something about M1 and M2. Dawson blanched, grabbed the table with white knuckles, and gasped, "You're... not... a monetarist, are you?"

That must have been the day I realized an academic background in economics wasn't in the cards for me.

I stirred up as much journalistic muck as was possible in my high school days, writing most of the editorials for the "legit" school paper, including one in support of the "underground" paper of the day. The accompanying hard news story (memorably titled Rag Gag Bagged) won me first place in a statewide competition sponsored by the New Britain Herald. I'm still proud of that, even though Connecticut is a pretty small state.

My last editorial of the year--this would have been June of 1983--trashed the bogus "school reform" policies of the day. It was reprinted a few weeks later in the Hartford Courant. I found out about the "honor" the same time the rest of Connecticut did, reading the Forum section over breakfast. Taught me a thing or two about copyright, that did. Also landed me a summer stringer job with the Wethersfield Post.

My writing tailed off a little after that time. I did some writing for my college paper, but I was turning out so many essays for classes that my motivation for doing "extra" writing wore thin. After college, I had a few things published, but they were mostly technical articles for computer programmers and administrators. There was a hint of Cleveland Pages to come, though, as I got a critique of Rock Hall financing published in the Plain Dealer in 1988 or 1989.

So I've written for the public, a lot, for someone who was supposed to be a math geek. Now I study (my wife might say I scrutinize) any new situation for hints of bogus assumptions, hypocrisy, faulty logic, and self-dealing.

In my thirteen-plus years in Cleveland, essentially all of my adult life outside of college, I've met and gotten to know some of the most interesting and vital political people around the city. I ate dinner with Carl Stokes once, but he probably didn't remember it. I knew Benny Bonnano before things hit the fan with that overblown "scandal" a few years back. I've driven Ione Biggs to a meeting and played charades at Dale Miller's house. My wife's late uncle, Ivan Kopcock, was good friends with Mayor-for-Life Coyne of Brooklyn. I walked the streets with Dan Brady on that Ameritrust petition drive. Heck, I even lost a shouting match with Rick Chudner around 1986. And so on. Cleveland is big enough for high-stakes machine politics, and small enough that you're not suprised when George Forbes himself grabs the seat next to you at a City Club debate.

The stories of this city are not about the celebrities though. There are serious issues of race, class, economic power, corruption, public deception, and flat-out stupidity going on here. They're not hard to find, nor are they difficult for a reasonably intelligent adult to understand. Some background reading, the ability to ask questions, the willingness to dig through government documents, and the confidence to reconcile ideology with reality are all that is needed.

Great Cleveland political books

Here are some offline books that I have found to be most meaningful in understanding history, economics, politics, and society in Cleveland. You can find many of these at my favorite book store, a place called "Six Steps Down" or "The Bookstore on West 25th Street", which is, rather predictably, about six steps down from the West Side Market... on West 25th Street. Anyway, here's the list:

This document's template was last modified
 on Wednesday, 09-Nov-2005 15:58:19 PST.
There is a new Cleveland Pages more or less every weekend.
The entire Cleveland Pages website is © 1997,1998,1999,2000,2001,2002,2003
 by Mark W. Schumann, all rights reserved.
Copyrights belonging to others on individual items are noted.
Nobody else would take the credit or blame for these opinions anyway.

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