|Last week I called the folks at The Plain Dealer slackers for the typo in the title of Monday Moaning. This week, the PD couldn't be bothered even to upload Monday Moaning. It did run in the print edition yesterday, but I don't have it in front of me or anything, and even if I did, I wouldn't retype the moans just to talk back to them.|
Instead, I'd like to take moment to talk back to this article, Fading Away.
Robert Smith's article is short, (remember his article on "Patel Hotels"?), so I'll reprint it here, permission be damned (I'll take it down if someone complains).
The news from the U.S. Census Bureau is not good for Cleveland, population 444,000, and falling. The city lost nearly 7 percent of its people from 2000 to 2006 and now ranks as America's 40th-largest city. That's down from 33rd and a world away from the 1920s, when Cleveland was the nation's fifth-largest city. Among major American cities, only New Orleans and Detroit suffered greater population losses, the Census Bureau will report today. Mark Rosentraub, dean of the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, said the numbers are alarming and demand a regionwide response. "We're not going to be able to turn this tide unless the region unifies," he said. "We need to get behind a single plan for attracting immigrants. Without them, we'll never grow."
Cleveland in the rearview
Eight cities passed Cleveland in population, including Louisville, which ballooned by merging with its home county. Record immigration helped Atlanta surge by 17 percent, and even solidly Midwest Kansas City attracted newcomers from abroad. K.C. grew by 1 percent to inch past us.
How low can we go?
Cleveland has lost about 7 percent of its population in the last six years. Mark Salling, a demographer at Cleveland State University, says the city is on course to dip below 400,000 in 2015, and below 300,000 by 2033.
Where's everybody going?
An analysis of Internal Revenue Service data shows that about half leave Cleveland for the suburbs, and the other half leave the region entirely, mostly for the sun belt.
The power of immigrants
Chicago has been losing about as many residents as Cleveland, but unlike us, it has newcomers pouring in, says Ken Johnson, a demographer at Loyola University. The Windy City settled about 170,000 immigrants between 2000 and 2006, offsetting its losses. In contrast, the entire metro region of Cleveland attracted only about 24,000 immigrants during the same span.
We're still major league
The city may be fading, but Greater Cleveland -- Cuyahoga, Summit, Lorain, Lake, Geauga, Portage and Ashtabula counties -- is home to 3 million people. We're the 15th-largest metro area.
By merging with Cuyahoga County, Cleveland would grow overnight to
1.3 million people, becoming America's seventh-largest city.
This deserves a more thorough response, but I'm going to write from the gut.
I have long wondered whether a metropolitan area can survive as a doughnut -- a vibrant ring of suburbia surrounding a void and decaying hole of a city. I shouldn't wonder, as that is the reality in and around Cleveland.
I have lived in the city of Cleveland, and I do not live there now. I don't think I would live there again. It is an inhospitable place, full of mostly run down neighborhoods with declining city services, and a lack of any leadership that can even articulate a vision to change it, let alone put such a vision in action. The city and its citizens are poor and dysfunctional. There has been a brain drain in this city -- some of it out of the region, but the rest of it out to the suburbs. We have poor leadership and no leadership and dumb leadership in Cleveland because it is a reflection and representation of the poor and uneducated people who still inhabit the city. The talent has moved out to where there are better homes, better schools, better police, better parks, and lower taxes. The ignorant underclass elect someone like Frank Jackson to speak for them, and is it any wonder he is mute.
One proposed solution is to increase immigration to the city. But in order to do that, you have to offer them a reason to come here: jobs. So, unless and until that happens, forget it. And if it does, it will be in spite of, not because of, the present leadership. So don't count on it.
The other proposal is to spread the decay of the city out into the burbs, by expanding Cleveland. If Cleveland were to annex all of the Cuyahoga County suburbs, it would be the seventh largest city. But would it be for long? People left Cleveland to get away from its problems. If those problems reach the burbs, the flight will resume. I want my city taxes to help my community. I don't want my local police force to be assimilated by Cleveland police. I don't want my local schools to become part of the Cleveland school district.
Proponents might say that a county-wide Cleveland would put the talent and the leadership back into the city. That we'd have a larger base of talent and voters to elect better mayors and city council. As evidence to the contrary, take a look at most of our county-wide office holders and ask yourself whether that passes the laugh test. Look at our county commissioners and ask yourself whether slimey Jimmy Dimora and Taxin' Tim Hagan represent the the kind of talent and leadership it takes to improve this region. The last commissioner turned mayor of Cleveland, Jane Campbell, oh what a fine mayor she turned out to be. And it only gets worse running down the other county offices. Our Recorder, the oft accused wife-beater Patrick J. O'Malley, or our Auditor, the smiley-on-your-gas-pumps Frank Russo, or dottering old fools Geralds McFaul and Fuerst as Sheriff and Clerk of Courts. Ask yourself how the West Side elects and reelects to Congress ineffective-at-anything-but-bankrupting-the-city-as-mayor Dennis Kucinich. And looking at all of these fine, fine office holders, anyone can see that the burbs are on their own, and need to be. For if Cleveland were to expand, it would take the whole region down with it, destroying every suburb along the way that manages to have decent schools, police that don't beat their citizens, and affordable taxes that cover services for which their residents get value. And no goddamned red light cameras.
No, Cleveland must be contained, and not allowed to spread.