Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Author: Hagan & Co. are "the true cynics"

Charles Michener, the former New Yorker writer who's writing a book about how Cleveland can turn itself around, ripped into county leaders in his City Club talk today.

A lack of transparency around Cleveland's biggest public projects is one of the town's most serious problems, Michener argued. With the county's $400 million Medical Mart project and the port authority's $500 million port relocation, he argued, "Open discussion was sacrificed for closed-door deal-making."

The county commissioners have failed to answer basic questions about how the Medical Mart will be connected to the rest of downtown and the lakefront, Michener said. He brought up Tim Hagan's angry accusation that the Plain Dealer was "cynical" for asking questions about their site decision. The commissioners' reaction, Michener said, "reveals them as the true cynics."

Michener mentioned two other political situations that he thinks hold Cleveland back: the "homophobic reaction" to the city's new domestic-partner registry and political leaders' silence about racial tensions. "[Cleveland's] leaders don't confront race," he complained. He pointed to the tsunami of racist e-mails that the PD got last year in reaction to the assault on lawyer Kevin McDermott in Shaker Heights, and asked why political leaders didn't speak out about it.

My colleague Laura Crawford also covers Michener's talk in this post on Cleveland Magazine's main blog.

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