Thursday, May 21, 2009

The cost of corruption: "City Hall is like a Bermuda Triangle for builders"

Sometimes one article gives you the news and another explains why it matters.

The Plain Dealer reported Saturday that three more inspectors for Cleveland's building and housing department have been indicted on federal corruption charges. That's on top of a fourth guy indicted earlier. They're accused of shaking down business owners.

Now, in this week's issue of Cool Cleveland, Mansfield Frazier reminds us of the building and housing department's reputation: Impossible to deal with.

"Most local contractors would rather get beat with a two-by-four with a rusty nail in it than go down to B & H," Frazier writes. "The 5th floor of City Hall is like a Bermuda Triangle for builders."

Past stories about this department have always made it sound like a red-tape problem. Now the feds say it was corruption.

Think about how desperately Cleveland needs new commerce, how badly its 80-year-old neighborhoods need inspections. Then read these two stories and get mad. There's no way of measuring how many businesses have walked away from the city over the years because of practices like these.

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