Yesterday, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson spent an hour with WCPN listeners on our daily program "The Sound of Ideas," talking about everything from the census bureau's latest poverty rankings to new development to the waterfront. Sound of Ideas host Dan Moulthrop has this recap.
Cleveland is not the country's poorest big city. Not this year at least. But does it matter to the Mayor of Cleveland?
Frank Jackson: No it doesn't. It really doesn't. We went from number one to number 12 and back to number one. The facts are that we don't need someone to tell us we have problems in Cleveland and most urban centers in the midwest. If it's number one or number 50, it doesn't matter, we're on course to improve our economy.
Mayor Jackson says key to the fixes he's working on is connecting the more than 12 percent of Clevelanders who are unemployed with the education that will prepare them for the high tech jobs that are available. He says though the city and the county have been spending millions on workforce development, taxpayers have not been getting their money's worth.
Frank Jackson: We have probably fifteen million more dollars between the county and city in workforce development.
Are we getting our money's worth?
Frank Jackson: No we're not and that's the point I'm making, and this has not been something that just happened, this has been going on for awhile. And what I have to do is what I do. I change systems. I change bureaucracies and I change cultures... I make it work and work right.
Regardless, the mayor still has a problem to deal with--call it an image problem, or an image-less problem. In recent months the mayor has been referred variously as the Invisi-mayor and His Shyness. Mayor Jackson says he's taking it all in stride.
Frank Jackson: People knew what I was when they picked me up. When I campaigned the same people criticized me when I was running... I've gotten to old to change.
The Mayor also spoke about the future plans for the Lakefront. He says though he understands access is important to many Clevelanders, he won't commit to any particular recreational uses. He does, however, promise to deal first with the two major lakefront institutions: the Port Authority and Burke Lakefront Airport.
Frank Jackson: We cannot do a lakefront plan and ignore Burke or ignore the Port Authority. That is what's happened in the past because we had planning by politics rather than planning and using politics to implement the plan.
He said the plan -- due out in October -- will resolve the future of both Burke Airport and Cleveland's commercial port. When those issues are resolved, opportunities for other uses will be clear.
Eventually of course, the question of crime came up:
Caller: It's very very difficult to get to the social solutions to poverty if residents are not safe, so I was wondering if you could talk about your efforts to cut down on illegal guns.
The Mayor wasn't specific in his response to the caller, but he said he blames part of the gun crime problem on the state's elimination of the city's gun laws.
Frank Jackson: They basically eliminated our registration our ability to limit assault weapons... All these kinds of programs have been wiped off the books.
The mayor also praised Cleveland schools chief Eugene Sanders. He said, as he has many times before, that none of what he might accomplish will mean anything without improved public schools.
Dan Moulthrop, 90.3.