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This is all getting a little weird.

First we have the case of the missing photograph.

Now we have Hagan sounding like Nixon, assuring us that everything is OK, because, well, the commissioners are not crooks.

Hagan criticized skeptics who associate the project with the ongoing investigation. Nobody has been proven guilty, he said.

Medical mart’s cost jumps $136 million, tax revenue estimate rises $90 million

After fifteen years of studying this project, they still don’t know what the convention center should cost.

The only good that will come from this mess: The Plain Dealer could win a Pulitzer.

The Urban Design Center of Northeast Ohio, based in Cleveland, is one of the region’s key economic development assets.

Regional economic development is moving toward network-based models in which the value of quality, connected places — especially around college and university campuses — is accelerating. The Design Center does work all over the region.

Here’s an example from North Canton:

North Canton gets economic development plan

Check out this Urban Land Institute program in September on the Value of Place Making: Cleveland’s own Forest City executive will chair the event. Jim Gilmore, another NEO asset, will keynote.

One of my favorite web sites on the value of place: Cool Town Studios.

Forbes rates four Ohio cities ‘fastest-dying’

Three of the top ten are in Northeast Ohio. The exception: Akron, which is becoming the strongest part of our region.

What is Akron doing that we can all learn?

The latest figures on per capita income growth for metro areas came out this week. The data show the slowest growth metros (in dark yellow) are concentrated in SE Michigan and Northeast Ohio.

Click on the image for a larger view.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Sound of Ideas has a show this AM on education reform with a great panel. Listen at the SoI home page.

Dan Moulthrop and the producers have assembled a great panel, including Michelle Rhee, the inspired chancellor of Washington DC’s schools.

Here are some of the key points from the broadcast:

1. Claudio Sanchez, NPR education reporter: We are seeing a real renaissance of school reform that entails real innovation. Dan Moulthrop says that in preparing the program, he was amazed at the extent of innovation taking place.

2. Jim Peyser, New Schools Venture Fund: Educational entrepreneurship is emerging. They are engaging systems in transform the nature of public education. New Orleans is transforming with a deep public-private partnership “at scale”.

3. Claudio Sanchez: The war between public education and its critics has been poisonous. The notion of a solely market driven education system is fading. Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans are focused on deeper partnerships that are changing the political climate in which meaningful reform — education entrepreneurs — can take place.

4. Jim Peyser: Effective communities (New Orleans, Chicago, Philadelphia are examples) have a leadership and a policy environment that welcomes entrepreneurs and focuses on what works, not who’s in control. Some key lessons of transformation: Focus on what works, not who is in control…Establish accountability and transparency for results…Promote local political leadership that can insulate transformation from the the toxic effects of local politics.

5. Good discussion on role of parents in education. (Kalamazoo has rapidly become a model of a community that embraces quality public education. The newspaper has compiled a useful “Back to School” section that outlines the appropriate expectations for parents. You can read it here.)

6. Michelle Rhee, DC School Chancellor: Moving toward a different compensation for teachers. Moving intro teachers from $43,000 to $78,000, based on student achievement levels. This plan is different than Denver’s ProComp, because the differentials are based more on student achievement. Foundations are supporting the first five years. After that the district will focus on sustainability through higher productivity (e.g., improvements in transportation for special education). Regaining the confidence of parents will take place over time. Dan asks: Any advice to the Governor? Rhee: If you want to take this on you need to be willing to take on the entrenched groups….the changes are not politically easy. Politicians also often forget that their constituents are also the children.

7. Claudio Sanchez: In 1989, governors were annointed as the leads of education reform, but their political time horizon is too short to guide meaningful transformation. This problem leads to incredible inconsistency n education reform efforts. (Here’s some background on the 1989 summit.)

8. Listener: Raises the issue of funding. Claudio Sanchez: These funding issues are very complex. Often overlooked, however, is the question, “How are you spending the money you do have?” More money in the classroom matters; it translates into better results. Dan Moulthrop heads us over to WCPN interview with Bill Ouchi, author, Making Schools Work.

9. Listener points to the the documentary of 2 million minutes, a documentary that focuses on global comparisons on student achievement. Claudio Sanchez: Points to former governor Roy Romer of Colorado has launched in ED in 08. It’s not clear why these issues have not gotten more attention. Most schools and school districts feel isolated.

10. Chris Gabrieli, Chairman, National Center for Time and Learning. Powerful, simple reform. First year of conversion generated dramatic improvements in student achievement in Massachusetts.

11. Main point: There is not a problem of public education that has not been solved. The challenge is integrating these reforms into a coherent strategies.

Last week I found myself disagreeing with Polensek over the proposed carwash for 185th St. While I’m glad he’s taking a stand against the RTA’s proposed cuts (particularly the elimination of ALL community circulators), I don’t think he’s helping the case by being angry:

An angry Cleveland City Councilman Mike Polensek spoke for most of the people at the Tuesday afternoon meeting when he said “the cuts you are proposing are falling on the backs of working men and women, the elderly and the poor.”

He said elimination of some circulator routes will harm riders and the businesses who serve them, noting that RTA will stand for “Return To Automobiles.”

Polensek acknowledged to role of fuel prices, but blamed some of RTA’s costs on “million-dollar articulated buses,” the $200 million Euclid Corridor Project, and the Lakefront Line extension of the RTA rapid system.

Interesting that the deficit for public transportation is equal to the revenue from the new Cuyahoga County tax set aside for the proposed Medical Mart (that isn’t happening). Which would you rather invest in? Public transportation or convention center space? What’ll have more of an economic development impact?

RTA riders decry proposed cuts, price hikes

From Jim Cossler:

Youngstown Business Incubator portfolio company Zethus Software has brought on a new CEO and just completed the signing of some top talent onto its Advisory Board. We’d like you to meet them:

Joining the Zethus team as its new CEO is Brad Myers, a co-founder of a Silicon Valley software venture. Brad has extensive experience in raising capital, as well as managing successful start up and early stage business operations. Most recently he served as the Chief Operating Officer of PI-Track, Inc., a Silicon Valley software company that developed a professional investigative tracking application for the insurance and banking industries.

Joining the Zethus team as Advisory Board members are:

Chuck Wallace who most recently served as as CEO of Ustream.TV, a leading live interactive video company. Prior to Ustream, Chuck was a co-founder of Esurance, the fastest growing auto insurance company in the country with revenues approaching $1billion. MBA from the Wharton School and JD from the University of Pennsylvania.

Michael Schwartz who has an extensive history with Silicon Valley startups leading engineering teams at Six Apart, Elemental Security, Opsware, Infoseek and GO. M.S. in Computer Science and B.S. in Technology and Society from Stanford University.

Ram Krishnan who most recently served as Vice President of Marketing for Elemental Security where he guided the development and launch of the Elemental Compliance System, named New Product of the Year by Info Security magazine. MBA from the Kellogg School of Northwestern University.

Nick Bush who serves as Vice President and Practice Leader of Competitive Strategy for the Newry Corporation, a management consultancy that specializes in market strategies for technology-oriented businesses. A partial list of his clients includes Corning, Eaton, Lockheed Martin, IBM and British Petroleum. B.S. in Industrial Management from Carnegie Mellon.

Zethus is bringing to market cumulus::Archive, a highly secure, scalable document management archiving technology. To learn more visit,

They just held their summer meeting last week.

Mayors Innovation Project

Cleveland is affiliated. List of cities participating is here.

List of briefing materials is here.

Ed Morrison · Map the Mess

July 31st, 2008

Reading all the connections coming out in the coverage of the County investigation gets a mind-numbing after a little while.

A group of us are turning to social network software to draw maps of the relationships. The patterns become more clear with a network map.

Here’s an example of how network maps can uncover covert networks.
You can help. Visit Map the Mess and contribute what you know.

Add you voice to the Forums.

Or, just join the citizens interested in cleaning up the “civic space” we share in Cuyahoga County.

Not too long ago I was an active participant in heated conversations that went something like this:

Person 1: “There aren’t any promising new businesses in Northeast Ohio worth investing in.”

Person 2: “You’re wrong. What’s missing is smart investors willing to take a risk and smart enough to turn a good idea into a great success.”

Being a world-class flip-flopper, I’ve played the role of both Person 1 and 2 in those conversations. But I no longer have such conversations, and I believe it’s because we’ve addressed both concerns (or at least have made significant progress in addressing them).

Turning Technologies, Hyland Software, MemberHealth, NDI Medical etc. have all shown there’s lots of good ideas being turned into high-growth companies in Northeast Ohio.

And today we’re reminded again (this time by the Third Frontier program) that there’s a fair amount of capital available for entrepreneurs to pursue. Importantly, there’s now a new fund being formed to help minority entrepreneurs. Yes, more capital is needed. And so are more entrepreneurs with great ideas. But we’ve moved onto other important conversations, and for that I’m grateful.