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From the latest Cool Cleveland.

Check the video.

The story of Festivus:

On June 19, 2009, the 1st bi-annual Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) formally established itself as a forum for local government cooperation within Allegheny County.

Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT)

Ed Morrison · Med Mart: Clever or stupid?

December 14th, 2009

Over the weekend, the PD editors made another plea for keeping the Med Mart on track.

A good place to start: A business plan that:

  • clearly outlines the business opportunity in light of intensifying competition (Nashville, New York, Tampa and the heightened competition for medical shows) and shifting market realities (overbuilt convention center market, relatively weak demand and deep discounting);
  • estimates the exposure of the County to continuing operating deficits; and
  • provides enough data to complete a serious economic impact analysis.
  • We still don’t know how the Med Mart will be more than a showroom for commonplace medical fixtures and standard equipment.

    A business plan that clearly outlines the concept would help. In light of Nashville’s med mart project, it also makes sense to understand how Cleveland’s investment will be competitively positioned in the market.

    The siting still seems a bit of a mess.

    And there are potentially value added education services that might make the Cleveland Med Mart more competitive.

    So, for example, take a look at Tampa’s proposed medical training center:

    The University of South Florida wants to develop a 60,000 square-foot facility where surgeons from around the world would come for training and certification in various high-tech treatments. Much of the training requires the use of simulators.

    Over five years, the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation and an associated hotel are projected to have a $246 million economic impact, create 204 permanent positions and 636 construction jobs. University officials believe the center would attract medical-device manufacturers and other related businesses to the area, and if so, the number of jobs and the economic impact would more than double.

    Medical project could add life to core

    In This is Spinal Tap, one of my favorite films, the protagonist laments over the fine line between clever and stupid. Cleveland’s Med Mart has probably crossed the line.

    TNTP_Cincinnati_Report_Dec09-1.pdf (page 4 of 87)

    TNTP_Cincinnati_Report_Dec09-1.pdf (page 6 of 87)

    Download Cincinnati report.

    Learn more at the New Teacher Project

    Cleveland’s got budget problems…

    Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson orders furlough days for non-union employees

    Here’s how Santa Cruz dealt with their budget challenges:

    Last spring, the city was facing a $9.2 million budget deficit and they needed to come up with budget solutions that would not incite riots nor render the government incapable of delivering its obligated services. By using an online collaboration tool, city officials decided to tap their electorate to help resolve the budget crises and set an economic development strategy that would preserve the city’s unique cultural and environmental hallmarks, Mr. Koht said.

    With the help of UserVoice, a San Francisco-based company who helps structure and manage online feedback, the city set up the website within eight days, spearheaded by volunteers and with no budget. The UserVoice forum collected ideas, reduced redundancy and structured a ranking system so the best ideas on how to fix the budget bubbled to the top. This was important in getting more participants involved and keeping the outliers from controlling the debate, Koht said.

    Gov 2.0 practitioners on display during online conference

    My mailbox is filling with more on the odd case of Frank Giglio:

    Volume 14, Issue 35
    Published December 20th, 2006
    Home Affront

    True to political form, Councilman Joe Cimperman is still actively promoting homelessness in Cleveland with his latest campaign against Frank Giglio (“American Scream,” December 6).

    In his first Cleveland City Council campaign, I voted for the man after meeting him at the Homeless Art Show in 1997. I wrongly assumed that he might promote creative solutions to the housing crisis. Since being elected, however, he has done pretty much everything he possibly can do to make the lives of unhoused men, women and children more miserable. He was at the forefront of the campaign to demolish the homeless camp at Camelot near East 55th Street and Chester Avenue. He fought efforts to establish a shelter for homeless women and children in Tremont despite the fact that the majority of neighborhood residents voiced support for the proposal at a public hearing. He unsuccessfully pressed a lawsuit against the opening of a new women’s shelter on Payne Avenue, and he shut down Jay Hotel, one of the last flophouse hotels that catered to those on the verge of homelessness. Kicking Frank Giglio out of his house for his own good is just one more piece of the puzzle.

    The boarding up of Giglio’s house did not have to happen. Prior to the bulldozing of his yard in 1998, I worked hard to set up a meeting between Giglio and Cimperman to mediate their conflict. Giglio was prepared to do what he could to address legitimate concerns about his property. Cimperman never showed up to the meeting and has proceeded to spread lies about Giglio ever since. If it wasn’t for his systematic campaigns to squeeze the homeless, I may have thought that Cimperman had a personal problem with Giglio and misused his power as a result. Unfortunately the problem is much deeper. Since his election, Cimperman has always done the bidding of the people with the deepest pockets. He follows in the footsteps of many other so-called “progressive” Cleveland politicians.

    Dr. Daniel Kerr
    Harrisonburg, Virginia

    Landmarks Commission saves historic W. 14th Street house from demolition
    by Chuck Hoven

    (Plain Press, August 2008) At its June 26th meeting, Cleveland Landmarks Commission voted 5-3 with one abstention to disapprove of the demolition a house on W. 14th in the Tremont Historic District. The 1890s era house, at 2288 W. 14th (directly across the street from Grace Hospital), belongs to Tremont resident Frank Giglio. The vote for disapproval of the City of Cleveland’s demolition order came after the Landmarks Commission heard extensive testimony from those for and against the demolition.

    Ward 13 Councilman Joe Cimperman, the Cleveland City Council representative on the Landmarks Commission, said, “I’d love to see this house preserved, but it is just not happening.” Cimperman went on to say that he sees no solution available to fix up the property, which he estimated would cost over $250,000. He cited safety issues and called for the demolition of the property. Cimperman said since the day he took office, this house has been a concern. Cimperman said Giglio is not bankable and there is no free money to fix up the property. He expressed a lack of confidence in Giglio’s ability to maintain the property, “If we spent $200,000 fix it up. In ten years it would look like this again,” said Cimperman.

    Chris Garland, Executive Director of Tremont West Development Corporation said both the Tremont Local Design Review Committee and the Housing Committee of Tremont West Development Corporation have voted to approve demolition of the house.

    Patrick Turner, a Cleveland resident and friend of Frank Giglio, said he believed there is “some sort of political vendetta against Frank.” He wondered why three vacant structures across W. 14th from Giglio’s house that were empty and in various states of disrepair were not being held to the same standard. He testified he had been in Giglio’s house and feels that it is a very solid structure. While it would take a lot of work, he said he believes the house can be fixed up. Turner called what was happening in Tremont, a “classic case of gentrification.”

    Ron O’Leary of the City of Cleveland’s Building and Housing Department submitted documentation of the various citations issued on the property over the years and the 30-day condemnation order issued on November 1, 2007. He also submitted the Board of Building Standards and Building Appeals’ decision on March 5, 2008 to deny of Frank Giglio’s request for a variance consideration. The decision called for the Building and Housing Department to enforce the violation notice and demolish the structure. O’Leary said the estimated $16,000 cost of demolition would be charged to Giglio or placed on the tax duplicate for the property.

    Joshua Ehrlick, a former Tremont resident and friend of Frank Giglio, said he had attended several of the hearings on Giglio’s property and was present for one of the inspections. He questioned the standards the house was being held to. He noted that the house was cited for not having grounded electrical outlets. He said, “Outlets in most of the houses in Cleveland are not grounded.”

    Ehrlick said health inspectors reported the house was infested with fleas. However, he said he walked with inspectors through the house in shorts and did not have any fleabites. Ehrlick questioned the attitude of inspectors sent to the property by the City of Cleveland, saying they were rude and slamming doors in his face as he accompanied them through the house.

    Ehrlick read into the record a letter from another supporter of Giglio. The letter praised Giglio as a member of the artistic community that helped to build community in the Tremont neighborhood. The letter writer said Giglio was being persecuted because he didn’t keep a manicured lawn but instead raised native plants. Many people in the neighborhood appreciated the native landscape and that the house was beautiful and interesting and should be restored, said the letter writer. The author of the letter called on the city to support Giglio in his efforts rather than subjecting him to fines and regulations.

    Landmarks Commission member Thomas Coffey, a Tremont resident, spoke strongly in favor of taking the time to look at the possibility of saving Giglio’s house. He said he had talked to Giglio and said, “He is interested in selling the house, but doesn’t want to have the development corporation (Tremont West Development Corporation) tell him whom the buyer will be.” Coffey said Giglio offered to allow him and developer Mike McBride to look at the house.

    Coffey described the very intense emotions at the Tremont West Development Corporation Housing Committee meeting when Giglio’s house was discussed. Coffey said he found it peculiar that Second District Commander Keith Sultzer told the committee “if there is any trouble (with Giglio), just call and I will have him arrested.” Coffee, a lawyer, said, “ I thought you had to commit a crime to be arrested.”

    Coffey also took issue with Cimperman’s contention that the house was a danger. He said “the house is solid structurally and not in danger of coming down.“ He noted a vacant lot on one side of the structure, I-90 behind the structure and Frank’s mother’s house on the other side (where Giglio now resides.) “Talk about danger here is simply not warranted, “ said Coffey. “I don’t think this is a danger to anyone, “ he emphasized.

    Coffey reminded the Landmarks Commission of their mission to consider the historic value of the house. He said, “Once the house comes down. The house is down forever.” In all the discussion so far he noted, “precious little attention paid to the historical nature of the house.”

    Frank Giglio, who arrived late at the hearing, complained of uneven enforcement of the building code on W. 14th street. He cited a mansion in disrepair near his house that was never cited by the city and noted other neglected properties left alone by city inspectors while “year after year I have been cited for violations and have corrected them.” He refuted claims that restoration of the house would cost over $250,000 and said the cost would be more like $60,000. He said he is looking for an electrician willing to donate electrical expertise to help out at the site.

    Giglio refuted claims by Cimperman that he had been offered help. He contended that the Ron O’Leary of the Building and Housing Department blocked his and his mother’s applications for the paint program. He called his relationship with Councilman Cimperman strained.

    Giglio noted an incident in 1999 when the city illegally entered his property and bulldozed the front of it (apparently while working on the vacant lot next door). He recalled being sprayed in the face with mace by a police lieutenant while trying to protect his property. He noted the difficulty of restoring his natural garden after the city’s destructive behavior and expressed his belief that “naturalized green space is very important in this city.”

    Countering arguments about the safety threat posed by the property, Giglio noted there are no police calls to the property, no drug activity, and the property had a new roof and new gutters. He noted there was no danger of an electrical fire because the electricity is off.

    Giglio said he had lived in the Tremont neighborhood for 25 years. “I love Tremont. But have been ready to leave for some time. I want to sell the house,” he said.

    Following Giglio’s testimony, Coffey again spoke up. “I respectfully suggest that something really cool has been allowed to fall into awful shape. There has got to be a better answer than to just tear the house down,” said Coffey.

    Speaking of the house, Coffey said, “It deserves restoration and preservation.” He said, “someday we may reach a conclusion that it must be torn down, but we are not even close to that. There are many things we can do to save it,” said Coffey.

    Ed Morrison · Health at a Glance

    December 12th, 2009

    The OECD has released its latest Health at a Glance.

    Expensive health care is not always the best health care, says OECD’s Health at a Glance

    Ed Morrison · Immigrant owners

    December 10th, 2009

    Last year, an estimated 61 percent of new businesses were launched by immigrants, according to a Babson College survey…Immigrants, who also account for 23 percent of established businesses, are anchoring downtowns in cities and remaking the suburbs across the region, launching businesses as varied as biotech firms, bridal salons, and bakeries.

    More immigrants leap into business ownership

    The Nation’s Report Card — an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education — recently measured math scores in 17 cities. The PD’s Tom Ott reports here:

    Cleveland schools fare poorly in U.S. math assessment

    The School District, trying to put a positive spin on a dismal picture, states in its press release:

    The percentage of 4th grade students performing at or above the Basic level in Cleveland was higher than the percentage in Detroit

    They do not mention that Detroit was at the bottom.

    CEO Sanders also notes: ““While the results indicate that our students have not regressed in performance, we still believe this is not adequate for our students.”

    Well, this characterization is not very accurate, because he is only comparing this year’s performance to last year’s.

    If you head over to the Nation’s Report Card web site, you can see how Cleveland’s 4th grade math performance has been heading backward since 2005. (The horizontal axis measures the scores of all 4th graders. The vertical axis meaasures scores of the poorest students.)

    Alone among the cities measured, Cleveland’s performance has been deteriorating since 2005.

    About a year ago, data comparing Cleveland’s math performance to some international scores revealed that Cleveland’s performance is below Slovenia and ahead of the Philippines.

    Cleveland students post lowest scores on math in international study

    23CGMATHOL.pdf (1 page)

    Here’s some additional background on the case of Frank Giglio, submitted through Map the Mess.

    Plain Press December 2009

    Fundraising for Justice

    by Debbie Webb

    The demolition of the home of W.14th Street resident Frank Giglio is approaching its first year anniversary. Mr. Giglio, a long time Tremont resident known for his gardens and yard sculptures, has owned the property at 2288 W. 14th Street for over 20 years. A very private man, he has had several run ins with the building and housing department. By all accounts, including those of the City of Cleveland, he met his obligations to repair his home. There are rumors and speculation about why the demolition of his home took place, but a close examination and investigation into how it occurred needs to happen. This saga has been covered by the Plain Press, the Plain Dealer, and the Cleveland Scene magazine, as well as witnessed, photographed and videotaped by several people.

    A look back at the reported facts show 10 years ago, the City of Cleveland used heavy equipment to bulldoze his yard, leveling his organic gardens and destroying his car. A hearing was pending in Housing Court, and the order to demolish, or clear, his gardens had not been signed by a judge, but the yard was bulldozed anyway.

    On another occasion, Mr. Giglio was arrested on a warrant from the Housing Court for violations when repairs were not completed in the timeframe ordered by the Court. The repairs included a leaky roof and peeling paint. Mr. Giglio was held on a $1,000,000 cash bond, a condition usually reserved for violent crimes such a rape and murder. His dog was impounded and euthanized.

    Mr. Giglio made the repairs, replaced the roof, gutters, and painted the house. He continued to be under the gun, and somehow Building and Housing obtained a warrant to inspect the interior. The citations were issued, and at some point, Mr. Giglio was evicted from his house and the house boarded up. The citations included not having an electrical outlet on each wall and a flea infestation. An exterminator for fleas was called out, but did not find a problem. The house was cleaned, but the problems with the City continued.

    The Cleveland Building and Housing Department insisted on demolition. The house being a historic structure in a historic district went before the Landmark’s Commission. A member of that panel, living in Tremont, stated that the house was in good condition and should not be demolished. In August 2008, a tour of the interior of the house was done by members of the Landmarks Commission who determined the structure was indeed sound and should not be demolished. The inspection noted a solid house with good floors and a newer roof. Three months later, the Commission reversed itself, using the justification that while the house was sound, the owner may not have the resources in the future to maintain it. The domolition order had expired but, disregarding that, and with unusual speed, the city send out the bulldozer and the house was demolished on December 9, 2008. Mr. Giglio was now without a home.

    Currently, again with unusual speed, a foreclosure on property taxes owed has been issued, while tens of thousand of dollars of unpaid taxes go without this process on property within a few miles.

    It is clear that City services were used to target this man, that the judicial and civil rights processes were circumvented in this process, and that a full investigation needs to occur. It is noted that the lead inspector on this case, Rich Huberty, has been sentenced to prison after being found guilty of accepting bribes to place citations on buildings that lower their value and removed the citations after they were sold.

    The property is adjacent to the planned new freeway ramp, sits across the street from a planned Cleveland Clinic Wellness Center and is in a neighborhood where complaint driven housing code enforcement is being conducted aggressively.

    This location combined with interviews of Councilman Joe Cimperman (in which he repeatedly contradicts himself), the city’s circumvention of due process, the use of city departments and services, and the involvement of Tremont West Development Corporation have all combined to fuel speculation that Mr. Giglio and his home may have been targeted. In the past year, two other Tremont homeowners found demolition notices on their homes. One has retained legal counsel, and the other was able to show that an interior inspection had not occurred which is what the demolition order was based upon. It is unknown if other residents have had this happen in the last year.

    A fundraiser to help Mr. Giglio pay these taxes is scheduled for Sunday, 12/6/09 at the Zion UCC Fellowship Hall on 2716 W. 14th Street (aka the church with the red doors) from 2 to 5 PM. Organizers of the event hope to raise enough money to forestall the foreclosure, and plan future fundraising to cover legal expenses of bringing civil rights violations charges.