It's worse in Cleveland

Matt Westerhold
Jan 6, 2013


A column today by the Plain Dealer's Mark Naymik is a refreshing change of pace for Ohio's largest newspaper and has some parallels to the story in today's Sunday Register about the state of Sandusky's government.

Here's an excerpt from Naymik's column: 

"Former Cleveland City Councilman Ken Johnson should stay retired.

"The 65-year-old city fixture left elected office in the final hours of 2012 to take advantage of favorable public pension terms set to change this year.

"But Johnson, who was on council for decades and was famous among City Hall watchers for rarely showing up for his committee meetings, is thinking about coming back.

"He doesn't want to bother waiting for voters to re-elect him next November. He wants his colleagues to appoint him so he can quickly begin collecting a $74,000-a-year council paycheck on top of his pension.

"Since Cleveland was incorporated as a city in 1836, no council member has ever asked to be re-appointed after leaving voluntarily during a term.

"But that could change thanks to a gutless council.

"The 19-member council hides behind tradition, self-importance and unwritten rules to justify how it fills vacancies within its body, nearly always deferring to the wishes of departing colleagues.

"For too long, as Plain Dealer reporter Henry Gomez detailed in 2008, council members have treated their elected seats as heirlooms to be protected and passed between friends."  

That "self importance" and the "unwritten rules" by which the Cleveland City Council operates likely contributed greatly to the city's hemorraging population and the ghost city appearance reflected in some Cleveland neighborhoods today. Cleveland is not the city it was 30 years ago, and it might never again be as strong as it was then.

Be sure to read the articles in today's Sunday Register about similar practices in Sandusky, where the population has remained at a relatively stable number during the last 30 years, especially in contrast to Cleveland. But the makeup of Sandusky's population has been transformed dramatically.

Fewer and fewer homes in Sandusky are owner occupied, with as much as 70 to 80 percent being rental dwellings. That could be almost a complete reversal of percentages from the past, when most homes were owner-occupied.

Bad government is bad government, big or small. The results — in Cleveland and in Sandusky — speak for themselves. I agree with former Sandusky city commissioner Dick Brady, who said it bluntly in a story in today's Register:

"It is my belief that the form of government in Sandusky is fatally flawed."  


Click here to get the e*Paper or get today's Register at a newsstand near you for the story 'Score cARD,' about Sandusky city manager Nicole Ard's first year on the job, plus coupons and advertiser specials that could save you hundreds of dollars on your next shopping trip. 



2cents's picture

(Fewer and fewer homes are owner occupied, with as much as 70 to 80 percent being rental dwellings)

OMG, talk about a mess over there. I was on East 131 Street around Eddy Rd. Friday on business and the businesses that are gone, closed, boarded up and all the dilapidated buildings, residential blight and that guy wants to cash back in to take from the people?

Horace Mann

Sandusky City Commissioners only make $5000/yr and in Cleveland they get $74,000? Sound like, for Commissioners, it's BETTER in Cleveland.

How strange that we pay our Commissioners only $5000/yr and then complain about the lousy job they do.


"Fewer and fewer homes in Sandusky are owner occupied, with as much as 70 to 80 percent being rental dwellings."


OH is losing population:


They are going where the jobs are! Can you figure out why? Because this State does not court jobs. The governor sees to that. Ever since two governors prior they just to not take the time. This governor got LUCKY. He didn't court the last two big business locating in Columbus, they are ancillary business from ones already there.

Until this state wakes up and gets busy trying to get the State ready to accept businesses, we won't get them. They go elsewhere for the tax breaks they get and the bonuses other states give them.


@ wiredmama222:

Why do you think that I left in the mid-80s and only came back to help with family? When my work here is done - I'm outahere!

This state continues to have one of the highest tax rates in the country.

According to the Tax Foundation, OH ranks 39th in business tax climate. Down from 47th since Gov. Kasich took office.

Gov. Kasich "lucky"? He got rid of the estate tax - it's a start.

IMO, OH needs to eliminate personal and business income taxes and replace them with a "reasonable" consumption tax.

The Big Dog's back

Then the rich wouldn't pay any taxes since they don't buy anything here anyways.


Dog writes:

"Then the rich wouldn't pay any taxes since they don't buy anything here anyways."

Yea, right, the rich people in states like NV, FL or TX that have no state or local income taxes never buy anything.

Actually, they have more money to buy stuff.


The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

While not a big business, as a business owner all the same there are certainly many improvements I have written up based on my observations and experiences. I await to hear back from our state Treasurer about a meeting. I shook his hand the other month in Columbus and told him the story of our store. He seemed genuinely intrigued and thankful for the effort to see him (especially since I drove two hours - detour between Fitchville and Mansfield aside as I take 250->13 - to see him for 30 minutes before returning home). As a part of 2013 I have "resolved" to sit down with him and others to share these ideas for the betterment of not just The Hero Zone, nor even just Sandusky, but of all Ohio.

As your comment below correctly suggests, to do things in a manner that supports the care of the community. As at least on the local level, the citizens and other businesses know (or strongly speculate) who in private or public life is doing the right thing for the right reasons. If we continue to think critically about these problems, Wired, and speak up to offer solutions then we have done a great deal in making our city and state a better place to be!

The Big Dog's back

Funny thing is con, is that people move to higher tax districts where there are more services, especially police.


Did the CPD understand about Perkins TWP being the necklace around the throat of Sandusky, the choker that tightened and tightened until it finally strangled us because our past "fathers" wanted Sandusky to "stay the same"? I think not. Yes, you can blame "bad government" for that. The government that did not want us to change in the era of commissioners who wanted this city to remain the wonderful little town it was. They didn't want big businesses here and closed their eyes and ears to progress. They voted down progress to keep it like that. They were "short sighted" people and one by one they watched as companies left us: Scott Paper, American Crayon, Barr Rubber, etc. They didn't give them what they needed and wanted. They felt we could survive on Cedar Point. So those companies left us.

I am old enough to remember the people older than I complaining about the many times the previous generation didn't make the right decisions. The mall went to Perkins and out moved Penneys, Sears and down went our downtown....while the commission sat in stunned silence and did nothing. Oh, yes, bad government. "We have Cedar Point".

It left us a ghost town in a few short years while Perkins began to grow. They didn't have a bad government. They ended up strangling our bad governement.

It did, it died. And Perkins won. It even took our people.

So does the bad government lose? Not necessarily bad government...just short sighted ones without a plan for growth, for people in mind, for the care and feeding of its city, its people and their well-fare first. Not for dreams of staying the same. You have to have progress in your heart and a plan in your head.

Without that you die. That is the secret to GOOD government.

BW1's picture

The problem is actually exactly the opposite. "Progressives" wanted all the socialism of the big cities, and lo and behold, it attracted a lot of people with their hand out.


I fail to see how you can instantly equivocate progressiveness and socialism and hand outs!

Progressiveness does not mean that you instantly have the socialistic downfalls of the handouts to which you refer. You are thinking about this in too broad a terminology and far too fast. Within every society, there are those who do not wish to work. Those people expect to be cared for by the others who do work. Every society all the way back to the time of Socrates tried to solve the problem without success. Short of shooting them, we will have them with us always.

Progress and/or socialism does not mean that we "develop" them automatically.


@ wiredmama222:

The early American advocates of Progressivism understood that it was socialism.

Progressivism = Fabian Socialism.

A financial truism: You tax what you don't want and subsidize that which you do.

The percentage of people working in the U.S. is comparable to the early 1980s and is at record low levels:


but I was talking about people in the 50 and early 60's who didn't want Sandusky to do anything more than stay the same. We still had people with their hands out even back then. That was hardly Fabian Socialism.

Come now, you guys should understand that staying the same is a death sentence. When you fail to thrive or grow, you die...which is exactly what happened to this town. Now look. Where is everything...Perkins. I rest my case. That is exactly what I was talking about.

Julie R.

I'm undecided yet about the score card for Sandusky's city manager but it does kind of remind me of that removejohnson blog that somebody started right after Barb Johnson won another election by a landslide. That grading of Ms. Johnson's attendance while failing to mention the 70-year-old lady was on a medical leave battling a serious illness ~ and was even in a nursing home for awhile ~ was dirty. Super dirty.


That should be Sandusky's motto. Put it on tee shirts, bumper stickers, even billboards.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Replying here in a comedic/satirical manner (any grains of truth or bluntness in presentation aside), I'll offer this unofficial "tourism video" of Cleveland. A second one was made as a sequel which passes the "at least..." buck. Good for a laugh if nothing else and gives us something to consider since comic parody is a reflection of real life. On that note...

...Snapping back to the real world these are all serious concerns we face in our everyday lives and should be approached as such when it comes to actual solutions.

Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video

2cents's picture

Watch all the parts, so sad where we are headed in this country.....


who did those, weird Al? I was laughing so hard I about pee'd my pants. They were very funny. LOLOLOL


Is that City Commissioner Smith at the 18 second mark of the video?


You know, Mr K, you should just run for Ms Cole's spot and get back on council so you can stop worrying about what Mr Smith does so much. Then you can stop cranking about him. LOL. You are beginning to sound like someone with a big vendetta on your shoulder or a bunch of sour grapes stuck in your mouth. LOL Just run for another seat and get it over with. That way you can do something from within and be back in the swing of it again. You and Waddington and the gang. LOL

And while we are on that subject.....I have talked to Mr. Smith exactly THREE times in my entire life. That is it. So do not make it any more than that. In fact, I have talked to you on here MORE than I have him. So you can now relax and take a deep breath. I don't take "orders" from him, or tell him what to do. I don't run errands for him or give him ideas or anything else and he doesnt do that for me. So our discussions ended long ago. Like I said, I spoke with him exactly THREE times. Now you can let that one alone and stop bugging me about it.