How residents can address issues concerning tax abatement and the Cleveland Community Development Corporations
To the Editor:
(Plain Press, June 2022) The May 2022 issue of the Plain Press has to be the finest edition of the Plain Press of all time. It should be framed and mounted on the wall of Cleveland City Council’s chambers: https://plainpress.blog/2022/05/ .
Here is my latter as it pertains to tax abatement and the Community Development Corporations.
The answer to ALL these problems discussed is community organizing. Slavic Village is divided into sub-neighborhoods based primarily on geography. That’s about the only thing Slavic Village Development got right. I’m sure the other neighborhoods of Cleveland are also organized like this as well (at least on paper).
Each of the sub-neighborhoods must be represented by a civic association supported by street block clubs. The elected presidents of these civic associations must make up the boards of trustees for the Community Development Corporations (CDCs). Otherwise, the neighborhoods will never determine their own destiny.
Up until now these boards of trustees have been composed primarily of people with a financial interest in the neighborhood, but not necessarily a concern for its welfare. Meanwhile, many of the civic associations and street block clubs do not follow Roberts Rules of Order. Some do not have officers, and most do not take minutes of the meetings.
Currently, all so-called representatives from the neighborhoods are hand-picked so they will comply with the CDC’s mission. Politicians fear community organizing because it forces them to do their job and leaves open the possibility that a challenger may emerge.
Cleveland went off on the wrong track when the CDCs eliminated all forms of community organizing. The sign-in sheet for each of their meetings is used to convince funders that the residents and business owners are in full agreement with their development plans. But there is never any public vote taken to confirm the neighborhood is in full support.
Until Cleveland finally gets organized the way it should be, it will always be a ship without a sail (and a rudder). The city is about to receive $541 million in Covid relief. Community organizing will help with the correct distribution of these funds. As my former Coca-Cola Sales Manager Ed Moore used to tell us, “Don’t screw it up.”
Joe Bialek, Cleveland
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