Friday, June 29, 2007

innumeracy running rampant in PD editorial

Push ahead on county building - -- Once again, the PLAIN DEALER, from its bully pulpit as the self-appointed arbiter of community values around here, comes down square on the side of innumeracy, spending sprees, bond issues, and cultural vacuity.

The cultural part is that they don't appreciate what tearing down a Breuer will do to our regional reputation across the country and internationally, especially if they're intending to replace it with "a Madison." Is that better or worse than "a Dicky" or "a Fleischman"? I guess the jury's going to be out on that one for a while. However, I don't think that demolishing a Breuer will enhance our collective reputations. But, the mark of a strong, self-sufficient, healthy mentality is that it doesn't take what others think overly much into account when formulating plans and actions. Let's assume the regional mentality is healthy, and let's move on to the numbers.

Numbers are bandied about freely in this dialogue, and they're broad-stroke numbers that are seldom correlated to anything else, or each other. Everyone here has been remiss in doing the due diligence required when it comes to net cost to the public--back then, now, and later. Restoration and rehabilitation will make for more jobs, but you don't hear that from our unions--there are way more man-hours in the re-do. Where is the comparison? Why don't they talk about the benefit for local labor?

Where is the side-by-side for acquisition cost, tax credits, demolition costs, abatement costs, and so forth? I've been to the hearings. It's not there. It's all just speculation. There is still no concrete plan for the new building. This whole thing reeks.

If you buy a building for $22M and then demolish it, what is left? The value of the land? The value of the other building? What is the difference between wasting an asset through demolition (let's face it, you just don't "deconstruct" anything from the raw-concrete "brutalist" school) and giving it away to another entity, an entity that could use the tax credits in a mixed-use-development (MUD) format? When you add up the cost of acquiring the asset, abating the asbestos, tearing it down, and building new at a time when construction costs are escalating and all that's available is non-Cleveland steel, doesn't it make more economic sense to give it away for nothing or sell it for a nominal sum to a developer experienced with MUDs who can use or sell the tax credits to lower the net cost, give the county an economic benefit in lease abatement equal to or greater than what their original cost of the acquisition was, and manage the property properly when we finally get around to reducing the size of county government, or when we go regional and all the smart management decides they want to be in Akron? (am I just kidding?)

Anyway, there's been no creative work done with the numbers, because the current two go-go boys on the county commission, Jimmy and Timmy, have no concern for what this will cost us, our kids, or our grandkids. (Heck, our kids, half our immediate family, have already left for Tennessee and Georgia, with our encouragement.) The go-go boys have no trouble with the concept of enslavement of the population to bond payments. They have no trouble with the concept of subsidizing the Kennedy family on our backs. They have no idea of the magnitude of the debt they create. All they do is talk about "too big" and "ugly" and "unadaptable" and "obsolete."

My mom used to say something about those who live in glass houses.


  1. The Breuer tower is an unlovely building, and it's loss isn't the real issue here. Cleveland has demolished dozens of better structures.
    The lack of vision and leadership at the county level is the issue! Chicago would never have permitted the demolition in the same situation. What is the purpose of the planning commission? How much does their continued existance cost us? Do they any longer provide a benefit to the region of simply fold when the moneyed interests come to the table? Maybe it's time is over if approvals can be purchased and their control extend only to the little guy. Maybe it's time for city planning to go too, if their role is simply reactive.

  2. I think that one of the main objectives of this Breuer drill is to neutralize, emasculate, or discredit the City Planning Commission so that, in future buccaneering planning forays, the proposers, like Hagan or Dimora, can have carte blanche to do whatever they please. We need to strengthen the Commission, not dispose of it. We've got some really weak suits, some sellouts, like Cimperman and the ever-amiable Lumpkin, and they need to go. They're compromised from the outset on any issue, for one reason or another.