Monday, June 30, 2008

following the money, this time to Russo

Frank Russo's payroll army -- that you're paying for - Cleveland Metro News – The Latest Breaking News, Photos and Stories from The Plain Dealer -- We just can't wait until the PD extends equal treatment to the Water Department, Cleveland Public Power, and Cleveland City Hall, other repositories of "special" people with cozy links.

What I found really interesting was the overall educational level of the group; certainly, these people "owe" their employer, and are therefore "owned."

I have the feeling that these may not be "the best and the brightest," but they probably the most loyal simply because they are beholden.

To put the icing on the cake here, perhaps the researchers could have Valdis Krebs map the networks.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

on Euclid Avenue: liquor license coming soon

Yesterday morning I took a walk around the Euclid Avenue construction area from Playhouse Square down to Public Square, and did so in relative solitude. I did note a number of signs for hope, and a few signs of life, still, most notably at the Playhouse Square store of our friend Mike Lang at 1275 Euclid.

In the midst of the mess, among the orange barrels held together with orange barrier netting, his entrepreneurial bray of defiance rang forth from the front of his men's clothing establishment with three feisty signs, reading left to right--

  1. Fine! Stay at Home! Free UPS Delivery.
  2. Free Parking. Call 216-771-4197.
  3. Liquor License coming soon. Drink your lunch and then shop. Every clothing item 20-50% off.

I've been teetotaling a good while now, but I do need to score some Kenneth Gordon shirts and a new lightweight suit. It's good to do business with local merchants with a sense of humor. It's also fun to walk about in the middle of a transformation. Go see Mike before the transformation's done.

Friday, June 27, 2008

healing the wards of Cleveland

These latest Charter Review hearings for the public have been interesting, our neighbors tell us. The upshot of the whole matter is that Clevelanders are not too happy about this latest attempt to strip out their ability to control their collective destiny.

The commission will collect public input until July 15th. Here's some more for them:

  1. increase the number of council representatives from 21 to 25, to handle all the new growth we've been spending money on all these years, and have them be councilpeople at large for the time being, doing all the things current councilpeople may not typically get around to, and being experts at their specialty--one will focus on ethics (The Ethicist), another will focus on actually reading (The Reader) all the paperwork that gets run by the council, the third will do the math (The Mathematician) on everything, and the fourth will be The Futurist, who will plan for new trends and sustainability.
  2. cut the mayor back to himself, only--we elected him based on his perceived ability, not him and a team of directors and consultants--let him have a secretary--in effect, he will be the fifth councilperson at large, and the ambassador of good will on junkets to France and such.
  3. get a city manager to coordinate the ward governments; decentralize services, outsource to each ward, retain civil-service protections
  4. make the city a "right to work" area; make the unions more like guilds, where they organize based on excellence and not on their abilities to bargain collectively and become impediments to progress.
  5. make each ward nearly autonomous; give it equal standing with each of the suburban cities surrounding it; give it boundaries that are static and do not shift with gerrymandering; let it have its own services, and participate directly in the income it generates from taxing the income-producing entities it attracts.
  6. wards that are not as prosperous will become targets of federal money and redevelopment; prosperous wards will operate just fine without it, merely maintaining what they have and leveraging off that, since we are intrinsically already very rich; economics and old-fashioned incentives will take hold; people who want to work and conserve will be rewarded for their efforts--minimize revenue-sharing between wards--let each earn its keep
  7. make the entire model one that is networked, side-to-side, and collaborative, with each unit pulling its own weight and justifying its existence on an on-going basis; do away with vestiges of the hierarchical, top-to-bottom, third-world politicized dictatorship in which nepotism and thuggery flourish.

we have a biker in the family, and it's a good thing

Toad & MO: Bermuda National Championships -- Our son-in-law and Bermuda citizen Geri Mewett (he's the one in the black and red outfit) has won the 2008 Bermuda National Championships. It was a 60-mile race. I'm curious how long the course was--all the islands together are only 20 square miles.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

talking about AEDs

Could a Defibrillator Have Saved Tim Russert? - Well - Tara Parker-Pope - Health - New York Times Blog -- Here's an interesting discussion of AEDs, and speculation about how their availability or use might have changed the outcome for that other Tim of Sunday morning fame. The question before us is, Should they be part of our planning and design for public and private spaces?

Jill at WLST heralds the demise of the party system

#comment-86428#comment-86428#comment-86428#comment-86428 -- Jill brings up a critical point about improving, and protecting, the public dialogue. She quotes Richard Harwood on the phenomenon of the new leadership style emerging, which of necessity has become nonpartisan. The parties as they evolved have outlived their usefulness and overshot their mark. They've become the antithesis of what they started out to be.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

my Saturday night pastime

I live in Cleveland and run a business out of Cleveland. Because it seems
we're largely self-help around here these days, this is how my neighbors and
I spend our Saturday night. This email is an alert about the Charter
Review, about how the dialogue's stifled and the process is rolling down the
track without much transparency, reporting, or public input. Pardon the
mixed metaphors, but it's my Saturday night, and I'll do with it as I

Our neighbor Ed Pryll is a government employee and a member of the Civil
Service Review Board (I think I got that right). He's on the Charter Review
Committee. He sent me this email this afternoon and asked me to get it out
to my list:


The following message is VERY IMPORTANT, especially to the residents of the
City of Cleveland who will be voting this November.The Cleveland Charter
Review Commission has been in session since Feb.2008, yet very little has
been made public as to what has transpired@ these meetings!

Why hasn't there been more media attention made about this commission?The
Charter Review Commission only meets every 20,TWENTY, years.This will be a
very important decision that will affect the lives of all the citizens of
Cleveland. Why were there only 600,six-hundred, flyers made for handouts
to almost 400,000 residents? Is the city afraid to divulge the TRUTH? Why
is it the Plain Dealer only covered the downsizing of City-Council? Are they
not interested in the entire Charter Review?
It is IMPERATIVE the residents of the City of Cleveland attend the following
informational meetings,i f they are to have any say in their future. The
next public hearing will be @ The Gunning Rec Center 16700 Puritas from
6;30-8;30P.M. Following that will be a meeting @ the Harvard Community
Center,18240 Harvard Ave.I invite all to attend.

--Ed Pryll, Jr.


Another neighbor, Bill Callahan, is also on the Charter Review Commission
and keeps up a running commentary on what is, and isn't, going on. Here's a
link to his blog:

There's a posting and directions on, as well as a link to Henry
Gomez' PD blurb of a few days ago.

As Ed said, this is IMPORTANT stuff, and we don't want to see it get short

--Tim Ferris

Friday, June 20, 2008

AT&T's Pay-More Policy: The gouge begins

Apple Watch - iPhone - AT&T's Pay-More Policy -- You can always count on AT&T. . . to act in their interests first, invariably, and forget about the impact their actions have on the rest of us, our businesses, and our communities. Remember their SB117 that our naive Ohio legislators passed last year, allowing AT&T to plant their obsolete, huge metal boxes all over our treelawns, regardless of local design restrictions or utility code? Thank goodness they're spewing their metal-box madness over the higher-end demographic areas first--that gives those of us in emerging economies, third-world countries like Cleveland, to react and perhaps protect ourselves against their depradations.

Since the times of Newton D. Baker, our utilities in Cleveland are supposed to be either underground or running off the back alleys. A trip we took to in-town Columbus yesterday showed us they're doing that, and protecting their property values while they organize and secure their utility and service deliveries. We need to catch up to Columbus; the legislation is already on the books, yet conveniently ignored.

Anyway, read about what eWEEK has to say about the latest AT&T gouging of iPhone users. Tere's a lot of detail in the whole article. What follows is just the lead-in:

AT&T's Pay-More Policy
News Analysis. Suddenly that $200 iPhone price cut is less compelling.

AT&T is raising data rates for iPhone 3G compared with existing models, which over the course of the two-year contract exceeds the price cut. The current unlimited data plan costs $20 a month, but AT&T will charge iPhone 3G subscribers $30 a month—or an additional $240 over 24 months. So much for that price cut.

But, wait, there's more. Business users—and it's unclear how AT&T defines them—will pay $45 a month, or an extra $600 over current pricing, for unlimited data. Today, anybody with an iPhone can connect to business Exchange servers using IMAP for $20 a month.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Garden Tour Sunday June 22nd

Dear Blogger --

This is just a reminder that "Ideas, Innovation, & Industry," the 2008 Brooklyn Centre Garden Tour, will take place Sunday, June 22nd, between 1 and 5 PM at Riverside Cemetery, 3607 Pearl Road in Brooklyn Centre, a park neighborhood of the City of Cleveland, nestled in ZIP Code 44109.

There will be costumed narrators, musical entertainment, refreshments, free parking and shuttle service, & continuous walking tours throughout the afternoon, with the last tour starting at 4:15 PM.

Cleveland-centric and Northeast Ohio-centric books from Gray's Publishing will be available, and we will be especially featuring Vicki Vigil Bloom's books on cemeteries and on genealogy.


"Reflections from Brooklyn Centre: Presentations and Oral Histories from The Brooklyn Centre Historical Society" will also be available in limited quantities. It was published late in 2004.

Admission is $8 in advance, $10 the day of the tour, and seniors are $5 in advance, $7 the day of the tour. Reserve your tickets today! Call 216-351-0254 or email

Web references to the event include:

At these links you will find directions to Riverside and also the postcard graphic that has been so well received this year, as it was last year, as well. We certainly do have some remarkable talent in our neighborhood.

If you receive more than one of these reminders over the next few days, please forgive us. What that means is that, in our databases, your address may come up in more than one affinity group or ZIP code. Actually, the more of these you get, the more involved you are in building our community, so thank you, and bear with us while we get the word out.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

whose property is this, anyway?

Why close financially healthy St. Peter's - letter to the editor- -- I have another idea about these Roman Catholic parishes--give them to whoever feels they can keep them rolling. That's right--give them, not sell them, give them, give them back to the people who come together to form them and sustain them in the first place. They came from the assets of the local community, and they ought to be returned, if the community feels they can support them without the help of the diocese.

As I've said before, just because you can't hold up your end of the bargain--providing adequate staffing and attracting new membership--doesn't mean you get to keep the real estate. As an urban dweller since the 1960s--in Boston, in Atlanta, and right here--I've seen first-hand various approaches to maintaining organized religion in the cities. I do know that the best thing to do is to, first of all, ASK the affected community what the most appropriate solution would be. They live with the day-to-day problems and practicalities, and probably have the best and most creative ideas, be they for continuance as a religious property or for deconsecration and adaptive reuse.

In our neighborhood, Archwood-Denison/Brooklyn Centre, we have had some church properties closed and then resold as church properties, to other, different congregations, congregations that come in from outside the community and visit there only infrequently, usually just on Sunday. The properties I'm talking about are no longer active community centers, they're no longer open during the week, they're not centers of community activity, and they're not involved in the day-to-day problems that go with being a functioning entity in the neighborhood. One of these is on Denison, and one is on Pearl, and we have a similar problem going on with what used to be the local YMCA--they have been sold to outsiders, and they have neutral to negative impact on those of us who live there. All these decisions were made by headquarters staff without consulting with the local residents, the real stakeholders.

In the case of Saint Peter's, it seems that, even if the diocese doesn't want to support the parish in the traditional ways it has, the parish themselves should be permitted to assume responsibility for their own destiny. I think the diocese should give them back the property and let them run it as they see fit. They can contract for the services of clergy and pay their own utilities and maintenance. They can make the parish the center of vibrant Christian life; we have to face up to the fact that there just aren't enough vocations to the priesthood right now to fulfill the same staffing commitments they did 50 and 100 years ago. Parishioners are going to have to carry the ball more than ever before.

Another thing--there seems to be an interest on the part of many real-estate people in brokering and in acquiring prime properties, like Saint Malachi's, Saint Barbara's, and so on. If the process in downsizing the number of diocesan parishes has, as it's first step, giving the option to each parish to run itself and then giving the parish its property back if it takes the option, it will eliminate a lot of the potential for self-dealing and politicking at the diocesan level.

So far as the partition of real assets, perhaps it should be treated something like a divorce, or the dissolution of a marriage. The parish keeps the property with its fixtures and the parishioners (the house and the kids), and the diocese gets the gold, emeralds, diamonds, rubies, and the chalices and vestments (the clothes on its back and part of the shared portable wealth). After all, it was the diocese that broke the agreement to support, or walked out on, the parish in the first place; the parish shouldn't be the one to bear the brunt of the disruption. Perhaps it was truly supposed to be "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part," or words to that effect.

Anyway, decisions like this are best made from the bottom up, not from the top down and with the assistance of a conflicted advisory committee at the diocesan level. Who are these people, anyway?

The sermon at The Cathedral today, predicated on the liturgy, was about giving.

I need to get a new missal, for use in the off-hours. The one I used today is back in the pew.

I'll just have to resort to online resources until that new missal shows up. The 11th Sunday in ordinary time has readings that wrap with this:

Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus,
“Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.
Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Manufacture and Sell Anything -- in Minutes -- Here's a takeoff from the April WIRED Magazine on the Instapreneur, a concept of which I first became aware reading the Tofflers' Revolutionary Wealth last year. Some people were talking about this "instapreneurship" at the most recent Founders' Cafe event, too.

Flag Day, June 14th: The birthday of the Beths

AmericanFlagToday's Flag Day, officially established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. It's also my sister Beth's birthday, and Gloria's friend Beth's birthday--same year, too, but that's classified information, still.

I won't give out their last names, but if you know them, and knew their REAL first names (one's is Mary Elizabeth, the other's is Bethany), you could go to and, armed with first name, last name, and a rough estimate of their actual age, nail the birth year.

Happy birthday, girls. Many more. In fact, basic gender-based actuarial tables say 25.22 more. The single-life expectancy tables (for beneficiaries) say 27.0 more. Either way, it's a while before final checkout. Enjoy. Understand, too, that these are broad averages culled from the population at large and do not take into account healthier lifestyles.

WORTH Magazine: ProPublica, the nation's largest nonprofit center for investigative journalism

The new June print issue of WORTH Magazine, in its Worth Five Minutes section, speaks of a journalistic "moral force" entering the marketplace of ideas. Backed by a $10 million startup budget and the "philanthropy journalism" leadership of Herbert and Marion Sandler, ProPublica will attempt to lend some dignity to what otherwise has become a vulgar brawl. Paul Steiger, the former editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, will run the editorial side and Richard Tofel will be the general manager. Since they have a clear mission that does not involve generating revenues, they anticipate they will be able to talk about all the centers of power in American society, not only government and business, but also labor unions, the courts, science, medicine, universities, foundations, and the media themselves. I'm looking forward to it.

It has eight categories for site feeds, and you can follow it on Twitter (I was number 8). It's so odd that its title and its tagline, ProPublica: journalism in the public interest, is not redundant.

They're augmenting the mission of the blogosphere, and with a much larger budget than most of us have had.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Why is this blogsite hanging? Did SiteMeter sell me out?

For the past few days, this blogsite has been hanging up everybody who comes here. It started the day we posted the foreign-language renditions of commentary on Ohio's HB 477.

Toodling around the internet, I've found similar problems occurring over the past year for others due to something called, which they say was introduced by Sitemeter, which we used until yesterday. Here's the story and the supposed cure for the malady:

I could actually see the come in and take over the page loading process, so I got rid of its cookies and Sitemeter as well. Everything worked for a while.

Now, it's all hanging up all over again. Well-wishers are emailing me to say that, having entered here, they've abandoned all hope and will follow my progress even more vicariously than before, from other perspectives, in other ways, safely.

If anybody has some suggestions, and can post a comment here, I'd appreciate help finding a work-around. If you can't post, the I am emailable at

Thursday, June 12, 2008

E-book editon of "Cities Within A City: On Changing Cleveland's Government," by Burt W. Griffin

E-book editon of "Cities Within A City: On Changing Cleveland's Government," by Burt W. Griffin -- I was talking this morning to Bill Callahan about the city charter hearings under way; Burt Griffin's 1981 book came up as an integral topic in our conversation. Burt worked in Washington for a while, and has some instructive thoughts to offer on urbanism.

Lo and behold, searching for data on the internet, I found that the entire text of the book is here. Just click on Table of Contents, and you'll find each section and chapter at your fingertips, or your mousetips, or however we would phrase that in this electronic age.

One of my points for Bill was that, since we have the PR weenies beginning to whack away at public opinion about Cleveland City Council, as evidenced by yesterday's PD masterwork, it's time to go on offense, to wit: Each ward of the City of Cleveland should have equal standing with similar-sized small towns or suburbs, each councilman should have the same authorities in and control over his ward as mayors have over their cities, and each ward should be relatively autonomous in governance and in the delivery of services to the constituency.

Here's a bit on Burt and his book, from the Cleveland Memory Project:

Cities Within A City: On Changing Cleveland's Government
by Burt W. Griffin
Originally published by
the College of Urban Affairs
Cleveland State University


Burt W. Griffin retired as judge of the Common Pleas Court of Cuyahoga County, Ohio in 2005, after 30 years of service. From 1966 to 1975, he served as a legal aid lawyer in various capacities, including Executive Director of the Cleveland Legal Aid Society and National Director of the Legal Services Program, U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity.

He was Assistant Counsel to the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy during 1964.

Judge Griffin has been a lifelong resident of Greater Cleveland. He was born in Cleveland's Hough section in 1932, lived in the Shaker Square area of Cleveland from 1937 to 1960, and has resided in Shaker Heights since then. Judge Griffin was graduated cum laude from Amherst College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 1954, and from Yale Law School with a Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1959.

He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Urban Studies at Cleveland State University.

This edition contains the complete text as found in the 1981 print edition of the book, along with some enhancements developed to aid in navigating this site. The site is hosted by the Cleveland State University Library and is presented here with Judge Griffin's permission.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

For a New Thrift: Confronting the Debt Culture

Op-Ed Columnist - David Brooks - The Great Seduction by Debt - Op-Ed - -- David Brooks on Ben Franklin, and then the past 30 years--a "must read." Succinct. Concise. Well phrased.

Keywords & keyphrases: Benjamin Franklin, hard work, temperance, frugality, industrious, ambitions, living for the moment, decadent, moral guardians, debt culture, the lottery class, value shift, consequences.

Note the enumeration of the agents of destruction.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blogging in Tongues Against HB 477, in French

Jill Zimon et Gloria Ferris ont demandé que je parle à l'encontre de HB 477, dénommé "English-Only projet de loi." J'ai suivi le lien Jill HB 477 pour savoir ce dont j'avais besoin pour obtenir toutes les auto-pensants et coudés en place. J'ai trouvé un stupide projet de loi qui émasculé droit lui-même après avoir obtenu de roulement. C'est un tas de rien. Je ne comprends pas pourquoi nos législateurs le font à tous. Il donne l'impression de son cours de restreindre, puis ascenseurs toutes les restrictions. C'est une grosse trame, suivie par une whimper et un vinaigre et une journée de réflexion collective avec la queue entre les jambes. Je me rappelle de ce truc de Shakespeare, nous avons dû mémoriser au lycée, quelque chose au sujet de "une histoire racontée par un idiot, pleine de bruit et de fureur, signifie rien."

Folks, dans un non-événement. Il donne une mauvaise impression du Zeitgeist de l'Ohio. Il ne fait rien de manière efficace, et nous payons pour elle.

And, here is the English translation:

Jill Zimon and Gloria Ferris have requested I speak out against HB 477, referred to as the "English-Only Bill." I followed Jill's link to HB 477 to find out what I needed to get all self-righteous and cranked up about. I found a silly bill that emasculated itself right after it got rolling. It's a heap of nothing. I don't understand why our legislators are doing this at all. It gives the impression its going to be restrictive, and then lifts all the restrictions. It's a big woof, followed by a whimper and a whine and a retreat with the collective tail between the legs. I reminds me of that thing from Shakespeare we had to memorize in high school, something about "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Folks, this in a non-event. It gives a bad impression of the Zeitgeist in Ohio. It effectively does nothing, and we're paying for it.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

FW: school board interview

I got this from Madame Gloria late last night--

-----Original Message-----
From: Gloria Ferris
Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2008 11:32 PM
To: Timothy A. Ferris
Subject: school board interview

Dear Tim-

Many of you know that I applied for the open position on the Cleveland Municipal School board. I am writing this email to let you know that I am sitting down with Mayor Frank Jackson for a face-to-face interview.

Yes, I made it through the nominating committee selection process and now have the opportunity to sit down with Mayor Jackson this Friday afternoon and talk about what I think may be the number one issue for our city's future--the education of its children.

I wrote this post on my blog as to why I had decided to put my hat in the ring. I am sorry that the click thru to the application does not work, but my friend George Nemeth has had technical problems with Brewed Fresh Daily where the link was stored, but you have the basics included in the post.

I want to thank those of you who encouraged me to apply. It has solidified my thinking and I will continue to express the need for huge amounts of investment to change our educational system into one that can prepare our students for the new knowledge economy.

Today, a friend stopped over and when I told him that I had secured an interview with Mayor Jackson. He told me to sit down because we were going to role-play. He would be the mayor and I would be me. He then asked me the questions that he thought Mayor Jackson might ask. At least, they were the ones important to my friend. If anyone would like to email me a question to help me prepare, please do.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Science of Sarcasm (Not That You Care...)

Katherine P. Rankin, a Neuropsychologist, Studies Sarcasm - -- Interesting tidbit on sarcasm and the brain, and why the demented just don't get it.

What you may not have realized is that perceiving sarcasm, the smirking
put-down that buries its barb by stating the opposite, requires a nifty mental
trick that lies at the heart of social relations: figuring out what others are
thinking. Those who lose the ability, whether through a
or the frontotemporal dementias afflicting the patients in Dr.
Rankin’s study, just do not get it when someone says during a hurricane, “Nice
weather we’re having.”

intelligent idea: a cultural opportunity for everybody

Gates Approves of 3-Year Tours for U.S. Troops in South Korea - -- This is a really intelligent idea, extending the tour of duty in South Korea and allowing dependents, so long as we're committed to having a military presence there. I spent a bit more than a year in South Korea, back in the early '70s, and would have gladly spent more time, especially if I didn't have to deal with being lonely and missing being "back in the world," as we used to say. The population were congenial and seemed generally to appreciate us; we have much to learn from them, and much to share. For military families, this will be a marvelous opportunity.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

B movie of the week: The Boondock Saints

Netflix downloads are becoming a staple of our weekend. B movies have taken the place of drinking through the wee hours. Earlier this morning, The Boondock Saints graced our screen. Gloria thinks it may set some sort of record for the most gratuitous use of the F-word, but I think it may have been surpassed by another early-morning Netflix download about a post-nuclear Elvis impersonator and samurai on his way across the wasteland to Las Vegas, Six String Samurai.

Such comparisons aside, The Boondock Saints is some good entertainment. I guess there's an active argument going on as to whether it qualifies as a cult classic, but that misses the point: The film's a hoot. The two brothers McManus, Billy Connolly as Il Duce, who turns out the be their long-lost dad, Willem Dafoe camping and then in drag, it's all just too incredible. The film walks a thin line and bounces between horror and humor. The Wikipedia write-up covers a lot of ground.

Download it tonight, out of earshot of the little ones.