As a candidate for Cleveland City Council I feel that it’s incumbent upon me to inform my fellow residents where I stand on issues both large and small. This series of articles seeks to accomplish this goal.
Every human being deserves to be safe in their homes and in their communities. Indeed, that’s the first priority of government at every level: To keep the citizenry safe from harm. To fail in that critical function of governance is to fail as a political leader.
However, increasingly, the residents of the 7th Ward are feeling less safe as gun shots are heard more often in our neighborhoods at night … very similar to other neighborhoods around the city. So, while this is a problem not exclusive to our community, we’re in a better position to come to grips with the gunplay. We can develop strategies to curtail this plague of violence.
But to combat a problem one first has to have an understanding of the root causes of it. Gun and gang violence in poor and marginal neighborhoods all over the country — and indeed the world — is rooted in the desire of young people to escape poverty (most often via becoming involved in the illicit drug trade), and that’s why such dangerous outbursts occur far less often in wealthier communities.
Nonetheless, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we cannot “arrest” our way out of the problem. Certainly arresting the most dangerous actors — those who have taken up gun violence as a way of life — is part of the solution, but ultimately the solution, the key to safer neighborhoods, lies in providing youth with opportunities to improve their financial circumstances. This approach is not going to be easy, or is it going to happen overnight, but economic development is the only viable, long-term term solution to the problem of youth violence.
Improving the economics of a community goes hand-in-glove with improving public safety. They actually feed off of each other. While safety is always first, a community that doesn’t grow economically is not going to remain safe for very long … it simply can’t.
The 7th Ward is fortunate among Cleveland’s eastside neighborhoods due to its ideal location: Equally distant from downtown and University Circle, with its southern border running parallel to two main east-west thoroughfares (Euclid and Chester Avenues) … which makes it all the more startling and incomprehensible that it has languished so long rather than flourished.
This proximity to wealth and stability bodes well for future development of the entire ward, but especially initially along the aforementioned east-west corridor. The large institutions of University Circle — Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University — are virtually landlocked, but they know they need to continue to grow to remain viable. And the 7th Ward, with its ideal location and hundreds of newer, upscale homes, is the most viable option and logical direction in which to expand.
With that expansion comes jobs, jobs that too many of our young folk don’t have the education or experience to fill. While we have to focus laser-like on increasing educational outcomes for residents and their progeny, we also have to create jobs and businesses that require less formal education and training. Our nonprofit, Neighborhood Solutions, Inc., has done just that with its vineyards and BioCellar.
With that said, one of the biggest fears of less wealthy communities across the country is that current residents will be priced out of their own communities and homes. And there certainly are enough examples of this occurring, most notably in Harlem, and sections of Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. While such fears in the 7th Ward certainly have some legitimacy, knowing how to negotiate with the major institutions that border our community can insure that fair and mutually beneficial deals are struck in terms of development.
There are two old sayings that immediately come to mind: “Fair exchange is no robbery,” and “Even swap is no swindle.” We in the 7th Ward have land; the institutions and developers who are in need of said land have resources … resources we need for development projects.The key is to have experienced, qualified and trustworthy individuals at the table negotiating for residents. In that manner win-win outcomes are created.
More on My Platform in Part II
From Cool Cleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.com