MANSFIELD: Putting the Least First: Those on Society’s Killing Floor


Back on election night (November 7), after the votes were tallied and Basheer Jones came out ahead, he was magnanimous in victory, asking his assembled supporters to refrain from making any negative or disparaging comments in regards to his vanquished opponent TJ Dow. He sincerely extended an olive branch of peace to all of the folks in the ward who voted for his opponent, while stating that he wanted to heal any divisions created by the waging of a hard-fought campaign and fairly represent all residents of the ward, no matter whom they voted for.

Now that the vote count and victory is finally official (as of December 5), I’m positive that councilman-elect Jones will prove to be as good as his word and will swiftly move to unite the disparate factions, both within and without the boundaries of Ward 7.

One of the primary reasons I’m such a staunch supporter of Jones is because he definitely is not a petty person. Indeed, he’s quite the opposite. He’s a man who walks, talks and acts like a man. There won’t be any embarrassing episodes in his personal life since he lives his faith and is a devoted family man.

As with any newly elected official, Jones is going to have potentially dozens of persons trying to get in his ear, all attempting to tell him how they think he should go about doing his job. In all honestly I’m going to try my best to not be one of them, at least not on an ongoing basis. Nonetheless, if he asks for my advice, I’m more than willing to give him my opinion.

However, with that said, I still am a 17-year resident of the ward and have ongoing business interests, since our nonprofit has spent considerable time, energy and financial resources in establishing a first-class vineyard and winery that hires local residents. So I do have real skin in the game. As Fannie Lewis used to say, “When I leave Hough I’m going to Heaven.” So I’m here for the long haul. And without attempting to sound supercilious, I do know a thing or two about politics, as well as life in general.

And one of the things I’ve learned over the years of having my share of failures as well as successes is that, when faced with a myriad of tasks, try to tackle the most difficult ones first. I realize this is somewhat counterintuitive, since human nature tends to dictate that the difficult should be avoided until the last possible minute. That’s not wise.

Again, with that said, my suggestion for my newly minted councilman would be to tackle the challenges posed by homelessness first. All three of the homeless shelters in Cleveland are located within the boundaries of Ward 7. And while gun violence is a problem within the ward (as it is throughout the city), the problems presented by the homeless population are the ones that can be most amenable to solutions.

The fact is, while Cleveland’s primary men’s homeless shelter, located at 2100 Lakeside Ave., has a reputation of being one of the better run facilities of this type in this part of the country, the problems created by the massing of clients of the facility in a relatively small area of town does create challenges.

Imagine if you’re a business owner in the Lakeside-Hamilton-St.Clair area and on many days while you are turning the key to the front door you are greeted by the strong smell of urine. Overnight someone has pissed in your doorway, and occasionally has done a number two. Gross.

What if your female employees are wary of getting out of their cars in the parking lot due to being accosted by a panhandler or a deranged person? At some point you’ll seriously consider moving your business, probably out to a suburban location if possible, and who could really blame you?

Of course this outcome would mean a loss of jobs and tax revenues in Cleveland. But this need not be the case; there are potential solutions that can be explored.

But, as with most cases that concern public policy and dollars, such solutions have to initially be pursued by the local elected officials (starting with the councilman), and this is something that simply hasn’t happened in the past. So yes, this is an issue I’d like to put on councilman-elect Jones’ plate.

This is the population that has the least; these are the souls that are struggling simply to keep their heads above water; these are our brothers and sisters that reside on society’s killing floor — and therefore these are the human beings that should be helped first.

From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier 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

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One Response to “MANSFIELD: Putting the Least First: Those on Society’s Killing Floor”

  1. Alan Barnhart

    Well said, Mansfield. It has been said that society can be measured by how well it treats its least fortunate citizens. We have many opportunities to improve in this regard.

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