Cleveland, Ohio

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Cleveland, Ohio, is widely known for several important moments in the political history of American cities, including the mayoral administration of Tom L. Johnson (1900-1908) during the "Progressive Era" of the early 20th century that introduced "good government" reforms to city hall and the election of mayor Carl Stokes (1967-1971) who served as the first African-American mayor of a major US city.

During the late 1970s, Cleveland came to the forefront of the modern progressive cities movement with the populist mayoral election of Dennis Kucinich. While Kucinich served only one term (1977-1979), his election fed off of a wave of dissatisfaction in the city's neighborhoods where many residents believed that years of decline were going unanswered by local government and politicians. Throughout the 1970s, the plight of Cleveland's neighborhoods gained visibility through a wide range of efforts, including grassroots community organizing by Cleveland's Catholic Commission of Community Action, the muckraking investigative journalism of Roldo Bartimole in his Point of View newsletter, and the work of neighborhood planners under Norman Krumholz at the City of Cleveland's Planning Commission.

While neighborhood activists hoped that a Kucinich administration would shift the city's focus of redevelopment from downtown projects to neighborhood revitalization, Kucinich's term in office is best known for Cleveland's historic default in December of 1978.

While the progressive hopes for the Kucinich administration went largely unrealized, the city has continued to move forward over the last 35 years as a study in contrasts, with downtown development projects engineered by "post-populists public-private partnerships" receiving vast public subsides, while Cleveland's neighborhoods have developed a nationally-recognized system of Community Development Corporations (CDCs) that carry on a grassroots tradition of improving Cleveland's neighborhoods through community-based housing, economic, and social development programs.

[Text supplied by Jordan Yin]


Recent Submissions

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    Krumholz Early Papers
    Krumholz, Norman (1969)
    When Cleveland Mayor Carl Stokes offered Norman Krumholz the directorship of the Cleveland City Planning Department in 1969, Krumholz jumped in with hopes of getting the maximum effort toward the social justice that Stokes, the first black mayor of as large U.S. city, represented. The unpublished papers collected here, from the period 1969-75, represent Krumholz' first efforts. They reflect a series of initial forays engaging parts of the city hall bureaucracy, talking to the mayor's constituents and testing the waters with city institutions like the newspapers, and other professional contacts like the Northeast Ohio Area Coordinating Agency (NOACA). These papers are short, generally written for spoken presentation rather than for publication. Some began as speeches to be given by Stokes. Some were delivered at professional meetings or university speaking engagements, where he hoped to use the Cleveland experience to impact the practice of planning in the nation at large.
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    Cleveland Policy Planning Report
    Cleveland (Ohio). City Planning Commission (1975)
    On page 9 of the Cleveland Policy Planning Report, its second page of text, the Cleveland planners stated: "Equity requires that locally-responsible government institutions give priority attention to the goal of promoting a wider range of choices for those Cleveland residents who have few, if any, choices." With this they provided a rationale for what had already become a series of recommendations and actions on subjects like the closer spacing of bus routes in poor neighborhoods, the inadvisability of subsidizing downtown office development that did not directly serve Cleveland residents, and the retention of the city's municipal electric utility that provided lower rates and thus moderated costs imposed by the city's larger private utility. Planning Director Norman Krumholz then advocated the equity goal professionally as "equity planning," and it won "Planning Landmark" status from the American Planning Association. When co-author and Principal Planner Ernie Bonner left the city to become planning director for Portland, OR, he established a website that preserved the text of the Cleveland plan on a website at Portland State University while adding a memoir describing its creation and effects.