Nov. 8th 2005 Elect Frank Jackson!
Frank Jackson’s Code: Don't lie. Deliver on promises
We can not afford to allow another four years of failed leadership under Jane Campbell.
She has failed us time after time, is a habitual liar, has lost the support of major power brokers, is not supported by major elected politicians that once supported her, and is the first mayor in 26 years to loose in the primary.
We can not allow this race to be divided by the east and westside. We are all in the same boat, and this boat is sinking fast. We must come together to fill in the hole that is causing us to sink.
The current mayor and her administration have failed in there efforts to lead our city. We all must go with the best candidate out of the primary and that person is Frank Jackson.
Please read the PD article in Sundays paper (attached below). If anyone is looking to learn more about Mr. Jackson, this wondeful article will win you over. We have to change the direction our city is headed in under the current mayor.
Mayor Campbell is a disease and with some diseases you can treat them with medication, others you have to have surgery to "remove" the disease that is killing you. This mayor is a disease to the city of Cleveland and the region. She is killing us all with her failed leadership. No one wants to work with this woman because she is a liar, and cannot be trusted, and is the worst mayor ever elected in the history of Cleveland. She must be voted out of office on November 8, 2005.
I ask all Clevelanders who did not vote for Frank Jackson on October 4th, 2005 to give him the opportunity to lead our city by casting your vote for him on November 8, 2005.Vote for Frank Jackson on November 8th and expect great things.Jackson's lifelong code drives run for City Hall
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Olivera Perkins and Mark Naymik
Plain Dealer Reporters
Frank Jackson remains an enigma for Cleveland despite 15 years in public life.
That sets him apart from the woman he aims to unseat in the Cleveland mayor's race Nov. 8. Everyone knows Jane Campbell. She seems to have been everywhere these last four years.
But to know Jackson is not all that hard. It comes down to understanding what he describes as his personal code - principles implanted by his parents and shaped by his years on Cleveland's streets.
He says the code is simple: Don't lie. Deliver on promises.
The code explains what makes Jackson so famously stubborn and deliberate. It gives him his often single- minded passion for helping Cleveland's poor. It's what Jackson, 59, says propelled him into public serv ice, where his hallmark with colleagues has been his integrity.
He says that people who violate the code infuriate him, often prompting him to make life-changing decisions. Such perceived violations triggered him to enroll in college and run for City Council, and angered him enough to give up his $80,000-a-year position as council president to challenge Campbell.
That code also explains his obsti nance and why people say he has interfered with Cleveland's progress. In 1991, for example, he blocked a road that would have brought much- needed economic development to his neighborhood.
He also opposed the Gateway project and Cleveland Browns Stadium. His only interest in a new downtown convention center was leveraging money for neighborhoods.
Jackson admits he gets angry when someone slights his honor.
One of the first times he reacted this way, he says, was toward a new teacher at Max Hayes High School 40 years ago. As Jackson recounts it, the teacher wanted to establish his reputation as a disciplinarian. He falsely accused Jackson of fighting and dragged him into the principal’s office. When the teacher mistreated him a second time, Jackson belted him.
In his 20s, Jackson believed an employer refused to promote him because he is black. So he quit.
Four years ago, he thought Council President Michael Polensek had failed to deliver on promises. Jackson collected the votes to take Polensek’s job. And two years ago, he said, he came to believe that Campbell had repeatedly lied to him.
So he decided to take her job, too “There is one thing I learned from street life,” he says. “That there was a code. It is the code I live by now. Today it’s how I deal with the mayor and council.”
A world view in black and white
Jackson says he knows what it means to straddle Cleveland’s racial divide.
His father, George, a factory worker, was black. His mother, Rose, a homemaker, was white. The couple met in the 1940s in Uniontown, Pa., but soon moved to East 83rd Street in Cleveland’s predominantly black Kinsman neighborhood. Jackson presumes they hoped for more acceptance in Cleveland.
“Back then interracial marriage wasn’t a thing that people did,” he said.
Jackson said his light skin gave him a unique point of view growing up.
“What are you?” is a question people continue to ask him. He perceives that people treat him differently based on whether they believe him to be black or white.
Growing up in the black Central neighborhood, where his family moved when Jackson was young, Jackson felt like an outsider with people who saw him as white.
When he was in a white neighborhood, he blended in when he was not with his black friends. But when he was with them in a white neighborhood, he felt police harassed the youths, and passers-by glared at them. Jackson has always considered himself black.
After high school, he was drafted into the Army. He said family and friends warned him that an inner-city black man would end up on the front line. They told him to “play crazy” and offered other ways to dodge serving. But Jackson said he wouldn’t lie.
Ironically, being black may have kept him safe. When Jackson arrived in Vietnam, a black sergeant assigned him to a warehouse job. Jackson believes the sergeant gave him that assignment to protect him.
He returned home to a factory job and took a computer course. Soon he wanted to transfer from the factory floor to the computer department. The company said no. Jackson blamed racism because all the computer workers were white. So he quit.
The spell of joblessness that followed was an eye-opener. He spent much of his time running the streets and he says he noticed an irony about street life. The subculture followed his code more closely than the business world.
“It wasn’t the law that kept us in check,” he said. “The law was the law. It was the culture and that identity and that spirit of that community that people just didn’t do certain things. . . . You knew what the code and the unwritten rules were and you abided by them. If you did that, you had no problem.”
He finally took another factory job when his mother scolded him. He soon found himself taking offense at the white college students who worked there during the summers. “This was in the early ’70s, so they had this liberal thing going on,” he said. They talked about race and poverty. He didn’t think they knew what they were talking about, but he figured the only way to get credibility with the educated was to get educated. He enrolled at Cuyahoga Community College. A decade later, he had a master’s degree in urban studies and a law degree from Cleveland State University. He then passed the bar.
As a young man, Jackson said he was heavily influenced by the politics of one of his closest friends, Lonnie Burten, a crusading Central neighborhood councilman who fought for public housing tenants.
When Burten died of a heart attack in 1984 at age 40, Jackson was crushed. Even today, he can’t discuss Burten’s death without getting choked up. Jackson originally backed Burten’s successor, Preston Terry III, but he came to believe that Terry failed to live up to Burten’s vision. In 1989, he launched a campaign to take Terry’s seat. Jackson’s campaign promise was simple: To protect the neighborhood from “neglect by design,” as he frequently described the intentions of political, business and civic leaders.
And, in what would become his mantra for more than a decade, he pledged to fight anything that didn’t directly benefit his ward, even at the expense of the city overall.
“I’m willing to hold up anything that doesn’t help Ward 5,” he warned during his campaign. “I won’t be bashful.” Jackson beat Terry by nearly 1,500 votes.
His resistance to downtown projects — including the Gateway sports complex, Playhouse Square’s Wyndham Cleveland Hotel and Cleveland Browns Stadium — was like an allergic reaction. If a project wouldn’t produce jobs for the city’s poor or boost services, Jackson refused to support it.
Jackson said his opposition was not just about residents in his ward. He said the poor throughout the city benefited. He was even at odds with a local community group promoting development in his ward. The group asked Jackson in 1991 to support a study on building a four-lane boulevard through the ward, creating a link between the East and West sides by connecting Shaker Boulevard with Interstate 490.
The group’s leaders believed the project would spur retail and business development in a depressed area. Jackson feared the government would use the study to poach residents’ property. So he blocked it.
He then helped build new homes along the proposed route, dooming the project.
His protective spirit can border on special treatment.
Jackson for years has asked city inspectors not to fine homeowners in his ward for code violations. Jackson said the city and banks failed for decades to make money available for repairs, so it’s unfair to punish people who can’t afford home maintenance. Residents in Jackson’s ward have received the fewest number of housing fines since 2001: 24. The Collinwood ward that Polensek represents got the most: 330. Jackson acknowledged that he lobbies the city not to fine residents he represents.
“I will fall on the side of the people and do what’s right for them even though I know my butt is exposed to those who want to criticize me,” Jackson said in a recent interview with The Plain Dealer.
Critics accuse him of detachment
Jackson kept a low profile as a council member for 12 years, staying out of the day-to-day internal politics and never making headlines with public attacks on Mayor Michael R. White.
He was trying to stay true to his code through issues he championed — jobs for the poor, money for AIDS programs, and public housing development in his ward.
He rarely engaged his colleagues on such pressing citywide issues as the city’s airport, Water Department or lakefront development.
“He was not an active or aggressive guy within the body,”
said Polensek, who has been on council during Jackson’s entire tenure. “Frank was always behind the scenes.”
His critics, including former and current colleagues, view his quiet demeanor as detachment or parochialism.
Tony Coyne, a city Planning Commission member for 14 years, said Jackson has not been involved on big-picture projects. Coyne said he can’t remember seeing Jackson at any of the numerous community meetings on the city’s lakefront plan.
“He’s not somebody who’s said a word, and these are quality-oflife issues,” Coyne said.
When Coyne appeared before a council committee in 2003 to discuss a new convention center, “Frank didn’t ask a single question” about the building, Coyne said. Jackson’s only interest was in money the project might generate for neighborhoods, Coyne said.
Jackson took the lead promoting the convention center, but on the condition that its financing include $250 million for neighborhood development in the city and suburbs. When the extra money became unlikely, Jackson stopped talking about the convention center.
Jackson dismisses his critics as politically motivated or out of sync with his vision.
“The problem people have with me is that they think I’m two-dimensional. But I may think fouror five-dimensional,” he said.
Public housing effort brings Arbor Park
The best example of Jackson delivering on his promises to Ward 5 is the transformation of housing. He brought nearly $500 million in new public and private housing and stores to the ward. The developments were paid for largely by federal dollars. Jackson’s work with housing officials and elected officials was crucial. He’s most proud of Arbor Park Village, an $111 million housing project. It replaced Longwood apartments, a vivid example of blight, decay and failed dreams of urban renewal.
Jackson fought to rid the ward of places like Longwood but — in true form to his council campaign pledge — not their residents. He believed that the private market would not absorb a flood of low-income families, nor would suburban families accept them as neighbors. So he worked with federal officials to redevelop public housing in Central. Norman Krumholz, a city planning director in the 1970s and professor of urban studies at Cleveland State University, said Jackson was right.
Krumholz, who in the mid-’80s was a board member of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, advocated spreading public housing around the county.
“That’s no more likely to happen now than then,” Krumholz said. “So looking at the reality of things, Jackson was right on the money — much more than I was in terms of respecting public housing and trying to make it better.”
Westbrook became an ally, Polensek a foe People who adhere to Jackson’s code win a loyal friend. One of Jackson’s closest political allies is West Side Councilman Jay Westbrook. The two formed a partnership in 1989, when Jackson agreed to back Westbrook for council president in exchange for help against Terry. The deal also let Jackson fill the two seats on the public housing board that the council president controlled. “I’m loyal to Westbrook — he never crossed me,” Jackson said. But Westbrook and Jackson lost power in 1999, when Councilman Michael Polensek staged a coup and unseated Westbrook as president.
Jackson, out of the circle of power for the first time since he was elected to council, quietly worked on a banking law that protects city residents from predatory lenders. He also continued to work closely with colleagues on a law requiring contractors to hire Cleveland residents on large-scale city construction projects. Jackson never got over Polensek’s coup. It was born, Jackson said, “in treachery and deceit.”
Driven by anger over what he saw as an increasingly dysfunctional council, Jackson began lining up support to topple Polensek in the summer of 2001. When he took the reins as council president, he dumped senior members of council appointed to leadership positions by Polensek.
“I don’t believe I owe any of these people anything,” Jackson said in a recent interview. Initially, Jackson allowed Polensek to continue to lead the powerful Finance Committee. The move was part of a deal he made with Polensek – to let him keep the high-profile position only until Polensek found a better- paying job outside of council. But Jackson says he dumped Polensek after learning he turned down a good county job. Polensek strongly disputes Jackson’s version of events.
“He crossed me within two months,” Jackson said.
Position as president meant change in focus
As council president, Jackson no longer could focus on Ward 5. One of his toughest challenges was the controversial Steelyard C o m m o n s s h o p p i n g c e n t e r , which isn’t in his ward. It includes the city’s first Wal-Mart. The company often is criticized for hiring nonunion workers. Suddenly, Jackson had competing interests counting on him. Some council members wanted to make sure neighborhood stores and grocers were protected. Others just wanted a Wal- Mart. The unions wanted Jackson’s support. But tax dollars, jobs and a $120 million investment were at stake, along with the perception that Jackson is anti-development.
Jackson supported the shopping center, but that point was lost even though he quashed anti-Wal-Mart legislation. Ultimately, the project went through because the developer slipped into City Hall and obtained building permits. Some council members neglected to follow up on legislation that would have doomed the project. Today, Jackson said his goal was just to broker a deal with which all sides could live. “Everybody was mad because I didn’t please anybody,” he said. “You know what? The outcome is what I wanted. Those council people didn’t fight. The legislation was gone. Steelyard Commons did happen.”
Jackson said loyalty is important to his code, and that might explain the favor he shows to friend and council spokeswoman Maxine Greer. She collects about $70,000 a year from the city but does not adhere to the residency rule.
The council president hires council employees, such as secretaries and consultants. When Polensek was president, he hired Rodney Jenkins as the council spokesman, a full-time position that required Jenkins to live in the city.
Jackson hired Greer, a former ranking Plain Dealer editor who he says was the best qualified for the job. But rather than give her a full-time job, he hired her as a consultant. Consultants don’t have to live in the city. Jackson made the arrangement despite his avid support of the residency law.
For his first two years as council president, Jackson thought Campbell adhered to his code.
Ultimately, though, Jackson decided that Campbell was dishonest. He says today that she lied to him about a lot of issues, but the one that infuriates him is the law that requires contractors on big projects to hire residents. Early in his career he made a promise that residents would get work on projects the city pays for.
Campbell publicly supported the law, but when the federal government threatened to withdraw money for projects if the law was enforced, Campbell opted not to enforce it. Jackson said Campbell did not tell him of her decision.
He saw her behavior as a betrayal. Of him. Of the city. Jackson said he could not abide a mayor he perceived as dishonorable. So he decided to risk all and try to take her job. He could have been council president for years, his colleagues say. He could have kept collecting his $80,000 a year and wielding power.
But for Jackson, who grew up on the streets of Cleveland and returns home every night to one of the poorest neighborhoods in one of the nation’s poorest cities, the mayor must be singleminded in trying to raise the standard of living.
“This ain’t no theory to me,” he said. “This is real.”
WHERE IS MAYOR WHAT?
This has been the lynchpin of Campbell’s management of our City. Mayor What’s election as Mayor was an error.
Schools admit attendance error
Not just 620 students were out,
Cleveland district says, but 519,000 Friday, October 14, 2005
Plain Dealer Reporter
A Cleveland schools official acknowledged Thursday that the exceedingly high attendance rates it reported to the state the last few years were clearly erroneous, perhaps off by as many as half-a-million student absences for last year.
"It appears we made mistakes, and we're committed to fixing them," said Lisa Marie Ruda, the district's chief of staff.
State data on Cleveland's attendance rate for the last school year shows the district reported only 620 excused absences for 63,500 students. When combined with 333,357 unexcused absences, it gave the district a sky-high attendance rate of 96.7 percent.
District staffers who have looked at numbers again in the last week, Ruda said, now say the figure for excused absences is probably more like 519,000, which would lower last year's attendance rate to about 93 percent. Ruda cautioned, however, that the numbers are still being checked.
If the district's attendance rate had been below 93 percent, it would have failed to hit one of the standards the state uses to measure a district's effectiveness. Attendance rate was one of two standards, out of 23, that the district met last year.
The district earned a point on the annual school report card in each of the past four years because it met the attendance goal.
Ruda said it appears that someone changed the district's computer system in 2002 so that students with excused absences would be counted as present.
A special category of "excused with homework" was also created during that time with the mistaken understanding that as long as students completed schoolwork while they missed school, they would be counted as present, Ruda said.
The district's attendance rate shot from 89 percent in 2001 to 93.8 percent in 2002.
Secretaries and others who monitor attendance at individual schools are not to blame, Ruda said.
The phony numbers appear to have been calculated when data were being prepared for transmission to the state, long after attendance numbers were sent in by schools.
Ruda said the district's legal department is still interviewing current and former employees to find out who authorized and made the changes.
And when they do, she vowed, "systems will be put in place to keep this from happening again."
Unlike the recent scandal that resulted in the repayment of $729,000 in state money after the district reported the wrong number of student bus riders, the attendance rate is not connected with any kind of money.
The district's goal is to determine the true attendance rate for the years in question, Ruda said Thursday.
The Ohio Department of Education has been notified about the investigation, but the state probably won't change the district's previous numbers because the data-collection period for last year has closed, said J.C. Benton, a spokesman for the Education Department.
"We look forward to receiving their data from this year," Benton said.
To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:
Campbell's woes are mostly of her own making
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Brent LarkinPlain Dealer Columnist
A few weeks ago, Mayor Jane Campbell telephoned County Commissioner Tim Hagan, desperately seeking his endorsement.
Not that Hagan's support would have mattered a whole lot, but Campbell didn't get it. She didn't get it because, for Campbell, loyalty is a one-way street.She expects others to support her — even when she does little or nothing to support them.
Hagan told her as much during their conversation, but prior to that phone call Campbell's selfish political style had already alienated all but a small handful of her colleagues in public life.
Contrast that alienation with four years ago, when Campbell was enthusiastically endorsed by County Prosecutor Bill Mason, Treasurer Jim Rokakis, Auditor Frank Russo, Recorder Pat O'Malley and Engineer Robert Klaiber.
This year, not one of those elected officials has endorsed her. In fact, most of them don't even like her. All this speaks volumes about this mayor's it's-all-about-me-all-the-time style. Yesterday, voters made Campbell pay for that style, relegating her to a humiliating second-place finish in the mayoral primary election.
We've known for more than a year that Campbell was vulnerable. Anecdotal evidence about voters not liking her, coupled with bad poll numbers, motivated seven people to run against her in yesterday's primary election.
It's worth noting that Campbell's television commercials didn't include a single shot of the mayor speaking to the camera. Her advisers have obviously figured out that she doesn't wear well with voters.
Nevertheless, given the large size of the mayoral field, Campbell should have easily finished first in yesterday's balloting. Instead, she got clobbered by Council President Frank Jackson, who will enter the five-week mayoral runoff campaign as an odds-on favorite against an unpopular and battered incumbent.
"Jane needs a Hail Mary," former Rep. Dennis Eckart said last night. "Her role model for the next 35 days must be George Bush. She must convince voters her record is safer than her opponent's direction."
It's true that Campbell's only hope may be to heighten voter fears about Jackson. But it's much tougher to wage an effective negative campaign when the candidate doing the attacking is unpopular.
Then there's the tricky matter of the police and fire unions. Campbell needs whatever help they might bring to her campaign. But the safety unions, especially the police, traditionally make a lot of political noise and deliver only a few voters. Yesterday was no exception to that rule. Just ask Jim Draper.
What's more, if Campbell reneges on her past positions to appease the safety forces, it could prove catastrophic for her on the East Side, where tensions are building over recent police shootings.
"Obviously, voters out there aren't very happy with the job she's done," County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora said last night. "She has to persuade voters to take a long hard look at Jackson, but she's got no big guns with her except Dennis Kucinich. She's in trouble because she does her own thing. She ignores those who want to help her by offering, advice and suggestions."
Campbell inherited a bad economy and a dysfunctional City Hall. The economy may be getting a bit better. And she's fixed many of the horrendous problems left by her predecessor.
By all rights, Jane Campbell should have been a prohibitive favorite for reelection. Instead, she's a mayor in deep political trouble.
When asked why she's in trouble, Campbell points fingers of blame in lots of places.
Yesterday, voters placed the blame where it belongs.
Larkin is director of The Plain Dealer's editorial pages.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 216-999-4252