Submitted by Roldo on Mon, 01/05/2009 - 19:26.

Frank Jackson is trying to let people know he’s Cleveland’s mayor. After all, he does have to run for that office, though at least at this time there isn’t much talent around that appears able to challenge him.

However, the Medical Mart & Convention Center issue has shown how little weight he exhibits as the Cleveland mayor on big issues of the day.

It may be partly because the realization has set in that the city really has lost its power base of population and commerce to the near suburbs and outer suburbs. The perception of power usually lasts longer than the power itself. Events now suggest the perception of Cleveland’s lost power has become the reality.

It’s hard to not notice the difference in the leadership – if you can call it that - on the Medical Mart issue. It has been almost exclusively a County game.

It’s said that, well it’s a County tax – legislated by County officials, so the County has the major say. The tax of a quarter percent sales tax was legislated by Commissioners Tim Hagan and Jimmy Dimora.

Hagan was quoted in the Plain Dealer this morning saying that County officials want Jackson’s support but don’t need his permission to pick a site.

Maybe technically Hagan is correct but the mayor and his various divisions could make things difficult depending on what site is chosen. Jackson has already been supportive of the Tower City site. Indeed, Jackson as Council President passed legislation for that site years ago.

Just how powerful a Cleveland mayor could be on such major project development within the city was shown when Mayor Michael White took a prime role in pushing Gateway. The business community needed White to pass taxes for the stadium and arena. The same business attitude doesn’t exist for Jackson to take such a leadership role.

This was true despite the fact that the taxes – as in the Medical Mart deal - were County-wide taxes on cigarettes, liquor, beer and wine, not city taxes. Further, extra bond issues to pay for overruns were primarily via the County also. This isn’t to say that the city didn’t absorb heavy costs and will with the Medical Mart, too.

The fact that the County provided the most money didn’t stop Mayor Michael White from being a major figure in that deal, along with Hagan.

Jackson doesn’t have the standing that White had in the early 1990s. Yet it appears Mayor Jackson may be angling for power in this election year.

County officials would be making a mistake to stiff arm Jackson. He doesn’t take that kind of treatment well. Ask Mike Polensek and Jane Campbell.

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Jackson stepping up for some business interests

It seems to me Jackson was and is the choice of GCP, the Foundations, industry and business here and he has done exactly what they need... he hasn't had a role in the MedCon because the power base had such a strong hand going into the MedCon, including Jackson, that they never needed Jackson to do anything... they've had a huge, well funded workforce dedicated to this, including Fred Nance.

That Jackson was sent to Chicago means to me something has gone very wrong - negotiations aren't working out for enough of the GCP interests and there is fighting among the ranks... my impression is Jackson is going to try to strongarm Kennedy to take the Tower City site... Medical Mart probabaly wants to do something more like what I suggest... take over the Playhouse complex (probably near bankruptcy).

All this still being discussed in the PD without ever recognizing that the economy has completely tanked, since the MedCon was announced, and that the real estate investment trusts behind the MedCon are in especially poor financial condition, with great uncertainty ahead.

We'll see what the PD tinkles out next... 

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