Cleveland Mayoral hopeful, Brandon Chrostowski, says Q Arena deal is a slap in the face to Clevelanders


 By Brandon E. Chrostowski

 

The promise of an NBA All Star game will not cure our city’s poverty. The recent shenanigans in and around our disingenuous City Council involving the Q is revealing and alarming. Does our current city administration serve the corporates or the citizens?

After listening to residents, seeing our neighborhoods suffer and studying the 22 pages of the proposed ordinance between the City, County and Gateway to renovate/expand Quicken Loans Arena, I am convinced more than ever we need strong leadership in this city. In business, all deals are two way streets. A give and take must be established. We have unfortunately been taken.

And until the signing, our mayor has been hiding.

In a deal that involves our city’s finance and law director, one would expect the leader of the administration to be out front speaking about this “emergency” ordinance and the magnitude of the deal. His absence shows a lack of respect for the tax-pressured residents of our great city.

Some people deride me personally and dismiss my deeply-felt concerns about both Cleveland’s direction and its visionless political leadership as the products of inexperience or naiveté. To those who call me a novice, I say, “Thank you!” Thank you for anointing me as someone who has not been corrupted or fossilized by the old guard that continues to drown Cleveland in cynicism.

As a proud political novice and a veteran of seeing through cheap tricks I have to say: after watching the Q deal unfold and the charade that council president Kevin Kelley pulled on the steps of city hall, I can only conclude that Mr. Kelly and his ilk hold the citizens of Cleveland’s most deprived neighborhoods in very low regard. What a shame!

This travesty showed me how weak our leadership really is and how a mayor can sit back and take cover without anyone calling him out. The hard truth is that this is an evacuation of social integrity across the board. The deal put before Cleveland City Council was shoddy and betrayed our leadership’s lack of empathy or even interest in all of us regular citizens.

As a citizen-candidate for mayor, I fault our leadership for not prioritizing public service to the residents of this town. The sad narrative continues: we retain the highest unemployment of all metropolitan cities, a higher per capita murder rate than Chicago last year, and we are on pace to eclipse 100 homicides again this year. Infant mortality is as high as in Third World countries and nearly 2,000 homeless school kids languish in our system. As if the 30+ percent poverty rate wasn’t enough to call our elected city officials to their collective conscience.

I’m standing up for Cleveland because I have the practical credentials and the lack of political stain to call out our moral stalemate.

This deal should not have been done, as written. I would have argued for more time in order to guarantee specific dollar amounts allocated to our neighborhoods. Then fight for it. In addition, I would have held multiple town hall meetings to ensure true public input. I urge our City Council to reflect on the poor example they’ve set in rubber stamping this flimsy and crooked legislation. Those who voted in favor of this ordinance owed it to the constituents they represent to give them a fair hearing and a seat at the table. Now we’re fighting for a referendum.

We have a chance to do something different via this landmark mayoral election. We can break away from this clunky machinery and believe in a person’s potential, a mission I began 10 years ago Cleveland can be an American model for livability, emerging industries, and true public private partnerships that make us the envy of the region. We’ve somehow forgotten how far that marriage between belief and hard work can take us.

This movement is about the people and about truly putting Cleveland back on the map. It’s about tackling poverty, building a stronger economic engine, ensuring the safety of our neighbors and proving to the region and ourselves that we intend to move forward with purpose and via democracy. I’m ready to fight for the future of this city and I hope now, more than ever, that you are too.

 

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