The Moran Mess
Earlier this week, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), insinuated that Jews are controlling the US move to war with Iraq. Which was a cry echoed by others
like Pat Buchanan -- never a good sign when you are on the same side of an issue as Buchanon. This is what Moran said.
"If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this. The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should."
Then there is Buchanan all but calling out the seven Zionist Bankers ruling the world:
"We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the Oslo Accords."
That factually challenged statement, conveniently ignores that the Oslo Accords have been effectively dead and buried since Arafat walked away from the deal in September 2000. Not that Buchanan ever let facts get in the way of things.
Essentially, the issue is that several "war hawks" in the Bush administration are Jewish. Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Eliot Abrams. Of course, there are a few hawks who aren't, like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Card, Ashcroft, Rice and of course Bush -- you know, the guys in charge -- but don't let that fool anyone when there is a good conspiracy theory afoot. Besides, with Jews, they are really just lurking behind the scenes -- pulling the strings of the supposed leaders.
The whole thing seemed so silly, but it has just kept going. Really, the best response came from Jonah Goldberg
I use quotation marks because to discuss "the Jews" is already a bit of a slander. There are Jews against invading Iraq, you know? The New York Times, long considered the in-house newsletter of the Zionists, has actually been editorializing against war for quite a while, while the WASPier Washington Post has boldly gone the other way. Thomas Friedman — America's most influential pundit on Middle East affairs — favors disarming Iraq, but certainly doesn't support George Bush's method of doing it. Eric Alterman, Todd Gitlin, Michael Lerner, Tony Kushner, and Robert Reich are just a few of the Jewish noses I've counted against war with Iraq. But I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to find more. Why, just look here.
You might notice from that small list that most of the Jews against war with Iraq are — surprise! — liberals. Funny thing, that. Liberals tend to be against the war and Jewish liberals tend to be against the war too. Weird.
Weirder still: Jewish conservatives tend to be in favor of the war. Now that is bizarre. And, as I look around, it dawns on me that gay conservatives tend to be in favor of forcibly disarming Saddam if necessary, while gay liberals generally insist that inspection will do the trick. And, you know, tall conservatives also favor war but tall liberals tend to be against it. My God, it's true everywhere I look: left-handed conservatives, pro-war. Left-handed liberals, antiwar. Bald conservatives: pro, bald liberals, anti. It's almost like there's a pattern here.
Goldberg essentially chalks up the ones claiming a conspiracy or dual loyalties to the fact that they aren't able to stop the coming war with Iraq.
And that's why Moran, Buchanan, Matthews, Novak — and more leftists than I can count — should be ashamed. They've lost an argument. They lost it on the merits and they don't like it. In their arrogance or bitterness, they assume they couldn't have lost the fight fairly, and so they look for whispering neocons and clever Jews (or, in other contexts, nefarious oil traders). This is an ugly, ugly way to argue because it forces the opposition to prove a negative and it questions the patriotism of people who've never said an unpatriotic thing. In short, they are sore losers, and the farthest thing from beautiful.
Convention Center, Meeting 2 -- the Full Story (finally)
The infant was active today, and I'll leave it at that.
Most of the crowd was definitely pro-CCC. A lot of business groups and people who knew others there. The meeting started again with Chris Ronayne, the Director of the Cleveland City Planning Commission
(CCPC). He spoke of Mayor Campbell's desire to make the information public and widely available (I'm still waiting
Mayor Campbell speaks next. She gives some pap about the importance of the public input phase. She concedes that this has been a closed, private discussion for quite a while, "Those conversations have been in the back rooms, the boardrooms, the front rooms, all over the place." She starts in on the low interest rates rhetorically asking, "how many people have refinanced their home?" (Sorry, but this is a little different
.) The Mayor admits right away that a new CCC won't solve the problems, but as part of an overall economic growth strategy planned by the city and county (government planned/managed economic growth does not inspire me
) the CCC could be the "centerpiece."
Shifting back to the meeting at hand, Mayor Campbell worries/suggests that there is a risk of information overload with all the plans and information (I did a poor job stifling a snort at this, I just don't feel worried when the only information being given to the public are summaries, maps and powerpoint presentations
The Mayor closes with an implied threat/warning to the assembled throng. She mentions that the County Commissioners have moved the Health and Human Services levy to the May ballot, in an effort to clear the way for the CCC in November. Her message is direct, that the HHS levy must pass in May. The subtext of that is A) If it doesn't pass in May, it will be on the ballot again in November; B) If you people want a new CCC and my support, then work hard to make sure the HHS levy passes in May. I know some don't find her to be a very good politician
, but I have to give her credit for being very smart. She has yet to expressly support a new CCC; and without actually saying so, has forced the business community to work for her goals first. Very, very shrewd.
Now, to the presentations. The rules are simple. Each proposed site has 10 minutes to make their pitch. All of the material had to be given to the CCPC in digital format (PDF or Powerpoint files) before hand, so that it can be posted on the CCPC site "weeks to come." The Q&A is held until everyone speaks. Before the meeting started, straws were drawn to determine the order of the presentations. (I am listing them in the order they were presented
.) Here's a map of where the sites are in Cleveland
. The Galleria/Erieview site isn't on there, because it hadn't been proposed, but it can be placed where it says "Galleria."
West 3rd St./Warehouse District
This is the one backed by Forest City Commercial Group
and Dick Jacobs. It is on and around Tower City and other properties (developed and undeveloped) owned by the two. The presenter is William Voegele, Director of Development, Cleveland Properties for Forest City. (This one is already in trouble. Before I left for the meeting, the wife told me she heard an interview on the public radio station , saying that the Warehouse District would oppose the West 3rd. plan. Also, this plan comes off as the most transparently self-serving since it would clearly, and almost exclusively benefit the backers properties -- hotels and retail.
Clearly Voegele knows all the problems he is facing. He starts off by saying that Forest City truly cares about what is happening in Cleveland, and that Tower City is not an important issue to proposing this site. (If there is such a thing as a collective eye-roll, this statement caused it.
) His argument is that the West 3rd site has direct access to hotels and retail, with minimal distance to restaurants in the Warehouse district, while stressing that they are very sensitive to the concerns of the Warehouse District (he stresses their sensitivity several times in the presentation). These aspects are very important according to the Pricewaterhouse Cooper study (the PWC)commissioned by the Cleveland CVB (I need to see this thing
). As a negative example, he refers to the new Pittsburgh Convention Center's failure to have an adequately sized and geographically close hotel (This could be potentially confusing, as Pittsburgh has been held up as a sort of model for Cleveland. Now the people are being told that Pittsburgh screwed up
West 3rd, he argues is the most connected site to everything. (This is actually true, with direct access through Tower City to Gateway). On the issue of a multi-level convention center, he starts getting vague, and this is where the site really breaks down. The same PWC stresses the importance of a contiguous exhibition hall, and the W.3rd plan requires two levels. Additionally, the PWC stresses the need to expand, since every convention center can anticipate that in about 30 years. W.3rd can't.
Voegele stays vague. Saying only, that many cities have and are successful with multi-level convention centers, but not giving any examples so there is no way to know if the locations are comparable to Cleveland. Keeping things vague, he ends by stating that it would serve as an anchor for the whole Euclid Corridor project (I don't have the energy to go there
); and that this would be a chance for a signature building for the new Cleveland. ("Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!" "Again?" "This time for sure!"
Mall Site (where the present CCC is located)
Presented by Christopher Eseman, a partner at LMN Architects
. The guy is boring. He has lots of pretty powerpoint illustrations and idealized views, some that can be seen here
. Eseman sticks pretty much to the facts. Dry information about the architecture and floor plans. Honestly, he has the easiest sell. The city already owns the land, and the estimated cost is on the lower end of the scale.
Presented by Peter Spittler, President of GSI Architects
. They have a separate web site for the Lakefront site
. Peter is big on stressing his and his firm's Cleveland roots. He has to sell the most expensive plan on the list. He asks "what can a new CCC do for Cleveland?" (Funny, I thought that's what I've been asking.
) Spittler is enthusiastic that a Lakefront CCC would be the start of something big, with neighborhood redevelopment to follow (after the Port Authority is moved to make room for the new CCC
). I'm not quite sure why people would flock to put down roots next to a convention center, but that's just me. Spittler stresses that this is a "once in a lifetime opportunity to connect the Lakefront" with the rest of downtown. (Huh? Wasn't that what the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was to do? Then it was the Science Center. And of course, Cleveland Browns Stadium. How will this project be different from all other projects?
Werner Marshall, CEO of Minshall Stewart Properties
. While this proposal is very self-serving, like West 3rd St., it comes off as less rapacious since the Galleria is in the tank, and this is an intriguing reuse of it. Plus, there is room to expand, and the costs appear much lower. Marshall stresses the reuse of Galleria and that this site would serve as a basis for redeveloping the eastside of downtown Cleveland. He started out talking about how all the proposals are about doing good for Cleveland, but basically shifted to stress that this site is superior to all others because it is the cheapest to build, it can be built the fastest, it has the most flexibility as far as planning, it can be used without building any new access to the present highways, and that it will have a minimum of 40 truck bays.
He shifted then to the architecture. Ugh. I tried to avoid commenting on the designs, but this one absolutely sucked. I only wish there was an image available on the Web. It looked like a big airplane hanger.
He then shifted the presentation to Jim Breen of Breen & Fox
, commercial real estate brokers who work with Minshall Stewart in Cleveland. Breen essentially bullet-pointed the same things, but as a local.
This is the private developer lease back to the city proposal
. John McGill, president of Heritage Development Company, immediately turns it over to Glen Malone (I didn't catch who he was
). Malone stresses that the Norfolk-Southern site would meet more of the things a convention center should have according to the PWC. A headquarter hotel, a single level exhibit hall, a marshalling yard (where trucks park), accessibility, parking, room to expand. He was very rapid fire, so it was hard to follow at times.
With a few minutes left, he turns it back to McGill. McGill stresses that it could be considered as part of an expansion of Gateway and that it would be the most affordable project. The plans can be seen here
(click "Cleveland Convention Center").
The Plain Dealer summed it up rather accurately
What started as a public forum on competing proposals for a new convention center ended with a testimonial by supporters of the plan to rebuild the convention center at its present site near Mall C.
A question-and-answer period followed the presentations, but the audience had only a few questions. Instead, the leaders of various development corporations and downtown community groups stood to voice their support for rebuilding the convention center near Mall C on Lakeside Avenue.
Lets see, the Downtown Property Owners Association (existing since January 2002), Historic Gateway Neighborhood
, Historic Warehouse District
, Greater Cleveland Green Building Coalition
, Cleveland Neighborhood Development Coalition
, and Cleveland Restoration Society
were among those who made their statements and essentially through their support behind the Mall. Many also, added plain opposition to West 3rd.
There wasn't a lot of useful information disclosed during the Q&A. It was mentioned that there would be a briefing book prepared by the CPC, but I'm not holding my breath for it to be out before April.
I noticed Roldo Bartimole taking notes. He's a longtime independent journalist who used to write a political gossip column for the late Free Times. A Google search
later, I found that he currently writes for the City News of Ohio
, a part of the BlackPressUSA Network
. The only reason I mention the Network, is because Roldo isn't. I don't care, I'm just glad I was able to find where he is publishing his column these days (though, I wish they would have an archive by author).
During the Q&A, I got up to look at the people, and noticed Dave Nolan, President of the Greater Cleveland CVB.
He was jotting some notes, and I went over to ask him about getting a copy of the PWC. He asked me who I was with. I told him I was just a private citizen, though I stifled the urge to add, "with a blog." He told me that the PWC was a confidential study with "trade secrets." I could not get a copy, but I could come to the CVB during regular hours to review it there.
I find it amusing that every developer and politician seems to have a copy of the study, along with several reporters, but the average citizen cannot get a copy. Only reviewing it in the CVB office (I wonder if they will let me take notes).
So, this appears to end the public phase for a while. The CCC will fall back to silent jockeying until April, when the final recommendation is made. The only thing I am sure of, is that if West 3rd Street is selected then the fix was in. No one wants it there.
Convention Center, Meeting 2
(or, Why Did I Think It Was a Good Idea to Attend?)
I'll try to post a fuller version tomorrow (wait, it's after midnight. Fine, after I get some sleep). This was meeting 2. Meeting 1
, was last Tuesday in the auditorium at the downtown Cleveland Library. This hearing on a publicly funded new Cleveland Convention Center was held (apparently without any intent at blatant irony) at the publicly funded and high cost overruns (roughly $100 million over) Cleveland Browns Stadium, in the "Legends Club."
This was a full show. At least 150 people, 3 video cameras, lots of people in suits, and big cardboard displays for each site. Three handouts on the way in -- another map, a list of who was presenting, and another summary of the sites. Still no copy of the actual preliminary site analysis.
Quick summary. Each presented. The Q&A quickly descended into a lot of downtown groups I never heard of put forth their opinions. Most favored building on the site of the old convention center. It is the most central to the city compared to all the other sites, with the possible exception of the West 3rd Street site. The West 3rd St. site, though is opposed because it is a multiple level, no room for expansion, cuts off a lot of parking, and hurts the Warehouse district.
I really will give a more detailed report in the morning (assuming the kid lets me) with some links and stuff. I need sleep.
In the battle for choosing a site for the proposed new Cleveland Convention Center, one of the most intriguing and unlikely site options is the one being advanced by Bert Wolstein and his Heritage Development Company
. He is proposing to build a new convention center and hotel without public funds and then lease it back to the city/county for around $20-25 million/year for 25 years. He claims it is all negotiable including an option to eventually purchase. Ignoring the exorbitant lease, the location, is very isolated and would require major expenses to connect it with the rest of the city.
Still, Wolstein is a powerful figure in Northern Ohio, and can't be taken lightly. He knows the games, and has already started. At a press conference to announce that Westin Hotels, part of Starwood hotels, would be the hotel chain to operate the new hotel at his convention center site; Wolstein complained that the site report released by Cleveland Tomorrow and the Greater Cleveland Growth Association (the one I have been complaining about not being made public
) was unfair to his site proposal
. He also complained of the process itself as being a "buddy system" of business leaders.
The whole complaint is entirely self-serving, and Bert could care less if the system was closed, if he was the beneficiary. I'll let him carry some of the water, though, if it actually causes the business groups and the city to actually make the reports publicly available.