Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Archive for November, 2007

To Live or Not To Live in the City

with 7 comments

While browsing at BFD today, I noticed this post and although I did leave a comment  I knew that  what I really wanted to say would be a full blown post and I should do it here instead of there. It is a bit left of center to the topic but does in a way address the living in the city vs. the suburban experience.

Our girls grew up in the city and attended school in the suburbs. Their grade school experiences were in Parma Heights with the Incarnate Word nuns.  Their high school years were in Rocky River with the Humility of Mary nuns.

The girls’ school experience was the direct result of intervention by Father Cregan.  He felt Maureen would benefit by her association with the nuns at Incarnate Word and the rich afterschool programs, namely sports.  Katie came a long a bit later, but she to benefitted due to her Art teacher there who saw talent and began entering her in Art shows at an early age.  Both of our girls are very competitive but in different fields.   

For the IWA nuns, Maureen will go to Magnificat, of course became the mantra.  Maureen never considered another school, and neither did Katie, but for a very different reason.  KT told me one day when we were deciding on schools that she had no choice Maureen would never understand if she didn’t pick Magnificat. I can’t say enough about our years at Magnificat the support and nurturing that our girls received to get them ready for the real world was invaluable.  

So, for approximately twenty years, we shuttled the girls from the city to the suburbs for school. Questions came from all quarters–our friends, the girls, our family.  There was a lot of time involved, but we spent a lot of quality time together to and from school. But there was always that little voice of doubt in the back of my consciousness wondering if we were doing the “right” thing if, maybe, we weren’t sacrificing our girls’ happiness for our need for an urban lifestyle.

 There were countless times that Mo brought up If I lived on a cul de sac, and then, Katie would always tell me that her friends were walking to Parmatown on Saturday for lunch and a movie and she HATED to ask but since she couldn’t walk she needed a ride. The implication to me was if only we lived in the suburbs…. High School was easier in a way there were buses to catch and friends who had cars, but that brought up a whole other worrying scenario.  

For quite a few years, I still didn’t have a clue as to whether the girls were okay with where they lived and how they grew up until last Thanksgiving. We were all sitting around the dining room table stuffed unable to move and there was not much else to do but talk to each other.  The conversatin began and  naturally it  turned to  remember when we were young  and we would go to Tower City the day after Thanksgiving or when we would go to the Museum of Art and Mo didn’t want to venture past the Armor Court or Playhouse Square where we would watch the Christmas Tree in The Nutcracker grow to gigantic heights, the waves at Edgewater Park during a winter storm, and on and on. 

 Until, Mo blurted out,  “Are we lucky you didn’t listen to my pleas for a cul de sac?!”  Katie had been too little to remember our conversations in the car about suburbs, basketball courts, and friends on MY street and needed more of an explanation. As sisters are wont to do, she immediately told her sister that that was nothing because  she had wanted to spend her time walking around a suburban mall, for God’s sakes. 

I then admitted that I had worried for years that we should have moved and we should have done things differently.  The girls informed me that I must be kidding because they had had the best of all worlds. After all, they told me,  it isn’t about where you live, but about what you do  and how you live.  I don’t worry any more.

Written by Gloria Ferris

November 20th, 2007 at 2:02 pm

Was It Strictly About The Dollars?

with 3 comments

By now, we all know that the Wide Open experiment at the Plain Dealer is history, but I just can’t seem to get this thought out of my head–a measly $100 contribution to a congressional candidate wiped out a really good idea.  How can that be?  An idea that would go a long way to securing the Plain Dealer’s presence beyond print media gone, just like that.  It was bold, it was cutting edge, and it was risky.  I think Jean Dubail knew all of that, I think Tom O’Hara knew that, but unfortunately for Jean, Tom has moved on and Brent Larkin remains, and Susan Goldberg is just too damn new to Cleveland, The Plain Dealer, and the lay of the land here.

But back to that $100. They hired these four bloggers to write opinion and to debate issues and candidates, right?  If campaign affiliations or ties to candidates could become an issue, wouldn’t you think that this would be discussed up front, or would you expect it to be “understood”?  Actually, there is much more to undertand in regards to affiliations than mere contributions.  Connecting the dots can be so much fun, and actually, the dots on the other side of the equation are much more complex than Yellow Dog Sammy’s dots.  Liberal+Ohio Daily Blog +Critical post on Congressman LaTourette=Yellow Dog Sammy.   Plain Dealer+Wide Open+Liberal+Blogger=Yellow Dog Sammy. These are Jeff’s dots for the purposes of this post.

But back to that $100.  I just couldn’t believe that a complaint by a sitting congressman because of a contribution to a challenger could be the ONLY reason that Wide Open hit the skids.  A few years ago, much was said about Jennifer LaTourette’s position as a lobbyist with Van Scoyoc Associates, Inc., and her association with Steve LaTourette–she is his wife but nothing much ever came of it.  I guess you would call it sort of a “flash in the pan” discovery.  I already knew that Congressman LaTourette served on the Financial Services Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure committee in the House of Representatives, but I didn’t know much about Jennifer and her firm. I googled Van Scoyoc and found the website. When I clicked on biographies and then, Jennifer LaTourette,  no biography appeared.  Only three of her other colleagues had the same glitch.  I called the firm and talked to a very nice receptionist who said she had had that complaint before and she didn’t know why it happened to just those few.  She put me through to Katie McCall’s voice mail. She said that she would be the person to help me. me.  I haven’t received that return call -so, I apologize, but I don’t know Jennifer LaTourette’s specific areas of expertise.   I was able to glean from another on-line source that she served as Steve’s chief of staff for 5 years and that she had a brief stint at the Cleveland Clinic.

The Van Scoyoc firm lists 21 areas of expertise on their website, but for my purposes I will use only two: Financial Services and Transportation and Infrastructure.  I clicked on the client list, and here is what I found: Clients in Northeast Ohio: Akron General Health System, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland Museum of Art, Hiram College, and Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. There may be others but from a cursory look this is what I found. So, Ted Diadiun’s explanation of the “firing” and journalist ethics being different than blogger ethics takes on a much different meaning.    Complaints could have come from any one of a number of people or places as well as Congressman LaTourette. Although Ted and Susan only compare blogger and newspaper reporter ethics I would go as far to say that newspaper reporter ethics and newspaper owners ethics may have quite a different set of criteria as well.

But see it never was about a $100 contribution,  it was all about ethics.  So lets, connect these dots.  Believe me, this is a much longer connection than the one above so I have broken it down into parts and feel free to connect the dots in other ways for I have in no way made all of the connections.  In fact, I have probably barely scratched the surface. U.S. Congress+House of Representatives+Financial Services and/or Transportation and Infrastructure Commitee +Congressman Steve LaTourette,  Jennifer LaTourette+Van Scoyoc Assocites, Inc. + The Cleveland Clinic Foundation and/or Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, The Plain Dealer+Terry Egger+The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. I have not given all the connections here but it is truly fun to hop from one connected source and tie them to another connected source., try it for yourself.  Power and influence are alive and well in Northeast Ohio.   I am sure that many of you know of other links and associations that would make these connections even more interesting.  

And then, when the dots intersected,  Wide Open+Jeff Coryell+Bill O’Neill+ PlainDealer+Steve LaTourette+???, Wide Open and Jeff became negatives and the negatives outweighed keeping the experiment alive.  Now I don’t know about you, but  I feel a bit better that four stellar bloggers are no longer associated with the Plain Dealer for maybe a bit more than a $100 contribution to one congressman. Hey, I don’t know anything for sure, but I’m  just saying…

Power and influence could have played more of a part in this little storm than anyone has said.  I can live with conflicts of interest a whole lot better than thinking that Congressmen and newspapers think that we don’t know that it’s not all about the money. And then when it is about the money, it isn’t about the campaign contributions, but about the contracts and the money to be made from our tax dollars. Power and influence go a long way in deciding what regions get what contracts.

Voters have the ability to change this culture or keep the status quo.  Unfortunately, non-voters think that they don’t have the power or the influence to change the culture as it stands today. And the percentage of us who decide who leads us becomes more and more of a minority.  And as the balance  in the House of Representatives shifts to the Southwest from the Northeast, the Senate becomes ever more important. Voting should not be an option. And voters should use the ballot box to remind our elected officials that they are to represent us and the public good.

When you live in a city with one newspaper who tends to follow and not lead it is hard to have hope that this can and is changing, but I do have that hope because there are those who work at the Plain Dealer who “get it” and they will continue to work for a change of “the old guard”.  I heard recently that there may be another buyout at the paper soon.  The problem with buyouts can be that higher management remains, the middle with the expertise leaves, and all  you are left with are “newbies”  still trying to find their legs. 

And, with appointed boards such as the Port Authority, the GCP, and the Arnold Pickneys and Sam Millers and oh so many more in this town trying to hold on for dear life. But, as the “old boys club” is striving to remain significant by using the Plain Dealer as their bulypulpit,  more and more people are talking to each other, and the dialogue is changing.  We have thought leaders and new industries in this region that are looked at not only nationally but internationally due to the changing ways we share information which then becomes knowledge which turns into action and that fact gives me great hope that Ohio is not only a political epicenter but a change conduit.  We are in the place to be in the 21st century. 

But back to the $100.  It was never about the $100. It was about the collective voice of Wide Open and how it could change the dialogue.  The Plain Dealer simply wasn’t ready for it because the ties to the old ways are just to strong. But, we’re getting there.  And as Tim is fond of saying “the song of the turtle will be heard across the land” and some day The Plain Dealer will have an investigative reporter who wins a Pulitzer Prize.

Written by Gloria Ferris

November 12th, 2007 at 10:22 pm

Posted in Cleveland,politics

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

with 10 comments

Last month we lost our beloved Oatmeal.  Her time on earth was well spent–chasing squirrels, watching geese fly overhead, dressing up in the latest fashion trends, and very seldom without her sunglasses when Katie was around. Maureen posted a fitting obituary to the dog and Katie left a heartfelt comment, and me, I couldn’t say anything until now.

Our dear Oatie was a rescue dog.  She had the misfortune of being sired by a stolen dog.  Her breeder could not sell the pups nor did she want anyone to know that she had been taken in by a con artist.  She and her siblings were dropped off at the vet’s office with the instructions that they should be disposed off and the bill sent to the owner.

Luckily, one of the vet’s assistants convinced the owner to allow her to try to find homes for the dogs before carrying out the owner’s instructions.  So, Oatmeal came to our house to stay for just the price of shots.  I don’t really know whose dog she was, you know, how pets usually gravitate to one person in a family.  At any one time, you would find her asleep at anyone’s feet or following any one of us from room to room.

But probably she was Katie’s dog because they grew up together. Katie thought her dog looked just like a mantatee.  She was kind of slow and loving and she did have eyes like dark pools of water–yes, a very fitting description of our dog. 

She was a mechanical dog.  She loved to watch Tim repair things, watching every move intently.  She opened doors with her front paws.  She closed doors and drawers when they were left open even if you weren’t finished getting whatever you needed.  Although she was a Labrador Retriever and loved to watch the birds overhead, she never liked water. Swimming was not in her vocabulary.  She didn’t even like the rain.  Lucky for her, we weren’t a hunting family.

Katie named her Oatmeal because she was the color of Oatmeal and it was one of the names suggested for Frosty the Snowman in the animated cartoon of the same name. Little did we know at the time that over the years she would become lumpy just like Oatmeal.  There are so many good memories associated with this dog that this post could become a saga,  but the real reason for my post is not only for our dog but for any one who has ever lost a pet.

Our veternarian’s office sent us a sympathy card, but inside the card was the following poem based on a Norse legend.

  By the edge of a wood, at the foot of a hill,

is a lush green meadow where time stands still.

 Where the friends of man and woman do run,

   when their time on earth is over and done.

  For here, between this world and the next,

is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.

 On this golden land, they wait and they play,

till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,

 until one day they start, and sniff at the air.

All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,

 then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

   For just at that instant, their eyes have met.

    Together again, both person and pet.

So they run to each other, these friends from long past,

    the time of their parting is over at last.

   The sadness they felt while they were apart,

   has turned into joy once more in each heart.

  They embrace with a love that will last forever,

           and then, side-by-side,

         they cross over. . . .together,

    at Rainbow Bridge. 

Until we meet again, dear Oatmeal.


Written by Gloria Ferris

November 9th, 2007 at 8:31 pm

Posted in quality of life

Election Day November 6, 2007

without comments

Please vote today. Our right to vote as American citizens is one of the gifts that our forefathers saw fit to give us.  Through the years, fewer and fewer of us have seen the need to vote, and so, fewer and fewer of us decide our fate.

What a shame it would be that through our apathy, we would some day see the tragedy of not voting–the loss of that right to vote. Today, more than ever, we must vote.

Even if our candidate does not win or if the issue we favor or oppose does not have the outcome we would want,  it is imperative that we show those candidates our support and that we show the elected officials our support of or displeasure at the status quo.  If our cause does not win overwhelmingly, but squeaks in with a win, or loses by a landslide, or barely fails is not the point; the point is that we took the time to exercise our right to vote.

Freedom isn’t free, and one of the most important things that you and I can do to protect that freedom is to take the time to vote today and in each and every election.

And now, it is off to the polls to work.  I am excited.  I am part of a pilot project that the election board is conducting.  It could go a long way to reestablish the trust in our voting procedures.  Wish us Godspeed, and for goodness sakes, after you have that cup of coffee–GO VOTE!   

Written by Gloria Ferris

November 6th, 2007 at 6:02 am

Will Voting “NO” on Issue 14 Get Anyone’s Attention?

with 2 comments

I certainly hope so.  In this day and age, there is a lot of talk about something called “tough love”.  I think it is time that the taxpayers of Cuyahoga County start issuing some “tough love” to the Port Authority and our County Commissioners by voting NO on the renewal of the tax levy for the port–ISSUE 14.  As always, this post is the opinion of one woman and is strictly based on my observations over the past year of the shenanigans we witnessed firsthand here in Cuyahoga County.  There are three issues that I found very troubling this past year.

  1. eminent domain– We all know about this one–the celebrated case of Wolstein vs. private owners in the Flats.  Supposedly, the Port had nothing to do with the case, but their fingerprints were all over it, albeit one step removed.
  2. Conflicts of Interest– Thanks to Ed Hauser, this one just wouldn’t go away.  John Carney was probably the most celebrated member of the board with conflict of interest hanging over his head, but I bet if an investigative reporter wanted to scratch the surface, many eruptions would surface, just like acne on a teenager’s face.
  3. Bond Issuance– Issuing bonds to retail and other development throughout the state.  Just how and why is this a function of a PORT authority?

And why are these three issues important to the future of the Port?  The recent revelation that “the Port must move, and these are the three places” story.  Eminent domain, conflicts of interest, and bond issuance will be keys to where, when, and how the Port will be moved.  The particulars of “the plan” mirror the detailed planning techniques of the County Commissioners recently.  You know, the old “aw shucks, trust us we’re your partners” motif that says nothing and means even less. What? you want plans, demographics, statistics?!?  Don’t worry! When we will build it, they will come. Trust us.

Instead of telling us what they have achieved since the last levy, we get the same old tired saw about 20,000 jobs. What are those jobs specifically, what is the industry, where are they located, etc.  Reading between the lines, we know that if they don’t get what they want, we the taxpayers will be responsible.  More economic downturn, more unemployment.  But where have we seen what they ACTUALLY have done to create and retain economic development?  Who have they partnered with on a regional or statewide basis to raise the level of prosperity?  Where are the details?  Where are the statistics?

Oh, and then there is this tidbit–it is not an INCREASE, only a RENEWAL.  Well, I ask you this question: How long do we continue to renew without concrete evidence that our taxpayers’ dollars are being used to good advantage?  How long are we expected to “trust” before “enough is enough”?  Well, I for one have reached that point with the Port Authority.  Whiskey Island was the last straw for me.  Why Citizen Ed Hauser and others had to go to such lengths to save a treasure on the lake that again will be at risk with the movement of the Port made me mark the block “No” on my absentee ballot.

Please weigh all the options before making your decision on Election Day.  Continuing to give this appointed Board our money just can’t be the answer.  Couldn’t it truly be time for some tough love?

Written by Gloria Ferris

November 5th, 2007 at 1:48 pm

Plain Dealer Is Nothing If Not Predictable

with 4 comments

Although many of us kept our thoughts to ourselves because we were hopeful that the WIDE OPEN experiment would work, many of us thought that it was only a matter of time before the blog would be shut down for some nefarious reason.  Little did we know that it would happen so quickly and for not a predictable reason. Before continuing, I must disclose that I know Jeff Coryell who will always be “Yellow Dog Sammy” to me, and the gal who “Writes Like She Talks” Jill Zimon. They are personal friends of mine.  I have never met the two bloggers on the other side of the aisle NixGuy and BizzyBlog but I do know Bill Pierce who challenged Mike Dewine last year and he has nothing but good to say about the man behind BizzyBlog so that is good enough for me.  If these three stellar individuals were chosen, I can only believe that the fourth has the same credentials.

I do on a regular basis read all four blogs because I feel that the four bloggers stick to the issues, have integrity, check their facts, are perceptive, and give a wealth of information to people  who want the story behind the sound bite.  I commend Jean Dubail for choosing these four bloggers for the experiment.  He chose a stellar crew.  Unfortunately, a “tetchy” Congressman got “in the way”.  And, to me, that is the story behind the story.  If indeed the political conributions of the four had been an issue, the Plain Dealer would have asked the question before employment.  They, obviously, didn’t ask because probably none of the four would have been employable.  These are after all staunch supporters of each party. Bizzyblog opts out on political contributions.

In fact, that was what I thought was the point of the experiment.  Get four bloggers from both sides of the aisle to interact, drawing in readers and commentors to widen the dialogue and get us beyond these partisan “knee jerk” reactions and into a discussion of the issues that face us all-Republican and Democrat.  Few of us disagree on the problems or, in the end,  the solutions it is the path along the way where compromise and dialogue is needed that we all fall short.

The surprise in this series of events for me is that a sitting Congressman, Steve LaTourette, would  find a measly $100 contribution to a competitor’s campaign by a Northeast blogger to be worthy of his time and attention.  Does not his tenure speak for itself?  Many voters in Northeast Ohio believe that Congressman LaTourette is the reason that there is an ongoing construction project at East Ninth expanding the NDFS facility here. They credit his intervention for the positive outcome. Why would he find it acceptable to meddle in Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech?  And that is the bottom line. How dare he treat the Bill of Rights with such a cavalier attitude.  And for those of you who say we don’t know the whole story,  I have not seen one word from the Plain Dealer that says that Jeff was let go for any other reason than the contribution.  Jill backs this assertion with her post.

So we are back to Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech. The Plain Dealer has bowed to pressure as they have done time and time again. We have seen this more and more as the year has progressed.  First, there was the Breuer Tower, then there was the Medical Mart, and then, there was the County Sales Tax issue.  Now, we see  hints of what we all knew prior to the October 1st Tax increase, but the PD continues to tiptoe around major opportunities for investigative reporting.  Pulitzers for Investigative Reporting must not be in the game plan.

I doubt if Congressman LaTourette will sit down with Meet The Bloggers for an interview. An in depth conversation about this issue as well as the others facing us here in Northeast Ohio would be more beneficial than too many column inches being taken by who contributes to who and why therefore those people should be put in their place.  Bloggers being who they are on a regular basis contribute to political campaigns, so  I feel that he would decline based on that issue alone.  His challenger, Bill O’Neill,  who has Met the Bloggers  had a motto  during his recent Ohio Supreme Court race which was “No Money From Nobody”. For his congressional bid, he realizes that he needs money. He firmly believes that the way we elect judges needs to be reconsidered.  I would ask Mr. LaTourette his feelings on that issue as well.  Probably, he believes that “no money for nobody” should be the motto of all campaigns.

The voters who will make the final decision on these two men next year need to watch this race closely.  They need to attend town forums, fundraisers, anywhere they can find these two gentlemen and ask the questions relevant to each and every one of them.  It is their decision which will lead us in the Fourteenth District.  I would hope that they ask about Freedom of the Press and Speech and based on the answers they make the decision that they feel is right for all of us. We are only as strong as our weakest link and we need every strong link that we can muster in Northeast Ohio to lead us in Congress. 

I hope that Ms. Goldberg realizes that continuing to listen to the same advisors that Doug Clifton and Alex Macheskee used may be expedient but not prudent. The Plain Dealer faces a huge credibility gap in this region and others.  If she truly wants to make this newspaper a stellar publication,  she needs to widen her scope of whom she talks to in this town. She needs to include some new voices and not rely completely on the usual.  In fact, she has a few on staff that would be good candidates.  And if she sat down for a Meet The Bloggers conversation, my question to her would be why have advertisers and “leaders” of the community taken precedence over your readership?  And if they haven’t how can  you begin to convey that to the public so that your readership will be maintained and grow?

And in closing, the four bloggers that suddenly find themselves “unemployed” are not.  They never did it for the money.  They did it out of passion for what they believe.  The belief that blogs and bloggers can add a dimension to journalism that is missing-the indepth behind the scene story.  All four of them had the credibility and integrity to only enhance the Plain Dealer, but the Plain Dealer in its nervousness of trying anything new caved to the pressure of the tried and true and pulled the plug on Wide Open.  The four bloggers, still have their original blogs and will continue to do what they did prior to “the experiment”. Because they are doing it for the right reason for the love of it.  The only loser in all of this is The Plain Dealer.     


Written by Gloria Ferris

November 1st, 2007 at 11:22 am