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The Listening Project

Summer 2012 - Assets, Challenges and Politics

Summer is the traditional time of year we ask about the community’s assets and challenges. Yet it is impossible to ignore that it is election season in Northeast Ohio. Since Politics usually ranks as a top regional challenge, we thought it was opportune to ask you to share your thoughts about both subject areas. In this summer’s Listening Project survey, a relatively small (35) but engaged group of respondents provided some interesting data - here’s some of the highlights.

Question 1: What are the best things about living in Northeast Ohio? Provide as many examples as you like.

“The cultural opportunities provided are like nowhere else in terms of concentrated availability.”

“Great museums, orchestra, fishing, sports teams (okay, not great teams), Cleveland Heights, change of seasons.”

“Availability of everything needed and desired close to home. High end retail to thrift shops. Arts,music,sports,and recreation including Lake Erie,close at hand. A wide choice of colleges, public and private. Plenty of churches,for those so inclined.”

“Change of seasons with usually moderate temperatures; lots of parks; world class orchestra and art museum plus many other museums; major league baseball, football and basketball teams plus several minor league baseball teams and a professional hockey team; relatively low cost of living; far less traffic and commute times than other large cities; family-friendly communities like Lakewood; West Side Market and tons of great restaurants.”

“Lake Erie, the climate (all 4 distinct seasons), area attractions, cost of living.”

“Affordable Housing; fine arts; Metroparks; Lake Erie; people, parks, arts scene; generous people; innovative mix of businesses; diverse neighborhoods; interstate/freeway system; super restaurants; Blossom - diverse menu of talent represented; Cleveland Orchestra; all of the theatre we have; climate (everyone has a few undesirable weeks of weather & so do we--maybe not San Diego!); great university system; private schools; religious representation of many faiths; world class health system; public parks- extensive; inexpensive housing--a few doctors I have met comment on how rich the overall Cleveland package is in contrast to other cities (housing, private schools, the reduced commute into the hospital & orchestra--other entertainment options); children out of wedlock births has been reduced.”

“It is a beautiful place with a thriving economy based upon wealth created by manufacturing.  We have plenty of water, great natural and cultural assets, including a National Park, and many great county Metroparks, plus the Holden Arboretum.  Museums that compete with those in much larger cities, an abundance of music in all genres, great theater, restaurants.  It is simply fabulous.”

“Affordable lifestyle, great park systems and many cultural opportunities such as in University Circle and Downtown Cleveland (museums)., musical venues, etc….”

“Lake Erie, parks, bike trails, Cuyahoga River, institutions of higher education, music/art institutions, organic farms.”

“The Metroparks and Lake Erie are #1; variety of restaurants and things to do.”

“All the benefits of a much larger city with a smaller city feel.”

“Arts, friendliness, the lake.”

Question 2: What are the most pressing local challenges or problems for Northeast Ohio? Provide as many examples as you like.

“Its inferiority complex.”

“Jobs, foreclosures, schools, cuts to social programs, convincing our state government that Democrats have ideas and needs also.”

“The education system needs to be supported and made a priority.”

“Too many small communities, each with their own government, make taxes higher than they should be.  Columbus doesn’t seem to make anything better for large cities like Cleveland.  Crumbling bridges and rutted potholed roads abound.  Still littered along Rapid Transit track.  Unfair congressional and statehouse districting means Democrats are not represented in proportion to their numbers.”

“Stale, stalled, corrupt governing bodies. Un-developed coastline and jobs.”

“Good jobs. Rebuilding infrastructure. Housing issues - getting rid of vacant houses. Restoring faith in political structure. Protecting historical heritage and environment. Survival of all communities. Education - please, let’s pass these levies!”

“Inability of people to work together for the common good”

“Jobs, attracting and retaining young working adults, balancing natural gas drilling jobs with fracking risks, impact of cuts in state funding”

“Bad self-image, sometimes local governments chase big ideas rather than focusing on practical improvements.”

“Loss of housing value.”

“Education, Politics”

“Winter, and a lack of sound leadership on state, federal and financial levels.  Cleveland needs a strong venture capital base. They have it in Pittsburgh why not here?  Also we have had lousy representation in the US House of Representative for far too long.  Why can’t we choose more effective representatives?  The Democratic party needs a real shake up after the corruption scandal.”

“Taxes.  There seems to be an idea if we cut everything to the bone we can have low taxes.  Our roads are a mess and great things like our parks are at risk.  Our schools are suffering as well.”

“Jobs, public transportation, recreational activities (more to get young people to stay).”.

“School funding, environmental issues including shale gas drilling, infrastructure repair and maintenance.”

“Lack of jobs; aimless teens and young adults; ignorance or apathy of people regarding what is going on around them (government control, spy drones, chem trails, fracking, FDA and USDA corruption, politics). There are many more things!”

“Exploitation of at risk-individuals, including adults suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, and the failure of the media, including PBS, to report recommendations of the American Medical Association, the Ohio State Medical Association, other experts, and viewers like myself.”

“Jobs deficit, support for education, support for environmental protection.”

“While diverse, there are barriers to opportunities.”

Question 3: How much impact do you think political leaders have in preserving the assets and addressing the challenges you’ve noted above?

Question 3

The results suggest that local political leaders have double the impact (83.5% large/moderate impact) on the assets and challenges of Northeast Ohio than do national leaders (41.1% large/moderate impact).  One respondent took issue with the question asking about both assets and challenges – presumably because they thought that the responses might be different if they were separated. 

“They all love us until the day after the election (nationally).”

“As much as national politicians want our votes, I can’t see where they’ve done all that much for this area. Frank Jackson and Ed FitzGeral, on the other hand, are excellent.”

“Most leaders think they have the answers. Certainly, most leaders do not have the answers, and won’t listen to others. And perhaps most important, either there are no answers, or we do not like the answers.”

“Makes a difference who gets in as to their views about education and the economy.”

“It takes more than slogan to get this work done.  We need real bipartisan cooperation to get anything done on these problems, but the Congress and Ohio legislature are divided along party lines.”

“To paraphrase Fred Rodell, a former Yale law school professor “Our legal and political systems are, in short, nothing but high-class rackets. They are rackets far more lucrative and more powerful and hence more dangerous than any of those minor and much-publicized rackets ... Furthermore, the lawyers and politicians - or at least 99 44/100 percent of them - are not even aware that they are indulging in a racket, and would be shocked at the very mention of the idea.” (ref. page 10 of 1980 paperback edition of Rodell’s book titled Woe Unto You Lawyers).”

“With so much influence now wielded by corporations and the super rich, thanks to the hideous Citizens United decision, we have have hamstrung Congress, particularly the House, so that little they do in Washington is helping; Columbus, with Republicans in all statewide offices, most of the Supreme Court, and majorities in both houses of the legislature, is mostly impacting NE Ohio negatively, with one possible exception being the Cleveland school plan; local pols will be increasingly hamstrung by the cuts brought about in the legislature and pushed by Kasich; a Romney presidency will only make it all worse, and I will do all I can to prevent it. Marcy Kaptor does not represent NE Ohio, and I doubt she ever will effectively. She has hardly made an appearance here.”

“Lack of leadership for addressing issues is the main problem.”

Question 4:  How much impact do you think people like you can have in making your community a better place to live?

Question 4

61.7% of respondents thought they can have a large or moderate impact in making the community a better place to live.

“I believe our individual impact depends on motivation & literacy of issues.”

“I have little effect on the propaganda machine of the wealthy.”

“The best we can do is hold our local elected officials’ feet to the fire and make sure they do what is needed. There are too many things to be done to let them slack off, and yet we have to beware of an overzealous few as well.”

“No one has a monopoly on good or bad ideas. We must listen to others.”

“It depends on how willing you are to get involved, and how you define community. I can have a large impact on my block in my neighborhood, but maybe only a small impact at a larger level.”

“We have to work together to get anything done, but we need the support of our elected officials to pull it off.”

“Large impact but only if enough of us SPEAK UP and stop acting like “sheeple”!”

Question 5: Do you personally participate in politics?

Question 5

“Vote, promote registration & voting, and donate (not much.).”

“To the extent that I pay attention to what is going on and by voting, nothing further.”

“I vote. In the past, I pounded the pavement, but really can’t do that anymore. Have also contributed small amount of money in the last couple of days.”
“Voting, volunteering.”

“Meaning? We voice our opinions daily with local politicians but neither of us is “in” politics--we are too ethical and have way too much integrity.”

“Make calls, knock on doors, vote always.”

Question 6: Do you belong to clubs or organizations or participate in activities whose purpose is to benefit the community?

Question 6

The answers to the last two questions indicate that the respondents to this particular survey are an engaged group.

“Too many people ignore that the arts and science are crucial elements to community.”

“I am a rational non-nimby environmentalist.”

“I have a child with a disability.”

“I have worked as a Work Crew Leader for Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity in the past.”

“I am on the board of several organizations who are working to conserve and restore natural resources and educate the public on their value.”

“I am active in Rabbit Run Community Arts Association and the Congregational Church outreach activities.”

“Participating in the community is a civic duty and benefit.”

Question 7:  How many years have you lived in Northeast Ohio?

Years in Northeast Ohio - Percentage of respondents
60+ - 29%
50-59 - 26%
40-49 - 6%
30-39 - 10%
20-29 - 6%
10-19 - 13%
0-9 - 10%

Question 8:  Most of the information you get about politics comes from...

Question 8

“Websites, Facebook, social media.”

“I watch Fox, CNN, and others to see the spin effect.”

“I get numerous emails, such as from the Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor, which link to online news stories and opinion; I get more emails from various entities of the Democratic Party, as well as groups like MoveOn and People for the American Way; I listen almost constantly to WCPN; I read the Plain Dealer; I watch local and national news on TV; I don’t get any useful information from most political ads, since most of them these days are put up by Republicans and affiliated groups and are full of lies. As to getting information from friends, neighbors, etc., THEY get more from me, because I’m a newshound, and I freely share my opinions.”

“I get it from ideastream/NPR reports, local news, and organizations’ websites.”

Question 9: Do you think that ideastream’s coverage of Politics should...

Question 9

“Increase, and MAKE IT CLEAR: You’re facilitating factual content and rational discussion.”

“Your coverage is far too ‘liberal’ and one sided.”

“Start being honest, instead of boot licking corporate contributors.”

“The volume of coverage is fine. What I have found offensive is the continuing focus on the horse race, by both local and national presenters.”

“I think that the coverage is becoming too political and too right leaning—I thought public radio/television was to provide objective viewpoints—are you afraid of losing funding.”

“Don’t just report the horse race, verify the statements made by the candidates.”

“It should abandon the delusion of objectivity and be the arbiter of facts versus the claims made
I want to hear about issues not people’s opinion about the issues.”

Question 10: In the year 2020, will Northeast Ohio be a better place to live, a worse place to live or about the same? Why?

Question 10

“Because crime is bound to increase, and men just do not live by the Golden Rule anymore.”

“I have to have hope.”

“Unless more citizens take an interest in the environment and work to improve it, we are in trouble.”

“I think good things are happening in the downtown area. But there is still a lot of work to be done to make sure it isn’t just a destination for the wealthy suburbanites but for everyone.”

“I see real leadership beginning to emerge locally. Have always been impressed by how much so many people really care about this area.”
“Strong community support to continue improving the area.”

“We are making improvements that should create long term value to the community.”

“I’m hopeful that the economy will improve.”

“I think we’re on a precipice.  It could either get much better, or much worse...just a matter of which way we get pushed.”

“Medical institutions & research, small business innovation, readjustments of government and employee progams will have started to take effect.”

“Local politicians that don’t realize the value of our assets.  Educate our community more on sustainable practices.  Taxes keep hitting the little people.”

“I think we’ll finally see that we have to work together to make things better.”

“Some things may be better: jobs in renewable energy and medical care. Unless more action is taken on environmental issues, maybe worse: water quality, shale gas fracking, lack of school funding.”

“I expect think things will go well for some individuals and causes - not so well for others ...”

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