DeAngelis on Planning

Jim DeAngelis has been watching local economic development discussions from the sideline, unimpressed by what he's seen recently. He included me in his most recent email missive:
But I started to be inspired by some of the remarks by a veteran practitioner/academic from Cleveland (Norm Krumholz). He shared his informed views about the openness of Cleveland’s local government to professionals with ideas that may not have been exactly conformed to the notion of business as usual. He begged the question of whether this region had a similar culture. After his talk, a small group of involved professionals and academics talked about how it had been here for the last decade or so. On the issue of openness, I think it would be fair to rate their assessments as pretty low since the Murphy administration seemed to keep its development strategies pretty close to the vest, used its planning department and URA in mechanical or bureaucratic ways, and demeaned outsiders.

Most of these people and others with whom I’ve recently spoken had relatively few kind things to say about the County’s performance, in spite of the kind words spoken by former Executive Roddey about his successor. In general, people claim to have had very high hopes for Roddey and have been disappointed in his successor, who only seems to perform well at genuine crises (floods, military base closings) or celebrations (Kerry and Steelers’ events, any new flight inauguration). His rhetoric about enlightened development practices has not been translated into action, there have been no significant community development initiatives, and he’s usually seen patting the backs of State and National officials who have money to spend through the County.

Listening to Norm Krumholz speak about Cleveland was inspiring and it was an opportunity to challenge this group to get away from our recent past and conjecture about what we might expect from our new team of elected officials in the City, County, legislature, governor’s office and – hopefully – in the Senate. There was polite silence followed by some very guarded optimism – mainly because people seemed to agree that things can’t get much worse.

So, basically, this is why I’m composing another Metro Commentary. I really would like to know what you . . . think we should expect. Is it just more of the same or do you think something of merit – or at least of interest – might be on the horizon?

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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