The City Club: Conversations in Public Square
On Tuesday, August 16th, we went to the newly renovated Public Square for what will hopefully be the start of a new City Club series titled "Conversations in Public Square" because, as we know, public squares in cities have traditionally have been the place for great public interaction and, due to its terrific accessibility, our Public Square is an ideal place for such a thing to occur.
On this day Mr. Dan Moulthrop, City Club President/CEO, interviewed Cleveland's newest City Councilman Kerry McCormack who represents Ward 3 that takes in downtown Cleveland, Tremont, Ohio City, the Flats, and portions of Clark-Fulton and the Stockyards.
Both Councilman McCormack and Mr. Moulthrop conducted their conversation with a touch of humor since the winds blew heavily and the clouds looked threateningly. Nevertheless, we believe the two of them engaged in an effective dialogue.
Councilman McCormack talked briefly about his background before being selected (out of 30 applicants) to fill the council seat vacated by Joe Cimperman who resigned to become president of Global Cleveland. Prior to his appointment, we knew that Councilman McCormack had been the Director of Community Affairs for Ohio City, Inc. but we had never focused on the fact that he taught grade school in Madrid for two years or that he was an International Studies/Development major in college with a minor in Spanish and Latin American Studies.
During the Q and A, we asked him about how these experiences impacted his perception on immigration. Councilman McCormack said he regarded Cleveland as a "world-class city with great amenities" and that at least part of our future involves immigrants who should be welcomed into our community. We were pleased that the councilman recognized that many immigrants are eager to open their own businesses and "contribute economically." We were surprised to hear that he believes that downtown Cleveland has tremendous potential as an area to reside instead of only being a place of business. Once again, on this matter, his years in Madrid (a heavily populated international metropolis) really contributed to his perspective so we look forward to seeing if his vision pans out.
Looking at the Cleveland area as a whole, Councilman McCormack, who grew up in Collinwood, expressed regret thatso many businesses along East 185th Street (our neighborhood also) have closed down and that economic development via the encouragement of new businesses and public/private partnerships is imperative. He praised Ms. Tracey Nichols, Cleveland's Economic Development Director as a person who has the vision and foresight to make this happen. We believe that Councilman McCormack was right when he voted against the too-sweeping Cleveland minimum wage hike to $15 an hour but was very glad to hear that he will definitely consider more reasonable alternatives.
As was evident in his response to a question by a mother who asked why couldn't every child in Cleveland have the opportunities that her child had because they had access to Near West Recreation League, he was sharply critical of the state government for its cutting back on funds designated for the localities; quality of life is certainly another issuethat means a great deal to him.
Naturally, Councilperson McCormack and Mr. Moulthrop talked about the councilman's role in transitioning the cancelled Cleveland Pride parade/festival into the very successful "Pride in CLE" that took place the previous weekend. Mr. Moulthrop said that he considered it to be one of the councilman's first tests of leadership.
On this matter, the councilman was quick to give credit where it was due and talked about how 25 people came together for a meeting at the LGBT Center determined not to let Pride be cancelled. He then acknowledged that to put "Pride in the CLE" together in just 13 days was an "awesome effort" which involved creating an "organic grassroots movement" but "Pride in the CLE" came off due to a combination of talents.
"When we get together and share passion together, anything can happen," said Councilman McCormack. He went on to say, in Cleveland tradition, that the organizers adopted the attitude of "when we get knocked down, we get back up!"
Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC