Big Money, Big Decisions

With the infusion of 100s of millions of dollars in federal funds, the pressure is on the City of Cleveland to spend that money wisely.

It was recently announced that the City of Cleveland would receive over $500 million in federal Recovery Act funds due to the legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden. No sooner had the legislation been passed than various groups started lining up to receive a share of the proceeds.

But Cleveland should keep in mind that this is a unique- maybe once in a generation- financial windfall. If the funds are given out piecemeal, spread thinly like peanut butter, there will be little to show for it in years to come. That isn’t to say that there aren’t dozens, if not hundreds, of worthy organizations and causes. But if the City tries to be all things to all people, it will end up without making a permanent, major impact.

Even worse would be using the money to just maintain current city operations and services. Almost everyone admits the City bureaucracy is large and inefficient. It needs to be re-designed and re-imagined before getting an infusion of new funds, something the current crop of mayoral candidates should commit to.

A simple rule to use when determining the use of this half billion pot of money would be: what will we have to point to ten years from now? If we aren’t going to move the needle on employment, or health, or safety, or housing, then we will be blowing a major chance to move the city forward. Cleveland has blown too many big opportunities in the past, and as one of the poorest big cities in America, we can't afford to repeat those mistakes again.

Cleveland voters should expect, and demand, that their candidates for Mayor and City Council commit to long term priorities that will bring real change, not short-sighted decisions that are great for appeasing a few, but will not bring a positive difference to the vast majority of Cleveland residents.