Ken Johnson: "If we don't do something soon, I think we'll be worse than Youngstown." ...... Since [Michael Polensek] took office, Cleveland has lost about half of its population. He predicts this year's federal census "will be like the shot heard round the world." A decade ago, Cleveland's population was 478,403. Today, Polensek thinks it might be 325,000."We're out of time," he said. "We need something dramatic or Cleveland will be like East St. Louis or Gary."
Most cities have a self-esteem problem, "I wish we were more like X, but at least we aren't Y." When musing about Pittsburgh, I tend to value the outsider opinion. A bunch of cities (including Cleveland) are trying to follow in Pittsburgh's footsteps.
As locals know all too well, Pittsburgh is far from perfect. There have been numerous missteps and past glory weighs heavily on the present. In the Rust Belt, the relative status tends to be temporal instead of spatial.
Cleveland is struggling to bury its history and the hyperbole about Gary, East St. Louis and Youngstown isn't helping matters. Perhaps the lament will shock resident readers into action. I think it unlikely. The senior members of City Council sounding the alarm are the problem. Shaking up Cleveland starts there.