Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Immigration and the Bunker mentality

*Edited: Here's the link to the article.* Thanks to Robert L. Smith for the link in the comments section. Here's the information on the article too: This article, published Sunday, April 4, is excerpted from the book " Immigrant, Inc.: Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the New Economy," which was written by Richard T. Herman, a Cleveland immigration lawyer, and Robert L. Smith, a reporter for The Plain Dealer.

Reading the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sunday, I came across a great article that took a hard look at how to help Cleveland turnaround it's population exodus. The article's focus was on promoting the city to new immigrants, targeting people who have come over from another country and maybe ready to move from their landing city.

The article does a very nice job of referencing success stories in Philadelphia, which has been aggressively pursuing this path for the last 5-10 years and focused on Detroit's current plan to do the same.

I would love to link the article here for you, but as I've referenced before the Plain Dealer's website on sucks for finding something, so I was unable to find it.

Which means I need to summarize a bit. The article is pro-immigration policy and explores the impact it could have on the city. It uses Philadelphia as an example and also highlights the negatives of the integration of immigrants into a city.

Some of the positives are, filling up neighborhoods that are emptying up, bringing new ideas and outlooks to a city with new entrepreneurs and workers, and a bigger tax base. It points out that Cleveland's become a native city over the past 10-20 years, meaning that everyone who lives here was born here.

Some of the negatives are incorporating multiple cultures into an area and ramping up social services to meet the influx of population increase, since the trend for the last 10 years has been reverse.

Ok, this summarizing is ticking me off a bit, as I'm not coming close to capturing the information in the article, so I'm taking another look. Damn, no luck.

Anyway, the article made a great case for promoting immigration in order to try and reinvent the city. Since the civic leaders have done a poor job at attracting and retaining businesses in the city, something has to be done to bring in some new ideas and a tax base for a dwindling population.

The Bunker mentality part of it, was this comment by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, (I'm basing it off of memory, since I don't have the story available). "I don't think those people are what we need here to help my people. If someone else wants to promote to immigrants I won't stand in their way, but I believe we should work from within in a self help style system to get Cleveland back on track.

WHAT!!!! His take is that fixing what we have that's systematically broken is the answer to Cleveland's woes. Holy crap, the last 10 years of focusing internally that has seen a net loss for the county estimated at 100k+ of citizens and you think some band aids are going to fix the bullet wound? I think I might actually be wishing that Jane Campbell was mayor again, even with her brilliant ideas that painting garbage cans (the ones she didn't remove for budget cuts as she cut city workers to clean them) would work to cure the city of it's issues.

Ok, I was just kidding on the Mayor Campbell thought. I would take back Mike White in a heartbeat though, for all of the corruption Mayor White seemed to ignite, the fact of the matter is the city moved under him and he at least had the ability to think larger term and to try something that worked for a Top 20 city market. The two that have replaced him sent are likely much better served as small town mayors, I believe there are multiple openings in the area for them.

so it doesn't appear that our area's largest city's mayor has any interest in turning the city around, as 'those' people would not mesh well with the people that live in Cleveland. I know I maybe reading between the lines here, but his position smacks of racism.

I'm going to start taking a look and trying to see whether anyway has taken Mayor Jackson up on his offer to start promoting the city, without his backing. Not only because I think I want to get involved if they are, but just because I wouldn't mind seeing that there are other people in this area that aren't limited by their Bunker mentality.


Monica said...

Great post--such an infuriatingly closed-minded view the mayor is taking, especially since Cleveland was a city birthed by immigrants!

Michael said...

Thanks, absolutely amazing and he'll barely campaign and walk to victory in the election. I'm beginning to see why with age comes bitterness.

Robert Smith said...

Michael, I enjoy your blog. After reading the latest post about our book, I went searching on Sure enough, the April 4th PD article on "Attracting immigrants to revitalize a city" was never posted online. Here is the link:

It's actually Chapter 8 from our book, Immigrant Inc.

Robert Smith

Michael said...

Robert, thank you so much, I'm definitely looking forward to reading the book.