You may have noticed that we left some prominent elected officials off our list. To explain why, let’s define our terms: Authority is not influence. Any top government official can spend our tax dollars, award contracts, pay the cops. But have they done anything new and vital with their power? Have they changed anything, made a mark on the town?
Jimmy Dimora, Tim Hagan and Peter Lawson Jones are sure trying. A year ago, the county commission had a half-billion-dollar plan to give downtown a jolt of vitality by building a new county headquarters and a convention center connected to a Medical Mart. But the commissioners tried to sell off their headquarters site when they figured out they couldn’t afford the project. Then the Medical Mart negotiations hit a snag (the Feb. 28 deadline for a deal was extended a week as we went to press). The commissioners will prove they have serious influence if the Mart and convention center are built.
Likewise, Frank Jackson will belong on a list like this if the Cleveland Police Department’s gun crackdown really lessens violence in the city, if the mayor wins his predatory-lending lawsuit against international banks, if the city really does end up hosting the Rock Hall inductions every three years, if downtown becomes more of a residential neighborhood, and if more suburbs embrace the mayor’s plan for regional cooperation in the hunt for new jobs. We’re hopeful, but we’ll see.