CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM-CLEVELAND, Ohio-Protests do work for some community activists, as more community concessions came their way this week in response to a $282 million deal to upgrade the Quicken Loan Arena in downtown Cleveland that houses the Cleveland Cavaliers, slim benefits that were brought about with staunch activism led by the Greater Cleveland Congregations and the Rev Dr. Jawanza Colvin, and the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus.
Cleveland City Council sealed the Q-deal Monday night before a crowded room with protesters on hand, voting 12-5 to throw some $88 million toward the renovation project, which followed a vote last month by Cuyahoga County to contribute $144 million.
These two tax-supported donations from the city and the county, coupled with the Cavs putting in $122 million through increased rent and Destination Cleveland kicking in 44 million from the county bed tax, brought the Q-Deal to fruition.
But were the concessions activists got, other than the Black contractors, really concessions?
And exactly what concessions did the deal bring for Clevelanders and county residents, aside from some promised money for Black construction workers, an agreement brought about with support from outspoken contractors' activist Norm Edwards, who, in turn, praised Cavs owner Dan Gilbert at county and city council meetings.
About $1 million will go to Cleveland's Habitat for Humanity for home renovations of 100 homes, and the Cavs have also agreed to resurface the basketball court at Cleveland's 23 recreation centers, a drop in the bucket, said sources, for a multimillion dollar arena revitalization project that will, among other things, expand the building and add a glass enclosure.
Still, activists in general were upset, saying the Black community was done in and got little in return for their tax dollars, and so were poor people and Cleveland and Cuyahoga County residents in general.
"It is sad and unfair to the Black community and others," Cleveland activist Ada Averyhart, who picketed regularly over the issue, said of the Q- Deal.
The Q-Deal was pushed by Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, City Council President Kevin Kelley, and Mayor Frank Jackson, the city's three-term Black mayor who is relatively popular and faces a crowded field for re-election this year.
They are a powerful trio, like them or not.
They say the deal will bring in jobs and monies to the city, and the region, and will keep the premiere basketball franchise on equal footing with competitors.
Their support for the controversial project was fueled by a 4-0 sweep on Sunday when megastar Lebron James and the Cavaliers, the 2016 NBA champions, out did the Indiana Pacers to clinch round one and move on to round two of the NBA playoffs.
But the concessions, slim or not, were not easy coming, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert agreeing to a little more monies after a three-months activists' campaign that included pickets at city and county council meetings and at basketball games.
Nearly a third of the 17 member Cleveland City Council, including mayoral candidates Jeff Johnson and Zack Reed, and Ward 8 Councilman Michael Polensek, opposed the deal last night, and three members of the 11-member Cuyahoga County Council voted no last month when county coucil passed legislation to approve its lucrative part of the deal.
Cleveland Councilmen Jeff Johnson and Michael Polensek publicly trashed the deal before voting against it Monday night.
Though the articulate Rev Colvin, whose Olivet Institutional Baptist Church is one of the most prominent Black churches in Cleveland, said little publicly after the deal went through Monday on whether he is satisfied, he and the Greater Cleveland Congregations wanted from Gilbert and the Cavs, a community equity fund for distressed neighborhoods, mental health substance abuse crisis centers on each side of the segregated city, and $35 million for philanthropic investments.
Little of it materialized, though the fight was not in vain, sources said, partly because it did bring some concessions, and it culminated in a more unified activist movement, maybe.
Time might provide a better understanding of any backlash for Mayor Jackson and city council as this year's races for mayor of the largely Black major American city and seats on city council, all 17 of them up for grabs, nears.