Friday, July 31, 2015

Pop City Posts on Lack of Flights, Cleveland & Columbus Hope For European Service, Why Can't the Greater Region Support A Major International Airport?

Another year and the same old story as individual airports around the greater region bemoan the inability to attract better national and international air service. More plans for tax subsidies to bribe carriers into providing service.

From Pop City

Want to turn Pittsburgh into a power player? Make flying to and from easier

"In 2013, Pittsburgh International had air service to just 36 destinations; many were connecting airports where passengers get on another plane to get where they really want to go. And that’s what drives Spitz Cohan crazy. She said her guests might not have the best experience when visiting Pittsburgh if they’ve missed a connection or suffer jet lag from trips prolonged by layovers."
New service is planned to Toronto but there is a decent chance it may not last.

An official for the Allegheny Conference, Ken Zapinsky answers with a sad, bunch of excuses and rationalizations.

“If there was a direct correlation between level of air service and economic success, Newark would be doing a heck of a lot better,” 
Newark International Airport is right across the Hudson from NYC, which doing pretty well.

An official from Vist Pittsburgh says"

“We compete with Louisville, Cleveland, Columbus, all of which are two stops away,” Davis said. “Of similar cities, only Charlotte and Baltimore have better air service than Pittsburgh.”
Isn't that the problem? We are competing with other similar sized regional metros instead of combining to compete against coastal mega-metros. 

Zapinsky at least admits the negative impact the lack of better service likely has.

"At issue is the potential for things to happen, according to Zapinski. Maybe a local company decides against expansion because it’s too difficult to get to the West Coast. Maybe a German company looking to grow never considers Pittsburgh because there are no direct flights. “What you can’t measure is how much better Pittsburgh would be if we had more air service,” Zapinksi said. “The real impact is in the lost opportunity for a Pittsburgh company that could have had a client fly nonstop from San Francisco or Los Angeles and cut a big deal that leads to revenue of $5 million.”
Pittsburgh isn't alone. One can find countless stories about the same need in Cleveland, Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Louisville.

From Cleveland.Com

Cleveland to Europe: Airport director says push is on for transatlantic flight

The hope is they can land a non-stop to London.
But it's too early to rush out and apply for a passport.
Any effort to land international service will likely take at least two years – perhaps longer – from now until takeoff.

And many important questions remain unanswered:

* What airline and what European destination?
* Will the community pony up the cash necessary to convince an airline to take a risk on Cleveland?
Others see beefing up domestic flights as a higher priority:

 Joe Roman, president of the group, (Greater Cleveland Partnership) said members are telling him their No. 1 travel-related priority remains restoring domestic service eliminated by the closure of United Airlines' Cleveland hub last year.
Cleveland Hopkins Airport director, Ricky Smith says:

Smith said he is convinced Cleveland can support a nonstop flight to Europe, despite Continental's assertion that the routes weren't profitable in 2008 and 2009.
"There was a perception that the local market couldn't support those routes," said Smith. 
"That simply wasn't true."
The flights were unsuccessful, in part, Smith believes, because the schedules were inconvenient for some business travelers and the planes were smaller and less comfortable than larger jets flying out of bigger cities.
Meaning that the current Cleveland airport market can't fill larger, more comfortable planes and frequent flights.

Of course if you bribe airlines with cash or a guarantee, you can get service

"Communities the size of Cleveland aren't getting international service without that kind of financial assistance in place," said Smith. 
It's too early to say what those economic packages might include, said Smith. "The offers would differ based upon the destination, frequency of service and even the type of aircraft," he said. Ideally, they would include a mix of private and public money. 
Thomas, with the Greater Cleveland Partnership, said he didn't know whether the business community would be willing to subsidize a flight. "We haven't asked," he said."
Same issues in Columbus.

Nonstop Port Columbus flight to London? It may happen

"Whitaker believes Columbus has a chance because “We are the fastest-growing city in the Midwest," and the support of Columbus 2020 and the business community it represents adds “a lot of value to our presentation.” 
Other cities in the mix are Indianapolis, Nashville, St. Louis and Cleveland, Whitaker said, adding, “I’d be surprised if they selected more than one.”
Indianapolis? Seriously, an airport located around Dayton would serve the total Indianapolis, Columbus, Cincinnati urban triangle.

My comments on Pop City:

"Sad and ironic that Cleveland and Columbus have the same issue. 
Poor air service, reflects the insular mentality of regional cities, each trying to have their own "international airport".Logically Cleveland and Pittsburgh should share a major airport located around Youngstown. Likewise, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis would be better served by a major airport around Dayton." 
My following comment looking at some of the numbers.

 "A search shows that all the regional cities have marginal international and national service and almost all are subsidizing what they have. Detroit, is the only significant "Rust Belt" airport outside of Chicago. How is a huge, densely populated area not able to support more service? 
The Cleveland/Akron/Pittsburgh metros have a combined 5,863,000 residents. Adding the Youngstown/Warren/Boardman/Sharon CSA brings one close to 6.8 million people. Add Erie and it goes up again. Even if I added wrong, the numbers should be more than adequate to support much better air service.  
Columbus, Dayton and Indy's greater metros combined create an even stronger case for sharing a major airport."
 Smaller local airports can pick up some the shorter distance flights but in the long run most transit between cities under 500 miles would be best served by a strong rail system.

I may be back with follow up posts on the hope that someone is listening.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cleveland Heights' Park Synagogue, An Underappreciated Modernist Masterpiece

Hard to describe the magical, peaceful creative energy I felt when I discovered this modernist gem walking around Cleveland Heights. This is true, organic architecture, tucked into the landscape and community- sadly my images don't do it justice, I was not able to tour inside or spend adequate time. Technically, I may have been trespassing- I apologize.

The complex combines a temple, school, library, gallery and community center unified into a simple, yet complex whole. Nothing seems pretentious or overly tricky.

The original Congregation had been on Cleveland's East Side but followed the growth of the suburbs eastward to Cleveland Heights.

"Rabbi Cohen was already familiar with the work of Eric Mendelsohn, an architect working in New York and then San Francisco. Together with his family, the architect had escaped Nazi Germany, moving to England and Palestine. Mendelsohn had had an illustrious career in Europe. Among his most admired creations were the De la Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, England; Expressionist-style department stores in several German cities; and the Einstein Tower in Potsdam, Germany.....

Shortly after Park’s dedication in 1950, one critic referred to the synagogue as “the outstanding example of modern Hebrew architecture in America . . . the forerunner of a modern, functional synagogue design.” A curator of the Jewish Museum in New York wrote: “I regard Park Synagogue as the most significant structure of its kind in our generation.” The Cleveland Heights facility is now referred to as Park Main, as the congregation built and maintains a second facility in Pepper Pike."

The location is not easy to find- and Google Maps seems to redirect one to the second location in Pepper Pike, Ohio.

Hopefully, this is right.,-81.5665016,17z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0xd87382acfa6cd127 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Harrisburg Mayor's Corruption Trial is a Potential Game Changer

Sorry, still haven't gotten those Cleveland posts up. Hope to soon.

The trial of long time Harrisburg Mayor, Reed in Pittsburgh, will likely reveal a circus of spending on pet projects like a National Civil War Museum and later a planned Wild West Museum.

What seems different is that unlike most corruption trials, there are few accusations the ex- mayor personally stole money or was even motivated by financial gain. (Although many around him may have been)

Instead, one sees a pervasive use of any means, honest or fraudulent to funnel money into pet projects- he may have actually believed were realistic.

A few examples from, Penn Live

Friday, October 3, 2003: School directors say city misled them on artifacts money

"A total of $77 million was earmarked to renovate Harrisburg's aging schools.
So how did $471,000, part of the fee used to float the $77 million bond issue, end up being spent on Western artifacts for one of Mayor Stephen R. Reed's planned museums?
The answer, city officials say, is the difference between the principal amount the city school district borrowed and the fees it paid to a city agency to finance the deal."

Harrisburg corruption charges portray former mayor Stephen Reed as unhinged from normal checks and balances

  "Former Harrisburg Authority Chairman Trent Hargrove on the transactions that swept millions into its special projects fund, which Kane has called an illegal diversion of public funds to pay for Reed's personal interests:"No major decisions were made, no major bonds were issued, no financial transactions occurred, nobody was appointed as a contractor, advisor or counsel without Reed's expressed or tacit approval. If Reed did not want it to happen, it would not have happened."
* Former Council President House, on his position as director of community relations for the Senators:
"(Reed) offered me that position because therefore he knew he could control me and he could get me to get all the votes he needed for his projects.".......
 "Among the charges in Tuesday's filing are allegations that Reed tapped the city's general fund, the baseball team and various sweeps from bond issues to pay for the artifacts and his expenses on those trips."

What was it that motivated Stephen Reed? It appeared to be power, not greed

"It paints Reed as a dictator who made decisions on his own and fired people who dared to stand in his way, who created funds to hide money so he could spend it on what he wanted – and what he wanted was artifacts.

Out of all the nuggets in the grand jury report, the one that strikes me the most, that makes me wonder about his mental state, is when investigators said that he rarely if ever checked on all the artifacts he bought. They went into storage. Some of it deteriorated. ......

These aren't the actions of a man with a vision. They are the actions of a man with an obsession."
In the private sector, using false claims and accounting sleight of hand to obtain funds is pretty clearly seen  as fraud, but the political world has always been seen as different. If voters buy it, or elected the guy, almost anything he may do outside of murder and personal theft is rarely prosecuted.

Who are they to dispute the "will of the people"- even if the voters were lied to. If the program projected to cost millions, ends up costing billions.. oops

SEC charges Harrisburg with fraud; settled case puts all municipalities on notice

"In an information vacuum caused by Harrisburg’s failure to provide accurate information about its deteriorating financial condition, municipal investors had to rely on other public statements misrepresenting city finances," said George S. Canellos, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement."

One can hope this trial may be the start of a trend towards holding  politicians to a new standard.