Tag Archives: Ohio

Burned: A Photo Essay on Arson in Toledo

Above photo by Sam Ricker

Editor’s note: The following photo essay come from Lori King’s photojournalism students at Owens Community College. Click here to view their photo essay.

 

Above photo by Lynn Redding

Burned: The Rust Belt on fire

A photo story by the Intro to Photojournalism class at Owens Community College
By Lynn Redding and Miranda Molyet

Arson is the leading cause of fires in the United States, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Of these fires, 30 percent are in structures, including homes. Fire officials estimate that 50 percent of all fires may be intentionally set, yet it is difficult to determine the actual number of arson fires because many of them go unreported.

The FBI estimates that four out of the top 10 cities in the United States for arson crimes reported are in Ohio. The fourth spot on the list is right here, in Toledo. The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal reported that the six common motives for arson are: excitement, vandalism, crime concealment, revenge, extremist/terrorist and profit.

For our team community service photo story project, the Introduction to Photojournalism class at Owens Community College visited a few arson fire sites in the Central Toledo area.

Why should we, as a community, care about arson and its impact on the Rust Belt?

Arson is a felony crime. It is a crime against people, and every year firefighters are killed in responding to open-air fires. Then there is the cost of the fires, including the cost of supplies to fight the fires, the value of the property destroyed, the loss of tax revenue, and the fact that firefighters must be paid. In spite of the fact that arson is a crime, the real reason we should care about the growing arson problem in the Rust Belt is the fact that while firefighters are away battling an intentional and needless fire, they cannot respond in the event a real emergency should arise. The cost of arson is more than money; it is putting lives at risk.

To learn more about  Lori’s class and their work, check out the class blog here.

Above photo by Paula Taylor

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Filed under Crime, Economic Development, Featured, The Big Urban Photography Project, The Media, Urban Poverty

Fed Research Shows Positive Trend for Pittsburgh

This post was written by contributor Lewis Lehe. -KG

Stephan Whitaker, a research economist at the Cleveland Fed, has noticed two salubrious trends in RustBelt demographics:

1) between 2000 and 2008, college graduates rose sharply as a share of the work-force in several urban areas

2) in the future, the graduate share will keep rising as older, less-educated workers retire

This news is good taken at face value, because research by Ed Glaeser and other urban economists suggests cities thrive as idea-generating centers. When educated people interact face-to-face, they breed businesses and insights.

Educational Attainment of Working-age Adults in Fourth District Metro Areas

Working-age adults (2008) Degree share 2000 (percent) Degree share 2008 (percent) Change (percent)
Erie 151,718 22.5 28.2 5.6
Akron 386,990 26.1 31.6 5.4
Pittsburgh 1,235,251 28.1 32.7 4.6
Columbus 896,440 32.3 36.9 4.5
Lexington-Fayette 161,486 37.1 41.5 4.4
Mansfield 67,839 13.1 17.4 4.3
Youngstown-Warren 306,892 17.5 21.7 4.2
Cleveland 1,223,369 26.0 29.2 3.2
Cincinnati 863,150 28.6 31.7 3.1
United States 167,282,883 26.5 29.6 3.1
Canton 226,427 19.1 20.8 1.8
Lima 80,257 14.9 16.6 1.7
Hamilton-Middleton 195,416 25.9 27.4 1.5
Dayton-Springfield 508,775 24.4 25.8 1.3
Toledoa 419,227 21.6 22.9 1.3

Things I thought were interesting

Whitaker finds that Pittsburgh stands out in both trends, because we are gaining lots of graduates (mainly PA locals and international immigrants) and because our older workers are very uneducated—probably because they grew up in a city with steel mills. He speculates: “If the highly educated cohorts in Pittsburgh continue to phase in, the city will eventually have a workforce like a university town rather than a former industrial center.”

I also did my own comparison and found that the number of college-grad immigrants Pittsburgh gained exceeds the entire population of Bloomfield. I think this is a good thought comparison because Bloomfield itself is split between young college grads and old people. Here is a picture I took in Bloomfield that captures the tension:

These trends indicate Pittsburgh will probably become a better place for people like me to live. More college graduates will produce wider cultural variety, more startups, and less-corrupt politicians.  I’m excited about that, but I believe there’s another side to this coin: Pittsburgh’s graduate share will rise in part because it is not a good place for working-class men and women to move. It’s not necessarily a bad thing when you take the whole universe into account, though. After all, in order for some places to be good at attracting working class men and women, other places have to be good at losing them (or at least not gaining them). But it’s worth keeping in mind.

In contrast, I thought this was worth highlighting: “Columbus and Cincinnati both experienced large increases in their populations of unskilled immigrants. In Columbus, the nondegreed immigrant adult population increased from just under 30,000 to over 46,000, and the equivalent population in Cincinnati increased from 19,700 to 29,600.”

Since unskilled immigrants are the working class of the working class, I say hats off to Columbus and Cincinnati for providing an attractive place for these families to live. Doubly so for Columbus as it is also a highly-educated city.

-Lewis Lehe

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Filed under Brain Drain, Economic Development, Education, Headline, regionalism

Cleveland Takes its Fight Against Wall Street to the Supreme Court

We’ve previously written about Cleveland’s lawsuit against 21 big banks over the mess that was created by the foreclosure crisis.

This article in Cleveland Scene summarizes the case nicely:

“The case against the banks isn’t a class action about individual homeowner losses, or whether they were tricked into signing commitments they couldn’t keep. (Attorney Joshua) Cohen knows that’s a common misunderstanding. Instead, it’s about the big picture from the city’s point of view — an attempt to recover money Cleveland has been forced to spend cleaning up the mess Wall Street left behind.

The foreclosed homes often end up as abandoned, ugly board-ups that are a haven for crime. The city is left to mow the grass when neighbors complain about rodents. The police end up dealing with festering drug problems. All of that costs money. And ultimately, the city must demolish thousands of these derelict properties at a cost of $7,000 each or more. But Cleveland is not alone: A similar case filed by the City of Buffalo, New York, claims the maintenance, police attention, and eventual demolition of foreclosed homes totaled as much as $16,000 per building. Of course, Buffalo was left holding the tab.

‘Was it irresponsible lenders or borrowers?’ Cohen asks rhetorically. ‘You could argue that until the cows come home. But whatever conclusion you reach, Cleveland was an innocent bystander. It’s amazing to me that the financiers have not been called to answer for this in any meaningful way.'”

Where does the case, filed in 2008, stand now?

Headed for a long-shot run at the US Supreme Court.

In addition to Cleveland, similar suits have been filed by Buffalo, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Memphis, the article states.

-KG

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Filed under Editorial, Real Estate, The Housing Crisis

Political round-up: Why did the Rust Belt go red? And what does the election mean for the Great Lakes?

There’s been a lot written about last week’s midterm elections and I’m hesitant to add to it.

But I know I’m not the only person who noticed several of the states that swung from blue to red were in our region: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Why is this? High unemployment? Higher turnout of white working class voters dissatisfied with Obama?

What do you think? We’ve got a lot of collective brainpower amongst our readers, I am curious to hear people’s thoughts. Also, what policies enacted by Obama and the Democratic Congress have benefited this region? The auto bailout? Extended unemployment benefits? Funds for the Great Lakes? Also, what does this mean for 2012?

On a related note, this article points out the election marks a major departure of members of Congress who have helped secure funds and protection for the Great Lakes.

“Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., the first member of Congress to introduce legislation banning oil and gas drilling under the Great Lakes, is retiring. So is Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers, R-Mich., a leader in Great Lakes protection. Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-Ohio, a Great Lakes advocate on the other side of the Capitol, is retiring, too,” the story notes.

-KG

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Filed under Great Lakes, Politics, regionalism, the environment, The Media, U.S. Auto Industry

Sprawl Consumes 585,000 acres of Farmland in Ohio

Thanks to Kevin Leeson at the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission weblog for pointing out this depressing fact:

The National Resources Inventory, conducted by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, shows that every state lost farmland between 1982 and 2007. Ohio had the second-highest amount of prime agricultural land converted to developed land, losing 585,100 acres from 1982 to 2007.Thriving Amish

That’s all the more senseless when you consider Ohio’s population has been essentially stagnant over the last few years. For those who wonder where everyone from Ohio’s cities went, check your local cornfield-turned suburban subdivision.

What a frustrating waste of resources, both urban and rural.

According to Kain Benfield at the Natural Resources Defense Council, the country loses one acre of farmland per minute.

-AS

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Filed under Featured, sprawl, Urban Poverty

Race and Inequality in Youngstown, Part 2

This post was contributed by Youngstown resident Sean Posey. Part one of the series was published last week.

The disappearance of jobs, the decline of schools, social isolation, and the rise of the drug trade took a frightful toll on inner city areas. Youngstown fared among the worst. Youngstown’s murder rate—which remained unexceptional for decades—skyrocketed during the 1990s. In 1991, the homicide rate for Youngstown was 60 per 100,000, whereas the country as a whole averaged only 10 per 100,000. In 1995, Youngstown had more homicides than the city of Pittsburgh. Though the crime has widely fluctuated, the city remains known for its high crime and murder rate.

Sociologist William Julius Wilson’s work has outlined the importance of historical data when examining inner city violence: “Unlike the present period, inner city communities prior to 1960 exhibited features of social organization—including a sense of community, positive neighborhood identification, and explicit norms and sanctions against aberrant behavior.” What we are witnessing now in urban centers like Youngstown is a recent phenomena and it sources are complex and multifaceted: Job loss, social isolation, family breakdown, concentrated poverty, and institutional discrimination. However, there is cause for hope.

Since the civil rights era a vibrant and productive black middle class has emerged in this country. Many of the gaps in achievement between the races narrowed significantly by the 1990s. Also, inner city crime and violence has declined. Urban centers like New York—a city once known for crime—have made immense turnarounds. Yet regions of the country vary widely in measures of success.

Inner city problems now tend to be the very worst in the Rust Belt. Industrial cities in the north exhibit among the highest levels of segregation and the worst of quality of life indicators for non-white populations. Youngstown is indicative of that with some of the biggest disparities in racial health indexes, highest levels of infant mortality for African Americans, and the worst school district in the state of Ohio. It’s deeply remiss to not point out the striking gaps in this area that separate us from most of the country.

Photo by Sean Posey

Photo by Sean Posey

What can be done? We can start by pointing out the tremendous success that has been achieved by members of our African American community, often despite substantial hurdles. We can reengage with communities of color and build venues for increased interaction between the races. We can start recognizing that despite such grim conditions in our central city it is but a small minority of citizens of color who are committing these heinous crimes. We can also do everything in our power to break down walls between the city and the suburbs and end the balkanization that plagues this region. We are not fully at the mercy of economic changes and the mistakes of history. We hold the power in our own hands, the power to both unite this community across color and economic lines and begin to realize that these are everyone’s problems—or we can remain on the path we are on—a path that will surely reduce our area to ruin.

This quote from Youngstown resident Nathaniel Jones, which originally addressed the problems engulfing Youngstown in the 1960s, probably sums up the situation we find ourselves in better than any I’ve heard. For these words could easily speak for Cleveland, Detroit, Flint, or nearly any other Rust Belt city just as well.

“The city is not large enough, our suburbs not distant enough, no person among us wealthy enough, nor anyone’s skin white enough to gain a sanctuary from the effects of discrimination, deprivation, and denial.”

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Filed under Headline, Race Relations, Real Estate, sprawl, Urban Poverty

More Problems For Lake Erie

It has been a summer of bad news for the Great Lakes:

-Asian Carp invasion.

-Increased climate change-driven warming, in Lake Superior and elsewhere.

-Sewage runoff problems.

Sorry to keep bringing you down, but here’s two more stories, both from The Toledo Blade. This one is about threats to the Lake Erie islands, and this is a detailed investigative piece about the algae blooms that have infested the Lake this summer.

-KG

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Filed under Great Lakes, the environment