Connie Schultz: Meet the new Cleveland
By Connie Schultz
Greetings from Cleveland, the birthplace of Superman.
You knew that, right?
Please say yes.
Like so many here in this fine city, Superman was a complicated soul. He spent most of his daylight hours pretending to be mild-mannered Clark Kent. Big glasses, even bigger insecurities, always tripping over his wingtips and smashing into glass doors.
What a bumpkin.
Until he pulled on those blue tights, draped a red cape over his shoulders and shot up in the sky like a firework. Think of the kind that explodes and leaves a whistling trail of twinkly lights. Now put a gorgeous head of hair on that production and you’ve got our Man of Steel.
Of course we’re hosting the 2014 Gay Games next month. We love spectacular.
Cleveland, by the way, adopted a domestic partnership registry back in 2009. I once described it as a good intention wrapped in a whisper, but it’s still miles ahead of the Republican Party, which declared its continued opposition to same-sex marriage at its 2012 convention.
Speaking of Republicans, we just found out that 30,000 of them are coming to Cleveland for their next convention in 2016. I’m so excited I can barely breathe. Totally unrelated to my asthma, I swear.
I am one happy liberal over all those Republicans coming to the city I call home. Don’t tell me that I can’t find middle ground. I’m dancing on it right now, waving to total strangers.
I’m a Clevelander. It’s what we do.
In addition to all those Republican delegates, an estimated 15,000 members of the media will descend on our city. As a resident, I want to celebrate all this national attention heaped on the city.
As a journalist, though, I’m a bit testy after getting a whiff of some of the Beltway media reaction via Twitter, where thoughtful reflection goes to die.
The Hill helpfully aggregated a few of these posts, under the headline “DC media snarks about Cleveland.”
There were a handful of LeBron James abandonment jokes. So fresh. So very clever.
Others aimed lower. BuzzFeed’s D.C. bureau chief, John R. Stanton, for example, tweeted, “Woohoo we’re going to Cleveland! — nobody, ever.”
Wow, I’m feeling old. Five years ago, I could have told you with confidence that no political editor I knew would even say that out loud for fear of looking biased. I feel even older saying I miss those days.
Politico’s staffers, in particular, seem really irked at Cleveland.
A deputy managing editor, Laura McGann, who is apparently geographically challenged, tweeted, “Looking forward to my Hilton Garden Inn stay in W. Va for the Cleveland convention.”
I’m sure she wasn’t making a joke about Ohio’s Appalachians, because who would do that?
Politico’s senior congressional reporter, John Bresnahan, tweeted, “Already thinking up excuses to miss Cleveland convention in ’16. I think that I broke something, or I have a cold. Anything….”
I think I know what’s going on here. It’s battleground envy. As a New Yorker told us in 2012, he’s so tired of every four years having to vote for the president of Ohio.
A video producer for Politico, Madeline Marshall, posted a photo of two lonely people with this tweet: “This was the subway in Cleveland after a baseball game. There were only two cars on the train.”
“Actually,” she added, “the few times I rode the ‘subway’ in Cleveland no one came around to check my ticket. Apparently most people don’t even pay.”
Now, Cleveland doesn’t have a subway — or even a “subway” — but we do have a system of trains and buses, called the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.
So I called RTA. (Tip to journos: I highly recommend this, as it’s got a whole plan in place for the convention. No “subway,” but it sounds pretty fancy.)
Spokeswoman Mary Shaffer was full of fun facts. Downtown trains, for example, are typically packed right after a Cleveland Indians game.
Marshall, in response to an email request, told me she took the lonely people picture June 22, “about 20 minutes after the post-game fireworks ended.” I will take her at her word, but my brow is furrowed in curiosity.
Also, RTA ended 2013 with a $30 million balance. Ticket sales constitute about 22 percent of that, Shaffer said, which is a whole lot more than zero.
“We have a 97 percent collection rate,” Shaffer said. “We count people, and we count fares.” Sure, some slip through, she said. “Some, but not ‘most.'”
I’m not suggesting that every reporter covering the Republican convention have an intimate relationship with this city. I am, however, asking that all you Beltway journalists commit some old-fashioned reporting.
Pick up the phone, folks. Better yet, hop on a plane. You’ll be here in less than an hour.
We’re in the same time zone, even.
You knew that, right?
Please say yes.