Saturday, October 29, 2011

Deceptive practices by No on 96 coalition

The real has issued an objection to the deceptive use of their name by the No on 96 crowd. Read here to learn more.

If the No on 96 group can't be trusted to tell the truth about who they are, how can they be trusted to tell the truth about the real implications of voting no on 96?

If you value the future viability of South Euclid, vote yes on Issue 96.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Letter to the Sun

I have decided to reenter the frey on Oakwood, which I left several months ago after receiving threatening comments from people on the other side. The following is a letter I sent to the Sun Messenger which is not being published due to length:

To the editor:

Like many, I was saddened to learn that the Oakwood Club had been sold to a developer – First Interstate, run by Mitchell Schneider. I wanted the land to be preserved as a green space – although as a fertilized and manicured golf course, it has never been a true green space. But the developer bought the land fair & square after a neighborhood group failed to raise more than a small fraction of the money required for purchase.

Now, there is a choice facing the citizens of South Euclid: Should the land be zoned commercial or residential?

Some very noisy people have dug their heels in, clinging to the belief that the land can become a park. Many are hoping that if Issue 96 is rejected, the developer will throw up his hands, magically “see the light” and donate the land to the Metroparks (which never bid on the land when it was for sale) or to the city of South Euclid (which cannot afford to reclaim and maintain all 60-plus acres). This hope flies in the face of all logic and business sense.

Zoning the Oakwood land residential does not mean it will become a park. It means housing would be built, most likely a gated community – because there are people who want to live close to the city, but not in the open neighborhoods with smaller houses that South Euclid has. New housing will exacerbate the glut of existing housing on the market and further depress property values. The bulk of property taxes paid on those houses will go to Cleveland Heights-University Heights Schools – meaning whatever South Euclid collects won’t cover the costs of road upkeep, trash collection, et cetera. South Euclid will also lose the 21 acres of parkland that First Interstate is offering to donate, remediate, and maintain. Beware: a No vote is gambling with our city’s financial future – and means a tax increase for sure.

Certainly there are some in South Euclid who have been misled into opposing the rezoning of Oakwood. And there are some here who oppose it based on delusions of a massive urban park or on rigid ideological grounds. But the driving force of the opposition comes from activists and business in Cleveland Heights. They can’t vote on this issue, so they are trying to influence how South Euclidians vote. Don’t be fooled by them. I have also noted online comments at which make negative references to the developer’s religion/ethnicity. Really - in this day and age? How sad that individuals use the anonymity of the Internet to engage in this kind of baiting.

A Yes vote will mean over 700 permanent jobs – in addition to the jobs required to build Oakwood Commons. True, these will be retail/restaurant jobs, which are not the highest paying. But they will go a long way to alleviate the problem of youth unemployment. The money earned by these employees will mostly be spent locally. The income taxes collected will benefit South Euclid’s coffers. First Interstate will cover the costs of putting a sidewalk on Warrensville Center Road – where only a fence exists now. First Interstate will NOT be seeking any tax abatements – unlike the developers of Cedar Center and Cutters Creek. For shoppers, it will mean additional choices without requiring a long drive.

Of course, there are those who don’t want you to have a choice of where to conveniently shop. There are also those who believe stores should move into existing storefronts on Mayfield Road. Problem is, most retailers aren’t interested in those kinds of sites, and no one can force them to do business where they don’t want to.

I have spoken to both of South Euclid’s mayoral candidates – and both have told me that they favor a yes vote on Issue 96. Of every candidate for South Euclid city council, both incumbent and challenger, only one has stated his opposition to Oakwood Commons. This is not a partisan or political issue. This is an issue of communities having the right to control their own destinies without outside interference.

Sure, I would have liked to see Oakwood become a park. Guess what: Ain’t gonna happen. Voting yes on 96 is not the perfect solution. It is the ONLY viable solution.

Hank Drake

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rachmaninoff finally gets a complete edition...

The days are long gone (except among a few pseudo-intellectuals) when Rachmaninoff was written off as a lightweight, pops composer - as an old edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music& Musicians notoriously did. Grove's statement that the popularity of a few of Rachmaninoff's compositions would not last has been resoundingly disproven. Not only are the old warhorses - the Second Symphony, Second Piano Concerto, and Paganini Rhapsody - as popular as ever, but many of Rachmaninoff's previously obscure works have entered the standard repertoire. But this set from Brilliant Classics marks the first time a complete edition of Rachmaninoff's works has been released. It's long overdue.

Read my full review here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fitness Quest: October 24

I had a pleasant surprise this afternoon when I stepped on the scale: my weight has dropped again – this time to 212 ½ pounds (yes, I am counting fractions when they work in my favor – I need all the encouragement I can get). This boosted my mood at a time fraught with some personal strife I’d rather not go into here. During the previous week, I’ve had a slight reoccurrence of my brachial plexus injury (that’s fancy talk for a pinched nerve), but I soldiered on through my workouts. I find myself able to do things with coordination and weights that were impossible for me before. But I still have limitations: my right knee remains inflexible and weak, so that my right leg can only hold my weight for a short time while bent. This is a problem that’s been creeping up on me for many years – I first noticed it when I lived in New England – but it has definitely grown more pronounced as of late. Both my ankles, but particularly the right, also have limited stamina. I have upped my time on the elliptical machine to 35 minutes. At that point, my body is not fatigued, but my ankles start to pain. So at that point I switch to a stationary bike.

10/24/2011 weight: 212 ½ #

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Have you seen this gravestone?

The gravestone with the Out to Lunch inscription was stolen from our yard Saturday night/Sunday morning. If you know what's become of it, you can anonymously leave a comment below.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fitness Quest: October 15

I had a potential setback on Thursday, October 6. Toward the tail end of my workout, while doing some intense work on my “core” (back, abs, and obliques), I felt a pull in my back and let out a yelp of pain. Bryan, my trainer, immediately halted the workout. Despite the use of Icy/Hot when I got home, I continued to feel sore Friday, and took a Flexeril that night – which more than did the trick as I was something of a Zombie well into Saturday.

By Sunday morning, I felt completely better, and headed to the gym for what turned out to be my best workout in a month. Toward the end of my routine, while doing a tricep pulldown, I noticed something I have never seen before: defined biceps and triceps. This is part of a trend over the last few months: first there was definition in my lower legs, then my shoulders – particularly where the trapezius runs from the shoulders to the neck – then my forearms, and now my upper arms. Previously, I’ve been able to get a decent sized but undefined lump of muscle. Now, for the first time in my life, I’m starting to see some striation. This indicates that my modified diet and my combination of strength-training and longer cardio sessions is finally working – even though my actual weight loss has been minimal. The definition is not always noticeable, only when I’ve just worked out and am “pumped-up”, but the progress is definite.

A side benefit of getting into better shape is that my sleep has improved. I’ve grown accustomed over the years to having two poor nights of sleep per week – being unable to fall asleep due to worries, an excess of energy, or physical discomfort. Now, I’m asleep almost immediately after my head hits the pillow - and I sleep through until morning. I had to work late on Thursday night, so my sleeping patterns were disrupted.

10/15/2011 weight: 214#

Friday, October 7, 2011

Elegy for VSD

An Elegy composed in memory of my mother, who was born on this day in 1933.

Saturday, October 1, 2011