Saturday, July 22, 2006

Can the Soviet Model Finally
Be Crumbling in This Region?

I mentioned last week that the Case business school and medical school deans were expected to step down shortly. Word came yesterday that the Weatherhead School of Business Dean, Myron Roomkin,
has indeed resigned as dean, though he'll remain on the faculty. The PD used the word "abruptly," though that's generally a highly relative term. What might seem abrupt to someone, especially someone out of the loop, might well be more like "long-rumored" to another. In any case, he won't be missed by many, judging by the PD account and other complaints I've heard for some time.

I saw him in action just once, doing emcee duties at a speaker series, and he seemed stiff and remote beyond belief. But then, I already had a deep bias against him, for the impossibly brutal and ham-handed way that he sacked a friend, Ed Morrison, as head of REI, a think tank in the Weatherhead School that was doing too much grassroots economic development for the Soviet-style commisars who run parts of our business community. It turned into a giant black eye for the school, which looked to be kowtowing to outside pressure (there was and is no other way to interpet it). Before his memorable disavowal of his earlier remarks in a Joe Frolik PD editorial-page column (there are those echoes of the Soviet era again), Ed angrily told anyone who would listen that the real reason he was being removed is that he refused to deliver bought-and-paid for research that powerful people such as chamber head Joe Roman requested. Sorry, but I choose to believe the initial comments rather than the later disavowal. The Cleveland establishment has a long, shameful history of trying to get blue-chip names in academia, including Harvard, to provide the cover of credibility for its wish list, a credibility that it cannot muster itself.

Happily, Ed had the last laugh. And therein lies much hope for our regional future.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners, to their everlasting credit, poked the Roman and company Cleveland "Partnership" forces in the eye by hiring Ed and his I-Open consulting group to help oversee the Cuyahoga Next initiative. Can it be too much to hope for that this pleasing result signals that the old Soviet model, nearly two decades after the Berlin Wall fell, is finally beginning to crumble in this region? Or at least beginning to show serious stress fractures? I'd love to hear your thoughts, dear reader. That photo, by the way, isn't of our beloved Terminal Tower, but rather the tower at Moscow University. A striking resemblance, no?


At 5:39 AM, Blogger The Full Cleveland said...

That picture is frightening. I agree with your comparisons.

I was inspired to learn about Ed Morrison's good work from comments given to a blog posting of mine where I told of insights gained from Lev Gonnick discussing Open Source leadership and the potential for OneCleveland or 1C.

Strangely, I chose to compare 1C to having the potential power and affect that glasnost had over the USSR.

Another frightening parallel.

At 8:02 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I think the Soviet/Glasnost metaphor naturally tends to come up a lot in this context, Jim. That's great to hear that Lev is talking about this, too, but then I'm not surprised, because Ed Morrison has an evangelical fervor about this topic, and his example has spread widely among the most thoughtful leaders in this region. I'm just glad it and he continue to work their way through some of our conversations about the region's economic future. Because his biggest message, I think, is that all of our voices belong in the conversation.


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