January 2010 - Politics

The January survey featured a series of questions that polled respondents about their thoughts on the state of regional politics, and about the recent election, ballot issues, and other political coverage offered by ideastream.

Below are the January survey questions, and selected responses from the 325 respondents.

Question #1 
Have you seen and/or heard any of ideastream’s coverage of ballot issues this past fall (choose all that apply)?

January Question 1

Here are some thoughts from respondents to this question.

“Dan Moulthrop is top-notch. His questions make me think and keep me broadly informed. No other local/regional show like it. I count on it.”

“NPR News is the only news I listen to, other then NewsHour, which we love.”

“My primary source of news is locally; I feel more informed because of ideastream.”

“NPR national coverage is particularly helpful to avoid becoming locally isolated.”

“Most political coverage goes overboard and gets boring.”

“I get all my news from NPR and Jim Lehrer and Gwen Ifill.”

“I’m afraid the media too often makes an issue an ‘issue’ because of their extensive coverage rather than because it is truly an issue.”

“WCPN is my primary source of information.”

“Keep up the great coverage. I was especially glad for your coverage of Issue 2 (the farm bill) and wished more people would have heard your program. If they had, the outcome of the election would have been different, I’m sure.”

“I especially enjoy ‘The Sound of Ideas’ for helping make me better understand the local elections and see different aspects of each issue.”

“Public Radio does the best job of providing political information in an environment in which both sides can be invited to accurately make their point of view known. Cable news programs are notoriously biased in one point-of-view—the host’s! So although I do detect a “liberal” bias, I think it mostly has to do that so-called “liberals” think everyone deserves a chance to be heard and won’t tolerate bigotry and ridiculous generalizations. I personally am rather conservative but want nothing to do with the loud, overbearing brand of conservatism of today. I’d love to hear from more thoughtful conservatives, though.”

“I deeply appreciate ideastream’s commitment to covering the many ballot issues that were on the ballot last fall. Many of the ballot issues were confusing in their wording, and ideastream did a great job of dissecting them for listeners. Nationally, I am always thrilled with NPR’s coverage of issues and politicians.” 

Question #2 
ideastream is partnering with several other media organizations in Northeast Ohio to examine the issue of county government reform in a special series, “Road to Reform.” Have you seen and/or heard any of the following (choose all that apply)?

January Question 2

Open-ended response to this question included:

“Northeast Ohio is more than just Cuyahoga County. Where I live - Lorain County - also has important political issues.”

“I haven’t heard of this. Is it all counties, or just in the Cleveland area? We’re in Stark County.”

“I did not realize all these broadcast were available.”

“Anything you can do to weed out corruption would be welcomed. These alleged crooks make me sick as well as give the county a bad name.”

“I feel bad for Cleveland. It is not like Chicago or New York - don’t have any corrupt politicians, we just had a whole lot, and it is very disheartening. Our city had a lot to offer and we need good, honest people who care. I want to know why other cities pull ahead and reform and we have not kept up.”

“This type of collaborative journalism is excellent.”

“If it weren’t for you guys, I wouldn’t understand what is going on.”

“While it’s certainly important to fully understand the extent of the corruption in county government, it’s more vital to understand our options to reform county government and where we need to go from here (here being ground zero).”

“I am unhappy to hear criticism that all of Northeast Ohio is corrupt. That is certainly not the case. This needs to be publicized as well as how corruption can be corrected.”

Question #3 
A lot of attention in coverage of the past election was focused on specific countywide/statewide ballot issues. Please choose the statement that most closely aligns with your thoughts on ideastream’s ballot issue coverage.

January Question 3

Open-ended response to this question included:

“Great guest, well informed and equal time given both sides. Ya did one hell of a job!”

“Feagler could not get the two sides to be clear on the Casino issues. Not his fault.”

“I listened to the coverage, but I live in Portage County, and work in Stark County so I didn’t feel like the coverage had much impact on the ballots that affect me. Maybe I missed it, but your coverage is usually Cuyahoga County, sometimes Summit.”

“I live in Portage County and didn’t expect ideastream coverage of my issues.”

“I didn’t really hear anything that would lend clarity (or otherwise) on ideastream. Maybe I missed it?”

“Thank you for your thorough coverage. I would have abstained from voting for several of the issues without it.”

“In the attempt at presenting both/many sides of any particular issue the essence of the issue seemed to get lost with no clear delineation for the voter. Even for the ballot issues that didn’t have clear black/white distinction the affects of voting one way or the other, in some cases, could have been made clearer.”

“Feagler was our major source of info.”

“The coverage was average. It would be nice if it included impartial analysis of the issue instead of relying heavily on those who had a vested interest in it one way or the other.”

“This is my most trusted source of information.”

“A very poor job of covering both the casino and farm animal treatment issues. Concentrated too much on county government reform and not enough on the statewide issues.”

Question #4 
What are the region’s political strengths?

Some key threads were revealed in participant responses:


• “Potential of wide diversity of leadership - young, smart leaders ready to step forward.” 
• “Diversity - economically, ethnically, politically.” 
• “Diverse informed population.” 
• “Diverse population with many talented people giving input from different viewpoints.” 
• “There’s a pretty good diversity of political opinion in the region.”

Engaged Populace 

• “When people work together, there can be a sense of unity in being in an underdog type of role.” 
• “Dedication of people to remain committed.” 
• “Very engaged population, I think, who care too much about the city to just let it die.” 
• “The region’s political strengths come from the people who demand information about their government. The grassroots organizations that get to know the qualities of people running for office (character, morals, intelligence, and personal philosophy). Media productions such as CPN who provide an opportunity for a broader presentation of the candidates’ qualities. Giving them the opportunity to speak and be questioned to clarify meaning and honesty of their thoughts and actions.”

County Reform

• “I believe the potential for a different, more effective, form of government can be reached with the new county government configuration.” 
• “The fact that the county reform issue passed, which I think will make a big difference in the coming years. We can thank the Plain Dealer for their effort, which was probably the main factor for its passage.” 
• “Reform of Cuyahoga County government. Insight and monitoring by the responsible media.” 
• “Change in leadership. People interested in rebuilding the city.” 
• “The overthrow of the county government organization gives me hope.” 
• “We will be getting a new form of county government, more suited to a county with a large population.” 
• “The beginning of regional cooperation and leaders who understand the necessity of this cooperation.”

Question #5 
What are the region’s political weaknesses?

A majority of respondents listed “corruption” as one of the region’s political weaknesses.

• “Corruption and the one party control… and I’m a Democrat!” 
• “Crooks who got away with favoritism. Cleaning it up and trusting again… long way to go.” 
• “Corruption - just because a new ethnic group has power and wants to use it to ‘get theirs’ doesn’t mean the old pickpockets have stopped picking our pockets either. What ever happened to really serving the greater good?” 
• “Corruption seems to be a given, and although everyone is up in arms about it, I think most people think this is just another day in the office. Also, we have a LOT of people who seem to only want to get their news and information from biased sources, and they’re now starting to express (parrot) their opinions forcefully. I think NPR should more forcefully state that biased sources don’t disseminate factual information.” 
• “We apparently had several corrupt officials looking out for themselves. We seem to keep doing the same things even though they don’t work. I want the medical mart but we seem to be shooting ourselves in the foot. Why not consider a location near the major hospitals. I realize Cleveland wants it downtown to get use out of old building, but we want it to be successful and generate jobs and locating it near hospitals just makes sense. Those in power need to look at the big picture. I don’t see long range planning being enacted and we need to look at sustainability and green growth more.” 
• “Too many entrenched players in Democratic politics; no incentive for others to get involved due to the continuing pressure to raise money and remain ideological at all costs. Though I am a Democrat, I see a need for more varied voices in our political institutions here. Fresh thinking is absent, or discouraged.”

More themes revealed in the response included poor and/or weak leadership, bad local/regional political image, lack of regionalism, and stagnation.

• “We seem to be lacking in true leadership.” 
• “More and more bi-partisan verbiage. No one can get anything done. They just throw rocks at each other.” 
• “Our largest city and county does not seem to have a defined leader or group of leaders… we will see.” 
• “Lack of regional coordination and cooperation has been a major issue that thwarts economic development. County government reform suggests that the citizenry recognizes the need for regional coordination and potential solutions to pressing issues, e.g., educational finance, transportation, economic development. Need stronger and more coordination in both U.S. and State legislative delegations. The weakness of the print media is a glaring problem. Notwithstanding the efforts of broadcast media, depth of coverage of public affairs is lacking. Aside from Connie Schultz, there are few thoughtful and provocative voices in the print media. Both parties are broken at the local level. The parties need to be brokers that can aggregate parochial interests.” 
• “The moribund local and state Democratic Party apparatus and the fact that it will be too difficult to make regional reforms as cities like Indianapolis, Columbus and Los Angeles have.” 
• “Too many cities/districts. There must be consolidation. It is ridiculous to have Cuyahoga County battling Lorain and Summit County for resources. We’ve got to pull together.” 
• “I think WVIZ can and should do more with Efficient Government. The program that addressed the problem of inefficient and fiscally wasteful government structures should get more air time. WVIZ can and should to more with this.”

More open-ended response related to this question included:

“Negativity! And when communities compete against each other instead of working to make the overall region healthier.”

“Lack of centralized leadership, hoping the new county re-organization can use the county resources more effectively. The leadership within the city of Cleveland not effectively partnering with the suburbs to effectively grow development and job opportunities.”

“Diminishing availability of journalistic sources for information - and biases of those that do exist; tendency to blame other people or situations instead of accepting responsibility for oneself.”

“The silent majority must become active in our local politics. Far too much passionate complaining going on.”

“Still not enough political leaders promoting consolidation of municipal services as well as agreements that share revenue between municipal losers and gainers resulting from company moves within the region. Electorate willing to support far greater taxation in order to grow the region’s services and infrastructure and make it more attractive to business and employees being asked to relocate to the region. Now is the time to invest in our future.”

“We need to work together more. Cleveland is landlocked. We should be more like Columbus with the ability to expand outward. Regionalizing may be a good thing.”

“When you consider all the qualities and achievements that have occurred here over the past 150 years, Cleveland should be one of the great cities of the nation, rather than a joke, driven by a sense of enormous insecurity and a pathetic view of itself as a world leader.”

“Individuals are required to declare a political party in order to vote in the primary elections. I believe that the primaries show be ‘open’. It is none of the political parties’ business my affiliation, if any, for a party. This mandate of declaring is an insult and disenfranchises the “true” Independent who votes for the candidates who have the ideas for improving situations or problems rather than voting a ‘party’.”

“We are very poorly represented on the national level. Our legislators do not fight hard enough for programs that have local benefit. We do not have advocates in the press for manufacturing and an industrial policy which are still a strength in the region even though journalists don’t like to admit it. ‘Rust belt,’ ‘rust belt,’ blah, blah, blah.”

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