Taken from a Heath Policy Institute study, this map shows the discrepancy in life expectancy between a Cleveland suburb and a Cleveland neighborhood. The two locations differ in the other ways one would expect, racial makeup, income, access to grocery stores, transportation, etc. This data was the centerpiece of a piece on the cover of today’ Cleveland Plain Dealer and will be part of an HBO special. This map makes me wonder about the impact of various factors. For example, does infant mortality play a role? I also hope it does not reinforce the narrative that says Hough (and by extension all inner city neighborhoods) are by definition unhealthy places that people with any resources should try to escape.
As LaJean Ray, a Hough resident says in the article, ”Our perception is very different from the study…There’s a lot of stereotypical attitudes about Hough, dating to the riots” of 1966. People who live here are not hiding behind their doors. That’s the image you get.”
Graphic from Fox News
In October a boy in Cuyahoga County, Ohio was pulled from his home because he was overweight and the Department of Children and Family Services determined his weight was a health risk his mother was not successfully addressing. He has lost 50 pounds staying with his uncle and is now going to come home. The outcome seems good. The boy did not stay in the foster home to which he was originally sent. He got to say with his uncle, learned about nutrition, and lost weight.
However, I hope this case does not set precedent. The success in this one situation should not mean that this is an example of best practices. The county should not be in the business of breaking up families in this manner and should instead leave children where they are and provide support. I usually do not buy the critique of the government that asserts we are becoming a “nanny state,” but when one takes a child away to provide him/her proper nutrition, that sounds like a nanny to me.
Looking at the news articles on the Cuyahoga County corruption trials, I noticed that most of the participants are male, and all the key figures receiving bribes are men. For example, The Plain Dealer lists 124 individuals involved in the corruption in some way; of those, 14 are female. Why are there so few women involved? The obvious answer is that men have more access to power, and that makes sense. It, after all “the old boys’ network.” However, is there something about male office holders that lead them to be more susceptible to financial blandishments. Certainly the trip to Vegas featuring prostitutes and strippers might not be the incentive of choice for female office holders.
Risking falling into gender essentialism, is there a deeper reason here? PBS’s American Experience website writes about the suffrage movement, ”Women set out to show that rather than disrupt the social order, woman suffrage would instead maintain it. Bringing their “natural” roles as mothers and nurturers into the public arena, women would be able to impose a kind of “civic housekeeping” upon the competitive and corrupt (male) state.” That idea is from a century ago–could it still be valid today? Consider at this post from Jina Moore an author based in Rwanda reflecting on why that country has a majority female parliament today.
A last note, the judge and all the prosecutors on the case are female. I guess given their biological affinity for housekeeping, women are better at cleaning up a mess.