Cleveland: Confused City on a Seesaw
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Dream Turns into Disaster: 1967-1971
The election of Carl B. Stokes as mayor of Cleveland in November 1967, attracted more national attention than any municipal election in the lake city in fifty years. He was the first black man to become mayor of a metropolitan city. He had done it in a community of three quarters of a million, only 35 percent of whom were black. He had the active support of both newspapers, some wealthy businessmen, and many political liberals.
Stokes was not the first black American to be elected mayor. Richard Hatcher had also made it in Gary, Indiana, but that was a comparatively small city in which black voters were a large majority. The election of Stokes was regarded as something different, something terribly important. Other big cities had had big welfare problems and race riots -- notably, Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York -- but none of them had yet turned to a Negro to find solutions. It looked like the dawn of a new day in volatile Cleveland, which often tried something new. It looked like the dawn of hope, after five years of floundering under Mayor Locher.
The whites who had joined the newspapers in sending Locher down the drain included some highly prominent and influential people. Cyrus S. Eaton, then board chairman of the C & O Railroad, was best known (his wife was a longtime left-
wing liberal, but beyond that, Eaton, despite his heavy investments, had long opposed the business and political establishment). Lee A. Howley, a former law director under Mayor Tom Burke, and active Democrat, was vice president of the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company; he came out for Stokes. So did John Sherwin, Jr., senior partner of Pickands-Mather, the old and highly respected shipping and iron ore company. Sherwin's father had been a prominent banker and Republican contributor. So did C. B. Maxey, a big shot in the Glidden Company, the paint manufacturer. So did Howard Metzenbaum, millionaire parking lot operator and real estate investor (who later was appointed United States senator). So did Mrs. Lois Hays, long-time social work enthusiast and civil rights advocate.
He had strong backing among the important blacks, too. Dr. Kenneth Clement, a prominent surgeon and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People, became his campaign manager. He also got help from regular Democrats who had been with him in the liquor inspector's and police prosecutor's offices. One of the busiest was Joseph P. McManamon, a former cop and liquor inspector, who was as active as Joe Saunders on the West Side, where both lived. McManamon became Stokes's first safety director.
It truly looked like a new day, and Stokes soon made some good appointments. One was former Municipal Judge Paul White, a highly respected black, as law director. Another was John C. Little, son of a well-known corporation lawyer, as his chief administrative assistant. Another was Richard D. Peters, once editor of the New York World Telegram and chief editorial writer of the Press. Another was Richard D. Murway, an experienced journalist, former reporter on the Press. He hired Sidney Spector, formerly with the Federal Housing Administration. He got Richard Greene, a housing expert, and Dr. Edward Martin, a sewage control and pollution expert, to come in from out of town and paid them more salary than he was getting.
The new administration seemed headed for big things. At this same time, other developments in Cleveland added to the return of euphoria and the upward swing of the civic seesaw. William Adams II, who had made quite a reputation in Seattle, had been appointed president of the Cleveland Growth Association, which had absorbed the old Chamber of Commerce, and had ambitious plans to go after new industry. Vernon B. Stouffer, the restaurant and food magnate, had bought the Cleveland Indians from a group headed by Gabe Paul after several years' uncertainty as to whether the baseball team would remain in Cleveland. He announced his intention to keep the team for sure in the city and do some serious planning about building a new domed stadium. The football Browns had been going well, drawing crowds of eighty thousand on Sundays, after their purchase from Paul Brown by Arthur Modell of New York.
Unfortunately, the euphoria and the happy anticipation of good things to come did not last long. The first sour note came while Mayor Stokes was on vacation in the Bahamas immediately after election. One of his principal campaign aides, Geraldine Williams, was reported by the Press to have an active interest in an afterhours cheat spot, which was selling liquor illegally on Sundays. Stokes fired her by long-distance phone.
This was offset at once by an early announcement that the business community had got back of Stokes to raise $4 million for a new booster project called CLEVELAND NOW, to help community activities that could not be financed by federal money. The Williams incident was soon forgotten. Stokes had already got the big wheels of both races back of him in a way that Locher never did. Stokes was on TV often, full of charm, telling his big plans for the future.
Before many weeks had elapsed, it appeared, however, that all was not peaches and cream. Dr. Clement, his campaign manager, broke with the mayor and left city hall; in the next several years he became one of Stokes's principal enemies. Law Director White also parted company with him and joined the Baker-Hostetler law firm.
One of Stokes's early appointments was that of Inspector Michael Blackwell as police chief. It had raised some eyebrows on the newspapers, since Blackwell was almost ready for retirement. (He had built a big reputation as a tough cop in the days of Eliot Ness.) Blackwell put some notably political policemen in top spots, but the newspapers did not bear down on him, nor did they make too much of the departure of Dr. Clement and Law Director White. Stokes had replaced White with another black lawyer, and had also appointed Negroes as service director, health director, and chairman of the civil service commission. The editors wanted to believe the best of Stokes, and considered it only natural that he would bring qualified blacks into his administration. After all, this was going to be a new day.
Stokes, too, was getting more favors from Washington than Locher had. He had become especially friendly with Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, and had got the urban renewal grant taken out of the deep freeze. He was also getting help from other programs of the so-called Great Society -- the Model Cities, neighborhood job corps, Head Start, and so forth. Had Humphrey been elected in 1968 when he ran against Richard Nixon, Stokes might have been appointed to a high federal office. (In view of what eventually happened, this would have been a lucky break for him.)
This was the situation when the roof started to fall in on Stokes in the summer of 1968, less than a year after he had taken office. It came first in the Glenville race riots, which were rougher in terms of casualties than the Hough riots two years before. This time, a shoot-out between black snipers and police resulted in the killing of three policemen, the wounding of a dozen more, and the death of a couple of black militants. A riot lasted several hours after the shoot-out, as it had in Hough, and produced a real emergency.
Glenville was a part of Cleveland that had not become an irredeemable slum, as Hough and Wade Park already were. Middle-income, responsible, church-going Negroes with good jobs were still living there and keeping their property up. Councilman Leo Jackson, a black liberal, who had become a
thorn in Stokes's side, kept warning that irresponsible, lawless blacks who lived on welfare, gambled, drank heavily, and begat numerous illegitimate children, were moving in and downgrading the neighborhood. It was rapidly collecting Black Panthers and street gangs. He was an exceptionally accurate Cassandra.
The Glenville riots completely shook the confidence of whites who had naively believed that electing Stokes would permanently insure against racial disorder. The riots also completely antagonized the police department. But the worst shock came from the revelation that Fred (Ahmed) Evans, a rather kooky leader of belligerent black nationalists, had bought guns for himself and followers from funds given him by Stokes from the CLEVELAND NOW funds. He had been on the city payroll, ostensibly running a social work club. He made no bones about where his money came from. Evans was arrested, convicted of murder, and sentenced to the electric chair. He is still in the Ohio penitentiary.
The Glenville riots were more deadly than Hough, and the aftermath was worse. Stokes surprisingly ordered police and national guardsmen to stay out of the riot-torn area the next night, and let him and the neighborhood blacks try to control it. Looting had become universal and absence of the police encouraged it. No more shooting or assaulting took place on the second night, but the wholesale looting continued. The police and guard leaders were furious, and newspaper editors seemed confused about whether to applaud or condemn Stokes's action. A deep suspicion was arising that the black mayor, hopefully supported by white liberals, was really a racist. Was the new mayor encouraging the black militants' simply in order to tell the conservatives that he had cooled them down? At any rate, it was the sudden doom of CLEVELAND NOW, and the destruction of confidence.
Obviously after the Glenville shoot-out something drastic had to be done about the police department. Stokes's answer to the Glenville shoot-out was to dump Blackwell as chief. The man the mayor chose to succeed him was Deputy In-
spector Patrick L. Gerity, a career cop, always at the head of the civil service promotion lists, an ex-military policeman in France and Korea, young enough to be vigorous, tough enough to command respect. It seemed like a brilliant move to restore confidence.
Shortly afterward, a civic committee on criminal justice urged several improvements -- the beefing up of the Police Academy; hiring of college-trained police; establishment of a monthly magazine for the police to communicate from the top down and the bottom up (most American cities already had such publications); more modern communications and weapons. To pay for a lot of this, the Greater Cleveland Associated Foundation offered some good sized grants. One was to publish a little police magazine and subsidize it for a year. In January 1969, the first issue came out. I was its paid editorial consultant, and trained Lieutenant James F. Murray to become editor. Chief Gerity and Safety Director McManamon were happy to assist the magazine, which they named the Guardian. It was widely applauded by the men on the force, their wives (it was mailed to their homes), politicians, and the Committee on Criminal Justice. Gerity and his able assistant, Deputy Inspector Lloyd F. Garey, gave it the green light, but after the Foundation ended its subsidy in 1970, the Guardian faded away. City hall did not produce the small amount of money needed for printing, and it was soon obvious that all was not well between the police and the city hall.
The civil service commission had set an exam for promotions late in December 1968, but ugly reports circulated that copies of the questions had got into the hands of some cops before they took the exams. Chief Gerity angrily ordered the results nullified. Another exam was set for March 1969, and this time a copy of the questions got into the hands of a policeman's wife. This exam was also scrubbed, and a grand jury examination demanded. Civil Service Commission President
Jay B. White and Secretary Charles L. Butts could not account for all copies of the exam and had destroyed records pertaining to them. A mysterious meeting had been held at a
suburban motel, at which exam questions were said to be available. There was suspicion that black candidates were being shown favoritism. Mayor Stokes's driver, a black detective, was at the motel, along with some of Stokes's former law partners and personal friends.
The grand jury indicted White and Butts. Both resigned and pleaded guilty to lesser charges and were replaced on the commission. Meanwhile the whole process of examining and accrediting recruits became tied in a knot. Stokes had promised to appoint several hundred more men to the force, and they were needed. Although the money was appropriated, and the Police Academy geared up to train the new men, nothing happened until August. Several hundred were then appointed, but only a few were blacks. Each prospective policeman, before final appointment, had to be secretly checked out as to character (some men of dubious morals and some with actual criminal records often took the exams; naturally these had to be rejected). To Chief Gerity's disgust, several rejectees were put back on the list by Director McManamon. Some of these were blacks. Gerity refused to attend their swearing in. He also complained that McManamon was trying to mislocate a badly needed new communications center (with computerized control of patrol cars) in the city hall basement or the convention center building across the street. Gerity wanted it at Central Station next to his own office. Relations between the two men were getting really sticky.
Finally on election day, Chief Gerity broke openly with Mayor Stokes. A group of policemen had been sworn in to act as witnesses by a committee supporting a state constitutional amendment. The lawyer for the committee was Paul Walter, who was mainly interested in the Republican candidate for mayor, Ralph Perk, then running against Stokes. (That time Perk lost.) The police witnesses, carrying their guns but not in uniform, went into the black slum areas that had usually been suspected of monkeying with election returns. Mayor Stokes was furious, and ordered Gerity to call off the police. Gerity refused, saying the men as citizens had broken no law
and were entitled to be there. He added that a member of the mayor's cabinet and his driver were also in the booths that day, without legal authority. It was obvious that the mayor would soon be looking for another chief. Someone with the same reputation as Gerity for fearlessness and integrity would have to be found, to satisfy the newspapers. Gerity wasn't going to resign; he'd have to be fired. (Privately he was fed up.)
Director McManamon, who said his health was frail, resigned after election, and this gave Stokes an opportunity to make a big public relations move. Lieutenant General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., highest ranking Negro in the air force, was scheduled to retire in February, and he was suggested to Stokes by PD reporters as a replacement for McManamon. Stokes jumped at the chance, and persuaded Davis to take the job as of 1 February. But Stokes couldn't bear to wait till Davis was on the job to get rid of Gerity. Then he made a king-sized blunder, one he was never able to explain away.
On 26 January he bounced Gerity. The next day he appointed William Ellenburg, who had been chief at Grosse Pointe, Michigan, the big, fashionable suburb of Detroit. Stokes's timing couldn't have been worse. Within a few days, the Plain Dealer and the Detroit Free Press released an expose that revealed that Ellenburg and his buddy, Frank Cochill (whom Ellenburg was bringing to Cleveland as executive assistant) were accused by a Detroit lawyer of having been on the payroll of the Mafia. The lawyer, who had worked for the teamsters union, said he had been the payoff man.
Ellenburg went back to Detroit to try to persuade the Free Press not to publish the lawyer's statement. The editors refused. It was a major sensation and made Stokes look like either a sucker, a conspirator, or a very poor politician.
This revelation ended at once the entente cordiale between Stokes and the Plain Dealer. He hit the roof, and in a TV appearance, denounced his old friend the Plain Dealer, said he was sticking by Chief Ellenburg, and would go to Detroit personally to investigate. Ellenburg denied any wrongdoing
and said he was not going to resign. When Stokes got to Detroit, it was discovered by reporters that neither the FBI, the Michigan state police, or the International Association or Police Chiefs had been asked for an evaluation of Ellenburg, and all of them appeared to have qualms about him. Stokes, for the first time, in a TV appearance, lost his cool and snapped back at Detroit reporters. It was obvious that either Stokes's staff had not checked the new man out thoroughly, or there was some mysterious impelling reason for appointing him. After several days of hectic uncertainty, Ellenburg resigned. (He never filed suit against the two papers.) Stokes then appointed Inspector Lewis W. Coffey as chief.
The new commotion did not die down. Stokes refused to talk to Robert McGruder, the intelligent, accurate Negro city hall reporter for the PD. Stokes managed to escape the immediate heat by flying to Rome to see the Pope and to Israel, accompanying some Cleveland businessmen on a trip that had been planned for several weeks. After he returned. the Willoughby News-Herald published some articles by Doris O'Donnell (who had left the PD) and her husband, Howard Beaufait, which indicated that Stokes had close ties to the interests that run the gambling casino and other racket business in Freeport, the Bahamas. Stokes filed a libel suit against them and the paper. (He withdrew it in May 1971 after depositions had started.)
General Davis, the new safety director, was understandably puzzled about the rhubarb over the new police chief, which had happened before he got to Cleveland. Davis's excellent reputation did a lot to quiet things for a while. He made a special point of praising the police and urging them and the black community to cooperate. He made an excellent impression on every group he met -- editors, businessmen, civic clubs. It looked for a while as though General Davis had neutralized the bad effects that came from Stokes's row with Gerity and his fiasco over Ellenburg, but the armistice did not last. Davis privately told editors that he didn't expect to stay long, and publicly described conditions in the city as "horrible," citing
citizens's fears of being attacked or robbed, and urging neighborhood groups to organize to keep police informed about bad actors and unreported lawlessness. He went out personally several times to schools to stop black-white confrontations and he was very suspicious of Black Panther operations.
The egg hit the fan in August when police had a shoot-out with an outfit connected with the Black Panthers, which called itself the Committee to Combat Fascism. Police had gone to a C.C.F. headquarters building to serve an ordinary search warrant, when shots came from the house and a policeman was wounded. They arrested occupants of the house. General Davis was annoyed that pressure seemed to be coming from the administration to ease up on the suspects. Without warning, General Davis announced his resignation, saying Stokes had "sided with the enemies of law enforcement," but naming no specific enemies. This hit the news media like a bombshell and seemed to leave Stokes stunned. He fought back on TV, demanding that Davis name names, and finally released the names of some organizations he had worked with, which included preachers and social workers, as well as those tied in with Black Panthers. He defied Davis to argue with him, but Davis declined to carry on a public debate. He had meanwhile become a member of President Nixon's commission to investigate the Kent State University student riots of May 1970, and was spending most of his time on that. After the commission completed its report, Davis was appointed to take charge of protective measures against airline high-jacking, and later became assistant secretary of transportation, and left town.
Despite the Glenville riots, and the collapse of the big dreams of CLEVELAND NOW, the newspapers had still stuck by Stokes. The editors seemed reluctant to give up on him and admit they picked a lemon. Even when the revelations of monkey business within the civil service commission came out, they apparently still had faith in Stokes, and when the 1969 election came up, they endorsed him again over Ralph Perk, whom the Plain Dealer had twice supported for county auditor. Perk lost by forty-five hundred votes, an even larger margin
than Stokes had beat Seth Taft by. Yet the erosion of confidence in Stokes was continuing.
Stokes was not only having trouble with the police, but a big feud between him and Council President James V. Stanton was building up. Stanton had become a big name in city hall since he had led a surprise move to unseat Jack P. Russell as council president in 1963. Russell had been president all during the Celebrezze administration, and had shoved the Erieview legislation along fast. He was a burly, arrogant type, with a big cigar and wide-brimmed hat, the epitome of a professional politician. When Stanton, a young man in his early thirties, moved to unseat him, few thought it would happen. Stanton was even then developing shrewdness in knowing when to move and how to count the votes. He beat Russell and remained as council president for several terms.
One of Stokes's favorite proposals was a plan to build housing projects in two middle-income wards around the Lee-Seville area. The black councilmen who represented those wards resisted, believing the projects would bring in poor, uneducated blacks. Stanton encouraged the two councilmen and Stokes backed candidates to defeat them in 1969, one lost, the other won. The feud became more heated when Stokes tried to put housing projects into west-side wards, in one of which Stanton lived. The council refused to issue the necessary zoning permits.
Nineteen-hundred and seventy was a miserable year for Stokes. It began badly with the fiasco over the new police chief, Ellenburg. It got worse in midsummer when unionized city employees demanded, and got, sizeable wage increases, though there was no money to pay them and it was painfully obvious not enough would be available in 1971. Stokes proposed raising the city income tax by 0.8 percent, which would require approval by the voters, and abolishing reciprocity with the suburbs. The fifty-odd suburban mayors grew apoplectic at this and filed suit to prevent it; a judge upheld them, saying the city would have to give ten months' notice of cancellation of reciprocity. The suburbs also filed suit to prevent sewer- and
water-rate increases. They were feeling their oats more and more, since the 1970 census had revealed that a majority of county voters lived in the suburbs. (That old devil, fragmentation, was back again to curse the metropolitan community.)
The council put the tax increase on the November ballot, but individual councilmen dragged their feet instead of actively supporting it. It was badly defeated. Then a second try to get an increase was made at a special election 2 February 1971, this time for 0.6 percent, and this was supported by the councilmen, who felt Stokes had asked too much previously. Councilman Anthony Garofoli, who had succeeded Stanton as president (Stanton was elected to Congress in 1970) campaigned for it. But this, too, lost by a big vote; it was a clear expression of loss of confidence in Mayor Stokes.
The growing polarization between blacks and whites increased in 1970, when the twenty-first District Caucus, a euphemism for a black political party, was organized by Congressman Louis Stokes, the mayor's brother, who had been easily elected to Congress in 1968. Although the regular Democrats had backed Carl Stokes in 1969, the caucus broke away from the regulars and their new chairman Joseph Bartunek (the previous chairman, County Engineer Porter, had resigned after endless internal hassling), and made some endorsements of its own. The caucus supported Seth Taft, Republican, for county commissioner, and Taft won; and it tried to defeat Leo Jackson, Mayor Stokes's old enemy, when he ran for appellate judge, but Jackson won. It favored the city income tax levy, which lost. The black councilmen who had joined the caucus could not prevent the election of Garofoli as council president after Stanton departed. The political situation was a mixed bag.
There were many indications that Mayor Stokes was going to have even more trouble with Garofoli than he had with Stanton. West-side councilmen, openly resentful about the proposed housing projects, became more and more bitter in their denunciations of Stokes. The Press turned up some hanky-panky in award of city contracts, after which the grand
jury returned several indictments. Stokes reacted to increasing criticism in several ways: (1) he held weekly press conferences on TV, at which he spent most of his thirty minutes denouncing his former friends, the newspapers; (2) he spent a lot of time out of town making speeches for lucrative fees; (3) he refused to attend council meetings or let his directors attend and (4) he let subordinates, usually Finance Director Philip Dearborn and Safety Director George O'Conner, take the heat from councilmen at committee meetings to discuss the financial crisis. About 1,500 service department employees and 150 policemen were laid off for lack of funds. To complicate matters worse, a foulup in traffic and snow removal occurred in the midst of a big snowstorm, and a pump breakdown occurred at the eastern sewage disposal plant, which let millions of gallons of raw sewage flow into the lake for ten days before it could be repaired. On both occasions the mayor was out of town making speeches.
By the time the 1971 political hunting season had come along, it was painfully obvious that the big dream that began with the inauguration of the charming black mayor had dissolved into a disaster. The city had become racially polarized during the four years of Stokes, rather than pulled together. While Stokes was fighting with Stanton, Garofoli, General Davis, and the newspapers, the downtown district was deteriorating faster than ever. More and more good shops, which had once benefited from the crowds that shopped at Halle's, Higbees and May's, were starting to fold. (Bonwit-Teller, Milgrim's, Peck & Peck, were notable casualties.) The big movie palaces around Playhouse Square were still vacant, and the first-run pictures were showing only in the suburbs.
Robbery, pocketpicking, and assault had increased downtown, and adding additional policemen in uniform had not stopped it. Visitors from out of town, here for conventions, had been held up within a few yards of their hotels. Shoplifting was on the rise.
By this time, too, many of the original Stokes supporters had lost confidence in him, and ugly rumors were circulating
that the only way to get contracts at city hall was to become part of an inside group. Bertram Gardner, head of the Community Relations Board, had left to become vice-president of the Cleveland Trust Company. Howard B. Klein, president of Burrows Company, a longtime member of the city planning commission, and a man with a compulsion to help worthwhile civic projects, had been refused reappointment on the commission. So had Thomas C. Westropp, an important Catholic layman. Dr. Clement was openly critical of Stokes, and so was William Seawright, a black businessman. Jobholders at city hall had increased and loafing was rampant.
The situation was oddly similar to that which had existed during the Harry L. Davis administration thirty years before, when the city did not have enough funds to meet payrolls; the police department was demoralized; the welfare problem was unsolved and increasing. As many of the blacks who could had already moved out of the central city to the suburbs. East Cleveland had become 85 percent black, Shaker Heights was about 25 percent black, and Cleveland Heights was fast attracting black residents into the once fashionable Forest Hills section, adjacent to East Cleveland. There was grumbling among the middle-income blacks who resented the increase in crime, and felt that Stokes had let them down, seemingly more interested in improving his own political and personal fortunes than in uplifting blacks as a minority group. He circulated socially among upper-crust whites, and was at all times a fashion-plate, charming, brilliant at repartee, and shrewd, but he had sensed even before the others had, that he was finished as the black messiah in Cleveland.
He had clearly lost the confidence of the newspapers and the business leaders, who had so joyously joined him in CLEVELAND NOW. This is not to say that nothing had happened during his regime to add to the growth of the city. Some brand new buildings had been constructed -- the Central National Bank at East Ninth and Superior, on the site of the old Ellington Hotel; the Investment Plaza in back of the Union Commerce Building; the Chesterfield Apartments on East
Twelfth Street opposite the Statler Hotel; the Cleveland Trust Company tower, in back of the ancient dome. But most of these had been planned for a long time, and there was no evidence that city hall had done anything special to move them along. These new buildings mostly resulted in a shift of office tenants away from older buildings, and along Euclid Avenue, more and more vacant storefronts began to appear.
The newspapers seemed strangely schizophrenic about how to deal with Stokes's failures. They had been hassling with him ever since his unbelievable appointment of Ellenburg and his later confrontation with General Davis. Investigative reporters, who had been on leash during the first years of Stokes, were now busy digging up evidence of misfeasance and malfeasance by city employees, and the grand jury indicted a half dozen of them. The intense rivalry between the Press and PD had resumed. It was obvious, from conversation with staff members, that the editors now believed that Stokes as a political power had to be eliminated for the good of the city, but they were chary about appearing to give the impression they were fighting him because he was a black. They had supported him because he was a black whom they hoped could unite the community; but now that he was failing they pulled their punches. (Both papers for several years had been devoting more and more attention to the many problems of the inner city, the welfare clients, the need for jobs, the improvement of schools, the need to diminish racial prejudice.)
In March, Stokes suddenly announced that he would not run again. This set the papers off in opposite directions. Plain Dealer executives quietly encouraged Garofoli to run. The Press urged James M. Carney, millionaire owner of the new Hollenden House and Investment Plaza and longtime contributor to organization Democrats, to run. Stokes himself had other ideas. He said he would support Arnold Pinkney, a black who was president of the school board and Stokes's administrative assistant. But Pinkney was not going to run as a Democrat; he would file petitions as an independent, thus making certain at least a three-man race in November, between him-
self, whomever would win in the Democratic primary, and the winner in the Republican primary, who was expected again to be Ralph Perk.
The lines formed quickly. Carney decided to run, the Press endorsed him and some businessmen began to raise funds for him. Garofoli ran, the Plain Dealer endorsed him, and businessmen who had once supported Stokes raised funds for him. The Democrats split; Chairman Bartunek tried to get the executive committee to endorse Carney, but the committee overrode him and went for Garofoli. Then Bartunek said he'd back Carney. The Republican front-runner, Perk, got only token opposition from State Representative George Voinovich. The newspapers routinely endorsed Perk, but paid little attention to him, which was strange, since they had supported him in the past for county auditor.
The newspaper polls showed Garofoli had a substantial lead over Jim Carney, because of the ethnic voters on the west side with whom Garofoli had sided in keeping out public housing. At the last minute, Stokes threw a curve that changed the result of the primary. He urged black voters to vote for Carney. By a telephone blitz, a tabloid newspaper, and personal solicitation, Stokes got out the black vote for Carney and beat Garofoli, Stokes's bitter enemy, by seventeen thousand votes. The experts, particularly those on the Plain Dealer, were confounded. So was Congressman Stanton, who had backed Garofoli. It looked now as if Stokes, though no longer running himself, had enough clout left to decide the election. He had got nominated a white candidate, Carney. He had announced his support of his personal black candidate, Pinkney. If either one of them made it, he would get the credit for it. The Plain Dealer endorsed Pinkney, the Press stuck with Carney.
Stokes felt jubilant on primary election night. Yet he couldn't produce the miracle that would keep him in power. Having turned out the black vote for Carney, he couldn't switch all of it to Pinkney. He had confused too many blacks. This elected Perk in November.
Perk had diagnosed the situation accurately. (So had Louis
Seltzer.) Though he had the support of neither paper, and was a Republican in a Democratic city, he knew he could win if he got the ethnic vote, which was still a majority in Cleveland. He campaigned brilliantly in the cosmopolitan neighborhoods, saying a vote for either Pinkney or Carney was a vote for Stokes. Stokes was in the doghouse with the ethnics. They voted for Republican Perk, who was one of them, and Perk pulled the surprise of the decade, winning by a plurality of sixteen thousand votes. The polls were wrong again, and the disconcerted editors were out in left field. They hadn't figured out the right formula to unhorse Stokes, but Perk had.
Another important thing had happened in this election. A charter amendment eliminating the party primaries, which Perk had supported, had passed, and the situation reverted to that which had existed up to 1958. As many candidates as wished, partisan or independent, could run in October, but only the two top finishers would run it off in November. With one victory under his belt, incumbent Mayor Perk would undoubtedly be one of the top two in 1973. The other might easily be black, though the blacks still had only 35 percent of the total vote, and Perk might remain in office as long as he cared to run.
The surprise election of Ralph Perk finished Stokes. Pinkney ran second, Carney a poor third. Stokes quickly left town, to become a TV broadcaster in New York, and was seldom seen in Cleveland for months afterward. He had left the city hall with a $13.5 million cash deficit, a polarized population, a demoralized and rapidly deteriorating downtown, and a shattered Democratic party. By this time, Cleveland had become the regular joke town on "Laugh-In," and all the comedians were having a ball about the Mistake on The Lake, the city whose river caught fire. Thus ended the big dream of 1967.
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