Monthly Archives: July 2008

Brady: a man for our times

There is a heated discussion going on at Outside Erie regarding the quality of Erie’s political leadership. Many are pining for globally-minded, progressive, forward-thinking leaders to guide our community through this sea of change here in the 21st century.

With that in mind, while I was doing some random Googling, I came across this article about famous figures in Erie history and was reading a very interesting article about Erie lawyers in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Included was a few paragraphs about the Hon. John C. Brady.

Simply put, Brady was a fascinating fellow. Born in Iowa, he became a lawyer in Erie at age 21, but according to Memoirs of the Erie County, Pennsylvania, Bench and Bar, he “had such a good business head that “financially he could not afford to practice law.” He went on to establish the second electric trolley system built in the U.S. here in Erie, created Waldameer Park, and in 1887 was drafted as an independent candidate for mayor and won, serving one term. The article quotes that “he made one of the most efficient executives in the history of the city.”

With today’s leadership wilting under the complexity of a global economy, the brain drain of our young people, and the sheer lack of big dreams and successful attitude, we need a bright star to lead our community. We need a 21st century John Brady, Esq.

Who came up with ‘Dreary Erie’?

After an amazing summer weekend in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I’m thinking that the person who coined the slogan “Dreary Erie, the mistake on the lake” should be certified.

Even with rain, this extended weekend my family is totally embracing some of the excellent resources available to us in this neck of the woods. We spent a couple days camping at Cook Forest State Park, headed to a family graduation party that was really fun, and now have some sun and fun at Waldameer to look forward to before I go back to work. I wanted to attend the Rust Belt Bloggers summit, but it was just too good of a weekend for a getaway.

You don’t need me to give you a laundry list of the wonderful attributes that our region has to offer. But I do want to encourage you to do two things:

First, you need to get your “hugging hands” out and do the Erie, PA embrace. I have to admit that even after living here 41 of my 46 years (I was one of those brain drainers who got out in my 20’s, then came back when the kids started coming), there are many cool things in Erie that I haven’t experienced, like wine tasting in North East, the Firefighter’s museum, an art gallery opening, and I’m ashamed to say, it’s been a really long time since I’ve been to a Playhouse show. It just takes a little creativity and investment of time and sometimes money, and you can experience so much more of the quality of life that you might feel like you are missing. The Erie Times News does a great job of keeping us informed of all of things that are going on from parish festivals to band concerts. You might just find some weird, awesome, random event that totally exemplifies our town.

The other thing you, and I, need to do is not take our town for granted, because so many of the organizations and entities that create cool things in Erie are hanging on by a thread. You see, with very little growth in population and buying power of our fellow residents, and with the rising cost of everything, the organizations that are Erie’s backbone are getting squeezed. Instantly what comes to mind are the Marx Toy Museum and the Joel 2 ministry to the poor. There are just two examples of Erie assets that needed our help and either we didn’t know it or weren’t quick enough to help.

I love the idea that people from Pittsburgh and Youngstown come to our town to vacation. Think about the money they are willing to spend here, and how they embrace the Erie experience! Nothing dreary about that.

What’s Big Media to do?

The Scorched Earth has come to a newspaper near you.

The internet is filled with news about the news. It turns out that last week was a tragic one for newspaper employment, as 1000 newspaper-related layoffs were announced, probably to help prop up flagging stock prices. Timothy Egan in his NY Times blog makes the point that even though the reach of newspapers through their online divisions has their content consumed by more people than ever, the financial reality of steeply-declining ad sales in their “ink on paper” editions is ruining these once-great editorial machines.

The other big story in media this week is the gigantic $400 million contract that Rush Limbaugh received. It extends his deal through the 2016 presidential election year and perhaps is a good indicator of where that other old medium, radio is going.

So let’s do a little hand-wringing.