CLEVELAND — An in depth take a look at Cleveland’s necessary locations will discover most of them lined with Patrick Sweeney’s fingerprints.
Start this tour with the cultural gems of College Circle, then previous the 2 nice hospitals and down the Euclid Avenue hall. Pay particular consideration while you get to Cleveland State College and Playhouse Sq.. They wouldn’t be what they’re right this moment, if in any respect, however for Sweeney’s love and devotion to them.
Then head south, previous CSU’s Wolstein Heart to Cuyahoga Group School (Tri-C), one other Sweeney favourite. From there, go west to Gateway, north by Public Sq., ending up on the Rock Corridor, subsequent to Voinovich Park and overlooking the Lake Erie shoreline.
All these areas have been on Sweeney’s want checklist throughout the 30 years he spent as in all probability probably the most highly effective member of the Ohio Home that Clevelanders ever despatched to Columbus. And in his function as a member and later chairman of the Home Finance Committee, nobody might fairly dispute that Sweeney despatched extra state cash Cleveland’s manner than any legislator in historical past.
On this term-limits period, it’s unthinkable that a Cleveland legislator will once more possess the clout to get a lot carried out for town. Throughout Sweeney’s time, seniority and favored standing with Home Speaker Vern Riffe have been like having a key to the state treasury.
Sweeney left the Home for the Ohio Senate in 1997. After two years there, he retired to develop into an teacher and assistant vp for presidency affairs at CSU. Alongside the way in which, there was an unsuccessful run for mayor in opposition to George Voinovich in 1981 and a missed alternative in a losing Democratic primary race against Jimmy Dimora in 1998.
Now, as his 81st birthday nears, Sweeney has important well being challenges. His time on the heart of so many issues Cleveland is at an finish. And as I set about to put in writing this piece, each individual I contacted, Republican and Democrat alike, was keen to debate Sweeney’s contribution to town of his beginning.
“Patrick Sweeney is an irreplaceable Cleveland jewel,” wrote former Mayor Michael White in an e mail. “I do know of nobody within the legislature who advocated extra tirelessly and persistently on our behalf.”
Jane Campbell spent 12 years within the legislature earlier than changing into county commissioner after which Cleveland’s first feminine mayor. A lot of what she discovered about state authorities got here from Sweeney.
“He taught me a lot,” mentioned Campbell. “He was all the time the go-to man. Nobody ever introduced extra stuff to Cleveland than Patrick. And it wasn’t simply brick and mortar. It was for human companies, for well being points, for training. He was so extremely sensible, however by no means gave himself credit score.”
Sweeney’s greatest good friend within the legislature was in all probability Dan Troy, in search of a return to the Home representing Lake County on this yr’s election. Sweeney was the large, gregarious redhead whose presence crammed a room; Troy the companion with a depraved humorousness. Between them, Sweeney and Troy forgot extra about state authorities and its funds than most legislators ever know.
“When it got here to Cleveland, the whole lot went by Patrick.” mentioned Troy. “Over time, he turned the Prince Charles of the Ohio Home, ready for Vern to depart. Then it received away from him.”
Did it ever. After years of loyalty to the legendary Riffe, Sweeney was poised to say the grand prize for himself when Riffe retired on the finish of 1994. Then, on Election Day, voters delivered a verdict few noticed coming, flipping the Home to Republican management and crushing Sweeney’s dream.
The prize fell to Jo Ann Davidson, Ohio’s first feminine speaker and first Republican speaker in 22 years.
“Patrick spent 30 years getting ready for that,” recalled the indomitable 92-year-old Davidson. “He labored so arduous for Cleveland. On election evening (1994), I felt so genuinely sorry for him.”
Within the mid-1970s, Sweeney’s love of the theater drew him near the late Ray Shepardson within the early days of Shepardson’s marketing campaign to save lots of downtown’s theaters from the wrecking ball.
Oliver “Pudge” Henkel, who as a younger lawyer satisfied metropolis officers to place demolition plans on maintain, mentioned Sweeney was “instrumental” in securing tens of million of dollars in state funding to save lots of and restore the theaters.
“What he did was critically necessary,” mentioned Henkel. “He introduced tens of hundreds of thousands to the theaters. Pat found out how cash from the state capital invoice, which may in any other case not be out there, might be used for necessary group tasks like Playhouse Sq..”
The higher foyer of the Ohio Theatre is called in Sweeney’s honor.
Sweeney’s “most eligible bachelor” days led to 1983 together with his marriage to Emily Mirsky, who from 1993 to 2003 served as U.S. District Legal professional for Northern Ohio. Their daughter, Margaret, is now an assistant U.S. lawyer in the identical workplace.
Schooling and the humanities have been all the time on the very high of Sweeney’s precedence checklist. Former Tri-C President Jerry Sue Thornton mentioned Sweeney was one of many first to go to her when she arrived in 1992. And he saved coming again.
“My first week on the job, he took me to a Stephanie Tubbs Jones fundraiser after which dinner at Johnny’s,” mentioned Thornton. “He has such an enormous coronary heart. And he all the time knew we have been the folks’s faculty. Patrick was our guardian in Columbus.”
As he was for CSU. Sweeney’s involvement there dates again to the late 1960s, when he performed a job in forming and funding what’s now one of many nation’s main city coverage institutes, the Maxine Goodman Levin School of City Affairs.
“What he did for us was immeasurable,” mentioned Roberta Steinbacher, professor emerita on the faculty. “He cherished CSU. He was all the time considering our college’s mission, all the time needed to do much more.”
What he did was incalculable. Not only for CSU, however for the entire city.
Brent Larkin was The Plain Vendor’s editorial director from 1991 till his retirement in 2009.
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