It’s Burgertime with Dan Gilbert, Frank Jackson, Marky Mark, and Donnie from New Kids on the Block

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Q104 IG
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Let’s check in on Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who showed up last Thursday at a “VIP red carpet preview event” for a Wahlburgers location in some retail space owned by Dan Gilbert, across the street from Gilbert’s JACK Casino in downtown Cleveland and just underneath one of the most magnificent land-bridges to ever connect a casino to a parking garage. Wahlburgers is a restaurant chain that was founded in 2011 in Boston by the celebrity Wahlberg brothers, Mark (’90s pop one-hit-wonder turned movie star), Donnie (of the ’90s boy-band New Kids on the Block), and Paul, a chef.

According to Newschannel5, Wahlburgers has signed “12 area development deals, committing five franchise groups to a total of 118 Wahlburgers over the next several years.”

"We are on the road to bringing Wahlburgers to a city near you," said Mark Wahlberg. "We've created this family business with a mission to welcome families and friends from around the world to a place where they can break bread, enjoy some great food and lots of laughs."

So, basically a Fuddrucker’s or TGIFriday’s, but with a celebrity endorsement built into the name.

With so much out there for the Cleveland Mayor to do one might wonder why he’d lend his presence to what’s at best an utter non-event, or worse, a development that will make it harder for local restaurants to survive—the opening of a national chain that will divert its profits out of Cleveland so that some mega-rich celebrity brothers from Boston can get even richer.

According to a Wahlburgers press release, “independent one-on-one interviews [were] not available” at the event, so Jackson wasn’t there to deliver any specific message to his constituents.

The press release also explains that the “walls [at Wahlburgers] celebrate the story through photos and words of the Wahlberg brothers’ life journeys from Dorchester, Mass. Neighborhood kids to rising chef and international superstars.”

So we’re left to conclude that Cleveland’s Mayor doesn’t have any more interesting or relevant stories to celebrate. At least not when Dan Gilbert has a new celebrity tenant to fill some retail space.

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It used to be widely understood that a primary role of government was to act as a check on concentrated private power, and that if it didn’t, “the liberty of a democracy” would be put at risk. Now, since “the destruction of the anti-monopoly and anti-bank tradition in the Democratic Party has also cleared the way for the greatest concentration of economic power in a century,” a man can make billions selling home mortgages while a home-mortgage crisis crashes the rest of the economy, then he can buy an NBA basketball franchise, rewrite the Ohio constitution to get a casino monopoly, rebuild public landmarks to connect a casino to a parking garage, and beg for nine-figure subsidies from Cleveland taxpayers while buying up every lot that goes on the market in Detroit.

And when Dan Gilbert snaps his fingers, Cleveland’s Mayor is on the red carpet for a “VIP preview event” for a burger chain owned by celebrity pop-stars from Boston.

Jackson is currently running for his unprecedented fourth term as Cleveland Mayor and is widely expected to win. No word yet on an opening date for the Wahlburgers Cleveland location but Swenson’s is widely expected to remain LeBron’s preferred burger joint.


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