Reason Saves Cleveland With Drew Carey is an original documentary series that first aired the week of March 15-19, 2010.

Featuring sitcom legend, Price Is Right host, and proud Clevelander Drew Carey, each 10-minute episode investigates and analyzes the problems that turned Cleveland from the nation’s sixth-largest city in 1950 into today’s “Mistake By The Lake.”

Like all too many American cities, Cleveland seems locked into a death spiral, shedding people, jobs, and dreams like nobody’s business. When it comes to education, business climate, redevelopment, and more, Clevelanders have come to expect the worse.

Is a renaissance possible? Of course it is, but only if the city’s leaders and residents are willing to learn from other cities such as Houston, Chicago, Oakland, and Indianapolis. And only if they’re willing to try new approaches to old problems.’s Nick Gillespie narrates and talks with educators, elected officials, businesspeople, policy experts, and residents from all walks of life. Reason Saves Cleveland maps a route back to prosperity and growth not just for Cleveland but for other once-great American cities.

Reason Saves Cleveland with Drew Carey is written and produced by Paul Feine; camera and editing by Roger Richards and Alex Manning; music by the Cleveland band Cats on Holiday.

Episode 1: The Decline of a Once-Great City (March 15)


Sixty years ago, Cleveland was a booming city full of promise, opportunity, and people. Today, the city’s population is less half of what it was in its prime and it ranks as one of the poorest big cities in the United States. Hometown hero Drew Carey reflects on how the city became “the mistake on the lake” and wonders about the city’s future. Is a Cleveland renaissance possible or is the city doomed to long, slow death?

Related Reason magazine Cover Story:

How to Save Cleveland
Turning around America’s dying cities is difficult, improbable, and necessary

Episode 2: Fix the Schools (March 15)


Cleveland’s public schools are failing to prepare students for their future and as a result, all parents who can afford to have been fleeing to the suburbs for decades. Yet some urban schools, like Think College Now in Oakland, California are finding out that a combination of administrative autonomy and accountability can lead to amazing results. Within Cleveland’s own boundaries, charter schools are booming and delivering quality education at a fraction of the cost of traditional public schools. Does Cleveland have what it takes to fundamentally reform its K-12 education system and become a leader in 21st-century education?

Related Policy Briefs:

Ten Ideas to Fix Cleveland’s Schools
Turn failing schools into charters, empower parents and principals

Fix the Schools
Close failing schools, open charter schools and replicate great schools

Episode 3: Privatize It (March 16)


Should cities be in the business of running businesses ranging from convention centers to farmers markets? Selling off golf courses, contracting out parking concessions, and all manner of public-private partnerships are generating billions of dollars in revenue and dramatically improving city services in places such as Chicago and Indianapolis. Will Cleveland’s elected officials learn the right lessons in time?

Related Policy Briefs:

Ten Privatization Opportunities for Cleveland
Hopkins Airport, parking facilities and solid waste operations are prime privatization candidates

Local Government Privatization 101
Separating fact from fiction, privatization trends and the services that should be privatized

Episode 4: Take Care of Business (March 17)


After World War II, Cleveland was booming, thanks to its leadership role in heavy industry and a business-friendly climate. Today, the city’s high taxes and onerous regulatory demands make it nearly impossible for new businesses to set up shop while choking the life out of existing companies. While relatively laissez-faire cities such as Houston are growing even during the current recession, Cleveland remains stuck in a rut. How can city officials make the city a more welcoming place for entrepreneurs to thrive?

Related Policy Brief:

Ten Steps to Brings Jobs and Businesses Back to Cleveland and Other Big Cities
Reducing crime and taxes, improving zoning laws and adding transparency can spur growth

Improving the Economies and Business Climates In Struggling Cities
Examining how taxes, red tape, eminent domain and occupational licensing prevent economic growth

Episode 5: Encourage Bottom-Up Development (March 18)

Cleveland has spent billions on big-ticket urban redevelopment efforts including heavily subsidized sports stadiums and convention centers that have utterly failed to revitalize the city’s economy. Should the city be pouring even more money into and pinning yet higher hopes on long-odds mega-projects? Or should they realize that bottom-up projects driven by the actual residents and private-sector investors are the best was to build a vibrant city for the long haul?

Episode 6: Bring Back the People (March 19)


No city can exist without people, and Cleveland has lost more than half its population since the 1950s. Yet the city still boasts amazingly affordable neighborhoods, down-to-earth charm, a rich history, a stunning and varied landscape, and diverse ethnic and cultural scenes. How can Cleveland become a destination where people flock to pursue their personal versions of the American Dream?

Related Policy Brief:

Rejuvenating Urban America Through Land Use and Housing Policy Reform