October 11, 2021

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Public Commenters (19 min)
Gwendolyn Garth  Rev. Eugene Ward, Jr.  Yvonka Hall  Erika Jarvis  Sabrina Otis  James Lamb 

Councilmember comments during Miscellaneous (21 min)
Michael Polensek (Ward 8)  Brian Kazy (Ward 16)  Basheer S. Jones (Ward 7)  Blaine A. Griffin (Ward 6)  Kevin Conwell (Ward 9)  Anthony Brancatelli (Ward 12)  Kevin J. Kelley (Ward 13) 

Gwendolyn Garth

Garth: Progresss is not possible without deviation. That's a quote from Frank Zappa. Like Frank Zappa I am an artist and my name is Gwendolyn Garth and I stand before you today as a native Clevelander, as an elder, as a community activist and as an artist.

My intent today is to inspire you, the elected representatives of Cleveland of Cleveland residents to deviate from the norm. Bear with me. Close your eyes for a moment and picture this: Your unbridled passion and unfettered creativity has been unleashed and Cleveland is your canvas. A really huge canvas I must admit. Know that you don't have to paint the huge this huge canvas alone. The citizens of Cleveland are your fellow artists. Your co-creators. Let us deconstruct some of these antiquated belief systems and reconstruct something palatable for all of us.

As a community activist I have come to understand that it is not about working for communities or even working with communities. it's about working as community. For me participatory budgeting is a process that does that. Our local government, our local grassroots initiative PB CLE is a resident-led, a community engagement mythology whose aim is not of building audiences but building a strengthening community. PB CLE is a space that allows the voices of the many to be heard.

We ask that you enable residents to decide directly how to spend 30.8 million of ARPA funds through participatory budgeting. 30.8 is important. it is the percentage of Clevelanders who live in poverty. PB participatory budgeting will provide us citizens of Cleveland, your co-creators, with the tools that are necessary to paint a more progressive Cleveland. A more inclusive Cleveland. A more just Cleveland.

I believe that to deliver on the promises of democracy to every American we must enact bold reforms beginning right here at the city government level. We citizens of cleveland need and desire to be part of the creation of our own representations and destiny. We want to participate in collective meaningful decision making as well as in Cleveland's vision for future change.

Voice: Thank you.

We, just one more, okay. We ask that you create a participatory budgeting process for the disbursement of ARPA dollars, specifically $30.8 million. City of Cleveland government plus the citizens of the Cleveland working as community is the recipe for change. Please, let us not allow that opportunity for real progress passes by. Can you hear me now?

3:36 Permalink

Rev. Eugene Ward, Jr.

Ward Jr: President Kelley and members of Cleveland city council thank you for the opportunity to address this body with public comment.

As a Vice President of the Mount Pleasant Ministerial Alliance and a pastor in this community, I am asking that this council will reconsider appropriating taxpayer dollars to Sherwin Williams until they agree to hire African-Americans and minorities who are not gatekeepers, but who are residents, contractors and business representatives, who can aid and produce in the building of their headquarters.

The racist, white supremacist and bigoted attitude that they have displayed toward those who are without does not equate with the mission and purpose of a city which stresses inclusion and diversity. Too many people have been left out of the equation with projects moving forward in this city and it must stop. We can no longer afford to have a corporation with a plantation mentality look down on those who are providing money for their project.

Surely as lead paint is supposedly a part of the agenda of this council and Sherwin Williams is still making lead paint and paying money for lawsuits against them, that this council cannot justify giving multi millions of dollars and be in compliance with a corporation that is still producing a product which is killing children and families in a time when this problem should be disappearing.

We ask once again that you withhold the funds which you have received from taxpayers until Sherwin Williams agrees to have the proper people at the table and on the project. Hopefully with your trying to keep your seats in November, we will see your concern for the deprived and neglected voices in this community. With gentrification continuing in this city we need your support for this city's future. Thank you and we will be back.

Council President Kelley: Thank you. Yvonka Marie Hall.

2:03 Permalink

Yvonka Hall

Hall: Good evening council.

Voice: Good evening.

Hall: CLASH says fix them up or tear them down. We are here to demand immediate action to repair or demolish lead poisoned houses. There are today there are 418 lead poison houses in Cleveland neighborhoods according to the Ohio Department of Health. Each house has been a scene of a lead poisoning. Following an inspection property owners were served with lead hazard control orders by the Department of Health and none have been remediated. None to the best of our knowledge, have ever been taken to court.

There they sit. Many with deteriorating lead paint spreading to surrounding homes. Many are occupied by families with children despite health department warnings.

According to our windshield survey, we drove around through all these houses in the neighborhood. 323 of these houses conducted by CLASH volunteers last spring, warning for calls have been removed from 227 of these units, and 127 of them are still occupied by children, family with children.

In August channel 5, news channel 5 here in Cleveland, reported on a family living in a departed house in Ward 5. The family has been waiting for two years for funding through the city's lead hazard control program. Sadly the family learned that the property no longer qualifies for city funding because the poisoned child turned seven years old while the house was on the waiting list.

CLASH demands that the city of Cleveland take four steps to remove the super spreader homes from neighborhoods. Replace required houses in the state's poison house list. Relocate families living in the placarded homes as provided in section 240.09D of the codified ordinances of the city of Cleveland. File a complaint against each property owner who has failed to comply. And where owners fail to respond to court summons, follow receivership action.

We want to make sure that you understand that we are serious about lead and this impact on our community. We have been fighting this for a long time. Our children are suffering every single day. And it's so easy for you to look at us or look at them and say you know what we wish that CLASH or the Cleveland led safe network would go away. But we're not going anywhere until our homes are fixed, until our children have justice. Because the cure for trauma is indeed justice.

2:46 Permalink

Erika Jarvis

Jarvis: Good evening council. My name is Erika Jarvis and I am a representative CLASH. And those children that she talked about, about being poisoned, I happened to be one of them. I was poisoned on Kempton in the Glenville area 30 years ago. Some of you have, some of you all have sat in these seats 30 years ago.

It is appalling and is shameful of the systematic breakdowns that we've seen in this city. It is shameful and appalling of the lackadaisical attitudes that we see from our elected officials, that claim that we all are against lead poison but your actions say something completely different. So with my few minutes here let's talk about some things that we can do right now.

The first thing that we can do is reopen our centers. John Glenn on the east side and McCafferty on the west side. We can make sure that these centers are properly funded and also make sure that we have enough staff there to test our children for lead. Another option that we can do which they're doing this in Detroit right now is mobile testing, to make it easier for families, mothers and children to get the testing that they need. Can you imagine teaching a pre-k class, a kindergarten class and a chair gets thrown at you? Can you imagine blocks being thrown at you? Can you imagine the pain that I feel every day 33 years old being poisoned by lead, to the point where my lips were blue and I was hospitalized and we're still having this conversation as if this is something new.

The excuses are over there's no reason why any child should fall through the cracks because of lead. It is absolutely shameful. But we don't have to end it there there's things that we can do. Reopen testing centers. Make it easier for teachers to teach and give them tools and programs and services that they can do to use so that children who are poisoned by lead they know how to deal with them instead of being labeled and they end up right down the street.

There are things that we can do and we cannot wait to another administration comes. COVID is here so we can't use that either. We need to start right now. So I'm asking you. I'm pleading with you. Don't let my children come to this microphone and ask for you all to do something.

2:46 Permalink

Sabrina Otis

Otis: Good evening council. My name is Sabrina Otis. I'm a Ward 15 resident. I'm also a housing and building inspector. And the city of Cleveland has 51% renters. This council in this city does not have enough inspectors for the properties. They're disgusting. I'm doing free inspections for renters and the windows are falling out, the floors are gone, paint can't be an issue because there's no paint.

The city of Cleveland is having owners pay a fee to register their properties. Why isn't the city coming up with a solution to inspect those properties before they're granted those certifications? Nobody should be allowed to rent a house just because it has four walls, a door and a roof. It needs to be livable and if the owners won't live in it then people shouldn't live in it. Our city needs to do better.

The suburban cities have shut down properties. They're not playing with these owners. They don't care that they bought these tore down pieces of property. The city of Cleveland's got to do better. Our children, senior citizens, single people, disabled people are living in dilapidated properties in every ward and nobody is doing anything.

Your building department is disgusting. The excuses they give is if it's visual then it's good. I'm a home and building inspector, visuals doesn't do it because if it's raining that's when an inspector needs to go look at a property. If it's cold and the heating unit doesn't work that's when they need to go look at those properties. This city your building department has excuses and might I add, they're not building and housing inspectors. They are electricians. They are plumbers. They're everybody but what I am.

If you're not going to start hiring people who have my qualifications then the city needs to get rid of the department altogether. Thank you.

1:53 Permalink

James Lamb

Lamb: Good evening Council.

Council President Kelley: Good evening.

Lamb: Good evening to the Mayor's cabinet. I am here this evening and I am here on the basis of what I heard last week. And when I heard council talk about the $511 million dollars that they want to spend in the communities that they're going to spend it in, I have one thing to say to council: $511 million dollars is good and I'm grateful I'm grateful that Cleveland has it. But I can tell you this. I've been around this government for 50 years and I've walked through this hall for 50 years. So I want everyone just think for a minute.

I've watched projects go up and project, and the same project get torn down. I watched Garden Valley, which was supposed to be a low-income housing project for low-income folk, get torn down because of the fact that it was addressed and they went along with it and turned around and only apart, only a part of that property got developed as a as apartments.

And now you want to take and put a justice center or or a fourth district across the street from where you sold $300,000 homes. I'm asking myself what in the world because I done watched this council, I done watched this council for 25 years, but I done watched the majority of this council for the last 16 years whereas I say the budget was balanced. I've seen the projects that you asked got passed and I'm still waiting to see the majority of them get completed.

But you're going to take $511 dollars and you're going to tell me that you're going to get a working group between council and you're going to decide how it's going to be spent. But you're going to spend part of that $511 million dollars with a consultant.

I think every last one of you should know what in the world you need a part of that money for and your community. You're going to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars with a consultant that's gonna come back and tell you that this can be done or this can't be done and in the time frame guess what...

Council President Kelley: Last comment please.

Lamb: In the time frame the mayor who served this body for 16 years and made sure that there was not no cut in salaries, that there was no loss of jobs,

Council President Kelley: Thank you.

Lamb: Is going to end up where? Get the budget and get it going now.

Council President Kelley: Thank you.

Lamb: Other than that, I'm going to ask that every face down here get removed.

Council President Kelley: Thank you.

3:58 Permalink

Councilmember Michael Polensek (Ward 8)

Councilmember Polensek: Thank you Mr. Chairman, honorable colleagues. I would be remiss if I didn't speak a little bit longer on three friends that that left us this last, this last week.

First as I indicated earlier Pearl Jackson. That name Pearl summed her up, she was a pearl of a person, Margaret's mom. Worked in city planning for years. My colleagues, my present colleagues didn't have a chance to to know her, I believe the majority of them, or all of them. She worked in city planning. She went out of her way to help this body on zoning issues, on issues before city planning. Just a type of city employee that you just you made a personal relationship with, personal friendship with over the years. She worked for the city over 30 years. And when I learned of her passing I called Margaret and just to say to them how appreciative I was on behalf of the body for what her mother did for this city.

Mansfield Frazier, a man that overcame adversity, discrimination, racism, who had a belief in the Hough neighborhood that it could be, it could be rebuilt and re-envisioned. And we would talk on the phone every now and then and I wish I knew that he was that ill. I didn't realize he was that seriously ill because I said when I heard of his passing as I wish I would have had an opportunity to talk to him. Because of his concern and what he did to redefine the Hough neighborhood and to show that if you are, if you believe in the neighborhood you can make a difference. He was a believer in the Hough neighborhood.

And then the last one I wanted to comment on is my dear friend Larry Jones. I got to tell you my brothers and sisters when I heard of his passing my stomach turned. You not only an outstanding member of the court, but an outstanding human being, who cared greatly about this city and our community. He was a member of our ward club, came to our ward club meetings. He was an avid golfer as we all know.

And what really hit me when I heard of his passing, two days before I was cleaning out a cupboard looking for some vitamins, and I came across a I guess you call it a bottle stopper or bottle plug, that he gave me on my 50th birthday. He handmade it. He was a woodworker. He made this and it's it was in a case. And I took it out of the cupboard I held it and I said, because his name he had put a little tag in there that he made it, I said thank you my brother for thinking of me. And then two days later it just hit me when I heard that he had passed. I never used that bottle stopper. I'll probably never use it so it's so beautiful, he hand crafted it for me. That's the kind of man he was. That's the kind of a character he was. Cared about the Glenville and Collinwood neighborhood. Served in this body. Outstanding judge, not only from from the standpoint of caring about the people that came before the court that he'd be fair, but how they impacted the neighborhood, trying to get their lives in order.

So Mr. Chairman, many of us many people have come through those doors to serve in this body. And in my christian faith when you remember someone's name they never pass, they never die. Please remember my brothers and sisters the honorable Judge Larry Jones Sr, Pearl Jackson and Mansfield Frazier. Thank you, God bless.

3:57 Permalink

Councilmember Brian Kazy (Ward 16)

Thank you Mr. President. Mr. President, tomorrow, October 12th is Down Syndrome Day in the City of Cleveland. And every year we celebrate individuals with down syndrome by doing some sort of event anywhere throughout the city. And tomorrow's event, for the past five months there's been 12 different organizations of individuals with different abilities working on a wall over on West 160th and Puritas. And this wall is going to be the largest wall mural dedicated to individuals with different abilities in the state of Ohio, and we believe that it's one of the largest ones in the country. And tomorrow at 5:30 we're unveiling that wall.

And down syndrome day is also sponsored by the Cleveland Browns so Rashard Higgins, "Hollywood" Higgins will be joining us tomorrow for the unveiling of of this mural. And it's really something special because the love and attention that went into this from individuals who won't understand the impact of it is actually breathtaking. It's this wall is is monstrous and for the past five months to watch individuals with developmental disabilities paint a wall, and to watch this whole thing transform into what it's become is simply an amazing thing for the city of Cleveland and it's one of the most beautiful murals that you'll ever witness.

So if anybody has any time tomorrow at 5:30 on West 160th and Puritas we're going to be unveiling the more alike than different mural and then we'll be moving to Gunning Park for a reception for the individuals with developmental disabilities. So I'd invite all of our colleagues and anybody from the administration who'd like to join us tomorrow to please do so. Thank you Mr. President.

1:47 Permalink

Councilmember Basheer S. Jones (Ward 7)

Council President Kelley: Councilman Basheer Jones.

Councilmember Basheer Jones: Thank you so much. To my good friend Brian Kazy man I just appreciate his consistency in that work man and I have a funeral to attend but I just think really your consistency in your work really it says a lot about you

And your family. and when I think about Mansfield Frazier, he's somebody that kicked my you know what I mean every single day. And he literally went from an opponent to a to a mentor. He's my neighbor. He actually sold me my first home on the same block that I experienced homelessness and he gave me a chance to become a homeowner. And what he did for this city it just really, it just really, just really touches me because at the end of the day, we can choose to live or we can we can forever remain dead. And he's somebody that lived life and even after his death physical death he still, he still will live amongst us as a fighter. For those who experience incarceration that amazing vineyard that he has on 66th and Hough, this was a serious loss for our community. It was a serious loss.

I had the chance a couple of weeks ago to just take a walk with him, to take a walk with him around the block. He couldn't walk too far. He just talked to me about the importance of fighting for people even if they don't understand why you're fighting for them. And that's the type of guy he was he didn't give, to the cameras he didn't give a daggone about what nobody had to say. He didn't care about the, you know, opponents. Whatever he stood for that's what he believed. And um and he stood for that and that's the type of life that I that I hope to live.

So you know what I'm asking for from from all my colleagues is I know that we have Mr. President rules and regulations around renaming streets but I would love for us to consider renaming East 66th to Mansfield Fraizer Way. He was somebody who truly had a love for this community. He was a fighter. He's everything that Hough stood for. And it really it really is it really is heartbreaking um to see that.

And then you have another situation where you have young people in our city. A very good friend of mine, we we called him Duke but his real name was Edward Cameron, shot and killed on 33rd and Central. We had another situation recently in my neighborhood on Chester, on Chester Avenue behind Erie Square apartments, a young lady found murdered and dead in the bushes. There's a there's a serious spiritual trauma that exists in our city.

You said something Mr. President that I thought was really important that any place where there is no resources it gives it an opportunity for crime to exist. And much like Mansfield and much like many young people in this city, they don't want to be involved in crime and they don't want to to do these things but for some reason, some of the reasons are valid, others may be fictional, that they feel like that's their only choice. And God has given us all an opportunity to serve people and we should do that just like Mansfield until our final our final breath. So just want to say thank you.

Much different. I appreciate Mike Polensek you know I don't, my mindset is a little different now, that those who have been consistent in fighting on behalf of people who will never say thank you, it takes a lot of damn guts to do that man. So I say to everybody who's been consistent in your work despite what the critics say thank you for loving people. Thank you for being consistent. Always criticize you but never come to you and say when you're doing good. So to all of you who've been consistent in your work, even if we have disagreed I still appreciate you, and I thank you for your consistency. Thank you. [Music]

4:30 Permalink

Councilmember Blaine A. Griffin (Ward 6)

Councilmember Griffin: Thank you so much and I'll just dovetail into what Councilman Jones uh said and everybody knows that there's always a warning sign when you speak after Councilman Jones because he's so eloquent. I told him...

Voice: High expectations

Councilmember Griffin: He uh when he actually uh starts his uh church or spiritual center I'd be the first one to visit because I believe he gonna have the biggest uh crowd in the entire uh city. Biishop Ward.

But let me say this. Mansfield Fraizer, very close friend of mine. And you know it's ironic that Councilman Jones just went before me because one of the first instructions that Mansfield gave me when Councilman Basheer Jones was elected is he called me and he said cat I need you to look out for my man. I said man that's my little brother I got him. You ain't never got to worry about that. He said no. He said cat you know how Basheer can be. I just need you to make sure you take...I said man listen I got him, don't worry about that. And he said cat no I'm gonna tell you one more time. He said if you don't take care of Basheer and make sure he's all right at city hall then we're going to deal with you.

And the reason I want you to recognize that because Mansfield was the type of person that iron sharpened iron. The conversations with him were not always pleasant. He had one of the best contemporary minds that this city has probably ever talked about. He thought out of the box. He was the first person that had a vision that from Gus Gallucci's all the way to League Park, when Fannie Lewis was actually helping put League Park together, he was the first one that said this is going to be something big and special and you don't see it yet. But he had a vision and seen it before anybody could ever think about it. Councilman Jones was so fortunate to help see that vision and make it a reality. And I'm so happy that you know he said the words that he said because we got so many of our older guys that are mentoring us and it means a lot to us. It means a lot that. We got deans on council that we may not always agree, but they bring a lot of institutional wisdom and knowledge and we got to start being able to take advantage of that. This council is losing a lot of institutional wisdom and knowledge and it's important that we accept those words whenever they have.

I also got to give a moment to give a special special, you know a person who was near dear to me was Larry Jones Jr. We went to church together. He and his wife Jennifer, his son Larry II we spent a lot of times on the phone together. And you know was one of those guys that would look out for me and talk to me and say hey man I seen you on tv today. I didn't like how you were looking, are you okay? And just to be a a mentor and somebody who you can listen to.

We got people like that all throughout this community and we're losing a lot of them in these days. So I just encourage all of, all of us um, I tell everybody that I'm not young anymore I'm young adjacent, that we actually start listening and you know talking to some of our elders because we're losing a lot of institutional knowledge in this city.

I must also, be remisses if we don't acknowledge Judge Joe Russo and also Nancy McDonald. Two people who actually dedicated and were trailblazers on the courts and did a lot of great things as well.

So we're here as the mayor said last week in his great state of the city speech uh he wasn't just talking about mayors he was talking about all public servants, whether you're elected or appointed, that we now have the baton. And it's important for us to be the shepherds of this city. It's going to be times when we have to make tough decisions as a council, but I'm going to work my hardest to make sure that we work and unify this council so that we can always get some stuff done. So it's an honor and privilege to work with all of you. We're losing some good friends but I'm also gaining some great friends by working with all of you so thank you so much and have a great day.

3:41 Permalink

Councilmember Kevin Conwell (Ward 9)

[Music] [Music] um you see the man [Music] him we also recognize him and defeat him because I said earlier he is the man so the spirit that you mentioned is the same thing [Music] everlasting and christmas you know what i'm talking about um judge joe tyler tyler doing oblivion talking about that male 1 he passed away and children you know children have to see success every single day and they see that success and they saw it just by watching judge larry jones so um to talk about a council member a uh municipal judge a county judge [Music]

2:36 Permalink

Councilmember Anthony Brancatelli (Ward 12)

Councilmember Brancatelli: Thank you Mr. President and certainly thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as chair of economic development.

When I first was notified that I was getting nominated by the IEDC I didn't actually know what it was. I thought it was like a Center for Disease Control or something. So as I looked it up I never had the fashion to go to any of their big time conferences and as Councilman Slife knows has been in the professional world, economic deals being done in Florida and Texas those are big deals, thousand person jobs and working in Cleveland is a challenge. And I just want to thank my colleagues who continue to push and bring these small businesses to us and advocate for their businesses and their neighborhood.

It really starts on the on on the level of being out there as a council person and as a Councilwoman Spencer knows the CDC's that really help put those packages together and work hand-to-hand with those small businesses and even large-scale businesses that we see downtown. And more importantly economic development and mayor's administration because really the programs and packages that they helped put together as I told former Director Nichols I mean when they bring when the administration brings these packages it is a little bit like health care, they're surgically put together and really refined to the last dollar amount, and you understand it quite well and if you don't understand it it goes from being elective surgery to an involuntary colonoscopy with no anesthesia. But they they want to make sure that you understand it and they want to make sure that these things are put together and the success rate that the packages that the economic development team has put together just is incredible.

So hats off to administration the council and all of our CDC's I was truly honored to get that award on behalf of the city of Cleveland.

1:46 Permalink

Councilmember Kevin J. Kelley (Ward 13)

Council President Kelley: Just a couple, just to share the quick reflections. I was uh I did not know that Mansfield's health had taken a turn this this quickly. So this was this was a shocker. I've spent much time with him and he was really instructive to me, talking about how when people want second chances and their record is holding them back that you know we as a community do a better a better job with that. And he was very uh, talked to him about when the city got rid of the ban the box portion the application. And I know he very much wanted to run for office himself but that had always kept him back. But uh just somebody who had faced some difficult times, had some troubles, but really rebuilt himself and in doing so really rebuilt the part of the community.

Judge Jones is somebody who I had a very special relationship with because uh, I'm just going to date myself, back in the day when the court of common please was first awarded the drug court program they didn't want it. And it was the money and the program was going to be given back. But Judge Jones took it to municipal court and I was the mental health case manager on the first drug court with uh with Judge Jones and he was just a pleasure to work with. He was somebody who really took all of everybody's considerations you know into you know into account when he was making decisions. And as a result of what Judge Jones did common pleas court did eventually see the light and the drug court is changing lives and I think we have Judge Jones to thank for saving that program before we we gave the resources back. So I think it's just a tremendous loss to our community.

I appreciate everybody's words, you know let's not forget he was a member of council as well. He was one of us and uh tremendous loss. So I appreciate everybody's words. It's been um you know been a lot of loss in a short period of time but um as a, to echo Councilman Jones, let's just all appreciate each other and the hard work.

2:01 Permalink