October 25, 2021

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Public Commenters (10 min)
Paul Sherlock  Kareem Henton  Yvonka Hall 

Councilmember comments during Miscellaneous (10 min)
Basheer S. Jones (Ward 7)  Kerry McCormack (Ward 3)  Joseph T. Jones (Ward 1) 

Paul Sherlock

Sherlock: Good evening everybody. I'm here to discuss the merits of participatory budgeting. Participatory budgeting is a program that is catching hold in communities throughout the country. What participatory budgeting does is set aside a portion of the local government's revenue in a pool that is to be invested in community-based projects. Community members submit proposals on projects they would like to see in their neighborhoods, then those community members vote on which project or projects they feel is most deserving of the funding.

Why should we have participatory budgeting in the city of Cleveland? I think first off we have to start by stating the obvious: that all government revenue is the citizens money. However most of this money filters into projects the cities, that the citizens don't have a real say over and may even oppose. When I say this I think of the Opportunity Corridor that is set to open. While we as citizens do see some benefits of the money that we pay in taxes, such as paving decrepit streets and building new schools, most of the money we pay in taxes goes towards things that, things where we as average citizens see no tangible benefit.

Participatory budgeting would offer a way for people to feel like the money they pay in taxes is indeed improving their lives. As the name implies, participatory budgeting has people taking part in governmental decisions, which may allow them to feel that the government can indeed work under the right circumstances. Participatory budgeting also removes layers of bureaucracy in getting things done, like needing to run a proposal by a council person who would then need to advocate for that project and get and sway a majority of other council members to approve of the project, a process I'm sure all council members present here know can be arduous.

Instead participatory budgeting can offer the ability for people to write up proposals and vote on them in a short amount of time, and have the money shovel ready for when those citizens want to begin their project. I think it's time for the city of Cleveland to give its citizens a sense of empowerment by adopting participatory budgeting thank you very much.

Council President Kelley: Thank you.

2:49 Permalink

Kareem Henton

Henton: Good evening me again. I'll make this quick. I just wanted to bring to everyone's attention the fact that uh with regards to ballot initiatives, issues that are up for, up right now during this election period that's coming up, that these things come before you because these are things that citizens want the opportunity to vote on.

If it means so much to the people that they want to sign, that they go out and they gather signatures, that they put so much effort into this, they deserve that right. But I'm going to take it a step further. I'm asking that if for example by some long shot, that issue 24 or certain issues that folks are trying to get, make into city charter, if they don't make it, will you then put the attention into it that it deserves because citizens found it to be an issue?

The example that I'll give is regarding the hard work of CLASH. When they were trying to bring let the lead safe initiative to your attention and they brought out comprehensive things that could be done to make Clevelanders lead safe. Well that idea was co-opted. That idea was taken over by members of city council and you came up with a plan that was different than theirs but at least you did something, so I give you credit for that.

All I'm asking is that if issue 24 does not pass, are you going to acknowledge that this is a matter that is very important to citizens and will you then take up the mantle and actually try to address the concerns of citizens, or are you just going to say hey we escaped that one and just you're just going to leave it and just let it die? Acknowledge your constituency. If your constituency in your particular ward is not concerned with that, that's just your ward. But you vote on things that's not just concerning your ward. Pay attention to the other Clevelanders that are not in your ward and what's important to them. Because in the end you guys make up a collective that's supposed to make things better for everybody not just the people in your ward and not just for yourselves and the people that you're in alignment with and you're friends with. Clevelanders many want this.

If you think issue 24 isn't good enough then you guys get together and make something that you think is good enough. But don't leave it unaddressed. Otherwise you're not hearing the voice of the citizens. Thank you.

3:00 Permalink

Yvonka Hall

Hall: Good evening. So we have a few things that are going on this month. So this is lead prevention awareness week but this is also national healthy lung month, domestic violence month, and cancer month. And I have to let you know the correlation between all of those things and lead.

Lung disease affects a huge number of Americans. Around 10 million are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis each year. 25 million are believed to be living with asthma and over 150,000 die from lung cancer annually. Our lungs are important and healthy lung month is our opportunity to create awareness around healthy lifestyle choices. All types of tobacco products contain chemicals that can be harmful to your health. Cigarette, cigars, tobacco, pipe tobacco are made from dried tobacco leaves. Other substances like menthol added to reduce the irritation and harshness from smoking. Tobacco smoke is made up of thousands of chemicals including at least 70 known to cause cancer. These cancer-causing chemicals are referred to as carcinogens. Lead is one of the carcinogens that is found in cigarettes, and can have adverse effects on our health. As the tobacco plant grows, it absorbs chemicals like lead from the soil and fertilizer.

Lead affects nearly every system in your body and may occur without any noticeable symptoms. Lead plays a significant role of health related issues. According to the World Health Organization, two to six percent of lead in cigarettes is inhaled by the smoker. Lead and tobacco has been associated with impaired fetal growth and brain development. Exposure to lead and similar toxins caused criminal behavior later in life and that reducing such exposure would make our community safer.

The average age for beginning smoking is 12 years old. Researchers found that lead has led to many more disciplinary infractions and juvenile delinquency in schools and increased cities homicide rates. The Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition and partnership with the Center for Black Health and Equity want you to know that you have been targeted for death. Ohio is one of the top 15 states with high rates of smokers. Nationally, 15 percent of smokers are African-American. Three-quarters of black smokers say they their usual cigarette brand is menthol, which is more than twice the next highest rate seeing among Hispanics. Menthol cigarettes companies have historically targeted black people, offering free cigarettes in urban areas. Tobacco use is the leading cause of lung cancer and smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. Lead, this has led prevention week. Earlier this year the FDA announced that it was proposing tobacco product standards to ban menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and to ban all characterizing flavors including menthol and cigars.

Today choose life. I'm asking you to be transformative in Cleveland.

Council President Kelley: Please wrap up.

Hall: And to ban menthol flavored products. Menthol makes smoking easy to start and hard to quit.

Council President Kelley: Thank you.

3:25 Permalink

Councilmember Basheer S. Jones (Ward 7)

Councilmember Basheer Jones: Thank you so much. Thank you that's why I wore a red turtleneck today for a special day so please forgive me yes now. I'm 50. I turned 50 today man so.

Council President Kelley: There's nothing wrong with that.

Councilman Basheer Jones: It's the shea butter it's the shea butter. No I'm joking 37 but um.

You know over the weekend, last week rather, we lost someone in our community that was very impactful. His name was Fiaz Muntaser but everyone know him as Tone. Tones Wireless if you're familiar with Tones Wireless and if you can Madam Clerk set aside a number for him. He was somebody who was a very well-known business person in the community and you know it's these type of business owners who have decided to stay in Cleveland. Who continue to invest in the city of Cleveland. And they are the people that the members of that community, even though they are not the majority of that community being of Arab descent, they still treated the people with dignity and sincerity and love and for that they've had businesses for years and years and years, passed down by generations. And he passed away due to COVID. 44 years old and someone that was really loved by the community.

And you know Mr. President we have a lot of business owners like that in our community who really truly deserve more support from the city. Especially many of our Arab business owners, minority business owners for that all business owners really everybody. Whether it's an issue around getting police officers to arrive when they call. Whether it's an issue with the time that it takes to get money from the the city. Whether it's for um fix up the outside or the inside. Or just the stipulations to even get help. They have to be pristine record, pristine credit, pristine this and that, and ultimately they end up not really being able to go to the next level.

So I just I just say to to all of us it's those business owners who have committed to our neighborhoods, who have been having the corner store like my guy Sam on on 60 60 something in St Clair. We got a lot of Sams throughout the city by the way. But they they give a break to some mothers who who need to get milk who doesn't have all of the money. They give a break to one of our little cousins who stole a bag of chips but don't call the cops but make them work in order to pay off that. We have to be a city that does better by these local business owners who have decided to stay in the community out of love and it's time that we've returned that love back to them.

So I just wanted to give a love to my brother we call him Tone. If you've seen Tone's Wireless most of us got our phones from him. All of our Obama phones came from Tone. But he was an amazing man for the community and may God bless him his family thank you.

3:17 Permalink

Councilmember Kerry McCormack (Ward 3)

Councilmember McCormack: Thank you Mr. President. The cheap seats over here still don't have microphones so I appreciate my colleague for allowing me to speak and happy birthday Councilman Jones. So I was like he cannot be 50. There's no way at that.

Mr. President um this morning we had a really productive and informative hearing with the with the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition about the lead paint crisis in Cleveland. We know that far too many of our children suffer from lead paint poisoning in the you know long time, lifetime, excuse me, effect it can have on the health and well-being of our children and our families. We know this grave problem because we've all been working diligently to be a part of the solution over the past few years And even though it is such a a critical issue, we also have a really exciting and great opportunity to do something about it and that's in the form of a request from the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition to fund a portion of the ARPA funding to go into the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition um to really uh round the corner to fulfill that $99 million dollar commitment to fully fund the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition.

Right now it's at about $45 million dollars. The request into the city is about 3 percent of the ARPA funding, $17.5 million dollars. So three percent of the total allocation to the city of Cleveland to get to a place where we can then raise the rest from the private sector and truly become a lead safe city, therefore preventing our babies and children in Ohio City, in Glenville, in Colinwood, and West Park and other places from being poisoned by lead and therefore carrying those lifelong consequences.

Right now the mayor's proposal has five million dollars. I'm asking this council to consider fulfilling that full $17.5 million dollars which will get the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition over the finish line to raise the rest of the private funding, to fully fund the efforts to prevent our children and babies from being poisoned by lead. So Mr. President as we go through with our fearless majority leader helping to run this process too, I encourage us to take a hard look at that request and to really consider what that that allocation, 3% of our ARPA funding could do not only um to get us to the full $99 million to become a lead safe Cleveland. I mean this to me is so exciting.

We can get there. We're so close. So if we can put this skin in the game as a city we can get there and prevent future generations of children in our community from living with lead paint poisoning. Thank you.

2:47 Permalink

Councilmember Joseph T. Jones (Ward 1)

Councilmember Joe Jones: Mr. Chairman I you know I rise to talk about an incident just today where I received a phone call from a business owner who has property in our community and he leases property office space and his facility and he's done a great job over the years and his family in owning this property. But one of the things that he's been having over the space of the last year and now within the last six months is that his business is constantly being broken into and vandalized. And the businesses are being vandalized in a way where their trucks are they're having the catalytic converters cut out and this has been several times. We've called it into the police station on a number of occasions and to no avail. One of the people that was doing business has now decided to to move out of our neighborhood. And in addition to that we have another business that's there that's looking to move as well.

One of the problems that we have is we don't have enough police officers that are manning our neighborhoods in our city. We have seen a spike of crime in the time period that I've been here as a citizen in the city of Cleveland at 150 deaths. This is something that is absolutely for a citizen like me is is mind-boggling. And then we had the reports about not having enough staff on EMS and that their time and response time is, in terms of responding to our citizens, is at a issue of question.

And so Mr. Chairman I rise to ask for support from my colleagues and one of the things that I think is very very important is to have a consistent hiring period in the city of Cleveland. If we can put one month out of the year aside to hire EMS, fire fighters, and police officers, and to begin the process to constantly cultivate and stimulate people and citizens who want those jobs so when we do have vacancies in these departments we have a list by which we can draw from.

Now many of us have been talking about the ARPA funds and today I was talking to my colleague Mike Polensek who said that we could not use our ARPA funds to hire police officers. Well one of the reasons why it's so important for us to understand and have a real basic understanding of the use of those funds is to facilitate a session where we have someone comes in and tells and educate the entire council on how those funds can be used. We can use those funds to hire police officers. We have the flexibility to be able to use those funds and we have the ability and capacity right now at the year end we will have a hundred million dollars in cash on hand in the city of Cleveland. Its no way in the world we should not be filling these vacancies. These are the life kind of quality issues that our residents demand for us as council members and as leaders to make sure that we have the basic things in place.

And so I plead with my colleagues here today. I will be working with Mr. Griffin so that we can come up with some kind of concept and how that process will work and I'm appreciative and honored to have the opportunity to serve with this council. I like some of what we've been talking about at the table earlier today and I'm excited about the future of this city and I'm honored to have the opportunity to serve as a councilman. Thank you.

3:49 Permalink