November 15, 2021

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Public Commenters (10 min)
Melaak Rashid  Sean Freeman  Rev. Pamela M. Pinkney Butts 

Councilmember comments during Miscellaneous (3 min)
Jenny Spencer (Ward 15)  Blaine A. Griffin (Ward 6)  Michael Polensek (Ward 8) 

Melaak Rashid

I want to first thank City Council for allowing us to be here today. I come to display my support for the participatory budgeting process in Cleveland.

Today, there are more than 3,000 participatory budgeting processes around the world--most at the municipal level. This shows alone the success of the process and how transformative it is in each city worldwide is used. This process is used internationally and started in Brazil.

Traditionally, Cleveland residents have been left out of the discussion and decision making tables for too long. The work that City Council has done throughout COVID and especially this last year has shown that growth and change can continue to happen and that City Council is already on the right track. Leading residents often make up for the gaps in official knowledge leading to better more equitable and innovative solutions while also bringing the people and the government closer to together to each other as a community. I only hope that City Council can continue the good work they have done by also supporting participatory budgeting in Cleveland. In the process historically disenfranchised groups are able to participate and historically marginalized residents tend to participate more leading to the government hearing new voices and have new ideas.

The community I represent--which is comprised of immigrants, refugees, and newcomers, and ethnic minorities--deserve to be heard as all Cleveland residents deserve to be heard as well. As a child of immigrants who are also displaced refugees, I, too, know the power in one's voice and how much of a difference it can make in government.

The need of the community-at-large cannot just be met by those who hold public office, who often times are already burdened with all the different work that they have to do, and sometimes may not be able to hear all the different needs of each resident just due to their workload alone. But those who are part of the daily fabric that make the community what they what it is are who truly knows what the needs are beyond what our city officials can manage on their own. This can help meet the needs of more individuals in a more intersectional way. We work to strengthen our communities into the individuals who call this community home through outreach, education, dialogue, and civic engagement.

This process is designed to bring us all together to make better budgeting decisions, working together to identify needs, learn about available resources, and share solutions, not only connects individuals to one another but also creates collaboration across blocks, neighborhoods, and organizations city-wide. This will inspire people to work together and improve our community even more, and I only hope that as this process continues and the ideas continue to grow while residents do not know as the complications what that comes with budgeting, I very much so trust that our city officials and City Council members can help this community grow and learn along the way.

Thank you.

2:53 Permalink

Sean Freeman

Good evening Council. Congratulations to this year's election winners. Congratulations as well to Councilman Griffin on likely becoming our next Council president.

My name is Sean Freeman I am currently a resident of Shaker Heights and wish to speak to you today on the Progressive Field renovation deal. According to reports from local news sources, we are being asked to pay a combined 435 million dollars with Cuyahoga County to renovate Progressive Field. Of course we want to help the Guardians thrive and compete with the best in MLB. Better stadiums for the fans and players are vital to Cleveland's continued success. Our payment however has to be proportional to our profits. What do we get in this deal? We are being asked to sell the parking garage next to the stadium--a major asset for the city primarily in maintaining consistent parking costs. Additionally, we're being asked to pay over 40 million dollars for renovations to the executive offices.

We should be solely focused on making improvements that help enhance the ballpark experience of as many people as possible, not just for a few. I'm sure there are many stakeholders in this conversation other than those quoted, but where is Progressive insurance? Surely they would want a stake in how their stadium looks.

The value of the Cleveland Guardians has increased about five-fold since the early 2000s. What could we achieve with just a fraction of that profit? Council, please take your time reviewing this deal. We have time before our current contract expires.

While I can only address Council here, if I were to speak to Mr. Dolan I would like to remind him that Cleveland is home. He and his family have been a part of institutions of this area like Saint Ignatius High School, John Carroll University and Cleveland State. At Ignatius and John Carroll, all students learn to be men for others, caring especially for our neighbors who have our back through thick and thin.

2016 was an incredible time to be a part of this city. We as fans are so excited for the future of this great franchise, one that has our back as much as we have theirs.

Thank you and go Guardians.

2:25 Permalink

Rev. Pamela M. Pinkney Butts

Pinkney Butts: Good evening everyone. I don't know everyone in the room. I'm Revered Pamela M. Pinkney Butts and I'm very concerned about our city and the political move that's taking place in our country right now.

I had an event I helped organize an event on last week addressing one of the entities I have in place with two of them are Global Engagement Dissolving Violence Against Women and Children. Another one is the International Heterosexual Clergy Alliance and I'm a pastor of many churches. I had an event last week I helped organize an event addressing violence against women of color. And one of my concerns this evening is the new mayor who will take the position of leadership over our city, the people who surrounded him were all men who abuse women, in one way or another. And one of them in particular violates young girls who's in a position of leadership.

I'm coming out of a storm one thing in a storm especially when you're in the eye of the storm you don't know who is who completely. But I'm here tonight to let you know that this game must cease. I'm gonna hate to see Mayor Frank Jackson leave. He's one of the most kind people I've ever met in my entire life that's a politician. I hear white America constantly especially nowadays saying they have white privilege. Well I have favor from God which is greater than privilege. And we need to get past all this racism to the core because when the air and the blood meet it's all red.

We're losing you all. I see in some of the ordinances that you plan tonight you have idols that you're building, monuments. We spend more money on guns, drugs, alcohol and violence than we do in building homes, putting plumbing, roofs on homes. You can't cover up pain with medication.

Council President Kelley: Last comment please

Pinkney Butts: I'm glad that you have opened the mic up for the people to speak, but don't just make it a process, hear the cry and the call of the people who have elected you. And I'm concerned about the violence of women especially women and children of color.

Council President Kelley: Thank you.

Pinkney Butts: And heterosexual rights being violated.

3:27 Permalink

Councilmember Jenny Spencer (Ward 15)

Councilmember Spencer: Thank you Mr. Council President. I wanted to just take a moment to reflect with my colleagues on turnout, voter turnout from this last November's election, because turnout is a measure, one of the measures that we can use to look at the health of our of our democracy. So I wanted to to look at the numbers a little bit together.

You all might be surprised to hear as I was that despite a competitive mayoral race this year city-wide turnout was 23.4 percent in 2021, and it actually was down from 23.9 percent in 2017 and that really surprised me. So we have 247,272 registered voters city-wide meaning that 189,000 of those people stayed home this year. So across our wards voter turnout ranged from as low as a little more than 13 percent up to a high of 43 percent. So there are many factors that go into whether citizens feel like they, like their vote matters and that they have a way to influence change in their own communities. And I just wanted to take a moment to to share that reflection with all of us about how we can work together and I look forward to doing that to improving turnout and strengthening our communities together

And then my second miscellaneous is that myself along with Councilman Bishop and Councilman Hairston were all wearing pink shirts tonight in celebration of the passage of our feminine products legislation. [Applause]

1:39 Permalink

Councilmember Blaine A. Griffin (Ward 6)

Councilmember Griffin: Thank you Mr. President. Just want to acknowledge, a lot of people may not know this, but I think the dean of Cleveland City Council--Mike Polensek-- turned 21 today, so let's wish him a happy birthday to the dean of Council.

0:15 Permalink

Councilmember Michael Polensek (Ward 8)

Councilmember Polensek: Mr. Chairman, I want to thank my colleagues and my friend Blaine Griffin for that, but after being here for as many years I have most probably is not a good sign of mental stability. So I'll leave it at that, okay. Thank you.

0:11 Permalink