December 06, 2021

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Public Commenters (22 min)
Grace Heffernan  Akin Affrica  Brandon Chrostowski  Hallie Bram Kogelschatz  Robert Render  Mike Fiala  Akshai Singh  Jeremy V. Johnson  Andy Schumann 

Councilmember comments during Miscellaneous (69 min)
Kerry McCormack (Ward 3)  Basheer S. Jones (Ward 7)  Kevin Conwell (Ward 9)  Blaine A. Griffin (Ward 6)  Joseph T. Jones (Ward 1)  Anthony T. Hairston (Ward 10)  Michael Polensek (Ward 8)  Kevin L. Bishop (Ward 2)  Delores L. Gray (Ward 5)  Brian Kazy (Ward 16)  Marion Anita Gardner (Ward 4)  Kevin J. Kelley (Ward 13) 

Grace Heffernan

All right. Thank you. Greetings everyone. I was first the last time I was here too so I have good timing on the website. So good evening thank you so much for having public comment today. My name is Grace Heffernan and I'm here on behalf of the Guardians for Fair Work campaign.

We're a coalition of residents from across the city and over 30 community groups, faith-based groups and labor organizations and we believe that people are the economy. And what is the economy if not how we value each other, how we make decisions that protect each other's rights and dignity that help us to take care of our families and to provide us with a fair chance at a good life. And it's with that in mind that we say Cleveland can do better. We'd like to see a Cleveland where wage theft enforcement and fair scheduling practices are the norm. A region where workers do not fear repercussions for standing up for what they are owed and where workplaces offer predictability in their scheduling that can offer us the freedom to use our time to earn enough money to make ends meet and to take care of our families. This work is especially important if we think about who's most often impacted by wage theft and unfair scheduling. Those are workers of color those are young workers they're women workers and they're disproportionately represented in low-wage work in our community. They also make up a large share of the essential workers in our community, those very same folks we've been calling heroes for the last 18 months and we think there's some simple ways that we can show them that they're heroes.

So we actually got a chance to speak with a few of you last week-- thank you so much for answering our emails. We cannot overstate how much we appreciated your time and your comments and your thoughtfulness and for those of you who we have not spoken to, we do look forward to it. And in the meantime we would like to make a special holiday delivery to our fine friends on City Council. We have Kim Bobo's book "Wage Theft in America" for each of you. I'm certain as you were thinking "How will I spend my holiday recess?" you're hoping that some joyful worker elves would be here today to deliver christmas presents. Hopefully you can get them, we actually didn't look into that too carefully. So anyways

Council President Kelley: What is the value of those books?

Heffernan: Oh that's a great question let's see. We got a 10 % discount from a local independent bookstore let's go with $17.99.

Council President Kelley: I'd hate to have somebody trip over the ethical rules but I think $17.99 gets it.

Heffernan: Okay. Very good There's also a free bookmark in there, so, in any event, thank you so much for your time and um I'd like to just say that these are just two issues that are important to workers and if you'd like to hear more um I hope that you'll consider Participatory Budgeting. It's a great way to hear from not only workers but residents in Cleveland about how they'd like to see our shared assets. But thanks everyone.

3:04 Permalink

Akin Affrica

Affrica: All right. How are we doing today?

Council President Kelley: All is well.

Affrica: All right I was hoping I wasn't first because this is my first time. So I guess I'm speaking in support of the initiative for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and Burton, Bell Carr to purchase Shaker Square and I just want to speak from my perspective as a merchant. I think it's a great thing. Being a business owner, small business owner, and a real estate investor in the community, I know how properties can go disarray very quickly with out-of-town owners. Owners that's not hands-on, especially in the bank's hands.

So I am the founder of Zanzibar Soul Fusion. I've been on Shaker Square for 10 years now, the founder of Cleveland Breakfast Club, the Cleveland Vegan Club. My wife has been up there nine and a half years at Fowler by Fashions and we are full of support of the initiative. I think that's it.

0:56 Permalink

Brandon Chrostowski

Chrostowski: Thank you, Kevin

Good evening my name is Brandon Chrostowski and I'm a Cleveland voter taxpayer and Shaker Square resident and businessman who has created many jobs in our community.

I'm speaking today about the proposed ordinance 1038-2021 that has been delayed until next year, and how bad of a deal it is for Cleveland taxpayers. While we all agree that ownership - new ownership - of Shaker Square is necessary, it is not necessary this way. It is a corporate bailout an absurd use of public funds in the form of forgivable loans that overpay for a property by nearly double, when in our community there is a struggle for some to keep their lights on or even have coats for children. The six million in overpayment for this property could provide lead abatement for 600 homes, President Kelley you know that, ordinance number 747. It could provide 1 million lunches for kids. It can provide $1,250 families with groceries for a year. We are relieved to hear this has been postponed because there is not a rush.

I want counselor to know that the receiver has been responsive spending tens of thousands of dollars on Shaker Square and Sherrif's sale could be up to a year away, and even so could be purchased exercising the right of redemption. And interest costs rising, that's a forgivable thing that the banks often do, so it won't get more expensive if that's what the the storyline is. More time allows us to 1) gather stakeholders and others to meet to be informed 2) evaluate other plans. Currently there's only one plan. 3) discuss options and negotiate a better deal with a bank, allow for competitive bid, talk with private investment or even consider eminent domain to drive a fair market value price.

We have begun to establish a committee with residents of our community, merchants and former elected officials. Our plan is to reason with stakeholders and find a middle ground so that a plan for a new Shaker Square is done fairly for everyone. The most upsetting part of this process has been the deception, which is a huge red flag. This most recent leg of the journey of ordinance 1038-21 began with not even bringing the details of the deal to our local councilwoman Anita Gardner until she had written a letter to stop this ordinance. I want to thank Councilwoman Anita Gardner. Thank you Ms. Gardner who was a true hero in our community. She not only listened to the countless voices of Ward 4. She represented those voices without compromising Ward 4's integrity by caving into the pressure of politics. Councilwoman Gardner you're an amazing representative for our award. I also want to thank Councilwoman-Elect Deborah Gray for supporting the delay, and who refused to undermine any current decision made by councilwoman. What we'll remember about this deal is really the deception behind it and hopefully this evening council will not bring issue 1038-21 or anything like it forward this evening.

I thank you for your time and really appreciate your confidence in this decision of delaying it. Thank you.

Council President Kelley: Thank you.

3:08 Permalink

Hallie Bram Kogelschatz

My name is Hallie Bram Kogelschatz. I'm a merchant at Shaker Square and I've had the pleasure of being there for the past five years.

I say that I've had the pleasure but It's really been a privilege because what I've been able to do as a merchant is get to know the residents and be an active participant in the Buckeye community.

It's been a pleasure to host them in my space to have merchant and resident meetings and get to know what the residents are really thinking and feeling and what I can tell you is that there is an intention to have the square serve both the residents and the merchants.

What I can tell you as a merchant is that the condition of the square has forced many merchants to leave or to not proceed in expanding businesses such as mine. We are in a position where because of the current condition of the square, with the roof failing, with the basement leaking, with the walls weeping, we are not in a position to do business as we normally would do. My goal here is to present an accurate picture of what is actually happening with the infrastructure at the square so that all of you on council can get a better perspective on what is needed there to attract business that can best serve the residents and the merchant community on the square. I thank you for taking this proposal seriously. I do think it's a way for us to stabilize the square and be sure that it can be purchased at a fair market value in the near future. Thank you so much.

1:27 Permalink

Robert Render

Render: Good evening, president and members of council. This afternoon at 4 o'clock, 50 some stakeholders met it in front of the CVS in support of the legislation that was was supposed to be presented this evening - but it will be presented at the beginning of the next year hopefully 12 of the merchants who are part of the Shaker Square infrastructure not infrastructure but part of sacred square have gone on record to say they support this initiative.

Former council member Zack Reed was there also and he received word from the incoming mayor of the city of Cleveland, who supports this project. I'm a 30-year resident of on East 128th street, block club president and precinct committeeman. I know that this is only the catalyst of larger investments that's going to benefit Ward 6 Ward 4 for years to come. And I hope you support this when it comes before the council in January. Thank thank. you Thank you.

0:59 Permalink

Mike Fiala

Fiala: I thought about biking down here today and instead I took the 22 bus from the near West Side and as I was riding the bus tonight I thought about how much I love this place on the great Lake Erie and this city no matter how many times it pierces my heart.

I hope you feel the same and have less wounds

My name is Mike Fiala and I've lived on the near West Side for the last 40 years. It's where I was born and went to school and I've been engaged in my neighborhood for all those years in a lot of different ways. Tonight I join with others to ask you for your support in allocating towards a Participatory Budgeting process in Cleveland. $31 million of the $512 million from the American Rescue Plan Act

I went through such a budgeting process this past April in a Zoom house party discussing how monies might be spent to meet clear needs in my neighborhood and community. We need to engage our neighbors and community in a wide range of ways in our neighborhoods. Simply electing you to City Council to make the decisions yourselves as our reps isn't sufficient and fails in many ways. It allows us to whine or complain without feeling the weight of the responsibility. We need to learn and bear the direct force of and for the decisions, the actual details and specific allocating of the budget will put us in that place.

Simply put, Participatory Budgeting is a meaningful and successful experiment in responsible democracy. It's been used in over 700 communities in Canada and the U.S., gives people in the neighborhoods real power to determine what best meets their needs. As in most things, it's in the details at the street and neighborhood level and experience that we feel our connection to government, its workings, failures and successes. I recommend you review this budgeting process to become more adequately informed and embrace it. In my experience, I've found it to be a chance to debate opportunities and needs of my community. I don't think anyone is really against the idea of citizen participation in such an idea. The actual mechanics that would work is the point and I'm hopeful that that can be addressed well. So here's an opportunity to support a handful of valued ideas through legislation for your legacy today I trust your good judgment will prevail. Before I conclude I'd also like to give a plug for the Guardians for Fair Work, who are requesting legislation that addresses workers' need for wage theft enforcement and fair scheduling policies. A fair request to say the least.

3:16 Permalink

Akshai Singh

Good evening, members of council. Tonight I'm here to speak on support of the Participatory Budgeting that Mike just spoke about.

This is going to be kind of a shout out speech to councilwoman Gardner. We had met in 2008, when you were helping with leading the Obama campaign in Ward 3 and you taught me a lot about ECOT and the work that happened there, and what it meant for citizens to get involved and actively need to be pushing back against the pressures that they're facing - in that case from Countrywide and their unfair lending practices.

But this is something that absolutely needs to happen within the deals that are made by the city of Cleveland or the county. I'm a resident of Cleveland Heights but obviously these deals go hand in hand. By getting more involved and engaging more in a participatory budgeting process, we could definitely be seeing better deals being struck and when we're talking about the costs of say Shaker Square or the Opportunity Corridor or improving the Quicken Loans Arena or Progressive Field. All these are great opportunities to be engaging the citizens of Cleveland as to what needs to also be coming along in these deals -- better community benefits. The American Rescue Plan is a great opportunity we have millions and millions of dollars also coming through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

These are opportunities for for every member of council to be able to take to to engage their their residents.

Lastly, I've been engaged in working alongside folks in the Northeast Ohio Workers Center the Guardians for Fair Work campaign. We absolutely need to be deterring wage theft, which is the most prevalent form of theft that occurs in America. Ohio is no different. We need fair schedules that workers know their schedules ahead of time so they're not subject to wage theft. The most vulnerable people are low-income workers immigrant workers temp workers to wage theft and we need to make sure that they're getting every dollar that they earn at the job. Thank you.

2:03 Permalink

Jeremy V. Johnson

Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Jeremy Johnson. I'm the President and CEO of Assembly for the Arts. I also live in Ward 3 and i'm here with two simple messages. One is thank you. And one is a recommendation.

The thank you to this esteemed body is to say thank you for letting us know in the arts and and cultural economy community that you're behind the arts. Every time I've stood here, and and I feel like I'm a regular now, I've talked about the $9.1 billion that the arts economy brings to our great city, to our great region, with 65,000 some odd jobs. They were really hurt, and this gets to my next part of my message. You all know how much they were hurt by the COVID, the pandemic. 5,000 jobs affected $30 million lost. We all were infected but the arts and culture industry was one of the first to go down. And one of the last to be emerging. I have the pleasure in my job as President and CEO of Assembly for the Arts to get around town to all 17 of our wards. It's been great to see it slowly start to emerge, on the east side on the west side the southeast side, all parts of our city, to see artists finally slowly beginning. But they're still hurting and I'm not just talking about artists I'm talking about non-profit organizations, I'm talking about small businesses, live music venues.

They are key part of the city and you all have stood behind them. And we need our city to stand up for them again. You all had before you, and we'll have before you next year, ARPA funnds, American Rescue Plan Act funds You all have worked all day today. I watched you on TV, really this last day working laboriously to see how we can see our way forward. It was said that the ARPA funds are crisis funds, crisis funds they're meant for crisis, This has been a crisis for the arts and cultural economy. So I ask, when you do come back, to recommend support for arts and culture that will help groups and artists businesses in all parts of our city. I thank you for your support.

Please support the arts. We're asking for 2% of the ARPA dollars, totally. That's $10 million. Two percent for an industry that delivers so much to our community and it delivers jobs jobs. Thank you very much. Thank you.

2:41 Permalink

Andy Schumann

Good evening, everybody. My name is Andy Schumann. As you can see I'm an elf but I'm not an elf from the North Pole like you might expect. I'm actually from Cleveland, Ohio - just like all you guys. I grew up in Jasmin Santana's ward and I currently live in Ward 3 Kerry McCormack's ward and I'm here to talk about something that we share in common. You know we're all workers here.

We're all workers here and workers ought to be paid for for the work that they do.

I'm here on behalf of the Cleveland Art Workers Collective. I actually spoke at the first public comment, and it was great. I talked with Councilman Conwell after. He was great. I really and yeah I really appreciated you. And i'm also here on behalf of the Guardians for Fair Work. Now something tricky about the arts that maybe Councilman Bahseer Jones will be able to relate to, as he's a great poet himself, is that a lot of times at music venues at performing venues, despite musicians artists poets bringing in so much of that business, they're often some of the only people who are not considered employees. They don't get paid necessarily a wage and it's something that's not enforced, as far as I know, by the city of Cleveland. And and as far as I know, generally at for-profit institutions you can't really have volunteers. There's probably some exceptions to that but as far as I know that's generally the case. So I would just like to ask that you consider getting a conversation with uh the Cleveland Art Workers Collective./ I know I said that before but you can email us at clevelandartworkers@ And also considering entering that conversation with the Guardians for Fair work. Thank you so much, have a wonderful evening I appreciate you all.

1:53 Permalink

Councilmember Kerry McCormack (Ward 3)

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of miscellaneous. I'll be brief. I just wanted to thank you for your service and leadership as the head of this body.

To my colleagues as well, as has been noted before, a lot of times these are thankless jobs. They're tough jobs. They're the jobs that, you know, you don't see on Twitter and you don't see on the news that you really do from the majority of your time that consumes your time. Sitting in residents' living rooms when they're having a tough time dealing with issues across the community is the real kind of meat potatoes of this job. So, I want to thank you for your leadership.

And I also want to turn and thank Mayor Jackson and his administration, not that we've always seen eye to eye on everything, but my gosh, I can't imagine what it is like to be the mayor of the City of Cleveland and have to live through and really hold the weight of how important that job is for the citizens of the City of Cleveland. So, I want to recognize Mayor Jackson. 16 years of truly carrying that weight and pressure of critical decisions for the City of Cleveland as an honorable man who's really held a high character for the city. So, I want to recognize that. And then lastly, the folks that are sitting there.

Public service is not easy. It doesn't pay what the folks there probably could make somewhere else, but they have dedicated themselves to the City of Cleveland. And in serving the people of the City of Cleveland, I want to recognize the cabinet that's here tonight and all the other cabinet members that have really worked their behinds off in service of the citizens of the City of Cleveland. The folks that you see here go unnoticed a lot, go unpraised a lot, but it's the good work of the employees of the City of Cleveland, leading all the way up to his chief of staff and everyone in between, that really dedicate themselves for our city. So, I want to recognize the mayor's cabinet, as well, for their hard work. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thanks, Kerry.

1:58 Permalink

Councilmember Basheer S. Jones (Ward 7)

Thank you so much, Mr. President. First, what I'd like to do is I want to give this amazing award, man, to one of our residents in Ward 7, Mr. Charles Brown, who is the LAC president over at Bond Tower. Where's Bond Tower at? Where you at? Yeah.

So, I wanted to give you that, man, just to say thank you so much, brother, for all your work, man. Thank you so much, man. God bless you. Thank you. Please. Please, um,

Council President. Hey, man, it's been a hell of a ride, man. It really has been. I want to say, I like to begin... everyone knows me. As a poet, I used, I began as a poet, still a poet, and I wanted to recite something and then say a few words.

I said I used to sing this song called freedom, but people would turn their heads and close their ears. Maybe they wasn't prepared, or maybe they had fear, but I didn't care. I sung anyway. I sung louder. I sung prouder, making sure the sound was turned on the highest level, as I sung for those on the lowest level. But no crowd showed up to my show. The echoes of my voice would sometimes mess up my show. How do I sing with the same passion every time knowing that the seats are empty? But mama said, "Sing it like it's a packed room. Because maybe it is. Sing your freedom song, son." So, I went on tour. The chitlin circuit was rough, but I built a loyal following, but never enough to bring me into the mainstream. But one day my song was stolen, and I heard my pain on the lips of another, and I watched how the audience loved to see the pain come from a mouth that was not connected to a heart that experienced the loneliness of singing to empty rooms. You know that singer that sings songs that you can feel, that singer that makes you feel them feel their pain, their hurt, their triumph? Oh, you just rather hear the lyrics, but not feel them. They stole my song. They stole my words. But is it okay, as long as the world hears the story? I'm not sure yet.

So, there's a certain song, Mr. President, and growing up here in the City of Cleveland, it's a certain song when we talk about these things that we're passing today. There are certain people that can't understand the song. You can't understand the pain. That's why you vote no; you just don't get it. You don't understand the pain of what some people are going through here in the City of Cleveland. But even if you don't understand it, you still should have the empathy that somebody's going through it, somebody's dealing with it. Somebody out there right now in the City of Cleveland, they are not able to get a job because they have been given a felony, and maybe not because they made a serious mistake, but the judge gave them a felony instead of giving probation that they usually give to other people. But you can't really understand that because you don't know that song. You don't know the pain that comes with that song. It's almost like Elvis, you know. He sings the songs of Chuck Berry, but he don't really get it, or he sings the songs of Little Richard, but he don't really get it. You don't really understand it, but you have to have the empathy to understand that there are people who are dealing with it. Let me tell you a little bit about this, Mr. President. These particular projects that we pushed and we fought for, this project that we fought for today, will know, we fight, we talk about racism being a public health crisis, but really what are we willing to do about it? I understand all the protests and the picket signs and all that, but you go home to heat, you go home to food and refrigerator, you go home to a different understanding than many of my folks who live in CMHA or my folks who are living in situations where the lead content is high or places where police are usually, you know, you know, criminalizing people who shouldn't really deserve to be criminalized because of where they live. But even if you don't understand that song, at least have the empathy for it. Don't just dance to the song because it sound good, but understand that people are singing it because they're going through it. They're dealing with it. The City of Cleveland is dealing with this pain, and the more that you overlook it, the more that you stand against it, the more that you don't fight for it... don't tell me that you are fighting against racism when in actuality you are implementing it.

The structural racism, you are implementing it, not just because you have a bad heart. It's because you're okay with your lack of understanding. You're okay with it. But let me say to you, this is not an East Side/ West Side thing. It's not a Black versus White thing. I'm done with those type of conversations. You know, the great man that I supported to run for this is not a Black or White issue. This is a human issue, and if you are saying that you're going to fight for freedom, justice, and equality, then show it, not just in front of the cameras, but show it in the back room when the deals are being made.

If you thought we was a problem before, wait till I get out of this office. We are going to hold you accountable.

You know, let me talk to the media. You know, the media plays a part in creating a trauma and a fear for elected officials to do the right thing. You create a fear. And in reality, what we have unfortunately in this city is a bunch of suburbanites who are writing about the issues of Cleveland. They don't know it. They don't understand it. They don't know what the people are going through. They have no idea, but they write stories and they change perceptions. And then now, unfortunately, because most of us are part of the 90 percent that W.E.B. DuBois talked about, when in reality what happens is people are moved by it because, unfortunately, we think if we read it or if we pick up the paper then it must be the truth.

But ask the Central Park Nine that. Ask the amount of Black and Brown people who have been on the front page of the paper saying that they were charged for something but was not on the front page of the paper when it was found out that they were innocent.

So, media, you have a responsibility to not only speak truth but also get to understand the majority of the people of Cleveland. The majority of the people of Cleveland are poor. That's the majority. And you can't fully understand that by writing it from a distance. You got to get into the, you got to get into the mud. Come take a walk on Hough, and you'll understand why 9410 must happen. Come take a walk on Hough or in the City of Cleveland.

We don't have any Black women developers, but guess what? Now we do in Sheila Wright.

Despite how you might feel about NEON, there is no other health institution that services more people in my community than NEON. Do they have issues? Yes. But Cleveland Clinic got issues, too, and I don'y never hear y'all talking about Cleveland Clinic. I don't never hear you questioning Cleveland Clinic. You can tell I'm out of here. You can tell I'm out of here, right? I don't never hear you questioning Cleveland Clinic. I never hear you questioning University Hospital. I never hear you questioning these institutions, but your criticism towards Black institutions is getting on my damn nerves, man. [Applause]

And the reality is...I'm sorry, Council President. I know your daughters are here. Please forgive me. Please forgive me.

But the reality is that what we find is that the media criticizes organizations and individuals not for things that we probably don't deserve. But I'm talking to the media, and I'm speaking on behalf of my colleagues with all due respect is that a lot of them do a lot of great work, man.

Don't just put them in the paper when they make a mistake. Don't just put them in the paper when they do something wrong. They're doing great work in Ward 3 and Ward 1 and Ward 2 and Ward 5 and Ward 6 and Ward 7 and Ward 17. Talk about the great work that they're doing in Ward 6 and in Ward 5. Why? Because when you don't do that you create a trauma inside of them that they fear speaking the truth out of fear that you're going to put them in a paper and put them on blast, and it's not fair. And you're creating a trauma into the elected officials. And you know what?

These elected officials, every last one of you, even though I've disagreed with you, you are human beings, and you didn't get into this job to just spend your life in stress and to die a stressful life and die from heart disease or brain tumors or aneurysm.

Stephanie Tubbs Jones died from a brain aneurysm, man. Why? Because they're stressed living in the city of...I don't know how Mike Polensek made it this far. I don't know how you did it, brother. I don't know how you did it. So what I'm saying to the media: Be fair in your writing and talk about the great things that Brian Kazy is doing. Talk up, talk about the great things that Councilman Conwell is doing.

So, I close with this. It's been an amazing ride. And, uh, for those who know me, you know that I'm speaking from my heart. And I'm sad, not because we won't continue to work, but I'm sad because I'm actually going to miss you, man. Now when I speak, I got to talk a public comment, man. Goodness gracious. But, I want to say to you, Council President, man, you're a hell of a man. Thank you. Hell of a man. I appreciate you, man. I appreciate you, man. I don't care what anyone says. If I had the choice... if I had the choice a hundred times over, man, I would have made the same decision. Because I recognize that this ain't about race it's about resources. I want to say to someone who really has taught me a lot, and I'll close with this... Chief Dumas.

Um bring me that please if you can, brothers. Bring that to me, Moon. Bring it to me. I want to give you a little gift, Chief Dumas. And uh... I want to say please... there she goes. You can hand that to Chief Dumas. Because Chief Dumas is also leaving, and um, Chief Dumas has taught me a lot. And I appreciate all the great work that she has done for our city. I appreciate her. You know, when I first got here, I would say, I would call her auntie. She was like 'I ain't your auntie.' But I was...I was telling somebody today, Council President, she said, "Come here, son." I said, "Oh, I made it. I made it. I made it." And I want to say thank you so much to to Madam Clerk. You know I was having a tough time, and, uh, one day I sat in her office and I cried like a baby. And she sat and she spoke to me. She spoke life into me, and I never forget that. Latrice. I appreciate you Latrice. I thank you, man, for all of your your kind words. I thank you for all the great things that you have done. I really appreciate you all. G, man, thank you, man. Thank you. You know I used to, you know, yeah, bust your butt, man, in basketball. Man, Griff, man. Big Griff, man. I appreciate you, man. All the council members, I thank y'all. I'm going to miss you.

I'm still going to be here, but we're going to fight on the outside making sure that we do the work that we're supposed to do. I work, I plan on working with every last one of you, I plan to stand with you. Kerry, man, you're a hell of a guy, man. We did a lot of great work together, my friend, and I look forward to us continuing it. Council President, I love you, man. I thank you. Ward 7. Ward 7, man. I appreciate y'all so much, man. I love y'all. Thank you so much. Thank you.

13:03 Permalink

Councilmember Kevin Conwell (Ward 9)

You know what, I was going to say this. You know, I want to, uh, thank you, Council President. I really do. And, um, a lot of things that I push, people don't understand.

You sit down and you talk with the Council President, and you push your issues and concerns and your ward. Let me say this: The African-American Culture Gardens, we're in our second phase because of Council President Kevin Kelley. He helped me to finish completing that phase today. We were $175,000 short. I went to see him, I said, "I need money for the African-American Culture Gardens, and what happened? We got the money. We got the money, the $175,000.

The job for a councilman is the right policy and bring home money. So, we're in a second phase so, um, we'll move forward in the third phase so you'll see a lot of work and a lot...but all together it's close to a million dollars, and I want to thank you. You gave us the last part of it, um, pushing it through, uh, Council President. And that's why I wrote rock and roll with you. We were $21-$23 million on E. 75th street. That street hadn't been done since 1978. We have Glenn Village. That there that's a $15 million project, all African-American businesses, and Zanzibar just moved in there two weeks ago. $15 million, um, building across the street is the Fisher House. Another $15 million building on the Volunteers of America. $3.2 million and 70 houses and...this go on and on...millions of dollars that we legislated through, um, City Council with your help and support. So, it's the outcome managers. That's why I roll with you, man, cause we rock and roll. The thing is about money. It's about money, man. Bringing home dollars. And it's African-American businesses. And let me say this to, uh, Council Member Basheer Jones. We have a lady named Bridget Grant and Theresa Beasley, and they're doing a $22 million project in my ward. All female African-American group, which I was telling you about, Francis Caldwell. I had to cultivate them, and they there. We moving, and we even going down state to get dollars because it's dollars downstate also. I don't have to just go to, sorry, to you. I'll go down state and I lobby also, bring home money for my residents. That's very, very important. My bosses, my board of directors.

You know, um, councilman when you were talking, i was playing the music you was an e-flat, man. We were doing, uh, "People make the world go around" when he was talking about life in Hough and Glenville and those kind of things, you know.

Council Member Basheer Jones, we kicked it a couple of times doing music. Isn't that true? That's true, man. We was rocking and rolling in the band. Dig playing with him. So, we could do some recordings about our experience on Cleveland City Council and local government because the closest thing to the people is the councilman. The councilman is the closest and we did a piece, do you ever hear that piece we did at the African-American Culture Gardens? That was a cool piece, man. That was a cool piece. We were rocking and rolling on that piece so we could...a lot of the band members when they see you, they said, " That's Basheer. That's Basheer. Come on up, man. Let's kick it." Don't they? And they give you the mic and we start rocking and rolling as if you always have been part of the band. Think about it, man. As soon as you see us, you just fall right in, bam. And then we start kicking it. Is that true? We started kicking it just like that, so it's open to you to do that and, um, and I'm there with you, uh, Council Member Basheer Jones. So we can keep moving and helping to give back to the community. That's very, very important, um, stuff.
7:22 Permalink

Councilmember Blaine A. Griffin (Ward 6)

You know, it's always emotional whenever we lose council people. Being a public servant, you often have to sacrifice so much. The first people that you have to sacrifice is your family.

So, I want to make sure if we don't do anything else, we give a round of applause to the Kelley family for all the sacrifices. I'll save the comments because I want to make sure I give all the other folks an opportunity to say this and, you know, to say what they want to say - the outgoing folks. But, man, you've been a friend. I appreciate you all right.

Likewise (Kevin Kelley)

I want to say about my brother, man, I'm so glad to see your sons here with you today. You know how I feel about boys. Raised three of them, in the concrete playground, and even though we disagree a lot, love you man. [Applause] I really do. We spend a lot of time debating, hassling, but at the end of the day, I will tell you that this young brother is so talented. He loves people so much. He's so passionate, and even though we spent many nights on the phone, and, you know, at the end of the day I will always tell a man, "Protect your brand. Protect your brand." This is your brand.

I want to say to my sisters on council the lord is great. Love you, sis, you are awesome. You are awesome. You came in, and you didn't know everything about politics, but you came in and you love people. And as long as you love people, you can lead people. Even when you get it wrong, sometimes even when you don't always, uh, people don't agree with you, as long as you can sleep good at night, you got that love in your heart. That's what you had. I want you to hold your head high and always recognize that we love you on council.

Anita Gardner. A lot of people always know that you got these community mothers and you got these people who you can go to who treat you, you know, like they would treat you their own son. If you hungry, they're gonna feed you. If you cold, they're gonna put a coat on you. Whatever you need. This woman is always there to serve this community. I love you and appreciate you.

I also want to say to the administration, had the privilege and honor working with many of you, and all of you guys are unsung heroes. I want to say that from the bottom of my heart. And there's one person that I'm a single out today not because she's a Ward 6 resident, and not because we used to fight like cats and dogs. If y'all knew how much we fight, y'all wouldn't y'all wouldn't understand how tight we are right now because we used to fight so much when I was on the administrative side. And even now she's still like a big little sister that thinks she can tell me what to do all the time. And y'all know who i'm talking about Chief Valarie McCall. Let's give her a round of applause. The mayor got the headlines. The council people get a chance to talk about what we're doing in the community. But it's these people in the background, all 8,000 or 8,500 of these city employees, led by leaders like who you see to the right of us today, that really sacrificed their lives. And the reason I single out Chief McCall is because we came in together. And unfortunately everybody's leaving me, but I got a new family that I'm going to embrace, and I'm going to look forward to working with all of you because doggone it this city deserves the best that we can give, and we love this community. We're going to fight for this community, and I want all of y'all to know that we're gonna get some stuff done in this next year. That's what I pride myself on is how we get stuff done. I'm not the most emotional person, but this is an emotional day. We lost Phyllis Cleveland. We lost Matt Zone. We lost a lot of institutional knowledge. The challenge is upon us now, the leadership that's on the field right now, in order to lead this to the next chapter of this story.

So, I hope that all of us recognize the awesome responsibility that we have. Council President was right. It seems like it gets harder and harder every year. But I want to say that all of you have laid the foundation for us to be the leaders we are today, and we are appreciative. And I hate that my friend Councilman Brancatelli is not here because he really brought it, as well. So, thanks everybody. I appreciate you.

4:57 Permalink

Councilmember Joseph T. Jones (Ward 1)

Mr. President, I rise this evening with a heavy heart. I'm not going to cry, but what you do and what you say down here matters, because tomorrow is not given to any of us. We're here today and we're just blessed that God has allowed us another day on his earth and as leaders it's our responsibility to stand up and fight for the people we represent. And having that privilege to be able to do that is certainly an honor.

My heart is heavy because when i've said over the course of three and a half years on the council, I've had some fights and i've had disagreements. And most of the time I've had fights and disagreements because I want to make sure that I'm getting for my people, the services that they deserve to have. And part of the fight down here is making sure that we take care of the citizens we represent.

And one of the people who who I would be with fighting turned out to be Basheer Jones. When he came to me and asked me for his endorsement for the mayor of the City of Cleveland I said you got it brother. I would be honored to to to vote and support you and to endorse you and to do whatever I could to assist you in that endeavor and the same way with when we had to battle and which I come back here to you Mr. President, I want to say that i'm honored to have had the opportunity to serve with you on the council. Your leadership, how you handled yourself, how you're giving your word and your word meant something. That means a lot when someone gives you their word and they're able to carry that out for you. So I want to say thank you on behalf of my citizens for your leadership in this council, for your commitment and your dedication, and I heard some of my colleagues talk about, well yeah we're going to fight we're going to have those differences, but at the end of the day you always maintain professionalism and you can't say that about a lot of people and so I just want to say thank you Mr. President, for your leadership. You will always be known as my president no matter where you are, I will call you president.

And then I just want to take the opportunity to turn over to the administration. A lot has been said and I think my colleague President-Elect Blaine Griffin had covered a lot of this territory already the work that you guys do over there is a hard work and the work that we do over here is a hard work. Sometimes we have that friction, but I do want to say that I am honored to have had the opportunity to be on the council and to have the chance to serve again with Darnell Brown who has worked with our neighborhood and administration, Frank Jackson, to make sure that we have a state-of-the-art recreational facility; a facility that our neighborhood last known was back in the 1970s when Ralph Perk was the mayor of the city of Cleveland, giving us a recreational facility. So i'm very thankful and appreciative of the administration for that. And then I started this council and I will end it, in this respect, with the administration, that we're so honored to have Sharon Dumas here. Her knowledge, her talent, her wisdom, and when the President told her she could go back I said no, no bring her back to the table so we can hear what she's got to say. Because like some commissioners and directors, they don't have the depth. She has the depth, the understanding, the historical knowledge, and the information and when she's speaking at that table you're not only looking at what's before you but you're also in class so I want to thank you Director Dumas for your service to the citizens of the city.

Thank you, councilman.

And then, and then, I look over at one of my colleagues who got me in trouble Marion Anita Gardner Yes, you got me in trouble, yes you did. I love you it, was good trouble, can you say good trouble good fight? So Mrs. Gardner has been an inspiration to me from day one and I've had no problem in supporting you to be a member of Cleveland City Council and then I've had the honor and privilege of being able to serve with you. I love your blatant, straightforward direct honesty. You know you can't find people like you often. Truth sayers are hard to find so when you do have one you keep them close and then you ask them and then they tell you the truth. I appreciate you Mrs. Gardner. I appreciate the fact that you have been down here and you have made a part of Cleveland history.

Now I turn to my good friend over here Mrs. Gray. I like you... Councilwoman Gray... Distinguished Lady Councilwoman Gray, did I say it right? and tell you not. I enjoyed you, I also enjoy your family, and I've had the privilege of serving with you and i'm so appreciative to have had that. I'm appreciative to to now be able to have your sister, your twin sister, and there's times i've got you all mixed up and and so I just want to say you know it's a privilege and an honor and I look forward to working with both of you guys. All three of our colleagues who are leaving, I'll work with you when you're on the outside. Anything you need, i'm going to be there for you guys. I love you and love you very much and so I end it with this, Mr. President of Cleveland City Council and to my colleagues as we close this year out; We have a lot of work still yet to do. I know a lot of us are still planning and putting things together. Then I say to my colleagues, because Basheer Jones eloquently stated: We should be one Cleveland. We shouldn't have a Cleveland here and Cleveland over there. It shouldn't just be about that, but it's about all of us together working together for the good and the betterment of our city. So what we say and what we do in the time that God has given us matters.

7:07 Permalink

Councilmember Anthony T. Hairston (Ward 10)

Well, to my colleagues to the administration, good evening.

I just wanted to take this time as we've heard from many of my colleagues, to pay homage to those who will be parting this body. Three individuals who have come here and went straight to work straight to work.

My brother Basheer Jones. As Griff said, it hasn't been a time when we fought. "Oh man you tripping, you tripping it, man you got just slow down man, just slow down B."

Okay, if you want to do it go ahead that's fine i'm with you, you know, that's one vote you have. I've had the honor to serve with you. It's been a privilege, my brother, and from your words tonight I'm sure that you are going nowhere far all right, and we welcome the opportunity to work with you outside of this body. And again, you have served the Ward 7 residents with distinction and they should be proud thank you my brother.


To my two new friends, Councilwoman Gray and Councilwoman Gardner, you know oftentimes there's a learning curve there's there's a period where you're just still trying to figure out where the bathrooms are, right? But I can't tell you about two individuals who came to this body and went straight to work. That's the theme here, straight to work. so the residents of ward 5 and ward 4 should be proud of the way that you two have represented your communities and I'm proud of the work that you have done alongside of each and every one of us in your time here on council so I wish you both much success well wishes and we're only a phone call away

To the administration every time I see him how you doing councilman how are you mayor a gentleman who has been such a great leader on so many fronts as we heard that you know as an official you always get the fanfare and and good and bad but there's the folks who do the work behind you and Mayor Jackson has always been a leader not only for his community where he lived but for the entire city of Cleveland that's the one thing I really appreciate about him is that he stood up many times when it when it wasn't popular to do so when he knew that there would be backlash or uh comments or concerns but he did what was right even if it wasn't popular he did what was right and so to me I know he isn't here I wish him much success and to one individual and I'm, I'm happy that you know my colleagues always uh thank her but you know she is a resident of Ward 10. All right the great Sharon Dumas who has been a tireless, tireless worker for the time I've seen her, in fact, before I came to this body I scheduled a meeting with her and came and sat with her in her office to talk with her before I took this position just about you know what's the ins and outs what am I looking at what am Idoing you know talk to me kind of you know give me some insight and she was first to open her arms and say councilman come on in let's talk and let's figure out uh what your questions are. And so I thank you for all of your work that you have done here and all the help that you have given not only the administration but this body as well you've been helpful on both fronts and we thank you. Mr. President, councilman. You know when we got here we took a two-and-a-half hour tour of my ward.

Yep Big George dropped you off at the center. I said hop in. You hopped in the truck in the Chevy and we cruised around Ward 10 and I was able to show you the concerns of our community and you listened. And over the four years that we have spent together we haven't always agreed but you have been a a strong supporter of the needs of the folks who live in Ward 10. So on behalf of the folks who live in Ward 10, we thank you for your commitment we thank you for your support and each and everything that you have done to help advance our community. So thank you, Mr. President. Thank you.

4:28 Permalink

Councilmember Michael Polensek (Ward 8)

Thank you, thank you Mr. chairman, Madam Clerk, my honorable colleagues and members of the administration. I too want to want to stand again and to thank my colleagues. You, Mr. President, my colleagues, all of you that are leaving, for your dedicated service and commitment to your citizens your neighborhood your families.

As we all know, the pressure and the problems that one family after another is confronted with, who has members who serve in public office. Only those of us who who've been here for a long time can understand that the pressures; the phone calls, the demands that are placed on every one of us. Again, I appreciate you Mr. chairman and my colleagues for their commitment to our neighborhoods. I have my main purpose and I will keep to the three minutes because if not, all of you, I hope brought knapsacks for tonight, and sleeping bags.

I want to direct my comments to the administration and the mayor who's not here. I want to thank each and every one of you. It's not to say we always agreed, but I always looked upon this as we could disagree and still be agreeable. We could argue. We could take different paths different votes, but I want to thank each and every one of you for your commitment to the people of Cleveland, to our neighborhoods.

I also want to say this and I wish he was here to my former colleague of this body. You know, there's times that we didn't agree there's times I voted differently on things that the mayor wanted to implement, but I never lost sight of the fact that he was one of us. I want to say that again he was always one of us, he came out of this body he came out of Cleveland. I was aware and very, very, very much aware, that my dear lay friend Lonnie Burton; Frank was his right-hand man. When you saw Lonnie you saw Frank. So from from those early days a very very long time ago, his commitment never wavered to the people of the Central community, the Central neighborhood. So again, I would hope uh Sharon, and and all of you, would pass on to him that I appreciate his commitment to Cleveland. I appreciate the concern that he expressed. I appreciate his passion and his commitment and the time that he spent.

Because again, at the end of the day, as I said earlier with my colleagues, we are a band of brothers and sisters sometimes people forget about that, but I have never forgot about it, and so again to the members of the administration who are leaving or going on, I wish you well Godspeed, hopefully in some of your new capacities maybe we can work together on other issues or things that come before us but I appreciate each and every one of you who came here who gave up your time and your efforts. Thank you. God bless each and every one of you.

3:04 Permalink

Councilmember Kevin L. Bishop (Ward 2)

Thank you, Mr. President. I'll be brief so we won't have to get those sleeping bags out. I just want to give all my thanks to everybody. Councilwoman Gardner, I'll be seeing you here in the near future. I know where the center is at, and we're going to do our regular 1-2 over at the center so i'll see you soon. Thank you councilman, uh councilwoman Gray for your service. You bring a lot of energy we wish we had a little bit more time with you.

Basheer Jones, councilman Jones, you are one of a kind. Right, you are one of a kind. We are, we're going to miss you but we, we, I feel confident that we'll see much, much more of you okay?

Mr. President, I've learned so much from you. I want to thank you. You know, you can always tell the the depth and the character of a person, not just a man, but of a person, of how proud his or her family is of you. And the Kelley clan, they are. They are so proud of you. So Mr. President, thank you.

Tony, uh, councilman Brancatelli. I just wished I could learn more from councilman Brancatelli. He is so depth, and so good at what he does. I surely, I surely will be calling on him just for some more lessons.

I want to also thank Mayor Jackson. You have truly, truly been a gem to this city. We probably won't know how much and to what extent til years to years later, but Frank Jackson is historic and he is a gem to this city. His staff, his whole staff. Chief Brown, you've been an inspiration Valerie Mccall, and Chief Dumas. You are not only a blessing to your families but you are a blessing to this city. Did I leave anybody out?

You know, it's sad. I'm saddened because you always want to spend more time with the folks that you respect and you admire, but I am grateful for the time that I got to spend with each and every one of you and hopefully we'll continue this in the future. Thank you. [Applause]

2:29 Permalink

Councilmember Delores L. Gray (Ward 5)

Councilmember Gray.

This is what I need to say. I want to thank Valerie McCall. She's a beautiful person. Stayed in touch with me talked to me. Chief Dumas, I learned her today, I mean, actually over the last three months. and today you was beautiful. When Councilperson Joe Jones kept talking, and you was smiling, you smiled every time. So I appreciate that, very much.

I want to thank all the staff here. Kimberly, Pat Britt, Allen, Estrigas I want to thank you all for your knowledge. Joanie, everybody. I appreciate all that.

But one thing I want to say is this. We have to remember we have five women, councilwomen coming into here in next year. The most we ever had in council. Five women in leadership. In leadership. So as we go into the new year we need to recognize as women we have leadership, we have strength, we just like each other and we connect to each other. So we have to recognize what we have in council not putting them in to the side okay, but women in general. So I will be back because I'm like superman always around. I'll be connected to all council here with my new job that's coming up. So I'm not I won't be far away I'll be close by but with the knowledge you have gave me.

And one thing I can say to Kevin Kelley. I met you through council but really I met you through um was it uh right to council.

Council President Kelley: Yes.

Councilmember Gray: That's when I really met you then. We vote for the leeway right to council. So I knew him then but didn't know him. But when I got here I understood that I knew him so I thank you for being a friend of mine as well as your family. Appreciate you all and likeIi say I'm like superman I will always be around. Thank you.

1:56 Permalink

Councilmember Brian Kazy (Ward 16)


Councilmember Kazy: Thank you. Mr. President we've served for a while and you know that I don't usually get up in speech on on the on the floor council. But tonight is one of those nights that you almost don't feel obligated but you really want to.

And in 2015 uh as you as you may know uh there was a class motto at St. Edward High School um which was of course both of our alma maters and it was to lead you must follow. And tonight as I'm sitting here reflecting some of the things I'm thinking about some of the years on council and I just want to say a couple of names. Dow, Cimperman, Zone, Keane, Cleveland, Mitchell, Johnson, Reed, Johnson and now tonight Gray, Jones, Mitchell ,Brancatelli and Kelley and that's just since 2015. And when I look back at some of my time here it really kind of takes me back to that 2015 motto and that to lead you must follow and that's a lot of institutional knowledge that has walked out the door in a very short period of time. And the challenge for the next council is that we're in the position now where we've been leading or we've been following and now it's time for us to actually lead.

And I want to start with a Councilman-elect or Council President-elect Blaine and that you know there's there's a lot of nuance in council and in the last two elections we've had 10 new members you know come through the door and it's it's not an easy thing to do when you get down here. I'm grateful when I got down here that we had individuals like I've mentioned to show us the way but now it's time for us to start showing the way and we need to be those leaders.

And speaking of leaders you know I want to address Councilwoman Gray um who I didn't get much time to know or we didn't spend much time together. However I appreciate your leadership and I know that no matter where you go although you won't tell me yet no I know you won't tell me yet they're going to be very well served. And to Anita Gardner who I've really got to know over just the last four days. If I could hand pick a grandma from the east side it would be you because the feistiness and the ability to keep somebody in line has been on display more so than than than you'll ever know because you'll you'll be able to take that and you're going to be very very well missed in council and that feistiness and that leadership means a lot to to a lot of us.

Before I get to my next one I wanted to say there's been a lot of words been said on the council on floor tonight and probably at least the most important ones that I've seen so far um was addressed to the media when Basheer Jones actually said Brian Kazy you do good work right. So I didn't want that to go without. I know you were yeah figures.

Council President this building could stand for another 300 years and conversations that myself and Councilman Basheer Jones have had in these hallways will never ever be matched. I don't want to even come close to saying any of the conversations that we had. But you know the two people who are from two different sides of the track who actually can meet in the middle and understand one another that was that's the relationship that you and I have. And even just as much as we didn't stop when we were walking up coming up the council here, we're going to continue to have that as time to come. But from listening to your speech we do want to remind you that public comment is only three minutes all right. Blaine you'll be cutting them off.

To the administration um the ones that are here. Chief Brown you know you're you're a leader you're an inspiration um to to everybody who's walked through these halls. You've displayed a lot of of knowledge to individuals um and and they can't be you know said enough how much uh of an impact you've left on uh on the city of Cleveland. Chief Dumas aye where do I begin right. I can't I it's just thank you so much for your time and service. Chief McCall uh not a lot of people will get this but Blaine will and Kevin will but you'll still never beat my wife as a precinct committee person even though you don't live in the same two precincts. You know we're still running the campaign but your leadership and your knowledge and your ability to get things done uh are truly appreciated as well and I'm gonna truly miss uh any of the administration that's going to leave.

To my colleague Tony Brancatelli you've been my office mate from across the hall for the last four years. Nobody knows and talk sports better than the two of us when it comes to any any Indians game or any Browns game or a Cavs game. So anything that you're going to need in the near future don't hesitate to reach out and let me know it'll be you know you're going to be missed. I remember I heard Councilman McCormick say um earlier uh this week that the impact that you've left on this city is going to be felt for generations to come and that's truly a truer statement that couldn't be said and we're really going to miss you. And for those of you who haven't signed Councilman Brancatelli's book every time somebody leaves Slavic Village they they make a spin on Dr. Seuss's or the places they've made it that I've been. So if we could uh members of council could sign Bracatelli's Dr. Seuss book before he leaves.

And that takes me up to to to Council President Kevin Kelley. We have a uh you all I don't love people like Blaine does come on. You know there's a saying in in the disability world more alike than different and that couldn't be probably more truer than than the two of us. We're both graduated St. Edward High School. Both grew up on the west side. Both have five children. So I don't know where I want to begin with with telling you how much I appreciate, although we didn't know we show it to each other, how much we do we truly do appreciate and how much I've learned from you. And as I was trying to come up with ways to to actually you know say goodbye to you um I was sitting around with one of my daughters and she's like why don't you come up with a catchy phrase or or something like that that that that he'll remember you know long after he slams everybody and runs out the back door and down the hallway. And some of you will get that and some of you won't.

But so I we started coming up with some so the first one I thought of was you know Bill Haley and the Comets see you later alligator and I thought no not really. Then I thought the movie Friday and I thought bye Felicia but you're really not Felicia. Then I thought The Terminator with hasta lavista. And then I thought Kevin thinks he's kind of buff but he's really all not that big so then I thought Toy Story 3 so long partner nah I don't know about you know partner and everything. So then I thought Bob Hope thanks for the memories. Okay but you know it's not like you've died right it's just you know you're not going that far away. But before I come up with the one that's that I came up with I wanted to say to Elizabeth and his daughters that one of the ones that I came up with was uh there's no place like home. So Kevin's going to be spending a lot more time at home now so Kevin start appreciating what we have at home because we know that family is uh the number one thing to all of us.

So with that Mr. President I'm going to leave you with this and all I want to say to you is stay gold pony boy just stay gold. [Applause]

8:33 Permalink

Councilmember Marion Anita Gardner (Ward 4)

Councilmember Gardner: I would like everybody to know, December the 11th, at ________ starting at ten O'clock, It is in Ward 4, but it is open to everybody. We will be giving away coats, boots, shoes, hats, gloves, underwear whatever we have. And we have a lot of it. So if you know of any children that need any of these these items, please come. This Saturday, December the 11th, starting at 11, I mean 10 o'clock. Thank you.

0:43 Permalink

Councilmember Kevin J. Kelley (Ward 13)

Okay we are approaching my final scene, and I just wanted to take a minute, I know it's uh, I know it's very late and I know it's gonna be time to go but really just didn't want the night to end without expressing how much you all mean to me.

I was, uh, my family, as we've talked about before is, of course. the center of my universe. And they have not known anything but for me being a councilman for most of them. My daughter Erin wasn't born when I was sworn in. My daughter was three when I was sitting in Joe Jones seat and I took a picture for our swearing in. And uh and it's not just the nights out, and I would just caution everybody, it's not just the nights out. It's the mental energy that sometimes you're distracted when you're at home you have to be very careful of that you got to make sure that you're always putting things first and putting family first and uh you know as I was I thought kicking inside of our offices early was kind of a don't let the door hit you act. Then I found out we're getting new carpeting. But uh cleaning out my office was a very uh you know kind of a memorable kind of memorable time I mean I went through and uh you know many of you do not remember a cold night in January eight years ago when I was first sworn in as Council President, and the reason you don't remember it is because only three of you were on council at the time when I was originally sworn in as Council President. And uh it's really just you know kind of surreal to look back now and I'm going through these pictures this is uh this is me and my family when we uh when we were on swearing at night on inauguration night here's me and my friend Councilwoman Brady. Here's the program that I went through and I was looking at everybody who was with us and all those folks that that have uh that have you know moved on and your you have all become a part of our family.

Every, you know, the it's just an expectation that every Monday night we have a meeting. I'm going to be out some other nights and uh a lot of you have been very gracious to my family, to my wife to my kids, and uh it means a lot because only we know what we go through um on a on a daily weekly and an annual basis but it's really been a just a just a tremendous ride and I really cannot thank my family enough I mean you go through and parents save stuff like this, and you know I haven't had an art project in a while, except for yours Nora, thank you.

But you know you go through this stuff and you realize how much of your life you've given to to the cause to trying to make the city better and obviously I didn't do anything by myself I did it with you know people in the room and people have gone before us so in addition to thanking my family I can't thank our staff enough for all of the great work uh you know the clerk and every member of the staff and all that it takes to put legislation together, to do the research, to cue stuff up so that we can pass laws that that help people.

As has been stated before the mayor of the administration have just really been great partners along the way. They are not here right now but I would also like to thank my assistants, Cindy and Cindy.

I know that I couldn't be successful without them. And I know I probably couldn't get elected without Cindy Flanagan. And I'm glad she never ran against me so that was just just the the people around you and the people of Old Brooklyn. I just want to thank them and want to thank them for allowing me to do things that I thought were great for the neighborhood - Old Brooklyn connected um the low park renovation, Pearl Road renovation uh Henritze Park um you know, it's Archmere Park the the list goes on and I don't want to bore everyone here with those neighborhood things but that just really taught me how to be a council person before I became council president.

So as I leave here it's with a heavy heart and just with a lot of gratitude that I got the opportunity to work with all of you. um Councilman Basheer Jones uh when you you first came in you came in with a great amount of fire and you're leaving with a great amount of fire and uh I've learned a tremendous amount from you but more than what i've learned from you um it's really just been inspiring when to you said councilman jones and i've had a lot of conversations you say things that I think but I can't quite get the words out the way you do, and I really appreciate everything that you have done for this city, for your ward, for me um you know our friendship doesn't end tonight it just just carries on. I look forward to you know long, long rich friendship with you so thank you so much and uh it's just been great uh. Councilwoman Gardner you have taken on a tough job we don't talk enough about the fact that Ward 4 was in a tough place for somebody to step in and I want you to know that I know how hard it is and similarly Councilwoman Gray you've gotten 28 projects done in Ward 5 and the time you've been here and that's just that's just a lot of hard work so I just um really want to commend you. And Tony's not here but we'll we'll have our conversations, probably over a cocktail. But uh if I can uh just really leave you with a few things, um, most people do not know how hard your jobs are, and I want to say to those that are going to remain and those that are coming behind you, It is a hard job, it is a calling, it is something that you do for the love of Cleveland. It's something that you do because you were called to do this, and you know, I think about when Barack Obama was addressing the Obama Foundation in 2019 and he just talked about you know there seems to be a trend where you are civically involved if you are judgmental of people, and you can tweet or you can hashtag, somebody. You can call somebody out. And then you feel like you've done good you can feel good about yourself

But you can't do that. You can't feel good about yourselves because you've got a budget that you've got to balance you've got to make difficult decisions you will always be in a position we have ARPA dollars now and some carryover cash. This is an illusion. In your time in government you will always be faced with more need than there are resources and it will be up to you to make those decisions. And even if you do everything perfectly correctly and you spend your time doing that at least 25 percent of people are going to really be mad at you because they think you've somehow acted wrongly and it's not fair, it's not right. I believe that trend is getting worse but it's what we signed up for and having signed up for this job please never lose sight of the awesome responsibility that being a member of this great body is.

When you look around at the grandeur of this chambers when you look at the beauty of this building that is just symbolic of the awesomeness that you take on with every vote.

When I first became Council President, some of you may remember, I asked council members to actually be at their seats when we called the vote. The reason I did that is when we're voting on millions of dollars in public funds you need to be looking at the paper to make sure that happen. So please know that there are a few people that know how hard it is to be in the position you are I will always appreciate you. I will always appreciate that but never ever underestimate the awesome responsibility that you've taken on and the awesome responsibility that you now owe to our great city. You have chosen this profession. You owe this city every sleepless night, every late evening, every stressful agonizing decision, and I want you to try to enjoy it because it is the most important work that we can do. As we move forward, when I look back on the things that we've accomplished since since I've been Council President, that we've accomplished together, I would just ask you to please consider uh please consider keeping our Language Access Program robust. Please consider carrying on with First Year Cleveland. And please, I'm pleased that we passed that today. Please consider looking at the what we've done in Old Brooklyn field working connected and seeing if we can get to a broadband solution, citywide please continue to be committed to putting Clevelanders to work If we if we look at this and what we can do together we don't get very far. The people that I mentioned before that are tweeting about your hashtagging budget for, sadly many of them are from our own community and probably of similar political backgrounds and economic backgrounds. Let's fight the real enemy, look at what's happening in Columbus look at how people are attacking us. What if we banded together, what if we used all of our political capital and put it to where the problem really was. The city of Cleveland could be a lot more effective, a lot more strong in terms of dealing with the problem where it originates, and where it exists and where it hurts us. I want to leave with a couple uh Councilman Cimperman, when he was leaving, he left me a poem and I think some of you might have gotten as well. it's called "To be of use" and he said the people I love the best jump into their work headfirst without dallying in the shallows. I love people who harness themselves an, ox to a heavy cart who pull like water buffalo with massive patiencw, who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward who do what has to be done again and again. That is what I think about council and that's what I think of you doing that hard work and I just want to let you know how much I appreciate that . So I want to leave you with that, and I want to leave you with one other thought. I leave this seat tonight, iI'm going to exit this tonight, with absolutely no regrets. I Idon't regret. [Applause.] Thank you. I do not regret one vote I've taken I've worked as hard as I can for these 16 years, and 8 as president. We've gotten done a whole heck of a lot that I wanted to get done. We're not done but as the mayor said, this isn't - you you pass the baton. You're not going to complete everything in your in your legislative lifetime. But I do not regret becoming Council President because if I didn't seek the presidency, I would have lived my life regretting it. I ran for mayor and I was not successful. But if I didn't do that I would have lived in regret. I would have always wished I'd run for mayor. Everything I did I just assure you, as my friends and my colleagues and as our city, I gave it my all every day

And when I leave here I will always think of you, the battles we fought, the battles we won. Getting the progress that we did, it doesn't just happen. These are hard work the votes the most that people use to attack me the most on, are the ones iIm the most proud of they're the ones where you have to - and remember that doing what's right is not always popular. Doing what's right is not always trendy on Twitter. You've got - you are here for a reason and I just implore all of you to please understand the awesome responsibility. Know how much I appreciate the work that you've done. I will be in Cleveland until the day I die. So i'm not going anywhere and I will probably keep my cell phone number, so please stay in touch I'm a phone call away.

God bless. I love you all, you've done tremendous for me. And I have one more thing before we conclude.

Promise one thing that's given me comfort as I exit is that this council is going to be in good hands with Council President-elect Blaine Griffin. I have all the confidence in the world. And I couldn't leave this seat with this very small gavel for the Big Griff. So I'd like to present him a little gift. I got him - if you could come up here - all right so if you can read the inscription to it, Council President Blaine Griffin. January 3rd 2022. All right here. Let's do this. I'm going to leave this, I'm going to leave this right here for January 3rd. Madam Clerk will you please excuse the absences.

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