January 10, 2022

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Public Commenters (11 min)
Rev. Pamela Pinkney Butts  Ross DiBello  Jeremy Johnson   Stephanie M. Goggans 

Councilmember comments during Miscellaneous (20 min)
Kerry McCormack (Ward 3)  Joseph T. Jones (Ward 1)  Kevin Conwell (Ward 9) 

Rev. Pamela Pinkney Butts

Councilman Griffin: Reverend Pamela M Pinkney Butts.

Rev Pinkney Butts: Good evening everyone and happy new year! All right we made it through COVID and we're doing good. I want to thank you all for hearing me this evening and congratulations to the new council president who was well deserving because he has worked his way up to that seat. And we need to change the name of the football team to the Overcomers so we can win the super bowl.

I wanted to uh, I wrote you a letter because you all are used to me talking, because I have a a message that I say the more you read the more you succeed. And until literacy becomes a key factor we're going to have some issues with voting and other concerns. This is my letter to legislation.

Dear legislators and co-laborers, I am here this evening to ask this legislative body to begin to write laws seeing that the executive and judicial bodies of our government work with you regarding protection order processes that has not worked well for me. I need accountability for the fact that law enforcement and other agencies have refused to honor my life and safety. I lost everything because of this. Some of the rules violated in both of my civil and criminal protection orders that were supposed to protect my rights and me are as follows: Ohio revised code 2903-214, 2919-26, 3113-31F3, 2919-26B, 2903-213, 2919-27, and 3113-31 L1A. Gun violence and other violence committed against me that has taken place in and outside of the school system, changed my life in a way I shall always remember. It has caused a disruption in all of our lives.

I stand here today not to retaliate but to restore as well as remind each of you today that we are commissioned to till the land so that no one will have to heal the land from which we come. I'm here to remind you today that family matters, faith matters, finances matter, futures matter, fitness matters, and fairness matters. I have forgiven the people who have violated me and not taught my children as well as others of my concern truth.

Now we must pursue a greater purpose. Seek peace, pursue it, be true to it, accomplish it. We can do it. Do not overcome violence with more violence. On Wednesday December 1st 2021, I heard the news of more deaths due to gun violence, the true pandemic affecting all of us globally and otherwise. Another child has been misguided, misdirected, misled, mistaken academically, socially and otherwise. I ask you legislators and my co-laborers, lawmakers, and law writers to put into place with your pins, papers, computers, and other devices legislation to redirect funding from the manufacturing, trading, selling, and production of guns, drugs and other weapons of warfare, to laws that build homes and protect our environment, land, air and water.

Councilman Griffin: Time.

For better relations in our homes and other places, may I finish? Since, I don't have much more to go. Since um redirect funding, and thank you Mr. president, for guns ,drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Build homes not halfway houses. Archives of guns and weapons of warfare. Put your guns on the shelf so we can have conversations for better relations. Solve this. Operate in preventive measures not reactionary ones. You do not need a gun. Our tongues produce life.

Councilman Griffin: Time.

Reverend Pinkney Butts: Okay.

Councilman Griffin: Thank you Reverend Pinkney.

Reverend Pinkney Butts: I have made a copy so you all can read it and I'm going to close by just saying Shalom. Auf Wiedersehen. Blessings and peace each of you and may you never be offended by anything that I do.

3:55 Permalink

Ross DiBello

Councilman Griffin: Next up we have Ross DiBello Mr. Ross DiBello from Ward 17 topic city policy.

DiBello: Thank you council president. Hi everyone happy new year I am Ross DiBello I live in West Park. Thanks for having me I got my wordle on the fifth try today.

Anyway I think we have the tools we need to start getting us turned around. The prior council did a great job right passing a resolution to declare racism a public health crisis. Over the past many decades we've engaged in a number of what we know of as public-private partnerships. So my thought is let us start engaging in putting through resolutions making more declarations that would help us if they actually occurred. Let's pass resolutions declaring our intention that our most caring and able institutions will enter public-private partnerships with us. We will put the work in, they will invest the money, and Cleveland would progress forward if we got that buy-in.

I'm thinking of institutions like the Gund Foundation, Greater Cleveland Partnership, United Way, Cleveland Clinic, Rocket Mortgage, The Plain Dealer, Sherwin Williams. Let's pass resolutions calling on these institutions to partner with us to the tune of 50 million dollars each. Whatever it could be. These funds will go to lead paint poisoning remediation, infrastructure repair, public health, public safety, public transportation, public housing, stopping infant mortality, getting us all WI-FI, whatever the issues may be in the future that we need to address.

I also think you guys should pass a resolution asking our large hospital systems to provide free health care to Cleveland residents. Thank you guys, have a great term, have a great year, have a great night, go Cavs.

1:57 Permalink

Jeremy Johnson

Councilman Griffin: Next up we have Mr. Jeremiah Johnson ward 3 to talk about arts and culture from the Assembly of the Arts.

Johnson: Thank you Mr. President my remarks today will be very brief because they're really a matter of congratulations to this esteemed body. Congratulations especially to our newest members, to our illustrious mayor I see in the room and to thank all of you for keeping the arts first. This group and its wisdom under your leadership Council President Blaine Griffin under Kerry McCormick majority leader, Jasmine Santana majority whip, you have created the committee on health, human services, and the arts.

This is big news for our community. I represent the 9.1 billion dollar arts and culture community. 65,000 some odd workers,15,000 right here in our great city, so we want to say thank you. And just for the council you already know what the rules, what the mission of that committee is but just in my three minutes I'd like to say what you have shared.

The committee on health, human services in the arts shall research investigate and develop public policy and advocate for a healthy environment for the city and its residents. The committee shall be referred all legislation ,all other matters pertaining to to the departments of public health and aging, and it goes on to say the committee shall review all matters pertaining to the visual and performing arts including people, districts, and operations.

I want to say thank you all for that. I want to say thank you to this body for keeping the arts first. I look forward to staying in touch with each and every one of you and especially to the committee leadership Chair Kevin Conwell, Vice Chair Charles Slife and its members Deborah Gray, Richard A Starr, Kris Harsh, Stephanie Howse, and Rebecca Maurer. Thank you.

1:51 Permalink

Stephanie M. Goggans

Councilman Griffin: Stephanie M Goggans from Cleveland to talk about resolution 25-22 introduced by Councilman Conwell regarding the CSU law school name

Goggans: Council President, council leaders. My name is Stephanie Goggans. I'm a resident of ward 2 but it's not a ward 2 issue. I'm a second year law student at the Cleveland Marshall college of law located at 2121 Euclid Avenue.

I'm here representing the Students Against Marshall. It's a group of current law students from various demographics whose sole purpose in organizing and mobilizing is to advocate for the removal of the John Marshall name from our school. I'm here because after studying and researching Chief Justice Marshall and his negative association with enslaved people, I fear that if I don't speak up or we as SAM do not speak up, I would be complicit in my own oppression.

Historically for those not aware, Chief Justice Marshall was a brilliant legal mind and he conceived what we know as judicial review. However he was also a brutal slaver and he went out of his way to be intentionally oppressive and cruel to litigants, usually black ones seeking justice from the court. Today Justice Marshall's legacy of discrimination is completely incompatible and inconsistent with the values and mission of Cleveland Marshall law school which is to learn law and to live justice.

In conclusion, Students Against Marshall is in concurrence with the resolution, and we agree that this matter constitutes as an emergency measure for the immediate preservation of public peace, property, health, and safety. And in conclusion, the Students Against Marshall request that the council members and the city leaders take action to affirmatively vote to ratify this resolution. Let it take effect now urging the CM law naming committee to remove the Marshall name and to be enforced immediately. Thank you.

2:25 Permalink

Councilmember Kerry McCormack (Ward 3)

Councilman Griffin: Councilman and majority leader Kerry McCormick

Councilman McCormack: Thank you Mr. Chairman and um you all thought you got your speeches out last week but I reserve mine for today so I bless you with another welcoming speech. Thank you Mr. Chair and I appreciate my colleagues patience as I was recovering from from COVID. First want to say that I'm thankful I was triple vaccinated which really kept my symptoms to very mild. I was blessed to test negative and go without symptoms for about four days at this point so I appreciate you all having me here today.

Mr. President I want to start by really recognizing a hero to me and to the Cleveland community. This evening I went to the viewing of Ms. Alberta Howard at Gaines funeral home. Mr. President in 2013 when I was a young and energetic community organizer, I was getting all around the neighborhood in Ohio City and I wanted to meet people and learn from institutions and find the community leaders and really tap into folks. And so I was like 23 or 24 and I walk into Lakeview high rise, and I walk in and I'm supposed to meet a group of residents. So I walk in and and I go right towards this group of residents. Out of the corner of my eye I see you know a lady sitting in a chair but you know I reserve time with these folks and I want to get right to them and kind of say hello and introduce myself. And the entire room froze when a voice came out from the back and said, "And who do you think you are?" That was the day I met Ms. Alberta Howard.

I quickly learned Mr. President who is the boss, not only of Lakeview but our entire community. An incredible pillar and matriarch. From that point over the years she and I developed a very close relationship as many in this room and others have. Mr. President I had one grandparent who I really knew and beyond that my grandparents died early and Ms. Alberta formed into a grandmother figure to me. Advising me every single step of the way, letting me know when and how I could plug in, smacking me on the side of the head when I needed to be smacked on the side of the head, and really as a guide and beacon of light to our community.

Mr. President although she went home to God, we know that her impact will ripple in our community all throughout greater Cleveland for many many many years to come. It'll be incumbent upon all of us to speak her name and to talk and share stories about the impact that she's had in her in our community. So her service is tomorrow at 1:30 so if anyone would like to attend I can give you the information on that. But a true matriarch and pillar of our community. Life well lived, 88 years old, Mr. President, incredible impact. We all will miss her dearly but she's with God and if anyone knew her she spent her whole entire life close to God. So we know that you know she went right to that front of the line on the fast pass and got right in after she passed away so I wanted to recognize her.

Mr. President I'll be brief but wanted to first congratulate you and thank you for the faith in me to serve as majority leader and to congratulate all my colleagues on their hard-won victories and service to our community. Clerk Britt as well who were very excited that she had us back we asked her to come back and and happy that she was here with us.

Mr. President I also want to congratulate Mayor Bibb. We can stop calling you Mayor-elect Bibb. And you got to remember I missed a week here of like the first week so this is week one to me and his entire administration who's here with us tonight. We're excited to work with you in moving the city of Cleveland forward.

Mr. President you know I was born and raised in ward 8. You know I ran away from Mike Polensek thankfully and got over into ward 3 after coming home from Spain. But quickly fell in love with the community that I represent. As a community organizer, you know I really on a day-to-day, basis got involved in the issues big and small on a neighborhood level. Block club to block, club community meeting by community meeting, and fell in love with the people that I represent. And that's how I move forward in the work that I do Mr. President.

I want to thank the people of ward 3 for having faith in me and for asking me back to serve as their representative. Ward 3 is everything from the sports teams and the major corporations and 20,000 residents downtown, to all the way down to well almost um 80th and Denison almost. So we've got a broad, diverse war to folks of all different backgrounds and which I'm honored to serve every single day.

Mr. President we've got a stellar team on city council. Not only our leadership team but our committee chairs, our new members are full of energy and are ready to go to make the necessary changes in our community. From whether it's crime reduction to infant mortality, to lead paint poisoning, to job growth, to population growth, to simply getting Cleveland back on the map as the place that we know it is which is an amazing place to live, to raise your family. We've got a lot of hard work to do. We know that the mayor, I'm very excited about this guy, it is not news to anybody. We know that he's going to bring in and already has a great group of individuals who are eager to not only work hard but work smart and bring innovative change to the city of Cleveland. This council will be a match to that. We will be a partner in that. We will be an equal weight to that Mr. President, because we've got a great team that I'm thrilled to begin this work with or continue this work with like many folks here. And to really get Cleveland to where we all know it can be.

You know one of the things that I've talked about from day one when I moved home from teaching English in Spain I came home to my home in Cleveland, Ohio, I saw all the potential in this city that we're not tapping in to. And when I say potential I don't mean just fancy tech jobs or you know those types of things, but the potential to do better for the folks that need our help the most and working up from there. The potential is there for us to take for this council to take, for the mayor's administration to take, for the community to really harness to get Cleveland to where we know it can be.

So Mr. President again thank you for the time today. I appreciate my colleagues bearing with me as I have my opening speech tonight. Unfortunately after three vaccines still got the darn virus but I appreciate your patience and your support in that time. Just as my last plea to our folks watching, you know, I just want to say it again. I did not end up in the hospital Mr. President. I had mild symptoms because of that vaccine. So please if you haven't gotten the vaccine, haven't gotten it yet, take it from me. I was able to easily treat myself because I was vaccinated. So check into, it look into it, our health centers are offering accessible vaccines too. Then you know of course Mr. President I owe my entire life to my family. To my husband who has been an incredible tremendous support to me in this journey both in my private life as well as in my public life.

So thank you all. I look forward to working together and really to get Cleveland where it needs to be and to leverage our full potential. Thank you Mr. President.

7:24 Permalink

Councilmember Joseph T. Jones (Ward 1)

I rise to talk about two public employees the first one is serves on Cleveland City Council and John James [Applause]

John James is probably one of the most outstanding public servants of our time and a man who has the ability and capacity to work with all of the elected officials handling their issues, their situations, and when I saw John the other day I told John: You can't leave if that means that we have to prop you up at 120 years of age and bring you back and one of the reasons being is because he listened, he understood the city of Cleveland he understood the needs of the citizens but more important he knew how to navigate and to navigate in such a way where he found a way to getting it done he found a way to using public dollars and being able to get it into the streets of our city to serve our citizens and the challenge today with more bureaucracy and more layers added each year year in and year out in terms of block grants it makes it very difficult to get those funds on the streets to the citizens who really need it. But john james found the way to do it and i'm saddened that he's leaving the city of Cleveland and I know that it would probably take two three four five people to be able to take his place and do the work that he did here on this council so to John James may god bless you on your endeavors may he bless you and your family we appreciate your commitment and your dedication to the the city of Cleveland and the city council

As an elected official, some of the hardest work that we have to do is being able to get services out to the citizens in the city of Cleveland and it is really good to have directors and commissioners who are professional in what they do in terms of being able to get those services out and having great relationships with them one of those directors is Paul Alcantar Paul Alcantar to my colleagues for those who know him he's in the hospital now. If you do have his personal number do reach out to him he's not doing too well. But when I joined council four years ago he was the only director, the only commissioner who would return a phone call who would answer his phone call the same day, even when he was on vacation he picked up that phone even on Saturdays and Sundays because many of you who work in the public day in the day out know that you don't get a day off when citizens want to call you and they have your personal numbers. They will call you and you have to take care of issues and one of the things that was really great about Paul Alcantar is I could reach him he would take care of business the same day, next day or by the end of the week.

I could not say that for any other director or commissioner in the city of Cleveland and so when it came the opportunity to give him praise on that council I wanted to make sure that I did that each and every time and when I look at the list of the interns and the directors and the commissioners who have been assembled here we are voting on this today and we will be continuing to vote on this as the days move forward on who is going to be putting those spots in those positions I just want to say i'm looking for that kind of service because when I got that kind of service I'm able to deliver services to the citizens by which i serve so with that being said. God bless you thank you Mr. President. Thank you to the council for allowing me this opportunity to speak this evening.

4:34 Permalink

Councilmember Kevin Conwell (Ward 9)

Councilman Kevin Conwell i want to say kudos to John James, too. Man that dude is so great he's so good. He would always find, he really truly, matter of fact - a lot of people don't know - he's one of my best friends. John is great man he really cares about the residents and the people in the city of Cleveland when he told me and iI found out really a long, long, long, long, time ago that he was leaving - it really truly hurt me. But I understand he wants to go and live his life and do some other things. But it it's going to be hard to replace John James.

John really care you know whenever you get in the pickle for dollars anything, John would find out and try to help people out and as he told me Friday. he said. " Kevin I truly care." And I know he truly cares.

I'm going to switch gears put that over here, i just received another phone call. Mr. Mayor did you get the text? A young man was murdered right behind Chesterfield. I got to find out what's going on over there. I walked the neighborhood but nobody's talking with me right now so I gotta knock on the on the doors I'm gonna reach out to my commander, Sammy Morris and we'll go, um, knock and talk because you got to get behind those doors and talk with people. And - or - I might reach out to the interrupters. Myesha [Crowe] is good too. and and talk with her, and we'll go knocking and walking I'm not afraid to walk along. Ought to walk in my neighborhood.

I was out there walking this morning talking with people in the cold and I really dig it man, you out there talking with them and it gives you an up-close view and you end up with a genuine concern and a sensitive ear to what's going on. But these homicides I got to get behind that that really hurts me man. It crawls in your guts when you see and you hear that i'm the youth how they're murdering each other. That's not a good thing, um, I just got that phone call ,but anyway that hurts.

Let me move forward I want to do a thank you. I want to thank the CMSD School Board. I want to thank Eric Gordon as well as Michael Houser for championing his cause so that we can host meetings during Black History month to change the names of the schools. And what's good is that they practice your governance they're going to reach out to the community to let people decide the names of the new schools, which is very very important. i just three years ago i created some legislation, I guess the timing wasn't right to change the name of Patrick Henry Middle School. I just felt that - and I know children when your teacher tells you to do a book report - and you do a book report, little African American students and then you read about Patrick Henry and you read that Patrick Henry had your ancestors in slavery, and you go into that school and you identify with that oppressor and that slave holder - How do you think that make children feel? How would you feel? How would you feel? little young African-American boys little young African-American girls to go to school and say, " I'm Patrick Henry, I'm Thomas Jefferson. No they had your they have our people my people in slavery, and slavery selling us off and the school system. I sent a letter to every last one of the board members as well as Eric Gordon.

They created a process of naming schools, so and they said anybody to practice racism or any form of discrimination you can't have a school named after you. [Applause] And so we would sit down in February and we'll look at Patrick Henry we'll sit down and we'll talk about the other schools name changing and we'll even talk with the students so that they can be involved involved with it looking at changing names of of the schools in the community.

Now i was approached by some people to shine light on this Cleveland State piece with this John Marshall. And I saw what a newspaper said he did - some good things and earlier today that he freed some slaves, he freed some slaves he had over 200 slaves and then he freed my people he freed some slaves. John Marshall, Chief Justice, and I'm supposed to be happy about that what if I had his people and that's that's that's wrong to think like that he frees some slaves and so I should be happy my people have my people in bondage women and men being strange fruits from trees being hung up there have a hanging and you have a picnic and you go to it and you see us there and you use for civil souvenirs the whole nine yards you're collecting African-American people and we can't go anywhere.

He did some good things. John Marshall took some of my people and sold them, to help his son get out of debt get out of debt. Sold my people was cash to get out of debt, broke families up you have African Americans to this day are related to one another and don't even know it. Don't even know it the strongest thing that you have is the families and some of us here are related and we don't even know that we're related to each other. You broke families up. Families is the fabric of any society in any culture. And he said he did some good things, I mentioned to a reporter about this other guy who used to be the president. It's good people on both sides no it's not. No it's not so i'm gonna help these students and I've already talked with. some of my friends and they said: Kev, we're gonna move forward and try to change the name of John Marshall. We're gonna move forward we're gonna do more than try to change that name of John Marshall, let me tell you this, let me tell you this and I'll end in a second.

Chicago got it right. Once they found out that this man was a slave holder, once they found out that he owned over 200 slaves, once they found out that he broke families up once they found out that he uh Chief Justice Marshall was wrong - Chicago came back and said in Illinois we'll change it in 2023. The black folks is in Illinois said: No. You're going to change it right now. Now is the time to change the name from John Marshall and now guess what the school is called. That law school Illinois Law School. It was changed. They had the wrong Marshall. Now, if they had the right Marshall Thurgood Marshall -- then you are right. Thank you very much.

7:28 Permalink