April 25, 2022

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Public Commenters (12 min)
Rev. Pamela Pinkney Butts  Kimberly F. Brown   Natalie Ziegler  Wanda Hill-Chestnut 

Councilmember comments during Miscellaneous (11 min)
Jenny Spencer (Ward 15)  Deborah A. Gray (Ward 4) 

Rev. Pamela Pinkney Butts

Council President Griffin: First up is Reverend Pamela Pinkney Butts from Cleveland. Concerns pertaining to family and community matters and she's with Mothers Matter Moms Matter. Please acknowledge your time Ms. Pinkney.

Pinkney Butts: I always do. Good evening everybody. Good evening everybody, I know everybody is not that tired. Good evening. Um, I'm glad to see you all this evening. And as you know, I have a lot of entities that I am uh responsible for. And this evening I want to first of all thank the young ladies who came on last week to follow up on some of my concerns also pertaining to public transportation. The discriminatory practices and the racial profiling and the funding that needs to be addressed is still on the table.

This evening I came because mothers matter and moms do matter. And as a mother, I'm concerned about the violation of the rights of the people. If you close down the facility for housing over on Superior. I'm concerned about that. The Civil Rights Act Of 1968, which is the Fair Housing Act, clearly states that people should not be discriminated against because of disabilities as well as other components. But I have found that in some of this legislation, I find that there's a lot of racial profiling where people who are poor, black, um, and disabled are moved out of their areas.

So I'm asking you to review that because it's a discriminatory practice to close down the village that you plan to close down. Those people will be displaced. Dysfunctional. And we'll end up in a position where we will increase the mass incarceration as well as a lack of rehabilitation for people. And we don't need more expensive housing. We need to have fair housing for people in all areas of Cleveland. Ohio.

I'm asking you to rethink some things because it may not be your mother. It may not be your sister. It may not be your niece. It may not be your friend. It may not be your church member. It may not be somebody who you even know. But it is not fair and it's not right to close down the village where the people live.

Mothers do matter. And as a mother, I would always want to know that my child is provided for. As a mother, I would always want to know that the needs of the community are met so that we can have fair and equal opportunities. Mothers do matter. Think about it being your mother who may need to live in that village. Think about your mother. Where is your mother right now? Thank you.

Council President Griffin: Thank you.

3:10 Permalink

Kimberly F. Brown

Council President Griffin: Next up we have Kimberly F. Brown from Ward 1 talking about pending legislation regarding the proposed Commission for Black Women and she's from the Women's Commission for Education and Training and the Black Women Commission of Cuyahoga County, Ms. Brown, you have the floor.

Brown: Thank you very much. Council President Blaine Griffin. My name is Kimberly Brown and I am the president of the Black Women Commission of Cuyahoga County. I'm also the interim director of the Women Commission for Education and Training.

It is very disturbing to us that we would actually see on the news that the city of Cleveland is starting a black women commission. Earlier when Mayor Bibb was elected, the Black Women Commission and the Women Commission of Education and Training, we submitted a proposal to Mayor Bibb regarding a 15-point plan on how to resolve issues within our city. And we got no response. The Black Women Commission, we have been in existence since 2018. We have made history. And we simply refuse to allow a new organization to actually come and be developed and muddy the waters of some of the work we've already done.

We worked on the issue of Saniyah Nicholson who was killed in Cleveland Ward 1. We worked on the issue of Jalen Wise who was found murdered at Tinker Creek in Bedford Heights. We brought justice to that family. We worked with [Monique Ball] in Garfield Heights when Garfield Heights would not even allow her grandchildren to go to school. We worked on these issues. We're constantly working on issues that affect black women, their families and their children. We are a trademark under the Black Women Commission. We're a trademark under the Commission for Women. And we're trademark under the Women Commission for Education and Training.

I am standing here today in peace. What I'm going to ask city council is this: please do not use our name. Come up with another name. Use group. Use committee. But you cannot use the Black Women Commission. Now out of peace, we're more than happy to work with you and share our experience in our development. We are signed off by Senator Kenny Yuko Congresswoman Shontel Brown. Councilwoman Ruth Gray and many others who like the work that we do in the community.

Again, please do not use the Black Women Commission, the Commission for Black Women or the Committee for Black Women of Education and Training. Those names are already taken and our work is proven and is on the ground. My name is Kimberly F. Brown and I am the president. Thank you very much.

2:41 Permalink

Natalie Ziegler

Natalie Ziegler is from Cleveland Heights and she's here to talk about fare evasion decriminalization and she's with Clevelanders for Public Transit. Ms. Ziegler, please acknowledge your time.

Ziegler: Hello. Thank you for introducing tonight legislation to amend ordinance 605.11, to ensure that any person convicted of fare evasion will face a maximum of a $25 fine with no possibility of jail time. Just as no person would ever expect to go to jail over a parking ticket, no person should ever go to jail over a bus pass that costs $2.50.

But the proposed legislation does not go far enough. Under the proposed legislation, not paying a fare remains a crime and that remains unjust. While people could no longer be thrown in jail for failing to pay for a transit fare, they still face the possibility of exorbitant court costs and other collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. Eating food or drinking a beverage in a prohibited place remain crimes under this proposed legislation. Listening to music without headphones remains a crime. Throwing a snowball remains a crime that can land a person in jail for 90 days with a $750 fine. None of these acts should be considered crimes etched permanently on someone's record.

Under the current law, people can be jailed for 30 days and fined $250 for failure to pay a $2.50 transit fare. And that same penalty applies throughout Ohio under advised code 291741. That is unjust. Because the penalty under the Ohio statute remains, a person cited for fare evasion in Cleveland by the Greater Cleveland Transit authority Transit police, would still be subject to jail and a $250 fine under state law. Therefore, Clevelanders for Public Transit demands that GCRTA transit police agree under a memorandum of understanding with the city of Cleveland to only cite riders under the amended Cleveland ordinance.

Although transit riders would no longer risk jail time if they cannot afford their fare, they still risk the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. Being fined $25 instead of $250 means little if it results in thousands of dollars in court costs along with a criminal record that can prevent someone from getting a job again. Thank you for ensuring that Cleveland law does not send someone to jail because they're too poor to buy a bus pass, but you can do better. The proposed legislation must protect against the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction And until revised code 2917.41 is repealed. The city of Cleveland must ensure that GCRTA transit police issued no citations under that state law. Thank you.

3:00 Permalink

Wanda Hill-Chestnut

Council President Griffin: Last up we have Pastor Wanda Hill-Chestnut.She's from Ward 6 and she's here to talk about the safety guardrails guardrails and to commend um, uh, the administration and council for the responsiveness and also she's from St Luke's Church. Ms. Hill-Chestnut.

Hill Chestnut: Good evening everyone. I am Pastor Wanda Hill Chestnut of the St Luke Church 7919 Kinsman Road. I stood before council several weeks ago regarding a guard rail and the safety of our congregants because our fence had been hit multiple times.

Now I stand before you all just to say thank you. It took three years, but I think your Olivia Pope and your equalizer were able to get some things done and I would like to officially say to Mr. McCall or to Blaine Griffin, now known as the equalizer who stood with our church in this effort to make everyone safe. And to the newly appointed Bonnie, I thank you for stepping up and making things happen.

And I'm just, in the Bible it talks about there were 10 lepers and although 10 were healed, only one came back to say thank you. So I'm the one to come back and say thank you to let you all know that your work is not gone unseen. For every hour that you spend away from your family to make sure that the citizens of Cleveland gets good service and for everyone who actually does their job and does not just carry a title and a position my hat is off to you. The saints of St Luke Church thank you. And for those who have difficulty doing your job, follow the leadership that you see. Follow the positive examples. And I thank you. I thank you and I thank you. God bless you all. Thank you.

2:01 Permalink

Councilmember Jenny Spencer (Ward 15)

Thank you. Mr Council president. I want to take a moment this evening for democracy to talk about democracy. Um We have a primary election in Ohio a week from tomorrow On Tuesday May three. But all is not well with democracy. All is not well with democracy. Navigating our democracy is tough enough for a citizen these days rather dealing with voter suppression or rampant disinformation. But in Ohio it is extra tough. We have gerrymandered districts and our Ohio State Supreme Court has struck down our state legislative maps four times as a result. While racist such as governor and county executive Will be will be on the ballot on Tuesday May three State Senate and state representative will not be on the ballot and Ohio will need to hold an additional primary in august a second primary. The cost of two primaries together exceeds $20 million. All of this is terribly confusing for our citizens and it does not need to be this way. So for now, a week out from this May three primary election, I want to call on all of us, my colleagues as elected officials and on all of us as public servants to stick with our people, our people of Cleveland and to remind them that although democracy is constantly under threat that voters should not see their power And they should vote on May three and they should vote in the additional august primary and they should vote this november in the general election and in all the elections to come. Our voter turnout in Cleveland is incredibly low and we as public servants need to help build that muscle memory for our people around voting and civic engagement and claiming their power and remind them how powerful they are. Our engagement as leaders as part of that equation. And back to this gerrymandering and redistricting hot mess for those of us who are democrats affiliated with the Democratic Party. This moment is also a reminder of how important the state redistricting commission is. Both the state auditor and the Ohio Secretary of State are on that commission. Let's elect democrats to those statewide offices. And I want to thank our hyo state Supreme Court for their work to uphold democracy. Those are critically important races on this year's ballot as well. Thank you for letting me take this moment on the close to an upcoming election. Thank you. Thank you.

3:03 Permalink

Councilmember Deborah A. Gray (Ward 4)

Yes, I want to speak on um Ordinance 3 9 9 - 0 - two. My personal story 2000 2009. I was activist in my community. Our bus number 50 was taken was discontinued On on the line of 116th Street. It was discontinued three weeks before our T. A. Decided to discontinue it. Whereas the other communities had a meeting three months prior to that. I worked at university hospital at that time I drove but I decided to take the bus every day to work. So when they suddenly discontinue our bus we were like wait a minute, we didn't get a meeting, you did not come to us and ask us for a community meeting at all. So, myself and six other residents in ward two and it was ward four. We all got together and said we're gonna rally and get our bus back. Not protest really because that was a historical bus for years and they had no business taking it. So we got together with esa at that time which was on 33rd in Perkins. So we had leadership from them. They came with us, set us down written up flyers and showed us and told us what we needed to do. So we stood on 116 And uh 116 roll by Will Hear Park. They discontinued the bus The day after Easter in 2009 in April. So we stood there with our flyers, Channel three, channel 19 And Anita Gardner came with TV 20. So we stood there. We protest do not take our bus, do not take our bus but they took it anyway, so then what we did, we we met up flyers past the flyers out on on all the other busses come with us join with us because they might take your bus too. So we protest, we protest. So then we got together with esa leadership Which is now that Benjamin rose on 116th in Fair Hill, I could name a few women who lead us in this task of fighting for our bus. I'm a true activist. I came out of National Leadership Institute At that time class of 28 and that was one of my two tests that I fought in my neighborhood to get something done and to be heard. So this is this was going on forever, very forceful, very mafia and never afraid to stand up for the cause of the people Knees in the in Ward four. So then after we work with Aesop We went down to our T.A. which they have a where they have the Cleveland um you know where they have the public meeting every 3rd Tuesday From 9 to 1030. So we all every third Tuesday from april to september. We stood at that podium respectful understanding with Grace for the community, disabled youth, young adults and anyone that needed that transportation to get the service. We went to every third Tuesday for eight months and they elected need to be the speaker and I had a young lady, She was 92 years old, she was with Martin Luther King in Alabama in 1955 and she taught us how to speak up and rally to get what we need. And she was in the fight back then when they took the bus away know when the people when black folks stopped riding the bus because they weren't treated fair. So she led that fight for us and she taught us how to stand up. Therefore I like that I lacked uh you know to be the least speaker. But for April to September it was six of us Down there every 3rd Tuesday. That's when I met mayor Bill, he came afterwards. I was still hanging in there was the mayor Bill. Okay so we stood there every month. We talked and we talked, we met our stand, we spoke and we spoke for everyone. It was no self need, it was gratification for the entire for everyone who wrote the number 50 bucks. And then after that eight months Joyce Dixon, he was president. He called Me one evening And said Mr Gray, you get your people and get your asked down here because you're the 2nd and 12 busses that got you know that we chose to get the bus back. Councilwoman, we gotta okay I apologize to use the right language. Okay I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm just emotional because of this was passed without my name on it. So I'm just gonna say this after we got the bus back We had three councils ward six Ward four and war to at that time. Did not fight with us. We called them up. They said, don't worry about it. You're not getting that bus back. We do not have one council fight with us. But we fought and stood for the community. So we went down there in october, They had 12 busses on that list. Some of the west, north and and and the southeast side. We were all down there. Zack. Reid was called to finally come down to stand with us. I love Zach because he was my counselor 13, but he was called to stand with us at that time. He's still with us. We got the bus back for the entire community, for the entire community. So I thought so. I fight for the cause of the writers of the fair writers. That every one of those fair writers know me. I partnered with Cleveland public transit, which is their meetings and what everyone means. At the end of the day, I feel neglected and disrespected as a woman in council that my name was on the Stargazer ordinance and I was X twice did I want my name on this ordinance and I said yes, but it's not. So there you go. And Councilwoman will look and see why your name wasn't on the ordinance. I'm not sure why that happened, but we'll take a look at that. Thank you. All right,

7:39 Permalink