May 09, 2022

prev: April 25, 2022 next: May 16, 2022

Public Commenters (23 min)
Dontez Taylor  Danny Williams  Pamela Denton  Angela Evans  Jean Allen Jenkins  Donald Williams  Matthew Ahn  Rev. Pamela M. Pinkney Butts 

Councilmember comments during Miscellaneous (13 min)
Joseph T. Jones (Ward 1)  Kevin Conwell (Ward 9)  Richard A. Starr (Ward 5) 

Dontez Taylor

Council President Griffin: Dontez you have the floor.

Taylor: Hello my name is Dontez Taylor and I want to say we don't need no new jail. All we need to do is figure out how we can keep it downtown and and where its at now. And move just move them out and restructure that jail that we already have so we can use that money for for something else. Something else out there and everything else. God bless you.

Council President Griffin: Thank you Dontez, appreciate you.

0:40 Permalink

Danny Williams

Council President Griffin: Next up we have Danny Williams he's from Cleveland Heights and he's here to talk about Eliza Bryant and he's also representing Eliza Bryant. Mr. Williams.

Williams: Council President Griffin, Councilwoman Howse, members of council. My name is Danny Williams. I'm president and CEO of Eliza Bryant Village.

I want to thank you for this opportunity to comment for public comment in support of Eliza's request for funding for infrastructure and professional service needs as we make a historic transition in our mission of service to the Hough neighborhood in Cleveland. Eliza Bryant has faithfully served the residents of Cleveland for 126 years, providing vital health, housing, home care and sheltering services to some of the city's most vulnerable and at risk residents. We intend to continue this legacy of service for many years into the future, however that may not be possible without the help from the city.

In March of this year, our board of trustees made the very difficult decision to close our skilled nursing facility. This decision was driven by primarily by three factors. One was inadequate reimbursement levels from Medicaid, our primary funding source. Second, one was the inability to maintain staffing levels that we all need to provide the quality of care that we all expect. And the third was the COVID-19 pandemic, which dramatically impacted our occupancy levels, and made many families hesitant to bring their loved ones into a congregate setting.

Unfortunately we're not alone. I'll leave for the record with the city, with the council clerk, a recent article from McKnight's Long-Term Care News that states more than 400 nursing homes are projected to close during 2022. Regarding the more than 300 closures during 2021, the article notes and I quote: "The facilities that closed tended to be smaller with fewer than 100 beds and in urban settings where residents rely on Medicaid" precisely Eliza Bryant Village's profile.

Eliza Bryant's history is rich, however we're now focused on the future. And that future will involve continuing and expanding our affordable housing footprint, increasing our ability to serve the health needs of older adults in home settings, and continuing our one-of-a-kind shelter services for seniors who are experiencing some form of elder abuse.

As a former Cleveland law director and Cuyahoga county administrator, I'm acutely aware of the important role the nonprofit sector plays in supporting the city's economic development efforts. As the city and county work to develop your criteria for distributing American Rescue Funds, we urge you to strongly consider the need to support older adults who've paid their dues to society and now need us to show in a tangible way respect for their contributions by ensuring that essential services such as affordable housing, home care, home health services and elder abuse sheltering are properly funded so that trusted organizations such as the lives of brian village can continue to provide such services to your constituents thank you.

Council President Griffin: Thank you. [Applause]

3:08 Permalink

Pamela Denton

Council President Griffin: Next we have Pamela Denton from Ward 7 to talk about Eliza Bryant Village.

Denton: Good evening my name is Pamela Denton and I live in Cleveland ward 7. I have lived at Eliza Bryant Village for more than two years. First at the Elder Justice Center and now in one of the affordable apartments for seniors on the village campus. The village is my home.

Eliza Bryant's Village Elder Justice Center or the EJC is a temporary shelter for older Americans who have been victims of abuse, crime or violence. It is the only shelter program focused exclusively on the needs for older adults in the entire state. No other program is designed for those of us who are aged 55 and older.

I first learned about the EJC when I was in an abusive home situation and adult protective services referred me to the program. I was the second person placed at the EJC after it opened in December 2019. I arrived in February of 2020 right before the start of the pandemic and stayed for eight months.

During my time at EJC, the staff members provided so much support for me as I healed from our ordeal. Without them and this program, I don't know where I would be today. They helped me get my birth certificate from Alabama, helped me obtain my deceased husband's pension, and helped me file for my social security. While at the EJC, I had one-on-one and group therapy with a psychologist. I had art and music therapy. I built friendships with my peers. I was able to process my trauma and now I no longer blame myself.

And they haven't just helped me. They have helped 31 other people on their campus who have found themselves in abusive situations of victims of crime, through no fault of their own. They have helped find new jobs, secure safe housing, become financially independent, navigate police procedures and the criminal justice system, and connected us to the social services we need. They made sure we made it to doctors appointments, appointments with social security and other government agents. They even provided items for us when we moved to our new safe housing.

I love my apartment. I love living in Cleveland at the village. I love being able to live on my own and be independent. It has been liberating. It has been a liberating experience. one that I could not have imagined. They still call me every few months to check on me. They haven't just helped us, they have helped nearly 100 other people get connected to social services to get them out of their abusive situations.

Today I'm healthy, happy, content. I have friends. I have my own home. I have food on my table every night and I am fortunate. I am here this evening to ask the city's support for Eliza Bryant Village. Support that would allow the village to transition their program and continue offering affordable housing and Elder Justice Center programs. Please find the village. Thank you for your time. [Applause]

3:14 Permalink

Angela Evans

Council President Griffin: Thank you Ms.Denton. Next up we have Angela Evans from Ward 7 she's here to talk about Eliza Bryant and Eliza Bryant Village.

Evans: Good evening everyone my name is Angela Evans I live in this oh okay you can't hear me? Okay all right. My name is Angela Evans. I live in the city of Cleveland. My mom is Margaret Ball. She participated in adult day services program at Eliza Bryant Village. My mom has been attending Village Eliza Bryant Adult Daycare for about nine years now. It closed down due to COVID. Excuse me a little nervous but I wasn't expecting all this today.

Right now it's been very hard with her dealing with dementia so adult day career has really helped me out. Learning about dementia, having the classes has taught me and my family a lot how to deal with dementia, how to take care of her and everything has been very hard. So right now this place has been her school so.. I need this place. It needs to stay open. I wish it was open even on weekends.

So this place, I wasn't expecting all this today so I need Eliza Bryant daycare to really stay open because it allows me to go to work allows my son and go to school every day. It really helps me a lot so I need the support. Thank you.

Council President Griffin: Thank you.

1:47 Permalink

Jean Allen Jenkins

Council President Griffin: Thank you. Next up we have Jean Allen Jenkins from Shaker Heights and Jean Allen Jenkins is here to talk about Eliza Bryant.

Jenkins: President Griffin, council members, good evening. And you're going to hear a lot about Eliza Bryant Village this evening okay. Many of you know the village and our long time history. You've heard Mr. Williams talk about 126 years And even though President Griffin said I'm a member of the Shaker Heights community, I was a long time resident of inner-city Cleveland and the Wade Park neighborhood, and that's when I actually joined the board and so that hundred and twenty six years, thirty five of it I have spent directly involved with Eliza Bryant Village.

I care very deeply for the village. I'm a past president of the board and I'm actively involved in all facets of the organization. I have seen our community's reliance upon the activities and programs of the village and like some of you in this room, four of my direct family members actually took advantage of those programs and activities of the village. But this is not about me and my involvement, this is about making sure that Eliza Bryant Village stays a part of this Cleveland community.

It was a very gut-wrenching decision to see the village close, but this is not the first time that we've had to deal with changes that reflect our you know growth and of things that are happening in the world. I've helped the leadership navigate through building a main facility on Wade Park. I was there when we built three of our independent housing buildings. I was there when we made the decision to switch to adult day from a social services program to a medical model. And I was there when we made the decision to launch the Elder Justice Center which you heard about earlier. I was there when we made the heart-wrenching decision to close the skilled nursing facility but again as I mentioned this is not about me. This is to let you know that we are not going away.

I am a praying woman and when you have some time I want to refer you to a passage in the Bible. It's from Matthew 15 verses 21-28. It's a woman of the city who was imploring King Jesus, and I say imploring when you read that particular passage, to help heal her sick elderly daughter. I want you to know that I see you as that model you know you're we're going to implore you beg you to help our ailing village.

Council President Griffin: Time.

Jenkins: Okay I'm going to acknowledge. Thank you, help us.

3:33 Permalink

Donald Williams

Council President Griffin: Thank you so much uh next we have Donald Williams and he is a Beachwood resident and he's here to talk about Eliza Bryant Village representing the Eliza Bryant Village. Please acknowledge your time sir.

Willams: Good evening. I am Donald Corkey Williams and I've been involved with the Eliza Bryant for a long time as a active member of the board of trustees. As a matter of fact I was thinking about the time I've been involved and it's been over 35 years, actively involved, not by name but actively involved.

You know, this is a time of transition for all of us and it's all of us that we need to understand how we can effectively support an organization such as ours. We're deeply saddened by the fact that we had to close our nursing home, but that's only the beginning of a new future.

What we're looking at now is what we have and how many of you are aware of our Elder Justice Center? Raise your hands. Our Elder Justice Center has been placed there in order to support those members of our community the elders who are suffering from some kind of abuse or crime and what we do is offer them shelter during the transition so that they can get back on their feet and live independently that's one.

Two, we've got the adult day service, which supports caregivers. All of us know what a caregiver has to put forth and how it drains, but we're here to help assist the caregivers in providing support for their loved ones while they're on a day-to-day basis that's two. How about affordable housing? Affordable housing we hit the niche. We provide certainly contemporary and courteous and certainly total housing covered for our residents. If you've ever been to our campus you can see that we cater to the needs of our residents.

And so where do we go from here? We stay the board stays tough we've been meeting on a regular basis, all kinds of crazy hours, in order to address the future. The transition is here and we're looking for your support in order to provide us with the time, in order to meet the challenges in the future. We're working with Plante Moran in order to help us in the transition. We're not doing it solely by ourselves but we're getting expert support in order to make sure that we meet the needs.

We need your help during this time of transition so that we can make the difference in this community. We want to continue to be that star that shines in the crown of this community. Thank you for your time. [Applause]

2:59 Permalink

Matthew Ahn

Council President Griffin: Matthew Ahn he's from Ward 3 to talk about fare decriminalization. Mr. Ahn.

Ahn: Good evening my name is Matthew Ahn. I am a law professor at CSU. I'm here in my personal capacity today though to talk about transit. So I am a two-time Guinness world record holder for the fastest time to visit every New York City subway station, so you know I've thought about transit a lot.

Now, transit needs to be accessible to everyone without exception, treated as a public utility rather than a source of revenue. The farebox recovery rate, or the proportion of RTA's budget that came from fares, was 16 percent the year before the pandemic, and ridership has been cut in half since then with no signs of recovery. No amount of fare enforcement is going to make a meaningful difference in the size of RTA's budget, and every major study shows that it will certainly not be worth the actual $14 million dollar budget for RTA police or any increase therein.

Now I know the council does not have the power to mandate a fare-free system, but the city of Cleveland is the site of most of the fare enforcement activity in the system, and the recently introduced fare evasion ordinance is a step in the right direction . I commend council for recognizing the unwarranted burden on transit riders and particularly low income and marginalized transit riders, many of whom are black and brown. However there are two problems.

First, the bill as I understand it makes no change to the classification of fare evasion as a fourth degree misdemeanor, a conviction that still exposes people to collateral consequences of convictions. As neither the city of Cleveland nor the state of Ohio has implemented universal ban the box. Only for government and government contracted jobs if that. And of course the state still has a similarly worded fare evasion statute revised code 2917.41, that still carries incarceration as a potential penalty.

Therefore I'd like to suggest the council consider two things before they pass this ordinance, neither of which was originally my idea so I can't take credit for either of them. First, consider making the fare evasion section not a criminal offense at all but a civil infraction. Now civil infractions already exist in the municipal code section 551.991 provides for civil infractions and fines levied for issues with refuse pickup and similar things. The mechanism already exists elsewhere in the code. The matter would only be one of drafting. Second, I'd like the council to consider whether a memorandum of understanding might be signed with RTA or RTA's police, such that any fare evasion enforcement would happen under the revised section 605.11 after it is amended, rather than under the state revised code 2917.41, whether or not the penalties are reduced to civil infractions in nature or not. This would avoid cases being taken up by the county prosecutor and would completely avoid the possibility of incarceration for failing to have a couple dollars.

Council President Griffin: Time.

Ahn: I thank the council for its time.

Council President Griffin: Thank you.

3:22 Permalink

Rev. Pamela M. Pinkney Butts

Councilman Griffin: Next we have Reverend Pamela M. Pinkney-Butts from Cleveland to talk about an agenda and a non-agenda. Reverend Pinkney.

Pinkney-Butts: Good evening everybody. Good evening everybody! Everybody. Okay. Good evening Council President. I said agenda because as speaking on behalf of many people when we come here we don't know the agenda. We don't really know a full package of what the council's agenda is for the city. We have to come to meetings and things have already been decided so would you all please work on that. Letting us know like what is prepared for these meetings when we do come.

The non-agenda items I wanted to discuss with you this evening was two weeks ago I spoke with you about not closing Eliza Bryant Village down. To close that village is a poor economic decision. It's a poor social decision. It's a poor community decision. It's a poor family decision. To close down that village you not only impact the health, the welfare and the safety of those people, but you make a statement that those lives do not matter. That is not a sound decision to make.

Another concern I bring to your attention this evening is I've heard people speaking of the fare evasion, which is an issue. But I want to talk about our transportation system having the fact that I've been asking for the Superior rapid station to be fixed for over a year now and it is not fixed. That escalator does not work and not only that, but people have been taking free rides on our public transportation on that red line for almost three years now with no fares being collected. No people working in those manning in those booths. And in the meantime poor people get ticketed for not having money to get on a bus.

I'm the author of this book, "Choose Life", and in this book I have many, all of the issues in this world, and our public transportation determines how people get to work, downtown, to these council meetings, wherever a person needs to go. But we need to be looking at the agenda of that public transportation because I've been asking for several years now what happened to the rainy day fund money and that impacts the city of Cleveland.

My final concern this evening because you know I will be back is the homeless population. And I want to put with that concern the idea that some believe that people are homeless because they're mentally ill. Every person who is homeless is not mentally ill and whether a person is mentally ill or not, that does not deny them the right to have housing, Fair housing and equal opportunities. Homeless people are just that, homeless people. They're not property, they're not possessions, they're not people to be tossed around, they're not some type of project, they are homeless people. And we must work on that. Let's work together on what we have in common you all not what we have divided. Let's work together to build up our city.

Council President Griffin: Time.

Pinkney-Butts: Thank you very much and God bless you if you need to reach me I'm at 1-216-548-0820.

3:25 Permalink

Councilmember Joseph T. Jones (Ward 1)

mr president and to my colleagues and to the mayor and to the administration and i've been talking about this issue now and it just seems like it's getting worse now and it is the crime in our communities it has not even gotten hot and i've had cars flipping over in my neighborhood i've had poles that have been knocked down I have fences that have been torn apart throughout the neighborhood i'm getting even an increase in homes being shot up and and every time I think about the crime that's in the neighborhood the first thing I think about is 230 million 230 million is what we pay to get protection and to be served by our police department and as an elected official as a business owner and as a father and a husband i'm afraid for my family in my community my wife driving her car down targeting avenue and had she not been paying attention her car was coming head on and had that car hit her it would have killed her and my child i'm concerned because just a couple weeks ago there was a shootout on target avenue targeting avenue where someone was killed we talked about a shootout on east 160th street we've had a shootout at lee road in harvard just last sunday I was called because there was over 150 to 200 people in the lee harvard shopping plaza doing what my colleague mike polinsk talked about drifting and spinning and turning but if we don't do something about this issue now it's going to not only make this administration look bad but it's going to make the council people look bad too because we have set here and 230 million dollars we have budgeted and allocated but there's seems to be no help in sight right now in my neighborhood so mr president I would I would ask that as you've heard the chairman talk about we're 245 police officers down we have columbus poaching our police officers i would like to know where we are with some kind of massive plan that's in place to market cleveland and bring 245 more police officers plus an additional 200. and so at the end of the day we are at a crisis and I don't know where some of our people's mindsets are here at this table but you better get serious because if you're not serious i don't believe in defending government i don't believe in making excuses for government I believe government has a responsibility to serve its citizens and the first thing that government needs to do is keep its citizens safe if government cannot keep its citizens safe then those citizens and those businesses will leave that territory that's what we're seeing happening right now so we got programs that are in place and we got police officers we're paying for we better get them onto those streets and right now I must tell you all hands must be on deck this is not a moment in the time where we should play around with this issue and so mr president I call upon this administration and my colleagues if that means that we have to lock for 12 hours or 13 hours behind this committee hall right here we need to get serious about really grabbing this this bull by the horn and bringing it down if we don't you're going to see calamity after calamity after calamity and every single war we've already started experiencing that and if we don't do something about it we're in trouble now i've submitted a plan and that plan calls for putting at least 600 police officers down on the ground where we can cover every single war and in that plan is simple and simplistic abc 123 you focus that plan and put that plan out here we'll hush this crime we don't need no security cameras all we need is police visibility protection to serve us and that mr president is real simple so with that I just want to thank you all for allowing me and hearing my words and my perspective and my opinion god bless you all have a great evening thank you councilman

5:10 Permalink

Councilmember Kevin Conwell (Ward 9)

thank you I didn't rise to talk about the police and um but I was sitting sitting back listening to joe jones it would be great if to bring in the highway patrol again as well as the sheriff department in the short run because safety director we're really we really really need them right now and if we're down 245 police officers it would be great to bring them in to highway patrol um i want to talk about this house bill 616. kerry we got to get together and meet for coffee and talk um we're pushing the bill but actually speak louder than words we're going to go down there talk with the state representatives or by any means necessary we got to defeat this bill talking about censoring people one thing political people don't realize is that the people there are bosses the people they're your board of directors anytime you go into people's pockets and you take tax dollars out they deserve services ms jones makes sure that we're paid every two weeks and she makes sure that we we are paid on time and that goes from the councilman to the president united states this house bill is a censor bill 616 616 puts k-12 teachers in schools in an impossible position making them choose between state law or federal law the federal law under titles nine and six requires teachers in schools to be inclusive of lgbtq and racial minority students and teachers but this bill threatens to revoke teachers license state school funding or or reprimand in any way that the ohio department of education deems appropriate for violations well that's nazism that's hitler-ism that's exactly what that is which would create an unattainable conflict of law this bill attempts to erase the gains of the lgbtq black brown indigenous people of color asiatic people moors who are historically marginalized by people from the classroom an exception it is built as cruel so we passed this legislation this is what I do i'm going down there i've already talked with my people and we will go down there to testify as you know where's councilwoman house you know she sees me down there all the time you gotta you can't we can't well no we passed the legislation and that's cool as I always say cool beans but they have to see us down there and they have to see us down there fighting for our people and I got to get together with you carrie mccormick and we got to be down there and we got to be down there on the state house battling this by any means necessary if we let them get away with censoring this then they will keep taking our rights away from us but we are the boss it's the people they're the boss of the political people it's the people they're the boss of the politicians and they had a right to push them tuesday getting out the vote they can send you from the penthouse to the outhouse and the people need to know this so we need to go down there to let the state representatives know that they can't censor us because if they get away with this then they'll get away with that so i'm going to go down there and i'm taking some people down there to fight and here's this thing about critical race theory a certain person said i think it was the governor too it makes white folks feel guilty and black folks feel like victims and they act like it's history it's going on now it's going on right now walking while black driving wild black tamer rice the 137 shots is going on right now so when you talk about critical race theory it's not in the past it's right now now it's the time when you look at what's going on kerry right now with discrimination against lgbtq it's going on right now so they want you to think when they say critical race theory theory it ain't no theory it's going on right now now it's the time so you battle them right now we go down state we call our brothers and sisters in akron and toledo and all and everywhere throughout ohio and you take this down state and you battle it i've done it before several times we sit here and we talk but actions speak louder than words you can't let them get away with just six one six because it's going to get worse and worse and worse and i'm going to wrap it up but uh lip service is not good we got to make it happen so thank you very very much i'll be down and battling thank you

5:24 Permalink

Councilmember Richard A. Starr (Ward 5)

um i ain't gonna be long um no I don't understand and just mention you know we talk about crime in our city a lot but then we don't never talk about the proactive approach i can keep on saying it and mention it ride arounds but you got to think about the services that we offer look at our rec centers look at the poor education system and then you get a reflection of what's going on a lot of colleagues scream and talk about what the services we have whether it's community relations or rather it's peacemaker alliance but you gotta understand we have a big entire city and we put little to bit of funding to help be proactive in our approach but we do fund a lot of officers which we never ever see so when you start thinking about how we talking about crime we have to be a proactive and a holistic approach in everything that we do and that starts with our education system and it starts with our after-school services and when you speak of education i am a firm believer the longer our lights are on the more our kids are there with after-school programming we have a better chance at making sure that our kids are being safe at a safe place but when you look at it we kick our kids out of school school closes three o'clock they go do whatever they do most people work a nine to five anywhere at home to see what happens with their children so we need to look at that approach then you also have to take a deeper dive into the educational system which is being placed i've worked with youth for the last 14 years and what i've learned is they cry out for help and they always say they need a job but when you look at when the summer job come around it's only a certain population or a certain amount that can't get a job because there's never not enough spot so we need to be proactive in our approach think about what we're doing in our city then we can start figuring out how we can address this crime because it's all correlation

1:58 Permalink