November 07, 2022

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Public Commenters (14 min)
Kimberly Brown  Johnny E. Hamm  Pamela M. Pinkney Butts  Matthew Ahn 

Kimberly Brown

Blaine Griffin: The first person we have up is Kimberly Brown, from Ward 1, and she's here to ask about the secondary street sign policy; and rules thereof.

And she's representing The Black Women Commission of Cuyahoga County. And she is not being paid by anyone. Miss Brown, you have the floor.

Kimberly Brown: Thank you, very much, Council President. It's always a pleasure and a joy.

Yes, Mr. Jones, go ahead and tape me. You do that very well. My name is Kimberly Brown and I'm the president of The Black Women Commission of Cuyahoga County.

I'm here because in 2018, nine-year-old Saniyah Nicholson was killed on the mean streets of the city of Cleveland.

It's very unfortunate that neighborhood guys decided to shoot back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. A bullet penetrated her mom's car and little Saniyah Nicholson died.

After she died, we formed The Black Women Commission of Cuyahoga County. We asked Mr. Jones, and we asked at that particular time--Council President Kevin Kelley--to consider a secondary street sign.

We were simply told that Saniyah Nicholson did not meet the requirement. We didn't like it, but however, we had to respect it.

Because rules are rules, there are two rules that stood out: One was that the individual had to be dead--deceased--for two years. The other rule was that the person had to make an impact in the city of Cleveland.

So let's fast forward right down to 2017. We know in 2017, Council person Jeff Johnson--he granted a secondary street sign to Robert Godwin.

Mr. Godwin, he wasn't dead for two years--and he did not make an impact in this city. But he got a street sign.

Let's go on to 2022. No offense, uh Mr. Richard Starr, but Mr. Starr just gave a secondary street sign to a young man--Mr. Hughes.

Mr. Hughes did not make an impact in this city and he had not been dead for two years. His demise happened a year ago, which simply means that if he wanted to consider him--he had to consider.

Let's look at Davia Garth. I got to go to Ward 12. Davia Garth did not make an impact in this city. But she had been dead for two years, due to domestic violence.

But most recently, let's go to uh Mr. Polensek's ward. Now Mr. Polensek, you just awarded a sign to Officer Shane. And my heart goes out to his family. Now he made an impact in the city, but he did not meet the two-year requirement. So today, I'm telling council it's not fair.

These are your rules. We have to respect your rules. When are you going to learn your rules?

And see, I'm not going to be hard on the new council people-- because I get it. But the old council people--y'all remember this stuff stayed in the news, because we kept it in the news.

What I do know is this: If she was your daughter, I would be fighting for your daughter.

This is not about the mom, this is about council rules.

Council, if you want rules and if you want respect from your constituency; you gotta follow your own rules.

So tonight, I'm asking this: Either take down these signs that did not meet the requirement, or do something for Saniyah Nicholson.

Because the story is not going away. My name is Kimberly Brown, understand that, the president of The Black Women Commission. Have a good day.

3:19 Permalink

Johnny E. Hamm

Blaine Griffin: Thank you. The next person that we have is Johnny Hamm.

Johnny Hamm from Ward 13, to talk about the Cleveland Community Police Commission. He is not representing anyone and he is not getting paid by anyone. Mr. Hamm, you have the floor.

Johnny Hamm: Uh, good evening. I'm just going to read this off. Otherwise, I'll end up getting really long-winded here.

I am a Cleveland resident and a Captain, with the Cleveland Police. I have been a part of the police reform process, from the beginning--both as a resident and as an officer.

I have attended numerous Community Police Commission, or CPC, meetings. Been part of several CPC committees and often spoke at CPC meetings. In 2018, I was part of the Charter Review Commission, along with our future mayor.

Tonight, I am speaking as an educated and well-informed Cleveland resident; with a history of community involvement.

The settlement agreement created the original CBC, to give a voice to historically marginalized people; while improving the relationship between the police and the community.

The current CPC failed, because their focus was on agendas and activism; instead of on the relationships.

This view is demonstrated by examining the CPC Facebook page. In the beginning, it included community meetings, schedules, positive police stories, CPC and settlement agreement news, and police reform stories.

If you look at the page now, rarely posts anything about the community meetings or any positive police stories. And public interactions on that page, have significantly decreased.

I was a panelist on the City Club of Cleveland Forum--about Issue 24, last year. I was against Issue 24, because the language was too ambiguous, open to interpretation and did not merge with the charter as a whole.

However, I supported making the CPC permanent and giving them more authority. As a member of the 2018 Charter Review Commission, I gained an appreciation of how the charter created lanes of clear responsibility. And identified who had authority over each element of government.

It was a masterpiece of clear and cooperative sections; that minimized overlap and confusion. The poorly written Issue 24 conflicted with other charter sections and created confusion. But it was passed and is now the law of the land; as Charter Section 115.

The new CPC is the first step in getting the Charter Section 115 implemented--if the new CPC is going to succeed where the old one failed, it starts by selecting the best possible commissioners.

I applied to be part of the the new CPC and experienced the selection process, firsthand.

I was impressed by the steps taken to ensure the selection process was as transparent and inclusive as possible.

Thank you mayor and council, for making the effort and taking the time necessary to work with the poorly written Charter Amendment.

It is extremely important to get an inclusive and unbiased CPC up and running. Your efforts have made me hopeful that the new CPC will make Cleveland a national model and improve community and police relations, along the way.

Thank you, but remember to vote tomorrow.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you, Mr. Hamm.

3:06 Permalink

Pamela M. Pinkney Butts

Blaine Griffin: Next, I have Reverend Pamela M. Pinkney Butts. She's from Cleveland and she is here to talk about voting and women's rights.

She is representing The People's Party and she says she is being paid by the people. Reverend Pamela Pinkney Butts.

Reverend Pamela Pinkney Butts: Good evening everybody.

Blaine Griffin: Good evening.

Reverend Pamela M. Pinkney Butts: Good evening everybody. Good evening everybody! Alright, I know it's some life up in this room. It's voting time!

It's time to pull these masks off and get rid of the hidden agendas. And the hidden things that are going on.

Voting rights. I'd like to know and I like for this legislation to put in place some voting rights for we women of color.

Because we women of color don't have voting rights. How do we know that?

Because most of our sons and daughters and our male counterparts are incarcerated, in the military or dysfunctional.

So we don't have voting rights. Our voting rights are voting wrongs. Most of the women of color have been displaced, labeled as dysfunctional, diseased and discomforted.

I'm here today, to tell you that the law is not functional for we women of color. How do I know that?

I know it personally and professionally; because after I spoke at this council meeting--on the 17th of October--the Cleveland Police hunted my son down and locked him up; after the Cleveland Police violated my protection order.

Because the law and the voting rights don't function as they should.

So voting rights. The United States of America does not have an ERA for women.

But even if there were one, The League of Women Voters fought against women of color being in the organization--because of the racism in there for the voting rights of we women of color.

Voting rights. Let's talk about voting rights. I'd like to see some legislation that does have voting rights for we women of color.

Because the women on East 93rd that have been missing for these multiple years.

There has been no effort to find these Black women who are missing.

I'm a multi-racial American. My family member, Charles Coatsworth Pinckney, signed the United States Constitution. My family member, George Washington, freed his slaves.

So let's talk about voting rights.

I really don't care about anybody liking me. I really don't care about anybody accepting me.

I'm here today to tell you, until you write some voting rights for we women of color, you are not giving fair and equal opportunities to weak women of color.

Because we're tired of our men being incarcerated. We're tired of our men being hospitalized. We're tired of our men being murdered on the street.

That 137 shots--that did not go away. That was two unarmed Black people that were gunned down on a schoolyard.

So where are our voting rights? Because nobody in the United States of America; in Washington DC has written any type of legislation to correct that.

So where are our voting rights? We don't want guns and all of we women of color don't date White men or solution men.

And I'm just here today, to tell you: Write some voting rights, make the vision and make it plain. Thank you.

3:33 Permalink

Matthew Ahn

Blaine Griffin: Next up, we have Matthew Ahn. Mr. Ahn, you have the floor. Please acknowledge your time.

And Mr. Ahn is representing, uh he's from Ward 3. He's here to talk about participatory budgeting and he is not representing anyone. And he is not being paid.

Matthew Ahn: Good evening. My name is Matthew Ahn. I'm here to speak about participatory budgeting, or PB.

Which has been implemented in hundreds of localities; all across the nation.

Including large cities like Chicago; fear cities, like Minneapolis and Louisville, Kentucky; and smaller cities such as Greensboro, North Carolina.

The goal of PB is not to sideline people who traditionally hold budgeting power; but instead, to give voters more opportunity and reason to be civically engaged.

In my role as Director of Affiliate Outreach and support for the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party; I've talked to numerous folks who perceive that the party and its members--who happen to include me and you members of council--are often only visible when there's an election around the corner.

With that perception, whether or not it's true--that perception is real.

And it leads to decreased engagement and turnouts.

What does this have to do with PB? Well a large study of PB in New York City, shows that the folks who got involved in the PB process were nearly 10 percent more likely to vote in future elections.

We know turnout is low in Cleveland, as compared to redder areas of the county and state.

In four Cleveland precincts-- in the August 2nd Primary-- this year turnout was 0.3 percent.

Not 3 percent, but zero point three percent. That's also an opportunity, though, for an improvement.

Not just in terms of local turnout, but also in terms of fighting the supposed Republican lien of the whole state of Ohio.

A false narrative that we cannot let Republicans perpetuate uncontested.

And, of course, as noted in Councilwoman Spencer's recent Op-Ed--The General Assembly's makeup is a major obstacle to this body doing good policy; without having its hands tied.

Participatory budgeting is not just a pathway to immediate voter turnout, though.

This is an easy way to get folks-- like teenagers, who may not be old enough to vote--or other non-voters to weigh in on the needs of their community.

And for them to become educated about the levers of government.

PB would be an additional tool for city council to use; to help ensure that local government is accessible to people, and better understood.

Now these positive effects are not just felt by the general public; but also by elected officials.

In 2016, the Nonpartisan Think Tank Public Agend,a conducted a study of city council Members across the nation; in cities that started PB implementation.

Of the 16 interviewees who stood for election in between PB adoption and the completion of interviews; all of them won re-election.

And this is because PB reaches more people and in a more meaningful way, than any possible other option.

It's not just effective education, but it's also effective outreach.

Grand Rapids first attempted PB, it drew 14,000 votes that ultimately funded 12 projects.

And my understanding is that like Grand Rapids, the proposed potential PB pilot here is planned to be implemented entirely with one-time ARPA funds; so the pilot does not even remove any of council's traditional budgetary powers.

Therefore, I would urge council to support the use of ARPA funds for a participatory budgeting pilot, in the city of Cleveland. Thank you, very much.

3:04 Permalink