December 05, 2022

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Public Commenters (25 min)
Loh  Shirley Bell  Paht Juangphanich  Ellen Kubit  Thomas Fox  Justin Strekal  Sabrina Otis  Rosie Palfy 


[Editor's note: The live stream for this meeting started after this comment began.]

Loh: Well, people always think that we need this, we need that.

But we always heard there's no funding for it. So, I guess this will be a good opportunity for the ARPA fund to be a pilot; to show people that we actually have the power.

We can turn our cities around together. This will help to fill up the gap of that horrible distrust. Lots of people, they know their council members actually is working hard for them.

But lots of people don't feel that. Why? Because there are too many different people in our city. And, too many needs.

Each person is just one person. Even you have assistance, you only have a 24 hours a day, just like everybody else.

However, when you tell your people that, hey, I'm busy. I'm working for you, but you also have to let me know what could be the best thing for me to do for you.

People will definitely appreciate that, because that is personal. You are not asking them to vote for you, only. You actually want to help them.

You actually want to help the city, that makes them feel good. That makes them feel government officials really cares.

This is the holiday season. Think about that. We still have a high poverty rate in the city. We need to change that.

We were top ten city. One of the top ten cities back in seventies. Look at where we are now. So I learned from all of you, doing all kinds of works together.

But now, it's really the time. We have to race with the time. Patch everything together, filled up the gap. Get rid of that mistrust.

Let's have some holiday spirit. Even a short person like me, can have the high hope. So please, be our holiday heroes. Even without masks and capes.

Considering this as a tool you can try, in a bigger scale. Because all 17 wards can participate together. Thank you, very much.

2:33 Permalink

Shirley Bell

Blaine Griffin: Thank you. Next, I have Shirley Bell. Shirley Bell is from Ward 4 to talk about participatory budgeting.

Not representing anyone and not being paid by anyone.

Shirley Bell: Good evening, neighbors, Clevelanders and leaders.

I am here to address our local elected officials, with the questions-- with a question: Do I still have cause for hope?

November 2, 2021 was the day that most of us, in the room, either jump for joy--or sat in resolve--as the election results came in.

Weeks before CMSD students went through mock elections, to learn how our democratic system will provide them with the change they wish to see in their community.

Did we lie to them? It was the moment before election; that I sat in a crowded Shaker Square restaurant--that was beaming with expectation--that I allowed myself to hope.

I allowed myself to hope at that president; at that mayoral debate. I'm sorry, I allowed myself to hope at that mayoral debate. I had a level of faith for the change to come.

I hope for a change in the way funding was allocated, so that it reflected the interest of those living in the community.

Participatory budgeting, the people's budget. I also hope that we would move away from, what seems like modern day sharecropping, and change the policies that the Cleveland Land Bank operates under.

Moving past just leasing, but towards land trust and green spaces that are owned by and reflect the community that they are located in.

Who am I? I am a mother. I'm a Mount Pleasant, Buckeye-Woodland resident. I am a homeowner. I am a business owner.

I'm a community leader, an educator, a licensed counselor.

I'm an urban farmer, but most importantly, I am a stakeholder.

I voted. I believe the dream. I was sold the dream. I am here with receipts. If I had more time, I would go more into it.

So the question is: Do we still have cause for hope? Are we looking at the same old political regime in Cleveland? Or is there going to be a change?

I support participatory budget. I support a change in the land bank policies. And I support.

So the question is: Do we still have cause for hope, including how to address those with mental health concerns? Thank you.

2:50 Permalink

Paht Juangphanich

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Paht Juangphanich. And they're here representing Ward 14 participatory budgeting.

Not representing anyone and not being paid.

Paht Juangphanich: Sorry, sorry about that. Thank you for having me tonight. I want to bring up two matters, before you.

First, is why I support participatory budgeting. And the second, is on the areas where we could spend part of the ARPA money on.

I understand that you guys at City Hall are busy trying to address all the needs of the city. There's, there's probably a lot of issues that occupy your time.

I feel this, when I email Jasmin, and it takes a while for me to get a response.

But, I'm happy to get a response and I try to be patient. We all want the same thing, to make Cleveland a better and more equitable place.

The folks at participatory budgeting have nothing better to do with their time, other than talk about budgeting at Happy Dog.

These guys are happy to spend hours meeting with community leaders; gathering knowledge from local university professors, and their students; and listening to whoever that wants to say something.

We have a lot of talent in Cleveland. The more we reach out--the more we engage--the more diverse our perspectives will be.

We can have many different solutions, to make Cleveland a better place.

My second point is on where we should spend some of the ARPA funds.

There are two places that I would like to see ARPA funds be spent on.

The first, is on reducing the cost of water for our residents. We pay more for water and sewage, than our neighboring communities.

The second place to spend ARPA money on, that I would like to see, is on having high-speed internet access.

I live in Clark-Fulton. We have empowered CLE. They try, but the speeds are low and the latency is high.

Other neighborhoods have fiber. Maybe we don't have fiber, because our median income is very low.

And they assume we can't afford it. High-speed internet access is a contributing factor to having equity in the city. So, thank you.

2:17 Permalink

Ellen Kubit

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Ellen Kubit--from Ward 3--to talk about participatory budgeting.

Not representing anyone and not being paid by anyone. Ellen Kubit.

Ellen Kubit: Good evening, council, fellow attendees and the public. My name is Ellen Kubit. A ten-year-plus resident of Cleveland.

A lifelong resident of Northeast Ohio and Central Committee Member for Ward 3, Precinct B.

Participatory budget in Cleveland, a grassroots coalition, led by Clevelanders-- is focused on bringing the democratic process of participatory budgeting to Cleveland.

Participatory budgeting, or PB for short-- the suspense is killing me--allows for Cleveland residents to have a direct say in how public money is spent in their communities.

For over a year, through deliberate and widespread outreach, PB Cleveland has raised awareness and support among residents; businesses; and community leaders.

With the hopes of starting a participatory process here in Cleveland, the campaign has been endorsed by over 60 organizations.

And as of today, and still growing, there are over 750 Clevelanders who have expressed their interest in demonstrating their values through public spending.

In a city where there's over 30 percent of its population living in poverty, we are calling upon our ward leaders to recognize an opportunity that shows there are voices that are unheard.

In a city with declining voter turnout, we are calling upon our ward leaders to support an opportunity that has garnered enthusiasm for the residents of 44128-- all the way to the residence of 44135.

Every day, Clevelanders make challenging budgeting decisions. Imagine what we can learn from them.

Why deny a single mother navigating rapidly, and growing inflation and stagnant wages--the opportunity to demonstrate how public spending can be used to support her family?

Why deny a senior resident facing increasing property taxes, on a home in need of repair, the opportunity to demonstrate how public spending can be used to guarantee housing for all?

Why deny a sophomore at Garrett Morgan, not yet old enough to vote, but juggles a part-time job-- the opportunity to demonstrate how public spending can be used to keep him and his friends in school and away from violence?

Participatory budgeting elevates all three of these voices and more. Is that not something we deserve?

Participatory budgeting is a clear commitment to the Clevelanders who never left. The Clevelanders who came back and the Clevelanders who will one day call this city their home.

We respectfully ask you to allow it to move forward, in January. Thank you.

3:22 Permalink

Thomas Fox

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Thomas Fox--from Ohio City Cleveland Waterfront Music Programming. He's representing great culture and not being paid by anyone.

Thomas Fox: Is this on? Hmm, okay, cool. How's everybody doing? It's really good to be here.

I think this is going to be a little bit lighter than some of the other comment. I'm here to talk about the beach, um, and making music happen at the beach.

So, does anybody know how to make that happen? There's like how to make people talk about this, all the time. How do we make a music festival happen to be?

How do we make music happen? We've had some of these things in the past, but it's like we don't know. Well, I've been asking this question to everyone in this entire city for 10 years.

Trying to make these things happen. And, I've done a lot of things and I've given up beating my head against the wall.

At some point in time--some of this--the people support this. Doing this program, doing like live music, because it actually supports our cultural goals; our civic goals for growth.

Presenting live music, to utilizing our waterfront that way, is a culture amenity--that can help attract and retain new residents; visitors; and even win talented workforce.

It's not just like, should we have. This is actually important for the growth of the city.

Is doing these things amenities? If we want to grow into a bigger city, we got to do these things.

But most of the space that host events on the waterfront are managed by the Cleveland MetroParks. And I love the Cleveland MetroParks. I can't state that enough.

They're amazing. They are not an arts organization. And when they present music, they miss the mark on some of the things that we could be accomplishing with arts and culture; as a statement to the world. Which is what we're doing, if we're being ambitious as Clevelanders.

Like, we should be like, reaching out to the world. And saying like, we are up there. They uh, have a lot of complicated internal and external politics--that make it so that they don't work with outside organizations.

I didn't understand why that was. So, I went and presented programs in this period of the past 10 years. I've done, uh, private spaces and then I repeatedly run into block clubs--putting pressure on property owners to shut down the programming--because of parking and traffic complaints, loudness complaints-- for programs that end at 10 p.m., on a Friday.

And complaints, that I'm certain are what parks administration hears--that contribute to their organizational choices surrounding music programming.

So we need a clear decision, from city leaders, on what we're doing here in Cleveland.

Are we going to keep traffic and noise complaints down? Are we going to grow into a larger city, offering amenities; and cultural competing; and enviable to the largest markets in the world?

For this to happen, we don't need a half decade--and hundreds of millions of dollars--to build new properties.

We actually just need to cut a little red tape. We need a simple decision, to permission from our city leaders, to use our existing space to present music with support from City Hall.

Cleveland could have large-scale lakefront music programs as soon as next summer. It really could just happen, if we decide to do it.

Please get in touch with me, if you'd like to talk. Thanks.

3:47 Permalink

Justin Strekal

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Justin Strekal. And, Justin is from Ward 15. He's here to talk about wage theft.

And, he's representing Guardians For Fair Work and he is not being paid by anyone. Justin.

Justin Strekal: Thank you, so very much, to this esteemed body for providing me the opportunity to take a few minutes, to speak with you. And I would also like to thank all of the members of the Guardians For Fair Work coalition, who are here today.

I don't know if they're allowed to clap during this part. Oh, with so many people, you guys can do better than that. One more time, for fighting wage theft in Cleveland.

Back in September, I came to address this chamber to talk about the fact that in Ohio, there are nearly a quarter million documented cases of wage theft; every single year, in this state.

And the average instance is over 2,900 dollars per year. And here in a city, where the average median income is only 31,000 dollars--that equates to approximately 10 percent pre-tax, of an income cut for Cleveland workers.

So my comments today here are twofold: First, I want to thank the leaders who made tonight's vote--that is soon to come on wage theft possible; and also preview some of the things that this coalition of the Guardians For Fair Work will be back next year, to talk about how we expand upon building further worker protections.

I'd like to recognize members of the Guardians For Fair Work coalition. Which include, but are certainly not limited to, the Northeast Ohio Worker Center. And some of their founding members: Grace Heffernan and Aisia Jones.

Policy matters.There's a lot of people, so if we could do one more big clap at the end. Policy Matters Ohio, specifically, Daniel Ortiz and Michael Shields.

The North Shore AFL-CIO, specifically, Dan O'Malley and Brian Pearson--who have been incredible champions of this effort.

SEIU Local 1, who has turned out heavy tonight. So SEIU gets an extra, uh.

Cleveland Jobs With Justice and their leader, Deb Klein. The Central Ohio Worker Center in Columbus. The Art Workers Collective. The IRTF.

Black Lives Matter Cleveland. The Young Latino Network. And a number of other labor and community partners including: Nora Kelley; David Brock; Matthew Ahn; Dana Bye; Deb Klein, who I already said.

Colleen Damerell, and so many others. There's one leader who is not with us tonight, that I'd like to recognize who is our dear departed friend--Matt Kuhns--who has been a part of this coalition, from designing our logo to general strategy.

But most importantly, I want to thank all of the workers who shared their stories of wage theft. Putting themselves at risk of retaliation, for this body to take action, to prevent them from being robbed by frivolous employers.

Moving forward, I want to thank the elected leaders who tonight, have proven that government works best when its responsive to residents needs.

We're very grateful to Council President Blaine Griffin, who long before being a part of this body, was one of the lead organizers in establishing the Fair Employment Wage Law. For which today's vote will build upon.

Mayor Bibb and his team, including: Austin Davis; Councilwoman Moore for her early and steadfast support for this measure; Columbus City Councilman Dorans, who's working Columbus and Cincinnati to push Ohio forward; U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and his whole team, who have been instrumental in helping us get to this place.

And so many others, for tonight's actions, should not be celebrated as a grand conclusion to addressing wage theft nor other problems facing local workers.

But the first step, is part of a broader effort, to build an economy that works for all of us.

So tonight, I thank this chamber. And, I'll let you know that Guardians For Fair Work will be back here next year.

To have your back, to ensure that Cleveland invests the resources to build an economy that works for us. Thank you, so much.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

3:57 Permalink

Sabrina Otis

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Sabrina Otis from Ward 15--to talk about domestic violence. Not representing anyone and not being paid by anyone.

Sabrina Otis: Good evening, council. I'm not gonna take all night. Really quick, I just want you guys to know that I'm really grateful that you all are going to be voting.

Including you. Um, on the Ordinance that, um, Councilwoman Santana brought before you all.

I'm a domestic violence survivor. It is important that even when we go through our crisis, we still have a job to go back to.

It is important that, that income stays for that family. So they can expand upon and do whatever they need to do--to get away from their circumstance--and situations.

And so that's what I came here tonight to say. I want to say thank you, guys. Can't wait for you to vote for it. And, um, think about it this way--if you guys do it--then the next step is the county.

And the next step is the state. I came from a state that has it. We didn't.

And so, I'm grateful you guys are doing it. Thank you.

1:12 Permalink

Rosie Palfy

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Rose, Rosie Palfy. From Parma, to talk about The Community Police Commission and Cleveland Mental Health Response Advisory Committee.

And Rosie is representing The Cleveland Mental Health Response Advisory Committee and she is not being paid by anyone.

Hi, my name is Rosie Palfy. I just want to make clear that I'm speaking on behalf of myself. And not the entire committee.

I want to thank the advocates, who were behind the Issue 24 initiative. I also want to thank the people who have stepped up and volunteered to serve on the commission. And congratulate them.

I want to remind people that the Consent Decree, created three public bodies: The District Policing Committee; the Cleveland Community Police Commission; and the City Of Cleveland Mental Health Response Advisory Committee.

I was here about a month ago, talking about the Memorandum Of Understanding; with the Adams Board of Cuyahoga County, that created the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee--also known as MHRAC.

On November 4th, the Adams Board sent Mayor Bibb an email--notifying him of the board's intention to terminate the MOU-- to run the MHRAC.

The MOU says that either party can terminate the agreement-- provided they give 45 days notice.

That was 31 days ago. We have not heard anything from Cleveland Division Of Police or the administration. We have not heard anything about the future plans, for moving forward.

Members don't know if we're still going to be members. Uh, because I'm not a Cleveland resident, I don't even know if I'd be eligible to continue to be a committee member.

We have not done a community survey, since 2016. We have not held a Town Hall meeting, since 2016. We held a, we had a, public presentation--thanks to the Cleveland Community Police Commission.

In the summer of 2019, they asked us to come and Councilman Jones was there. Thank you, very much.

Um, we, we hear about how this is where the city has made the most progress with the Consent Decree and police reform.

My words to you are: Don't believe the hype-- in the words of Flavor Flav, from Public Enemy.

I want to give you a prime example. Um, the city was getting ready to do, uh, crisis intervention team training on autism, a few years ago.

And, at the January 2020 meeting, I brought up the fact that Cleveland has a General Police Order 6.2.02--effective March 1st 20; I'm sorry, 2002--called reporting abuse or neglect of mentally or developmentally disabled adults.

I asked the city to please update the policy, to remove the offensive language. And to update the policy, to reflect the new name for the County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

I was told it would happen. It hasn't, so that is just an example of me asking for things. For years, that have never happened.

The other thing I wanted to say, was the city recently sent three crisis policies to the court, um, for revision. And they do not reflect, uh, the final versions that we voted on.

There's substantial changes, so I'll be taking that up with the judge. And, um, okay. Thank you.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

3:34 Permalink