March 21, 2023

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Public Commenters (27 min)
Dr. Kristin Englund  Akilah Porter  Dontez Taylor  Kareem Henton  Brenda Bickerstaff  LaTonya Goldsby  DeSeanna Morgan  Tamara Sobolewski  Jeremy Taylor  Lady Palmer 

Dr. Kristin Englund

Blaine Griffin: And, uh first up, we have Dr. Kristin Englund who does not live in Cleveland. And Dr. Englund is here to talk about vaping products. She's representing the Academy of Medicine of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. And, she is not being paid by anyone to comment.

Is Dr. Englund here? Dr. Kristin Englund? Is Dr. Kristin Englund here? Please, come to the front. If you could come to the mic right in the middle. Thank you.

Dr. Kristin Englund: [Beginning inaudible]. My name is Dr. Kristin Englund. I am a specialist and the past president of the Academy of Medicine for Cleveland and Northern Ohio.

I'm here today, on behalf of the more than 6,000 members of Northern Ohio's Medical Community-- to urge you to vote for the Ordinance introduced on February 6th-- to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products. Including menthol and flavored vapes, and create a tobacco retail license; so that the city can better enforce existing tobacco laws.

Tobacco companies offer flavors for a simple reason--to entice the most vulnerable and most at risk members of our community--to become addicted to nicotine. Menthol cigarettes are the original flavored tobacco products, which use a minty taste to disguise the harsh flavor. And suppress, reduce, airway pain and irritation from cigarette smoke. And suppress coughing. This is intended to introduce new customers and consumers more gently, to nicotine, and make them more easily addicted.

In college, in 1983 at the Ohio State University--smoking was a key to the in crowd. I learned to tolerate the menthol cigarettes, to fit in. And soon, I developed a pack a day habit that took 15 years to kick.

The tobacco industry's predatory marketing, led to higher rates of addiction in African-American populations. And, tobacco now claims 45,000 Black lives each year, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the African-American community.

According to the American Lung Association, more than 8 in 10 Black Americans who smoke, use menthol cigarettes. About 48 percent of of Hispanic individuals who smoke, also use menthol cigarettes. And half of youth smokers aged 12 to 17 [years old] who smoke, use menthols.

Tobacco companies are now using similar predatory marketing schemes to attract children to their electronic products, including offering flavors like: gummy bear, grape crush, and cotton candy.

E-cigarette use among our children, has become an epidemic-- reversing decades of decline in tobacco use for our children.

Flavors have enticed almost half of our high school children to try vaping. And 30 percent of high schoolers regularly vape. Do not fall prey to the myth. 99 percent of vape products sold in the US convenience stores do contain nicotine. They're not any safer than cigarettes.

As a physician, let me be incredibly clear. Nicotine is extremely harmful to children, whether it is used through smoking, vaping, or any other means. Nicotine dramatically increases the risk of drug use, and mental illness for kids. And harms the developing brain, by negatively impacting: attention; learning; food and impulse control; and memory. Tobacco companies know this, and yet shamelessly package these products. If we take these flavors off our shelves...

Blaine Griffin: Time.

Dr. Kristin Englund: Thank you.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

3:59 Permalink

Akilah Porter

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Akilah Porter from Detroit Shoreway, to talk about the Commission On Black Women And Girls. She is from Enlightened Solutions, and she is not being paid by anyone.

Akilah Porter: Good evening, council members. My name is Akilah Porter. I am a community member, a board member at Enlightened Solutions. And a Project Noir participant. I am here to urge you, to appoint members to the Commission For Black Women And Girls. And to allocate a budget for this important work.

It has been nearly a year, coming up in April, since this legislation was passed by council. But we have not yet taken steps to move forward with this work. I understand that there has been a stipend allocated, for those who are going to be part of the commission, at $8,963, which is a start. But it's not enough.

We still need to dedicate a budget, so that the work can actually be done. Not just paying those to be on a board.

And to, to essentially be a face of something that you want to have done. This lack of movement makes people feel very deeply uncared for. Including people like myself. Cleveland is made up of 30 percent of Black women. Uh, people who look like me; the majority of the city; and Black women are the backbone to any society--including Cleveland.

And yet, there seems to not be any care for Black women. Because, there is not any type of financial support given--to making sure that Cleveland is a city where Black women can live comfortably; have good working conditions; have good access to health care; and have access to education.

So, I am urging you to take this seriously. Because this is an important matter. We are the caregivers, but we are not cared for. We are expected to be educators, but we are not poured back into. We comprise the workforce, but remain faceless and neglected.

Black people in Cleveland, create community out of nothing--every single day, and have for generations--since this country was born. And without investment, we build and sustain cultures. Or without investment, we can't build and sustain cultures; especially in Cleveland. What would Cleveland look like, I ask you, without Black women?

And as you look into the audience--and I see some people up here I know, that you are connected to Black women. So, look at the people around you. I have fought to survive in this city. I love Cleveland and I want to continue to be in the city, but it doesn't seem like Cleveland loves me. Or values me, because they have not put me first.

And, they have not put people who look like me first. Which makes me want to leave the city. Imagine if 30 percent of the residents who look like me, as well as our allies, left the city-- where would you be, is my question? I am only still here, because I believe that Cleveland does have a future. And, I believe that you guys can make a difference--if that is truly what you wanna do. And, you could bring voice to those who are voiceless-- by allowing for sustainable wellness for all of all people, but specifically Black women.

I've been living in Cleveland all of my life, and I know that progress is only successful with financial backing. You can keep putting band-aids on things and try to solve them, by putting band-aids on them. But that does not make me feel like I belong, or other people like me.

Blaine Griffin: Time.

Akilah Porter: So, I'm here to ask you--how much do you value Black women in the city? Thank you.

3:32 Permalink

Dontez Taylor

Blaine Griffin: Next we have Dontez Taylor from Ward 4, to talk about bathrooms at the Fourth District Headquarters. He is not representing anyone, and he is not being paid by anyone. Could anybody help Mr. Taylor, if you could?

Thank you so much, Miss Goldsby. If we can make sure he gets to the mic appropriately. Thank you. All right, Mr. Taylor. You had the floor.

Dontez Taylor: Hello. My name is Dontez Taylor. And, the bathrooms at the 4th District are deplorable. They, they'll have no way you can wash like, like clean your hands with or something. They don't have no. And I, and I brung it up to the commander and there's no towel to, to even clean nothing.

And, and stuff off the--coming off the walls and everything else. At the Fourth District, bathrooms and this is a horrible situation at the Fourth District.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you so much, Mr. Taylor.

1:13 Permalink

Kareem Henton

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Kareem Henton. Mr. Henton is from Cleveland. His topic is the new monitor. He's representing Citizens For A Safer Cleveland. And, he is not being paid by anyone. Mr. Henton.

Kareem Henton: Evening. I wanted to bring to your attention, in case many have not done their homework. But, former Dallas Police Chief [Ulysha] Renee Hall of JS Hale, that the city is considering bringing on, to head the New Monitor Team-- I believe is an extreme problem.

Six city council members, and growing, were upset with her. And questioned her, continuing on as police chief in the city of Dallas-- all because of our handling of protests, where there was improper use of non lethal munitions.

We know a bit about that in Cleveland. Here where people actually lost their eye, during protests here, using non lethal munitions. All this because handling of protests was improper use of non lethal munitions. As I stated earlier, also her misleading protesters or the department's misleading of protesters, who left as instructed--only to be arrested later. Because they did what they were supposed to do, over 600 people. And, and it is to be noted that she was an advocate for the police officer who murdered a man.

Botham Jean, who was in his apartment--bothering no one, when his apartment was illegally entered, and he was shot dead. She never made things right in her department. And this very biased person, who you would likely be considering to bring on to this monumental and necessary police forum, that's happening here in Cleveland, I believe is ill advised.

When you select a person, I ask you, are you doing what your constituents want? And is this best for all of Cleveland's impacted and abused residents? Is this the right decision to be making, upon researching and looking to see what's going on in the records?

We see where we believe that the selection of her--as her JS Hale has been sealed, so that residents can't or shouldn't make a statement on. It only shows that folks know that it's, it is extremely problematic bringing her on.

And, so there was an intention of trying to keep it down. I want you to think about your decision on bringing on this biased person, who only we believe is only being selected because she stated that she wanted to get this over with too--because she knows it's expensive for the city. We can't be placing money above people.

So, I just ask that you guys do the right thing, please. JS Hale is not the right firm. This is not how you bring about trust, because this is about bridging a gap between the community and law enforcement. And making things right.

Blaine Griffin: Time.

Kareem Henton: And, bringing that person on, that we have no faith in, is not the way to do it. Thank you.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

3:21 Permalink

Brenda Bickerstaff

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Miss Brenda Bickerstaff from Ward 9. She's here to talk about the Civilian Police Review Board. She's representing Citizens For A Safer Cleveland. And she is not being paid by anyone. Miss Bickerstaff.

Brenda Bickerstaff: Ok. I'm gonna make a brief, uh, I did submit this complaint to the law director. I was at a Police Review Board meeting. We asked them about a administrator they had chosen back in February, and they refused to answer myself and two other constituents.

So when I brought it back up, March 14th, they got upset and they muted me, so I couldn't speak. Then they said that I was being disruptive. And the only thing I asked was a question.

We wanna know, number one: this gentleman, they're holding his, they're holding his position until May. And his sister is a sergeant on the police force, the prior commission-- the prior Cleveland Police Commission.

When they picked the administrator, before they had a community forum, where everybody come out--can come out including city council. The residents, and engage, and ask three candidates questions.

We don't know nothing about this gentleman. And the only reason why they muted me, was because I was Black, a Black woman. A White woman, they would have never done that too. And, I told Mr. Griffin, I want this to be addressed. And, I want it to be addressed immediately.

And you're not gonna hear the last of me, if it's not addressed. And I mean it. Thank you.

1:31 Permalink

LaTonya Goldsby

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have LaTonya Goldsby. She's from Cleveland. Miss Goldsby is here to talk about the Civilian Police Review Board. And, she is with Citizens For A Safer Cleveland. And not being paid by anyone. Miss Goldsby you have the floor.

LaTonya Goldsby: Thank you. Uh, My name is LaTonya Goldsby again. President of Black Lives Matter Cleveland. My comment tonight is about the Civilian Police Review Board. It should be noted, for the record, that the CPRB is in violation of the consent decree and Charter Section 115.

I am coming before this body, because you have a duty and an obligation, to act as city council.

And, because you all appointed four members to the CPRB. It has been one year, since Federal Judge Solomon Oliver amended the decree to reflect reflect the voter's passage of Issue 24.

The CPRB--Civilian Police Review Board-- is still not complying with those amendments.

They're currently operating under the old law, and an old operations manual. Since they don't have an updated operating manual, they are not using the powers granted to them under Charter Section 115.

Community members have been attending meetings and making public comments; requesting updates for months, about when the CPRB will be in compliance with the new mandates. The CPRB's hiring of the OPS Administrator has lacked transparency, and community input. The residents of Cleveland have no idea who this person is, or where he comes from.

And, we would not have agreed to holding his position for six months, considering this position has been vacant for two years. The CPRB is responsible for hiring OPS Administrators Investigators.

Currently, there are no Black women OPS Investigators. in order for the consent decree to be successful, in reforming the Cleveland Division of Police, and transforming the culture of policing in Cleveland-- we all have to do our part. Not just the citizens.

You all are elected to act on behalf of your constituents. We do not come to these meetings to just make public comments, to just talk. We want to see action and changes to the issues we bring to this body. Not just lip service. Thank you.

2:33 Permalink

DeSeanna Morgan

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have DeSeanna Morgan. DeSeanna Morgan is from Ward 11. She's here to talk about stocks, breach of contracts, and telecommunications. And, she's representing the Logistics Code. And she is being paid by someone. Miss Morgan.

DeSeanna Morgan: Hello, everyone in the chairs--get excited! These stocks that are in the market, are influencing not only new jobs but better entrepreneurship. We're a Christian based company, where technology is embedded. We've reached globally.

We're currently raising awareness, for water wells in Ghana. And making our way to Beijing, China with devastations of floods. We're not targeting the inner community, but we're going into microeconomics, as well as all of the other spectrums that targets the consumer of America. As well as, those other breach of contract. There was a Congress person, I totally agree with. First Energy should be out of the stadium. We should put Cleveland Public Power on those stadiums, that will not only infrastructure what we're trying to normalize as being a greater nation. But, I'm always gonna preach about that American flag being one nation under God.

We also have telecommunications. So beforehand, the last two times I've come up here, I've stressed the importance of educating the people who come to America through Green Card Citizenship.

So, we can have them go back where they were. So, we can have those same type of amenities within other countries.

We're able to build, not only that fellowship here, but then we can say the same type of things. And develop a Congress within other nations.

For example, Cleveland Clinic is in Abu Dhabi. I don't know how to pronounce it, but Abu Dhabi. That's just our name, as Cleveland being there. Just imagine if we have Cleveland Clinic in Africa, but we'll take over. That's why Logistics Code is here.

We have not only six companies, but a seventh one that's a 501(c)(3). Feel free to Google us.

I'm not promoting any services, but we also have biblical counseling for those who are mentally health distressed, throughout this pandemic.

And, I've taken it upon myself to get back into the school system--to stop information technologies, like AI.

Who needs it? It's artificial. You don't see degreed people promoting false information about their degrees. They're supposed to go forth, and do other things to help. Not just one race, but all, because we are a human race, as well.

Me being a Black woman, I'll just speak for myself. I feel free, because I'm a Christian. And, I've been able to go and see the extremities of being Black. But also seeing my fellow neighbors in China, and Africa, and Europe saying that enough is enough for globalization.

And, also getting into those small organizations to make a big impact. I'm not here for myself. There's also a representative here, and we are getting jobs created at Logistics Code. Thank you, so much. Thank you.

3:20 Permalink

Tamara Sobolewski

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Tamara Sobolewski. And she is from Ward 11. And she is here to talk about accessing entitlements under the Social Security Act. And she represents the Logistics Code. And she is not being paid by anyone. Please acknowledge your time, Ms. Sobolewski.

Tamara Sobolewski: Hello, to all present. And those who are viewing, my name is Tamara Sobolewski. And I'm speaking on behalf of Logistics Code-- a Christian based company, where technology is embedded.

The purpose of my speech today, is to raise awareness on the topic of Social Security. I've started working for my employer when I was 22 years old.

That was 27 and a half --well, actually now--30 years ago. When I had a 27.5 year relationship, I lost that position. Since then, I've held 13 positions with 13 employers. And I applied for social security benefits, and have been denied twice.

I feel that the employers are using us up, and throwing us away, like trash. And something can be done, to help people find their resources, to help them live. Thank you very much.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

1:24 Permalink

Jeremy Taylor

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Jeremy Taylor from Ward 7, to talk about the CDBG budget. And he's representing Saint Clair-Superior Development Corporation. And not being paid by anyone. Mr. Taylor.

Jeremy Taylor: Thank you. Uh Yes, my name is Jeremy Taylor. I'm the Executive Director of the Saint Clair-Superior Development Corporation. I live in Ward 7. And uh, prior to working at Saint Clair-Superior Development Corporation; I spent about eight years on the west side, at Detroit Shoreway. Now, Northwest Neighborhood CDCs.

CDCs have been working across Cleveland neighborhoods, since the 1970s. Our work is focused on neighborhood development, which takes place over the course of decades, involves home rehab repairs; small business support; neighborhood engagement; community programming; and much, much more.

We do this work in partnership, with many stakeholders; foremost, among them, the mayor, his team and you all members of city council.

I want to thank everyone who asked me and other CDC leaders for our feedback, thoughts and concerns, over the last several months.

I want to thank, Director Hernandez for reaching out to CDCs in December--to share changes in the CDBG RFP, with us. I want to thank councilmen for hosting two full days of hearings, on the CDBG budget. And, Councilman, uh Council President Griffin, for leading today's last hearing on the budget.

And Councilman McCormack, for offering Amendments related to housing activities. Those changes reflect feedback from CDC leaders, and we appreciate being engaged and heard by you. I speak for all CDC leaders, when I say that we want to work with you to improve the neighborhoods. Our neighborhoods.

To improve quality of life for residents. And to build a future, full of opportunity for everyone. To do that, we have to work together. We have to fix a chronically underfunded system. And it will require transparency between partners, clarity in our roles, and patience--as we build a new system that meets our needs and our dreams.

The CDBG Budget you will be voting on tonight, reflects a commitment to do these things differently. We all want change, and we're all asking for better outcomes. CDCs are your partners. So this is not adversarial at all.

We're figuring it out, and how to work together. And we look forward to other changes that you are contemplating, to continue positive movement in the direction of change. Thank you.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

2:38 Permalink

Lady Palmer

Blaine Griffin: If Lady Palmer, uh she has the floor. She's from Ward 7. She's here to talk about Kia car's legal proceedings, by the city. And uh, she is not representing anyone. And she's not being paid, Miss Palmer. Lady Palmer.

Lady Palmer: Thank you. Good evening. I am actually here to show much gratitude. That's first of all, because the last time I was here, a year ago in January, so many things got done. And just backing up, I'll say that I do own a Kia.

And right now, it's in storage. Mine was one of those that was stolen. And, um, Kia did offer to pay for the, the, the balance on my car. That's contingent though, upon me purchasing a, a brand new Kia-- at half the size--two and a half times the note.

So of course, I turned that down--at a note of $615.00. So, I'm here because I'm very, very glad that the city of Cleveland is making a move in that direction.

And, I just wanted to be represented here. See my face, know my name: Lady Palmer. That as these things move. Yes, Yes. And, I'm so grateful to be here. Because when I was here in January, a year ago, I had immediate follow up from the Cleveland Police Department.

I'm a CMHA resident. Mrs. Grier called me right away, you know. Because for three years, prior to me coming here, I've been trying to obtain a parking spot in CMHA--the tower to no avail, you know. And, um, I was told so that when the gentleman moved into the building asked: how did you get a spot?

And, I've been trying for three years. And, they said that giving sweet treats to the people in the office. That's how they got parking spots. And so I called a young lady, another female in the building, to find out if she ever got a parking spot. She will be there six years. I've been there six years.

Not yet. So you know, so all that time trying to get a car, a parking spot in the building-- my car finally got stolen, being parked on the street.

So, I am without a vehicle. But again, I came to say thank you. Because immediate follow up and resolution. Mrs. Grier called me.

They gave me the run around, after she did call me. Somebody got on her case. But it's been a run around, since then. But again, I'm really here to say when I was here, things got done. And now that I see Kia being sued, things will get done. Something will. And remember my face, because I need a car now.

Thank you. Thank you.

2:27 Permalink