February 28, 2022prev: February 14, 2022 next: March 07, 2022
Public Commenters (21 min)
Mario Pollard Robert J. Rice Erika Jarvis Jones Ibrahim Muntaser Christopher Martin Diane Howard Odetta Fields John Gearo
Councilmember comments during Miscellaneous (14 min)
Michael D. Polensek (Ward 8) Joseph T. Jones (Ward 1) Kerry McCormack (Ward 3)
Robert J. Rice
Rice: Good evening, my name is Robert Rice. I'm a resident of Ward 14 and I'm a member of the New African Independence Party and co-founder of the Greater Cleveland Housing Justice Coalition. Last year Cleveland City Council stated that racism is a public health crisis. Both Cleveland's Department of Public Health and Cuyahoga County Board of Health considers fair housing to be a public health issue. When it comes to those who have more privileged access to health and equity, it is clear that your zip code and source of income is a determining factor.
In 2019, The Center for Community Solutions concluded that the poorer your neighborhood is, the lower your life expectancy is. Through the generations of structural racism within Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, largely at the policy and organizational level this has limited opportunities for people of color and those in poverty. These residents largely live in neighborhoods that were redlined by the Federal Housing Authority supported banks as they refused to give or limited the amount of loans to people of color in particular neighborhoods, leading to a limited wealth creating opportunities such as home ownership and racial segregation.
Due to this largely people of color and those under the poverty line have only been able to become renters. But due to source of income discrimination, landlords refuse to rent to tenants who use some form of public housing vouchers or subsidies. This affects tenants with the opportunity to find stable quality housing in a neighborhood of their choice. A recent study indicated that voucher recipients were denied housing 95% of the time in select Cleveland neighborhoods.
Again most of the residents who use public rent subsidies live in the same communities that were redlined in the 1930s and are faced with the shorter health outcomes because of this. It is important to note that in particular ninety percent of housing voucher recipients in Cuyahoga county are African American. And forty percent are headed by people with disabilities. Source of income discrimination is a legal practice, but it's clear that this has just been used as a loophole for landlords to refuse to rent to tenants based on not only the amount of income they make but largely because they're people of color, in particular African Americans.
Housing policy is imperative in fixing these historical and contemporary systemic injustices. As a resident of Cleveland and on behalf of the NAIP and the Housing Justice Coalition, we demand that Cleveland city council live up to their responsibility in serving the constituents who voted them in by bringing a formal legislative end to this practice. You work for us and it's time you put action into your words. All power to the people. Free the land.
Erika Jarvis Jones
Jarvis Jones: Good evening. So today I kind of wanted to share the importance of childhood lead testing. As a young woman who's experienced lead poisoning this is very important.
So we know that the rate of testing has dropped every year since 2016. In 2021 we've only tested 9,700 children. That is 3,700 fewer than 2016. So we know that in order for children and people to thrive with being exposed to lead, early testing is the key to start mitigation.
According to the testimony last week in the finance committee, the Department of Health plans to roll out two test events which I brought up in October by the way. According to the medical director Karen Cooper these vans will be the equivalent of a neighborhood health clinic on wheels so CLASH has a few recommendations that we would like to share and hopefully these are implemented.
So one the Cleveland Department of Public Health should form partnerships with child care centers and child serving agencies to host health vans at their facilities. Families won't have to make an additional trip to their health care centers or providers to get their children tested. Second is that these mobile vans should use a one-stop protocol similar to what Metro Health is doing so that at-risk families once again do not have to make a second trip and make it convenient for families. Third I know there's one staff member but we should consider hiring another staff member that is bilingual in both English and in Spanish and we shall also form relationships with organizations that are serving our immigrant families. Next in order to maintain sustainability we should seek reimbursement from private insurance and or medicaid when patients are eligible so we can continue this testing.
The Cleveland Department of Public Health should initiate case management services to families showing an elevated blood lead level even before receiving a referral back from the Ohio Department of Health. Cleveland council should be complimented for this initial step towards these early diagnosis if the results of this step are shown which I believe it will be the increased number of tested children. We should make a long-term commitment. As Dr. Cooper said in her testimony these mobile van testing vans are the equivalent of a city brick and mortar clinic. This program should should have that funding stability. Thank you. [Applause]
Muntaser: Yes so hey everybody my name is Ibrahim. I'm a small business owner and a tenant right next to two big project buildings. It's got highly traffic, a lot of loitering. And if not my windows being broken, if not I guess violence, instead of the police helping me they imprisoned me. Listen. Done.
Martin: Hello I don't really want to be here tonight but I have the privilege to make these meetings in person and speak to you. My friend La Queta Worley-Bell works until 7 pm on Mondays so she is unable to make it here for public comment. And she had some trouble submitting her statement online so I'm going to read it for her.
First though, I want to make some quick notes about public comment itself. There is no good reason for you to limit the number of speakers to ten. Queta mentioned that to me and I agree. You shouldn't need to pre-register. There is no standard process for allowing public comment at committee meetings. If you're even allowed, it's an opaque process to sign up. And the meetings themselves are held when most folks can't show up anyway. The dress code for public commenters is a silly but egregious limit on our free speech although I suppose it's at least less sexist than the dress code you impose on yourselves under the council rules. You should allow public commenters to submit video or audio remotely. Your submission form for written testimony should allow for attachments. My friend La Queta tried to submit a written comment with an attachment. This is what she wanted to tell you.
My name is La Queta Worley-Bell. I wanted to be here tonight but I'm working. I usually take the number 9 bus to work and home. Sometimes I ride the number 40 to the number 3 to straight downtown when I don't want to wait for the 9. I also love riding the rapid from Superior all the way to Cudell. I ride this on Saturdays once a month. One day I was at the West 25th rapid station walking toward the elevator when an armed police officer approached me, rudely asking for my pass. My hands were full because I had just gone shopping. So I started to put my bags down to get my pass the police officer was very rude and inappropriate and it made me feel very angry.
People who don't pay a parking ticket don't risk going to jail over it. I think it's unjust that I could risk going to jail if I didn't have my pass on me. I've kept all my passes since then because I'm scared of going to jail. I also think there should be a discounted price for Cleveland residents.
Mr. President I have 18 copies of the picture Kita wanted to share, the picture of her passes. One for each counselor and one for the clerk. May I distribute them?
Council President Griffin: Please give them to officer Marisol and then we'll make sure that we all get them.
Martin: Thank you.
Council President Griffin: Thank you so much Mr. Martin.
Howard: Good evening council president evening and to all the councilmen and women good evening. I'm here to speak on fare evasion.
First I'm going to tell the story of what happened to my granddaughter back in 2017. She was on a health line. She didn't have, couldn't find her bus pass. She got arrested. She called someone to come and get her children. She had five children. I have 39 great-grandchildren. Anyway she got arrested because she didn't have her bus pass by the RTA police.
I think this should not be a crime. The fare evasions. I think it's unjust to go to jail because you may not have enough bus fare or a bus pass. Please consider all the riders who can't afford a bus pass including the homeless, including the ones that's getting out of jail. This should not be a crime because you don't have enough bus fare. So please councilmen and councilwomen take this under consideration. Thank you.
Council President Griffin: Thank you Ms. Howard.
Fields: Good evening everyone. I'm here tonight to speak to you on behalf of my fellow neighbors. Upon talking to the residents throughout Slavic Village and North Broadway community, I would like to say we are not against a new county jail. We are in support of a new and more humane jail.
What we are against is it being built in our residential neighborhood. In fact, we are against it being built in any residential neighborhood. We believe that being built in a residential area will only have negative impact on the businesses and the residents in any residential community.
We are here to stand by our council members Rebecca Maurer and Richard Starr. I speak on behalf of Slavic Village in North Broadway and give them the complete support of our community.
Council President Griffin: Thank you Ms. Fields
Gearo: Okay so since 2019 an EMS contract has not been followed by the city of Cleveland. They have completed arbitration and the city attorneys appealed to overturn the federal final and binding arbitration. The judge ruled in favor of arbitration and awarded interest payments which is increasing in cost to the city. The city retained attorneys then appealed to the appeals court further wasting money and paid outside council to do this.
As a 20-year plus resident to the city of Cleveland and knowing that they have staffing issues with EMS, why is this still a battle and why can't we give EMS their contractual pay structure? I pay a lot of city taxes and I want to make sure if anybody gets their pay that they deserve it's our safety forces because when I need them they're the first to respond. It's not the mayor, it's not the councilman, it's going to be EMS, fire and police. That's it quick and simple.
Council President Griffin: Thank you Mr. Gearo. [Applause]
Councilmember Michael D. Polensek (Ward 8)
Polensek: Who really asked a lot of questions.
Polensek: And and as I've said before, there are no dumb questions. All of us can learn. All of us can can have, go down different paths and ask questions that maybe someone just had not thought of before.
We have a lot on our plate. We have some tough decisions to make as you know Mr. Chairman, members, my colleagues and members of the administration. We've got a, we want to, we got to have a balanced budget but we also have to have one that is thinking ahead because we have no idea what the economy is going to be. So as we finish the remainder of this week we had a healthy discussion about utilities. I want to thank Chairman Kazy for the his fine leadership on utility issues. We got, we have some real tough decisions to make on behalf of this city whether it be public safety, utilities, I'm going, building and housing, I'm thinking all the things. So Mr. Chairman I'm looking forward to reconciliation, working with you on those issues. Some things might have to change. There might be some different maneuvering, some different paths we have to go on.
At the end of the day we have got to have a budget that focuses on those issues that are important to our citizens. The quality of life issues. That's what I heard all of last year when I walked the streets as I always do. I didn't have people asking me as I was pounding on their door or walking up on their front porch steps, they weren't telling me that I needed to give more money to Jimmy Haslam, they were telling me that they needed to have services on their street. They needed to see policemen. They needed to get the trees trimmed. They needed to get the streets repaired. They needed to get the parks and playgrounds approved. This budget that we're about to enact sometime soon by the 1st has got to be a real people's budget.
And so again I want to just thank my colleagues for the time and and service that they showed the whole weekend and again today. Mr. Chairman I know you know, you've got those phone calls coming in, you got those emails coming in, you're trying to respond to those, you're trying to respond to neighborhood meetings. But tells me, it told me a whole lot as the senior member when I looked at that room the number of people who were in there. The number of people who were in that room. I know they had to go out at times to make phone calls et cetera but it showed me you have a body today that is more dedicated than ever before to dealing with the city service issues. So again I want to thank you Mr. Chairman for your leadership. I look forward to reconciliation. Thank you.
Councilmember Joseph T. Jones (Ward 1)
Councilmember Kerry McCormack (Ward 3)
Pollard: Hello good evening everyone. My name is Mario Pollard once again with CLASH and I am here again to press for a strategy in addressing the lead poisoning crisis in our city.
Last year Cleveland initiated its lead service line program to replace both public and private lines bringing water to child care centers and wonderfully at no additional cost to the rate payers through federal funding and the H2Ohio program. However, and while this is to be commended, we know that Ohio contains the second highest number of lead service lines in the country, particularly in the urban centers like Cleveland, and that means we can't settle for the bare minimum of action. So on that note CLASH has some suggestions to make ways to strengthen Cleveland's lead service line program.
We recommend that once the child care facilities are made safe from the outside, that work go towards making the child care centers safe on the inside with internal fixtures. And we also believe that this can be done with more funding. The additional upside to this is this gives our lead service workers and testers opportunity to identify more potential hot spots for where lead poisoning problems could arise.
Our second recommendation is that we would hope to see this program expanded from the child care centers into the further community particularly into schools and low-income housing, usually where child care centers are in neighborhoods affected by high levels of lead poisoning risk. You can find the same for the schools and the homes.
And we also would recommend that the city invest in an ambassador-wide program to get people out into the community specifically with the child care centers to convince them to get on board with this program. It would come as a surprise to many people that the child care centers are hesitant about programs like this. Understandably so because they usually fight to protect their business from interference from the government and led poisoning is not a good image for a child care center business to have when it's trying to attract families to make sure their children are safe. But we believe that you know with a proper education and involvement they can see this as an upside to say hey these are places where your children will be safe and where where prevention works with community.
Council President Griffin: Time.