November 21, 2022

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Public Commenters (26 min)
Amber Akhter  Pamela M. Pinkney Butts  Sean Freeman  Cait Kennedy  Kevin Ballou  Teralawanda Aaron  Gregory Reaves  Fred Mowery  Daniel Chavez 

Amber Akhter

Blaine Griffin: Uh, first up, we have Amber Akhter from Ward 9; to talk about Medicare For All resolution and partners.

And she's representing Partners in Health Engage. And not being paid by anyone. Is Amber Akhter [here]? You have the floor, please acknowledge your time.

Amber Akhter: Good evening. My name is Amber Akhter. I'm a third-year Biochemistry major, at Case Western Reserve University, here in Cleveland.

I'm part of a student organization: Partners In Health Engage. And we focus on local and global health equity.

As both the student and a community member of Cleveland, I recognize the importance of health care; but more specifically, the importance of fixing our deteriorating health care system.

45,000 people die each year, in the United States, due to a lack of insurance. With another 41 million underinsured.

According to the Commonwealth Fund, looking at Ohio specifically, the Health Policy Institute ranks Ohio 47th on their value of health care.

Needless to say, Ohio's health care system is crumbling. We can lower the Medicare age and expand on the Affordable Care Act, but those solutions don't solve the root of the problem.

They simply put a band-aid over our failing health care system.

Medicare For All, would expand coverage for nearly every single American--regardless of their socioeconomic background.

There would be comprehensive coverage; including vision, dental and hearing. Not to mention, lower drug prices and no co-pays, or premiums.

Cleveland Heights, Dayton, Toledo and Lakewood are just a few of the cities across Ohio; that have passed a resolution in support of Medicare For All.

I urge the city council to pass a resolution, because resolutions like these are non-binding; but send a strong message to Washington that the constituents of Cleveland, Ohio support Medicare For All.

Without these resolutions, Congress would simply pass this off as another failed progressive issue.

Our health care system needs a massive overhaul. And as someone who not only works in healthcare--but has aspirations of attending medical school, one day.

I can no longer sit back and watch families debate over putting food on the table, or paying for their child's medical bills.

I cannot prescribe patients properly, if pharmaceutical companies are dictating the cost of insulin.

I cannot help my future patients, if they're not even getting to the hospital, because of extreme ambulance costs.

If Cleveland wants to establish a community full of young individuals, then they must put their constituents health care as a priority.

Because if it is not accessible, it is not acceptable. Thank you.

2:38 Permalink

Pamela M. Pinkney Butts

thank you next I have reveler Reverend Blaine Griffin: Thank you. Next, I have Reverend Pamela Pinkney Butts. And, uh, she's from Cleveland. The topic that she's here to talk about is policing.

And she is representing the International Coalition, addressing violence against women and children.

And she is not being paid by anyone. Reverend Pinkney, please acknowledge your time.

Reverend Pamela Pinkney Butts: [sings] His truth still marches on [end of song].

His truth, it still marches on. His truth. What is his truth?

Jesus Christ's truth for Cleveland, Ohio in America and the land is that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.

They're mighty in God, through the pulling down of strongholds.

His truth is that police policies are not fair to people of color.

His truth states and represent the fact that policing is not fair, to we women of color; our children and our families.

His truth reflects the fact that we don't need more police. We need policies and and procedures, put in place for the people in all communities; specifically we of color.

The truth that we face today, is that we face many unconstitutional rights and laws; that are not effective for us, we people of color.

The truth is, my name is Reverend Pamela M.Pinkney Butts. I am an apostolate.

I am the daughter of United States Army Corporal Charles E. Jackson Pinkney, an attorney.

Dr. Betty K. Butts Pinkney, who has gone through a lot for me to live in what is supposed to be the real truth; which I am not living in.

And neither is most, neither are most of the people who I know. Because if it were taking place, the prisons would not be filled with black people.

And the population of the mass incarceration, would not consist of predominantly people of color.

The truth is that the Corwin Law must be abolished. Slavery must be abolished. Policing must be addressed, because policing merely represents slavery.

Because when the police come through black communities, that is all that is taking place.

Because we're not giving people of color, fair and equal opportunities for education; for hospitalization.

We're not giving equal and fair opportunities. So let's live and let's walk in the truth.

This is more than a song. This is a reality, because if it were not so.

I am also the ninth cousin to General George Washington, the first inaugurated president of the United States of America.

Not only have I lived through privilege, and by privilege; but I live by divine favor.

And I'm here today, to let you know that these people have come here today; because the truth is not being put in policies and procedures for people of color; for women of color; and for the people of the city of Cleveland, in many platforms.

So let's walk and begin to start operating in truth.

Because if it were truth, we would not have had Tamir Rice gunned down.

Because a toy gun in a child's hand that's white, is considered to be a toy.

But in a black child's hand, is considered to be a weapon. That's the truth.

3:29 Permalink

Sean Freeman

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Sean Freeman--from Shaker Heights. Sean is here to talk about cannabis expungements.

Sean is not representing anyone. And Sean is not being paid by anyone. Sean please acknowledge your time.

Sean Freeman: Council President, council, city of Cleveland. I'm speaking on behalf of those who face marijuana convictions.

This administration delivered law, that would free 4,077 Clevelanders-- from the stamp of a criminal--for using a plant proven to have positive medical capabilities.

The ball is rolling, but the job is not done. Many affected citizens have begun the expungement process.

A judge claimed 60 cases were currently being cleared. A member of the Bibb administration said it was over a hundred, but either number is well short of 4,077.

People each day, are facing challenges finding jobs, buying homes and finding child care.

Only because they did not see an email or a letter from the city. I understand there is much on your plate.

So with my more open schedule, I am able to reach out to these individuals and ensure they see the freedom, they have been given by you.

I have a small group of volunteers ready to find and call these people, to complete their expungements.

Anyone who is interested in joining, can email: SeanFreeman334@

In order to complete this task, I need the names--and any public information--on these individuals with cases.

After pursuing multiple offices within City Hall, the only place known to have a list of the names is Mayor Bibb's office.

And as of today, my request has sat in the mayor's office for one full month.

I humbly request the mayor's office to complete the records requests, so free people can live free. Thank you.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

2:19 Permalink

Cait Kennedy

Blaine Griffin: Thank you. Next, we have Cait Kennedy. Cait is from Ward 3 and Cait is here to talk about The Community Police Commission nomination.

She's not representing anyone. She's not being paid by anyone. Cait.

Cait Kennedy: Thank you, Council President. Good evening Cleveland City Council, my name is Cait Kennedy.

I'm the Executive Director and Co-Founder of [unBail]. We help those affected by policing. And defendants navigate the legal system.

I'm also an Assistant Professor of Criminology and Political Science, at Baldwin Wallace University.

I am also one of the mayor's ten nominees for The Community Police Commission. And I want to tell you a little bit about my story and why it's imperative that we move this process forward.

Policing in the legal system has affected my family greatly. I was raised in a family where some people knew how to navigate the legal system, and policing, and others didn't.

And the ones who did were able to swiftly resolve their criminal cases. And the ones who didn't, went to jail and their lives had to completely start over again--once they came home.

I wanted to do something about this. So, I attended an event that was dedicated to trying to innovate around problems that affect the legal system and policing.

And through that, our organization [unBail] was born. But in addition to founding our organization, we didn't stop there.

We collaborated and connected with the community. And tried to make a product and start a movement that was co-created with the community--and not just for them.

As a result of that work, I became an Assistant Professor at Baldwin Wallace.

Where I have the opportunity to both research what is going on with policing; what is going on with the legal system-- in addition to my role as a practitioner at [unBail].

What I'm asking for today, is to move this process forward. The voters spoke resoundingly, during the election, last year. And the nominations that were put forward, by the mayor are highly qualified.

They fulfilled the obligations of the charter. And we're ready to do this really important work.

In fact, I think this is something that is underreported. The commission will have a budget of over two million dollars a year--that will provide an opportunity for the commission to hire an executive director, an attorney and to have all the expertise and support necessary for the commission to do this work.

So I ask that city council move these interviews forward. So that we can be confirmed.

And that we can start the work that is really important to this community. Thank you.

2:40 Permalink

Kevin Ballou

Blaine Griffin: Thank you. Next up is Kevin Ballou and Kevin Ballou is from Ward 15.

He's here to talk about participatory budgeting. He's not representing anyone and he's not being paid by anyone. Kevin.

Kevin Ballou: Greetings. Greetings, everyone. Thank you. Um, so I'm going to be talking about participatory budgeting today.

And one thing I just, uh, you know--want to advocate for is how beneficial it would if Cleveland became a participatory budgeting city.

On so many levels, I see a lot in the city--just where spending could be better used--than the education system; in changing the County Jail--which we all know is going through so much turmoil and has been for years.

And then actually, you know, investing in the people in this community via housing; education; uh, rehabilitation--all of that.

One thing too, where I think participatory budgeting would have so much impact; is just civil engagement.

So many people that I deal with on a day-to-day basis, just have mistrust in the city.

And you know we could say, like let's get some of our people; uh people that have gone through real life struggles--living in the city of Cleveland.

Uh, in city council or county council. Or on the administration. But people have no trust, they're not going to be engaged if they have no trust, already.

So, participatory budgeting would be a great way to even just start that trust and actually have people become engaged.

And yeah, I just--it's something that we need. It's something that will truly help the city come together and break, uh, these divisions that we have; from east side to west side.

And everything, uh, so you know--I'll leave you with that.

Please, take that for what it is. And, uh, lets; lets make a better city through that.

Through everybody being involved. Thank you.

2:15 Permalink

Teralawanda Aaron

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Teralawanda Aaron from Ward 8--to talk about participatory budgeting.

Uh, Teralawanda is representing The Spot Youth Empowerment organization. And Teralawanda is being paid by some organization.

Teralawanda Aaron: No. I'm not being paid at all.

Blaine Griffin: That's what it says, ma'am. Please proceed.

Teralawanda Aaron: Uh, well, let me make that correction.

Blaine Griffin: Thank You. Please proceed.

Teralawanda Aaron: We're not being paid.

Blaine Griffin: Please, proceed.

Teralawanda Aaron: We are here, uh, to discuss participatory budgeting; as well. Uh, thank you, uh council. And Council President.

We just want to, uh, state some reasons why we think that this would be a good process to indoctrinate into our city.

As Kevin [Ballou] said, this is a great opportunity for civic engagement.

We have here, three students that went through our voter education series. And one of the things that we're trying to do, is get our youth involved in the process.

And, I think that this would be a good opportunity--if we could let our young people get involved with the process.

Also, it gives transparency to the budget. And lets people see exactly how the money is being spent.

We see a lot of duplicate expenditures, especially on earmarked programs and processes.

And so, this is a chance to even the playing field. So that everybody has a chance to get involved in the budget and benefit from the expenditures, that the city council makes available to the city.

So with those three things being said, I would like to let one of our young people talk about why she thinks that the youth should be included in the budget.

Blaine Griffin: Um, I apologize. The rules that we have specifically outlined, only allows one speaker at a time.

However ma'am, I am going to allow this one young person. Because, I do want to, um, make sure that I hear a young person's voice. So, I will allow this young person to have it.

Young Person: Um, I believe that young people should be involved in talks like this. Because some things that y'all might not see, young people see--because of their community and what they be around.

They might be going through things and need help with certain things, that y'all don't know about.

And coming here and expressing how they feel. And talking about what they need and how they, okay, sorry--what they need and how y'all can help them with certain stuff.

Like, school expenses. Or bus expenses; events; jobs. Because even though we're young, we're still getting jobs.

And it would be really helpful, if we can come here and speak our mind. Thank you.

Teralawanda Aaron: [says to the young person] Good job.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

3:06 Permalink

Gregory Reaves

Blaine Griffin: Next, I have Gregory Reaves; from Lee- Harvard. Gregory Reaves is here to talk about The Community Police Commission.

Uh, he is not representing anyone. And he is not being paid by anyone. Mr. Reaves, you have the floor. Please acknowledge your time.

Gregory Reaves: Thank you, President Griffin and council members. My name is Greg Reaves. I'm honored and humbled to be a nominee for The Community Police Commission.

Um, a lot of people have asked me: When do we get started? What are we doing? What's first on our agenda?

I don't like to talk about things that I'm not knowledgeable of. And I've thought a lot about what I wanted to say today, how I was going to best use these three minutes.

I really don't need three minutes, because I only got one question: What's the hold up?

Why are we waiting? The city voted for this unanimously. We're ready to get started. Ready to get to work and we don't understand.

We've been vetted. We've applied. We've had background checks.

We've done everything, we've been asked to do. And yet, we're still waiting for that call.

Like my colleague said, we are eager and ready to get this work done--to move the city forward.

I don't think it's fair for the city to have to wait, either. Or you all, or the police department; our communities.

My last question: What is the hold up? Thank you.

1:29 Permalink

Fred Mowery

Blaine Griffin: Next one up is Fred Mowery. And Fred is from Ward 15. And Fred would like to talk about hiring a consultant for police, fire, EMS.

Fred is not representing anyone. And Fred is not being paid by anyone.

Fred Mowery: This will be easier. Good evening. Thank you for taking, for allowing me time to speak.

One of the challenges facing Cleveland, is the state of its safety forces. Depending on the article, or official, we are short--300 or so police officers; eight dispatchers and 50 paramedics.

I believe that everyone agrees, that the city needs a safety force that is properly staffed, trained, equipped and paid.

Otherwise, morale and trust suffers. Gaps form and powerful actors within these departments can influence others sowing chaos.

This leads to confusion and ultimately a tragic event. The city occasionally engages with consultants, to get input around large initiatives.

The results don't always pan out. For example, the West Side Market expenditure from 2021. Money was spent on a report, which was ultimately cast aside.

In disclosure, I have worked as an information technology consultant and in my experience, there are always risks for overspending and poor results.

This is usually due to poor communication engagement and unclear expectations.

You don't always get what you pay for. Especially, if you don't have clear requirements. This leads me to my concern.

On October 17th, an article on detailed an open solicitation by the city--for consulting firms for proposals around determining the proper level of staffing. And operations for all three safety departments: Police, fire and EMS.

According to the article-- there weren't a lot of specifics in these solicitations. And that the administration was slow to respond to queries from the media.

An outsider's perspective may be useful. But, I'm worried about this. I am worried that this engagement has the potential to end up like many before it.

I'm optimistic mostly, most of the time. There are many important decisions to be made. And many issues to address in the city.

But, before we spend too much time focusing on Burke or the master Lakefront plan, we need to get the safety forces figured out.

I respectfully ask the council to use whatever powers they have at their disposal, to make sure that there is extensive oversight of any consultants hired.

And, I ask the administration to do the same thing. Thank you.

2:33 Permalink

Daniel Chavez

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Daniel Chavez. Daniel is from Cleveland. He would like to talk about the status of city services.

Daniel is representing Teamsters Local 507 and he is not being paid by anyone. Daniel you had the floor. Please acknowledge your time.

Daniel Chavez: Thank you, Council President, city council. I'm here to make sure that everybody is well aware of the possibilities of city services coming to a screeching halt, in the upcoming months.

We've, we've been in contract negotiations since after April, with the city of Cleveland.

We represent close to 400 individuals, that do the various jobs as trash collection; snow plowing the streets; snow plowing the runways; traffic control.

Various jobs in the water department; animal control; the parks department; streets department-- to name a few.

This is a very serious thing, that we're here to talk about. We have done everything we could. And made every attempt in negotiations, to make sure these city services do not come to a stop.

Because if the streets don't get plowed, a lot of things going. A lot of things happen with that. Kids can't go to school, people can't go to work.

The police and the fire, will not be able to do their jobs as effectively as they could-- if the streets were plowed.

If trash doesn't get picked up, we all know kind of issues that could bring, right?

Traffic control, animal control--those, these are the people that we represent. So we're looking to make sure, everybody's well aware that this may happen in the upcoming months.

We have fact finding tomorrow, with the city of Cleveland, but they made it well aware--when we attempted mediation with the city-- that even if we get a favorable factfinder's decision; that they would not be looking to accept a five percent equity adjustment.

Plus a two, two and two; for the next three years. And to us, that's a problem.

Our members are so vastly underpaid now, when you're looking at a two percent raise for them, you're looking at a 47 cents raise--or less.

I don't know about you, but the things that are going on in this world, with everything going up-- the economy, gas--everything on a daily basis is going through the roof.

And to offer somebody 47 cents at the table, is disrespectful. And the reason why it's disrespectful, is because they're offering it to all the other safety services.

And then they said it was just for safety services. Now you guys will be voting on a contract or a TA, mind you.

That is for the Machinist Union. Now they gave the Machinist Union the same thing, they gave to safety forces, which is what we're asking for.

We're not being outrageous. We're not being difficult. We're just asking for them to give us the same thing that the safety forces got.

And now another non-safety force; which is the Machinist Union. So, they received the five percent equity adjustment--along with the two, two and two--for three years.

We're at the table and we're feeling like we're begging for something that we're entitled to anyway.

All through the pandemic, these members were the ones picking up the trash--when everybody was scared of Covid--didn't know how it was going to act.

And didn't know what Covid was going to do--they were picking up your trash. They're coming in contact with multiple people.

People at the water department, making sure everything held good. People in the streets department, made sure the streets were being plowed. All this during Covid.

Blaine Griffin: Time!

Daniel Chavez: They did not work from home, but they did things to make sure the city still ran.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you, sir.

Daniel Chavez: So we just want to make sure you guys are aware of that. Thank you.

3:42 Permalink