November 28, 2022

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Public Commenters (27 min)
Pamela M. Pinkney Butts  Angelo Anderson  Dennis Ashton  Cheryl Hardwick-Stewart  Sharena Zayed  Kyle Wright  Josiah Quarles  Matthew Ahn 

Pamela M. Pinkney Butts

Blaine Griffin: First, we have Reverend Pamela M. Pinkney and she's from Cleveland. Here to talk about public transportation.

She's representing, uh, Pinkney Butts USA. And she is being paid and she's not being paid. Reverend Pinkney Butts.

Reverend Pamela M. Pinkney Butts: Holy Spirit give me a word, for such a people as this. A mighty people.

A word of hope, for such a time as this. A songwriter, said the song and the grammar would not be appropriate for certain grammatical scholars.

God has not forgot. If he said he would do it, it shall come to pass. Tonee is his name.

I'm concerned about our public transportation--Council President Blaine Griffin, Mayor Justin Bibb and council and community.

Because I've been attending those board meetings and committee meetings; and multiple meetings for over 20 years.

And, I've never seen our transportation system in the condition that it's in, currently.

They have a proposed budget for 2023, where I did not get the opportunity today--because I had other things I had to do--to present the photos for you.

For the mere fact that, they will not allocate funding for the east side of Cleveland.

One example is, I've been asking them to update the antidated, uh, East 79th Street system. Which does not have an escalator, elevator--any capabilities for disabled people.

My concern also with that, is that money is allocated in that community. And they have fixed the Red Line, but they refuse to fix that area where poor people live.

I don't just advocate for poor, because the word says not to oppress the poor; not to rob the rich; and not to murder the middle class.

They will not also allocate funding. And allow Black contractors and females to do any business.

They only allocate funding for White males. I have a problem with that. I don't have a problem. I have a situation with that, because problems are unsolvable.

Because it determines who assess the equation. But circumstances are changeable.

It's time to make it known that people transport things and not people.

They have been giving free rides on the Red Line for three years, at least. And refused to fix the Superior Rapid Station, once again. That's on the east side.

We even tried to partner with them, for a holiday community outreach.

But because of the color of our skin and because of who we are--they would not do so. They do not treat the disabled people fairly.

And I need to let you know that I don't come all the time, because I'm complaining. I'm coming all the time, because you are not aware.

Because you're in committee meetings, trying to make a difference for our city.

But you need to know what's being made aware of. Our transportation system, needs to be adjusted. Thank you, very much.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

3:27 Permalink

Angelo Anderson

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Angelo Anderson--from Mount Pleasant--to talk about participatory budgeting.

He is not representing anyone and he is not being paid by anyone. Mr. Anderson, you have the floor. Please acknowledge your time.

Angelo Anderson: Good evening. Thank you guys, for giving me the opportunity to talk here. I'd like to talk a minute, about participatory budgeting.

Did I say it right? It's a mouthful. I don't want it to be money spent, the way politicians want the money to be spent. I want it to be money spent, the way people of Cleveland want it to be spent.

I'm a Clevelander. I was born and raised on Hough. I'm very proud to be a Clevelander. I talk about our city, every day, in my work.

I work with the homeless. I'm formerly homeless. I want my granddaughter to be proud, to live here in Cleveland. I want her to be safe, to walk down our streets.

When we look at our elderly, that live in our neighborhoods, they need help. We had a program, when Ken Johnson was our councilperson.

And although it fell by the wayside, because of some things he did--it was a good program. It was a program that utilized the youth in our community; put them to work; gave them the equipment. They came out.

You made a phone call: 'Hey, I can't take my my trash out. I can't get out of bed.' They came and did it for you.

'I can't cut my grass. I don't have any family.' They came and did it for you.

'I live at the mouth of an alley and I can't get out. I'm in a wheelchair.' They came and did it for you.

That's Cleveland. That's the city, I'm proud of. Not just downtown. Not just the waterfront.

I'm talking about Cleveland: East side, west side, north side, south side. We're all in this thing, together.

People come to our city, all the time, and they want to run to the West Side Market, and see it.

I'm over there every Saturday. I love it. They want to run downtown, and see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I love it.

But I'm ashamed, when they walk, when they drive down Kinsman. And we don't enforce the clean laws, in front of the stores that take the money out of our neighborhoods.

I'm ashamed of that. Our city councilperson should be ashamed of that. This is our city. You guys represent us.

I'm ashamed that 26 percent, 29 percent--that's all we can get on the voter turnout. I work at 2100 Lakeside. We get a better turnout down there, when it's time to vote--than we do it across the whole city.

Think about it guys. We need some help. And this participatory budgeting thing could be the start of something great.

But I think, only if we listen to each other--and work together, to make it great. Thanks guys.

3:19 Permalink

Dennis Ashton

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Dennis Ashton--from Shaker Square--to talk about housing voucher discrimination.

And, uh, Mr. Ashton represents The Northeast Ohio Coalition For The Homeless. And he is not getting paid by anyone.

Dennis Ashton: Hello, everyone. Good evening. Yes, I work for, uh, NEOCH. My name is Dennis Ashton. He/Him pronouns.

We work with the homeless, every day. Every single day, there's no days off. Homeless don't have time off. Every day, is a struggle out there.

We have housing vouchers, that are good. If you look at it, kind of good. But you can't find; you can't find the, uh, landlords who take it.

You know they will not take the vouchers, because it's such a stigma about us--that we're going to tear up the place.

Or you know, have too many people in there; which sometimes is true. But it's not all true. As soon as you say you're homeless--they kind of turn away, you know.

And, uh, we don't--we haven't built any buildings. Um, last two, I think was two years ago--St. Joseph's Commons--in uh, Harper's Point.

One on Denison and one on West 25th and Queen. And we have nothing coming up. And these is for people who house people.

You know, they have a check if you're not working, whatever. But it gives them a chance, you know, a chance in life.

You know, to be a productive society. You know, give a chance for them to sit down and think for a minute. You know, just imagine, if you go home--you don't know where you're sleeping at tonight, mostly.

Mostly, people out here I guess; have jobs and everything. I mean, just imagine you don't know where you're going to sleep at tonight? Where you going to eat, at tonight? You know, just imagine that type of life.

Sleeping on a bench. Sleeping and riding, uh, rail cars and stuff. Like this, this is what we deal with.

It takes me a half hour to get into the building. I work basically out of William Bishop Cosgrove. It takes me at least a half hour to get in the building.

I can't park my car and listen to the radio for two seconds, or somebody's always knocking on my door. They need something. And we need help. A lot of help.

You know everything takes so long. You promise somebody a house, you know it might take anywhere from three, three months to six months--to get a house.

It's like you have it right in front of you, you can touch it. But something is always wrong. You know, somebody's on vacation or CMHA-- they don't, uh, they move very slow.

We have Eden, you know. They're a little better. You know what I'm saying? But I think we need a lot of help from city council, from everyone-- to get together, to make this a productive city.

It's a beautiful city, you know what I'm saying? But hanging out down at, uh, uh the casino--down Public Square, is always trouble down there.

To me, I'm almost scared to go down there. And I work down there. You know, all the crime and stuff is going on down there, for the young folks.

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to take all this time. Well, anyway--thank you.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you, Sir. Thank you.

3:32 Permalink

Cheryl Hardwick-Stewart

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Cheryl Hardwick-Stewart from Ward 6, to talk about participatory budgeting.

And, she is not representing anyone. And, she is not being paid by anyone.

Cheryl Hardwick-Stewart: Good evening, Council President, city council members. My name is Cheryl Hardwick-Stewart.

And, I'm a lifelong resident of the city of Cleveland. And, I've been currently--for over, a little over 20 years--a resident of Ward 6.

Um, when I first heard about participatory budgeting, I was excited. And what excited me, because my first thought was that--it's by the people, for the people.

That excited me, because it gave us a chance. It gives us a chance to touch bases with those people, that normally don't get to participate.

They have the option to come and vote, and that is, um, it brings nothing. You go, you stand in the booth, you click a number and then that's it.

It's nothing else, that they have involvement with. But with participatory, um, budgeting--they can submit ideas.

Not all of them will be accepted, maybe not all of them would be looked at.

But the fact that they have that opportunity to participate. And because, I have three minutes.

My three minutes. I want to talk about: Engage, educate and empower.

When we engage people and we educate them--we empower them.

They don't just learn what the process is, of the participatory budget, but they learn how council works.

They learn the ins and out of the city. They learn the in and outs of democracy, because it is a democratic process.

It's closer to what Lincoln said, when he said: For the people, by the people. It gives them that opportunity, to be heard.

Not just someone to just listen to them; but to be heard.

And, for those little kids that spoke. The little girl that spoke last year.

I mean last week, to you guys, to say she wants to be involved.

She wants to be able to make a difference. And she want to feel like she's empowered, to make that difference.

So when we take the time out, to this beautiful opportunity, you know. The reason we got this was, it's bleak. Because of our city situation, it's sad why we got it.

But now, that we do have it-- we need to step out and make the best of it. And show up and show out. Not as city council, not as the Mayor of Cleveland.

Cleveland, but we need to show up and show out as the city of Cleveland. We need to show up and show out, not how they do it after we won a basketball. Um, whatever they do World Series, or whatever.

I'm not a sports fan, but how they do when the baseball or the football team wins.

That they root for that team and everybody come out. We want to come out, to show who we are and what we can do.

And, we have so many people in Cleveland-- that have so many ideas about what to do. Because they live it on a day-to-day basis. So think about what we can do for our city. And not what our city can do for us, thank you.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

3:20 Permalink

Sharena Zayed

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Sharena Zayed. She is with Slavic Village. And, she is here to talk about The Cleveland Community Police Commission.

And, she is not representing anyone. And, she is not being paid by anyone.

Sharena Zayed: Good evening. My name is Sharena Zayed. Cleveland Community Police Commission. I applied for this position, because I believe I represent.

I believe representation is important. And, I believe I represent many Clevelanders.

From being a die-hard fan, to loving our lakefront. I'm a diehard Clevelander. Those are the good parts, right?

Sadly, Like many other Clevelanders, my life has been ripped apart by gun violence.

In March of 2020, when most people were locked down and working from home--I was planning a funeral. Which was extremely hard to do, during a lockdown.

So yes, like many Clevelanders, I am voluntarily joined a club that no one want to be a part of: Victims Of Gun Violence.

About a month later, I found myself appalled by sights I saw on the television screen--with a man dying on the ground, not able to breathe.

I currently live and work in Slavic Village, as a Community Organizer. My role is to actively support all individuals, in developing their personal power. And, taking positive action and steps to improve their quality of life.

I truly believe that myself and all of the residents in Cleveland, have the power to make our community a better place.

As a resident, I thank all of you for supporting efforts to make Cleveland a safe, just place.

The decisions we make here, related to the commission, is placing Cleveland on the path to be a nationwide leader in innovation on policing.

I decided to apply for this position, because I believe that I--and I think that--it's best for us to not focus on what divides us.

But, work hard towards our shared goals of having a police department that respects and serves its citizens, living up to their highest potential.

And, also, citizens that support our police officers making it in the department.

And making us, make sure that our officers have the resources they need to be successful on their jobs.

Councilman Jones, thank you, very much for scheduling the interviews for the commission and the nominees.

I look forward to meeting you, this Thursday. And, I hope that all of the the city council approves all of the nominees, this year. So we can be up and running for the new year. Thank you.

2:47 Permalink

Kyle Wright

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Kyle Wright. Kyle Wright is from Ward 14. He's here to talk about source of income protections.

He represents The Homeless Congress. And he is not being paid by anyone. Kyle.

Kyle Wright: Ladies and gentlemen of city council. His preeminence Mayor-Elect Justin Bibb.

Many of you have received an email link to a Homeless Bill of Rights, from our Housing Justice Representative of NEOCH.

The general welfare are awaiting each one of city council's representation endorsements, upon this bill.

In August, of this year, Pay to Stay legislation was passed. However, state and local source of income laws; or ordinances--prohibit discrimination against renters and home buyers--based on the source of their income.

Housing Choice Voucher Program, this is an important protection that can help to expand housing choices available to the voucher holders.

Including the resource rich neighborhoods, where affordable housing options might otherwise be available.

To Mr. Christopher Harsh, representative of Ward 13; Madam Stephanie Howse, representative of Ward 7; including city Council President-Elect and representative of Ward 6, Blaine Griffin.

We thank you for being supportive, during our look for more support and sponsorship towards this bill.

We appreciate your endorsement. NEOCH would like to extend an invitation to city council, to our next community meetings: December 8, 2022. It's 12 p.m at Bishop Cosgrove; December 13, 2022--12 p.m, St. Paul's Community Church.

The homeless are tired. Um, I was recently homeless. Um, my voucher, I cannot move from my place. And, I'm causing--it's causing me a lot of frustrations.

Um, there's a lot of contractual things that the landlord is not doing. But, I'm afraid to go and put, put money into escrow. Or to put him in housing court.

Um, I would really appreciate it, if you could pass this source of income. Or the Homeless Bill of Rights, that'd be a great Christmas gift for me. Thank you.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

2:33 Permalink

Josiah Quarles

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Josiah Quarles. Josiah is from Cleveland Heights. And he's here to talk about emergency rental assistance.

And, he represents Northeast Ohio Coalition For The Homeless. And, he is not getting paid by anyone.

Josiah Quarles: Good evening, members of council. Um, good evening Mayor Bibb. I'm here to speak today and really appreciate all the speakers, thus far, who have come from the community.

And, I want to bring this body's attention to the fact that emergency rental assistance, as we know it--which was granted through a federal program--in response to Covid, to make sure that we were able to shelter in place. And decongregate, to keep folks safe.

It's coming to an end on December 2nd. That has been the greatest tool that we at NEOCH and many others, have had to keep people housed. And we will be losing that tool.

So, it's like if you have a table and you kick one of the legs out from under it, right. It's very easy for that table to be upturned.

Um, I'm very grateful for this body passing Pay to Stay and working in concert with emergency rental assistance.

It was a very powerful moment, for Cleveland--Cleveland's residents, but it was a very brief moment.

Right, it's only been a few months where we've had both of those tools together. So, I just think in the context of how fragile our seasonal shelter situation is right now, within the city, some of you are aware of this.

Some of you probably are not. But we've had you know churches for, for decades step up and, and to fill these gaps.

When really, what is needed is a concerted effort between the city and the county. And various organizations, to have a permanent solution, so that we're not consistently placing Band-Aids on a problem--that is deeply rooted.

And cycles people through trauma; engages them with the justice system; destabilizes children's educations; breaks up families.

We are in a crisis moment. It is not a crisis that is for sheer scarcity, but it is a crisis of access.

So along with The Homeless Bill Of Rights, along with source of income protections, we need to make a dedicated effort through the ARPA spending.

To lay foundational work, that can be utilized in an ongoing way for Cleveland residents; so that they are not living on the street. And, living in shelter and separated from their families.

I would be very happy to have follow-up conversations with anyone who is interested, in any of these topics.

And thank you, so very much, for your time today.

2:53 Permalink

Matthew Ahn

Blaine Griffin: Matthew Ahn is representing downtown. He's here to talk about the North Coast Connector and Shoreway.

And, he is not representing anyone. And, he is not being paid by anyone.

Matthew Ahn: Good evening. My name is Matthew Ahn. I'm here to talk about the North Coast Connector plan.

I support increased connectivity between downtown and the lakefront. And, I urge any master plan to include the demolition of the Shoreway-- between West 3rd and I-90.

So, there's talk of a long, land bridge between downtown, the lakefront, Willard Park to Erieside.

It's about 1,000 feet. But the width of the railroad tracks that this land bridge would go over, is only about 175 feet.

The reason of course, is that the land bridge needs to cross the Shoreway; as well. But the expense of a land bridge is in creating supports for the elevated portion.

If the land bridge doesn't need to clear the Shoreway, it's likely cheaper. Even accounting for the cost of tearing out the Shoreway.

We talk a lot about closing Burke and freeing up 445 acres of lakefront space. I personally think it's worth the FAA fines, to just bulldoze it Chicago style. But the Shoreway itself, also takes up 71 acres.

71 acres is larger than the flats East Bank and the Warehouse District, combined.

Any long-term planning, that includes the continued existence of the Shoreway, will make connectivity harder and more expensive.

And it wastes a valuable land that must be developed, in order for Cleveland to become a sustainable city.

Will this affect people's commutes? Not really, according to Google Maps. At least as of this morning--Edgewater Park to City Hall--zero extra minutes.

Beachland Ballroom to City Hall, one extra minute. Edgewater to University Circle, only three extra minutes.

The Shoreway does not provide massive time saving to anyone. Now what about congestion? As a downtown resident, I can tell you there is no meaningful congestion on downtown streets.

Except during sporting events. And, it's because Cleveland--by one recent study--has the widest streets in the world. Not the state, not the country, but the world.

We already have wide empty streets, that can handle the traffic. And plenty of people zoomed by my bike, at close to 50 miles an hour, on Lakeside.

As it is, all you need to do is rebuild the 33rd and St.Clair ramp onto 90 Eastbound. You will have a full alternate route.

And ODOT already plans to redo that portion of the Inner Belt. But even that's irrelevant, because a fundamental principle of traffic engineering is induced demand the idea that if you build one more lane, in one more road-- traffic will increase to fill it.

This is why widening 480 and 271 have never worked. Traffic will remain the same, or get worse.

Because people decide to live, work and shop in locations that utilize that extra lane. But the more mind-boggling thing is that works in reverse, too.

Whenever urban freeways are removed, traffic studies show that those car trips are not generally diverted onto near nearby surface streets. They simply disappear, in the aggregate.

We are really good as a society, at figuring out how many car trips are available to take. We've seen this all across the country: New York City; San Francisco; Fort Worth; Milwaukee; Portland; Rochester; Providence.

The list goes on. These places tore out an urban freeway, replaced it with nothing and saw traffic get better.

We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Now, I feel a little uncomfortable advocating for downtown spending in a city that already disproportionately spends downtown.

But in theory, right this, if you connect this right with now-- Shoreway in the way developers will see opportunity--with even reduced or no subsidies.

And thus, that money can get reallocated to different parts of the city--for desperately needed measures--in the second poorest city in America.

I urge the city's leaders, to consider a lakefront plan that removes the Shoreway between West 3rd and I-90. Thank you.

3:26 Permalink