March 13, 2023prev: March 06, 2023 next: March 21, 2023
Public Commenters (16 min)
Andre' Dailey Terry Metter Mahsoull Ali Chinenye Nkemere Terrence Upchurch
I'm here tonight to speak on behalf of my fellow union members at CPL. None of us have Chief, Director, or Trustee in our titles. We're not the people you meet when the scissors come out for ribbon cuttings, or the shovels come out for ground breakings, but we're the ones who show up every day after the cameras go away. We're the clerks, custodians, paraprofessionals, mechanics, drivers, and librarians who work in every neighborhood from Ward 1 to Ward 17. We're the people that your constituents know and trust to maintain our library buildings and collections, hand out free lunches, distribute Covid test kits, encourage young people to love reading, connect residents with vital social services, teach seniors how to use technology, and many more amazing things that I could spend all my time up here listing.
While fascistic and bigoted book bans are among the most distressing challenges for libraries, there are also quieter crises that gradually erode our institutions. When Mayor Frank Jackson took office, the library had about 800 employees. When this year started, we had 495. These burnout-inducing staff levels are not sustainable, and they mean that the library still can't return to pre-covid hours in your wards. Three years into the pandemic, they also mean that hundreds of union jobs ,a gateway into the middle class for people like me and many others, have been eliminated throughout the city.
This year, the mayor has challenged the city and all of us to collectively read a million books. I'd like to encourage you to join that challenge and also make a challenge of my own. My number's a lot less than a million at 60. I like each of you to take 60 minutes, just an hour to meet with union leadership and make sure the library workers at the Cleveland Public Library are heard both at the library and here in City Hall.
Next month is National Library Month. I can't think of a better way for each of you to celebrate than by stepping up for library workers. I'd like to thank Mayor Bibb for taking the time to meet with us last month, taking me up on that challenge. Librarians may be quiet, but we're not silent, and we need to know that we have your support. Thank you.
As a community development strategist, philanthropist, and non-profit owner, the detriment of this issue is number one to be resolved. How can Cleveland be world-renowned in education, sports, medicine, music, while simultaneously suffering from blight, poverty and crime. However, we finally have a mayor who will finally do something about it, I hope. This issue must be addressed. This is necessary that we work together to comprehensively create a plan of action to do so. I've already spoken with the governor's office, as well as Senator Ken Smith and- Ken Smith, excuse me. It oftentimes bothers me that we, the residents of Cleveland, have to monitor or let the officials contrast the corrupted collusion involvement in government oversight. However I assume in good faith that we have the right people in office to properly address the economic deprivation we currently struggle in Cleveland. We must fix this.
As a community development strategist and leader speaking on behalf of the minority dealing with systematic effects of poverty, it is a call to action today. I propose Ohio Congress passed new legislation via the inflation deprivation assistance to allocate funds from the Department of Commerce. Funds should be equivalent to around $3.6 billion to $2.2 billion in reflection of Ohio's poverty rate, 200% below. That number is 360,000 residents. Being those who qualify or deemed to receive 800 to 500 per month a year to aid the rise of inflation and combat poverty. In retrospect, this will boost the economy, bring money to local businesses, and aid those in need. California has implemented similar assistance nevertheless being ranked much lower in poverty. So I see no reason for rejections of such a proposal and all good that it would generate.
Moving forward, I believe that we shall overcome these hard times through diligent transparent objectives and open communication. With that being said, I would just like to conclude uh, we got a lot of violence in the city. I'm a non-profit organizer, community development strategist, and I talk to you from a regular basis. The main issue is money. If the city does not have money, the residents does not have money, the children don't have money and resources, then it can be taught correctly, they don't have the proper guidance and they're in a state of survival. So let's solve this.
With every single initiative here in this city, you can name a Black woman at the forefront, whether it's affordable housing, lead abatement, police reform, housing and security, food insecurity, childhood literacy, the list goes on and on. Black women are at the forefront. Yet as I look around I don't see any of my allies. I don't see any of the folks that flood my inbox on social media. I don't see any of the folks that send me emails daily about how cool I am as a Black woman, how awesome the work is that I do here for the city of Cleveland. I don't see any of those folks.
It has been over one year, April 15, 2022, since Mayor Bibb stated at his State of The City that he was invested and interested in a Black Women and Girls Commission, and before I hear that she does not understand the legislative process, she does not understand committees, she does not understand, please, understand the Ohio State University trained me well. I do I very well do understand. At every speaking engagement Enlightened Solutions partakes in, every single community meeting I attend, every Zoom meeting I am a part of, I am asked what is taking so long, and who are the impediments. With statements like this, many in our community, Black women who are at the forefront of our community are getting disillusioned. They're being left behind in this process in their own city, a city that they are replenishing. Equity and inclusion cannot be in name only. Black women like myself are already overburdened. We should not have to repeatedly show up to ensure that an already passed legislation, you all passed this legislation, is actually carried through. This is an unfair expectation that black women are consistently have to be put at the forefront of.
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King said budgets are 'moral documents'. We need substantive funding around us. We encourage you to allocate financial investment to this work along with moving it forward quickly. We're up against incredible odds. I believe in you, do you believe in Black women?
I'm here as a resident of Cleveland first and a member of the Ohio legislature second. I'm here to urge you all to pass the resolution to oppose House Bill 1, which is one of the most dangerous tax cuts that the legislature is proposing.
This bill is big. There's a lot in it, but the devil is in the details. But some of the things that I want to share with you are, first, that this bill will eliminate four tax brackets. It'll impose a single flat tax rate at $360 plus 2.75 percent on all income. This bill affects people making over $26,000 a year. Those making under will not be impacted.
You all know that local governments have been suffering at the hands of the state legislature. There is more suffering to come if this bill passes. It's a priority bill, and the way you can tell a bill is a high priority not is by the number, this is House Bill 1, this bill is in the House Ways and Means Committee. So I would urge you all to pass a resolution to oppose this bill. You just went through a budget cycle, through your next budget cycle. Once again, you'll be forced to do more with less. This bill will have a direct impact on your ability as councilmen to provide council members- excuse me- to provide services for your constituents, such as public safety. We just heard people from all walks of life in this city requesting additional services and funding for these services. If this bill passes it will make it harder to provide those services. And I urge you Mr. President to appoint Councilman Hairston to come down to the House Ways and Means Committee to testify against this bill. Thank you very much.
So there's a mobile home park there currently. The capacity has went down over the years. They've had bad landlords in and out of there pulling the wealth out of our community, and now an NGO with the city, a former member of this body, is leading the charge in that to displace all of those residents there. So I just want to say as a resident, it really makes my stomach hurt to come down here and to talk about such things as people deserving housing.
And housing over a park is is really quite, you know, I don't think I should have to talk about this. It's common sense. We shouldn't replace where people live with a park, right? What are we doing here? Putting a green space over people, right? Parks over people, is that the idea? So I'm absolutely ashamed to be from this city with the way you guys are doing business now, and this must change as far as how we look at Clevelanders.
Cleveland's greatest export right now is Clevelanders. We talk all the time about people voting with their feet, but never what we do to get those people to leave. So I would urge this Council to reconsider the planning that's going on right now, and to not only reconsider, but to come to the table and make sure those residents are taken care of. Everybody should be able to age in place. Everybody should be able to afford a cost of living that's, you know, suitable to them. It's really just, it's cut and dry in that way.
Clevelanders make roughly 21k a year, and if you know, I don't know when the last time anybody up here rented, probably a while now, but it's generally, you're not supposed to go over 30 percent, and they won't let you. 30 percent of 21k is nine thousand dollars. I'm sorry, no, wait, yes, seven thousand. Seven thousand divided by 12 is... we got some mathematicians here. 750. 750 available. So when we look at what the development is going on in the city right now, we're not seeing any space to accommodate those people. We have plenty of high rises going up with studios for twelve hundred dollars, but we don't know right now where those people are going to live.
So there again I just want to say shame on this city. They went through this Thanksgiving, Christmas, all wondering where you're going to live, and we talk about crime and violence as if it's a misnomer. Do you honestly not believe that where somebody has to live, if there's not stable housing, that that wouldn't produce a negative impact on how they saw themselves, their relation in the city and things such as that? So thank you guys for listening and I really hope to see some action out of this. I didn't ever think I would be talking about a trailer park right? It's not that sexy. But um, people having a place to live, Cleveland for Clevelanders. Thank you.