April 10, 2023

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Public Commenters (17 min)
Derrick Holifield  Tammy Trotter  Christopher Hudson  Gene Tracy  Wanda Hill-Chestnut 

Derrick Holifield

Blaine Griffin: The next person we have, is Derrick Holifield. Mr. Holifield is from Glenville. He wants to talk about street renaming in Glenville.

He is not representing anyone. And he is not being paid by anyone. Mr. Holifield.

Derrick Holifield: Good evening. My name is Derrick Holifield, and I'm here to advocate for a street renaming for my grandmother: Hattie Holifield. I will read an excerpt from an article published by "The Land," detailing her impact. The title is: "Miss Hattie's Daycare has helped Glenville's single Black mothers for nearly 45 years."

In 1978, Hattie Mae Holifield established a goal to open a daycare after discovering how difficult it was to find quality, affordable, and dependable child care for four kids. She has defied obstacles to create and sustain a successful daycare, from her home in the Glenville neighborhood, for nearly 45 years.

In that time, she has raised multiple generations of Cleveland residents; while reducing the cost of child care, for mostly single Black mothers. There were not many work, or day care, options for Black women in Cleveland, in the 1970s.

She said, even now, people have a hard time making ends meet. I had to use my hands. And to provide for my family, Miss Hattie moved from Greensboro, Alabama--to the Hough neighborhood of Cleveland-- to live with her sister.

After living with her sister, she moved to the King Kennedy Housing Projects, managed by the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority. From there, she moved to Fairfax. And later, settled in the Glenville neighborhood.

She quickly became known as "the grandmother" of the neighborhood. Monzi Vaughn, a Glenville neighbor for over 40 years, describe Miss Hattie as a phenomenal woman, who would go above and beyond for mothers and kids.

She kept everyone in the neighborhood. She would help mothers by doing their child's hair, getting kids dressed for school, and cooking delicious meals. They were there when many mothers who could not afford daycare. And Miss Hattie would watch their kids for free, until the mother made enough money to provide for her family. Vaughn said: "There are not many daycares that will watch your kids for free. I don't know any that would do that."

Megan Smith, a former attendee and customer at the daycare, echoed those sentiments by saying: "My earliest experience is going to her daycare, as a young kid. She treated me like her own child. She fed me, clothed me, and gave me whatever I needed. She is open, honest, and she is reasonably priced. If you don't have it, she does not charge you. It was no question, she had to take care of my daughter when I had a child."

Now officially in retirement, Hattie spends her days gardening and taking care of properties in Glenville. She is known to have the best yards in the neighborhood. She takes pride in family, service, homeownership, and her community. And, any Sunday, you may see her cleaning up her yard. Or, caring for the yard of abandoned property near hers.

This mother, grandmother, great-grandmother is proud of her journey--from needing help to becoming someone who provided help. Her entrepreneurship spirit began in public housing, and led to her owning four homes on Ostend Avenue, in the Glenville neighborhood.

She is always willing to help those in need. Miss Hattie would turn 80, on May 30, 2023. We would like to celebrate this milestone on the street, with a renaming in honor of her work that she has done--for more than half her life.

We would love to have council support with the renaming of Ostend Avenue to Ms. Hattie Holifield Avenue. Please help us give Miss Hattie her flowers, while she can still smell them. Thank you.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

3:20 Permalink

Tammy Trotter

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have my good friend Tammy Trotter from Glenville, to talk about street renaming in Glenville. She is not representing anyone. And she is not being paid by anyone. Miss Trotter.

Tammy Trotter: How y'all doing? My name is Tammy. I'm coming here on the same aspect, talking about Miss Hattie Holifield. She's been a neighbor of mine. I was her personal hair stylist, for years. She's kept all the children in my family for over, for over 40 something years.

Yeah, she's retired from it now. But, my daughter also, she gave my daughter a job at 11 years old.

She wanted a cell phone, and the only way you get a phone is you can pay a bill. She'll let my daughter come and help her keep these kids, when she got out of school. So my daughter learns about children. Now my daughter wants her own daycare from following that aspect.

Miss Hattie is a well-renowned person in the whole neighborhood. She will shelter anyone. She will feed anyone. She will clothe people. If you ever have any, not just children, adults--she will feed anyone. She will help anyone. She'll give you something to do. If you need some money, she'll find some work for you. I don't care if there's nothing but to sweep the street, in front of our houses.

She'll do anything and everything, to help anyone. She's a big pillar in our neighborhood. She look out for everybody on this earth. She's always been very pleasant to deal with. She loves people, dearly. She's just, she's God sent to be here for this purpose. So, we here right now, we're asking for all of y'all support for council.

We already did the petitioning, and everything, that needed to be done--to get this to be done. But, we're really pushing for now is that she will be turning 80 years old, May 30th.

Okay. All the people who she has impacted are literally, I mean, I'm in my 50s and she impacted me. She's impacted so many people for so many years, we could fill this room up and it still wouldn't be enough room for people to fit in here. Or all the people who she's helped, impacted, raised. She's helped grandchildren, helped other peoples children.

Other people's kids go to school; go to college; get degrees--Masters, Bachelors. All of these things help people just graduate regular High School, who really didn't have any incentives. She motivates people. She inspires people. She'll help you financially.

If you need it, she'll help people in any kind of way. So we would really like for council to help us get this street named after her. It's a deserved future. Also, we would rather name a street after somebody that's alive to live and see it. And still live in the house, on the street, in the neighborhood. Own houses on the street, you know.

So her legacy lives on, while she's alive. You know, when they say give people their flowers while they're alive, give her this name and give the street while she's alive.

But we need your support, because I know right now its April 10th, but we trying to make sure we can at least have an agreement that is going to happen for her 80th party. To honor her with that. She has no idea about it. It's a secret. So if any of y'all in here know her, do not tell her. Thank you.

Uh-oh, she's not gonna watch this. We're gonna make sure she don't watch this. It's okay. It's all right. We'll see you.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you, Miss Trotter.

Tammy Trotter: Thank you all. Have a good day.

3:02 Permalink

Christopher Hudson

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Christopher Hudson. Christopher is from Brooklyn Centre, Ward 12. And, Christopher wants to talk about housing in Cleveland.

And he's representing, uh, no one. And he also is not being paid by anyone. Christopher, you have the floor.

Christopher Hudson: Good evening, Cleveland City Council Members. Firstly, I would like to commend the council on a swift action to the poor conditions at Residents of Shaker Square. This kind of quick response, by city council, against negligent landlords is a core function of a government that is responsible for the well-being of its constituents.

So, you all must understand that in equal measure, I condemn the lack of action by this council regarding the unlivable conditions at Winton Manor, 1012 Prospect Avenue East. Since the council has been derelict, I will bring everyone here up to speed. Evergreen Real Estate, which manages a multi-state Empire of low and fixed income properties, acquired the building at 1012 Prospect Avenue East--in the middle of 2021.

At the time, they raised nearly 18 million dollars in capital for renovations. Renovations that are contracted through their subsidiary Evergreen Construction. These renovations have incurred significant hardship on tenants. Many of those we've spoken to returned, describe returning home to find their apartment doors wide open and personal items missing from inside.

They've described seeing good quality materials disappear, as their own apartments are renovated with cheap materials. A burst water pipe, this last December 23rd, flooded nine floors of the building-- for more than 12 hours--while clueless property managers search for a shutoff valve.

Tenants suffered a massive amount of property damage, not to mention being forced out of their homes on Christmas Eve. Most displaced residents have not been able to return to their apartments, and are still living in a hotel. Since the flood, tenants describe an epidemic of respiratory related health issues occurring in the building. And residents have had to go to the hospital for some of the most acute cases.

And through all of this, Evergreen has provided the bare minimum--while claiming it is going above and beyond. In response, residents have leveraged their Tenant Council to seek legal redress. And, they demand that the building be shut down until renovations are complete. And, Evergreen should provide them with replacement housing. In the meantime they are preparing a rent strike, until these demands are met.

The community stands with these residents, in their struggle, and their demands. And, we have already raised nearly four thousand dollars for the residents who lost everything in the flooding. And we will continue to support our neighbors. Yet, during all of this, the council has sat on its hands.

So what is the difference between Winton and Shaker? Why is council taking legal action against the out-of-state landlords of Shaker, but not the out-of-state landlords at Winton? The community knows that Shaker Square is Mark Free Development. So, are fair housing rights only valid when they are in the interest of real estate developers or in high-profile neighborhoods? What about our neighbors at Euclid Beach homes being forced out by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy?

We demand this council's immediate and full-throated endorsement of the demands of the Winton Manor Tenant Council. We also demand that the city council provide material support to Winton Manor residents and take legal action against their negligent landlord Evergreen Real Estate. And until this council has fulfilled these obligations, each member can expect letters.

Blaine Griffin: Time!

Christopher Hudson: Constituents are demanding action.

Blaine Griffin: Time!

Christopher Hudson: When we return to this podium, we hope to learn what tangible actions you have taken on behalf of Wintor Manor tenants. Thank you.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

3:28 Permalink

Gene Tracy

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Gene Tracy. Mr. Tracy is from Ward 3. And, Mr. Tracy is here to talk about Ordinance Number: 1025-95-A.

And, Mr. Tracy represents CMSD students. And, he is not being paid by anyone. Mr. Tracy.

Gene Tracy: Back in the 1990's, the voters passed the syntax to build the stadiums. It was extended to build the football stadium, which allowed the owner to keep all the profit-making vehicles. And, the maintenance costs and upgrades would be borne by the city.

Knowing that this package would be unpalatable by the voters, the city created Ordinance 1025-95-A: the parking admissions, and vehicle leasing, eight percent tax. A lucrative tax, $24 million in '96. And, well over $34 million now.

Council and Symphony Of Wisdom And Humanity, refused to pass it--unless the children will be held harmless, for the lifetime tax abatement, for the stadium. The amount settled upon, was two million dollars per year.

Thus, creating the Comprehensive Extracurricular Activity Plan. The seat success was notable increases in GPA, attendance, and in their attitude. It must be approved by this council each year. In '96, and each year after the children received the promised 2 million-- thus setting a legal precedent in 2009--the stadium over spent its budget by 4 million.

The Mayor stealthily took 1 million, from the promised 2 million, finding no blowback. The theft continued each year, to the present, with council's approval. Thus, harming the children.

I thought with a new mayor, this despicable theft would stop. But, alas, the one million was taken again. Bibb, through his, uh...

Blaine Griffin: Mr. Tracy, I apologize. But, we do not allow anyone to disparage any elected official at the microphone. Please continue, without making any disparaging comments. Thank you, sir.

Gene Tracy: Okay. Uh, Bibb. Oops, my fault. The one million was taken again. Uh, Education Chief Holly Trifiro blame city council-- and said, I should come here.

So did Eric Gordon. Note this broken promise, to hold the children harmless, is a slap in the face to the children; to the voter; and to the caring Jay Westbrook. City Council, so will you restore the promised funds or continue to harm the children. Hey, poor children.


Billionaire football owner. No-brainer.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

3:24 Permalink

Wanda Hill-Chestnut

Blaine Griffin: And last up, we have Miss Wanda Hill- Chestnut. And Miss Hill-Chestnut is from Ward 6. And she's here to talk about the state of Ohio owned properties.

She is not representing anyone. And she is not being paid by anyone. Miss Hill- Chestnut.

Wanda Hill-Chestnut: Hey, good evening everyone. Uh-oh. Good evening, everyone. I am Wanda Hill-Chestnut. And, I'm Pastor Chestnut from Saint Luke's Church. But, I'm also the Precinct Committee person in Ward 6-E.

And, we did a walkthrough of our ward--just to see the things that needed to be addressed. And there are several state of Ohio owned properties that are dilapidated, that are falling apart, and that needs to be addressed.

So, we contacted the state of Ohio and they said basically that because those are foreclosed properties, that the state of Ohio is not required to repair those properties. They are repaired, they are required to sort of manage them. But they're not required to do any repairs, to do any upkeep, and there's an Ordinance on the books. There's an Ohio Revised Code that supports them not doing anything. And that Revised Code has not been updated for the last 75 years.

And the city of Columbus filed for funding, for federal funding, so that in their city-- in 2008--they could either repair, remove, or revitalize those state-owned properties. And, I'm asking if city council could do something similar. And request that federal funding to address those issues of state-owned properties that are not maintained.

And the last time I checked, in the city of Cleveland, the state of Ohio owns more than 927 properties. And that's just my looking, so I'm sure the number is much higher.

So that is a concern, especially when the buildings are falling apart and no one is held responsible. So that's why I'm standing in front of city council, so that city council can do something. And I know, uh, Blaine has been working with us--trying to figure out how to fix this problem.

So maybe if you guys can come up with something, as well, that would be much appreciated for all of the constituents--especially in Ward 6-E. So when you guys get the funding, could you please go to 6-E first, because we sort of thought of it.

Can I get a clap, or something?

Blaine Griffin: I'll clap for that.

Wanda Hill-Chestnut: Thank you.

Blaine Griffin: Yeah, thank you Miss Hill-Chestnut.

2:56 Permalink