April 24, 2023

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Public Commenters (17 min)
Gene Tracy  Carmele Cuizon  Don Whitaker  Jennifer Johnson  Angela Davis  Jenice Contreras 

Gene Tracy

Hi. First I want to say to Joe Jones, I'm sorry, I was too sick. I really shouldn't be here tonight, I should be in the hospital, so that's how important this is.

You know, I don't mind tax abatements, as long as you're not giving away the children's money.

So in 1990 Lerner threatened to move the Browns unless he got a new stadium that's fully tax-abated for life with all the maintenance and upgrades paid for by the city. Hey.

He spent $532-million for the Browns and sold it to Haslam for a billion. Nice profit. So tonight I want to acknowledge the Jay Westbrook City Council. You see, they had humanity. They had caring. They cared about the children. They had courage, because they stood up to this power, and they refused to pass ordinance 1025-95 unless the children were held harmless from the tax abatement afforded to these billionaires, and they did it.

The children received $2 million dollars from '96 to 2009. When the stadium overspent its budget, that billionaire, by $4 billion, so Mayor Jackson took a million from the children. Imagine that. Took a million from the children that was promised to them, that Westbrook City Council fought for. And I continue. How would you have stood up? Would you stood up for the children? Would you stand up and be counted and say, 'no children get the money'?

Well the answer to that is quite clear. You voted to take that million from the children again this year.

This has got to stop. It has got to stop, or you don't care about the children. And what did they do with that money, or that lack of money? They used it to promote charters. There were several schools who were denied funds from that seep to start after school programs, latchkey programs, they were early schools there were late schools. Ladies and gentlemen, you know what I mean. Thank you.

3:23 Permalink

Carmele Cuizon

Good evening, everybody, and thank you for the opportunity to speak in front of you all, and in front of council. My name is Carmele Cuizon and I am here today to talk about urging City Council to pass legislation that can end the sale of flavored tobacco products and menthol cigarettes, and to implement the tobacco retail license in Cleveland.

I'm a current medical student and a graduate of Cleveland State University. As a part of my medical training, I've spent the last nine months serving Cleveland residents at Metro Health and University Hospitals.

From this experience, I've learned how tobacco can ruin and continues to ruin the lives of many of our Cleveland residents, many of them who continue to suffer from long-term diseases that are terminal and incurable. Many of these include heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, many cancers that affect the lungs, the the bladder, the esophagus, just to name a few.

What I've also learned is the emotional and the mental burden of tobacco addiction on Cleveland families and the future of our children in this community. On average, about one in three of my patients use tobacco products, which is roughly equivalent to the smoking rate in Cleveland.

Sadly, because of its extremely addictive properties, many of my patients have given up on trying to quit altogether and accepted the fact that they may very well die from their addiction.

With such a short period of time that I've been able to serve the Cleveland residents, I've heard various stories from many patients about their experience with trying to quit smoking.

For example, I've cared for a pregnant teen mom who struggles to quit smoking even though she knows that she is putting her unborn child at risk of complications such as fetal growth restriction and death.

I've also cared for patients who are suffering from metastatic lung cancer, one of which shared with me that he was afraid that he was unable to make it to his grandchild's graduation.

I've also counseled patients on how to quit - tobacco cessation - but many of them respond and say that they've tried eight or nine times with no success, feeling completely defeated.

Put yourself in their shoes. Think about what they have to go through and imagine having to accept the fact that a shorter lifespan might just be easier than quoting tobacco smoking. Now think of our children who are most vulnerable to tobacco addiction and how easily they can access these flavored tobacco products.

You guys have the power to end and also allow for a healthier and brighter future for our Cleveland residents and for our children. So please consider voting for the end of the tobacco product sales that are flavored as well as menthol cigarettes, and also implementing a more effective enforcing of the tobacco laws. Thank you.

3:24 Permalink

Don Whitaker

My name is Don Whitaker and I've been a tenant of yours at the West Side Market for over 32 years now. I'd like to thank President Griffin for giving me time to speak today, and also for visiting me last week at the West Side Market.

The West Side Market is Cleveland's only remaining public market and has been owned and operated by the city of Cleveland since it opened in 1912. Historically, public markets were created as a public service for residents, providing access to fresh food. Today, 46% of our customer base live in the city of Cleveland. Of this 46%, they come from every single ward in the city. The market has remained a traditional marketplace for our customers, but we know there is a room for growth to increase diversity among our vendors and to attract the next generation of customers.

We serve all income levels of customers at the market. Nearly every vendor who offers SNAP-eligible products accepts EBT food benefits. Last year, we participated in the Produce Perks program, which brought $35,000 in free, fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income families. The West Side Market had the highest redemption rate of in this program in the whole state of Ohio.

The West Side Market is home to 70 small businesses that provide over 250 direct jobs, that provide income taxes, sales taxes, and small business taxes to benefit the whole city. We have the potential for growth since we're experiencing a vacancy of over 30% right now since Covid, but before Covid, we were at 10%.

For the first time in decades, there has been productive conversation that included tenant input in the best operating plan for the market moving forward. While a non-profit management is agreed upon for the next step, the city will still be the landlord and the owner of the building.

The number of shoppers who visit the market is beyond the number of visitors to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Museum of Art, which are all seen as anchor institutions in Cleveland. 20% of those shoppers come from outside the region and bring their tourist dollars and taxes that enhance the city's revenues.

I believe the market is of equal significance to these Cleveland institutions. Our perseverance as tenants and city employees has helped us survive despite the years of deferred maintenance by our landlord.

The market needs so many basic repairs that have not been addressed for decades. This weekend alone we had ongoing leaking roof which rains in our stairwells down to our coolers.

Another employee got stuck in our only working elevator, with three unusable elevators for years, not to mention ongoing plumbing issues, no generator to back up the mechanical cooling cooling systems, nor any kind of an HVAC system. These basic repairs, coupled along with the revenue- generating ideas to sustain our existence into the future, are estimated at $32-40 million dollars.

Now Council, I do applaud you for your ARPA investments in housing, safety, and critical issues I saw this last week. These investments may benefit all the neighborhoods in need. I do understand you're also working to hold landlords responsible for the upkeep of their properties. Like you, I believe this landlord needs to take responsibility for this property too.

I hope we can work together to find a solution, that our small businesses survive, increase jobs, and continue feeding the quality products from the West Side Market to the residents to the city of Cleveland and the region. Thank you.

4:01 Permalink

Jennifer Johnson

Hello. Thank you, Council. April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month and I'm here to just talk about the need that we have in Cuyahoga County.

There are 12,000 cases of screened-in child abuse that happens in Cuyahoga County as we speak right now. Many of those reside in the city of Cleveland.

Last year alone, there were literally half of a dozen children that died at the hands of child abuse, and so the need for prevention and intervention is really important.

A lot of times people talk about intervention or prevention but not both, and it's really important to invest in prevention through the support of child advocacy centers and other organizations that we partner with that support wrapping around kids and families, and providing services before they're able to get the services that they need and have all the support that they can, so that they can begin healing and thriving. Thank you for your consideration of passing a resolution to formally name April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

I don't know any of you that haven't been children before, and that don't want children to thrive. In order for them to thrive, they need to be safe. In order to be safe, they need to have the services and support that they can to be able to grow and to heal and to experience safety, health, and well-being. Thank you.

1:32 Permalink

Angela Davis

Good evening. I'm here because I was at the event last week and there was a situation with a lady who was in a mental health crisis, and she was not handled appropriately, and I feel some type of way because I'm from the mental health community.

There was no need for the police to come down the aisle and try to escort her out of the building, which is why I got up and interceded. I'm asking each and every one of you to please get educated about mental health, techniques to de-escalate when there is an escalated situation, and be a little bit more respectful of the mental health community, because we are people. We are humans. We are children of God, and we deserve the same respect as everyone else. Thank you. Especially you, Mr. Mayor.

1:19 Permalink

Jenice Contreras

Thank you, Council President. As you mentioned, I'm here in support of CentroVilla 25, which is an economic development real estate project in the near west side of Cleveland.

As you know, Clark-Fulton neighborhood has the largest density of Latino residents in the state, and obviously we have lacked the ability to have a place to be able to celebrate culture, to gather as a community. And so CentroVilla is the manifestation of many decades of our community really trying to put their ground in this community.

It is a historic moment for us to be able to introduce legislation, and so I want to thank Councilwoman Santana and her leadership, and all of City Council for seeing this project of priority for the city.

I hope this is the first of many. I hope to come back and celebrate. We are working with Mayor Bibb and the administration, as well as, they've made commitments for this project. And so this is really a project that matters to everyone.

As you know the West 25th corridor is super vibrant. The north side has our dear West Side Market, the south side has the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and we have Metro Health in the middle.

CentroVilla will really activate the corridor and really create a place not just for the Latino community, obviously it's important to us, but it should be important to the city, and I know it is through this legislation. And I'll stop. And there's like 20 other leaders here in support of this, so thank you.

2:15 Permalink