May 01, 2023

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Public Commenters (27 min)
Ramat Wiley  John Gearo  Richard Pryor  David Passalacqua  Stephen Tanov  Makanya Smith  Walter Collins  Roger Carney 

Ramat Wiley

Good evening, Council. Thank you. My name is Ramat Wiley and I'm here to share a bit of my story and comment on the West Side Market.

I first learned to cook for my great- grandmother, Mamie. Saturday mornings with her meant walking down to St. Clair from East 105 and Empire and catching the RTA over to the West Side Market.

As I grew older, I began driving her to the market, and once she passed on, her go-to's became mine. She had created a new multi-generational West Side Market shopper. Years later, after many third shift nights as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, you could find me at the West Side Market early Saturday mornings. I take the time to decompress from my shift and gather food to prepare my meals for the next week. Making these trips and cooking became my way of taking care of my mental health for my for the career that I had taken on at the time.

After following my dreams to becoming chef, you can find me at the West Side Market after classes at Tri-C's Hospitality Management Center, grabbing ingredients to whip up something after becoming inspired all day in school.

The West Side Market is a significant ingredient in our city's recipe. So many of us can share good food memory from the market, and the small businesses that make the market home. Cleveland's food culture has been a sustaining source of revenue, inspiration, and showing how passionate the people are here, but there is room for growth and diversity within the West Side Market? Absolutely there is. These are the things the CPMC plan to work on.

Furthermore, we must stop using this community meeting and marketplace to divide an already divided city, because if we're honest, the West Side Market is the one place in town where no one asks if you live East or West, they're just excited that you're here. The 70-plus businesses that comprise the West Side Market deserve a fully functioning and up-to-date facility to continue to grow and improve their businesses for their customers, and for the legacy they are building and maintaining. What the city has yet to maintain in this property will take more than $15- million, but it can be a big stepping stone for the market's future. This funding is a start for us, the newly formed Cleveland Public Market Corporation, to begin finding support, creating partnerships with other like-minded institutions, for the West Side Market to become more self-sustaining and reflective of the city's diverse makeup. This will allow us to compete for the title we know it deserves, and that is to become the best public market for the city. Thank you for your time.

2:53 Permalink

John Gearo

Thank you. I'm here to talk about the fiber build. First, DigitalC, they have been absorbed a few times over bad financial situations. They are still lobbying for state and grant money, and as far as right now they don't qualify for it.

How does the current service work in Cleveland areas and Shaker, especially the Glenville and Central neighborhoods? Did anyone ask any other residents? Because it's very slow. It does not work well on multiple devices, and students operating on CBRS [Citizens Broadband Radio Service] technology, just look at the track record and decisions they have made in the past.

They depend on a fiber backbone to broadband the wireless technology, and that does not qualify as of right now for the ARPA or state funds. If they do continue to operate like they have in the past, is the city willing to absorb the cost or will it just get put into the general budget like Ward 13's Wi-Fi system, which is a complete joke, from the last guy that pushed it. The technology is no good, the business model is no good, and the lack of workers in a project that size is no good.

As far as a SiFi [Networks] proposal, that's worse than a DigitalC proposal. Let's talk about their proof of concept. They have very little projects completed to date. They get their funding from another country. That's not looking good if you follow the news. If you go to their website, there's only a few cities with very little population of roughly 30,000 residents that they have completed builds for. They use contractors to install, and what they do is they call it micro-trenching. It did not work out well for Google. They pulled out of Kentucky because they don't go deep enough, it ends up cracking the ground. And they have endless amounts of money to do so.

Verizon built a fiber system that has sold large portions off due to the operating cost and the build cost. We already have fiber in many neighborhoods, and companies, to have a workforce and people who live in the city, such as myself, in surrounding areas that put this fiber in. They can't maintain streets as it is, who's going to pay for the contractors if they mess things up?

Also, the two main companies in Cleveland offer $5- and $10 internet for people that are on SNAP and disability. Is SiFi going to do the same thing?

This is my wheelhouse, and I promise you [inaudible] but will not work in Northeast Ohio. And where will SiFi get the workforce, because the telecommunication contractors are already struggling to get workers in Northeast Ohio. I have seen first-hand out-of-state contractors and what they're capable of doing, and what they do to people's yards, neighborhoods, garages, trees. We need a workforce that contributes to the community. Cleveland residents deserve the best and not what's just offered. Last but not least, support the West Side Market. Thank you.

3:17 Permalink

Richard Pryor

Unbought and unbossed, Mr. President. Council, it's a pleasure as always to be here. I grew up 45 minutes south of Cleveland in Kent, Ohio, and I was raised by a father who spent a long time living in Cleveland as a resident of the east side, going to Case Western School of Law, and working downtown in the National City Bank building, where I now get to live. It freaks him out, I want you to know that. Just, that's public record.

But I grew up loving Cleveland, coming up here on days off of schools, and in the summer time, eating the best dim sum I've ever had in Asiatown, going to our phenomenal art museum, the Cleveland Orchestra, and so many other things about Cleveland that make this feel like home for me.

But above all of them is the West Side Market. I am a foodie, I am a locavore, and I think there's nothing better than being able to have personal relationships with the people who grow and raise what we eventually eat and put in our bodies.

I'm especially pleased that my butcher, Don Whitaker of DW Whitaker, is here today with us in the gallery. But I want Council to know is that the West Side Market, if we think about it in the right way, can be a tool for improving food access across the city.

Food insecurity and food deserts are not just about placing grocery stores in strategic areas, they're an infrastructural problem that both treats grocery stores and infrastructure, but also look at mobility infrastructure, about investing in things like public transit. It would take me probably 25 to 30 minutes to walk to the West Side Market on a Saturday. Instead, I get the opportunity to take the bus from a stop near my apartment, or to walk to Tower City and take the Rapid that'll deposit me literally a block away. And I get to bring friends there when they come into town. We'll have lunch at the cafe, we'll shop at a few places for me to make dinner, and I might even show them my favorite used bookstore in Ohio City. And this is something that I think we can all have, and it's an experience we can communally share, and find ways to bring the West Side Market outside of the market into neighborhoods. But that requires creativity, courage, and yes, the 15-million dollars in ARPA funds that the mayor has requested.

So I encourage Council, please keep this phenomenal treasure of our city running. Keep its elevators working, because that was never a problem I had to think about until I read about it on Twitter a few weeks ago. So thank you, Council, and please keep our West Side Market alive.

3:05 Permalink

David Passalacqua

Hi. Good evening. Thank you President Griffin, members of Council. Over 140 years ago, in 1876, technology and the invention of the telephone changed the world and how people communicated. Today, that technology is broadband. Broadband is changing the world.

During Covid, access to affordable and adequate broadband service became paramount. You may have heard of kids having to attend online classes, or do their homework from parking lots of restaurants and other businesses that offered access to broadband.

Parents that struggled to work from home while their kids attended class, suffering from inadequate broadband service to sustain multiple connections, or simply being able to see and speak with family members and loved ones hundreds of miles away when you could not travel to see them.

Among many things Covid taught us is that access to adequate high-speed broadband service is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. It's a utility that kept people learning, working, and connected when the world was completely shut down.

Several months ago, the city of Cleveland took steps to partner with service providers and build a broadband network across the city using $20 million of ARPA funds. It's a major task and it must be done right.

I'm here to advocate that Cleveland build a broadband network that benefits all of its citizens, and prioritizes best-in-class technology and accountability.

First, it's critical to build a network that utilizes the most future-proof and durable technology we have available today. Fiber-optic technology fits that bill and should be required. Fiber is the best choice and should be the only choice to build the network of the future.

I could explain a little bit longer why fiber is better but only get three minutes, so.. Second, Cleveland should prioritize employers that will perform the work using high-road labor practices. Cleveland should incorporate fair labor practices and safety criteria into the broadband plans, and set baseline expectations for labor standards.

Third, Cleveland should encourage a local and directly employed workforce robust in in-house training and quality wages and benefits, not out-of-state contractors that work here today and somewhere else tomorrow.

One of the primary ways to ensure that Cleveland builds out broadband infrastructure in a way that provides maximum benefit to all Clevelanders is that those who live here and work in this industry have a role in developing the broadband plan. The perspective of the community, community-based organizations, frontline workers in the broadband sector, from technicians all the way to customer support, is valuable, and their insights should be taken into account.

And I would be remiss if I didn't say one thing from one of my previous mentors: Build it right, build it once, build it union. Thank you.

3:07 Permalink

Stephen Tanov

I have- wait okay. I have a dark situation to tell about being wrongly banned at the Galleria eight years ago. Galleria security told me that I was banned for life from entering the Galleria Tower YMCA complex. Why was I banned?

Well once again, eight years ago, Galleria security told me that I was banned for life from entering the Galleria Tower YMCA complex. Why was I banned? I was wrongly accused of doing something. Two security guards framed me for masturbating in the restroom, something I did not do. Once again, two security guards framed me for masturbating in the restrooms, something I did not do.

I don't know how this all started, maybe a group of people didn't like seeing me down there and they decided to make up stories about me. I did a lot of protesting by the Galleria Tower. James Kassouf is the current owner of the Galleria, and I'm sending monthly letters to James Kassouf.

Once again eight years ago, Galleria security told me that I was banned for life from entering the Galleria Tower YMCA complex. Security wrongly accused me of masturbating in the restrooms. I'm writing monthly letters to James Kassouf, the owner. I am sober and rarely drink alcohol. I am 49 years old.

I'm going to change the subjects now. Speed demons are a tyranny that's plaguing the streets of our city. These noisy cars with tinted windows are disturbing the peace and making it hard for children to study and do homework. We need more cops to stop those speed demons.

I also want to talk about Porta-potties. I know some people think Porta-potties are not important, but we need more permanent Porta-potties in our parks. Bring more Porta-potties. Bring more Porta-potties.

Now I'm going to wrap it up. Don't forget what I said about my wrongful ban at the Galleria Tower YMCA complex. I definitely have some problems down there.

2:54 Permalink

Makanya Smith

Good evening. My name is Miss Mickey Smith, and I come today as the Board Chair of Union-Miles Development Corporation.

Today our organization is talking about ordinance 556. We are here to ask for additional funding for our Walt Collins Veterans' Housing and Service Center for low-income individuals and low-income veterans. I read that Cuyahoga County has approximately 70,000 veterans, while Ohio has over 752,000. Although our Walt Collins Veteran Housing and Service Center will not house all of these veterans, it will be able to house some, and that is our goal.

We know our veterans require social services to help and aid them with common problems, including post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, problematic alcohol use, and thoughts of suicide. Many veterans suffer from more than one health condition. In addition, many women and men experience sexual trauma, including harassment and assaults while in the military. The Walt Collins Veterans Housing and Service Center will help with some of these common problems that plague our veterans today.

They are part of our community. They have left and served this country for all of us, and it is our duty to help and support them once they return back to our communities. When the veterans return home, the communities in which they left, most of the time it's not the same as when they return. This is the first step in a whole new way in which we help to rehabilitate our veterans. We currently have some amazing collaborative partners, such as Rid-All Green Partnership, that will help with urban agriculture training and farm management, Evergreen Business Services that will aid and assist with building a successful work owner cooperative.

I ask that you consider providing us with additional funding to close our anticipated gaps. Thank you to all of City Council women and men, along with Council President, for allowing me the opportunity to speak before you today. Have a magnificent Monday.

2:38 Permalink

Walter Collins

Thank you, Council President, and all your other council members. I'm going to read.

First of all, we would not be here discussing this issue if not for the wisdom and vision of Damien Forshe. We would not be here.

We started talking about this project in 2016. And I've been here before and I've said this, I'm a four-year Vietnam veteran. Damien brought drawings of our housing for veterans in 2017. He asked me to look at them, and I was looking. I kept telling them, 'man, it's nice, they're nice, it's really nice.' He kept saying, 'look', and when I look, the name of it, the name of the veteran housing was Walter Collins Veterans Housing. Very, very emotional for me. I found out at his memorial that my time in Vietnam as a tunnel-rat impressed him, and my activism, working for veterans and looking out for veterans.

Early 2018, we took it to the councilman at the time, and then we went to Union-Miles. Right before our third meeting with Union-Miles, Damien passed. In his passing, a lot of the information that he had went with him. Damien was the founder, along with Keymah Durden and Randy McShephard, the original founders of Rid-All.

Fast forward to now, because of what you, the council, Council President, Mayor Bibb- Right now, if the house was up and a veteran had an issue Tuesday morning, on Tuesday afternoon, one o'clock, we could take it to a network of individuals, agencies, organizations that specialize in working with veterans and veterans issues. Because of your interest and your input to the mayor, a veteran right now can pick up the phone, call Ed, who's working as an intern veteran liaison person, could call Ed, and tomorrow at our meeting we could sit down talk about that veteran's issue, and I guarantee you when we leave, that veteran would have a clear path to whatever his issue was he was dealing with. It's because we're meeting regular, and discussing veterans issues.

One other thing I know, three minutes is up I have to say it, that's saying that veterans and old people fade away and ride off into the sunset. That's not accurate. Disabled veterans die. We die from wounds and injuries and illness that we contracted during our tour in combat. Thank you.

4:13 Permalink

Roger Carney

Hello, my friends. Council President, thank you for the opportunity to do this. Council members, it's good to see you, I love you folks, with the love of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So I want to talk about home repairs for a second, and I want you to know that since the pandemic began, so 2020-ish. Right, so we're in 2023, so 2021. We've done 8.8-million dollars worth of home repairs in the city of Cleveland and other parts of Cuyahoga County, and you know, thank you to you for your love and support, and I appreciate all that you've done.

First I have to say to you, I have to back up a second, Councilman Kazy. I don't get out much, Monday nights is the night I go out and this is where I come. And so, you're the only one I know that's really supportive of the name change on the Browns Stadium, so thanks a lot for that. God bless you. It was embarrassing and that hopefully now, it's less embarrassing.

So, home repairs. I love what we do, thank you for the opportunity to do it. Mary McNamara, you know, she's been wonderful and she is absolutely aces in my book, love her to death. So many of you have been so supportive, and I want to talk about one of the people that you've sent my way.

A while ago, a family that lives near Broadway and Harvard. We came to find them a few years ago when they couldn't communicate with us and so it was, you know, a really tough time. They didn't know English and so they needed help there. The house wasn't in their name. They had a land contract, we helped them get that, we helped them get the homestead exemption, we helped them change the title officially over into their name, and wonderful things have happened for them.

Except now, in the last few years they've been the victims of some terrible incidents, and so I've spoken with Councilman Bishop, and he's going to try and get us some help, but I need more help. I've never come into a situation like this. It's not what I do.

I'm just trying to help seniors, and one of the seniors that we've helped through the Age Friendly Home Investment Program, or we're trying to, they said, 'I don't think we can live here anymore. I think we may need to just move because we're getting harassed, we can't sleep at night.' They've been beaten up. They're really in a quandary, and I need to call in all my aces, so for the $8.8-million dollars worth of home repairs we've done in the last two and a half years, and that's an incredible number, that's an incredible amount, and it's because of your support. But only half the money that we got came from the city, so we're we're getting money from other funding sources, but let me say I need your help.

So, these people have been beaten. The lady has gone to the hospital, and it's really a pretty tough time for her. I need the help of the Safety Director, you know, Councilman Bishop, anybody who will help, if they could meet us after the meeting tonight. This is really a very sad situation, it's at a point- Yeah, okay. We'll talk. Thank you.

3:33 Permalink