May 22, 2023prev: May 15, 2023 next: June 05, 2023
Public Commenters (20 min)
Dontez Taylor Joe Gauntner Waverly Willis Thomas McMillan Dorothy Walwyn Juan Collado Juan Molina Crespo
First I want to thank you all for what the city does for its older residents, help with transportation, home maintenance, health information, and much more. Special kudos to your staff who assist seniors with constituent issues, and to Director McNamara and her employees.
I didn't ask to speak this evening because I believe I have all the answers, but because I have some questions. Where do you want to live when you get older? And perhaps begin to experience some mobility problems? Do you want your family members and constituents to be able to live in the city when they get older? While I wish each of us has a long, physically fit life, odds are that many of us will not be able to live in Cleveland regardless of our economic resources. As we age, many of us will have impaired mobility. We'll likely encounter difficulties using stairs to get to bath, bed, and laundry, have confined home spaces which do not allow for wheelchairs, and face challenging entryways which pose barriers to getting in and out of our homes to do the every things, like going to the grocery store, the doctor.
A few more questions. Why is it effectively impossible to build a one-story home in the city? Can't we change building codes to allow for a grade-level, no-step entry and new multi-family buildings? Why can't we require additional fully accessible apartments beyond state minimums? Can we use ARPA and other city funds to subsidize more low-income, fully accessible units in new housing projects? Could we require that new housing and substantial rehabilitation projects receiving tax abatements have first floor bedrooms and accessible bathrooms? Ensuring an age-friendly city cannot just be the job of the Department of Aging. The challenge is to make it a priority for all city departments. My Council, consider committee hearings focusing on the concept of aging in place.
I thank each of you for your time and attention this evening and will close by repeating my opening question, where do you want to live when you get older?
I am Waverly Willis. I own three Urban Kutz barber shops, two in Jenny Spencer's Ward 15, and one in Councilman Harsh's Ward 13. I'm also the director of the Urban Barber Association.
My barber shops are small businesses, and I I like to think they also serve as community assets and gathering places. The Urban Barber Association brings together barbershops and salons with the mission of community empowerment through education and networking. We also have health programming, including monitoring of blood pressure. I can confidently say that our blood pressure screening program has saved lives.
The barber shop is also a place where you can expect some real talk, some real conversation. We give it to you straight sometimes, and tell you the important things that you need to hear. So today, I want to sit City Council down in the barber chair and we're going to have some real talk.
Tobacco is the leading cause of death, heart disease, lung cancer, and death. The tobacco industry has targeted our community for generations, and the results have been catastrophic. Black communities suffer the effects of tobacco more than any other group. For me, this is personal, as my mother, Wardell Willis, died of COPD, and my father, Waverly Willis, died from a stroke and respiratory problems. I talked to my younger clients about this, and they don't realize that they are being targeted by big tobacco as they're being addicted just like their ancestors now. It's flavored vape instead of the old school Kool king or Newports, but it's still the same results.
So here's the real talk, Council. Some people have questioned whether to end selling flavored tobacco, as it could hurt small business. And I do get, it I'm a small business owner and I'm proud of my contribution and we do deserve support. But as small businesses I've done over the years, they will adapt, but I wouldn't expect you to support me doing something that's harmful to my community, because I'm also a father, a grandfather, a person.
So what I expect for you, this Council, to put people over profits. That's it, that's the real talk, City Council. We don't need to support selling of dangerous products that cause addiction, disease, and ultimately death. I urge you to choose to protect Clevelanders from being targeted by big tobacco companies by ending the sale of flavored products, including menthol. If Council ever needs a haircut or to get a blood pressure screen, I'm very easy to find. Thank you.
July 21st through the 25th, we are having the 47th NOBLE National Conference here in Cleveland. We are expecting roughly 1,500 to 2,000 officers here in the city of Cleveland.
NOBLE was established about 47 years ago to promote African-American executives in the promotion process in advancement of their careers. The purpose of the training is to ensure that we provide workshops, we got it for workshops and training that's to support the officers.
One of the events that I would like to talk about that's very significant and that involves the community is the memorial march. The memorial march will be July 22nd at 8606 Hough. That's where it would start. We have about 1,000 officers who will march a mile, and in that East Bell Commons, at the end of that march, we will have a ceremony to honor women of color who are missing, murdered, and unaccounted for. We would like for the community to come out and support that ceremony along with the march. The ceremony would conclude with a dove release for relatives and family members of missing persons, and we'll also have some guest speakers, like Dr. Yvonne Pointer, and some other members of NCMEC.
So again, I want to thank you for this opportunity to present to the members of City Council and I ask that you support this event, July 21st to 25th, and the march will be July 22nd, 2023. Thank you.
On Mother's Day weekend on East 76th in St. Clair, two young women lost their lives. Unfortunately, one of them was my cousin, Bianca Gordon, the 31-year-old. She had three small children. The other young lady was 20-year-old Ataiya Gordon. She lost her life as well. And my other cousin, Desiree, was the one who got shot in the buttocks and in her arm, so she's walking around with wounds, physical, mental, emotional, and psychotic wounds. She still has to live in that house on East 76th. But here's the thing, we know that it's [inaudible] a young man by the name of Jalen just got murdered over there on East 75th yesterday in broad daylight. At 2:30, I have to go meet with the family after I leave here, another young man got murdered on East 76th in the ten-hundred block. Same location, on June 26th of 2022, another young man got murdered at the same location ten-hundred block.
Here's the thing, that old art school that used to be the art building for the artists, they have two illegal after-hour spots in there. I talked with two commanders yesterday, because Polensek say he don't know me, but I saw you at the pancake breakfast, but you didn't see me. I talked with a few commanders yesterday, and they say everybody in the city of Cleveland knows about that building and what's going on, but they don't have [inaudible] enough evidence to get rid of the sore that's in the community. Well I have been going around that community and speaking with the people in that community, and they want that building gone.
I represent the Musketeer Association and we have a proposal and everything, but I'm not going to give my proposal to a Safety Director unless he has a meeting with me in his office, because three minutes is not going to [inaudible] what I have to say.
Another thing, we ready, we have a petition that we have that's going to be going around in that community. The community is ready to rid the gun violence every week. Every two days it's violence. They were shooting at the after-hour spot on Sunday morning. If you go out right now on 76th in front of that after-hour spot, there's bullet casings all over the ground. Where is the police presence? The community want more police presence in that ward. The community wants more police presence in that ward. I'm moving back down there in a few weeks in that community, because I was born and raised in ninth ward, so I'm moving back from 8th ward to ninth ward. I spoke with the Committee Precinct person, she didn't know about what happened in the last week in that area. I spoke with Conwell, he didn't know, so how he's not getting the reports of what's going on in his area? Like, what's happening, you know, what's really happening.
I'm willing to work with anybody. I'm a community activist with anything to help get this gun violence on a minimum. I asked y'all to do PSAs. The PSAs, we want to do them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I have police officers that's ready to do the PSAs with me. I'm Melissa Williams' cousin. Melissa Williams that y'all killed and shot down 137 times. That's my niece's auntie. Thank you. I'm here to stand with the police. I'm ready to show that healing. We need a healing in our community. We're now ready to stand. Thank you.
With that, I just wanted to know this year, in the past year, you guys passed an ordinance to prevent these balloon releases, and I just want to know what's the next step to it. This year I have seen over 37 different balloon releases happening in the city of Cleveland, including for dead relatives, for some reason one on Easter, and I saw the largest one down on the Earth Day celebration, which is nothing Earth Day- like to celebrate releasing balloons and polluting the planet. I just want to know who do I have to speak with, what the city can do about it. When I called Cleveland Police, they told us that if there is not in the moment they will not be able to do anything about it. We have videos. There's a small group of activists and have videos, we have locations, and the people who are doing this balloon releases, but every time we call the police they don't have an answer for us. They cannot do anything, it's not at the moment. I know there's laws being passed for this, and we just want to know what can Council do to reinforce them, because if they're there, we don't want them to be just look pretty in everybody's political resume, but we want them to be there to be enforced.
If you guys can't do that or find a way that we can help our citizens, please you know how to contact me, if not I'll give you my information. Thank you so much.
Juan Molina Crespo
There are many here tonight that have been on the front line of this massive undertaking. The legislation that you're going to vote upon this evening, legislation 10508, that will provide $1.5 million dollars to make a dream come true that's been almost 40 years in the making. This is a historic moment in this history of the city. It's a historic moment in the history of our communities. I implore you to view this favorably, to give us the opportunity once again to emerge in part of Cleveland's history, and to be recognized, and to be attributed to the growth and the welfare of this great city.
There's a very special acknowledgment to our councilwoman, Jasmin Santana from Ward 14, and many of you know already she's the first Puerto Rican woman that has been elected to this Council seat in the history of our great city, and she has represented us with grace, with poise throughout this time. And she's not just that, but she fights valiantly for all the residents of 14, regardless of their diversity. To you members, thank you again for your guidance over the past decade with this effort.
Deep respect and muchas gracias to Council President Blaine Griffin, you know, he's our champion, he's our change agent, and whose council to councilwoman Santana, Jeniece Contreras and I and others, proved to be an anchor in love. Jeniece Contreras, the CEO of the Hispanic Business Chamber has been at the head of this issue for 10 years. Her resolve and her fortitude and the tears that she got, gives her the strength to stay on her A-game. Because of her we are realizing that sueno nuestro that started 30 years even before she took the helm of this project, so thank you very much for your time. I appreciate you, I appreciate all of you, I hope that we can count on your support not just in this legislation, but as we continue to come before you as we move our communities forward. Thanks again.
And my second concern is, I would like to find out how to get prayer back into Council, because it was there, and I'm wondering why they took it out, and all that good stuff. And I'm trying to see, or do they have on the table, are they going to name a street out to Mamie Mitchell. And God bless.