May 06, 2024

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Public Commenters (32 min)
Nikki Hudson  James Lamb  Rev. Pamela Pinkney  Sabrina Otis  Jamie Brazier  Faouzi Baddour  Brent Eysenbach  Diana Sette  Dean Van Farowe  Chairman Fahiem 

Nikki Hudson

Thank you. My name is Nikki Hudson, and I'm here on behalf of the friends of Cudell Commons Park. When I spoke to you a few weeks ago, I mentioned that a decision was made at the city during the Jackson administration where land at Cudell Park was designated surplus property. As shocking as it is to designate park property as surplus land, it is perhaps even more shocking to know that the land in question contains not one but two significant memorials, the Frank Cudell Clock Tower and the Rice Butterfly Memorial, both of which would exist in the shadows of this new sprawling school instead of in the open space at the park as they were intended. So not only were the community's interests overlooked when the decision was made to build on the park, so were the legacies of the Cudell family who donated the land and the Rice family who lost their beloved son, Tamir, at Cudell Park.

Some of us met with Dr. Morgan and other representatives from CMSD and the city last week and were presented with what they're calling a compromise, a plan that still builds on the park but might save the bald cypress tree, and would use a portion of the existing building footprint for new basketball courts. While these are improvements, their plan doesn't go far enough, and it doesn't by any stretch of the imagination save the park.

There is still time to fix it. It's not too late to come up with a new plan where a new school can be built and the community can keep its park.

As a former business owner at the Westside Market, I have personal experience with the many mistakes and mismanagement by previous administrations, but I am encouraged to see that Mayor Bibb is trying to do right by the Westside Market, and that he will, and I sincerely hope that he will, also try to do right by Cudell Park. We are at a time in history where leadership matters, especially at the local level where decisions such as whether to build on a historic park or keep its green space and trees could affect not just the people who live near the park and in the city, but the planet as a whole. Be the climate mayor that we all want you to be, Mayor Bibb, and save Cudell Park.

2:51 Permalink

James Lamb

Good evening, Council, Council President, Mayor Bibb, and all that's here. I'm at the point where, I've been in this city 50 years or better. I had dealt with this city for 49 years at least, and every time I turn around, I get one thing thrown up at me, and that's somebody asking me, how can we get something solved. They talk about the cease[fire] letter and everything else, everything got done in this city when they came in here and talked about the ceasefire.

We've been in this city for 50 years, we watching our money go down the drain backwards, okay. We got dollar stores on the east side, and that's all we got. All we believe is that people of color and folks, the poor, can just shop at the dollar store. We go to the to the west side which I live, and I'm so sad, I look up and I say how in the world is it that I can pay taxes in the city, I can pay rent in the city, I can shop in the city, but I can't run nothing here in this city. There's one black business in Tremont. Period. One. I've been there 17 years. I'm asking myself, how is it that you want me to give you my money, but you don't want me to have a chance at making it.

And then I want to close out with one thing. I was let go from the City of Cleveland on the basis of me asking for a meeting with the mayor, turn around, after I had complained and tried to get [inaudible] and then to help me clean up a spot while I was there. This is what I found out once I left. I'm going to show you a picture. I just want you all to look at a picture. This is the closet that I used to work out of. I ain't never in the 50 years in the city of Cleveland, I ain't never seen a janitor have a closet cleaner than his house, okay. Never in my life.

Do me one thing, I'm going to say this and I'm gone. This is it. This open mic is beautiful, but we need to be able to get some answers.

3:24 Permalink

Rev. Pamela Pinkney

I would like to know first of all how I got to be [third]. I was here first with my public comment form, so I'm trying to figure out how that happened, since I rushed down here to do it. Good evening. I have presented my body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is my reasonable service, and I have walked in my integrity. Yet I am still currently denied equal protection under the law. Mayor Bibb, I have sent you the information through your staff, and I anticipate you will get back to me.

I am in the protected class of the United States of America, still denied equal opportunities. It gets worse for me, especially during federal election time. Please assist me in correcting this so it doesn't happen to me or anyone else ever again. Not one of my police reports in Cleveland Ohio or anywhere else has ever been addressed for me. This includes my reports of rape, domestic violence, assault, kidnapping, and much more. This is inclusive of my experiences with and without my children, and to my children, grandchildren, and to me. I can cannot call 911 for police emergency assistance. They have been violating US code title 42 and 42 USC sections 1981 through 1983 in reference to me. My files are hidden from me, and so much more. When I go to followup, the police reports that I have filed and have made efforts to file are redacted. Councilwoman Howse-Jones we talked about this in the committee, and I brought them with me. They are written to make my complaints look unrealistic and unreal. The prosecutor refuses to address my matters. So does the court of law.

I called 911 to get someone out my house who I didn't want in there. The Cleveland police beat me up, dragged me down the street, and called me a mentally ill one. Cleveland Police have covered up the rape of my children, the sexual abuse of my granddaughter, and my being raped. I have all of the information in this document and something needs to be done about it. I do not want a white police chief in Cleveland. We have had enough of that. We people of color are being murdered. We're being exploited. We're being overlooked, and we're being denied equal opportunities. I expect this Council to do something about this. I have what I need. I hope I don't have to sue the City of Cleveland for denying me equal protection under the law, Cuyahoga County and the United States of America. I don't have to be white to be right. I don't have to be jet black to step back. I don't have to be blond to matter, and I don't have to be gay to have a right to life. Fix this.

3:09 Permalink

Sabrina Otis

First I want to say to the director for Waste, I want to thank her. Ridge Road, their workers are excellent, they have helped our family and others in the community out with trash because of floods and wet basements, so I really want to thank them because they went be above and beyond, and I noticed last week a council person said that we complain, so I want to just let you guys know we thank them.

Okay, so let's talk about this the consent decree. Fourth and First don't have commanders, and they're going to be getting commanders, but under the consent decree they're supposed to have come before, those that type for that job, are supposed to come before the community, and we're supposed to be able to meet and greet and all that good stuff. I want to know if we're going to do it or is it just something in writing that's never going to come to fruition?

Second, I want to talk about the Community Police committee, Commission, whatever. They're a hot mess. I saw them in person. Normally we watch them online and we clown them, but we saw them in person, and there's one commissioner, she talked and interrupted for 1 hour and 19 minutes. I counted. I went through it. I went back on YouTube and timed it out. 1 hour and 19 minutes. She cut off people, talked, interrupted. It was disruptive. The meetings are only 2 hours and 30 minutes long. What is getting done? Residents voted for that to make a change. Nothing is happening. It's stagnant, and it's a horrible choice that was picked to put some of the most educated, because I believe if you're super educated, you're probably super common sense dumb, and I would like for you guys to do something.

I know the mayor gets to make these choices, but I'm going to need him to put some people there with some regular common sense, somebody who can just read. How about just get a person that can read so that we can get something done. Thank you.

2:06 Permalink

Jamie Brazier

Hello, um, it's Jamie Brazier [correcting pronunciation]. Thank you, yes, I'm from the Cudell area, Ward 15.

Standing here I want to address the council's past vote to dispose of Cudell Park as surplus land. Whether through misguided intentions backed by Matt Zone or plain ignorance, the council voted to swap away the park in Ward 15. If Council controls the way City funds are allocated, it has to be Jenny Spencer of Ward 15 introducing emergency legislation to provide for more funds to change the current design plans of Marion Seltzer School and save Cudell Park, or it has to be her that introduces legislation directing the administration to take back the park land from CMSD through eminent domain and make it a historic designation.

Jenny Spencer, as the caring person you are and my council person, this is the only logical move you can make if you truly believe Cudell Park can be saved, along with incorporating a new design and location for Marion Seltzer Elementary School.

Mistakes were made and it's time to remedy them now. You all made a mistake with Watterson-Lake and destroyed it as a swing site. Do not tell us, 'well, we're sorry, we'll do better next time.' No, do better this time. The only people who like this design is Mayor Bibb, Dr. Morgan, the teachers, some of the parents of the students, and the people getting paid for designing and building it. I am crying foul. The Cudell community and others do not want the new school on the current green space, and contrary to what you all believe, they were never engaged. We are not eight people, we are 2,080-plus people. Mayor Bibb, you are washing your hands of the whole deal and passing it off to Dr Morgan. This is wrong. Mayor Bibb, if you can allocate the money to build a $2.4 billion stadium, you can find 4-million plus to fix this debacle called the new Marion Seltzer School. The students can be shipped to another school while it's being built on the same footprint, or built in another location outside Cudell Park green space. Mayor Bibb, your climate conference will look like a fiasco by what will be exposed to the attendees of how Cudell Park was mishandled, called and treated like surplus land. I'm finishing my sentence please. And devastated by Cleveland so-called climate committee choices by the climate mayor you portray to be. Save Cudell.

3:19 Permalink

Faouzi Baddour

Good evening. I'm back as I promised you I will be back to update you on our meeting last week with the CMSD. We met with the CEO, Dr. Morgan, representatives of the city, Dr. DeRosa, two honorable council person were there, and the meeting was comfortable. It wasn't clear at all, but it was comfortable.

We presented them with some solutions. One of the solutions, one of the best solutions under the circumstances is, instead of expanding north from the existing school toward Detroit, to expand west toward West Blvd. Dr. DeRosa said it's possible, but we have to move the utility under the ground, the sewer stuff, and it cost $4 million. If I had $4 million, I would budget it right now. If my friends here, the Friends of Cudell had $4 million, will budget right now. Somebody has to come up. If there is, to my knowledge, to my conviction, we don't need to move the utilities, we can work around them, but if necessary, that's where your turn comes to come up with the money. That would not- expanding it north would kill the park, would end it. Expanding it south would affect the park, would not kill it. You used the power invested in you to, though in good faith I believe, I'm not going to say in bad faith, in good faith, you were presented by [inaudible]. None of you knew what Cudell is, and Councilwoman Spencer wasn't new here. She, I mean, I'm not going to blame nobody for and I'm saying that it happened in good faith, but in that faith, in that good faith, I'm asking you to to come up with two resolutions. One resolution is to demand they they talk to us in good faith. Second resolution is the city must come up with the money if necessary to correct this problem at the minimum. And to Justin Bibb, I'm going to say this. We'll meet next election. Thank you.

2:25 Permalink

Brent Eysenbach

It's the first day of little league practice for the Near West recreational leagues, and I'm here in council chambers instead of watching my middle daughter take the field. She's at Roberto Clemente Park tonight, a park that's been afforded the protections of zoning as open space and recreational. Why am I here though? Because it's my civic duty to remind the council members here that trading away a public park is a violation of your public trust. I'm here because saving Cudell Park is that important to me. Moreover, it's important to my children and the countless other children that deserve to have a high-quality green space within walking distance of their home. That's the envisioned 15-minute city.

Last week my oldest daughter asked me how things were going with the trees, she meant Cudell Park. Before I had a chance to adequately formulate a response that might justify why her dad has spent countless hours, days, weekends, and months on the phone and away from home to answer her question, she did it herself. She said, 'well it must be going good because the park is still there.' From her lips to God's ears. Children are always so perceptive about what the adults around them are up to, and if it's that clear to a nine-year-old that a public park is important and that saving it is a noble cause, then surely members of council can get behind that and recognize it too.

In March of 2001 this Council passed ordinance 75- 2021. 11 of you that are sitting here in front of me right now voted for that. Even though this was happening in the ward of a relatively newcomer to council, there were other sponsors on that legislation with much more tenure and they just let it sail through. Why? Council politics as usual, am I right? Would it have been a different story if the landing question was Impett Park? If it was Fairview Park? What about Artha Woods Park or Humphrey Park? I don't believe so, because everybody knows, including children, that you don't label a public park as surplus property and vote to dispose of it without even holding public meetings, and doing it during Covid.

I encourage you not to let this be the end of the story. Write a new ending where the council recognizes the mistake that they made and you pull out all the stops to figure out a solution to preserve Cudell Park, the only park within the Cudell neighborhood. To Mayor Bibb, does disposing of a public park, cutting down mature trees, does this align with your 15-minute vision of a walkable city? Even though the land swap legislation didn't take place on your watch, don't think that your administration doesn't have its hands in the cookie jar. It's your Planning Commission, and your Historic Landmarks Commission, that approved a site plan that contradicts even the most basic terms of what this Council approved as law. It's your Director of Capital Projects that still clings to the feeble idea that elementary school children are going to ride the rapid to school in the morning.

You, Mayor Bibb, state that any final decision is going to rest with CMSD CEO Warren Morgan, and your attempt to distance yourself from this debacle and your carefully crafted image as a climate mayor is despicable. It won't work. We see right through you.

3:06 Permalink

Diana Sette

Good evening. I'm here with many neighbors to talk about Cudell Commons Park, more than we can say in 3 minutes, hopefully we're covering some ground. With the big picture in mind I especially want to talk about climate change and ask what are we doing? Listen, I've worked as a certified arborist, been involved with the creation of the Cleveland Tree Plan, been awarded the Cleveland Climate Action Award from Mayor Jackson, been a Climate Ambassador for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, led Cleveland Botanical Gardens' Green Corps Urban Agriculture Program for teens, launched and led the Tree Corps Community Forestry Program, and served on the board of ecological education nonprofits. I serve now on council member Spencer's Ward 15 Tree Canopy Steering Committee, and work full-time at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital as a horticultural therapist. I say all this to say that talking about climate change or trees and the value of nature and community green space is not a new buzzword or trend to me. My life's work has been focused on the innumerable intersectional benefits nature provides providing psychosocial, emotional, physical, cognitive, aesthetic, spiritual, and economic values. Protecting our community's natural resources is a matter of survival for future generations.

The UN put out a report this month explaining how we have 2 years to save the planet from complete ecological collapse and climate catastrophe, and low-income black and brown communities are on the front lines, and so when I hear in the Forest City with the so-called climate mayor chair working on pursuing the Cleveland Tree Plan and partnering with Trust for Public Land to be a, quote, "climate smart city" with its comprehensive parks and rec plan acting as the host of the National Climate Leadership Conference at the end of this month, and I feel like I'm being played like a fool to be told sorry, just can't find the cash to redesign the school building to preserve the highly used historic Cudell Commons Park with all its established mature trees, but I was able to double the budget for downtown development project and give a no cost lease and soft funding to the private development project on the old Watterson-Lake school property on Detroit Avenue. Mayor Bibb, you may not have been mayor when City Council voted to designate Cudell Commons Park as surplus property and traded away for private development, but you're the mayor now and you need to put your money where your mouth is.

Max Hayes, for example, they altered their school plan to be able to be lighter and adapt to the sewer lines. We have options. Take a stand for climate justice. Make it a priority. Find the money for the school. Protect this park, or else your legacy will be a climate clown. And lastly, save Cudell Park and the ecocide that's happening, the genocide, and free Palestine. Thank you.

3:10 Permalink

Dean Van Farowe

Honorable Council, Mayor Bibb, residents of Cleveland. I stand to speak for a possible solution to the Cudell Commons Park situation. I think most of you feel that the decision was unwise, including you Mr. Mayor, but you're between a rock and a hard place. You want to return Cudell Commons to the residents, but you also want the kids of Seltzer to have a new school. There seems to be no way around this, but there is a solution that would protect Cudell Commons for the residents and provide a new school for the kids, a win-win.

The key is having a viable swing site available at the right time. According to the CMSD website, the new Clark School, which is currently in the old Booker Montessori swing site, will be finished in the summer of 2025. Construction of the new Seltzer is supposed to begin in the spring of 2025, close by, just 6 minutes from Marion Seltzer, and available just 3 months difference according to the plans. If CMSD can only wait several months, this is a viable option.

But why, and how would CMSD do this? Here's why. The kids of Seltzer would not have to stay in their poorly maintained school next to a construction zone for 2 years. That's the current plan. Wouldn't it be better for the kids of Seltzer to be in a quiet, safe school, away from the noise and dust and truck traffic of a construction zone? Yes it would, and the Clark swing site will be available at the right time for them. And here's how. You, the City Council, will make amends for the mistakes that you made. You'll negotiate a return of Cudell Commons to the residents, and you'll provide the extra funds that CMSD may need as they go back to their original plans to build a new school on the same footprint. You've been willing to give millions in free money to the developers of the Watterson-Lake property that you got from the land swap, you'll certainly be able to find money for the kids of Seltzer and the residents of Cudell. And I mean, you know, I just believe that you can find that money.

So it was an unwise swap, but by God's grace there are other solutions, including the one that I have given you, and in the end there will be a third win. The kids and adults of the Cudell community will see that apologies can be given and amends can be made in the interest of the public good. Thank you.

2:37 Permalink

Chairman Fahiem

Good evening. First off, I would like to start by saying that love, the word 'love', it's an act, it's a spiritual act, right? And so when people are traumatized and experiencing a crisis, we have an obligation to do something, right?

Councilwoman Howse, I heard you speak a few weeks ago about a family in your neighborhood, your ward, whose house was shot up. Ask that family about Chairman Fahiem and New Era Cleveland, and how we stepped up and supported them. Ask that family how we reassured them that returning back to that home, they were safe in this neighborhood riddled with violence. Ask [inaudible]. It's been a whole lot of speculation about my character, right? The last nine weeks, you all seen this, I brought a lot of my youth down from the academy, teaching them the importance of political accountability, visiting various wards throughout the neighborhood, attending community meetings, right, and recently April 26, ward 4 community meeting, we had an incident with that Council woman. The behavior was very thuggish. That's a term that's used frequently in these spaces. The behavior was very thuggish. We were met with hostility the moment we walked into a public community space at a rec center in a public community room, even going as far as to ask for security to remove a community organizer and about a dozen youth from this public community space at a public community meeting paid for by taxpayers dollars. And my question to her colleagues, is this the kind of behavior that's acceptable amongst you all, and why is it that an organization that is doing all this phenomenal work is being antagonized and having these barriers put in place for us?

So as this incident continued to escalate, you know, I used it as a teaching moment for my youth. As we do with everything in life. Remain composed. Life is not about what's happening to you, it's about how you respond to it. And so this is our collective response. We're going to continue to apply pressure in every space. A few weeks ago, when I said I wanted the smoke, I meant just that, and by that, I mean we are not afraid of being the competition in any capacity, whether it's CPD, whether it's human trafficking, whether it's Kia Boys in our neighborhoods. We have no fear of being the competition.

And I also want to pose this question. I think we've done a pretty good job of showing that there are no limitations on how far we're willing to go, me myself in particular, so we're going to continue to show up as this summer approaches, when gun violence and children are being murdered in our streets. In that very neighborhood a 15-year-old was shot five times in the chest. We got to do more.

3:11 Permalink