May 20, 2024

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Public Commenters (21 min)
Gregory Johnson  Stephen Katanovic  Sabrina Otis  Juan Collado Diaz  Selena Vicario  Diamond Belmonte  Brent Eysenbach 

Gregory Johnson

My name is Greg Johnson and I've been a community activist for- I'm looking around here, for more than 50 years, and I'm privileged and honored to have been selected by the United Nations Association USA, which is the domestic division of the United Nations et al. They asked me to open a chapter here in Cleveland, and I said I'd like to take in Greater Cleveland. So my reason for being here is basically to announce that we're here, we're in the process of building and putting things together. And it's a big big job, but it's the best job I've ever had and I love it.

The second reason I'm here is to solicit the mayor and his staff and all of City Council to be partners as we work towards peace and unity and this, our city, that has huge assets and what have you, that many of us don't know anything about. So I'm asking you to be a partner. I'm not asking you for money, I'm not asking you for anything just a partnership, and we can talk about details at another time because I only have three minutes. Okay.

I'm excited, and I've talked to a few of you already, and I believe that you're on board with us. We're building a council, well, it's called a board, but I call it a council because I believe in people not doing top-down, but talking together about things, and that happens through council. So I'm excited, and I thank you for the 3 minutes, minute and a half or whatever, that I've had this evening, so thank you very much.

1:45 Permalink

Stephen Katanovic

I'm addressing a local issue. I am wrongly banned at the Erieview Tower. 9 years ago, Galleria security told me that I was banned for life from entering the Galleria Erieview Tower YMCA complex. Once again, 9 years ago, Galleria security told me that I was banned for life from entering the Galleria Erieview Tower YMCA complex.

Why was I banned. I was wrongly accused of doing something. Two security guards wrongly accused me of masturbating in the restrooms, something I did not do. Once again, two security guards wrongly accused me of masturbating in the restrooms, something I did not do. I am a victim of rumors and corporate conspiracy. Revitalizing the Erieview Tower, that agenda is quite well known over here. James Kassouf is the current owner of the Erieview Tower and I am writing monthly letters to James Kassouf. Once again, 9 years ago, Galleria security told me that I was banned for life from entering the Galleria Erieview Tower YMCA complex. I was wrongly accused of masturbating in the restrooms.

Now if you want me to talk about the war, I'll make it brief. Annihilationism accomplishes nothing. Revenge accomplishes just nothing. people need to cast aside their differences and work for peace, work for justice. Now don't forget what I said about my wrongful- don't forget what I said about my wrongful ban at the Galleria Erieview Tower YMCA complex. I have to make a stand against it. I am 50 years old, I am sober and rarely drink alcohol. My name is Stephen Katanovic. Again, my name is Stephen Katanovic, or in short Stephen K.

2:12 Permalink

Sabrina Otis

Good evening, everybody. I want to start this off with- I want to piggy back with, a councilman said two weeks ago that you all work for the citizens of Cleveland, not the other way around. And so I want to piggyback on what the mayor, when he made a statement about the resignation of Mr. McHugh, he stated, and I'm going to synopsize it, he stated that, you know, his family is from the South. If you look around Cleveland, most black folks are, you know we're- our lineage is from the south. All of us are. So when he says that he also was raised regarding civil rights, yeah, all of us had that same lesson. And so then it bothered me that he didn't take any responsibility. All he said was that he was sorry. Actually he didn't say he was sorry, what he said is that he's trying to build the community together and it's going to take all of us to do it. Okay, he didn't say all those words, but I just put it that way as a- when I read his statement, and I read it several times, I was mad, cuz I was like well when is City Council going to step up and put their own statement out about the resignation of Mr. McHugh? No one did, and it bothered me because if we're talking about the lineage of the South, you didn't have to go that far, because in 1966, in Hough, we had the Hough riots, and they started over a glass of water, the same way that family went through a car accident. So if we're going to use a synopsis on bridging it all together, Hough should have been the one the mayor should have used. That should have been the one he thought of first, and he should have been the one that he thought of when he hired his friend.

Next, when we talk about safety. It's about to be summer. We have cars blowing through stop signs, through red lights, nobody is doing anything. We have traffic commanders, I don't know what they're doing, but somebody better do something, because if kids start getting ran over, you guys should be held responsible. Because I as a resident and others are writing emails to Council, to the Chief, to the Safety Director, and we're begging for you guys to do something regarding speeders running through stop signs. And you can see them, I don't know, maybe in the city of Cleveland- because they don't do it in Lakewood, they don't do in Rocky River, they don't do it in Shaker and Cleveland Heights. They respect the traffic laws. But everybody comes into Cleveland and acts like, oh it's just Cleveland, they don't matter, we can just ride through the city as we please. It's unacceptable and everybody on Council should be saying something to all their commanders, all their sergeants, everybody, like, I'm going need tickets. I'm gonna need tickets. If we become the city that writes tickets for speeding, guess what people won't be doing in Cleveland. Speeding. That is it. Have a great night.

2:56 Permalink

Juan Collado Diaz

Thank you, Council President. Good evening, Council, Mr. Mayor. About two years ago I was going through my email as most of us do, and I stumbled upon an exciting opportunity. Councilwoman Rebecca Maurer was hiring an intern and this opportunity looked amazing. I could escape two full-time jobs and a third job that I was working at Cuyahoga Community College while also being a full-time student. I thought it was an entry way to local government. But I was surprised when I saw the application requirement, which was to write an essay about the firework legislation in Cleveland. I look at that and I was like, wow, Council actually is doing something for our environment. I was surprised, which I have never been by our Council, and then look back and go, wow, as of today our Council has been very ineffective about those things. I look back in 2022, you guys passed the balloon release here in Cleveland, if I'm correct, and in 2019, you pass a law for our households to [have] LED-safety assessments and be certified. However, those laws are being ignored. However, half the city has not been tested for lead, and most of the houses are still not worked on.

Let's talk now about balloon releases. They make harm. They may look harmless, they may 'look beautiful up there,' quote, unquote, but what people don't- are not educated don't know, is that this traveled for miles polluting the environment, polluting our waters, and just destroying and killing many of our animals and the sea creatures. These balloons are confused [as] food from marine animals, and they can lead to fatal blockages of our sewer systems, and the birds and other wildlife.

So now let's talk a little bit about fireworks. So going back over here, the firework problem started many years ago, and we see it every day happening, but last month a massive fireworks show was put on in Old Brooklyn. These fireworks were illegally obtained by the residents or the person who did this and there's nothing that CPD did about this, and when you call CPD you're either classified a Karen, or they don't want to do anything. Council member Harsh, if your office has done anything, please let us know, or how you guys are addressing this issue.

Fireworks are known primarily to affect people with trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, including primarily veterans in our city, and also the population of people that have come here recently from countries that are currently at war. This affects the people that are coming from Gaza to Cleveland, and the people that are coming from Ukraine. Imagine coming from a place that is getting bombed on a daily basis and hearing these fireworks going because Americans do not know how to preserve our planet and prefer to pollute over their celebration. These non-stop fireworks over months are creating a toxic physical environment and are terrifying the emotional and psychological [inaudible] of people, and are putting our pets and wildlife in danger. As an owner of two amazing puppies, I have to stand with them every single minute- can I get one more second please- I have to stand with them every fourth of July and deal with them and hug them while these fireworks go. So please Council, [mic silenced] don't be climate clowns and be real politicians.

3:25 Permalink

Selena Vicario

Just as water, sewer, and public safety are considered essential public services, parks are vitally important to establishing and maintaining the quality of life in community, assuring the health of families and youth and contributing to the economic and environmental well-being of a community in this region. This is according to the National Recreation and Park Association.

While trees are an essential function of our ecosystem, parks are so much more than just trees. There's a lot of evidence that the presence of green space in neighborhoods fosters community cohesion, allowing for people to know their neighbors and promote safety. And that we know that play is absolutely essential for childhood development, says Dr. George Benjamin, Executive Director of American Public Health Association, quote, 'Parks can help city leaders achieve their priorities, especially when green spaces exist within a 10-minute walk of every resident.' According to the Trust for Public Land, I misspoke last week, I said 10-mile walk, I meant 10-minute walk, my mistake. The 10-minute walk to a park metric is a good way to look at the access that we know children need for their health and well-being. Accessing nature needs to be easily accessible to everyone, especially children, and the importance of daily contact with nature, having access to park near homes and schools, is vital. Public green spaces improve urban environments by providing and improving air quality, reducing levels of particulate matter and other pollutants, and by reducing exposure to noise, such as that from urban traffic. Supporting green space is a powerful public health strategy because access to parks and green space offers especially strong health benefits for people with low income and those most likely to be in poor health. This is called the 'equigenic effect' because it reduces health disparities. Effects in nature contact was first first described in a 2008 paper by the Lancelet. It effectively increases health equity between the wealthy and poor across racial groups. Since then it has been shown to apply to mental health, covid risk, birth outcomes, and many other health conditions, further demonstrating that parks and green spaces are a path to health equity. Research analyzing thermal satellite imagery for 14,000 cities and towns found that areas within a 10-minute walk of a park can be as much as 6° cooler than neighborhoods outside of that range. Areas lacking green space are also more prone to flooding since soils and vegetation can capture storm water before it inundates streets and homes.

The destruction of public green space is a form of systemic violence. Supporters of Cudell Commons Park are protecting our community resource that was gifted to the city to be a public park forever. Please don't allow your legacy to be complicit in this kind of violence against our community. Thank you.

2:49 Permalink

Diamond Belmonte

Hey you guys. My name is Diamond Belmonte. Can you guys hear me now? Okay. Hey you guys, my name is Diamond Belmonte. I'm sorry, I just feel like we're right here. My brother was killed by a police officer in East Cleveland, Larry McDonald. He was killed in 2021. As you guys know, he's just been going through this mess and the city and everything else, and I just feel like honestly if we would have cracked down- he wasn't indicted by a grand jury about my brother's case, but if he would have actually been indicted or somebody actually would have did something around the time that my brother died, then them other people wouldn't have got hurt, he would have actually been off the streets. And so instead of us actually- my brother was only 19 years old. He has a 2-year-old daughter that he never seen. Now it's just a lot. Gun violence impacts everybody differently. Me personally, I deal with PTSD now, anytime I see police officers it just brings up, and they don't even have to do anything, they could just be there. But it instantly makes me sad because it's a constant reminder. Now he's just another statistic. When I tell people what happened to my brother they just look and be like oh I'm so sorry because it happens every day now, like he's just another name on the list. That's really just it, I just wish that we could come together and really understand that this gun violence, and like the kids and everything else, my brother had his whole life ahead of him. I'm only 27, like, I couldn't imagine living without my brothers, and now I actually got one that's gone and it's a constant reminder on the news, on the social media, on everything. Even with the stuff that just happened with that boy that hurt the officer, and just that, that was so traumatic for me, I couldn't even go on social media, I couldn't look at the news because everything is a reminder of something that happened in my life, you know, only a couple years ago. And so that's really it. I just hope that this time around we can actually look into the cases and make sure that nobody else gets hurt, because it's a lot of cops that aren't here to protect the people. They're here to literally terrorize.

2:17 Permalink

Brent Eysenbach

Good evening, everyone, good evening, Mayor. The community has been told repeatedly after the fact that a determining factor in the land swap between Watterson-Lake School site and portions of the Cudell Commons Park, a neighborhood park that was deemed surplus property by this administration, was that CMSD required additional land to build a new Marion Seltzer school. Why? Because swinging the children to a temporary site was too disruptive.

This assertion is aspirational at best and perhaps misleading at worst. For the past 15 years, school redevelopment patterns on the near west side have almost always included moving students to a temporary location while their school was being rebuilt on the same footprint. Clark students are currently in the old Barbara Booker building. Gallagher students are currently at the old Garrett Morgan building. Waverly students went to Watterson-Lake before it was demolished. Booker students stayed in their building while the Halle school was demolished and rebuilt. Prior to that, Orchard students were moved to the old Halle building before it was demolished. Elmira students first moved to the old Hawthorne School which was found to be structurally unsound, and then they were moved a second time to the Brooklawn school on West 117th Street. Similarly Dunbar students were moved to the Old Kentucky school which was also structurally unsound, and we're also moved a second time to the Brooklawn school, which is a full five miles away from their original building.

The point that I'm trying to make is that the presumption of keeping students in their school is the exception on the west side, not the norm. I believe the truth of the matter is that this Council and the administration prioritized commercial development interests over the welfare of school children by fabricating a myth that CMSD needed our park land to build a new Marion Seltzer school. It's worth noting that this administration is offering extensive financial incentives to the development of the Watterson Lake site.

Secondly, the community has been told that a two-story design of the proposed new Marion Seltzer school was to mitigate visual conflicts with the Cudell clock tower. The reality is that CMSD's consultant prefers to use off-the-shelf school designs that are more suited to suburban settings where land is plentiful, rather than designing the building to fit its location. The Marion Seltzer school right now on its current footprint it is three stories tall and does not conflict with the clock tower. It never has.

Moreover, the new Clark School that's under construction right now is three stories, so building a building to that height and building a building to suit its site is well within the scope of business as usual. I implore this Council to pass legislation to take back Cudell Park land that was wrongfully swapped away from our community and fund any gaps that exist in CMSD's budget to execute a reasonable plan to swing the kids. I've already emailed details of such a plan to Councilwoman Spencer and Chief Pomerantz. Save Cudell Park.

2:55 Permalink