Cleveland News Wire – Week of October 11, 2021

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – The week of Oct 11th

Here’s what happened last week in local public government meetings covered by Cleveland Documenters:

Health Dept. beefing up translation services, working to dispel myths about COVID vaccine 

Monday, Oct. 11, 2021
Health and Human Services Committee

Cleveland City Council

Covered by Documenter Kathryn Johnson

Officials from the Cleveland Department of Public Health updated City Council’s Health and Human Services Committee on the department’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. With about 40% of city residents vaccinated, officials spoke about efforts to dispel misinformation, as well as initiatives to expand access for people whose primary language is not English. Find the full notes here.

 

Council members debate how ARPA funds could be directed toward housing 

Monday, Oct. 11, 2021
Special Working Group on ARPA funds

Cleveland City Council

Covered by Documenter Jenna Thomas

City Council held a special meeting to discuss uses for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, of which Cleveland is entitled to $511 million. Leaders from Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and the Urban League of Greater Cleveland presented their recommendations for spending the money on housing and small business. Council Member Kerry McCormack said a minimum of $17.5 million should go to the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition. Find the full notes here.


Casino revenue funds allocated, members pay tribute to community leader Mansfield Frazier 

Monday, Oct. 11, 2021

Cleveland City Council

Covered by Documenters Jennifer Chandler and Laylah Allen

City Council passed three emergency ordinances that authorized the use of casino revenue funds for neighborhood food distribution programs. Several council members recognized Mansfield Frazier, a writer and community activist who died Oct. 9. City Council also heard public comment from six speakers whose remarks included calls for participatory budgeting and the reconsideration of taxpayer funding for Sherwin-Williams until the company hires more Black and minority workers. Find the full notes here.

 

RTA reports that crimes are down across the transit system

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021

Board of Trustees and Standing Committees

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority

Covered by Documenters Janenell Smith and Gennifer Harding-Gosnell

Greater Cleveland Rapid Transit Authority (GCRTA) Commander Michael Gettings said that crimes across the transit system are down in 2021 compared to 2020. GCRTA Chief of Police Deirdre Jones discussed a plan to equip transit police with new tasers. Additionally, Jones presented plans for transit ambassadors who would monitor for fare evasion. Find the full notes here.

 

Committee approves housing developments in Detroit-Shoreway, Fairfax, and University Circle

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021
Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee

Cleveland City Council

Covered by Documenters Daniel McCarthy and Emily Anderson

City Council’s Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee approved funding for housing developments on the east and west side, setting the stage for council to vote on the legislation in the future. Committee members also raised the issue of using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for critical issues like the fate of Shaker Square. Committee Members Delores Gray and Basheer Jones also said council should see how developers have maintained past projects and served the people who live in them before authorizing more funding. Find the full notes here.


Safety Committee approves spending of ARPA funds, sends it to other committees for review

Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021
Safety Committee

Cleveland City Council

Covered by Documenters Keith Yurgionas and Laylah Allen

City Council’s Safety Committee approved legislation that would send about $26 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the Department of Public Safety. The money would go toward vehicles, equipment, personnel, apparatuses and information technology. That legislation is set to be heard by other committees before any final vote by council. The committee held legislation authorizing a contract for new police tasers because the cost was absent from the emergency ordinance text. It also approved legislation authorizing the Department of Public Safety to extend a lease for space at the Justice Center. Find the full notes here.

For more news from Cleveland Documenters, check out cleveland.documenters.org/reporting.

Find out more about how you can get paid $16/hour to attend and take notes on local public meetings: https://neighborupcle.org/cledocumenters.

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – The week of Oct 4th

Here’s what happened last week in local public government meetings covered by Cleveland Documenters:

Public comment debuts at City Council

Monday, Oct. 4, 2021

Cleveland City Council

Covered by Documenters Jennifer Chandler and Chau Tang

Cleveland City Council held its first public comment period in almost a century during its Monday night meeting on October 4. Ten members of the public spoke and implored council to address Cleveland’s lead poisoning crisis, equitable unemployment compensation, participatory budgeting, and more. Council also read legislation regarding the Vision for the Valley project for the first time. Find the full notes here.

Want to sign up to make a public comment? Cleveland Documenters Guide to Public Comment can help. Find it here. 

 

Council members learn details about Progressive Field deal

Monday, Oct. 4, 2021
Finance Committee

Cleveland City Council

Covered by Documenters Marvetta Rutherford and Alicia Moreland

Members of City Council’s finance committee learned about the proposed deal that would fund enhancements and repairs at Progressive Field. They asked questions of Interim Finance Director Jim Gentile and Ken Silliman, chair of the Gateway community development corporation. In the proposed agreement, the city contributes $8 million in taxpayer dollars a year over the course of 15 years, with two five-year extensions available after that. Silliman and Council President Kevin Kelley indicated there would be more discussions in the near future. Find the full notes here.

 

Board approves new housing in Tremont

Monday, Oct. 4, 2021
Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals

Covered by Documenters Tina Scott and Marvetta Rutherford

Owners of properties in Tremont and Detroit-Shoreway can move forward with plans to build a home after the board granted them relief from Cleveland’s zoning code. The owners of the Tremont property were granted variances regarding the location of a garage and the size of the side yard. The Detroit-Shoreway property owners gained permission to build a ramp leading from the home to the sidewalk. Find the full notes here.

 

Council members work on a roadmap for spending ARPA dollars

Monday, Oct. 4, 2021

Special Meeting – ARPA Funding
Cleveland City Council

Covered by Documenters McKenzie Merriman and Keith Yurgionas

The City of Cleveland received nearly $256 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds in June and there’s more to come. City Council met to discuss a plan for using the funds, which must be spent by the end of 2026. Interim Finance Director Jim Gentile answered questions from council and discussed a proposed ordinance from the administration that would reserve $26 million for public safety vehicles and equipment, $15 million for demolition, and $80 million for community development entities. Find the full notes here.


For more news from Cleveland Documenters, check out cleveland.documenters.org/reporting.

Find out more about Cleveland Documenters and how you can get paid $16/hour to attend and take notes on local public meetings: https://neighborupcle.org/cledocumenters.

Here’s what happened last week in local public government meetings covered by Cleveland Documenters:

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – The week of September 27,  2021

Board focuses on projects on Clinton Ave. and Fulton Road

Monday, Sept. 27, 2021

Board of Zoning Appeals

Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals 

Covered by Documenter Tina Scott and Emily Anderson

Several private resident owners were granted permission to build structures on their properties and several plans for new buildings were approved. An apartment complex planned for 2260 Freeway/W.14th Street was granted variance to be zoned as residential, but there will be further debate on its possible use as short-term AirB&Bs, which the neighborhood development committee doesn’t approve of.  Find the full notes here.

Board approves several contracts, including services for children traumatized by violent crime

Monday, Sept. 27, 2021

Board of Control

Cuyahoga County Board of Control

Covered by Documenter Alicia Moreland

The county will enter a $105,000 contract with Mental Health Services for Homeless, Inc. to provide services for children traumatized by violent crime. This contract was requested after a recent uptick in violent crime, likely due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a program representative said. The board also approved an emergency purchase request to replace $300,000 of IT equipment.  Find the full notes here.

Members discuss vaccine policies, welcome new hires; Shaker Line update nearly complete

Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021

Board of Trustees

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority

Covered by Documenters Emily Anderson and Laylah Allen

A resident called in to voice their appreciation for the vaccine bus, a mobile vaccine clinic RTA designed in cooperation with the city. The RTA general manager reported that a survey to confirm how many RTA employees have been vaccinated will be completed in early October. The general manager reported that the construction of the light rail running from Buckeye-Woodhill to Shaker Square stations will be completed on-time and the line will reopen October 2. Several September hires were announced, including new operators. Find the full notes here.

Board grants several appellants extra time to correct building standard violations

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021

Board of Building Standards and Building Appeals

Cleveland Board of Building Standards and Building Appeals

Covered by Documenters Marvetta Rutherford and Daniel McCarthy

The board approved extensions for homeowners who requested more time to fix code violations. The owner of a Lake Avenue apartment building wanted more time to fix code violations in an apartment unit where an eviction is pending. Another homeowner asked for more time to fix violations and will need to knock down a garage. Board members made suggestions for demolition contractors and approved the extension. “You’re on your way,” a board member told the homeowner.  Find the full notes here.

Citizens and council members discuss Issue 24, the Community Police Commission and Police Oversight Initiative

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021

Safety Committee

Cleveland City Council

Covered by Documenters Helen Rucinski and Laylah Allen

Emergency Ordinances 652-2021 and 660-2021, which increase resources for the Division of Fire, were passed without discussion. A lengthy and heated discussion about Issue 24 took place. Issue 24 is a proposed city charter amendment on the November 2021 ballot, which would increase civilian oversight of the police. Both proponents and opponents expressed their views on the amendment. Chairperson Blaine Griffin continued to remind speakers that this was a “fact-finding mission” meant to educate the council and the public about Issue 24 in order to deescalate  rising tensions. Find the full notes here.

For more news from Cleveland Documenters, check out cleveland.documenters.org/reporting

Find out more about Cleveland Documenters and how you can get paid $16/hour to attend and take notes on local public meetings: https://neighborupcle.org/cledocumenters

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – The week of September 20, 2021

Here’s what happened last week in local public government meetings covered by Cleveland Documenters:

Former South High building being renovated as a police-training facility; council members concerned about maintenance at city parks

September 20, 2021

Cleveland City Council Municipal Services and Properties Committee

Covered by Documenter Marvetta Rutherford

Emergency Ordinance 532-2021 authorized the purchase, lease, and redevelopment of South High School to facilitate a public-safety training academy. Safety Director Karrie Howard said residents would have access to the former school’s gym and library, which could be used for public meetings. The swimming pool would be used for water training. Council members also discussed issues with portable-toilet issues at Luke Easter Park and playground equipment at Spears Park. Find the full notes here.

 

Variances for event center on Lorain avenue denied; single family home in Hough moves forward

September 20, 2021

Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals

Covered by Documenter Tina Scott

The owner of a building at 4601 Lorain Ave. and the building’s tenant wanted to open a party/event center in a district zoned for local retail, which allows for businesses like restaurants, bakeries and barber shops. The tenant needed a variance to allow for a party center business and that was denied after several residents spoke out against it saying loud parties had already been held at the location. Find the full notes here.

 

Panel discusses funding for Food Bank, advances Innovation Square and Blanket Mills projects; accepts grants

September 20, 2021

Cleveland City Council Finance Committee

Covered by Documenters McKenzie Merriman and Keith Seward

The committee voted to approve entering into agreement with Greater Cleveland Food Bank Inc. for the new location at Coit Road and improvements to S. Waterloo Road location. This is part of the proposed distribution of $255 million, the first half of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act dollars. Council members discussed food insecurity, a citywide issue. “All our wards are touched by this,” Council Member Blaine Griffin said about food insecurity. Find the full notes here.

 

Refreshed Cleveland Plan adopted, soon to be made public; Safe Schools survey almost complete

September 20, 2021

Board of Directors, Cleveland Transformation Alliance

Covered by Documenters Leslie Bednar and Emily Anderson

The Refreshed Cleveland Plan, a revision of the original Cleveland Plan created in 2012, has been completed and will be made public as soon as possible. Public input increased during the Refreshed Plan revision process compared to the original Cleveland Plan. The new mayor will be appointing a new vice chair for the Transformation Alliance board, while Mayor Jackson will appoint an interim vice chair to cover until the new mayor is in place. Find the full notes here.

 

City Council authorized several emergency ordinances, including the a new public  comment period

September 20, 2021

Cleveland City Council

Covered by Documenters Chau Tang and Sam Bachelor

There was a motion to approve the new public comment rules which was approved unanimously. There was no discussion of what those rules were, however they can be found here. Find the full notes here.

 

Committee reviews emergency ordinances authorizing program contracts and facility updates for Cleveland’s airports

September 22, 2021

Transportation Committee, Cleveland City Council

Covered by Documenters Keith Yurgionas and McKenzie Merriman

Airport Director Robert Kennedy updated council on the airport saying passenger traffic was down to 600 people a day when the airport typically had 35,000 a day, but is recovering. There are a lot of jobs available now at the airport. Council member Joe Jones asked the airport to send job listings to city council as a whole to be included in ward newsletters and promoted to residents. Find the full notes here.

 

GCRTA Audit Committee discusses a potential audit by the American Public Transit Association

September 23, 2021

Audit Committee, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority

Covered by Documenters Mildred Seward and Daniel McCarthy

The committee had a working meeting with board members talking with each other about the upcoming audit. Find the full notes here.

Coming up: Cleveland Documenters will be at meetings of the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Board of Elections, the Cuyahoga County Board of Control, Cleveland City Council — including the Finance, Safety and Utilities Committees and the full City Council — the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s Board of Trustees, and the Cleveland Board of Building Standards and Building Appeals.

 

Find out more about Cleveland Documenters and how you can get paid $16/hour to attend and take notes on local public meetings: https://neighborupcle.org/cledocumenters

 

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – The week of September 6, 2021

Here’s what happened last week in local public government meetings covered by Cleveland Documenters:

Development

September 7, 2021

Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee, Cleveland City Council

Documenters Emily Anderson and Jenna Thomas

The committee approved eight ordinances at this 25-minute meeting that will allow several commercial and residential developments to move forward.

The committee approved an ordinance authorizing tax increment financing to assist with the development of an 80-unit apartment building on East 105th street along the Opportunity Corridor in Fairfax. The plan is to build 56 market-rate apartments and 24 units with lower rent called “workforce rate.”

The committee also approved tax increment financing for the Waverly & Oak apartments coming to Detroit-Shoreway on the former site of Club Azteca, a former Mexican-American social club.

The committee also approved an ordinance that allows the city to enter into loan agreements with Northeast Ohio Hispanic Center for Economic Development to continue the Centro Villa25 project, a development project at West 25th Street and Clark Avenue that create retail and community space.

Transportation

September 9, 2021

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Community Advisory Committee

Documenters Mildred Seward and Keith Yurgionas

RTA hosted a lively Community Advisory Committee meeting. The committee’s role is to be “the pulse of the community,” according to RTA’s website. The committee does not hold decision-making authority, but does make recommendations to the RTA Board of Trustees on a variety of issues including fare changes and bus routes.

Consultant David Jurca, with Seventh Hill, presented to the committee about Vision Zero, a national initiative to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries to zero. He showed a map of the Cleveland streets with the highest traffic fatalities. Community meetings on the topic are coming next month.

The Waterfront Line will be closed until 2023 because of an unsafe bridge, José C. Feliciano Jr., of RTA, told the committee. The group suggested bringing in busses and trolleys for events. Joel Freilich, of RTA, told the committee that the agency’s “emphasis is not on our buses to get people to events,” but getting people to work, education and healthcare, Documenter Keith Yurgionas wrote. Since the bridge was completed in 1996, some committee members recommended RTA reveal the company that built the bridge to “gain trust with the public.”

“That’s a good point,” Feliciano said.

Later, committee members debated RTA’s decision to eliminate the 15A and 48A bus lines and only run the 15 and 48 lines. Feliciano eventually ended the meeting saying the conversion was not productive anymore, Documenter Mildred Seward wrote.

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – The week of August 30, 2021

Here’s what happened last week in local public government meetings covered by Cleveland Documenters:

Mental Health 

September 2, 2021

Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County

Documenters Lauren Hakim and Jenna Thomas

The Cuyahoga County Diversion Center is open and available, but not being used in the way the community, particularly in Cleveland, had hoped. Members of the City of Cleveland Mental Health Response Advisory Committee (MHRAC) want to solve this problem. Committee members discussed needing more allies in the Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) and city prosecutor’s office. Currently, the city prosecutor is requiring a consultation every time a person is taken to the diversion center, which is not the way it is supposed to operate.

Donna Weinberger of Greater Cleveland Congregations noted that city prosecutor involvement prior to diverting people to a pre-arrest center goes against guidelines and norms nationwide.

MHRAC has decided to submit a formal letter with recommendations to Cleveland and Cleveland Division of Police regarding the use of the CCDC and prosecutor involvement. The recommendation will need to be approved by the full committee. The drafted letter includes three recommendations which are as follows:

  1. CDP should expedite the development and distribution of protocols for use of CCDC to all CDP officers.
  2. Remove the prosecutor requirement for transporting clients to CCDC in lieu of jail.
  3. MHRAC recommends that CDP prioritize diversion in lieu of jail if there is an incident where the precipitating factor is believed to be a direct result of mental health and/or substance use disorder crisis.

COVID-19 Recovery

August 30, 2021

Cleveland City Council

Documenters Gennifer Harding-Gosnell and Jenna Thomas

Cleveland City Council continued its discussion on spending priorities for the American Rescue Plan Act money. Cleveland is getting a total of $511 million, which is the eighth highest amount of any city. Some of the money already has been spent on making city buildings COVID-safe and providing $5 million to the Greater Cleveland Foodbank.

Council Members generally agree that housing is among the top priorities for spending. That could include demolition, creating affordable housing, or helping existing homeowners.

One sticking point for some council members, including Basheer Jones and Kevin Conwell, is that the money be spent equitably, meaning more spending in some of the poorest areas of the city rather than equally amongst each city ward.

The city administration does not want to use the money for new hires, including police officers, that could not be sustained after the money runs out, Chief of Staff Sharon Dumas said.

Development

August 30, 2021

Board of Zoning Appeals

Documenters Marvetta Rutherford and Keith Yurgionas

Sandra Williams, a candidate for mayor, made an appearance in front of the board to request a variance for a fence on her Fairhill Road. She wanted to install a 6-foot high, 99-foot long fence around her home. Williams said she has had several people on her property, and the fence would provide security. Williams’ neighbor expressed concern with the loss of sunlight and blindspots in the basement and front room area. Also, if the need arises, getting a ladder was a concern with only 3 feet of space. The variance was granted on the condition that the gate would swing inward.

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – The week of August 23,  2021

Here’s what happened last week in local public government meetings covered by Cleveland Documenters:

Transportation 

Aug. 24, 2021

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority

Documenters Mrinalini Pandey and Daniel McCarthy

GCRTA ridership for July was up by 5.4 percent as compared to this time last year, a rebound from the dip in ridership attributed to COVID-19. Efforts to increase ridership have come in the form of a-week-of-free-rides and the GCRTA Next Gen System.

Mental Health 

Aug. 24, 2021

Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County

Documenters Leslie Bednar and Gennifer Harding-Gosnell

Cleveland police are still working on fully collecting data about crisis intervention calls but the information is currently lagging, in part due to a new system used for collecting the information.

A Case Western Reserve researcher shared that  there were over  3,058 unique crisis call clients in the first half of 2021, a 17 percent increase over the 2020 first half. It wasn’t clear whether that change was due to better data collection or an uptick in mental health crisis calls.

The committee also learned about “repeat utilizers,” or individuals who crisis teams encounter repeatedly, including one individual who  had 38 incidents in 2020. That same person has had 30 incidents on record to date in 2021. He said this could lead to 60 total for the year for just one person.

Cleveland Police Captain James McPike said he was familiar with that one individual and that the five teams of co-responders (a team is a CDP officer and a social worker, with five teams conducting car patrols in the city) are also familiar with residents who they get calls about repeatedly. Social workers are following up with clients, connecting them to services, McPike said. He said he has seen some reduction in calls for some of the repeaters.

The committee also learned that the city is supposed to be buying cell phones for officers to call the new Diversion Center for clients but that process has stalled. McPike said some officers were using the center and knew it was a resource. Use of the Diversion Center, which opened as an alternative to the jail for people arrested for low-level crimes.

Community advocate Rosie Palfy said the Diversion subcommittee should get an updates on the cell phone purchases. “I think the city is really overcomplicating this,” Palfy said.

COVID-19 Recovery

Aug. 23, 2021

Cleveland City Council

Documenters Dorothy Ajamu and Jenna Thomas

Cleveland City Council met to discuss priorities for spending the $511 million in American Rescue Plan Act coming to the city to help with recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. They

Already, some of the money has been dedicated to purchasing personal protective equipment and making City Hall COVID-19-safe. Five million was set aside for the Cleveland Foodbank. That leaves a little more than $400 million.

The priorities council members mentioned ranged from demolition of vacant homes to providing mental health services to families to traffic calming projects.

Council member Blaine Griffin said he felt they should narrow down the options to five areas so that they can move along the process.

There are limits to what the money can be spent on and it has to be completely used by December of 2026.  The allowed categories are:

  • Public Health
  • Economic Hardship
  • Public Sector Revenue Loss
  • Broadband, Water or Sewer Infrastructure

 

Council member Jasmin Santana talked about how priorities considered transformational might be different for council members. She suggested the council consider questions like:  “Will demolition bring people out of poverty?” and “Do we need more officers, or do the youth have deep-rooted issues?”

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – Week of August 16,  2021

Health 

Monday, August 16, 2021

Documented Keith Yurgionas

Lead-Safe Advisory Board

The Lead-Safe Advisory Board was formed after Cleveland passed legislation in 2019 that requires property owners to prove that rental units in the city do not have lead hazards with an inspection that is turned into the city. The legislation created a board to oversee the progress and a Lead Safe Auditor role that is being carried out by Case Western Reserve University.

The new requirements started in March and are being rolled out a few ZIP codes at a time. So far the city has approved inspections from just over 1,000 houses and apartments or an estimated 2% of rentals in the city.

Interim Cleveland Building and Housing Director Antoinette Allen said that the city is behind in hiring some of the needed staff to carry out the program, which includes registering rental units and processing lead-safe certifications. Part of the reason is that the city couldn’t find candidates who could type 55 words a minute. Since the job doesn’t require typing the requirement will be lowered.

Board member Scott Kroehle, a landlord, asked whether the city is doing any oversight of contractors who are doing repairs to homes to eliminate lead hazards to make sure they are following U.S. EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting rules to do the work safely.

Allen said the city department did not have the staff or expertise to monitor contractors to make sure the work is being done safely.

Civic Engagement 

Wednesday, August, 11, 2021

Documented by Mildred Seward, Keith Yurgionas and Gennifer-Harding Gosnell

Cleveland City Council

City council members voted to place on the November ballot a charter amendment proposed by Citizens for a Safer Cleveland to strengthen oversight of the Civilian Police Review Board and establish a permanent Community Police Commission.

Council also voted to allow residents to make public comments at regular City Council meetings, which hasn’t happened for at least 80 years, maybe longer. Council opted to change its own rules rather than propose and vote on legislation to make the change. Council Clerk Patricia Britt is working to create a sign-up process and lay out the rules for residents who want to speak at meetings. A last-minute change by Council member Kerry McCormack requires the procedure Britt writes to come back to council for approval.

The rule does not apply to committee meetings. In order to make a comment during those meetings, a resident has to contact the chair of the committee. Find them here.

Here’s what we know about what the rules will include so far:

  • Residents will need to register to make a comment by web, paper form, or phone by 2 p.m. for the City Council meeting
  • Residents can speak on any topic
  • About 10 speakers per meeting given three minutes each to comment

Elections

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections 

Documented by Daniel McCarty and Marvetta Rutherford

The board approves an increase in pay for poll workers from $172 to $250. They said the new rate was needed to attract poll workers, particularly since the start of the pandemic.

The board decided not to use its authority to refer a coordinator for Justin Bibb’s campaign to the prosecutor’s office based on corrected addresses added to Bibb’s nominating petitions. The changes were not significant enough in number to have affected Bibb’s ability to run for Mayor. People who collect the voter signatures are not allowed to change to voter address without approval and signature of the voter and in order to be counted the address must match the one where the voter is registered. The board decided it did not appear Johnson was aware he wasn’t allowed to correct the addresses. [Note: This Kenneth Johnson is not the former council member who was recently convicted in federal of corruption related charges.]

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – Week of August 9th

Health 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Documented by Kathryn Johnson and Emily Anderson

Cleveland City Council

 

The COVID-19 Delta variant is spreading more quickly in Cleveland due to relaxed distancing, relaxed mask requirements, decreased testing and people remaining unvaccinated, Liz Svoboda, Cleveland’s chief epidemiologist, said. The majority of cases are occurring in younger populations, people up to 39 years old. Currently only 36 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. Committee members heard from Cleveland Council member Tony Brancatelli about a Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority pop-up event, Ice Cream for Vaccines at Daisy’s Ice Cream. People who were not vaccinated weren’t interested in going to health clinics or to the Wolstein Center for vaccinations, he said. They would, however, walk to their neighborhood ice cream parlor on a hot day.

 

Safety 

Wednesday, August, 11, 2021

Cleveland City Council

Documented by Mildred Seward and Gennifer Harding-Gosnell

The committees heard about a $19,120 grant that will go before council for approval this week to pay for training and equipment to help the Cleveland Police Environmental Crimes Unit combat illegal dumping.

Read about the ordinance here.

The Environmental Crimes Unit investigates illegal dumping and works with prosecutors to take the offenders to court.

Several council members also sparred with Safety Director Karrie Howard and Deputy Chief Wayne Drummond about dirt bike and ATV drivers and their unsafe activities in the city.

Council member Michael Polensek said:  “This administration has allowed these people to take over our streets. No effort to stop or curtail. Why is this being allowed?  Where is the traffic enforcement?  How do we take back our streets?”

Safety Director Howard said part of the problem was that the city didn’t have enough officers and it is looking into using drones, and he asked the public to call to report where dirt bikers are “so we can deploy personnel.”

“We are down 200 officers,” he said, “and we have got to fill that gap.”

 

Transportation

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority

Documented by Mrinalini Pandey and Marvetta Rutherford

Committee members got an update on the 25Connects Project, which is planning the redevelopment of W. 25th Street as a “walkable, transit-supportive”  investment of RTA’s MetroHealth Line and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line.” Research funding for this project was provided by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). The process marks GCRTA’s first bilingual (English and Spanish) planning study. The team has heard from 700 residents at virtual and in-person events.  The result of such a public outreach led his team to get a better understanding of the needs of the community with respect to transit safety, cultural inclusivity, and affordability along with providing more green spaces and supporting local businesses in the region. Project research findings and recommendations for financial planning will involve establishing programs to enable people to buy lower cost homes in the Clark-Fulton and Brooklyn Centre areas,  a West Side coordinating council, a funding mechanism to assist development and reach housing goals along the corridor, and work with developers to find financial opportunities, David Jurca, a project manager said.

 

Find out more about Cleveland Documenters and how you can get paid $16/hour to attend and take notes on local public meetings: https://neighborupcle.org/cledocumenters

 

Meetings coming up

 

Cleveland City Council

Zoning-Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee Cleveland City Council

Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021

9:30 a.m.

 

Cleveland City Council

Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021

9:00 a.m.

 

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – Week of August 2

Environment 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Cleveland City Council – Municipal Services & Planning, Development & Sustainability

Documented by Leslie Bednar and Keith Yurgionas

Residents must “opt in” to the city’s new recycling program by Oct. 22 by filling out the form HERE or by calling 216-664-3030.

Since the program was announced 3,200 residents signed up, with the highest concentration being on the near west side, Chief Operating Officers Darnell Brown told the committee members.

There will be additional chances to enroll in the future on a rolling basis. Recycling will be picked up every other week and council members agreed to help inform people in their wards about the new process.

The city’s “waste fee” included on Cleveland utility bills is not linked to recycling. Those who do not opt in still pay the $8.75 a month.

The joint council committees also got an update from Chief of Sustainability Jason Wood on the Circular Cleveland.  Cleveland is one of six cities where the movement is being pushed forward. Cleveland received a $475,000 grant for a 24 to 36-month period from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to figure out whether the city would support circular economy initiatives, which are meant to cut down on waste and create jobs by reducing use and reusing or recycling more materials. So far, this includes composting at the West Side Market, hiring ambassadors to educate residents about the circular economy and small grants for residents and incentives for small businesses to do projects.

Development

August 2, 2021

Board of Zoning Appeals

Documented by Sam Bachelor and Daniel McCarthy

Board members approved variances for 4106 Pearl Road in Ward 13 where a bank is set to be constructed, including allowing for additional parking spaces and changes to the landscaping requirements. Council President Kevin Kelley advocated for the project saying, “We need a new building in this spot of town, and we should get construction going as soon as possible.”

 

During the same meeting, the board denied a variance to McPhillips Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning in Collinwood at 16115 Waterloo Road. Owner Sean McPhillips wanted to erect an 80-foot sign visible from the highway to advertise his business. Council member Michael Polensek supported the request, though the Cleveland Planning Commission denied it because the height was not within city guidelines.

Meetings coming up:

Civilian Police Review Board Hearing

Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021
10:00 a.m.

Safety Committee – Cleveland City Council 

Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021
10:00 a.m.

Learn more about Cleveland Documenters and how you can get paid $16/hour to attend and take notes on local public meetings: https://neighborupcle.org/cledocumenters

 

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – Week of July 25

Transportation

Tuesday, July 26, 2021

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees

Documented by Kaitlin Bender-Thomas and Keith Yurgionas

GCRTA is launching a “Community Immunity”  mobile bus to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines. The effort, in partnership with the Cleveland Department of Health, is being paid for with a $972,000 Ohio Department of Transportation grant. The bus will run until Sept. 4.

Call 216-664-2222 to schedule an appointment at one of these locations:

Thursday, August 5, 2021 

Whitney Young parking lot

17900 Harvard Ave.

Saturday, August 7, 2021 

Daisy’s Ice Cream

5614 Fleet Ave.

 

Social Services

Friday, July 30, 2021

Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Advisory Board

Documented by Jenna Thomas and Joyce Shaw

Fewer than 10 percent of children 12 and older in the custody of the county are vaccinated, county officials told the board, which is made up of independent community members. Officials said DCFS is using court orders to make sure children in residential programs are vaccinated. It is not mandated that foster parents be vaccinated.

DCFS is working to recruit more affirming foster care parents after a survey showed that 32% of foster children over the age of 12 identified as LGBTQ+. Some reported negative experiences in foster homes or facilities, including homophobic foster parents or staff. DCFS is doing more training for staff and has a new policy to ask all children 13 and up about their gender identity and sexual orientation.

Find out more about becoming a foster parent here.

The advisory board also got an update on the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program, which trains volunteers to advocate for children who are under protective supervision of the county.

Meetings coming up

Cleveland Board of Building Standards and Building Appeals 

Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021

9:30 a.m.

Cleveland Municipal Services & Properties and Development Planning & Sustainability Committees – Joint committee meeting 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

9:30 a.m.

The committees will discuss Cleveland’s updated Recycling and Waste Collection Program. Public comments can be made during this virtual meeting.

t more about Cleveland Documenters and how you can get paid $16/hour to attend and take notes on local public meetings: https://neighborupcle.org/cledocumenters

 

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – Week of July 19

Elections

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections 

Documented by Mildred Seward and Brian Douglas

Workers are needed to work in the warehouse after the polls close for the special election on August 3. The pay is $15 dollars per hour from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Details here.

The board approved 16 items on this meeting’s agenda except for a request to protest Tawayne L. McGee’s petitions for Cleveland City Council Ward 12. After hearing from the parties involved, the board made a motion to deny the protest, which was seconded and accepted.

Economic Recovery

Friday, July 23, 2021

Cleveland’s administration wants to hear from residents about how it should spend the $511 million in taxpayer dollars it is getting from the federal government to support the city’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents can submit ideas online at: http://www.clevelandohio.gov/arpa. Drop boxes are also located at City Hall and the Public Utilities Building at 1201 Lakeside Avenue and some neighborhood recreation centers.

Development

Monday, July 19, 2021

Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals

Documented by Keith Yurgionas

Property owners in Slavic Village, Union-Miles, Tremont and Kamms Corner sought variances for homes. One owner on East 66th street asked the board to allow him to make a two-family home into a four-unit apartment building, but later withdrew the request. Another homeowner in Kamms Corner asked for approval to expand their garage. Approval was granted as long as the expansion maintains a set distance from the property line.

Anyone can go to this website to see the city’s zoning district maps: https://planning.clevelandohio.gov/maps/index.php

Environment

Monday, July 19, 2021

Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors

Documented by Chau Tang

This board is composed of “conservation leaders elected by county residents to represent them in charting the course for soil and water conservation and natural resources management in Cuyahoga County,” according to its website. At this meeting, the board approved expenses and a staff member shared new ideas for postcards to promote proper tree planting. The board learned more about the importance of using bioretention, which helps remove contaminants and sedimentation from storm water runoff.

Coming up: Cleveland Documenters will be at the East Design Review Committee meeting and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transportation Authority’s Board of Trustees meeting. Find new public meetings posted every week at Documenters.org.

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – Week of July 12

Health

Monday, July 12

Cleveland City Council Health and Human Services Committee

Documented by Kathryn Johnson and Colleen Kavanagh

Committee members agreed that the Office of Minority Health, which identifies local health disparity needs and educates communities about them, needs more staff, Kathryn noted. By increasing staff to the equivalent of 3.5 full-time employees, each staff member could address the needs of specific populations, including Asian, Hispanic, African-American and Native American.

Ward 7 Council Member Basheer Jones asked Commissioner of Health Frances Mills, “Do you feel you have what you need to be successful?”

Mills said the easy answer is no, Colleen noted. “We are tackling cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke in minority communities with a staff of one,” Mills said.

Also, at this meeting, Ward 9 Council Member Kevin Conwell proposed an outdoor event focused on lead education and lead-related community services.

 

Housing & Development 

Tuesday, July 13

Cleveland City Council Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee

Documented by Keith Seward and Jenna Thomas

A lot happened in this 30-minute meeting. Jenna noted that the committee approved authorizing the director of Community Development to administer the Community Engagement Healthy Home Initiative, which will hire community engagement specialists by neighborhood to work with  residents and landlords to improve the city’s housing stock.

Keith noted the committee also approved an emergency ordinance allowing the city to take ownership of a vacant property to construct the new City of Cleveland police headquarters along the Opportunity Corridor, west of E. 75th Street. The committee’s approval allowed the ordinance to move to the full city council where it was approved at the meeting on Wednesday.

 

Safety & Accountability

Cleveland Office of Professional Standards Civilian Police Review Board Hearing

Documented by Emma Andrus

This board reviews officer misconduct complaints and makes recommendations for discipline to Police Chief Calvin Williams. At this meeting, Emma noted the board voted to appeal Williams’ decision to overrule their discipline recommendation against two police officers involved in the chase that resulted in the death of 13-year-old Tamia Chappman and injuries to another child who witnessed Chappman’s death.

 

Property

Wednesday, July 14

Cleveland City Council

Documented by Gennifer Harding-Gosnell and Mary Paxton

Council approved an ordinance allowing the city to sell land at Woodhill and Mt. Carmel avenues for the second phase of the Woodhill East Homes project. Gennifer also noted that an ordinance to support homeowners who were at risk of losing their homes when the Buckeye Area Development Corp. dissolved was approved. Ward 6 Council Member Blaine Griffin said it was the most important legislation he’s worked on in council.

Mary noted that the property for the new police headquarters is adjacent to the Orlando Baking Company headquarters. There are several parcels of land there, but one owner has not responded to the city, which has offered $2,500, and this ordinance allows the city to take ownership of the property through a process called eminent domain. This property is located in the middle of the proposed construction.

This week Cleveland Documenters will be at the Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals and the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District meetings on Monday; and the Board of Elections meeting on Wednesday.

Find out more about Cleveland Documenters and how you can get paid $16 an hour to attend and take notes on local public meetings: https://neighborupcle.org/cledocumenters

Here’s what happened last week in local public government meetings covered by Cleveland Documenters:

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – Week of June 28th

Transportation

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees

Documented by Yorel Warr and Gennifer Harding-Gosnell

Yorel said: This was my first time documenting a public meeting. I noticed that the Board of Trustees did not answer all of the public comments. I was surprised that they went extremely fast through the resolution slides. It appears emailing your question allows them to more accurately address concerns rather than speaking directly to them during public comment.

 

Gennifer noted: Public comment came by phone and in emails. One commenter was concerned about RTA policing and suggested an oversight board. RTA Board President Rev. Charles P. Lucas said to give the new RTA Police Chief Deirdre Jones “a chance” and trusts the commenter will be pleased with her work. Another key takeaway from the meeting was the report on the new #NextGenRTA routes. CEO Floun’say Caver talked about environmental justice and the push to provide better services to those most needing access by connecting to specific community corridors and jobs and medical facilities.

 

Environment

Monday, Jun 28, 2021

Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District Board Meeting

Documented by Leslie Bednar

She noted that the public is invited to the Ohio Environmental Council Cleveland Mayoral Candidates night event.

Also, the District is developing an urban-farming program. Vouchers and grants to assist with conservation efforts in communities were approved at this meeting.

 

Elections

Monday, Jun 28, 2021

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections 

Documented by Mary Paxton and Laylah Allen

Board members heard protests about the residency of two East Cleveland mayoral candidates, Sean Ward and T’Andre Sigler. The board voted that the residency requirements were not met and those candidates were not certified to appear on the ballot. Several Cleveland City Council candidates were also not certified because of lack of signatures. Also of note: the board will be visiting vaccination centers in July to recruit vaccinated poll workers. Find them on July 9 at the Salvation Army in East Cleveland; July 13 at Woodmere Village Hall; and July 16 at the Bedford Heights Community Center.

 

Development

Monday, Jun 28, 2021

Cleveland City Planning Commission Board of Zoning Appeals

Documented by Jenna Thomas and Colleen Kavanagh

The biggest news was out of the Tremont neighborhood where an events center was approved to open on Kenilworth Avenue in a former church. The vacant, 9,000-square-foot church will become an events center called The Elliot hosting weddings and other events. Many local planners and community members showed up at the meeting to say they support the project.

Find out more about Cleveland Documenters and how you can get paid $16/hour to attend and take notes on local public meetings: https://neighborupcle.org/cledocumenters