Residents discuss Community Police Commission nominees; Woodland Hills to get community garden

Meeting coverage by Cleveland Documenters | Compiled by Signal Cleveland’s Doug Breehl-Pitorak 

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

Cleveland Public Meetings Report – The week of Nov. 14, 2022

Commenters discuss Community Police Commission nominees
Nov. 14 – Cleveland City Council
Covered by Documenters Chau Tang and Christina Easter

Council President Blaine Griffin, Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, and other council members recognize the members of Sigma Gamma Rho on the 100th anniversary of the sorority’s founding (Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube / Org: Cleveland City Council).

What happened: Eight community members gave public comment. Five discussed nominees to the Community Police Commission (CPC)Thirteen nominees — 10 of whom Mayor Justin Bibb nominated — await council approval. Kareem Henton of Black Lives Matter Cleveland said he doesn’t have a problem with the people who have been nominated. He said he was concerned with who was left out. “You don’t have that member of a family that has lost a loved one to police violence,” Henton said. “Isn’t that part of why we created this?” The nominees don’t meet the criteria included in the Issue 24 charter amendment, he said. A year ago, Cleveland voters approved the amendments, which aim to strengthen oversight of police.Support for nominees: The city stands by its process. Other community members — including nominees — expressed support in this meeting. Alana Garrett-Ferguson, a Bibb nominee, urged council to move forward with seating the commission.

Sigma Gamma Rho honored: Council celebrated the 100th anniversary of Sigma Gamma Rho. Council President Blaine Griffin commended the sorority’s work in the community.

Watch the full public comments or read transcripts edited by Documenter Carolyn Cooper on Public Comment CLE (website created by Ohio City resident Angelo Trivisonno).

Woodland Hills community garden moves forward
Nov. 16 – Cleveland Board of Control
Covered by Documenters Kellie Morris and Seanna Jackson

The board approved the sale of four land parcels. They are set to become a community garden in Woodland Hills (Credit: Cleveland Board of Control YouTube / Org: Cleveland Board of Control).

What happened: The board approved the sale of four land parcels for $800 total. Director of Community Development Alyssa Hernandez said a community garden in the Woodland Hills neighborhood would be created on some of the parcels. “I love a good community garden,” said Mayor Justin Bibb.

Camera health: 
New software will soon monitor the health of city cameras, including surveillance cameras. Larry Jones III, assistant commissioner of IT, presented. He said camera health is currently monitored manually. The software would help the city be more efficient in camera repair. The board approved a contract with Ai-RGUS for the service. The first-year setup and subscription is not to exceed $63,441.85.

And also: City vehicles are set to be equipped with automated vehicle location software. The board approved a contract with PreCise MRM not to exceed $239,733. Jones said it will cover 327 vehicles. Bibb asked about tracking all city vehicles. That is a goal for next year, Jones said.

What exactly is the Cleveland Board of Control? What power does it have? Signal Cleveland’s Service Journalism Reporter Abbey Marshall answered those questions and more in this Board of Control explainer.

Cleveland supportive housing project moves forward

Nov. 15 – Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee, Cleveland City Council
Covered by Documenters Sarah Tan and Keith Yurgionas

James DeRosa, director of the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects, discusses housing developments (Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube / Org: Cleveland City Council).
What happened: The committee advanced legislation that would allow the city to vacate a street — a process called a street vacation — for a supportive housing project in Ward 10 to be built by CHN Housing Partners. The project would include social supports for residents. James DeRosa, director of the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects, said the project would serve 18- to 24-year-olds who are transitioning out of homelessness. “That’s one of the highest populations that’s in our homeless shelters currently,” he said.

Sports Commission Grant: 
The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission is asking the city for a $250,000 grant to cover general operating costs through June 2023. The committee advanced the legislation. Commission executives Rachel Stentz-Baugher and Mike Mulhall presented information on the economic impact of events the group brought to the city, which they estimated at $866 million since 2000. They also noted that 165 kids participated in Youth Education through Sports at city rec centers in 2022. Ward 14 Council Member Jasmin Santana asked for information on that program to be shared with council. She said rec centers don’t reach all residents.

Left wondering: 
Documenter Sarah Tan asked, “Why are 18- to 24-year-olds one of the largest populations in Cleveland’s homeless shelters? What other services and housing solutions are being developed to support this demographic?”Need rental assistance or know someone who does? Check out CHN Housing Partner’s COVID-19 Rental Assistance application.

Presenters explain police co-responder model

Nov. 15 – Quality Improvement Subcommittee, Mental Health Response Advisory Committee
Covered by Documenter Mildred Seward

Subcommittee members discussed year three of the Cleveland police co-responder program (Credit: screenshot from Case Western Reserve University presentation on the program).

What happened: Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) officials discussed Cleveland’s co-responder program. The city has five co-responder teams. Each consists of one police officer and one mental-health professional. City Council passed legislation Nov. 7 that aims to double the number of teams. Anya Nazarenko from CWRU reviewed statistics from year three of the current co-responder program. She also shared program goals going forward. There was a previous pilot from 2016-2018 in the Second Police District.

No direct feedback: A meeting participant asked if the presenters had interviewed any individuals who have received service from a co-responder team. Nazarenko said they had not.

Left wondering: Documenter Mildred Seward asked, “According to the presentation, the majority of the crisis response took place in the Fourth Police District, which is a predominantly African American community; are the trained responders of the same ethnic background as the people in need of the service?”

Learn more about the co-responder expansion legislation from 
Documenter Najee Hall’s coverage of an Oct. 26 council committee meeting.GCRTA board learns about 2023 budget

Nov. 15 – Committees and Board of Trustees, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Covered by Documenter Giorgiana Lascu

Cleveland public transit officials discussed the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s (GCRTA) proposed 2023 budget (Credit: GCRTA YouTube / Org: GCRTA).
What happened: The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) Board of Trustees learned about the proposed 2023 budget. It was the first public hearing on the estimated $324 million budgeted for expenses. GCRTA predicts about $70 million less in total revenue in 2023 compared to this year. Staff expects a two percent increase in fare revenue, from $24.2 million to $24.7 million.

Problems with paratransit: 
Two residents spoke about issues with paratransit service. One person spoke in person and said drivers are speeding and driving past them. Another spoke over the phone and criticized the timeliness of the service. “I’m nervous every day, ‘Am I going to get fired from being late for work?’” she said. In a Nov. 1 meeting, GCRTA officials noted a recent dip in on-time paratransit performance. Increased ridership and a lack of drivers contributed to the slump.Learn more about GCRTA’s paratransit service with coverage of the Nov. 1 meeting by Documenters Laura Marica and Najee Hall.

New complexes planned for West Superior and Bolivar Road
Nov. 14 – Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals
Covered by Documenters Breana Smith and Marvetta Rutherford

Screenshot of a BOZA presentation on the proposed Bridgeworks project at W. Superior and W. 25th Street (Credit: Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals YouTube / Org: Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals).

What happened: The board approved requests by developer Bridgeworks LLC to not follow Cleveland zoning code. The decision means plans for a mixed-use building just off the west end of the Detroit-Superior Bridge can move forward. The building is set to have 140 residential apartments, a restaurant and 130 hotel rooms.

Appellant withdraws case: Asmint Cruz, an electrical contractor, wanted to construct a five-car garage on a Ward 5 property. Cruz said he uses the house on the property only as an office. Zoning board staff, City Planning staff, and Cristopher Alvardao of the Slavic Village Community Development Corp. (CDC) expressed concern about Cruz essentially operating a business in a residential district. Board Chair Kelley Britt offered to postpone the case, but Cruz said he would withdraw and put the property up for sale instead.

And also: The board approved zoning variances for a downtown residential project near Progressive Field. The building would include 178 residential units.

Want to learn more about zoning? Check out this introduction to Cleveland zoning by City Planner Matt Moss.

Cleveland Housing Court officials discuss staff changes

Nov. 14 – Finance, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Cleveland City Council
Covered by Documenters Kathryn Johnson and Nick Ventura

Cleveland Housing Court Administrator Samantha Coleman and the city’s Chief Human Resources Officer Paul Patton speaking with committee members (Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube / Org: Cleveland City Council).

What happened: The committee advanced legislation regarding Housing Court staff. The emergency ordinance, which full council passed later that day, changes the court’s pay band (a pay band is a set of council-approved salary ranges for government positions). The court wanted to remove two positions from the pay band because they’re no longer used, according to Housing Court Administrator Samantha Coleman. Court reporter was one of the eliminated positions. All court cases — whether held virtually or in-person — are electronically recorded and stored, Coleman said. The legislation also added a chief information officer and chief financial officer to the Housing Court pay band.

Background checks: The committee also advanced legislation regarding pre-employment background checks. It allows the city to contract with OPENOnline for the service. Council President Blaine Griffin asked if the proposed vendor currently handled background checks. Chief Human Resources Officer Paul Patton said it did. Council also passed this at its regular meeting later that day.

Curious about how council moves legislation? Check out our one-page guide to council’s legislative process.

Civic Term of the Week:

Curious about more local-government lingo? Check out this glossary of terms from Signal Cleveland’s Paul Rochford.

What’s ahead?

A look at the meetings Documenters are set to cover the week of Nov. 21.
Nov. 21
  • 9:30 a.m. – Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (livestream)
  • 9:30 a.m. – Municipal Services and Properties Committee, City Council (livestream)
  • 2 p.m. – Finance, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, City Council (livestream)
  • 7 p.m. – City Council (livestream)
Nov. 22
  • 3 p.m. – Cleveland Board of Control (livestream)

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