In light of the numerous upcoming elections in Cleveland, we would like to provide you with some voter engagement information as we approach the Primary on September 14th! Check out the candidates below and browse their sites for more info!
City Wide Info
Mayoral Candidate Bibb’s Platforms are Safe & Secure Neighborhoods, Economic Relief & Recovery, High-Quality Education, Modern & Engaged City Hall, Healthy Communities, Climate & Environmental Justice. More Info on website
Mayoral Candidate Jones Policy Platforms are Building Public Safety and Fighting Violence, Create a Comprehensive Plan to Address Covid 19 During and After, Cultivating an Inclusive and Equitable Economy, Transparency and Accountability to Restore Trust in City Government, Education,
Mayoral Candidate Reed’s platforms are A Healthier Community Safer Neighborhoods A Stronger Workforce, A Strong Economic Future. https://votezackreed.com/vision/
Mayoral Candidate Kelly’s priorities include public safety, workforce development, paid parental leave, digital equity, fighting corporate greed, housing stability, housing stability, investing in public health, transit and transportation, voting rights, employment in Cleveland, childhood lead poising, opioid crisis, infant mortality, poverty, city planning, gender equity, recycling, solar energy and evictions and right to council.
The lack of a public comment period – a space for residents to speak – at Cleveland City Council meetings is once again on the civic radar. A group called Clevelanders for City Council Reform in March released a plan that advocates for a proposed ordinance that requires a regular public comment period at City Council meetings and sets some rules and limits for how it could work.
Cleveland Documenters, which trains and pays residents to attend and share notes from public meetings, checked out the current routes for making comments at public meetings; council’s rules already allow it, and multiple council members said residents were welcome at committee meetings, where legislation is discussed.
Council Clerk Patricia Britt said no records track requests to comment or how often citizens speak at meetings.
An (unscientific) review of Cleveland Documenters notes from 52 of City Council’s regular and committee meetings held from Nov. 18 through March 12 revealed that members of the public — not employed by the city or an organization in or aiming to contract with the city — rarely commented.
What is public comment?
Public comment is a way for residents to address government or elected officials during meetings where they consider and vote on legislation. A public comment period lets residents share information or opinion on community matters.
What is the state of public comment at Cleveland City Council?
City Council holds “regular” meetings, where all 17 members meet as council and do the business of the city by voting on legislation that creates or changes laws or approves expenditures
City Council also holds committee meetings, where members discuss legislation and decide whether it should be voted on; there are currently 11 committees
Occasionally, City Council will hold special community meetings to hear from residents
Public comment at regular council meetings
Except for a brief time in the 1920s and 1930s, City Council has not routinely held a space for public comment in its regular meetings.
Public comment at committee meetings
At committee meetings, the council has a process for residents to speak. They must contact the council member who chairs the committee. The chairperson ultimately decides whether to invite someone to speak.
What does the law say?
Ohio law and Cleveland’s city charter mandate that government meetings be held publicly. But:
Ohio law neither requires nor bans public comment
Cleveland’s charter neither requires nor bans public comment
The city charter gives council the authority to make its own rules
There is historical precedent for allowing public comment at Cleveland City Council meetings. Clevelanders for City Council Reform shared some information it gleaned from council’s city archivist, Chuck Mocsiran:
Cleveland’s city charter mandated public comment from 1924-1931
At that time, Cleveland had a city manager and a mayor position that was mostly ceremonial
Mocsiran said that, despite that mandate, he could not find any record of resident comments made to council.
Here is a section of the 1924 city charter mandating public comment:
How do other regional legislative bodies handle public comment?
Clevelanders for City Council Reform is one group pushing for a regular public comment period at City Council. It supports a proposed public comment city ordinance written by Jessica Trivisonno, the director of economic development for the Detroit-Shoreway and Cudell community development corporations. Her research for the ordinance showed that public comment is either mandated or regularly permitted in the legislative councils serving Cuyahoga County, the City of Columbus and Akron City Council. Each allows residents to submit forms requesting to speak at meetings.
Details such as when the public comment period occurs in a council meeting, how long people can speak, and how many people can speak per meeting varies.
What else did we learn?
Cleveland Documenters asked Council Clerk Britt, Chief of Communications Joan Mazzolini, and — via survey — all 17 council members about the process for public comment requests. The consensus answer was “contact the committee chairperson.”
The committee chair has full discretion on whether to invite a resident to the table (real or virtual) to be heard. This process isn’t clear to many residents, and it isn’t outlined on City Council’s web site.
How can a resident arrange to speak at a committee meeting?
1. Find the correct committee.
2. Identify the chair of that committee.
3. Figure out when the committee will meet. (Find the calendar at clevelandcitycouncil.org/calendar)
4. Contact the chair and ask to speak at a meeting.
A contact form on the web site lets residents submit comments and questions. Each council member’s webpage has contact information for them or their assistants.
What are the paths to creating public comment in Cleveland?
Public comment can become a required part of council’s regular and committee meetings in one of two ways:
1. Council passes a city ordinance mandating a public comment period
2. Council changes its rules to require a public comment period
The rules already permit residents to be heard.
To make a public comment period routine, council could change its rules.
Mazzolini said council members try to engage with their constituents outside of official meetings. Prior to the pandemic, each council member held public meetings in their wards, she said. Now, many council members hold these meetings via Zoom.
Council Member Kerry McCormack, Ward 3, recently started to use an online form to gather questions and comments in advance of Health & Human Services Committee meetings. Still, the chairperson–in this case McCormack–decides which comments and questions to bring to the meeting.
What do council members say about public comment?
Cleveland Documenters sent a short survey to all 17 council members on March 2. Three responded: Council Members Blaine Griffin, Ward 6; Basheer Jones, Ward 7; and Mike Polensek, Ward 8.
Here are the highlights of their responses:
What are the options for public comment?
Council members who responded pointed to committee meetings as potential spaces for public comment. Polensek added that public comment in regular meetings could occur via invitation from Council President Kevin Kelley, Ward 13. He said a citizen can speak at a committee meeting if the chair requests that.
Griffin said people can “sign up” to speak at committee meetings, though the chair ultimately decides whether to invite someone to a meeting.
Are you in favor of a regular public comment period in City Council meetings?
Polensek and Griffin said maybe. Jones said yes. Polensek said council would have to “greatly” limit the amount of time given to public comment if it became part of the regular agenda. Griffin explained his hesitancy to commit to public comment:
Council members who “do the job right” already spend a lot of time communicating with the public before making their decisions
Not everyone wants to speak publicly, potentially leaving the “microphone” only for those who are comfortable speaking publicly; Griffin’s concern is that a vocal minority can “seem like a much larger presence than they actually are.”
He said he’s seen that scenario, and it left other community members frustrated
“People have an opportunity to communicate with me through the entire political process,” Griffin said. “But once it’s time to vote and defend a position, that should be reserved for the people who are elected by their community.”
All three council members said they prefer to make any changes using the council rule-change process.
If you have a plan to establish a public comment period at City Council meetings, please share.
Polensek said he envisions a public comment period before the regular council meeting. Griffin said he would be “more than happy” to make time for special hearings to hear from the public, though he would “strongly prohibit” abusive language directed toward council members or the mayor.
Jones didn’t offer details about his plan via our survey, other than to say, “The people must stand with the council members who are willing to fight for it.”
The Cuyahoga County Justice Center Steering Committee is seeking public comment on the corrections center site selection criteria and process.
The public comment period will be open until Monday, March 22, 2021 at midnight. More information on the work being done by the Steering Committee can be found on the Justice Center Committee Meetings page.
CLEVELAND – On March 10, 2021, the City of Cleveland and Cleveland-Cliffs Cleveland Works held a gun melt to recycle approximately 400 firearms from various sources, including those surrendered at the 2019 Gun Buy-Back, where citizens exchanged firearms for gift cards. A Gun Buy-Back was not held in Cleveland in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The guns were placed into the No. 1 Basic Oxygen Furnace iron ladle and melted by approximately 200 tons of molten iron, at temperatures of about 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The molten iron, along with scrap, is then charged in the basic oxygen furnace to make steel.
CLEVELAND (Dec. 22, 2020) – The Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund coalition announced today the most recent round of biweekly grants to support the nonprofit community. In total, $220,779 was awarded to nine organizations and groups serving Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties. Since the start of Phase II in mid-November, partners have granted nearly $1.8 million.
The latest round of grant recipients includes:
The City Club of Cleveland ($25,000): To support the City Club’s food distribution partnership with Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries, an effort that is producing 10,000 meals every week for Greater Cleveland’s homeless population
Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center ($25,000): To provide basic needs such as food, clothing, utility and housing assistance, as well as loaner laptops and personalized technical support for deaf clients, those with speech disorders, and their families in Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties
Harvard Community Services Center ($35,000): To continue to serve homebound adults and families across the Lee-Harvard, Miles and Seville neighborhoods through the mobile delivery of care packages containing food and basic hygiene items
HOLA Ohio ($25,000): To facilitate access to medical care and unemployment assistance for the Latino and immigrant populations in Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties, while also providing PPE and funds for help with basic needs including housing, bills, groceries and medicines
LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland ($21,779): To continue to provide food assistance, transportation, social-emotional support via tele/virtual community group meetings and programming, virtual wellness options, street outreach, and legal referrals and advocacy for the LGBTQ population in Greater Cleveland
Pregnant with Possibilities Resource Center ($49,000): To provide support and transportation assistance to help expectant and new mothers in Cuyahoga County access Making Opportunities Matter (M.O.M.) counseling and diaper distributions
Senior Transportation Connection (STC) ($15,000): To continue essential transportation operations that prioritize medical, dialysis and food access trips, while also purchasing enhanced PPE for older adults in Cuyahoga County with mobility needs and limited social supports
Slavic Village Development ($20,000): To provide funds for emergency housing repairs, emergency rental/mortgage assistance, food insecurities and transportation needs, PPE and health-related cleaning supplies funds to those facing housing instability or homelessness in the Broadway/Slavic Village neighborhoods
Ursuline Piazza ($5,000): To provide food assistance for HIV-positive residents in Cuyahoga County to help avoid food insecurity during the holiday season
Contributions to the second phase of the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund total nearly $3.5 million, including support from new funding partner Evelyn B. Newell. Funding partners urge other foundations, corporate entities, individuals and organizations to contribute to the Fund. Donations of any amount are welcomed, and all contributions are tax deductible.
Based upon the charitable structure of the Rapid Response Fund, the second phase is currently accepting grant applications from eligible organizations serving Cuyahoga, Lake and/or Geauga counties. The Fund is designed primarily to support human service nonprofits with operational budgets of less than $20 million. The Fund partners encourage collaborative proposals that involve multiple organizations within similar sectors or neighborhoods working on shared issues, with a focus on basic needs, family supports, PPE, testing and contact tracing.
Grants during Phase II of the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund are awarded every two weeks and will continue for one year. Awards range in size from $5,000 to $100,000, with a maximum grant amount of $100,000 for any nonprofit organization throughout the current cycle ending Oct. 31, 2021. Organizations that were funded during Phase I (between March-July 2020) are eligible to apply for additional funding. Grants are limited to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, groups fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, or other charitable organizations able to receive a tax-deductible contribution.
CLEVELAND (Dec. 11, 2020) – Catalyzed by a $1 million grant from Facebook, the Cleveland Black Futures Fund today announced it has amassed more than $4 million since inception on Sept. 1 to invest in and strengthen Black-led and Black-serving social change organizations.
Today’s announcement is part of Facebook’s commitment to support Black businesses, creators and nonprofits. The Cleveland Foundation was one of 20 community foundations to receive funding as part of the California-based social media corporation’s announcement today. The Cleveland Black Futures Fund has received additional support from George W. Codrington Charitable Foundation ($50,000), The HealthComp Foundation ($60,000), Saint Luke’s Foundation ($150,000) and the Treu-Mart Fund ($100,000), as well as nearly $40,000 in individual donations.
“We’re excited to work with the Cleveland Foundation to help bring much needed funding to nonprofits that are serving and supporting the Black community in Greater Cleveland,” said Marcy Scott Lynn, Facebook director of global impact partnerships. “We’re providing funding directly to the Cleveland Foundation to build on its track record of supporting Black-led nonprofits and ensure that people locally are making the decisions about where these dollars are most needed and can have the most impact.”
The overarching goal of the Cleveland Black Futures Fund is to strengthen the ecosystem of Black leaders and Black-serving organizations in Greater Cleveland by providing intentional resources to help grow organizational infrastructure and capacity. Long term, the foundation aims to deepen the field of leaders working to dismantle systemic racism and advance the community towards racial equity.
In recent months, both the COVID-19 pandemic and the historic protests happening nationally and locally have prompted a bolder call to action to address systemic racism and its devastating effects in the Greater Cleveland community. While Cleveland is home to a dynamic network of Black leaders working on solutions to these problems, The Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) has reported that significant inequities exist within the national philanthropic field at a time when outcomes and disparities for Black children, families and neighborhoods in many areas have widened.
The Cleveland Black Futures Fund also announced today the inaugural members of its advisory committee, which will guide the application parameters and grantmaking process. The seven-person group is comprised of community leaders working alongside foundation representatives:
Courtenay A. Barton, Program Director for Arts & Culture and Racial Equity Initiatives, Cleveland Foundation
Carrie Carpenter, Board Member, Cleveland Foundation
The Rev. Dr. Robin Hedgeman, Board Member, Cleveland Foundation
Constance Hill-Johnson, Board Member, Cleveland Foundation
Treye Johnson, Regional Outreach Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
Shanelle Smith Whigham, Vice President, Sustainability & Social Impact, KeyBank
Timothy L. Tramble Sr., President & CEO, Saint Luke’s Foundation
“We thank Facebook, and all the foundations and individuals who have contributed to the Cleveland Black Futures Fund,” said Courtenay Barton, Cleveland Foundation program director for arts & culture and racial equity initiatives. “Dismantling systemic racism will require the cooperation of people in various capacities to all be committed to this long-term work. Just as there are visionary leaders on the ground creating new initiatives and responding directly to community needs, there are equally passionate people who can provide the resources necessary to get the work done. The Fund is a vehicle that can connect givers to doers.”
The Cleveland Black Futures Fund builds on the work of the African American Philanthropy Committee of the Cleveland Foundation (AAPC), which has promoted awareness and education about the benefits of wealth and community preservation through philanthropy since 1993. Established in 2010, the AAPC Legacy Fund supports a variety of organizations within the Black community of Greater Cleveland. The Cleveland Black Futures Fund will offer and additional pool of resources to complement the impact of the AAPC and its Legacy Fund.
The creation of the Cleveland Black Futures Fund came on the heels of a June vote by Cleveland City Council in which racism was declared a public health crisis, with the city required under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to take action to eliminate disparities causing health issues. Cuyahoga County Council also passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis and announced a Citizens’ Advisory Council on Equity, to which Cleveland Foundation Senior Vice President for Program India Pierce Lee was appointed.
Additional details on the grantmaking process – including the application process and timeline – will be available in January 2021. For more information or to donate to the Cleveland Black Futures Fund, visit ClevelandFoundation.org/Futures.
(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today announced that the administration, in partnership with the General Assembly, is developing a package of more than $419.5 million CARES Act funding to help Ohioans. This package includes funding for small businesses, restaurants and bars, hospitals, higher education, arts, nonprofits, and low-income Ohioans impacted financially by the pandemic.
“We know that Ohioans are hurting, and the needs are great. We must do what we can to help them through this crisis,” said Governor DeWine. “Providing financial support to small businesses, the arts, and nonprofits will help them keep the doors open and Ohioans employed. For Ohioans in need, this assistance will help them stay in their homes, which can make all the difference.”
The package is be taken to the State Controlling Board for approval on Monday, October 26.
The package includes $125 million in CARES Act funding to provide grants to small businesses with no more than 25 employees. The grant funding will help businesses pay for a variety of expenses, including mortgage or rent payments; utility payments; salaries, wages, or compensation for employees and contractors; business supplies or equipment; and other costs. The application for the Small Business Relief Program will be available November 2, 2020 at businesshelp.ohio.gov.
“This is an incredibly trying time for small businesses. Many of them are struggling to keep the doors open and the lights on, and we need to help them get through this difficult time,” said Lt. Governor Husted. “I know from my discussions with small businesses around the state that the package we are announcing today will absolutely save businesses and jobs.”
With this package, the administration also is allocating $50 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to 47 Community Action Agencies to provide rent, mortgage, and water and/or sewer assistance to Ohioans in need. This assistance will help Ohioans pay outstanding balances back to April 1, 2020.
Ohio households behind on their bills with an annual income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines will be eligible for assistance. For a family of four, that is an annual income up to $52,400. Starting November 2, 2020, Ohioans will be able to apply for assistance through their local Community Action Agency. A list of agencies can be found atbusinesshelp.ohio.gov.
The administration will also designate $37.5 million of CARES Act funding for the Bar and Restaurant Assistance Fund. This fund will be available for Ohio restaurants and bars struggling financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and limited in the full use of their liquor permit.
Businesses with an on-premise consumption permit will be eligible to receive $2,500 per unique business location. Businesses need to have an active on-premise permit as of close of business October 23, 2020. Starting November 2, permit holders will be able to apply for assistance at businesshelp.ohio.gov.
Additionally, the package allocates $62 million in CARES Act funding for rural and critical access hospitals as the response continues for the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding may be applied to additional costs associated with the ongoing pandemic, including
various safety measures, and the purchase of critical PPE for first responders.
“We are seeing a record-breaking number of hospitalizations throughout Ohio,” said Governor DeWine. “This is deeply concerning as we are nearing the winter season. COVID-19 is not slowing down, and continues to hit our rural communities hard.”
It also includes $100 million in CARES Act funding for higher education. This funding will support critical COVID-19-related services provided at Ohio’s universities and colleges, including expanding testing for students, faculty, and staff, and mental health services.
“Our colleges and universities have done a great job at promoting the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff this fall,” said Governor DeWine. “We know that there is a greater need for mental health services, and this funding may be put towards expanding access to those services on campuses.”
In addition, $25 million CARES Act funding will be designated for nonprofits, and $20 million to support Ohio’s world-class arts organizations. These funds will be used for costs incurred throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
To date, more than $2.1 billion Coronavirus Relief Funds have been distributed to local governments, childcare, PPE, broadband access, and other critical areas in need of financial assistance.
Today’s announcement is supported by several Ohio organizations, including NFIB, Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, Ohio Bankers League, and others. All quotes of support can be found on governor.ohio.gov.
Cleveland Foundation and Akron Community Foundation also partner to bring City Scrapers open-source technology to Northeast Ohio.
CLEVELAND (Dec. 19, 2019) – Akron Community Foundation, The Center for Community Solutions, the Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation and the Knight Foundation today announced more than $110,000 in journalism grants to address community information needs in Akron and Cleveland.
The funders came together to support hyper-local media, community organizations, resident media makers and legacy newsrooms as they collaborate to spark innovation, experimentation and learning. These projects are aimed squarely at supporting residents where information is needed most – at the neighborhood level – while also establishing new information partnerships in service to Northeast Ohio communities.
The priorities of this initial round of grantmaking were to:
•Create topic-based collaborative journalism projects that respond to community information needs and that explore and elevate solutions.
•Encourage media outlets to explore the strengths and resources already present in the region, and to build trust among these communities.
•Conduct restorative journalism that reframes community narratives to spotlight resident resilience and neighborhood progress, lifting up perspectives that are often not reflected in the traditional news media.
The nine collaborative efforts span 22 media organizations and individual journalists and nearly 30 community organizations. The projects included in the initial information needs cohort are:
Black maternal health & infant mortality– This project will use restorative journalism by empowering women in Cleveland to tell their first-person narrative via a number of channels, including written stories, radio and photography.
Witness protection and rights– This collaboration will help close a gap in understanding about the safety and rights of those who witness crime, while pushing for solutions that could promote a safer system in Cleveland.
Basic information needs in Woodhill Estates– This project will involve and inform residents of the 80-year-old public housing development on Cleveland’s East Side around pending changes as a result of a proposal to rebuild the estates.
Literacy– This collaborative will explore how media partners and other community organizations can come together to build a culture of reading at Charles Dickens Elementary School in Cleveland’s Mt. Pleasant neighborhood in order to address the K-3 literacy rate.
Food insecurity– With 59 percent of Cleveland residents living in food deserts, this project will provide a platform for residents in the MidTown, Glenville and Kinsman neighborhoods to tell their stories through a number of different channels. It will strive to better connect residents to food and other key resources around health and well-being.
Eviction– This collaborative will tackle the issue of eviction and tenant rights in Akron and Cleveland across a number of communication platforms from the perspective of both tenants and landlords, ultimately producing a tenant’s guide in both English and Spanish.
Infant mortality– This project will address the issue of infant mortality in Akron and Cleveland in a two-pronged approach: 1) educating traditional media audiences about how bias and racism play into the treatment of women of color; and 2) use storytelling across a number of social platforms to reach and inform the most at-risk residents of these two communities.
Basic information needs in Buckeye-ShakerSquare– By empowering the residents of the Buckeye-Shaker Square neighborhood via a central news hub and first-person storytelling, this collaborative aims to arm residents with the information necessary to advocate for their own well-being.
Safety and representation– This restorative journalism project will engage the residents of the Goodyear Heights neighborhood in Akron to elevate an unheard community perspective in regard to the importance of safety and representation at Reservoir Park Pool and access more generally to recreation opportunities.
City Scrapers Debuts in Northeast Ohio
Akron Community Foundation and Cleveland Foundation have partnered with Chicago-basedCity Bureauto bring the organization’s open-source City Scrapers technology to Northeast Ohio. It includes public meeting dates, times, locations and records from more than 150 government agencies at the city and county level inClevelandandAkron, all standardized in a single location for the first time – and free and open to journalists and residents alike. To date, there is information on more than 1,600 public meetings and 1,700 official documents such as meeting minutes, agendas and notices for Northeast Ohio.
City Bureau was founded in Chicago in 2015 and expanded to Detroit in 2018. The organization’s mission is to “bring journalists and communities together in a collaborative spirit to produce media that is impactful, equitable and responsive to the public.”