Cleveland City Council Public Comment Explained..

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

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.” 

Created by Cleveland Documenters Civic Reporter Doug Breehl-Pitorak. Comments or questions? Email

Justice Center Steering Committee Seeks Public Comment on Corrections Center

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.

How to Participate:

  1. Please watch the video below.
  2. Take their survey
  3. Submit any additional questions and comments about the project by:

Project Management Consultants
Attn: Steve Zannoni
127 Public Square
3900 Key Center
Cleveland, OH 44114

Public Meeting

Public Information Meeting for CUY-69-8.57 Hilliard Road Bridge Improvement (PID 109594) will be virtual. Go to to view a video of information on the project. For additional information go to Public Meeting Webpage at

How to provide comments:

  • Going to the public meeting webpage at and using the “Comment & Next Steps” tab 
  • Call Susan Daniels:  614.481.8600 Ext.134  
  • Email Susan:
  • Mail comment form or letter to:

Susan Daniels
1441 King Avenue
Columbus, OH 43212

Comments were submitted through March 1, 2021, but additional comments can still be submitted.


City Council Swear-In Ceremony

Although New Years Day generally represents a fresh start for people all over the world, it’s particularly true today for a few Clevelanders today (Monday, January 1, 2018), as five new council members were sworn in during a special ceremony..Last November’s hotly contested election resulted in a sizable turnover in Ward representation and made way for the following Council members:  • Former Councilman Joe Jones returns to City Council after defeating Terrell Pruitt in Ward 1 by a margin of eight votes. • Kevin Bishop, topped nine other candidates, including a write-in, to capture Zack Reed’s open Ward 2 seat.  • Basheer Jones, narrowly defeated TJ Dow in the official count for Ward 7 to become the first Muslim ever elected to council. • Anthony Hairston, topped nine other candidates in a race to capture Jeff Johnson’s Ward 10 seat.  • Jasmin Santana, defeated Ward 14 Councilman Brians Cummins to become the first Hispanic woman elected to City Council.

Extended Summer Hours at 8 City of Cleveland Rec Centers

The City of Cleveland Division of Recreation will extend hours at eight recreation centers for the summer. Wednesday through Saturday from now through August 12, 2017, these rec centers will remain open until 11 p.m.
IMG_1259 Ballet at Gunning 1 Chess at Clark 1

Made possible in part by the generosity of the Cleveland Foundation, the extended hours are aimed at keeping youth engaged in positive activities during the late evening hours at recreation centers as an alternative to being on the street. We are excited to announce new programming for youth and young adults which includes yoga, ballet and chess. Updated programs and activities are the result of Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative and the Office of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity for Youth and Young Adults.

Participating recreation centers include:

· Lonnie Burten, 2511 East 46th St.
· Cudell, 1910 West Blvd.
· Glenville, 680 E. 113th.
· Zelma George, 3155 Martin L. King Blvd.
· Michael Zone, 6301 Lorain Ave.
· Earle B. Turner, 11300 Miles Ave.
· Fairfax, 2335 E. 82nd Street
· Thurgood Marshall, 8611 Hough Ave.

Normal business hours for recreation centers are 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Each recreation center will offer youth basketball leagues as well as game room activities and swimming programs. Off-duty police officers will be present at each facility.
Check locations and schedules on the Division of Recreation website.



SEIU Endorses Jeff Johnson For Mayor Of Cleveland, Launches Grassroots Justice Team

CLEVELAND, OHIO – The Service Employees International Union District 1199, representing nearly 30,000 members, today endorses Ward 10 Councilman Jeff Johnson to be the next Mayor of the City of Cleveland. 

“Councilman Johnson has demonstrated a real commitment to the people of Cleveland, standing up to corporate and political opponents to lift up the voices of people throughout the city,” said Becky Williams, President of SEIU District 1199. “The failed leadership of Frank Jackson has left too many people without good jobs, safe neighborhoods and struggling to survive in the most impoverished city in the nation.”

“With Frank Jackson as Mayor, Cleveland now has the highest homicide rate in 10 years, he has risked millions of taxpayer dollars by closing public square to bus traffic, willfully denied nearly 40,000 Cleveland residents their right to vote on a citizen initiative for higher wages, and spends money in downtown that would be better served in our neighborhoods,” continued Williams. “Jeff Johnson’s vision for Cleveland will mean less working people having to struggle to provide for their families and will solve the challenges that face our community head on.”

In addition to the endorsement for Johnson, SEIU District 1199 has launched a grassroots ‘justice team’ that will work independently of the Johnson campaign to activate, communicate and educate Cleveland voters about the real issues facing working people in the upcoming election with a focus on voter registration and empowerment. 

Cleveland Police Reform Roundtables Sep 15th & 20th: Proposed Use of Force Policies


The City of Cleveland, Cleveland Division of Police, the Department of Justice, the Monitoring Team, and the Cleveland Community Police Commission have now come to the point in the police reform process where it is time for community feedback on the CPD’s revised Use of Force policies. We are collectively hosting two community roundtables, one on the Eastside and one on the Westside, each covering the same content. You are invited to attend one of the roundtables:

  Eastside Roundtable RSVP                          Westside Roundtable RSVP

5:30- 8:30pm, Thursday, September 15th        5:30-8:30pm, Tuesday, September 20th

Jerry Sue Thornton Center                                Urban Community School

2500 East 22nd Street                                       4909 Lorain Avenue

Cleveland, OH 44115                                        Cleveland, OH 44102

If you are interested in attending a community roundtable, pleas use the RSVP links above or send an RSVP to the Monitoring Team at The roundtables will include an overview of the Use of Force policy, with an opportunity for small group discussions for community members to inform the policies.

The policy is not complete or finalized.  It reflects CPD’s efforts to date to create a policy that conforms to the requirements of the Consent Decree.  None of the Court, Monitor, City, or Department of Justice have yet approved the policies.  The policies are likely to change further as community feedback is incorporated.  Regardless, the development of the policies is far enough along that community input is timely and necessary.

You are invited to read the policy by going to the Monitoring Team’s website. You may also engage in the process by using our online community feedback form to submit any thoughts on the policy by visiting the Monitoring Team’s website.

We hope you strongly consider being part of this important conversation about how we can work together to create a Use of Force Policy consistent with the goals and interests of the Cleveland community.

This outreach is a part of our ongoing effort to engage the Cleveland community in the police reform process. Earlier this year, we sought community input on the Cleveland Division of Police body-worn camera policy, the mission statement, and several other key policies.  On behalf of the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team, We want to thank everyone who participated for their engagement with and contributions to the discussion surrounding police reform under the federal Consent Decree in Cleveland.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the Use of Force Policy and seeing you at one of the community roundtables.

Cleveland Police Monitoring Team

Area Youth Invited To “Play Ball!” At League Park

The City of Cleveland is inviting local area youth to come “Play Ball!” at historic League Park this Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Baseballs, bats, gloves, and other equipment will be provided by the Department of Public Works.


“Due to the overwhelming response and attendance from the grand opening ceremony, we wanted to ensure that everybody had another opportunity to visit the facility before the end of the season,” said Director of Public Works Michael Cox.

“The ball field will be open and youth will have a chance to hit the ball from the very spot that Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run on August 11, 1929.”

All visitors are welcome to tour the park and stop-by the Baseball Heritage Museum.

League Park is an important part of history, not just to Cleveland but to the sport of baseball. If you missed the grand opening join us on Saturday – tour the museum, hit the ball and run the bases.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

10:00 am – 2:00 pm


League Park

E 66th St & Lexington Ave


Local area youth invited to play baseball at League Park


Area Youth Invited To “Play Ball!” At League Park

The City of Cleveland is inviting local area youth to come “Play Ball!” at historic League Park this Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Baseballs, bats, gloves, and other equipment will be provided by the Department of Public Works.


“Due to the overwhelming response and attendance from the grand opening ceremony, we wanted to ensure that everybody had another opportunity to visit the facility before the end of the season,” said Director of Public Works Michael Cox.

“The ball field will be open and youth will have a chance to hit the ball from the very spot that Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run on August 11, 1929.”

All visitors are welcome to tour the park and stop-by the Baseball Heritage Museum.

League Park is an important part of history, not just to Cleveland but to the sport of baseball. If you missed the grand opening join us on Saturday – tour the museum, hit the ball and run the bases.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

10:00 am – 2:00 pm


League Park

E 66th St & Lexington Ave


Local area youth invited to play baseball at League Park

Pictures From League Park’s Grand Opening

A few months ago, I did a  #ThrowbackThursday post on Instagram dedicated to Cleveland’s baseball roots and the Tribe’s  first home, League Park. I figured it’d be the perfect time to copy and paste an excerpt from that post.

In 1887, a professional baseball team was organized here and that team built a new park on 39th & Payne.. In 1890, the park was struck by lightening and much of it was destroyed by fire. The Cleveland Spiders finished out their season in the partially destroyed park and built a new, improved park at 66th & Lexington, it’s known to some baseball historians as League Park I. It was a wooden structure with seating for 9,000. Frank Robison (owner) and his brother had financial interests in the local traction company so they built their park where their street car lines intersected. In 1899, the Robisons took their talents (and most of the Spiders’ talents) to St. Louis and the Cleveland team was eliminated from the National League. In 1901, however, they joined their current home, the American League and 10 years later, League Park was destroyed and rebuilt with accommodations for 21,000. League Park was home to the Spiders, Cleveland Naps, Cleveland Buckeyes (Negro League), Cleveland Indians and a practice field for the Cleveland Browns at one point. It was purchased by the city in 1950 with intent to turn it into a recreational area. The park is on the National Register of Historic Places and is NOW undergoing a $6 Million renovation.

Today, the Park became the first professional baseball field to be converted in to community use, as the field will host the city’s recreational league games, as well as home games for Rhodes and Lincoln West’s high school baseball teams.

The field also will be available for rent for private groups at a rate of $1,000 for six hours.

The refurbished park includes a new artificial turf baseball field designed to League Park’s original dimensions, including a 460-foot span from home plate to the center field wall, and a 45-foot-high right field fence. The park also features a museum, a walking track, a community room and the historic ticket house has been refurbished.

Pictures of the aforementioned, as well as highlights from today’s appearance by the Cleveland Blues vintage baseball team and an unveiling of a sculpture of late Cleveland City Councilwoman Fannie M. Lewis, who 20 years ago began the effort to rehab the historic baseball park, can be found below.



Planning On Tailgating?! Here’s What You Need To Know..


As football season returns, the City of Cleveland would like for all fans and visitors to have a safe, enjoyable experience at every Cleveland Browns home game; this includes traveling to and from FirstEnergy Stadium, tailgating, and parking in downtown Cleveland.

“Whether you plan on heading straight to the game or tailgating, we want everyone to have an enjoyable and safe time when they come downtown,” said Michael McGrath, Director of Public Safety. “When you have tens of thousands of people converging on one area of the city in a short period of time, there’s always the potential for any multitude of traffic hazards and we want to mitigate those concerns.”

To accomplish that goal, the City of Cleveland is increasing its efforts to improve the flow of traffic, minimize the risk for pedestrian/vehicle accidents and offer a fun, safe tailgating experience.

Vehicular and Pedestrian Traffic – Pedestrian Bridge

The Division of Police and the Division of Traffic Engineering have developed a plan to move traffic more efficiently prior to and after every Cleveland Browns home game. The first portion of this plan involves keeping the pedestrian bridge (see attached map) closed indefinitely. The pedestrian bridge is closed throughout the year except for the 10 Cleveland Browns home games. By keeping the bridge closed, the Division of Traffic Engineering will be able to implement a safer pedestrian route to FirstEnergy Stadium and improve the traffic flow around the stadium. Signage will be posted to notify the public of the bridge closure and to redirect them towards alternate routes along East 9th Street or West 3rd Street.

Stadium Map-page-001

In addition to public safety improvements, dividing the pedestrian traffic from the vehicular traffic allows for a free flow of vehicular traffic in and out of the parking areas before and after games.

  • To access the stadium from the Huntington parking garage, fans should exit and head towards West 3rd Street then head north to the southwest and northwest gates of the stadium.
  • To access the stadium from Willard parking garage, fans are encouraged to exit the garage and head towards East 9th Street, then towards Erieside Avenue, then towards the southeast and northeast gates of the stadium.

Vehicular and Pedestrian Traffic – Traffic Control  

In addition to the closure of the pedestrian bridge, the Division of Traffic Engineering has redesigned various traffic control measures to improve safety and walkability during game day.

  • Alternative Traffic Routing – West 25th Street, Superior Avenue, Prospect Avenue, East 14th Street and East 18th Street will now be a part of the game day traffic plan with added signage and signal timing changes.
  • Redirection of traffic along the Marginal roadways – Traffic will be able access I-90 at East 55th. Traffic will not be permitted to access East 9th Street from the Marginal so as to not conflict with pedestrian traffic.
  • Pedestrian fencing – Additional fencing will be added to prohibit pedestrians from walking onto the Shoreway or Shoreway ramps
  • Police officers and traffic controllers – The following intersections will now be staffed with traffic controllers: West 9th Street and St. Clair Avenue, West 9th Street and Superior Avenue, West 6th Street and St. Clair Avenue, West 6th Street and Superior Avenue, West 25th Street and Detroit, and all Muni Lot access driveways to and from the Shoreway. In addition to these intersections, all driveway access points to North Marginal Road from the Coast Guard Station and Burke Airport will be staffed.


The Cleveland Division of Police and Department of Public Works endeavor to provide all visitors and patrons of every Cleveland Browns home football game with a safe and   family-friendly environment before, during, and after game time. For many Browns football fans, tailgating is a popular event all around the City, especially inside the City’s municipal parking lot off of the east Shoreway (Muni Lot).

Due to the safety challenges and concerns associated with tailgating on public property, the Cleveland Division of Police and Department of Public Works have implemented the following rules and procedures to create a secure event inside the Muni Lot. These rules and procures will be in effect at all home games. On Saturday, August 23, 2014, tailgating start time will be 7:00 a.m.  Please note: No tailgating is permitted in the Willard parking garage behind City Hall.


  • Lot Operation and Fees – the Muni Lot opens promptly at 7:00 am for all regular and pre-season season weekend home games. Vehicles are not permitted to enter the premises before that time.  The fee to park in the municipal lot is $20 dollars. You will be charged for all spaces that you occupy. Cleveland Police will not permit vehicles to line-up or stage on the Shoreway before game time.
  • Alcohol and Safety – Open containers, consumption of alcohol and public intoxication are all prohibited in the Muni Lot. If you plan to consume alcohol during any sporting event always ensure you have a designated driver. Please exercise caution at all times and if you see something, please say something.
  • Sanitation – There will be 50 portable restrooms, 75 trash cans and 3 dumpsters in the Muni lot during all regular season games. Private latrines are strictly Please make sure all trash is disposed of properly before you leave any lot.
  • Parking – Parking restrictions are put in place in downtown Cleveland for each Browns home football game – typically for three hours before each game and until two hours after the game’s completion. Look for bright neon signs attached to posts, poles and parking meters in those areas affected by the restrictions. Violators will be ticketed and towed if parked in violation. All associated fines and fees to have an automobile released must be done at the One Stop Vehicle Impound Center located at 3040 Quigley Road.