Doug Breehl-Pitorak (he/him)
Doug Breehl-Pitorak (he/him)
Public comment back at City Council; higher parking rates on horizon
Meeting coverage by Cleveland Documenters | Compiled by Signal Cleveland’s Doug Breehl-Pitorak and Anastazia Vanisko | Edited by Rachel Dissell and Mary Ellen Huesken

Here’s what happened last week in local public government meetings covered by Cleveland Documenters. Cleveland Public Meetings Report – The week of Sept. 18
Metered parking in Cleveland neighborhoods to cost between $1 and $5 per hour
Sept. 18 – Finance, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, Cleveland City Council
Covered by Documenters Carolyn Cooper (notes) and Christina Easter (live-tweet thread)
Commissioner of Parking Facilities Kim Johnson and Director of Public Works Frank Williams. (Credit: Image captured from Cleveland City Council YouTube by Documenter Christina Easter)
Parking prices going up: Cleveland residents and visitors will soon see pricier parking. The committee advanced legislation to raise maximum rates at some city-owned lots. That includes the Muni Lot, a popular spot for tailgating before Browns games.

City Council passed the legislation later that night (it held the proposal in August). One sticking point was the proposed pricing at parking meters, A range between $1 and $8 per hour. Some council members said that range may suit downtown but not Cleveland’s neighborhoods. In this meeting, the committee voted to cap the cost at $5 per hour for meters outside downtown.

What’s the chatter? Some residents have asked why they can’t send public chat messages on CityCouncil’s YouTube page, according to Council Member Brian Kazy. Va’Kedia Stiggers, council staff, said the council doesn’t allow comments on the livestreams of meetings “because of some of the comments that people were leaving.” Stiggers said people can post comments to TV 20’s Facebook pageCity Council’s Facebook page, and City Council’s X (Twitter) account.

Left wondering: The parking rates discussion and the exchange about online comments stuck with Documenter Carolyn Cooper. She asked, “Will residents with disabilities be offered certain spaces and discounted parking rates? Will the council eventually allow live questions and public comments–via social media or livestream–for elderly and disabled residents who cannot attend meetings in person?”

Court grant: The committee OK’d legislation for a $200,000 grant from the Cuyahoga County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. It is for the Cleveland Municipal Courts’ specialized dockets. They include the:

  • Veterans Docket (led by Judge Charles Patton Jr.)
  • Human Trafficking Docket (led by Judge Marilyn Cassidy)
  • Drug Court Docket (led by Judge Lauren Moore)
  • Mental Health Docket (led by Judge Suzan Sweeney)
Each docket receives $45,000 to $55,000 of the grant money, said Court Administrator Russell Brown III. The court has used the money for client services and treatment, Brown added.
A request for data: The committee approved an amendment proposed by Council Member Mike Polensek. It requires that the council receive a quarterly report on the demographics of people served by this grant, organized by the city ward.

Curious about the parking rates plans? Check out the 
city’s presentation. Interested in sending Cleveland City Council a public comment online? You can do that on its website.
Board delays decisions on East Side group homes
Covered by Documenters Tina Scott (notes) and Marvetta Rutherford (live-tweet thread)
The location of a proposed East Side group home. (Credit: Cleveland City Planning Commission YouTube)
Postponed decisions: After much back and forth between project representatives, community members, and one council member, the Board of Zoning Appeals delayed decisions on two East Side group homes.
Emergent Evolutions LLC proposed a group home for veterans in need of rehabilitation services on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Cleveland City Council Member Deborah Gray said she was told the group home would be for children. The project representative attributed the confusion to a statement he made to Gray about the company also working in childcare. Gray said she would support the project if the community wanted it, as the representative had presented 28 signatures from residents in support.
Zoning Board Chair Alanna Faith suggested postponing the decision so the council member could clarify the purpose of the project and hold a community meeting on the subject. Gray agreed.
BJB Enterprise LLC also proposed a group home, this one for three women over 30 on East 93rd Street. Two neighbors came to the meeting to express concern about ongoing issues of property maintenance and crime that went unaddressed by previous property owners.
One of the neighbors said the street already had three or four group homes, although City Planning’s map only showed one. Chief City Planner Maurice Ruelens said any additional group homes are likely unregistered or are classified as rooming houses.

Ruelens also said he was concerned about operating a group home–which is a business—out of a row house with existing residential tenants. He suggested hosting a community meeting to gather more input from residents. Board members postponed their decision to Oct. 9th so that there would be time to confirm the number of group homes in the area and do a site visit to the property.

Taking it to court: Two Ward 1 residents, upset with the board’s decision regarding the property next to theirs, are appealing the decision to the Cuyahoga County  Court of Common Pleas. The two women had previously argued against the positioning of their neighbor’s proposed garage, but the board determined that their complaint was an aesthetic preference rather than a rights violation.

The five-member Board of Zoning Appeals has been down one member since June, and at least three yes votes are required for an appeal to be approved. If fewer than three board members are present, then the board can’t conduct business. Signal Cleveland Reporter Nick Castele has more on the impact these instances have on Cleveland residents.

Public comment back at City Council, as is call for flavored-tobacco ban
Covered by Documenters Hannah Morgan (notes) and Stésià Swain (live-tweet thread)
Thad Franklin, Cleveland resident and owner of Major League Barber Shop, makes a public comment. (Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube)
Returns: Public comment returned for the first time since June 5, the beginning of City Council’s summer recess with the opportunity returned requests for the council to ban the sale of flavored tobacco in Cleveland. It has been a consistent theme among commenters since Mayor Justin Bibb’s administration proposed legislation in February.
Barber for the ban: This time, Cleveland resident and barber Thad Franklin said flavored tobacco products are marketed to youth, especially in Black neighborhoods. Franklin started a campaign called Victimizing All People Everywhere (VAPE). In October, some churches and barbershops are hosting No-Menthol Sunday activities, Franklin added.
Franklin, like others, urged the council to pass the ban. The council has not moved the proposal forward. Signal’s Nick Castele has the latest.
Sister up: Cleveland could soon become a sister city with towns in three African countries. Council introduced legislation that would allow Mayor Justin Bibb to enter sister-city agreements with Cape Town, South Africa, Kigali, Rwanda, and Tema, Ghana.
Casino money coming? Council OK’d six uses of its discretionary casino revenue money, which comes from taxes on statewide casino proceeds. Projects set to be supported by the money include:
  • The Puerto Rican Expo
  • A Ward 4 planning project
  • Calgary Park upgrades
This spring, Signal Cleveland spoke with intended recipients about delays in receiving casino money promised by the City Council. One group, Neighborhood Pets, received a check for $25,000 more than two years after it was approved.

Wondering how to sign up to make a public comment? Check out 
our guide.
Future Ink, Ohio Voice, and Delta Alpha Lambda Foundation are in line for funding
Sept. 18 – Community Development Committee, Cuyahoga County Council
Covered by Documenter Tucker Handley (notes)
Council Member Michael Gallagher talks about the lack of care for seniors in Cuyahoga County. (Credit: Cuyahoga County Council YouTube)
ARPA funding community: Committee members moved forward with legislation approving American Rescue Plan Act funding for three community organizations—Future Ink Graphics, Ohio Voice, and the Delta Alpha Lambda Foundation.
Future Ink Graphics, in partnership with the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, would receive $20,000 to support both the Creative Residency Program for artists with disabilities and professional development training for emerging designers.
Ohio Voice is in line for $10,000 and the Delta Alpha Lambda Foundation for $20,000, both for repairs to their facilities. Pastor Evan Regis Bunch said that Ohio Voice is acting as the fiscal sponsor for Fifth Christian Disciples of Christ. The church will use the funding to make repairs to its kitchen so that they can continue to provide meals for children participating in its social action programs.
Lateef Saffore, chair of the Delta Lambda Foundation, said they will use the funding to repair the food pantry distribution site on East 116th Street.
The next step in the approval process is for the full County Council to hear the legislation.
Taking care of seniors: Council Member Michael Gallagher said that the county needs to do more to provide for aging seniors. He said, “There’s no reason whatsoever that a senior should go, in the latter years of their life, to worry about anything, and mostly in Cuyahoga County they worry about everything.”
His comments followed the county’s Director of Housing and Community Development Sarah Parks Jackson’s introduction of a resolution that would authorize $6.35 million in federal HOME and emergency rental assistance loans to organizations constructing and rehabilitating affordable housing units in Cleveland, Lakewood, and Cleveland Heights.
Some of the funding, including $1 million for the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging and $450,000 for the Commonwealth Development Corp. of America, is for senior apartments.
The committee approved the legislation, and it will go to the full council for its next reading.
Left wondering: Documenter Tucker Handley asked, “Why do grant applications for $10,000 to $20,000 have detailed PowerPoint presentations, while $10 million disbursements are approved with little to no comment?”

The county provides thousands of dollars in ARPA funding to community organizations, including Comics at the Corner. 
Learn more about Dawn Arrington’s comics-based literacy program.
On Deck
Sept. 25 
  • 9:30 a.m. – Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals (livestream)
  • 2 p.m. – Cleveland City Council Finance, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (livestream)
  • 7 p.m. – Cleveland City Council (livestream)
Sept. 26
  • 9 a.m. – Civilian Police Review Board (livestream)
  • 9:30 a.m. – City Council Development, Planning, and Sustainability Committee (livestream)
  • 5 p.m. – Cuyahoga County Council (livestream)
Sept. 27
  • 10 a.m. – Cleveland City Council Safety Committee (livestream)
  • 3 p.m. – Cleveland Board of Control (livestream)
  • 6 p.m. – Cleveland Community Police Commission (livestream)
Cuyahoga County Council OKs up to $30,000 for Neighborhood Pets; election officials talk cybersecurity Meeting coverage by Cleveland Documenters | Compiled by Signal Cleveland’s Doug Breehl-Pitorak and Anastazia Vanisko | Edited by Rachel Dissell and Mary Ellen Huesken

Here’s what happened last week in local public government meetings covered by Cleveland Documenters. Cleveland Public Meetings Report – The week of Sept. 11 Cuyahoga County Council OKs up to $30,000 for Neighborhood Pets
Covered by Documenter Joanna Tomassoni (notes)

Cuyahoga County Council Member Sunny Simon speaks at the Sept. 12 meeting. (Credit: Cuyahoga County Council YouTube)

Pet care for seniors: Neighborhood Pets got a financial boost. Cuyahoga County Council approved a grant of up to $30,000 of federal stimulus money to the nonprofit, which offers free and low-cost supplies to pet owners. The grant will support pet care for homebound seniors.
“The Slavic Village nonprofit also offers wraparound services for pet owners,” said Council Member Sunny Simon. “The pets are the entryway, and sometimes you need different touchpoints for [people] to allow you in to give them help,” Simon said.

One wait for money begins, another ends: This spring, Signal Cleveland spoke with Neighborhood Pets about the nonprofit’s yearslong wait for $25,000 promised from Cleveland City Council’s slice of state casino revenues. At that time, Neighborhood Pets was still waiting for the money, which council approved in December 2021. The organization received a check from the city for the full amount in early September, Executive Director Becca Britton told Signal Cleveland in an email. “It only took years and relentless badgering to make this happen,” Britton wrote.

Construction concerns: Loh, a community activist, spoke about renovations at the YWCA Norma Herr Women’s Center. It is a shelter for women experiencing homelessness. The dust and other construction complications have made it challenging for residents and workers, Loh said. Documenters Walter Topp and Gennifer Harding-Gosnell summarized renovation plans as presented to the Cleveland Landmarks Commission in August of 2022.

Budget shuffle: Council also moved some money budgeted for 2022-2023 to different departments, but first, it voted to remove these proposals from the legislation (found on pg. 86 of the agenda packet) and refer them to committees for further review:

  • About $574,000 for the County Executive office for personnel and operating expenses
  • About $2.16 million for constructing foster care housing at the Metzenbaum Center
  • $2 million for the Freshwater Institute project
Curious about Cleveland City Council’s casino revenue money? Take a deep dive with civic-minded folks at the Signal Cleveland office on Oct. 10 as part of Data Days 2023. Check out the event and registration details
Elections officials implement new state cybersecurity directives
Covered by Documenter Tim Zelina (notes)
Credit: Jeff Haynes | Signal Cleveland

Ramping up security:  Security updates aimed at preventing cyberattacks are coming to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. New guidelines from Ohio’s Secretary of State require that Board of Elections staff undergo assessments by the Department of Homeland Security to determine system vulnerabilities to cyber risks such as phishing scams. Deputy Director Anthony Kaloger said that the state will give each county up to $10,000  to meet these goals.

Caught in a jam: Kaloger gave an update on efforts to prevent jamming in ballot machines. He said that the likely problem was the ballot door getting stuck and that the Sept. 12 primaries in Garfield Heights and Maple Heights would be an opportunity to test solutions.

One proposed fix? Taping the ballot door open.
Out of the race: County Council Member Martin Sweeney withdrew from the race for Cleveland Municipal Court Clerk. This means that Sweeney is able to remain in his seat on County Council until his term ends in 2027.

Oct. 10 is the last day you can register to vote before the Nov. 7 election. You can register for the first time or update your registration 
online if you have an Ohio ID.  If not, you can complete a voter registration form in-person at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.
Cleveland employees to have option of identity theft insurance
Covered by Documenter Mildred Seward (notes)
Cleveland Board of Control illustration. (Credit: John G | Shiner Comics)

Identity theft insurance: The city wants to offer employees the option to receive identity theft insurance, and it just got some help to do that. The board approved adding Aura, a business that aims to protect customers from cybercrime, as a subcontractor to an agreement with MetLife insurance. The board approved the initial agreement in February, along with contracts with five other insurance providers.

Land for sale: The board approved the sale of nine land parcels for a total of $58,000. The city is selling some of the parcels for $200 each. It is selling one parcel in Tremont to Richard Lalli for $52,800 and one in Old Brooklyn to Civic Builders LLC for $4,000. The sales are part of the Cleveland Land Reutilization Program, which focuses on selling vacant land for redevelopment.

Work for play: 
Earlier this year, Cleveland City Council set aside $30 million for a variety of basic improvements such as street repair, traffic calming measures, and fixing up playgrounds. The board OK’d a contract for the playground work, tapping R.J. Platten Contracting Co. to lead the job. The maximum cost is about $8.17 million. has more details about the 17 playgrounds the city hopes to renovate.
What is the Board of Control? What power does it have? Find answers to those questions and more in our Board of Control explainer.
On deck

Take a look at the meetings Documenters are set to cover this week. Click here to see more upcoming local government meetings.

Sept. 18 

  • 9:30 a.m. – Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals (livestream)
  • 10 a.m. – Community Development Committee, Cuyahoga County Council (livestream)
  • 2 p.m. – Finance, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, Cleveland City Council (livestream)
  • 7 p.m. – Cleveland City Council (livestream)
Sept. 19
  • 9:30 a.m. – Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee, Cleveland City Council (livestream)
Sept. 20
  • 1 p.m. – Health, Human Services & Aging Committee, Cuyahoga County Council (livestream)
  • 3 p.m. – Cleveland Board of Control (livestream)
  • 6 p.m. – Police Policy Committee, Cleveland Community Police Commission (livestream)
Sept. 21
  • 10 a.m. – Utilities Committee, Cleveland City Council (livestream)