Committee of the Whole

Cleveland City Council
Criminal Justice

Wednesday, July 12, 2023
9:00 a.m. — 1:00 p.m. EDT

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Cleveland City Council’s Committee of the Whole allows all 17 council members to meet and act as a committee. Essentially, it serves as an extra step in the process of vetting legislation before City Council officially votes on legislation.

NOTE for Documenters: This meeting is set for four hours. It is a committee meeting ahead of the first of two full City Council meetings this summer. So, there will likely be a long list of legislation for the committee to review. If the meeting runs longer than four hours, please know you’re not expected to watch or stay for the full duration if you have other places to be or simply need a break! Just keep us posted and note in your coverage where you left off if necessary.

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Edited and summarized by the Cleveland - OH Documenters Team

Note-taking by Timothy Zelina

More "parklets" offering outdoor seating coming to Cleveland

Live reporting by Emma Sedlak

Committee advances paid parental leave policy, revises permit process for street patios

Emma Sedlak @eesedla
Good afternoon folks! I'll be live-tweeting this morning's Cleveland Committee of the Whole meeting for #CLEdocumenters
Watch the live stream here:…

11:17 AM Jul 12, 2023 CDT

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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland The following members were present during roll:
Blaine Griffin - Ward 6
Kevin Conwell - Ward 9
Anthony Hairston - Ward 10
Kris Harsh - Ward 13
Brian Kazy - Ward 16
Kerry Mccormick - Ward 3
Michael Polensek - Ward 8
Charles Slife - Ward 17
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Council President Griffin noted that Kevin Bishop (Ward 2) and Deborah Gray (Ward 4) joined during roll
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Griffin introduced guests in support of Emergency Ordinance 715-2023, which authorizes a half-million-dollar grant to complete renovations for Karamu House using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland President and CEO of Karamu House, Tony Sias, spoke in support of the grant. He cited the importance of public funds to ensure the completion of renovations as the organization enters phase three of construction.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Sias emphasized Karamu House's place as a vital organization in the community. "Karamu house is the oldest black-producing theater in the country, celebrating 108 years," he said.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Mccormack thanked Sias and spoke in support of 715-2023. Conwell also spoke in support of the grant mentioning the Karamu House's impact on the city's children.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland “Sias teaches character to the children in the community from all over the city,” said Conwell. He asserted that there will be outcome measures from this investment in Karamu House and urged his fellow council members to visit the organization to see for themselves.
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 9/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Griffin mentioned that resolution 715-2023 stands as approved and urged council members to sign on. Read more about Karamu House's renovations here:…
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 10/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Next, Griffin introduced Cleveland Commissioner of Real Estate Susanne DeGennaro and VP of Facilities and Capital for Playhouse Square Foundation (PHSF) Tom Einhouse to speak in support of Emergency Ordinance 707-2023.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland In 707-2023, the city wishes to lease the 659 ft concession stand in US Bank Plaza to PHSF. The executive summary can be viewed below:
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland DeGennaro said that PHSF was approached by a restaurant operator who would like to operate a year-round fresh food concept in the concession stand space. The concession stand has been vacant since 2019.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland The lease would be $1/year with the understanding that PHSF will continue to maintain and program events in the plaza. The term of the lease is 5 years with an option to renew for 5 years.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Mccormack spoke in support of the resolution citing that residents of Ward 3 have been pushing to activate this plaza, and he is happy that the city is working with PHSF to bring life into this public space.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Griffin read the amendment aloud and stated the 707-2023 stands approved. You can read the full ordinance and amendment below:
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Next, Griffin introduced Emergency Ordinance 647-2023 and its amendment, which gives consent to the Director of Transportation of the State of Ohio to construct improvements in the city under the Pedestrian Safety Improvement Project. The ordinance and amendment are attached:
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Bishop and Mccormack both spoke in support of Ordinance 647-2023. Griffin stated that the ordinance stands as approved.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Next, Griffin introduced Ordinance 704-2023, which proposes patio and parklet codification changes. Robert Knopf, Section Chief for Permits and Sidewalks for the City of Cleveland, presented the ordinance.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Knopf presented a brief history of outdoor occupancy for establishments in Cleveland, emphasizing the Temporary Expansion Area (TEA) Permits change during the pandemic, which allowed restaurants to expand outdoor seating into the street. TEA ended in 2022.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Since the end of TEA, establishments are still requesting permits to expand into sidewalks and street parking.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland 704-2023 will rename Section 513 as Temporary Right-of-Way Occupancy of Outdoor Patios and Parklets (TROOPs), which establishes one-year permits for establishments to utilize sidewalks and street parking as outdoor spaces to be used for food/beverage, seating, or bike corals.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Knopf clarified that TROOPs can be used for more than just restaurants, as clothing stores may want an area for customers to sit outside and relax while friends or family members are shopping.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Knopf also went over the changes in the application for these permits, permit fees, issuance, duration, requirements, and more. A few changes are noted below:
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Moving on to questions, Kazy asked if the council could object to these permits. Knopf answered that the council will receive notification of all permits. However, several council members expressed the desire for a council approval process rather than just a notification.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Mccormack voiced concern for Section F of the ordinance, which requires a letter of support from adjacent businesses. He cited an example in his ward of a pedestrian street that cannot open due to one adjacent establishment overruling the rest of the community's support.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland “If just one person says no, it shuts the project down,” said Mccormack. He believes that there should be more room for discretion.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Polensek went to look at a similar form of parklets in Sylvania, Ohio, which raised some concerns. He asked Knopf about what cities they looked at to inform these changes. Knopf answered that they primarily looked at NYC, San Francisco, and Seattle.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Polensek asked about the need to remove these parklets during the winter to not obstruct plow trucks. He also raised concerns about removing parking in areas that already lack sufficient parking and about uniformity in commercial districts.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland “There needs to be some uniformity, or else our commercial districts will look like a total hodge-podge,” said Polensek. He passed his cell phone around, showing pictures of Sylvania that have the uniformity he wants.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Jones expressed concerns about these parklets being “eyesores” and community safety. “How do we keep our community members safe?” he asked. Jones also agreed that council members should have to approve permits.
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 31/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Hairston agreed with Mccormack’s concerns about one business owner being able to withhold support and shut down potential projects. Hairston emphasized that this process should not be rushed as to not inconvenience community members.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Spencer pushed back on Knopf, stating that she has never received notification of a patio permit. Knopf responded by saying that means there hasn't been a permit approved in her ward.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland “Just because there is a patio doesn't mean it's licensed,” Knopf said. He mentioned that they are trying to amp up enforcement on unlicensed patios.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Griffin said he has received notifications and asked that Knopf send out the list of all 66 applications this tear to council members to clear up any confusion.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Howse emphasized the need for clarity in the review process so there are clear policies and guidelines to explain why some applications are approved while others are denied.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Howse also asked for more information about the sidewalk committee and expressed concerns about the surplus of cumbersome committees in city hall.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland A representative from the Department of Law clarified that the notification requirement is already codified. She read the code stating that no permit shall be issued until the council member from the ward has been provided written notice.
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 38/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland “We have always required notification,” she clarified. She proposed that they could change the language to seek council members' recommendations on permits and went over the reason they have not allowed council members to deny permits.
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 39/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Case law in Ohio states it would be unconstitutional, as council members are not allowed to speak for the body unilaterally. In other words, one council member cannot have the authority to deny permits. It would need to come before the entire council.
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 40/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Hairston suggested that the process for these permits could mirror the process for liquor permits and honorary street renaming. The permit applications wouldn't have to go through a committee but could be approved or denied by the whole council.
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 41/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Griffin announced three proposed amendments to Ordinance 704-2023:
1. Striking Section F
2. Uniformity
3. Appropriate language for approval by the legislative body
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland On the topic of striking Section F, Mccormack stated that private business owners should not have a say on public right of way. Those decisions should be made by the legislature and administration.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Jones seconded the amendment to strike Section F, and Hairston spoke in agreement. Without opposition, the amendment passed.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland On the topic of uniformity, Polensek and Knopf discussed where the uniformity amendment could fit into the ordinance, agreeing on section 513.07.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Polensek said there must be uniformity pertaining to the structures and appearance. In some cities, there's a requirement for landscaping on the units.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Slife asked what the best way to enact this is “without having to reinvent the wheel.” Knopf expressed the need for flexibility so as to not stifle innovation in design. He suggested creating a new committee to create these guidelines for uniformity
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 47/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland The representative from the Department of Law, Stephanie Melnyk, recommended an amendment to require uniformity and landscaping provisions. The rules and regulations need to be submitted to the council for approval. Without any opposition, the amendment passed.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland On the topic of appropriate language for approval by the legislative body, Hairston emphasized the Ohio case law that prohibits council members from making unilateral decisions regarding permits.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Hairston restated his proposed amendment that parklet and patio permits should be treated like liquor licenses and honorary street renaming. It does not need to go through a committee but will be approved or denied by the council during Monday night meetings.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Jones expressed concerns that this amendment could slow the process down. However, without any official opposition, the amendment passed. Griffin affirmed Jones' concerns and urged the council to ensure these permits do not get slowed down by the amended process.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Griffin concluded that Ordinance 704-2023, as amended, stands as approved.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Next, Griffin introduced Emergency Ordinance 705-2023, which gives consent to the Director of Transportation of the State of Ohio to construct the Ramp Safety Improvement Project at West Boulevard and Interstate 90.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Kelly spoke in support of the ordinance, emphasizing that this has been needed for a long time. Griffin applauded Kelly for his work to get this project done and stated that 705-2023 stands as approved.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Next, Griffin introduced 622-2023 and 661-2024, which concern the allocation of GO bonds to public and recreational facilities improvements.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Several council members expressed concerns about introducing GO Bonds as emergency ordinances during the summer session and emphasized the importance of having these proposals go through cautious review in committee.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland After the lunch break, Griffin addressed legislation concerning the Department of Human Resources. Emergency Ordinance 679-2023 authorizes the Director of HR to accept funding from the Cleveland Foundation for the salaries and benefits of five Public Service Fellows for 2023-2024
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Griffin asked the HR representative if there would be fellows returning to the council, to which she responded no. Both Griffin and Hairston expressed their desire for more Public Service Fellows to work with the council.
Moreover, Griffin announced 679-2023 stands as approved
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 58/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Moving on to legislation concerning the Department of Health, Emergency Ordinance 670-2023 states that no fee shall be demanded for any air contaminant source in the City that is owned or operated by a County Land Reutilization Corporation.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Griffin read some amendments that are not linked in the meeting's agenda aloud and asked Hairston to weigh in as the sponsor of the legislation. However, at this point, Hairston’s microphone cuts out, and he cannot be heard over the live stream.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Standing in for Griffin, Mccormack clarified that these amendments have not yet been approved. Hairston added that he supports the legislation without the amendments.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland A representative from the Department of Health clarified that the amendments came from the administration to make the legislation enforceable. Without approval of the amendments by the committee, Mccormack stated that Ordinance 670-2023 stands as approved without the amendments.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Mccormack introduced Emergency Ordinance 680-2023, which authorizes the Director of Public Health to accept a grant from the Ohio Commission of Minority Health for the continuation of the Cleveland Office of Minority Health.
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 63/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland The Director of the Cleveland Office of Minority Health, Frances Mills, stated that this ordinance is simply an opportunity to accept funds from the State of Ohio. She also introduced the new Director of the Cleveland Office of Minority Health, Raafeeq Ali.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Ordinance 680-2023 stands as approved. Next, Emergency Ordinance 687-2023 authorizes the Director of Public Health to accept a grant for the 2023-2024 Cities Readiness Initiative Program.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Mills stated that this will allow the continuation of the work by the Cleveland Cities Readiness Initiative Project's progress during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ordinance stands as approved.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Next, Mccormack introduces the Department of Port Control and Emergency Ordinance 678-2023, which increases Air Canada's ticketing space at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Without any opposition, the ordinance stands as approved.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Next, Mccormack introduced Emergency Ordinance 681-2023, which authorizes the Director of Port Control to enter into a triple net lease with South Shore Cable Construction Inc. in the city of Brook Park.
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 68/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland The representative from Port Control explained that a triple net lease means that the tenant is responsible for all costs of the facility. Mccormack said that it seems like a good deal of the city, and the representative added that South Shore has been a good tenant in the past.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Next, Mccormack introduced Emergency Ordinance 682-2023, which authorizes the master lease with signatory airlines and cargo carriers at Cleveland Hopkins. "This is our biggest lease agreement," said the Port Control representative.
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 70/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Mccormack and the representative discussed how this Master Lease is essential for Cleveland Hopkins' Master Plan for renovating the airport and adding a new terminal. Read more about the Master Plan here:…
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Mccormack announced that Ordinance 682-2023 stands as approved.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Moving onto legislation concerning the Department of Community Development, Mccormack introduced Emergency Ordinance 556-2023, which authorizes the Director of Community Development to enter a grant agreement to finance constructing homes for veterans experiencing homelessness.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Bishop spoke in support of the legislation, adding that he has been working on developing a center for Cleveland veterans to provide housing, recreational and educational space as a holistic approach for veterans struggling once they return from serving.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Bishop added that they are hoping to break ground on this project by the end of the summer at the site on Harvard Ave. between 100th and 106th. He also hopes to expand businesses in the area to provide jobs for these veterans and other community members.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Jones added that he hopes this project can help drive economic and community development in the southeast of Cleveland, specifically in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Mccormack congratulated Bishop and announced that Ordinance 556-2023 stands as approved.
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 77/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Next, Mccormack introduced legislation concerning the Department of Public Utilities. Emergency Ordinances 683-2023 and 684-2023 concern the annual purchasing of necessary vehicles.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Several council members asserted that these types of ordinances need to be considered before the summer session. Jones emphasized the need for these vehicles and called for greater "professionalism" from the Department of Public Utilities to get these ordinances in before summer.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Councilmembers and the Department of Public Utilities representatives went over the list of vehicles to discuss their use and whether it's a change from previous years. The cost breakdown of the vehicles in 683-2023 and 684-2023 is provided below:
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 80/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Next, Griffin introduced Emergency Ordinance 710-2023, which authorizes the Department of Public Works to accept grants from the USDA for the Composting and Food Waste Reduction Project.
Emma Sedlak @eesedla 81/93
@cledocumenters @signalcleveland The ordinance aims to reduce food waste going to landfills by increasing the accessibility of composting for businesses and residents.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Ordinance 710-2023 stands as approved.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Next, Emergency Ordinance 630-2023 concerns paid parental leave. Griffin read the ordinance's amendments. Several council members expressed the need to update the outdated parental leave policies. The amendments can be read below:
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland "The average cost of daycare in Cleveland is $284 a week, the average rent in Cleveland is $1300, the average out-of-pocket cost of childbirth is $2000," said Slife. "There's a lot of costs that come down the pike of having a child."
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Slife expressed concerns about parents using all of their paid time off directly after childbirth so that they have none left if, for example, they need to take their child to the doctor.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland A representative from the Bibb Administration explained why this is a smart business decision. "This is how we attract people here, and this is how we keep people here," he said.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Conwell added that it's not just about changing the policy, but city leaders must also emphasize changing the culture so that mothers and fathers are never pressured to not take the time off that they need.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Howse asserted the importance of continuing to support working families beyond this legislation.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Griffin announced that Emergency Ordinance 630-2023 stands as approved. He also shouted out Slife and the Bibb administration for pushing this through and encouraged everyone to learn more about Howse's proposed family medical leave.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Griffin then introduced some items that weren't listed on the agenda, including some contract and classification changes for city workers.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Then, the committee considered an emergency ordinance to build an IT platform to track and report data from the city's 311 service, which allows residents to file non-emergency complaints (such as reporting potholes and code violations) and request information on public services
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Griffin adjourned the meeting at 4:15 PM.
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@cledocumenters @signalcleveland Have questions? Think we got something wrong? Send any inquiries on the meeting or these tweets to
@cledocumenters or email us at

Agency Information

Cleveland City Council

Cleveland City Council is the legislative branch of the government of the City of Cleveland in Ohio. There are 17 elected Cleveland City Council members representing the 17 wards of the City of Cleveland. Each ward has approximately 25,000 residents. Council Members are elected to serve a four-year term. Council members serve two roles in their duties: to draft and enact legislation for the city of Cleveland and act as ombudsmen for their constituents.

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