The Rockport Miracles
As a kindergarten teacher, Bridget Lyons was quite comfortable with many sets of eyes staring at her as she began a new school year. But her first day at the Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) Fire Training Academy felt different.
Food not lawns is a great movement aimed at turning the world into an edible neighborhood to promote sustainability. While I am not personally affiliated with this organization I feel so strongly about this movement that I wanted to raise awareness to our wonderfully diverse city.
Having the ability to grow your own food is something we should all aim to at the very least learn. It is a gift that we can give to our future generations as an extremely practical skillset. There is something to be said for being able to do things yourself. We are seeing less of the traditional “factory farms” and more of the small organic farmers which is fantastic for sustainability and our environmental footprint we are leaving behind.
Don’t miss the homegrown, hyper local news, events, opinions, photos and cartoons that impact and reflect our community.
Spending so much time on our “thrones” may sometimes lead our minds to wonder: What happens after the flush? Where does it go? How does all that dirty water get clean? On September 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., find out answers to all these questions and more at the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s Open House and Clean Water Fest.
I’m a longtime resident of the West side of our region. However, I own ancestral land in Southeastern Ohio. For years, my family has been hounded and bullied by the fracking industry. We would tell them that we will never sell or lease our land, and they would continue to pester us. Moreover, they bully us by telling us that once they get enough people who are willing to lease their land, they can “force pool” our land by utilizing O.R.C. 1509.27 to take our mineral rights without our consent.
June 29th is Bike to Work Day! Come socialize at Bike Lakewood's Hub at the Madison branch of the Lakewood Public Library with some coffee and pastries. The Hub will be running from 7am-9am.
You can either stay here in Lakewood, or head on downtown to our partner Bike Cleveland's big meetup at the Cleveland Bike Rack.
If you would like to ride downtown with a group from Lakewood, Beat Cycles will be leading a Group Commute at 7:15am from the Library location, weather permitting.
The Lakewood Public Library has been sponsoring Bike Lakewood's Bike to Work Day monthly events and we couldn't be happier to continue the relationship!
WEATHER: If it's light rain, we will still hold the event, but pouring rain or thunderstorms will cancel the event.
MALLEY'S NIGHT: Friday, August 10, 2018, 7:30-9:00 pm 14822 Madison Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107 (Individual Pay)
Part 1: Episode 2 of 3: “The Curse of the Jazzman”
Rockport is cursed because a baby cried. I was that baby and only a few months old when Gershwin music tickled me one night until I cried. Back then I cried because that was my only way of communicating. These days I cry because I do.
Mom took me downstairs to meet the entire cast of “Porgy and Bess.” My uncle was the show’s road manager and he conspired with Dad to use our house for a cast party after the last Cleveland performance. It was a risky move. In 1954, the only black people in Rockport were maids, man servants, and the guy that went door-to- door sharpening knives and scissors.
The cast included Leontyne Price and the venerable Rags Johnson. I’m told that Miss Price held me in her arms and sang “Summertime” to comfort me. Her haunting soprano conjured melancholy from every dog on the street and woke up a neighbor who spotted two cast members smoking on our back porch. Within five minutes the entire police force had landed on our front lawn including Chief Hathaway who arrived in his pajamas.
The recently launched Vintage Fashion Pop-Up is taking shopping to a new level. One weekend a month, 4-5 vintage fashion sellers set up a collective shop in Lakewood. Their shop offers a curated selection of affordable vintage finds in a modern boutique environment.
There is a growing trend towards wearing vintage clothing. It’s an affordable, eco-friendly way to express individuality and embrace new trends. There is a cool factor in having a unique vintage find. Street style bloggers incorporate vintage into their looks. Fashion designers find inspiration in vintage for their new collections. “Marc Jacobs, Cole Haan, Eugenia Kim and Zimmermann have bought pieces from my Etsy shop, Only The Best,” said Heather Sapanos, founder of Vintage Fashion Pop-Up. Costume designers buy vintage as well, even if it’s not a period piece. “Sarah Jessica Parker has worn a couple of my vintage dresses on her HBO show Divorce.”
Now in its sixth year, Frankfurter Fridays offer free 100% beef hotdogs and lemonade as well as intergenerational fun activities every other Friday from June 8 through September 14 on the front lawn of the Church of the Ascension, 13216 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood.
Greater Cleveland's cat community is gathering in Lakewood Park, on Sunday, June 10 for a picnic and party from 3 to 8 p.m.
The event is hosted by the "Weirdo Cat Lovers of Cleveland" Facebook group, and promises food, games, prizes and kitties.
Josie Triton, an administrator for the group, says "there might even be a few 'famous' cats from the group there." Mostly, though, "It's really just a party for cat people to hang out and network."
"Anyone is welcome to attend, but we recommend joining the online group first so people can see what we're about," she adds.
"Weirdo Cat Lovers" has evolved considerably since its beginning as simply a place to share cat pictures. Laura Rodriguez-Carbone, a Lakewood resident, says the group has become a support community for cats and cat-owners. Members organize work like rescue, adoption, and fundraising. She adds that "I adopted a cat last week because of the Facebook group."
Many including Rodriguez-Carbone have joined in recent months, and more than 14,000 people are now members. Over 200 have committed to attend the picnic.
The event will temporarily spotlight cat culture in what often seems to be a dog-centric community. Lakewood has a dog park, a pooch parade, a dog swim and even canine controversies. But our city hasn't entirely gone to the dogs, yet.
In addition to participation in the Weirdo Cat Lovers group and its party, Lakewood's cat subculture has several beloved shop cats to its credit. Cat-lovers and book-lovers recently welcomed the return of Hobbes, at the Bookshop in Lakewood's new home. Customer-facing cats have also been spotted at Lakewood Hardware, the Lakewood Garden Center, and My Vacuum Store, among others.
Feline equality is also the law in Lakewood, in one sense, as animals of all types "shall not be permitted to run at large anywhere within the city limits" according to city guidelines. The picnic's hosts ask that every cat be accompanied by a leash or pet carrier, as well as an ID collar and a disposable litter box.
To read more about the cat lovers picnic, visit tinyurl.com/wcl-lkwd.
Nickie J. Antonio and Michael J. Skindell will be Democrats' nominees to represent Lakewood in the Ohio General Assembly, following last Tuesday's primary.
Lakewood voters' overwhelming preference for Antonio over Martin Sweeney settled a fight between two state representatives, each seeking a nomination to run for Ohio Senate District 23. In recent weeks the matchup drew repeated notice from local media.
Sweeney closed Tuesday with modest leads in most of the senate district, which includes Lakewood, Parma, and other western suburbs as well as parts of Cleveland. But an outlier result in Lakewood, which voted more than 3-to-1 for Antonio, gave her an overall victory of more than 54%.
At the same time, state Senator Michael J. Skindell defeated Lakewood City Council member Tom Bullock to be Democrats' nominee for Ohio House District 13. Skindell won slightly more than 55%, both in Lakewood and the two Cleveland wards which constitute most of the district.
The result is the second such for Bullock, following a primary loss to Antonio in 2010, when both sought Democrats' nomination for the Ohio House.
Antonio as well as Skindell are now ineligible to run for their current offices, owing to term limits, and both will seek to move between the two chambers of the General Assembly in November.
Each nominee will face a Republican opponent in the November election. Democrats' sizeable voter-registration advantage in each district, however, will favor Antonio's and Skindell's campaigns.
If elected, Antonio will be the first woman to represent the 23rd Senate District, and the first openly gay member of the Ohio Senate.
Lakewood Democrats may soon be getting a knock on the door or a phone call from a fellow Democrat and neighbor vying for their vote in the upcoming elections for the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Central Committee. On May 8th, Democrats running for Lakewood Precinct Leader will be on the ballot, and this year, a record number of fresh faces are competing for these elected party positions.
It is my honor and pleasure to support Mike Skindell’s campaign for State Representative. Throughout his political career, as a member of Lakewood City Council and a legislator in the Ohio House and Senate, he has consistently represented my values. Governing is about making choices, and Mike makes choices that benefit all of his constituents, not just the privileged few.
Over the years, Mike’s perspective has brought much needed balance to the Ohio State Legislature. He has clearly demonstrated that often the real cost of tax cuts is cuts to much needed services…monies to address the opioid crisis, monies to support adult and child protective services, funding to schools, local governments, parks, and the environment. He has fought to prevent or reduce cuts to these important programs.
Mike understands how government works and how to navigate the legislative process. His accomplishments, while serving in the minority, is a testament to his skills as a legislator. When I receive advocacy alerts to contact my state legislator, I never need to reach out to Mike because I can rest easy that he will do the right thing.
As Mike Skindell’s campaign for State Representative gains momentum, I wanted to take a minute and state my support and endorsement of his candidacy. I am endorsing Mike for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, he has clearly demonstrated his commitment and passion for our community.
I have had the pleasure of knowing Mike Skindell for a number of years. I first met Senator Skindell when he was representing the City of Lakewood as an At-Large Councilman back in the late 90s/early 2000s. As a Councilman, Mike worked hard to establish our dog park as well as to preserve the cultural and historical makeup of Lakewood. Following his tenure on Lakewood City Council, Mike continued his service to our district by representing Lakewood and other Westside communities in both the State House and State Senate. During his tenure, Mike was a strong voice and advocate for seniors and working families and has a proven track record of working hard on behalf of his constituents. Most recently, Senator Skindell introduced Senate Bill 260, which would establish an assault weapons ban throughout Ohio.
Mike is one of the most honest and trustworthy people that I have had the pleasure of working with and is dedicated to our community. He has tirelessly worked on behalf of hard working families throughout his elected career. I encourage the residents of Lakewood and surrounding communities to join me and the George family in voting for Michael J. Skindell for State Representative on May 8th.
Councilwoman – Meghan F. George
A capacity crowd of well over 100 attended the Lakewood Democratic Club's March meeting, to hear from candidates for governor Richard Cordray and Dennis Kucinich. Both took questions from the audience after opening remarks, as did candidates for Ohio House and Senate. Topics ranged from gun safety to public schools to single-payer healthcare.
The club expects to host a third candidate for governor, Bill O'Neill, at its next meeting on April 26. State senator Joe Schiavoni, also running for governor, addressed the January meeting.
After a half-century of effort, Ohio has the chance to kick gerrymandering out of our state for good—and Lakewood has played an important part.
On May 8 we can pass Issue 1 to reform the system for drawing congressional districts, and stop partisan abuse of redistricting.
Drawing biased “gerrymandered” districts, named for the early Massachussetts Governor Elbridge Gerry, dates back to the United States’ earliest days. But the impact of gerrymandering has grown extreme in the 21st century, as mapping software and big data have allowed a party in power to pack more of the minority party’s voters into ever fewer districts.
Against this backdrop, reform efforts in Ohio have found a new urgency. Following decades of attempts by the League of Women Voters and other good-government advocates, Ohio approved a ballot measure to change statehouse-district rules in 2015.
The League took encouragement from voters’ overwhelming approval of that measure, and began calling for similar reform to congressional redistricting. Yet the statehouse’s Republican leadership, which had supported the 2015 reform, argued for delaying any further action.
When a Fair Districts petition drive collected more than 200,000 signatures entirely through volunteer effort, statehouse leadership had second thoughts. A combination of grassroots pressure and persistence within the legislature then produced a genuine, bipartisan agreement on Issue 1.
In both cases Lakewood has contributed. Early in the petition drive, one Fair Districts volunteer said unofficially that “Lakewood is basically carrying Cuyahoga County on this.”
In the General Assembly, Lakewood’s state Representative Nickie Antonio and state Senator Mike Skindell lent support to the grassroots campaign. Sen Skindell sharply criticized one proposed bill, which failed to meet most of activists’ criteria for meaningful reform. Unswerving support for the Fair Districts goals by Skindell, Antonio and other Democrats eventually earned major concessions from legislative leaders.
The bipartisan agreement which resulted will end the old, anything-goes potential for partisan gerrymandering. Starting after the 2020 census, new maps will require substantial support from minority-party legislators.
Issue 1 includes additional positive reforms as well. It will add transparency to the process. It will sharply reduce the silly-string districts like our own, which extends all the way from Lakewood to Toledo. It will, ultimately, make government more accountable to voters.
Everyone in Lakewood who signed petitions or helped circulate them shares in the credit for getting this far. The long campaign for fair districts in Ohio can end in success—if Issue 1 passes.
Please help make sure it does! Vote Yes on Issue 1 in the primary election this May 8.
U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur announced her endorsement of Tom Bullock in the open race to represent House District 13.
Special Spaces and scholarships for the new aquatic therapy program at the Cleveland Clinic Children's Center for Autism in Rocky River will be the beneficiaries of support from the eighth annual Swim-a-Thon on March 4 at the Rocky River Recreation Center indoor pools from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.
This past week, Senator Michael Skindell (D–Lakewood) and Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) introduced Senate Bill 260, which would establish an assault weapons ban throughout Ohio.
The legislation specifically makes it a felony of the fifth degree for possessing or acquiring an assault weapon. Under the bill, an “assault weapon” is an automatic firearm or semi-automatic firearm capable of accepting a detachable magazine with the capacity of accepting ten or more cartridges and a semi-automatic firearm with a fixed magazine with the capacity of accepting ten or more cartridges. The legislation models Senate Bill 18 introduced in 2013 and co-sponsored by Senators Skindell and Tavares.
“The recent, sorrowful events in Florida and Nevada and so many more places teach us why it is important to ban weapons that are meant for waging war,” said Senator Skindell. “While we cannot stop every act of suffering inflicted upon the public, it is our responsibility to limit access to these assault weapons. Until better national standards are enacted to regulate the sale of these dangerous assault weapons, Ohio should have its own regulations to protect the public.”
“Assault weapons were designed to be used by trained members of the military to kill people. These weapons, unfortunately, are killing innocent children and adults by people who want to murder, maim and terrorize large masses of people in public spaces,” stated Senator Tavares.
Once banned under federal law between 1994 and 2004, assault weapons are now easy to obtain. Research has demonstrated that during the national ban period the number of attacks and deaths fell significantly compared to the previous ten years. (Rampage Nation, 2016, Klevares, Louis, University of Massachusetts at Boston.) After the assault weapon ban ended in 2004, the number of attacks and deaths shot up.
The legislation will also require the Office of the Ohio Attorney General to manage a registration database, through which it shall issue permits for the purchase of firearms and track the purchase of firearms and ammunition. In addition, it will require Ohio retailers to report all sales of firearms and ammunition to the Attorney General.
My name is Michael Rendon and I am campaigning for the General Division of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in the May 8th primary. With less than 90 days until Election Day, I am writing to respectfully introduce myself to the Lakewood community, explain why I am the most experienced, committed and qualified candidate to represent you on the bench, and ask for your support. I have spent my life and career focused on family, service, justice, and our community.
The 2018 “Scam de Jour” has been identified and is already rearing its ugly head this filing season.
I stopped in at Goodkind Coffee for the first time the other day. Located in a storefront at 15526 Madison Avenue, the place impressed me enough to write the poem below. Kudos to friendly barista Kevin who answered my questions about the store and intuitively asked if I needed some cold water after I’d finished my cup of coffee.
Now that the election is over, I wanted to express my heartfelt thank you to the residents of Lakewood for the great honor and responsibility of electing me to serve as a member of Lakewood City Council. This has been a very tedious election season and I am extremely grateful to family, friends and loyal supports who generously contributed their time and energy over the past year. Many thanks to everyone that came out to vote in November.
Lakewood now has at least 11 Little Free Libraries. Resident Matt Kuhns found these two in November, in addition to the nine located earlier this year and featured in the Observer in June.
The Tri-C Capital Plan – Issue 61
Senator Skindell Introduces Legislation To Create The Prescription Drug Assistance Program For Seniors, Disabled Ohioans And Veterans
This past week Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) introduced Senate Bill 215 to create the Ohio Rx Plan to help many Ohioans obtain the medications they need. The Ohio Rx Plan would benefit seniors, the disabled, veterans and Bronze Plan enrollees under the Affordable Health Care Act.
“Many Ohioans are struggling to pay out-of-pocket costs for insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays to acquire needed medications,” Senator Skindell said. “Passage of this legislation will result in Ohio joining a number of states providing prescription drug assistance to seniors and others who need help obtaining their medications.”
According to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2016 more than a dozen states offered State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program (SPAPs) that "wrap-around" or add to the Part D benefits, including drugs bought by Medicare patients during the so-called "donut hole" spending category (http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/medicare-prescription-drug-tools.aspx).
In 2016, 1,030,738 Ohioans were enrolled in a Medicare Stand Alone Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) and 661,324 were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) with prescription drug coverage, according to Healthpocket, a consumer health information company. Using data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, HealthPocket also found that:
I am in support of Meghan F. George for Lakewood City Council.
River Fire Films is presenting a free screening of the documentary "Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent" on October 20 at the main library, to be followed by a community forum. Both film and forum will examine breed specific legislation (BSL) which restricts or prohibits ownership of certain types of dogs, primarily pit bulls.
On the July 4, 2017, a dream came true. I experienced what a national holiday could be like. In Germany, my country, October 3 is not a day filled with celebration and events. It's not a day where everyone hangs up a large German flag. And it's not a day that makes us Germans feel like a proud community. To be honest, all of these things would see very strange to me, although that doesn’t mean that I would like to try some of them. However, I can't imagine having a day like this in my home country.
September 14, 2017, Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) released the following statement regarding the passing of former Lakewood Mayor Thomas J. George:
Senator Michael Skindell (D–Lakewood) recently introduced Senate Bill 184, which would return wind farm setback standards to what they previously were before the passage of House Bill 483 in 2014.
The standard established in House Bill 483 was inserted in the bill at the last minute and had no public hearings. The legislation more than doubled the distance wind turbines have to be from “the nearest, habitable, residential structure.” The change significantly reduced the number of turbines that could be placed in a wind project.
“Current restrictive setback standards have created a barrier to wind development in Ohio,” said Senator Skindell. “Since 2014, our state has seen a sharp decline in the number of new wind farm applications. Because of such stringent standards, we have lagged behind neighboring states, losing out on local economic development and jobs for our communities. Ohio should be embracing the renewable energy industry and securing clean energy for our future.”
Senator Skindell’s bill would simply measure the setback distance from the nearest habitable residential structure rather than the property line.
Many of the biggest companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook have made renewable energy a priority when looking for places to expand. In 2016, a representative from Amazon, John Stephenson, testified to the House Public Utilities Committee that the current requirements “have significantly diminished the attractiveness to further investments in wind generation in Ohio.”
Meghan F. George, candidate for Lakewood City Council At-Large, will hold a fundraising event on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at Merry Arts, 15607 Detroit Ave. The event is from 5 to 7 p.m., cost $30. Everyone is welcome to meet the candidate and renew old friendships and make new ones.
Local groups, national organizations and regular people alike are endorsing Tristan Rader’s candidacy for Lakewood City Council At-large.
AFSCME Council 8 became one of Rader’s first official endorsements, in July. AFSCME represents nonprofit and public employees, including correctional officers, school employees and health care workers.
Rader has emphasized the importance of high-quality public services, and says the endorsement by AFSCME is a welcome vote of confidence. “Instead of privatizing important services with poor accountability, we need to have proven, union professionals doing work we can count on,” he says. “AFSCME represents people who keep our communities running, and I’m honored by their support.”
I am attaching some photos that can go with my Action Together Lakeood Area article, should you want any. Thanks!
Meghan F. George's campaign to become an At-Large Lakewood City Council member continues to gain momentum with the support of an organization representing over 150 Lakewood City workers.
The 19th century brought us President Abraham Lincoln, suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, philosopher Henry David Thoreau, abolitionist Harriet Tubman, and artist James Whistler - people who positively contributed to the world in which we live today.
Volunteer, grassroots activism is on a rebound in 2017. In big and small communities, ordinary people are taking on the challenge to "think globally, act locally." Figuring out how to do so has required a lot of improvisation.
Action Together Lakewood Area is a good example. The group has sponsored educational programs, community events and political advocacy projects; it holds meetings and has social media accounts. Despite which the structure of the group remains a bit loose, says Lakewood resident Sara Ridley.
Ridley founded Action Together Lakewood Area, essentially. Along with Sarah Kepple, she's now leading ATLA. But she didn't really plan on either role. After last November's election, members of the "Pantsuit Nation" Facebook group began forming local networks which eventually adopted the "Action Together" theme. As Ridley notes, even regional groups would have been too large "because 2,000 people couldn't meet" for an effective discussion.
So she posted a simple question: Does anyone in Lakewood want to meet? "I was expecting maybe 20 people," she recalls.
Instead more than 150 replies followed. When the group first met in December, at Lakewood's library, they talked for more than two hours.
The library's no-beverages policy made it something of an ordeal, an example Ridley cites when explaining how everything has been a learning process. "I think there was an assumption that I knew what I was doing," she says. People began asking her permission to pursue this or that idea; usually "I said yes, go!"
The loose approach has worked out, so far. Other Action Together groups describe themselves as a network of people, more than an organization, and Action Together Lakewood Area has readily played a supporting role in events and campaigns. Its members are active in collecting signatures for a redistricting reform measure promoted by the League of Women Voters, for example.
But Action Together Lakewood Area has found its own rhythm, also, balancing education and activism. Meetings tend to focus on learning, with a well-attended April event on refugees and immigration being one of ATLA's highlights so far.
Getting informed helps with outreach, Ridley says, whether calling a Senator's office or sharing information with the public. In June, the group took up stations outside of Lakewood's and other local libraries, alerting people to proposed cuts to library funding. Along with related efforts nationwide, public pressure succeeded in preventing most of the cuts.
In July, the group held a picnic to recharge. (Even there, several members were busy circulating redistricting petitions, or talking with passersby about pending healthcare legislation.) After looking back over Action Together Lakewood Area's first several months, Ridley briefly discussed possible future activities. Overall, though, she said that the group will remain flexible in trying to accommodate anyone who wants to get more involved. She had recently heard from a woman, for example, who wanted to know if Ridley had ideas for how she might remain active while recovering from recent hip surgery.
The answer was definitely "Yes." Which likely sums up the core mission of Action Together Lakewood Area: there is no fixed format or program, but if you want to help make a difference, ATLA will help you find a way.
The Lakewood Early Childhood PTA (LECPTA) is once again planning its popular children's resale of gently used children's clothing (sizes newborn to 10), furniture, toys and other items. The Baby Bargain Bonanza (BBB) is planned for Saturday, September 9th at Garfield Middle School, which is located at 13114 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood. The sale is open to the public and will run from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Admission is $5 from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. and just $1 from 9:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.
Last week, State Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) voted “No” on Amended Substitute House Bill 49, known as the state’s biennial operating budget. Among many concerns, Senator Skindell cited the disinvestment in people and communities and the continuation of tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy as areas where the bill fell short.
“The evidence is clear that there is no Ohio miracle but rather an Ohio calamity,” said Senator Skindell. “The LLC tax loophole created in 2013 and expanded in 2015 has created a massive fiscal hole. This year alone, the budget hole stands at $840 million dollars, and is apparently growing. Ohio's finances are shrinking. The current imbalance is comparable to the imbalance we faced earlier this decade, largely caused by the 2005 tax giveaway.”
During the budget debate, Senator Skindell advocated for greater state investment in need-based financial aid for college students, quality childcare programs, K-12 education, public transportation and senior programs like Meals-On-Wheels. Senator Skindell noted that past disinvestment in higher education has made Ohio one of the most costly places for students to go to college. He also expressed concern that many schools in the 23rd Senate District would experience a cut in state funding under the budget bill.
Continuing cuts and diversions from local government funding also prevented Senator Skindell from supporting House Bill 49.
“Recent state budgets have not provided the Local Government Fund with the stable and predictable funding source they need to be able to provide critical services to their communities,” said Senator Skindell. “State action has resulted in extraordinary cuts to the revenues collected by our counties, cities, and townships. Meanwhile, the ability of county and city officials to pay for services with locally raised taxes have been hampered.
“In the simplest of terms, the budget we are asked to vote on today offers short-sighted, short-term solutions for long-term problems, such as the lack of meaningful investment in working families, lack of meaningful investment in our communities, and lack of meaningful investment to increase the opportunities of all Ohioans. Once more, the wealthy and big business will fare far better than working families under this budget.”
The bill will now move to Conference Committee to reconcile the differences between the House and the Senate.
All of Lakewood is invited to a series of Town Hall meetings, beginning June 10.
City Council At-large candidate Tristan Rader says the events will focus on learning what is important to Lakewood citizens. “I’m interested in an open discussion on the issues,” he explains, “I'm dedicated to not just listening to people but to getting more people involved.”
Each Town Hall will open with brief introductory remarks, with progressive activist and former state Senator Nina Turner planning to address the Ward 4 Town Hall on July 8. Rader says Turner is an inspiring advocate for the kind of citizen-led change he wants to encourage, and that he’s honored to welcome her to Lakewood.
As pleased as he is about Turner, Rader emphasizes that local community is the Town Halls’ true centerpiece. “Elected officials and candidates get many opportunities to share our ideas and concerns,” he says. “I want to give other people a platform.”
On May 30, 2017 State Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood), in his role as a member of the State Ballot Board, voted to certify a proposed constitutional amendment to change Ohio’s system of drawing congressional districts. The vote, which was unanimous, means the group backing the proposal can begin collecting signatures to place the issue on the ballot next year.
“The gerrymandering of our state’s congressional districts creates more partisanship that undermines our ability to find common ground on issues affecting Ohioans on a daily basis,” said Senator Skindell, who made the motion for the board to certify the ballot issue. “I am pleased Ohio voters are a step closer to having the opportunity to decide if it is the right time to make reforms.”
The proposal is modeled after a ballot issue voters approved in 2015 that changed the process of drawing Ohio’s state legislative districts. That plan created a seven-member bipartisan commission made up of legislators and statewide elected officials, and set new guidelines for drawing maps to limit gerrymandering.
The group pushing for the congressional redistricting ballot issue will need to collect 305,591 valid signatures of registered voters from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties to qualify for the ballot.
Before new state economic indicators came out, the Ohio House today passed a version of the state’s two-year budget, House Bill (HB) 49, that remains hundreds of millions of dollars out of balance, if not more. The vote comes a little more than two weeks after Gov. Kasich and GOP legislative leaders announced they would need to cut close to $1 billion from the bill to maintain a stable, balanced budget. Still, the final version of House Bill 49 approved largely along party lines today fell over $400 million short of being a balanced budget bill by that standard.
The life of a refugee involves tremendous difficulties, which misunderstandings and ignorance only make worse. Lakewood resident Kerissa MacKay helps address these challenges, as a local program coordinator for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). On May 25, MacKay will speak about her work, refugees’ lives, and ways that all of us can help.
MacKay will explore resettlement in the U.S. during a presentation to the Lakewood Democratic Club. She will relate some of the struggles and personal experiences of refugees, before and after resettlement. Her presentation will provide insight into
Overlook Park Neighborhood Association had the wonderful opportunity of taking a field trip of sorts to Rose Iron Works on E. 43rd St. in Cleveland. For over 100 years, Rose Iron Works, a family business, has been known for exceptional quality decorative metalwork. Together with industrial metalworking (started during the Depression to make ends meet), their products range from traditional to Art Deco and Contemporary styles.
State Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) has introduced Senate Bill 101 to provide struggling employees with predictive scheduling and fair treatment in the workplace. Ohioans are known for their hard work ethic and dedication to their jobs. The Retail and Employee Rights Act is necessary to pay Ohio workers the same respect that they put into building a stronger and greater Ohio.
In today's post-recession economy, many large retailers are employing part-time workers at relatively low wages, forcing many employees to work multiple jobs. At the same time, retail employers are utilizing "just in-time" scheduling practices and changing schedules the "day of" an employee's work shift. These practices make it difficult for the employees to hold that crucial second job. Employees can only work for multiple employers if they have predictability in scheduling and are treated fairly. The bill also covers workers in fast-food restaurant franchises.
"Predictive scheduling protects our most vulnerable workers, those who need to rely on more than one job – either part-time or full-time – to make ends meet,” said Deb Kline, Director at Cleveland Jobs With Justice. “It is impossible for a low wage earner to seek more than one place of employment unless they know the hours their employers are going to require them to work. Erratic scheduling also negatively impacts workers in need of childcare or those who have become caretakers of aging or disabled family members. Cleveland Jobs with Justice hopes that the Ohio Legislature will take action now to protect our workers by passing predictive scheduling."
Senator Skindell Celebrates National Sunshine Week, Recognizes Need For Access To Public Information
This week, State Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) recognizes National Sunshine Week and the importance of access to public information. This year, Sunshine Week takes place from March 12th-18th. It brings together nonpartisan organizations to inform Americans about public records laws in government. The week’s events focus on accountability, transparency, and open dialogue to foster an environment where government works for the people.
“Transparency helps hold our public officials accountable. It provides valuable information for citizens to make informed decisions about their legislators,” said Senator Skindell. “Open government is the cornerstone of our democracy.”
Senator Skindell has taken the issue of government accountability and transparency very seriously throughout his career in public service. In 2014, he worked to pass Senate Bill 270, which requires the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities to post inspection and compliance reports for service providers online. Allowing families to easily access these reports helps them make the best decisions for the care of their loved ones.
In 2015, Senator Skindell introduced a bill to clarify that public money paid from a charter school to an operator or management company still retains its status as public money. This bill was accepted as an amendment into another bill and signed into law. Previously, the Ohio Supreme Court had decided that Ohio law lacked language to keep these dollars public, and ruled that for-profit operators could sell property and keep the funds. With the passage of HB 2 and Senator Skindell’s provision, taxpayer dollars are safeguarded in the event of a school closure.
“Public trust can only be earned when the sun is allowed to shine upon government dealings. Our public officials must turn on the lights, open the shutters and raise the blinds,” Senator Skindell added. “Only sunshine will guard our public assets. Only transparent government will protect the people's interests. Only accountability will restore public trust. “
Lakewood students away at college must file city income tax returns, this year, as a result of new policies adopted in late 2015.
Prior to the revised policies, students living in Lakewood for less than 16 weeks of the year could simply file a Declaration of Exemption. Beginning with the 2016 tax year, however, this changed, and the city’s new Declaration of Exemption omits the line for students.
Lakewood’s government points to state legislation as the reason behind this change. The 2014 HB5 measure imposed a number of changes on municipal income tax. Finance Director Jennifer Pae says that Lakewood considered at length what local revisions this required.
“In response to the uniformity changes at the State level, the City of Lakewood reviewed its income tax ordinances during 2015, and using recommended language developed by the Ohio Municipal League, revised the city's ordinances… to be in compliance,” Pae said in an e-mail.
This past week State Senator Michael Skindell (D- Lakewood) introduced Senate Bill 61 to increase state funding to public transportation. The bill would increase General Revenue Fund (GRF) dollars for the remainder of this current fiscal year by $5 million. In the upcoming biennium budget, it would increase the public transportation line item to $25 million in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. It would also increase the use of federal flex funds in the public transportation budget to $50 million in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019.
The use of General Revenue Fund (GRF) dollars has radically decreased from $44 million in 2000 to $7.3 in both Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 in the last biennium budget. Currently, the use of federal flex dollars for public transportation is only at $10 million per year.
“Public transportation in this state is quite underfunded, with Ohio ranking 47 out of the 50 states. The demands of younger Ohioans, coupled with the increased needs of our low-income and senior citizens, make such low funding unsustainable," said Senator Skindell. "Many low-income workers rely exclusively on public transit to keep a stable job. But these jobs are not exclusively located in urban areas, nor are the people who most use public transit. By providing a more robust system, the state can more adequately promote self-sustainability and independence. A better investment in affordable public transportation will best serve the needs of all citizens."
“The proposed bill to flex $50 million in highway funds to help replace bus vehicles is welcome news to RTA and all transit systems in Ohio,” said Joe Calabrese, CEO and General Manager of Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA). “Across this state, more than $400 million is needed today to replace outdated vehicles. It’s critical that this bill obtains widespread support.”
COLUMBUS - Today, Senator Michael Skindell (D–Lakewood) introduced Senate Bill 35, which reforms Ohio's Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to assist struggling Ohioans. When passed in 2013, after years of advocacy by Senator Skindell, Ohio's EITC contained a cap and was not refundable. Senate Bill 35 makes the tax credit stronger by removing the income restrictions and making it refundable.
“The goal of this proposed legislation is to allow for a refundable tax-relief benefit to working families in Ohio, particularly lower-income households. It is imperative that we provide these families who work so hard and still struggle to pay bills a fair shot in our economy,” said Senator Skindell.
The EITC currently exists as a credit for taxpayers whose Ohio adjusted gross income exceeds $20,000. The state credit equals 10% of the federal EITC. Ohio's EITC cannot currently exceed 50% of the tax due. The credit is also nonrefundable, thus it can only result in a reduction or elimination of tax liability, not a refund.
The existing provisions make our state EITC one of the weakest in the nation. Removing the income restrictions and making the EITC refundable would boost family income and assist poor communities by stimulating local economies. When low-income families receive their refund checks with an EITC, they purchase groceries, childcare, school supplies and other goods and services. This not only helps the families, it also boosts the local economy.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, will host one of its signature head-shaving events for the fourth year at St. Mark School in Cleveland on March 10, 2017, where nearly 100 students, staff, parents, and other family members will shave their heads in solidarity with kids with cancer and raise money to conquer childhood cancers.
St. Mark last year raised $49,552 and this year organizers hope to hit $50,000. The school is nearly a halfway to meeting that goal. In the past three years, St. Mark has raised $145,000 for pediatric cancer research. Besides soliciting donations from the community and local businesses, participants are also holding bake sales and restaurant fundraisers in support of St. Baldrick’s and the Shave Your Mane event. Hair salons such as Sports Clips Illusions Unlimited, Dante Lucci are donating stylists to shave the manes.
As your State Representative, it is an honor to serve house District 13, consider the many views and interests of our diverse and vibrant community and bring your voice to the Statehouse in Columbus. We know that the laws made in Columbus have a direct impact on our lives in Lakewood. To help make the lawmaking process more efficient and thorough, pieces of legislation, once introduced and then assigned to issue-specific committees, are vetted through committee hearings where testimony and expert opinion on each bill are presented.
Our friend Dennis is a longtime Lakewood resident and owner of Elements Hair Studio on Madison Ave. He’s also dad, a husband, and a pretty damn good musician. Most of all Dennis is a kind, sweet, jovial, creative and generous dear friend to many who are lucky to know him and call him friend. He’s also THE best damn story-teller you'd ever want holding court at your party.
2016 was somewhat of an unpleasant year for many and it hit Dennis, his wife Karen and son Olliver especially hard. Beginning some years ago, Dennis and his family have had to overcome several misfortunes which in recent years included some serious family health issues, an abrupt lease termination to his business Elements Hair Studio and a fire to a building under renovation which was to be the new Lakewood home to Elements Hair Studio. Through all these and other hardships, I and many who know Dennis have watched him take it all on and get right back up with few complaints. More striking than each episode of adversity has been seeing Dennis face it all down with few complaints and a casual, confident attitude of just knowing that somehow things are going to be even better. We could all learn something from this.
You’re purchasing a lot more renewable energy this year, most likely, thanks to the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC).
Beginning this month, NOPEC member cities including Lakewood are changing their default electricity supplier, from FirstEnergy Solutions to NextEra. It’s a nearly invisible transition for the individual household; bills still arrive from The Illuminating Company, rates aren’t increasing, and there is no action to complete. Unless you opt out of it, your electric bill payments automatically go toward 50% renewable power, now.
This places NOPEC and its membership well ahead of Ohio’s current goal—which recently went back into force after a two-year “freeze”—of 12.5% electricity from renewable sources by 2027. The partnership with NextEra effectively leapfrogs that goal in replacing FirstEnergy Solutions, which supplied renewable content of only a few percent.
As I write this, we are less than 21 hours until the Trump Regime takes over in Washington. As I posted on November 9, I fear that there will be dark and troubled times.
In recent weeks it has occurred to me that Lakewood is a preview of Trump's Administration. There are many parallels between Team Trump and Team Summers. So perhaps we shouldn't be too alarmed by Trump...We have already seen many of his tactics locally. As the Bible says, "There is nothing new under the Sun."
Here are some of the parallels I've noticed.
*Both Summers and Trump are members of the "Lucky Sperm Club," comprised of heirs that inherited the family business from their parents.
*Despite acquiring their wealth via family, both have convinced voters that they are "smart businessmen."
*Both ran campaigns touting themselves as "successful businessmen" running against "career politicians."
Sunday, more than 400 people came to the SEIU 1199 headquarters on E. 30th St. to rally and protest together- to stand up and demand that healthcare should be a right! The first round of applause went to the first speaker Steve Holecko of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus (CCPC), “We will not be satisfied when healthcare is merely protected; we want universal care!” Dave Pavlick of the Single Payer Action Network (SPAN) and Representative, D-District 13, Nickie Antonio also delivered remarks about moving towards a Medicare for all or single payer model and fighting back against Medicare voucher programs.
The Northshore AFL-CIO teamed up with CCPC to sponsor the event which was called for by three of the top democrats in the country: Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Columbus and Akron also had similar events and many more were happening all over the country. At the meeting, we collected over 100 hand-written narratives regarding the importance of our healthcare that will be sent to Rob Portman this week.
Last month State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) announced the release of $345,287 in state funding to complete construction contract plans for the rehabilitation of the State Route 176 southbound bridge over Interstate Route 71 southbound in Cuyahoga County. The Controlling Board, a panel tasked with oversight of state spending, approved the funding at today’s meeting.