Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. If you revisit what happened in 2010 when the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF) decided to move two departments to Fairview in exchange for the "Vision for Tomorrow" you will see that the same drama is playing out in 2015. The players are a little different, but the script is the same.
Letters To The Editor
Speculation about the future of Lakewood Hospital is the hottest topic in town - long time neighbors and friends are at odds, allegations have been made that the Clinic intentionally disinvested the facility, and mistrust of the decision making process is pervasive.
Clearly, this issue will not be resolved quickly. Residents are seeking more information, more transparency, and more input into what sort of health care delivery model would best meet residents needs.
In 2009-2010, I wanted to dream big during the Lakewood City Schools Phase III process by suggesting that the district only required six elementary buildings if you put them in the right location. (You can learn more at http://www.lakewoodobserver.com/read/2009/09/09/field-of-dreams-gets-a-wake.) I was dismissed. Most notably by members of the Lakewood Board of Education, members of The 50 Year Committee and those that favored maintaining Lincoln Elementary. I was told that the loss of two school communities was too much to ask and redeveloping land to build a new school was too complex and risky of an idea to consider. That idea would have opened up land in both downtown and a desirable northwest neighborhood for commercial and residential development. Of course, it did not include millions in assets for a new wellness foundation.
Sam O’Leary is precisely the kind of councilperson Lakewood needs right now. He’s young enough –at 26 - to see our City’s future while old enough – from a 3rd generation Lakewood family; born here, educated here and still living here – to appreciate where we have come from. As the Ward 2 councilman during a period of critical and emotional issues, Sam O’Leary has shown us precisely the qualities we need for Lakewood’s governance right now, and in the future.
Dear Lakewood Observer,
While my children don't attend Lakewood Schools, I remain interested in the upcoming school board election. As a tax payer, home owner and part of the greater community, I want what is best for all the children of our city. Secondarily, I don’t want my taxes increasing or the value of my home decreasing because our schools aren't keeping pace academically.
I have followed the school board race closely because my neighbor, Greg Calleri, is a candidate this year. In the course of our discussions he's made me aware that our school's “Excellent” rating is not the most accurate reflection of our current state. In fact, our schools are ranked 352 of 611 schools in Ohio. Our graduation rate is in the bottom half of the state. Don’t take my word for it – go to the state’s website – it’s all there in black and white on the state report card. No amount of spin can change the facts. The current board is also imperiling important programs like music and gifted, even though these remain a priority in the community. By The current Board's own estimation, we are facing a $14 million shortfall over the next 4 years and yet our spending is in the top 15% of the state! Although the updated 5 year forecast is typically submitted by the treasurer to the board in October, as of the last school board meeting on Monday, October 20th, it had not been presented. Greg inquired as to why it was late but has not received a response. I wonder why?
Dear Tom Bullock, Rebecca M. Patton, Colin McEwen, Pam Smith, Ron Petrie, Jeffrey K. Rohrs, Linda Beebe, Bob and Phyllis Dykes, Joel & Bonnie Egertson, William Gaydos, Kathy Haber, Tracy & Christine Jemison, Jim Kenny, Mary Osburn, Anne & Jack Palomaki, Scott & Holly Reba, Jenny Barnett Rohrs, Dru Siley, Vicki & Dan Smigelski, Craig & Shannon Strachan, Missy & Darren Toms, Rick & Lori Uldricks, Terry & Candace Vincent, and David Stein:
In the debate about the proposed closing of Lakewood Hospital several misconceptions have arisen. Having been a staff physician at Lakewood Hospital for 38 years and a member of the Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA) for 19 years, I would like to bring some perspective to a number of issues.
In 1996 when the decision was made to lease the hospital to Cleveland Clinic, the environment of government regulation and commercial insurance had made it virtually impossible for the hospital to operate as an independent community hospital. In short, it was likely that the hospital would have had to close soon after that date unless the current lease was adopted. In so many ways this was a win-win situation for both Lakewood and Cleveland Clinic. In today’s times, the rapidly changing health care environment is what has led to the current situation.
Mayor Summers has been criticized by some for his support of the proposed closing of the hospital, painted as a conspirator in a foregone decision by Cleveland Clinic, described as secretive about the LHA discussions that were held. But no one spends two years, thousands of dollars on consultants and literally tens of thousands of hours of time by the volunteer Board of Lakewood Hospital Association to evaluate a foregone conclusion.
My name is Gregory Calleri and I am running for school board. My background includes 3+ years on the city’s audit committee, 5+ years in teaching, 10+ years in finance, and 12+ years of small business ownership. I’ve also regularly attended our school board meetings for years and I am a member of our Hayes PTO and Harding PTSA organizations. These real world experiences and skill sets will allow me to find the creative solutions necessary to address the financial, educational and instructional challenges we are facing.
Why The Status Quo Is Not Acceptable
The incumbents will tell you that our schools are rated “Excellent” by the state of Ohio. What they don’t tell you is that approximately 62% of all schools in the state of Ohio are rated excellent and that our exact ranking is 352 of 611. Our graduation rate ranks us in the bottom half of the state. Over 50% of our students going to college have to take either remedial Math or English. Only 41% of our students taking the AP tests receive the 3, 4 or 5 needed to get college credit. They will also tell you that we need more money to improve the situation without telling you that over 85% of the districts in the state of Ohio that have excellent ratings do it with a lower per pupil cost.
To address this I will:
Two weeks ago Debra Sweeney announced the kick-off for Kristine Pagsuyoin’s campaign for Lakewood School Board. Sweeney, a former School Board member, knows the job. She knows what the most desired qualifications are for that position. She knows Kristine Pagsuyoin, her credentials, her community activities and her years of advocacy for Lakewood students, parents and teachers.
The idea that Judge Carroll has turned a blind eye to our community’s current spike in heroin related deaths is simply not true. It does not adequately reflect Judge Carroll’s commitment to finding common sense solutions to non-violent drug related offenders. I have been working with Judge Carroll for over ten years helping to rehabilitate drug and alcohol offenders through long-term residential care rather than spending tax payer dollars on the expensive incarceration of non-violent drug offenders.
Why I moved back to Lakewood…
Lakewood is a strong and inter-related community. Lakewood is the most densely populated city in Ohio. This proximity to neighbors, parks, schools and amenities helps to strengthen relationships among those who live here. We are urban, just to the west of Cleveland. Our public school system is strong. My sister and I were blessed to have access to these schools and to the infrastructure that this education provided us in life. We were blessed to attend a large public school with other students who were different than us. We learned to embrace and respect diversity. Lakewood’s roads are shoveled efficiently in the winter, garbage pick up is on time, I can walk down the street to a thriving public library and read a book in a well cared for park. I can enjoy this park bench with a dear friend who might be black, who might be gay, who might be poor or who might be a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic.
Our community has historically invested in our public assets. We as a community have committed to investing in our city - through higher taxes - so that our community as a whole can prosper. Think Lakewood Park, Madison pool, the fire deparements, two libraries, Lakewood High School. Our community has courageously made this collective investment in the public good and quite frankly this spirit is why I choose to live in Lakewood and why one day I hope to raise children here.
As I was walking through Lakewood, I have seen more "Save Lakewood Hospital" signs than ever before. I have taken the time to look into the issue and familiarize myself with the history. I too feel anger at the Cleveland Clinic for how this was handled, to a degree. That being said, I now ask, what's the plan? On the "Build Lakewood" side, we have city planners and accountants telling us that the best deal for the long-term future of Lakewood is to develop the community health center and utilize the money that we currently have to accomplish this transition. That money will go away as we keep the hospital open for operating expenses and possibly not last the remaining ten yers of the Cleveland Clinic lease. All of that, while not being what I want to hear necessarily, makes sense to my non-accountant, civilian brain. If Lakewood Hospital were making money, no one would be trying to close it, right? So, when the experts say that we have enough money for maybe ten more years or less, I tend to believe them because there really is no incentive for them to want to close Lakewood Hospital is there? Every one of them lives here and wants what's best for Lakewood (despite what one may read on the "Observation DecK").
When the proposed Charter Amendment first crossed my desk on July 16th for acknowledgment of receipt, I was in disbelief. As the City’s finance director, I knew it was bad news then, and I am even more convinced of that today. This is prescriptive public policy at it worse that will render Lakewood Hospital untouchable. It attempts to lock the hospital in a government controlled bubble that is destined to fail by potentially taking away the legislative powers of City Council. Lakewood voters did this once before in 1998, and it had to be undone by voters in 2005 due to the problems created by shifting powers to the electorate.
Over this past year, I have had occasion to sit as acting judge at the Lakewood court when Judge Carroll attended judicial conferences and observed first hand the operations of the Lakewood Municipal Court. We can all be proud of the court’s excellent staff who, along with Judge Carroll, are knowledgeable and conscientious public servants.
In the June 9, 2015, issue of the Lakewood Observer, Jim Kenney claimed, “…The last major building investment was in 2002 when the Emergency Rooms were expanded….” This is false.
In 1956 my parents realized that with four children, and the various relatives that lived with us throughout the years, that we needed a larger home than the one they had in Brooklyn, Ohio. For a variety of reasons they chose a colonial on Lincoln Ave.
I am so glad Build Lakewood launched to help counter the many misconceptions that are floating around the community in recent months regarding Lakewood Hospital. As Finance Director for the City of Lakewood since 2006, this is pivotal issue to the City's future and especially its financial strength. My job is the protection and growth of City's financial position, and to ensure taxes and fees are collected and spent as authorized by City Council.
I hope to shed some light on the issues at hand, and why my biggest fear as Finance Director as it relates to the Lakewood Hospital situation is the City having to bring the properties back on its books. There is too much financial risk if that happens, and I will support anything that prevents that from happening. How that prevention happens is currently being explored by City Council in a thoughtful and deliberate manner.
Make a friend from another country by welcoming a high school student from France into your home to share your daily life. It's a way for you and your family to create a lifelong friendship and influence the way someone from another country thinks about America and Americans for the rest of his or her life. The group of French teenagers, 14 to 18 years old, will be visiting us for twenty days from August 1st to August 20th. One would really like to get to know you!
As a minister I have always enjoyed celebrating those folks who function as caretakers and servants of our youngest generation. From naming the role of the Divine as eternal parent from the pulpit, to lifting up in liturgy the roles of the mothers and fathers in our midst, the affirmation of those who give of themselves that our youth may be raised in love and compassion is of the utmost importance. These roles take on a new depth to me this Father’s Day since in the past month I have had the joy to have new life within our household. I affirm the sanctity of those who are willing to give so much so that those whom they love and care for lack nothing.
Curious Questions and Evidence:
Can Lakewood Hospital be saved? It is an important question, deserving a thoughtful answer.
It was with interest that I attended the Committee of the Whole meeting on June 23rd, at which Mr. Gable (President of the Lakewood Hospital Association) and Mr. Haber (Chairman of the LHA Finance Committee) addressed our City Council. It appears that they came to the meeting to pressure our City Council to cut short their deliberations regarding the Letter of Intent (LOI) to close Lakewood Hospital, and perhaps to plant an article in the Plain Dealer intended to convince our citizens that the hospital under the current administration is not viable.
The meeting format left no option for the public to ask questions pertinent to making informed decisions. As the only person in the room who speaks with the Lakewood Hospital nurses and attends on the hospital wards on a daily basis, I found this presentation a curious mixture of facts and conjecture inspiring many unanswered questions.
When I heard the news of Ken Warren’s passing, my first thought was, “Oh no. It can’t be. Not someone so bright, talented, and lively – someone who gave so much, and who was essential to so many in Lakewood.” Surely, if anyone should stay with us well into his nineties to impart wisdom, to mentor, to teach, to connect today’s events in our local community to the long thread and larger story of history -- to do the work of an elder -- it’s Ken Warren.
The new construction to create bike lanes and reduce traffic flow on Madison Avenue down to one lane each way has caused me to rejoice! To quote BikeLakewood (our hometown advocacy group) "A community where it is safe and convenient to ride a bike is a good place to live for everyone." You cannot say that about Parma. Try riding a bike in Parma. Be sure your life insurance is up to date.
Did Lakewood pay for Avon?
One has to ask.
The Lakewood Hospital 2014 audit arrived in May. The Hospital shows an Operating Profit of $5.9 million before depreciation--the fourth consecutive year of an Operating Profit before depreciation; and just a small loss of $435 thousand after depreciation.
Since 2008, the Cleveland Clinic has charged Lakewood Hospital about $25 million of Administrative Expense per year, on about $130 million of annual income. If it weren't for this egregious charge, Lakewood could have shown a profit (even after depreciation) of $15 to $20 million in each of the most recent four years (2011 thru 2014.)
Since 2008 (when the Avon Hospital project started) Lakewood Hospital has paid Cleveland Clinic over $146 million of Admin Expense.
This Admin Expense charge is computed using Cleveland Clinic's mystery math: adding up all their overhead expense and then deciding how much they can get away with charging Lakewood Hospital for "our share" of these expenses. This includes Marketing, Purchasing, Executive Team, Billing, Regional Administration, Consulting Fees, Legal Fees, Cost of special projects, Travel, Dues and Licenses, and others. Getting these expenses off the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus makes them look real good. We KNOW they aren't doing any Marketing, Regional Admin, Legal, or Consulting on OUR behalf. But we're paying for it anyway. And paying . . . and paying . . .
The City Council must soon decide and vote to either reject the Letter of Intent (LOI) proposed by the Cleveland Clinic (CCF) or pass enabling legislation that absolves the CCF of its obligations under the terms of the 1996 Definitive Agreement and sell or demolish the assets of Lakewood Hospital. The Council has reviewed the Clinic’s proposal and the data provided by the Clinic/LHA consultant (Subsidium) and employed legal and real estate firms for independent input and negotiations. The Council held multiple open and closed forums and is currently offering feedback to the CCF and LHA regarding their concerns. Reportedly the LOI is being transformed into a new 2015 Definitive Agreement that has yet to be made public. After months of deliberation, several truths are evident.
Over ten years ago an employee of the Cleveland Clinic explained to me the Clinic's “String of Pearls Strategy.” The plan was to close facilities in Cuyahoga County and open new facilities in areas just outside Cuyahoga County. The new Avon facility and the closure of Lakewood Hospital are a natural result of that policy. If successful, the policy would decrease charity care and increase the profits of the Cleveland Clinic.
The new proposal to create bike lanes and reduce traffic flow on Madison Avenue down to one lane each way has caused me to take pause. At first I was absolutely and resolutely opposed to yet another attempt by the city "planners" to restrict, delay and dissuade my travel in my vehicle down Madison Avenue. They have already succeeded in forcing me to avoid Detroit Avenue with their asinine middle turning lane "improvement." As a result of this change I am forced to traverse east and west via alternate routes including Clifton (which lost a lane due to the bus lane designation) and Lakewood Heights (which is barely driveable due to pot holes). Now they want to turn Madison Avenue into a one lane with a bike route?
Questions That Need Answers
Like the good knight did for his servant Patsy shot with an arrow in the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, many people have assumed it’s all over for Lakewood Hospital. Despite what the Cleveland Clinic and Mayor Summers would have you believe, Lakewood Hospital is alive and well.
Lakewood City Council Members,
I'm not one to normally pick up the pen and write about such matters, but I cannot let this go without saying something. I've lived and worked in Lakewood for most of my life. I live in the home that I grew up in, which will be 100 years old this year. It's been in my family for 50 years and only the second surname to own it. I run the administrative side of a 102-year-old manufacturing company here in Lakewood and have worked there for 38 years. I love this town for its diversity of people, convenience, offerings of restaurants, churches, city services, school system, parks, libraries, and yes, our hospital.
I know I do not have all of the facts before me about Lakewood Hospital's proposed closing. However, what I do know is that a lot of what I've heard so far just does not add up.
With all the money that Lakewood gets, with the pride that Lakewood claims to have in this city, with all the desired growth in our neighborhoods; and, of course, with all the higher taxes, the community should never lose its main touchstone of progress: its full-service hospital!
Optimism in the future for the investment of human capital resonates with absolute power from those citizens who lead with prudence, capacity, and resolve for its youth.
As one who usually admires Jim O’Bryan’s journalistic efforts, I was especially disappointed in his February 3 “RTA’s 55 Ridden By Two Of RTA’s Harshest Critics.” Would a publisher select as his restaurant critic someone who never patronizes eating establishments but knows they all are bad, or a theater critic who claims to hate plays and never attends them? This piece just plays into the prejudices of those snobs who regard riding a bus or a train as beneath their economic or social status. And why would anyone who wants to report on public transit or the state of Downtown Cleveland choose December 30, of all days, as if it were a typical day? Try riding the bus and walking on Euclid Avenue on a normal weekday when the temperature is above zero and the experience would be quite a bit different.
On Sunday, February 22, with just two days notice, 20 people gathered in Lakewood to write letters to local, regional and state elected officials about their concerns with the new Common Core and PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) testing. Parents, teachers, and students participated in this event.
The letter that follows is in response to an article entitled, "Citizen's Ask: Has the Lakewood Hospital Association Failed Its Mandate?” written by Jared Denman that ran in Issue 11 Volume 4 of the Lakewood Observer.
Dear Mr. Denman:
I read your article in “The Lakewood Observer” dated February 17, 2015, and I do not believe that you have accurately reported either the impressions you have of the process or the “facts“ that you allege tell the true story.
By way of introduction, I was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Lakewood Hospital in 1981 by then Mayor Lawther. My father, Doug Gorton, served on the Board for over twenty years until his death in 1979. I have served on the Lakewood Hospital Board and its successor Board of Trustees of Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA) since then. I became Vice-Chair in 1989 and Chair in 1991 until 2001.
Just had some experience with Lakewood Hospital that was top notch, involving someone with advanced cancer (we found), including ER care, emergency neurosurgery on a Sunday night, time in the Neuro Integrated Care Unit and then Acute Rehab. Some extremely impressive comprehensive care, with a very great team of doctors, nurses, therapists and aides. Almost 2 weeks were spent at Lakewood Hospital in their various departments. I was so grateful that it was close by, because I had to walk there and home several times because of the weather we've been having.
Now that she's at home and I've raised my head above water, I see on the Observation Deck that this great hospital, this great asset to Lakewood, may close?
That some of the same few financially interested people who were stopped from forcing people out of their homes on Lakewood's west end a few years ago, using City Hall and Eminent Domain as a tool, for the sake of some dubious "development" ideas, are now the same few people that have much to gain by pushing Cleveland Clinic out of Lakewood 12 years before their contract with the City is up, and giving the people of Lakewood something far inferior, equivalent to a "wellneww clinic" instead of a real ER and hospital?
Lakewood mayor Mike Summers, who is a Lakewood Hospital trustee, announced with Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgove on January 15, that both men plan to close Lakewood Hospital and replace it with an emergency room and out-patient medical services. Lakewood owns the hospital, used to run it, then leased it to Cleveland Clinic from 1997 to 2026. A big mistake that gave selfish, conniving Cleveland Clinic power over Lakewood Hospital. Cleveland Clinic and Lakewood hospital trustees, including Summers and Lakewood Councilmen Tom Bullock and Mary Louise Madigan escaped accountability for the hospital losing money since 2005, about nine years after it was leased to Cleveland Clinic. Many Lakewood Hospital trustees don't live in Lakewood. Summers and City Council, which can oppose Summers' plan and stop the closing by refusing to vote to close it, should stop rushing to close it, and wait ten years to consider.
Originating from a city that is known for its sports is something to brag about. Chicago is a sports city, having had the taste of a championship many times over, thanks to the world-famous Bulls. Anyone who is affiliated with me knows that I love my Chicago sports, no matter the season, no matter the record, I will always pledge allegiance to the Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks and beyond.
To the Editor:
Is the City of Lakewood at risk of becoming a medical desert? After more than 30 year of residency and medical practice in Lakewood, I was interested in the comments by the elected leaders of our city regarding the impending closure of the acute care hospital beds at Lakewood Hospital. This completes the process which began 15 years ago in which psychiatry, cardiac surgery, thoracic surgery, oncology, invasive cardiology, electrophysiology, vascular surgery, pediatrics and trauma were moved to other Cleveland Clinic (CCF) hospitals. The expansion of obstetric beds, neurologic services and the construction of rehab beds elsewhere this year means these services will also be leaving. It is no wonder that the census of our hospital has declined since we no longer offer the services our community needs. In addition, the decision by Dr. Loop more than 10 years ago to not assist the non CCF independent physicians in their attempts to find replacements has largely led to the collapse of the core medical staff.
Within 5 years, with Lakewood’s progressively aging physician population, there will be almost no specialty physicians based in the city. The primary care physicians will be almost totally controlled by the CCF and will be referring our neighbors to remote facilities which are particularly difficult for the most disadvantaged to reach. Our failure was predictable when we agreed to a lease which could by fulfilled by an “urgicenter” rather than a full service medical facility.
I have to agree with Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur’s opposition on H.R.37. Kaptur states, “The American people, some who have lost their life savings, their jobs and dignity during the 2008 financial disaster deserves better than a rubber stamp for Wall Street.” Kaptur goes on to say, “Instead of joining House Democrats and supporting bills that lift up all Americans, House Republicans would rather go back to the days of sub-prime mortgages, risky Wall Street schemes and giveaways for their most loyal campaign contributors.” In addition, H.R. 37 would allow for a two year delay in implementation of the Volker Rule and also limit regulatory authority to police financial markets.
Now that we're through complaining about the traffic signs, as Jerry Seinfeld might say, "And how about those lights on top of the police cars!" Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that it is almost dangerous to pass a police car that has its top lights flashing? The new light system has a white light shining at eye level directly back into approaching drivers' eyes that is more intense than any car high-beam that I've seen. The flashing colored lights also seem to be a significant level higher intensity as well.
I am all about the improvements made to the city. Who am I to complain about progress? I mean, as a lifelong resident I should rejoice at the single lanes of traffic backed up for blocks as you attempt to travel east and west down Detroit Avenue. I should applaud the broken up and missing bricks along the curbs instead of concrete. I should be happy that two lanes on Clifton Avenue have been taken away so that buses have a quicker and private route. And I suppose I should give in and embrace the sensory and scenic overload created by all of the new signs along our roadways that direct us and alert us to all of the progress occurring in our fair city.
As I reflect on people’s attitudes regarding the event in Ferguson I am struck by how challenging it is for people to see more than one side of a situation. This event reminded me of one of the most crucial concepts introduced in the CSU Masters in Diversity Program, the importance of being able to hold multiple realities. It’s the idea that conflicting realities can simultaneously exist and both can be valid. Very rarely in life can you synthesize events to simply one polarity or the other; in this case black or white when there is so much in the gray area. There is ALWAYS more to the story.
We often overlook the greatest gift we have everyday... to be born in the United States of America in this time in history. We could have been born in the Depression, or during the Civil War, but we need to be thankful for being here now. I was guilty of taking so much for granted when, in March 2011, my good friend Angie sent me an email that changed my life. I don't know the author of the email, but the thoughts really put my life into perspective. I wish to share these facts with you:
Although I don't garner much news or information from corporate controlled mainstream media sources, I am still acutely aware of the burgeoning heroin epidemic in Cuyahoga County, Northeast Ohio and elsewhere. It appears that heroin use, once relegated primarily to impoverished hapless dregs of inner city slums, has gotten a facelift, thanks in part to its cultural appeal and glamorization as being trendy and hip. Our favorite musicians, entertainers, celebrities and fashion models (Heroin chic) are using or have used smack, so it must somehow be cool and fashionable. Fanning the flames is a decrease in price, increase in purity and availability and apparent steady demand. Over 90% of non-pharmaceutical grade opiates originate from Afghanistan, where Afghan farmers cultivate and harvest poppies, from which opium is extracted and further refined into heroin. Under the watchful eyes and protection of U.S. military troops, opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since the U.S. occupation began in 2001. As a consequence, cultivation of poppies across the war-torn region has spiked 36% in 2013, and total opium production has ballooned to a staggering 5,500 tons, up by almost half since 2012. The U.S. military in Afghanistan, presumably under orders from our Supreme Commander Barry Soetoro, a.k.a. Barack Obama, has evidently allowed poppy cultivation to continue in efforts to assuage farmers and government officials involved in the illicit drug trade who might otherwise renounce the Karzai puppet regime in Kabul. Fueling both sides, the opium and heroin industry is both a product of the war and an essential source for ongoing conflict. Photographs, which are in the public domain, depict armed American and U.S.-trained Afghan soldiers patrolling poppy fields in Afghanistan.
So, what will Lakewood's legacy be? We have Paris, the City of Lights. Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love. Could Lakewood be the City of Traffic Signs? Watching our new bus stops being built on Clifton Boulevard for the past two years, one may have thought that we were finally reaching the end of this project. But in the city which has a "No Turn on Red" sign on just about every corner (except around schools, where drivers can turn on red during non-school hours), we now have signs stacked three high to help us navigate our new bus stops. The right lane can now only be used to turn right before our bus stops. The new signs are stacked three high and drivers must now look up from the road in order to read them. Are the new signs telling us anything but common sense? Do other cities need to tell drivers that buses make stops and it is unwise to get in behind them as they approach a bus stop or do they presume a modicum of intelligence on the part of the average driver?
I am a 62 year old woman. I fell on Cook Avenue in Lakewood while walking north to my car on an uneven sidewalk on Friday, September 26th. Some young men and women came from "somewhere" as I screamed and lay bleeding profusely on the ground. My developmentally disabled son was with me and waiting to get into the car. These kind young people talked to him, offering reassurance and called 911. They stayed with me until the ambulance came, brought me warm soapy water to clean up with and cold towels for the bleeding. I don't know who they were, but I hope they see this and know how greatly appreciated their random acts of kindness were. Thank you so much.
"Amy the Mayor of Lakewood has lied to you." (That was Jim O'Bryan's comment to Amy Martin under the post - "Rape Suspect Sought by Police").
Mr. O'Bryan, your sentence resonates on Grace Ave. Living on Grace we witnessed an administration that when pressed did not hesitate to mislead residents or play games with a process that should have been fair and transparent. When we asked Mr. Siley direct questions the Director of Development responded with misinformation. He consistently dumped revised plans on us at the last minute and sat on a legal brief we explicitly asked to be passed on in advance to the Planning Commission. Although playing games with residents isn't the equivalent of lying or misleading them (Mr. Siley did mislead us), it is yet another form of dishonesty and in an honest political culture it would have been met with disapproval. Unfortunately the misleading statements, the gamesmanship, all of it, were offered up without even a hint of reproach. It's revealing about the culture at City Hall that Councilperson Madigan (who was used as a conduit for Mr. Siley's misinformation) never spoke out publicly. She never felt obliged to inform the Planning Commission that the person who guides them through their decision making process had misled her and her constituents. Evidently Mr.Siley's conduct fell within the established norm at City Hall.
In Mayor Summers' administration the notion of Inform or Misinform are not polar opposites but instead interchangeable approaches with the only consideration being which will gain the desired result. Whether it's Mayor Summers' excusing his silence surrounding a rape case or Mr. Siley shoving an over- sized development down neighbors' throats, City Hall's methodology is simple. We know what's best. We will do or say what it takes to achieve it. We will do or say what it takes to push aside any obstacles (residents). The arrogance of entrenched power is a defining characteristic of this administration and it's way past time calling it out.
In the spring of 2012 my wife and I moved to Lakewood after having lived downtown for the last several years. At the time we moved I was awaiting my bar exam results and I was unemployed. I felt like I had no purpose. I felt unwanted. Lucky for me, I got a community organizing job with the AFL-CIO after only a couple of months of being unemployed. But, on my rides down Detroit on the RTA I met many residents of Lakewood who weren’t quite so lucky. Some folks were young recent graduates like me. Others were in their early 60’s and had worked their whole lives and dreaded the prospect of their unemployment insurance ending. All they wanted was a job but nobody would give them a chance.
I would like to respond to the concerns raised by the Letter to the Editor piece in the Lakewood Observer's last edition titled "Birds in the City." Mr. Todd wrote a list of things he believes could be problems if residents are allowed to keep backyard hens. To start, I don't know what Mr. Todd saw or experienced with the method of hen keeping used by his neighbors in the small town he grew up in. Those of us who want backyard hens have done our own research into how urban and suburban backyard keeping (micro-flocks of 4 to 8 birds) is handled. We have visited yards in the Gordon Square neighborhood and Cleveland Heights to see first hand exactly how the age-old tradition of hen-keeping has updated itself into a new modern version. Here is what we know. Let me answer Mr. Todd's concerns as he has listed them in his letter.
As someone who grew up in a small town where many people kept chickens I think I know a little about the subject. The Norman Rockwellish little girl reaching into her bunched up pinafore for grain to scatter for the cute fuzzy chicks is a wonderfully warm image but isn't quite what you normally get.
Are we all GUYS ???
I am not sure when it happened. When did it become socially acceptable to refer to both sexes as “guys”? Have you noticed it? Everybody is a guy. I see it on TV, in movies, used by store clerks, everywhere!
My guess is that corporate America decided to level their employees, male and female, to give the illusion of equality among sexes. And somehow this spread like wildfire into every aspect of life. I can see it being used with all male dominated teams, of course. And Webster’s Dictionary says it is appropriate language in groups of mixed sexes to call them “guys.” Okay, I accept that. But women are increasing in management of major corporations, politics, are the main earners in many families. Because of this, should we also be called “guys”? Heck NO !!!
In my three part series on the Common Core for the Lakewood Observer, I hoped to get across the following points: 1) The Common Core is a business model, not an educational one, designed to monetize children and create scalable products for test prep/educational corporations; 2) failure is predicted and hoped for, so that more products can be sold and more schools privatized; 3) the standards themselves are not grounded in an understanding of child development on either a cognitive or social/emotional level.
Just what Birdtown needs, another watering hole for all the "birds" of Birdtown. On June 4th, the city's planning and building commission unanimously approved a new project to allow a Restaurant/Brewery to be constructed in the old St. Gregory Byzantine Catholic Church. It is scheduled to open sometime in summer of 2015. While at the meeting, there were voices for it and against it. There were 250 silent voices that went unheard although they signed a petition against the proposed bar being put so deep into a residential neighborhood. Of the 250 silent voices, 123 of them are directly from the Birdtown neighborhood which will feel the direct impact of this project. The most frequent comment we heard as we knocked every door in Birdtown, was, "Just what we need, another bar."
A few weeks ago, I was on my way to TV 3 to do an interview about the heroin epidemic, and I ran into my neighbor Jennifer Scott. Startled and saddened, she told me that, “Heroin had come into her house.” Lindsay Allamon lost her boyfriend, Jake Michelich, to a heroin overdose. Both were family friends.
After my heroin interview (found at www.DrStephenSroka.com), Jennifer, Lindsay and I sat down and decided that we had to do something to help stop this heroin scourge.
As we were preparing, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner released a report that revealed that Lakewood had been hit hard by heroin, leading Cleveland area suburbs in heroin deaths with 51 in 2013. In Cuyahoga County last year, heroin deaths exceeded deaths by homicides and exceeded deaths by motor vehicles.
In 1970, I moved from Parma to Cleveland Heights and experienced this amazing culture shock. I was 19, and immediately felt as if I had landed on another planet. Everyone I met was so peaceful, and helpful with anything you needed. I remember a young man, named #12, who was finding people places to stay for the night. Everyone of every color and race were in deep conversations of all kinds of about important issues over bowls of brown rice in a local restaurant. And what was more amazing was that we all felt related, brothers and sisters of the same Mother, Mother Earth.
In April, I visited University Hospitals in Cleveland to discuss antimicrobial resistance, a public health crisis that affects two million Americans each year. Harmful microbes like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have adapted to the antibiotic drugs that we have used to treat them and, as a result, infections caused by these microbes are difficult to treat. Antibiotic-resistant infections kill more than 23,000 Americans per year, and if we continue to ignore this problem, Lakewood citizens could find themselves unable to treat what are now common infections.
I was joined by Molly Brudnick, a retired Cuyahoga County medical social worker who contracted MRSA while in the hospital, recovering from back surgery. After spending six weeks in a nursing home for IV antibiotics and three months of additional rehabilitation, Molly’s back is permanently disfigured from the super bug attack and she still requires therapy.
To combat the rise of these deadly infections, I introduced the "Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act." This legislation would increase the emphasis on federal antimicrobial resistance surveillance, prevention and control, and research efforts.
The Lakewood initiative known as "Move To Amend" gained momentum on May 7 when the citizens' group filed petitions with City Council Clerk Mary Hagan. Move To Amend Lakewood seeks an amendment to the United States Constitution that would establish the following:
Five years ago this month – during the height of the economic downturn – Democrats and Republicans came together to invest in a bedrock of the American spirit: serving others. Five years later, Ohioans have truly exemplified what it means to serve. 10,000 Ohioans work to improve their local communities by serving at one of our state’s 1500 national service locations, made possible by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Last year, I visited John Jay High School in Cleveland where I saw firsthand how national service is helping to expand education opportunity in Ohio. I sat in on a weekly program, led by an AmeriCorps VISTA member who helped more than twenty 11th graders apply and prepare for college. Many of those students were the first in their family to attend college and AmeriCorp provided them with much needed guidance to navigate the process.
Would you believe me if I told you I once witnessed a stoning in a remote village in eastern Turkey? I doubt many of you would think that in this day and age stonings, that harsh age-old punishment meted out in Old Testament days, might still occur. I doubt if anyone could better document this particular instance than me…seeing as how I somehow regrettably managed to instigate it. I was the one being stoned.
When I first read the article about Livable Lakewood's new postcard campaign in the February 5th issue of the Lakewood Observer, I thought it was a cute idea! I even picked up one of each of the three designs so I could send them to relatives who live out of state.
Once I got home and got a better look at the postcards, however, I was extremely disappointed. I continue to get more offended the more I think about the campaign. One of the three designs heralds Lakewood as, "Just far enough away from Cleveland to enjoy life!" That is a HORRIBLY UGLY and OFFENSIVE sentiment to use to advertise Lakewood.