FirstEnergy Stadium
FirstEnergy Stadium

Bibb goes Browns 

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb had dinner with Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam Wednesday night. This follows the mayor’s September announcement that he is launching a new planning process to remake the lakefront. (The city has asked planning firms to submit proposals). 
 
Bibb’s plan to seek more input might have surprised some, including the Haslams, who helped lead – at their expense – new lakefront planning in May 2021, when Frank Jackson was still mayor. 
 
Signal Cleveland asked City Hall what was discussed at dinner. 
 
Bibb’s office described the meeting as a “friendly catch-up dinner” with the Haslams. 
 
“Mayor Bibb engages with leaders in the community on a regular basis to talk about how we can move our city forward,” the city said in a statement. 

Ronayne to the Red Sea

Cuyahoga County Executive-elect Chris Ronayne’s victory tour took him to Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, this past week for the United Nations’ COP 27 climate summit. 

Ronayne made the journey with a delegation that included Greater Cleveland Partnership CEO Baiju Shah, Cleveland Foundation President Ronn Richard, and Michael Jeans, the founding CEO of Growth Opportunity Partners, a small business advisory firm. 

Mayor Bibb joined them for a panel Wednesday morning – but virtually from his office at Cleveland City Hall. The mayor, who isn’t shy about going on the road to market the city, told Signal Cleveland he turned down the Egypt invitation. “I was more focused on making sure we were ready for the snow season,” Bibb said. 

Discussion topics were boosting renewable energy in Cleveland, cutting the region’s carbon emissions and taking advantage of Biden administration climate spending. Also receiving a mention, no surprise, was a certain river that used to catch on fire. 

Ronayne did not travel on the county’s dime; the Cleveland and Gund Foundations are helping to pay for the trip.

Moving in

Back home, Ronayne’s transition team set up shop in the Cuyahoga County administration building on East Ninth Street. 
 
The team has been working since Monday on the 8th floor, where the executive and County Council have offices. There, Ronayne’s five-member transition staff has offices, phones, laptops and access to conference rooms. 
 
Transitions can be messy, but county code provides for an orderly transfer of power – plus, it allows the executive-elect a budget of up to $250,000. (Council has appropriated $200,000 so far.) 

Calendar delay 

Mayor Bibb is becoming less transparent. His administration says it’s no longer going to make his weekly calendar of meetings and public appearances available once a week. The administration recently announced on the city’s public records website that it will release his weekly calendar once a month. 
 
Here’s some important context. The public never saw his calendar in real time. Since January, in response to a media request, City Hall has made only his schedule for the previous week available, typically sometime during the following week. 
 
The city has not made Bibb’s schedule available since Oct. 2. But on Thursday, in response to Signal Cleveland’s questions, the city posted the entire month of October. 
 
Though Bibb’s office alerts the public to certain events, his full schedule has great public value: It offers a glimpse into how the mayor spends his time (and who gets his time) and ultimately reflects his agenda.

TAKE NOTE

Documenter Breana Smith, who monitored the most recent Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, notes there was more discussion on a couple of high-profile downtown developments, including the proposed four-story residential and commercial project next to Grays Armory in the Gateway District. You can read her notes here

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Cleveland influencer

Valarie J. McCall, who was former Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s chief of communications, government and international affairs, remains an influencer in town. McCall is a longtime RTA board member who engaged in a wide range of civic activities during her 22-year City Hall tenure. She’s now operating her own consulting firm, which bears her name. One thing that’s not changed since she left 601 Lakeside Avenue is her fondness for the Academy Tavern on Larchmere Road, where many Cleveland politicians and leaders like to chill.

Political warfare

A political action committee working to elect progressives to Cleveland City Council is boasting it’s going to shake up City Hall. The committee – A Better Cleveland for All – said in recent emails promoting its upcoming fundraiser that it plans to take on “the corporate-dominated Council Leadership Fund.” That fund is controlled by the council president, who typically  taps corporate donors and uses the money to help re-elect council members.

Managing Editor, News (he/him)
Mark is a veteran journalist with experience in alternative media, print, digital and television news. For 19 years, he was a groundbreaking reporter and metro columnist with The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com. Most recently, Mark spent three years as an investigative, enterprise and breaking news reporter at WKYC-TV, where his "Leading the Land" series on Cleveland's 2021 mayoral primary race earned a regional Emmy.

Government Reporter (he/him)
Nick joins us from the world of public radio. He has more than a decade experience covering politics and government in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. In 2021, he produced and hosted "After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor," an Ideastream Public Media podcast on the Cleveland mayoral race. He has also covered breaking news, opioid lawsuits and elections nationally for NPR.