Cleveland City Council’s weekly public comment session included continued calls for a participatory budgeting process along with calls for Medicare for All. City workers showed up in force to warn that city services, including snow removal, would come to a “screeching halt” if acceptable raises aren’t offered in contracts that are being negotiated.

The Public Comment CLE website has all of the week’s comments and transcripts edited by Cleveland Documenter Carolyn Cooper. Read more about the meeting, which was covered by Documenters Tina Scott and Chau Tang.

Register to make a public comment or learn more about the process in our guide to public comment at Cleveland City Council.


Case Western Reserve University Student Amber Akhter speaks in Cleveland City Council chambers.
Case Western Reserve University student Amber Akhter speaks to council about Medicare for All on Nov. 21. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Amber Akhter, a Case Western Reserve University biochemistry student, asked council members to pass a resolution supporting Medicaid for All, a national single-payer healthcare system.

“Ohio’s healthcare system is crumbling. We can lower the Medicare age and expand on the Affordable Care Act, but those solutions don’t solve the root of the problem. They simply put a band-aid over our failing healthcare system. Medicare for All would expand coverage for nearly every single American–regardless of their socioeconomic background.”

Amber Akhter, Case Western Reserve University student

Watch Akhter’s full comment

Participatory budgeting

Cleveland Ward 8 resident Teralawanda Aaron speaks in the Cleveland City Council chambers.
Cleveland Ward 8 resident Teralawanda Aaron urged City Council to support participatory budgeting. She brought several young people to the council meeting on Nov. 21. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Teralawanda Aaron, a Ward 8 resident, told council members that having participatory budgeting would allow young people to get involved in the process. She brought to the meeting three students who had completed voter-education lessons.

“I think that this would be a good opportunity – if we could let our young people get involved with the process. Also, it gives transparency to the budget and lets people see exactly how the money is being spent…This is a chance to even the playing field. So that everybody has a chance to get involved in the budget and benefit from the expenditures that the City Council makes available to the city.”

Teralawanda Aaron, Ward 8

Watch Aaron’s full comment

Service-worker raises

Daniel Chavez speaks about city worker raises in Cleveland City Council chambers.
Daniel Chavez, representing Teamsters Local 507, speaks about raises for city service workers on Nov. 21. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Daniel Chavez, a Cleveland resident and member of Teamsters Local 507, spoke on behalf of about 400 city workers who collect trash, plow snow and work in traffic or animal control. Chavez warned city services would come to a “screeching halt” if negotiations broke down. The workers, he said, are asking for raises similar to those that safety forces and city machinists got.

“Our members are so vastly underpaid now, when you’re looking at a two percent raise for them, you’re looking at a 47 cents [per hour] raise–or less.I don’t know about you, but the things that are going on in this world, with everything going up– the economy, gas–everything on a daily basis is going through the roof. And to offer somebody 47 cents at the table is disrespectful. And the reason why it’s disrespectful is because they’re offering it to all the other safety services.”

Daniel Chavez, Cleveland

Watch Chavez’s full comment  

Cleveland Police Commission

For the second week in a row, multiple commenters urged council members to push forward the process of seating Cleveland’s Community Police Commission. Issue 24, a ballot initiative passed by Cleveland voters, included the creation of a new 13-member commission that has oversight over police discipline, department policies and officer training. The commission replaces a similar body created in 2015 as part of Cleveland’s consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice. At the end of the meeting, council announced that the Mayor’s Appointments Committee would meet to vet the remaining candidates. The meeting is on Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. and will be streamed on TV20 and on council’s YouTube Channel.

Gregory Reaves speaks to Cleveland City Council during a public comment session.
Gregory Reaves, from Lee-Harvard, a nominee for Cleveland’s Community Police Commission, speaks to council on Nov. 21. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Gregory Reaves, one of Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb’s nominees to the commission, told council members he didn’t think it was fair for the city, the police department or the community to continue to wait for the commission to be seated.

“I really don’t need three minutes, because I only got one question: What’s the hold up? Why are we waiting? The city voted for this unanimously. We’re ready to get started. Ready to get to work, and we don’t understand.”

Gregory Reaves, Lee-Harvard

Watch Reaves’ full comment. 

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