Taking no position on Issue 1 this time
Greater Cleveland Congregations, an organization of 30 faith groups that focuses on social justice issues and voter engagement, is not making endorsements on key ballot issues on the November ballot.
The GCC took a position on the August election’s Issue I, which would have made it harder to change the state’s constitution by requiring a 60% majority to amend the constitution. GCC argued the ballot issue threatened democracy, forcing the organization to come out against it.
“When the people have to have a supermajority and politicians need only a simple majority,” Rev. Lisa Maxine Goods, senior pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church, said in a statement at the time, “this is not democracy. This is not equality.”
Voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.
GCC is remaining neutral on the new statewide Issue 1, which would enshrine abortion rights in the Ohio Constitution. It’s also not taking a position on Issue 2, which would legalize the use of recreational marijuana, or on Issue 38, a Cleveland charter amendment that would give citizens a direct say on how a small portion of the city budget is spent.
Khalilah Worley, senior organizer for GCC, said the organization traditionally has stayed away from endorsements, with the exception of the August election. She said GCC is focused on distributing information on issues so voters can make their own decision. It also works to get people out to vote.
Signal Cleveland wrote about the 10-year voter engagement campaign GCC launched in 2021. You can find that story here.
Cleveland to unlock more public data
Cleveland City Hall is not known as a high-tech operation. Ink and paper still have big parts to play at 601 Lakeside.
But now the city is taking an early step toward an open data portal – a website that allows the public to browse statistics on safety, city finances, resident service complaints and more. For an example, see Analyze Boston.
Elizabeth Crowe, director of the Office of Urban Analytics and Innovation, said Mayor Justin Bibb will sign an executive order laying out new data policies at City Hall. That will open the door for the city to start putting more statistics online for all to see.
Crowe broke the news at this year’s Data Days conference. She told Signal Cleveland that she’s advising departments to start small and build from there.
“Find your low fruit and start there,” she said. “It may be nothing fancy, and that’s okay.”
Crowe expects the first attempt at a data portal will go live next year. [Signal Cleveland was one of the sponsors of this year’s Data Days conference, which was co-founded and organized by April Urban, our director of research and impact.]
Biden official visits home
Marcia Fudge, the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, made a low-key visit to The Land on Thursday. The former Cleveland congress member was in town to give the keynote address at a benefit luncheon for Joseph & Mary’s Home, which provides respite medical care for homeless people.
In a modest 14-minute speech, she promoted President Biden’s agenda, noting that the America Rescue Plan Act has provided 70,000 emergency housing vouchers across the country.
She also lamented a couple of trends that hit home with the audience, which included many working on the frontlines of the housing crisis. She said women over the age of 55 are the fastest-growing homeless group, and “there is no place in the country where a person earning minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment.”
Though there wasn’t much buzz about Fudge’s visit, the event raised more than $100,000 for Joseph & Mary’s Home.
Mayor Justin Bibb and the Cleveland police unions have agreed to boost the pay of veteran officers and move to 12-hour shifts in an effort to reduce a shortage of cops on the streets.
During a press conference Friday announcing the agreement, officials didn’t have numbers about current staffing levels readily available. But officials did discuss the figures, officer salaries and more in detail at the recent Cleveland City Council Safety Committee meeting.
Documenter Lauren Hakim notes that officials said there are currently 1,211 sworn officers in the department, well below the budgeted number of officers. Since January 2022, 301 officers have left the force. Read the full notes from Cleveland Documenters for more details.