Covered by Documenter Christina Easter

What happened: Dr. Kristin Englund, board member of the Academy of Medicine of Cleveland and Northern Ohio, spoke about pending legislation that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco in Cleveland. Mayor Justin Bibb’s administration introduced the emergency ordinance to council on Feb. 6 as an attempt to lower Cleveland’s high rate of smoking. A group of local retailers said the ban would harm their businesses. Council Member Kevin Conwell, who chairs the health committee, has expressed doubts about the proposal. Englund urged council to pass the legislation. “As a physician, let me be incredibly clear: Nicotine is extremely harmful to children, whether it is used through smoking, vaping or any other means.”

Something ‘out of nothing’: Detroit-Shoreway resident Akilah Porter spoke about the Commission on Black Women and Girls. Council established the commission — meant to advise on improving Black women and girls’ well-being — in June 2022. But the city has not yet appointed members. Porter, a board member of a firm that consulted with the city on the commission, said the delay indicates that the city doesn’t value Black women. She urged officials to finalize the commission. “Black people in Cleveland create community out of nothing every single day and have for generations since this country was born,” she said. “Without investment, we can’t build and sustain cultures, especially in Cleveland.”

And also: Council passed the 2023 city budget, which sets aside roughly $711 million to pay for city services. It also approved an emergency resolution urging the state and federal governments to take preventive actions regarding rail safety. Learn more from council’s March 21 special hearing on rail safety from Documenter Tina Scott.

Read the live-tweet thread from Documenter Christina Easter:

Want to catch up on all things budget? Documenters and Signal staff watched 60-plus hours of hearings in February. Here is what we learned.

Watch the full public comments or read transcripts edited by Documenter Carolyn Cooper on the Public Comment CLE website created by Ohio City resident Angelo Trivisonno.

Cleveland Documenters pays and trains people to cover public meetings where government officials discuss important issues and decide how to spend taxpayer money.