A photo of Ward 15 Cleveland City Council Member Jenny Spencer discussing a proposal to contract with Ernst & Young for consulting services at the Monday, April 17th Cleveland City Council Finance, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee meeting.
Ward 15 Cleveland City Council Member Jenny Spencer discusses a proposal to contract with Ernst & Young for consulting services. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Covered by Documenters Regina Samuels and Ayanna Watkins

What happened: The committee approved an extension of a contract with OhioGuidestone to prepare children who are leaving youth correctional facilities and returning to the community. The program is for youth at the Cuyahoga Hills and Indian River correctional facilities, located in Highland Hills and Massillon, respectively. It is a no-cost extension for 18 months, according to Cleveland official Sherry Ulery. The programming includes lessons in communication and financial literacy. Pandemic-related lockdowns of the facilities limited the work in recent years. That also preserved the budgeted funds for the program, Ulery said. Full council passed the legislation at its meeting later that night.

Angst over Ernst & Young: Cleveland City Council also passed legislation that evening allowing the city to contract with strategic consulting firm Ernst & Young. But first, several council members expressed frustration with the administration’s request. Ernst & Young will assess several city departments’ processes and develop a 10-year improvement plan. 

Funding source: Some council members, including Ward 15’s Jenny Spencer, were concerned about using $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to pay for the work. A $550,000 grant from the Gund Foundation also supports the initiative. Council President Blaine Griffin said he considered this request because Mayor Justin Bibb adjusted other ARPA spending proposals. That shift leaves more money available for shared priorities such as housing, he said.

University of St. Clair Avenue: Other council members, including Ward 10’s Anthony Hairston and Ward 8’s Mike Polensek, took issue with hiring outside consultants. They said department officials, council members and city workers could better assess what City Hall needs. “I’m no Ph.D.,” Polensek said. “I got my degree in University of St. Clair Avenue, and I can tell you what needs to get done here.” All 16 council members present at the evening meeting voted in favor of the legislation. 

Curious about how council moves legislation? Check out our one-page guide to council’s legislative process.

Cleveland Documenters

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Doug Breehl-Pitorak, Documenters Assignment Editor

Assignment Editor (he/him)
Doug, a Cleveland Documenter since 2020, has been a copy editor and reporter. His work includes: The Pace of Passage about how quickly Cleveland City Council passes legislation; a look at the challenges of the city’s Exterior Home Paint program; and University Circle Police Department’s complaint-review process. Doug has also written explainers and guides and launched #CLEDocsAnswers, which answers questions Documenters have about local government.