Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin speaks with an attendee at a news conference near Shaker Square.
Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin speaks with an attendee at a news conference near Shaker Square. Credit: Nick Castele / Signal Cleveland

Bank statements: Mayor Justin Bibb and Cleveland City Council are getting ready to debate the latest General Fund budget, fresh off reporting their own finances to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. 

Jan. 31 was the deadline for candidates to submit campaign finance reports for the second half of 2022. 

Bibb reported bringing in almost $151,000 in the last six months of the year, according to an unaudited filing with the board. He spent almost $159,000 over the reporting period, leaving him with less than $104,000 on hand. 

That’s a high burn rate for a first-term mayor who will want to bank as much cash as possible if he runs again in 2025.

Among the mayor’s big contributors were the building trades. The construction workers’ unions opposed him in the 2021 election but built a bridge by hosting a fundraiser last year. 

Another Cleveland politician with six figures put away is Council President Blaine Griffin. He had more than $126,000 on hand at the start of this year. But he only brought in $15,800 in the latter half of 2022. 

The Council Leadership Fund – a political action committee, or PAC, controlled by the council president – is better situated. The PAC listed more than $175,000 on hand in a report dated Sept. 9, 2022. 

Numbered among the leadership fund’s donors were the unions, law firms and developers who are the typical benefactors of Cleveland politicians. One donation of note: $13,700 from a PAC run by Rock Holdings, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s company. 

A Better Cleveland For All – a PAC formed to run progressive candidates for City Council – lags far behind the leadership fund. It reported only $7,143 on hand.


Watching the Spotter: The Bibb administration is searching for a consultant to evaluate how well ShotSpotter actually detects gunshots.

Cleveland City Council last year approved Bibb’s request to spend $2.75 million in federal stimulus dollars to expand the shot-listening technology in city neighborhoods.  

Safety Director Karrie Howard issued a request on Jan. 30 seeking proposals from firms interested in doing the work. 

“The objective of this evaluation is to quantify ShotSpotter, Inc.’s ability to differentiate between gunshots and non-gunshot high-decibel noises within the target area, as well as determine the impact of ShotSpotter on building community trust,” reads a letter signed by Howard. 

The evaluation will help the city decide whether to renew or expand ShotSpotter in 2026, Howard wrote.

Read more from Signal Cleveland’s Doug Breehl-Pitorak on why the city embraced SpotSpotter and what concerns have been raised about the technology. 


Don Draper, meet County Council: Not enough people know what Cuyahoga County Council does, according to District 3 Council Member Martin Sweeney. 

Sweeney says council should hire a branding consultant to raise the 11-member body’s image. (He was once president of Cleveland City Council, a better-known arm of government and higher-profile arena of local politics.)

That’s just one of a list of recommendations for county government that Sweeney floated in a Dec. 29 memo. In the memo, he recommended issuing a $250,000 request for proposals to do the work. 

The committee Sweeney chairs heard presentations from two marketers on Tuesday. One was Jeremiah Guappone, the general manager of Cleveland marketing firm Data Genomix. 

The other was former Cleveland City Council Member Eugene Miller, who now runs a robocall and robo-text company. As proof of concept, Miller said he auto-texted reminders about the meeting to council members.  


Beating the unemployment trend: The unemployment rate in Greater Cleveland fell enough in the last year to make it lower than Ohio’s jobless rate, according to a report by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Greater Cleveland’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in December 2022. In December 2021 it was 4.6 percent. Ohio’s unemployment rate remained at 3.6 percent between December 2021 and December 2022. 

Greater Cleveland’s unemployment rate is often higher than Ohio’s. The report, released Feb. 1, didn’t give reasons for the local rate falling. Signal Cleveland will be reporting on some possible reasons. When the government first releases unemployment and other data, the numbers are considered to be preliminary and routinely change as more information becomes available. 

(The Cleveland-area report does not use seasonally adjusted jobless numbers. The monthly reports on unemployment rates in Ohio and the United States use seasonally adjusted numbers, which take into account “predictable seasonal patterns.” For example, Ohio’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in December 2022.)

The federal government defines Greater Cleveland as Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties. 

The monthly report on the unemployment rates in metro areas found that most rates had decreased. 

“Unemployment rates were lower in December than a year earlier in 244 of the 389 metropolitan areas, higher in 115 areas, and unchanged in 30 areas,” the BLS news release states.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The Bibb administration is collecting public feedback on its speed table pilot program. If you want to weigh in, you can fill out surveys in English or Spanish. And if you’re not sure what a speed table is, Signal Cleveland’s Abbey Marshall has a helpful explainer here.


It takes two: Attendees at Cuyahoga Community College’s Women’s Summit next month are set to hear from not just one but two Bastons. 

College President Michael Baston is set to deliver the welcome address. He’ll be followed by his wife, Tasha Baston, who’s delivering a keynote speech. Tasha Baston is the founder and CEO of Women Impacting the Next Generation of Sisters, per an online program for the event. The Bastons moved to Cleveland when Michael began his Tri-C presidency in 2022. 

College officials said there’s no conflict of interest, adding that no speakers or panelists will be compensated. Tasha Baston was nominated by organizers of the event, who met with her and thought her “story about resilience and overcoming struggles in her life” would be a good fit to kick off the event, officials said. Other speakers were considered, too. April Thompson, executive chef and owner of Wild Thymez Personal Chef Service, will deliver a closing keynote.


Local GOP leadership unchanged: Republican Lee Weingart, who lost his bid in November to become Cuyahoga County executive, lost his bid (for now) to knock out Cuyahoga County Republican Party Chair Lisa Stickan. Weingart collected enough signatures from the party’s central committee to hold a vote on whether to replace Stickan. But last Saturday, he failed to attract a quorum – so a planned vote on Stickan’s leadership didn’t happen.

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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.

Nick Castele, Government Reporter

Government Reporter (he/him)
Nick joins us from the world of public radio, where he has 10 years' experience covering politics and government in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. Last year 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.

Olivera Perkins, Economics Reporter

Economics Reporter (she/her)
Olivera, an award-winning journalist, covered labor, employment and workforce issues for several years at The Plain Dealer. She broke the story in 2013 of a food drive held for Walmart workers who made too little to afford Thanksgiving dinner. Olivera has received state and national awards for her coverage, including those from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Olivera believes the sweet spot of high-impact journalism is combining strong storytelling with data analysis.

Amy Morona, Higher Education Reporter

Higher Education Reporter (she/her)
Amy, who’s worked in both local and national newsrooms for nearly a decade, previously covered higher education at Crain's Cleveland Business in partnership with the national nonprofit news organization Open Campus. A first-generation college graduate, Amy is committed to highlighting the voices of students in her coverage.