More detail on no-bid deal
Cuyahoga County’s recent decision to give a no-bid lobbying contract to a company whose president, Justin McCaulley, donated $10,000 to County Executive Chris Roynane’s campaign last year continues to generate buzz. Noted first by cleveland.com, the $120,000 one-year contract was given to McCaulley & Company. The county said it needed to fast-track the contract because the current three-year lobbying contract with Squire Patton Boggs expires soon. Squire Patton Boggs earned the contract through a competitive bid process in 2020.
Signal Cleveland recently reviewed the 2020 evaluations of the nine firms which sought that contract. McCaulley & Company was among them. The scoresheet of the bids–tabulated by a team of six people–shows that Squire earned the highest possible score of 100. McCaulley & Company scored last with 71.
County spokesman Tyler Sinclair said Ronayne’s administration can’t comment on the previous administration’s “process or government relations goals.”
Sinclair said McCaulley & Company has the “ability, resources and relationships” to represent the county before the federal government. Federal lobbying disclosure forms show the company represents the Lorain County Board of Commissioners, the Cuyahoga County Library and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, among others.
Since the City of Cleveland allowed scooter and bike rental services to begin operating here in 2019, people have taken more than 1.1 million rides in the city, according to recent testimony before Cleveland City Council’s Transportation and Mobility Committee. During peak months, these transportation services provide 40,000 to 60,000 rides per month. The operators, which include Bird and Lime, want more. The city is considering permitting more vehicles and expanding their reach throughout the city. Documenter Nick Ventura highlighted the discussion in this Twitter thread. You can also watch the committee testimony here.
A small group of senior citizens demonstrated this week outside of Chase Bank at the corner of East Ninth Street and St. Clair Avenue. They were trying to raise awareness of climate change and the banking industry’s role in financing the fossil fuel industry. (The banks counter by touting their financing of renewable energy.)
The group is part of a network of activists affiliated with Third Act, a group founded a couple of years ago, that tries to engage senior citizens in climate activism. The group’s members have to be at least 60 years old.
Shaker Heights resident Mia Plevin-Foust said climate activism globally has been dominated by young people, but it’s Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) who created the problem.
“We have let young people lead activism when it’s our generation that caused this,” she said.
Third Act members held rallies in dozens of cities on Tuesday. Some groups sat in rocking chairs in front of bank branches. There were no chairs in Cleveland, but activists did show off a large pair of scissors and cut up a few Chase credit cards.
We noted last week that Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb will give his second State of the City Speech April 19 at East Tech High School. The City Club of Cleveland, which hosted Bibb’s first speech, is again running the show. Last year, reporters were initially denied access to the event and directed to a room with a live television feed, drawing complaints from several reporters, including me. The City Club said there was not enough room for reporters, but officials eventually let reporters into the auditorium at the Maltz Performing Arts Center, which had ample seats available. (Watching it live is important so reporters can see who’s there, mingle with sources and observe the reaction of the audience.) A City Club spokesperson says reporters can watch the speech in person this year, but that there will be limited seats for the press.
Hot rental market
Northeast Ohio is a competitive rental market, according to RentCafe, a national internet listing service for apartments and houses.
Northeast Ohio ranked 25 among 134 metro areas in the United States that were analyzed for competitiveness at the start of 2023. At the beginning of 2022, Northeast Ohio ranked 44. Greater Cleveland and Greater Akron together represent Northeast Ohio for the rankings.
Being labeled a hot rental market will either bring delight or raise concern. Landlords most certainly like it. A more competitive market often means higher rents. This is not something many working- and middle-class renters, already struggling with high inflation, want to hear.
In an email to Signal Cleveland, RentCafe said Northeast Ohio’s higher rating “was due to a combination of high lease renewal rates and steady demand.”
“Not even the solid share of new apartments, 0.6% (of total inventory) is enough to cool down this market, which got hotter compared to this time last year,” the email stated.
In the last several months, reports have pointed to tighter residential rental markets in Greater Cleveland and other parts of Ohio. The Washington, D.C.-based National Low Income Housing Coalition released a report in mid-March saying that Ohio was becoming less affordable for low-income renters.
In an attempt to address some of the challenges resulting from a more competitive housing market, the Cuyahoga County Council was considering legislation that would make it harder to evict tenants who catch up on past-due rent. The legislation is now stalled as the county reviews whether such a law would be legal.
Podcast with purpose
Ideastream Public Media and Evergreen Podcasts launched a podcast this month called Living for We, a bi-weekly series that examines the health and wellness of Black women in Northeast Ohio. It’s hosted by Ideastream’s Marlene Harris-Taylor, director of engaged journalism and the manager of Ideastream’s health team. The podcast was inspired by a 2020 Bloomberg CityLAB study that placed Cleveland dead last regarding livability for Black Women. The podcast talks to Black women and tries to answer the question: Is Cleveland really that bad for them?