An RTA bus stop in Public Square.

Wheels go round

The rider advocacy group Clevelanders for Public Transit challenged local leaders to rely on public transportation for a week.  

“We believe you will be better able to govern for the needs of public transit-dependent Cleveland residents if you first walk a mile in our shoes, or rather, ride a mile on our bus,” the group wrote in emails to Mayor Justin Bibb, Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne and council members.

Ronayne hopped on the Rapid Transit with characteristic enthusiasm. He posted smiling photos of himself at the Terminal Tower RTA station. The county also offered free one-day transit passes to its employees, according to a news release.

On Wednesday, Bibb posted a photo of himself at the HealthLine stop on East 9th Street. “Smooth ride on the HealthLine this morning,” he tweeted.

Two members of Cleveland City Council, Rebecca Maurer and Charles Slife, brought social media followers along on their transit journeys, too. 

Chris Martin, the CPT organizer who issued the challenge, told Signal Cleveland that he was encouraged to see public officials calling attention to public transportation. 

But beyond social media buzz, there are real problems to solve at the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. RTA is cobbling together money to replace its old rail cars. Plus, there are the perennial issues of revenue and service coverage. 

“They are the ones that hold official power,” Martin said of the politicians who rode buses and trains this week. “So more than posting pictures, I would like to see them use that power to actually improve public transit.”

Speaking of things that go

The Bibb administration wants to set up public charging stations for electric vehicles around Cleveland. 

City Hall recently issued a request for proposals from firms that build and run EV charging operations. Stations must be accessible year-round and 24 hours per day, according to the RFP. Bonus points for operators who share their revenue with the city. 

Bibb, who rode into office with support from an environmental political action committee, has been trying to establish his climate bona fides. He was named a vice chair of Climate Mayors. Last November, he ceremonially plugged a city car into a new charging station at Frederick Douglass recreation center.

Union drama

Dan O’Malley, executive secretary of the North Shore AFL-CIO Federation of Labor, Northeast Ohio’s largest labor organization, came under fire this week from a few union leaders during the North Shore’s Wednesday board meeting. They questioned O’Malley’s travel expenses and spending priorities, which put O’Malley on the defensive. At the helm since 2020, O’Malley, whose job is to get unions and their strong-willed leaders to move in sync, told Signal Cleveland policy prevents him from commenting on internal board matters. 

New people appointed to key school group

Mayor Bibb recently appointed eight members to the board of the Cleveland Transformation Alliance, a group that helps students and families navigate school choice and find the best school for their needs. The alliance is part of Cleveland’s Plan for Transforming Schools, also known as the Cleveland Plan, which is the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s guiding document.

The mayor chairs the board, which includes representatives from the district, partnering charter schools and organizations, parents and educators, foundations, and other community and business leaders. 

Here’s a list of the new members, whose two-year terms end in December 2024:

  • Kurt Aey, Director of Community Schools for Educational Services Center of Lake Erie West 
  • Dr. Tachelle Banks, Associate Chief Diversity Officer for Cleveland State University, Chairperson for the Department of Teacher Education, and Professor of Special Education in the College of Education, Health and Human Services 
  • Dr. Ethan Karp, President and CEO of MAGNET 
  • Denyelle Rashid, a Cleveland Metropolitan School District parent 
  • Autumn Russell, Executive Director of the Greater Cleveland Career Consortium
  • Jeremiah Triplett, a Breakthrough Public Schools parent 
  • Dr. Michael Schoop, Vice President of Talent for the Greater Cleveland Partnership 
  • Michele Pomerantz, Manager of Local Community and Government Relations for the MetroHealth System 

Bibb also reappointed the following board members for additional two-year terms: Anne Bingham, Robert Heard, Kevin Payton, Mark Baumgartner, Lee Friedman, Richard Gibson, Jeffrey Patterson and Stephanie Klupinski.

Departing board members are Augie Napoli, Turkessa Tenney, and Sajit Zachariah.

More power, more money

Cleveland Public Power, the city-owned electric utility, is looking for a consultant to study its electric rates, according to recent city documents soliciting potential bids for the work. 

The cash-strapped utility no longer offers residents the good deal it once did compared to its rival, FirstEnergy’s Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. The study is likely to recommend a rate increase. In January 2018, City Hall sought out a consultant to produce a suggested rate structure, but the former administration let the plan die. 

Cleveland’s water department is also seeking a consultant to produce a rate and fee analysis for the years 2025-2029.

To learn how Signal Cleveland is helping residents find assistance with their electric bill, click here.


Next week Cleveland City Council will begin debating Mayor Bibb’s proposed budget. Cleveland Documenters will be at various hearings to take notes.

Signal Cleveland’s Nick Castele will be there too, quarterbacking coverage and providing analysis. So, check in frequently on Signal’s budget page. The action begins Feb. 14.

Police oversight budget

The Community Police Commission – the powerful new body that has final say over police discipline and other department issues – wants Cleveland City Council to sign off on a $2.3 million budget. The commission approved the proposed budget request this week, which now goes before council during budget hearings. The charter amendment, which appeared on the 2021 ballot as Issue 24, guarantees the commission an annual budget of at least $1 million. 

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 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.

Government Reporter (he/him)
Nick joins us from the world of public radio. He has more than a decade experience covering politics and government in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. In 2021, 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.

K-12 Education Reporter (he/him)
Paul, a former City Year Cleveland AmeriCorps member based in a charter school, covered K-12 education for Signal Cleveland until August, 2023. Paul joined us from Cleveland Documenters, where he focused on creating infographics and civic tech to make public information more accessible. Paul is also a musician, photographer and graphic designer.

Criminal Justice Reporter (she/her)
Stephanie, who covered criminal justice and breaking news at the Chicago Tribune, is a bilingual journalist with a passion for storytelling that is inclusive and reflects the diversity of the communities she covers. She has been a reporter and copy editor for local newspapers in South Dakota, Kansas and Arizona. Stephanie is also a Maynard 200 alumni, a Maynard Institute for Journalism Education training program for journalists of color that focuses on making newsrooms more equitable, diverse and anti-racist.